- - Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Another Thanksgiving is upon us, and do you know what that means? It means we’re about a month away from New Year’s Day and a fresh set of resolutions.

Expressing more gratitude is an annual fixture on that list. At best, the act is done daily for feats as simple as waking up or arriving at destinations safely.

Other times, it comes into sharp, painful focus — such as when a 43-year-old cousin dies suddenly and your Thanksgiving plans now include driving eight hours on Black Friday to attend a Saturday funeral to mourn with her 17-year-old twin sons and other family members.


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But as it is written, give thanks in all circumstances (43 years could’ve been 23). Regarding sports, that encompasses wins, losses and even ties. The ability to field a team and compete is praiseworthy by itself.

Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals broke the curse with their Stanley Cup win in 2018, and then, a year later, the Washington Nationals gave fans another title and more reasons to be thankful, thanks in no small part part to Stephen Strasburg.



The memories the World Series MVP and his teammates created will warm hearts and spawn smiles in these parts forever. A few more tears might be shed Monday when the team’s championship documentary is premiered during a red-carpet event at The Anthem.

But for a true challenge, try being grateful for the 2-9 Washington Redskins, at this moment tied with the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins for fewest wins aside from the 0-11 Cincinnati Bengals. Washington will miss the playoffs for the 22nd time in 27 seasons.

If that exercise is too arduous, try showing some gratitude for the Washington Wizards, 5-10 entering Wednesday’s game at Phoenix. Only the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks had fewer victories. The Wizards are unlikely to reach the playoffs and more unlikely to end their 50-win drought — the NBA’s longest such streak.

Here goes. As for the Redskins and Wizards, I’m thankful:

For wide receiver Terry McLaurin’s emergence: He earned the respect of Detroit’s All-Pro cornerback Darius Slay, who tweeted that “every play was a battle” after the Skins’ 19-16 win on Sunday. McLaurin’s numbers — five catches for 72 yards — aren’t reflective of his excellence in that game or his rookie season thus far.

For general manager Tommy Sheppard’s vision: The Wizards have been his ball of clay since he was named interim GM in April. His preliminary molding is coming along nicely, especially acquisitions such as Davis Betans, Moritz Wagner and first-round draft pick Rui Hachimura.

For left tackle Trent Williams’ holdout: When a player forgoes millions of dollars rather than toil for a team he considers dysfunctional, it should help trigger the first steps toward recovery: admission and surrender. FedEx Field’s multitude of empty seats and opposing teams’ fans should help, too.

For shooting guard Bradley Beal’s ascent: Beset by injuries that caused him to average just 61 games over his first four seasons, Beal has become a virtual ironman while rising to the top. He hasn’t missed a game since the 2016-17 season and he’s currently the NBA’s fourth-leading scorer at 28.5 points per game.

For quarterback Dwayne Haskins’ presence: Until a prospect proves otherwise, he represents hope. The alternative is a situation the ‘Skins experienced in 2011, when the options under center were John Beck and Rex Grossman. Haskins is like a gifted pitcher who can touch 100mph on radar guns. All he needs is control.

For owner Ted Leonsis’ overhaul: Dumping Ernie Grunfeld as head of basketball operations should’ve happened way sooner, but Leonsis didn’t settle for a plug-and-play replacement. He shunned the traditional approach and created a totally new blueprint for the Wizards’ front office. Hip hip hooray.

For defensive tackle Jonathan Allen’s mindset: Every player needn’t be the strong, silent type, but Washington could use a few more like Allen. He pooh-poohed the preseason hype about a potential Top 10 defense. “We have a bunch of pieces, but pieces don’t win games,” he said during training camp, proving himself prescient.

For point guard Isaiah Thomas’s arrival: John Wall’s Achilles injury created an opening for the 5-foot-9 former All-Star, who’s still recovering from hip surgery in 2018. While Thomas might never again resemble the player who averaged 28.9 points for the Boston Celtics three seasons ago, he’s a starter who contributes and is easy to root for.

For each team’s mere existence in metropolitan D.C.: No matter how poorly they perform, we shouldn’t take them for granted. At least we have teams to boo, if we so choose. And they might be good again one day, giving us reason to cheer. NFL fans in St Louis, San Diego, and (next season) Oakland wouldn’t turn down Dan Snyder’s team, and NBA fans in Seattle would love a squad of their own like the Wizards.

Think about all the baseball fans in Washington who missed the Senators for 33 years, and the Senators were mostly awful. Which reminds me …

Thank goodness for the Nationals!

⦁ Deron Snyder writes his award-winning column for The Washington Times on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Follow him on Twitter @DeronSnyder.

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