Outsider’s perspective (by Kevin Trudgeon): The end is near

Posted: October 5, 2012

If we are to believe the Mayans and John Cusack, the impending end of the world is fast approaching (the Mayan calendar tags Dec. 21 as the end date while Cusack’s movie “2012” was too busy blowing up everything under the sun to let us know exactly when the lights are going out).

Many experts have spoken out against this latest in a long list of the end-of-the-world theories, but it has sparked a fun trend of pointing out crazy things that have happened this year as proof that the end is near – especially in the sports world.

From Bobby Valentine being hired as the new manager of the Boston Red Sox to the current NHL lockout to LeBron James and the Miami Heat winning the NBA championship, it’s become a fun fad to rationalize any outrageous sports occurrence as just one more piece to the world-ending pie.

I for one don’t really buy into this whole thing, mainly because I have a non-refundable plane ticket back to California for New Year’s that I would hate to lose out on because the world suddenly came to an end, but it is fun to point to something unexpected as a sign of the apocalypse.

So in the spirit of that, I offer up my top reason the world is going to end this year — the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles are in the playoffs.

Growing up a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, I thought I knew suffering from having to go 20 years between playoff series wins, but my move east has given me a whole new appreciation for what true heartache in sports is.

Baltimore went 14 years without a winning season and has only appeared in the postseason twice in the last 28 years. Its fans have suffered through the ownership of tight-fisted Peter Angelos, who many blamed for ruining the once-proud franchise.

Stuck in the same division as the free-spending New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, the Orioles had finished fifth in the five-team AL East each of the last four years before posting a 93-69 record this season and snagging a wild card spot.

Compared to Washington, though, Baltimore fans have had it easy. When the Nationals clinched a playoff berth on Sept. 20, they became the first Washington-based baseball team to qualify for the playoffs since 1933.

That’s 79 years of futility, mediocrity and, from 1972 to 2004, even vacancy.

Chicago Cubs fans may get all the headlines for cheering for their lovable losers, but at least they’ve had a team to root for every year. After the first incarnation of the Washington Senators left town in 1960 to become the Minnesota Twins, the second coming only lasted until 1971 before heading west to become the Texas Rangers.

For 33 years no team called Washington, D.C., home until the former Montreal Expos came calling in 2005. An 81-81 first season seemed to foreshadow early success, but the Nationals did not manage a winning season until they posted a National League best 98-64 mark this year.

Two teams. Two tattered histories. Two postseason berths.

If anyone tries to claim they saw this coming, they’re lying.

We’re a wild-card game and four series wins away from a Beltway Series that before this year had about as much chance of happening as Cusack being asked to make a sequel to “2012.”

The Orioles went an unheard of 29-9 in one-run games and 16-2 in extra innings. The Nationals benched their ace pitcher when he was throwing his best stuff and still boast one of the top pitching staffs in the game.

None of it makes sense, yet here we are. Obviously greater forces are at work and doomsday is upon us.

Need more proof?

Teddy Roosevelt won the Nationals’ Presidents Race Wednesday for the first time since it began in 2006.

If that’s not a clear signal the world is coming to an end, I don’t know what is.

— Kevin Trudgeon is the sports editor at The Winchester Star