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I made the mistake of flying with Southwest Airlines to see family the day after Christmas.
It nipped me in the bud to historic proportions. Nearly 70 percent of their flights were cancelled that day, and lines to collect baggage from those cancelled flights were hours long.
Fortunately, my flight was cancelled quickly enough for it to be spat straight back out. In no more than an hour, my family’s flight from DC to Providence was pushed from 11:05 am to 11:35, to 12:45 and then canceled - moments before we tried to order an overpriced meal outside our terminal.
Naturally, my method of coping was to try comparing my experience with Southwest to some other relevant component of my life.
Since I don’t feel that negativity about my job, my mind quickly shifted to sports.
I thought about the Hokies, particularly football. My alma mater won a mere three games in its first season after ousting a coach that had driven them into the ground. Yet, I can see a vision there. The first season was bad, but relationships with in-state high schools seem to have drastically improved, and I can comfortably say the foundation of the roster - and the direction of the coaching staff - is better entering 2023 than it was last season.
Then I thought about the Washington Nationals, who have lost countless superstar players in the last handful of years and are currently dragging their feet amidst a potential sale of the team. But still, I see a strong young core being built - due in large part to a trade involving one of those superstars.
The Washington Commanders undeniably have their troubles - not the least of which is the aforementioned name. Owner Dan Snyder is considered a despicable human, but they still find themselves in a playoff chase for the second time in three years. Even better, there are strong suggestions that Snyder is selling the team, and that in itself would likely improve some components of their managerial ineptitude.
I even thought about the New England Patriots, my guilty pleasure of a favorite football team. It’s safe to say their dynasty is long gone, as their offense led by average-at-best quarterback Mac Jones and completely unqualified coordinator Matt Patricia has turned their unit into a subpar one at best - and a laughingstock at worst. But with Bill Belichick still around and nearly two decades of recent dominance, how much can I really complain?
So, I landed on the Washington Wizards.
Never mind that they haven’t won 50 of 82 games in more than 40 years.
I don’t care that they let John Wall get away.
It’s the combination of poor drafting, questionable trades under Ernie Grunfeld, and their incessant need to overpay any player they believe is part of their core.
In any effort, regardless of the industry, there needs to be a clear goal. For Southwest Airlines, it’s getting passengers from Point A to Point B. They failed by historic proportions on December 26, 2022 - but on the whole, they’ve done a satisfactory job.
I can say the same thing - if not more - for most sports franchises. I can’t understand the Wizards, though.
Do the Wizards simply overrate their players, or are they terrified of being at the bottom of the league? Is that why they exhaust all efforts to contend for the No. 8 seed - the last-place playoff bid?
The harsh reality is no one on a national scale has cared about the Wizards for more than a handful of years in my entire 26-year lifetime. They’re bad, the NBA community knows it, and this year’s 13-21 start (tied for fifth-worst in the league) has done nothing to change that.
Bradley Beal is a top 25 player being paid top five money; Kristaps Porzingis is a 7-foot-3, injury-prone unicorn who can’t consistently score nor defend near the rim; Kyle Kuzma is the team’s best playmaker (what???); and there isn’t anyone else on the team that I’d consider an average NBA player. It’s true this year, and it’s been that way for as long as I can remember.
Southwest Airlines might’ve had an embarrassing day, but that’s what the Washington Wizards call Monday.
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