ALEX CONTE, CONTRIBUTOR Last month, the Washington Post Magazine ran an article titled “When Winning is Losing,” by Dave McKenna. In this article, McKenna used the Wilson baseball program’s 21- year DCIAA championship title streak to highlight disparities in DCPS athletics and youth baseball in Washington, D.C. However, he went much further than just attacking Wilson baseball itself.
He took shots at the players’ attitudes and the success of the program, which was a confusing stance to take on a bright spot in a struggling DCPS athletic system. McKenna stated that even though Wilson has won 21 straight titles, a record that is extremely impressive, it is not a top area team. He used last year’s 10-1 loss to Maret in the annual Washington Baseball Classic as an example.
However, he failed to mention that until a rain delay in the fifth inning Wilson held the lead. It is impossible to predict what would have happened if the game had been completed that day, rather than three days later.
He also failed to mention that last year Wilson beat schools like Landon, Gonzaga, and Sidwell, all considered to have strong programs.
Moreover, it is unfair to compare Wilson’s program to other city programs like St. John’s, which have superior funding and are able to recruit their entire team from all around the metropolitan area. As a public school, we do not have the same funding and are not allowed to recruit in the same ways.
McKenna’s second assault on the program came when he stated that it has not “produced lots of talent.” For one, Wilson’s program is not focused on sending kids to the MLB (although it has). It is intended to be a competitive program that develops strong ball players, but also well-rounded students who will succeed whether or not they play baseball after high school.
Even so, Wilson’s baseball program has produced a lot of talent. Two examples of this are the head coaches of two major baseball schools, Maret and St. Albans: both coach RJ Johnson of St. Albans and Maret coach Antoine Williams are alumni of the Wilson baseball program. In addition, Wilson baseball alum John McCarthy founded Homerun Baseball Camp, one of the most successful baseball camps in the country, and Antoine Williams founded Dynasty Baseball, a travel baseball program.
Wilson baseball also sends players year after year to Division 1, 2, and 3 college programs. Most recently, Pedro and Robinson Mateo, Noah Lipshie, and Joe Greenberg have begun college baseball careers, but that list contains many more names, and new additions are added every year. While Wilson students may not go on to play in college at the same rate as, or to the same schools as, students from a school like St. Albans, this article seemed to ignore the fact that they go on to play in college at all.
In his article, McKenna brings up many valuable and important points. I agree that DCPS athletics as a whole needs to improve. However, the reason he decided to bash a successful program, especially in his first sports article for the Washington Post in 14 years, eludes me.
It is possible he did not mean to sound offensive or disrespectful, but I doubt it. Instead, I believe he wrote the story trying to be controversial, hoping it would get his name out after so many years away from the sports beat. I am also surprised and disappointed that the Washington Post Magazine would run an article presenting such a negative view of DCPS sports. But one positive outcome is that every baseball player at Wilson is playing to prove this cheap shot of an article wrong.