Three years ago, the Washington Capitals celebrated winning the Stanley Cup in grand style, complete with parades, fountains and countless other locations and actions not suitable for print.
Two years ago, the Washington Nationals celebrated winning the World Series in a slightly more subdued style, much to the chagrin of local party planners and bottle shops.
Since those franchise altering victories though, both franchises have struggled to find similar success. The Caps have qualified for the postseason each of the last three seasons, only to be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. The Nats finished fourth in their division last year and have once again toiled in mediocrity again this season.
But while the local professional hockey team decided to double down on its aging core of veterans in hopes of winning one more championship before Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom head off into the sunset, the Nationals opted to handle things differently.
Just two years after winning the franchise’s first-ever World Series, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo made the difficult decision to blow it all up — trading away core players and franchise pillars in a series of moves that — for better or for worse — will have long-lasting ramifications.
Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Daniel Hudson, Kyle Schwarber, Yan Gomes, Josh Harrison, Brad Hand and Jon Lester were all shown the door.
In their place, a dozen prospects, to include 23-year-old right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray, 23-year-old catcher Keibert Ruiz and 25-year-old outfielder Lane Thomas, were acquired in hopes of expediting the rebuilding of D.C. baseball team.
The current season was lost long before Rizzo pulled the trigger on these deals. At least now, the remaining games on the schedule carry more meaning as management evaluates which of these young players might eventually guide the Nationals back to glory.