Simply by virtue of how many (really, how few) teams make the postseason, how long the season itself is and how short the playoffs are, Major League Baseball is somewhat dissimilar to its North American counterparts. Though the importance of any one of the 162 games that comprise the regular season is minimal, the regular season itself is more important than the NHL's (where more than half of the teams qualify for the year-end championship tourney), and less subject to perhaps-fluky results coming from a short 16-game season like in the NFL. So you can forgive the Washington Nationals for celebrating last night's Division Championship - clinched in a loss - in a way hockey teams reserve for achievements accomplished later in the season.
Still, there's work to be done for these Nats (and they know it). As Caps fans, we know all too well that Division Championships are of cold comfort when what follows them falls far short of expectations. In fact, it's something Washington sports fans have come to realize over the years - regular season success doesn't always translate to championships. Here's a look at D.C.'s pro sports teams since essentially the dawn of creation that have won their respective divisions (in some cases conferences), and how those seasons turned out:
Of note, yes, we included the soccer team (but not previous professional soccer clubs), but drew the line there - sorry, Kastles. Also, if anyone wonders why D.C. is a Redskins town, you can point them to this table (though the whole city is getting toasted these days).
Anyway, congrats to the Nationals and here's hoping the best is yet to come... which is not meant to diminish what they've already achieved this season. Baseball's different. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves (and, apparently, Dustin Penner) of that.