The last time the District was considered a sports city worthy of the nation's attention ... well, that actually never has happened. So how is it that both Sports Illustrated (this week) and ESPN the Magazine (next month) have issues devoted to this region? Baltimore is included in the Sports Illustrated package given the surprising success this season of the long-suffering Orioles, who get the actual cover art.

It's always about stars and performances. You have a two-time NHL Hart Trophy winner (Alex Ovechkin), who is one of his sport's most polarizing figures. You have a pair of phenoms (Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper) helping the Nationals to the playoffs for the first time, a former college basketball star and No. 1 pick (John Wall) and, of course, an electrifying presence at quarterback for the Redskins (Robert Griffin III).

Washington didn't have a baseball team for 34 years, the Redskins were considered boring even in their glory days and the Bullets/Wizards won their lone NBA title (1977-78) in what is considered the low point of that league's history. Add in the star-crossed Capitals and you have a city finally emerging from a sports wasteland.

- Brian McNally