Monday, April 30, 2007

At Least They're Not the Heat

While there will surely be more to say tomorrow about the end of this Wizards' season, at this moment we feel it necessary to lift the spirits of Washington fans by looking at how worse off our team could be (the situation actually nicely coincides with our ongoing series). The Wizards could be the Miami Heat. Yes, both teams were swept from the first round, but under drastically different circumstances.

The Wiz were operating under one of the most bizarre injury conditions in history; the Heat just flat out lost. Those same Heat that hand-wringers and optimist-haters were dreading facing in the first round. This once-mighty champion has been exposed as a lumbering, aging dinosaur perhaps on its last breath, Dwyane Wade notwithstanding. Much work potentially needs to be done in order for them to make another championship run. The Wizards, on the other hand, just need to get their stars healthy, add a minor piece or two, and avoid another completely statistically improbable rash of injuries to rise again to Eastern Conference prominence. First round sweeps aside, who would you rather your team be? And don't say Cleveland, because those downtrodden-kickers will receive their comeupance soon enough (as in, immediately, in the second round).

Why I Suck: An Open Letter From Anderson Varejao


I understand that I am a worthless basketball player, devoid of any sort of offensive skill or defensive talent. I also understand that I deplete joy and cohesion from the sport for my very being on the court. I am aware that my game depends solely on preferential treatment from a set of officials that less than adequate. I am cognizant of the fact that I cannot and will not appear on the court without hurling myself to the floor like a prostitute with tourrette's syndrome. I get it. See, the thing is, I just suck. That's it. I cannot play the game of basketball, simple and plain. I was blessed with an enourmously tall frame and the only thing that I can show for it in my country of Brazil is to play basketball. See where I live, we are known for our futbol players, not our basketball players. In order to maintain some sort of diginity and display some sort of pride for my homeland, I must play in a way that destroys the very being of the game James Naismith created in the musty Princeton gyms back in the days. I must flop, and I apologize.

I bring this up because in the midst of my glorious flights to the hardwood, I have noticed the magnificent talents of my opponent, Antawn Jamison. Instead of playing as if he were a teetering jenga statue, as I tend to do on a regular basis, Antawn Jamison has played with the heart of an assassin bug from the Brazillain rainforest, looking to devour any remaining defender. My only choice in the matter of playing defense against this prodigious talent is to react in the same vein as a reversing mousetrap, and make sure my bouncy curls cushion my head from the thunderous clap of my fall. That is the only way I can stop this master from continuing to bewhilder us with his floaters, runners, jumpshots and thunderous dunk. In the third quarter of a game we managed to escape from as if it were a favela overrun by Lil Ze's henchmen on Saturday, Senor 'tawn was spectacular, running, jumping, twisting, turning, and scoring. It was much less me faking like I was fouled by Jamison as it was me fainting at the glory that was his two-dribble drive to the hoop.

Therefore, I would like to apologize to you all. Instead of living in a tropical paradise, I am trapped in the vapid, sweltering industrial outpost called Cleveland, where blue collar values are overrun by the desire for methamphetimes and sexually curious quarterbacks. I know that my only escape is to fake death, cheat rules, to flop.


-Anderson Varejao, Forward, Cleveland Cavaliers.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Cavaliers Employ Lame Gimmick Columnist


The Cleveland Cavaliers, in a laughably lame attempt to prop up the spirits of their disheartened fanbase, have employed the services of a nameless columnist whose gimmick is to only look at the good things in their forgettable basketball franchise. This "optimist" posts fluffy, saccharine attempts at humor every so often on the Cavs' official website, applying corny nicknames to the players (Larry Huge? TheBron? ugh), and making outlandish predictions. Obviously a public-relations arm of the Cleveland franchise, there is no move the Cavaliers make that doesn't look great to this "optimist." Never has this cheery, sunny individual expressed any sort of regret that Larry Hughes was given enough money to financially cripple the team for years to come. Never does he question the desire of the team's star player, knowing darn well that he has taken most of this season off in an attempt to globally integrate his fledgling brand name. In fact, this "optimist," goes as far as to say that this Cavalier team is going to win this series!
Interestingly, the Cavs warn incoming readers of this "optimist" when they make the mistake of clicking on his article, attaching the label, "tools" underneath the column's title.
A regular addition to this "optimist" is detailing the recent deaths of famous people. What's up with the morbidity? Clevelanders have enough problems with their insufficient public facilities, rampant crime rate and general malaise. Now they have to read about dead people?
As if the overall ridiculousness of this online dreck isn't enough, the "optimist" frequently gives terrible advice to emailing readers. A recent example:

Optimist,
I have come to a time where I must make a landmark decision in my
life. Do I spring for those few summer college classes or do I use my Student Loans to pay for playoff tickets?
Anton "Russian" Gorkavchuk Medina, OH

---
Anton,
thanks for reading and writing in. You were right to come to me.
These are special times we’re living in, my friend. History is being created before our very eyes and – in my humble opinion – TheBron will finish his career as the
greatest basketball player who ever lived. Ten years from now, would you
rather say that you saw TheBron and the Cavaliers winning the NBA Championship?
Or would you rather say that you graduated from some stupid college?
I think we both know the answer to that question. I think you’d rather be down here, Anton.

Yeck. This perverted slime thinks that Anton, a hardworking emmigre who has obviously escaped the corruption-infected lands of Eastern Europe to reap the benefits of an American education, should give up his impossibly high interest rate student loan, a financial commitment Anton will have to deal with for the rest of his working years, to buy a ticket to a meaningless basketball game? A disturbing marketing ploy to say the least.
The DCO urges you to contact this "optimist" and convince him that his existence is futile to his team, city and readers. There is nothing his happy little columns are going to do to help out the fact that Donyell Marshall sucks. No nickname is going to make David Wesley actually hit a jumpshot. No little answered email is going to make a Clevelander happy when they have to live and, god forbid, work in that decrepit hell hole. Please copy and paste your messages to this "optimist" in the comments section below, since I am sure that anything looking remotely grim is immediately lost on him.

The Right Move After All


Despite some of our comments yesterday (as well as our agreeing with Thomas Boswell that the Redskins would be better off trading the 6th overall pick), Washington has made a fine move in selecting LSU safety LaRon Landry. Perhaps more importantly, Skins management showed Draft Day maturity and skill, refusing to part with the pick in a trade-down that netted them less than what they wanted (or giving up too much to trade-up to select a bigger name, but non-needed, player), using almost all of their clock time in an attempt to milk something further out of potential trading partners. In the end, they showed uncharacteristic patience and actually used the pick they had, rather than being unhappy with their position and doing anything possible to move out of it. Even on the off chance that Landry doesn't pan out, the actions by management today should give fans hope that the freewheeling, the-player-we-want-at-any-cost mentality so prevalent in recent years is on the way out, in favor of smaller, less flashy, more prudent moves.

We do believe Landry will prevent at least some of the numerous long bombs down the middle that the Skins secondary loved to give up last year, and with his sure tackling might even stop a few running backs that have gotten past the D-line before they eat up 10-15 more yards. That D-line may arguably have been the more pressing need, but if Landry is the game-changing safety most pundits claim, this could be exactly what the Washington defense need. Sure, it would have been nice if the whole Adam whats-his-name thing had worked out, thus making this pick unnecessary, but that debacle may have been needed to finally force Snyder et al into realizing that sometimes standing pat and drafting wisely is the best course of action. With that, DCO welcomes LaRon and looks forward to he and Sean Taylor roaming the secondary this fall.

Friday, April 27, 2007

MAO of the Week, 4-27


We present this week's Manny Acta Optimist of the Week Award (MAO of the Week) to Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell, primarily for his convincing argument in today's paper that first-round draft picks (particularly high ones) are not only overrated, they are potentially dangerous. Thus, the Redskins' rekindled talks with the Chicago Bears regarding a trade for Bears LB Lance Briggs should not be dismissed out-of-hand as just more star-chasing by Washington management. It could be that trading the 6th pick overall for Briggs and the 31st pick overall is the very move the 'Skins need to make, if for no other reason than to save themselves from (A) Trading up to draft Calvin Johnson or (B) Drafting LaRon Landry at #6.

Our MAO of the Week goes on to examine the checkered history of high-first-rounders. He even, stunningly and again convincingly, implies a direct correlation between having no first round picks and Super Bowl success plus a high franchise financial value.

The pattern started here in '62, when the Redskins traded the draft rights to
the great Ernie Davis of Syracuse for Bobby Mitchell of the Browns. Mitchell
integrated the Redskins and has a bust in Canton. Davis died of leukemia and
never played in the NFL. Since then, the Redskins have become the most
valuable franchise in American sports.

How's that for a positive spin? The Redskins end their colorless history by dealing a (sorry) cancer? That deal with then-Browns owner Art Modell was so one-sided that the Browns, and Cleveland in general, have since been a bit unlucky both in the draft and on the field. Modell could only escape the ineptitude by packing up and nesting in ballmer.

The fact that Boswell later clubs former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson and his bafflingly worshiped Draft Pick Value Chart is gravy.

Also, as noted previously by Boswell and this blog, Washington has shown a bit of increased maturity this season when it comes to signing free agents and making trades. While the notion of the Briggs trade may have seemed unwise at first, the 'Skins rejected an even unwiser counter-offer: sending second-year LB Rocky McIntosh to Chicago in the deal. This reversed a trend on giving up on developing players, perhaps prematurely (hi, Patrick Ramsey) in favor of overpaying for veterans.

Last week, Boswell, aided by obvious contributions from the DCO, convinced Washington that the Nats weren't the worst team of all time, and with the general optimism displayed in the locker room the Nats responded by winning...yesterday. We hope that Boswell's shiny columns will again be predictive of wonderful occurrances during tomorrow's draft.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Time for a Comeback

Well, we're in full-fledged concessioin mode now, aren't we? DCO finds this deplorable lack of confidence, well, deplorable. We maintain that the Wizards can pull this off, for, as the old saying goes, stranger things have happened. To rally the Wiz and the retreating portion of their fan base, we look at some great comebacks throughout history that we believe parallel the Wizards' current situation, to show just how possible it is for Washington to, in the words of the cleverest of all playoff slogans, Rise Up!

Washington Redskins (Super Bowl XXII; January 31, 1988)

Falling behind 10-0 (2-0?) to the allegedly unstoppable Broncos (Cavs?), who were led by suspected diety John Elway (LeBron?), the Redskins nevertheless stormed back to stomp the horses 42-10, the first time anyone had come back from 10 points down to win a Super Bowl. Take note, Cleveland (though the analogy of playing in a Super Bowl may be lost on you).

Abraham Lincoln (1864 Presidential Election)

Things looked bleak for Abe in the summer of 1864, with citizens becoming increasingly weary of the Civil War as Northern casualties (unlikely injuries?) rose at a staggering rate. Calls for peace from oppossing candidate George McClellan seemed to be catching on and Lincoln's re-election, by his own admission, appeared to be a long shot. But he persevered, eventually winning in a dramatic landslide and redoubling his efforts to preserve the Union (loyal fanbase?). Honest Abe, as we know, lived in Washington at the time. Where was McClellan's running mate, George Pendleton, from? Ohio! Think about it.

Lazarus (approximately 29 A.D.)

One of the most stunning comebacks of all time, he was literally dead and buried (written off by the local media?); much worse off than having a 2-0 first-round series deficet. Still, Laz pulled off the upset, unknowingly leaving an inkling of hope for Wizards fans almost two millenia later.


Romans (Second Punic War; 218-202 B.C.)

The Romans were reeling after Hannibal and his Carthaginian army crossed the Alps and tore through northern Italy (took the first two games in arguably convincing fashion?). However, Rome held it together, stemmed the tide, and eventually moved the battle to Carthaginian territory, sealing their victory at the Battle of Zama on the outskirts of Carthage itself (took game 7 on the road?).

We could go on, but the above should be sufficient evidence to convince even the staunchest optimism-haters among us that a stunning comeback victory is not only possible but, given these lessons of history, probable.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

GAME II: LIVE

8:02 - We are live on Comcast Sportsnet in HD (better to see Mike Hall's papules and pustules) with our favorite tandem of voices, Steve Buckhantz, and Phil Chenier, who have thrown a few nuggets of optimism our way, neglecting to mention the big two injuries all the way until we break for commercial!

Buck says Jarvis "responded" in his first-ever playoff game!

Phil Chenier on Jamison - "Much higher than his playoff career average!"

"This is what we play for all year," says Jarvis in a commercial, "We need you."

I don't know about you, but I am inspired. Feel free to leave your inspirational notes at the bottom.

8:28 - I like the way Buckhantz says "Va-le-shon."
When did this showing how super huge car parts are become a selling point? It's the Crocodile Dundee approach. "You call that a disc brake?"
The Wizards have been leading for most of this quarter and Buck adds that it has been "close throughout." The Wizards have lead by as many as four. Etan is leading all scorers and Haywood appears!

8:34 - Cavs called for travelling! Who thought such a thing possible? Buck laying on the optimism thick: the Wizards have yet to make a turnover.

8:35 - TOUGH SHOT BY BRENDAN, who is now obviously Eddie's secret weapon. Then he gets fouled by Lebron (gets two big ones), Lebron can barely hold a whine back for committing his first personal foul.

END OF FIRST QUARTER AND WE ARE TIED AT 23

8:40 - Mason Jr. comes off the bench to drain a 3. How many secret weapons can Eddie have?!

8:48 - A.D. runs the Lebron offense (hold ball for 23 seconds and shoot). WORKS! Secret weapon and Wheaton native Mason Jr. lookin' at a 4-point play. MVP anyone?

8:51 - Refs feeling sorry for the Cavs and displaying their remorse in the form of calling two consecutive questionables on Darius Songaila. By the way, the Wiz's largest lead of the series and Haywood is in. Apparently, the Haywood fan club gathering at washingtonpost.com this afternoon was prophetic.

8:56 - Haywood dunk, Haywood Offensive Board. Its all about Brendan. Wizards match their largest lead.

8:59 - Wonder what Nicholas Cage's nicely-coiffed, future-seeing character in the upcoming turkey "Next" (which isn't about my favorite MTV reality dating show), would think of this game? Think he would have seen such a renaissance from the centers?

9:05 - With Buckhantz and Chenier double-checking the restricted area, Deshawn Stevenson actually draws a favorable whistle.

9:06 - Drew Gooden still looks stupid, regardless of whether or not he's the next mediocre forward to torch the wiz

HALFTIME, Wiz down only THREE - Walt "The Wizard" Williams suggests smacking Drew Gooden in the face. Couldn't agree more. He doesn't suggest tugging on his rat-tail though. That would be my move. Then I would call him a second rate Juwan Howard.

9:34 - With Drew Gooden neutralized, Eddie goes secret weapon and puts the woodman back in. Using my Nick Cage "Next" powers, I see a run coming on...

9:35 - Right on cue, Haywood with a putback capping off a four-oh run. Deshawn Stevenson celebrates by chatting up an official, the ref likely responding, "You can't feel my foul."

9:39 - Chenier on another phantom King James call: "Looks like a clean block, but obviously there must have been some contact there." Love the subversiveness.

9:42 - BRENDAN RUNNING THE POINT! Dishes to 'tawn for the and-1! Brendan looking like Magic Johnson (Ilgauskas looking like Larry Bird).

9:45 - Buckhantz thanks Chenier for jinxing Lebron's perfect free throw shooting.

9:47 - Buckhantz has seen more contact from people coming off of an elevator, yet Haywood is called for both an offensive and a technical foul. Cleveland fans respond by chanting "Baaaad Caaaall" classy move by the mistaken by the lake.

Within just a few minutes, Haywood amassed a bucket, an assist, and a technical. In hockey we'd call that a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

END OF THE THIRD.

9:52 - No reason to panic. "Relax. Everything's going to be fine."

9:53 - Outscoring Cleveland 3-2 in the pivitol fourth. Eddie puts the Wheaton weapon in. Causes a Larry Hughes airball.

9:55 - "CRITICS CALL BRENDAN SMART AND MINDBENDING", "YOU WON'T BELIEVE THE ENDING"

9:58 - Darius Songaila with a new playoff career-high. Anderson Varejao passionately embraces Larry Hughes, Hughes wipes a bouncy curl from his eyes.

10:00 - I feel another run coming on. "I can feel my optimism" (T-shirt idea?)

10:02 - Lebron starts galloping after missing a lay-up post-phantom foul call. Jamison, sensing the karmatic implications, absorbs three blows before hitting an and-one.

10:04 - Chenier injecting optimism, "If they can start hitting some jump shots..." Mason Jr. follows with a steal and two free-throws. lead cut to nine.

10:07 - "Wizards just will not die," says Buckhantz. Jamison cuts the lead to six after a three.

10:09 - A.D. AND ONE! Clevelanders realize they live in Cleveland, go silent. Lebron no doubt thinking about his upcoming dinner date with Bill Gates.

10:11 - Jamison getting punished as if he was Barbara Harrison's teleprompter. Goes to the line for two, then proceeds to swat the heck out of Lebron James, who immediately protests.

10:14 - Being a frequent Bog item, you can actually get Post points from reading the DCO. But they are only redeemable for extra cheese cups from Wendy's.

10:18 - SINCE ESPN WILL NEVER SHOW YOU THE HIGHLIGHT. Lebron HILARIOUSLY BLOWS a follow-up dunk. Wizards respond by hitting a layup at the other end.

10:19 - The Cleveland hype-man tries his hardest to energize the Clevelanders who ultimately know that they have to return to their homes in this most barren of wastelands.

10:20 - At least Clevelanders can drown their sorrows in the trans-fat laden Taco Bell chalupas, which were handed out after Sacha Pavlovich connects on his second free throw. This ain't over, folks.

10:22 - Buck with a pep talk: "Missing their two superstars, they have just given them all they can handle." Chenier: "You have to think, if a few shots would have went their way..."

10:24 - THEN, AS IF GOD HAD BEEN PEPPED UP BY BUCKHANTZ'S GOOD SPIRIT, JAMISON CUTS IT TO FOUR! CUT AND RUNNERS RETURN TO THEIR SEATS! CLEVELANDERS NOT CARING ABOUT IMPENDING TEAM DISASTER WHEN THEY HAVE FREE FAST FOOD TICKETS IN HAND!

10:27 - Lebron MISSES first free throw. WITNESS THE CHOKE

10:31 - SUDDENLY, JARVIS CUTS IT TO THREE! (2 of 12 from the field) HE'S FEELING IT!

10:32 - Buck: "Cleveland fans have gotten more than they have bargained for."

END OF FOURTH QUARTER

Chenier: "They came up just a little short."
---
OK, so the Wiz may have come up a tad bit short, but that doesn't mean that positives cannot be drawn. Brendan Haywood was a renaissance man! DSong, denied his whiteness and dropped in a new playoff career-high! Roger Mason Jr. was impressive in spots and Jamison was once again the go-to guy, helping to cut the seemingly insurmountable lead down to as low as three! I am looking forward to Mike Wise's column where he details how Wizards fans should abandon their hopes and dreams and instead criticize the interior decorating in the locker room.

Wizards Impending Victory to be LIVE BLOGGED!

Fellow optimists. Tune in to the DCO later this evening as Bobtimist Prime will be live blogging the game from his lovely couch in Kensington. Instead of reading impeding doom columns about frowning franchise faces from noted optimism-haters, and listening to the gloom and doom that is Buckhantz and Chenier, pop by for minute by minute updates and bright spots in a game where victory is "probable."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cavs Doomed

It's clear that history (and we mean all of history, not just sports history) is against the Cavaliers. Don't believe this nonsense that LeBron James is ok. A grade II ankle sprain is nothing to simply shake off. Yes, it would appear that Cleveland handily won Game 1, but as we know already, it only appeared that way.

The Cavs may well have won the game, but lost their best player (or at least had him reduced). If this sounds historically familiar, that would be because it is. To paraphrase King Pyrrhus (pictured), one more victory such as this will surely undo Cleveland, opening the door for multiple Wizards' victories, a trip to the second round where they will pick up badly needed help in the form of healed superstars, and ultimately a run to glory. Then, many will be called to answer for their reactionary pessimism.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Wizards Closer than it Looked


CLEVELAND, April 22 — Keeping with their recent trend of playing competitively, the Washington Wizards fought hard in the opening game of their playoff matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers, providing a scare to the preening Cavs and their lamely-T-shirted fan base. Antawn Jamison, the lone "big," came up big, contributing 28 points, 14 rebounds, and a block in 45 tough minutes before ultimately running out of gas in the fourth quarter. Jamison hit shot after shot in the first half drawing the Wizards closer to the Cavs in both the second and third quarters, and he continued to slug it out in the fourth when Eddie Jordan leaned on his offense disregarding any effects fatigue may have on big 'tawn. Also contributing was playoff newbie Jarvis Hayes, who had 18 points and played tough defense on the often sneering Lebron James and his posse of referees. James had a universally-regarded unimpressive night, with 23 points, 0 in the second quarter, even going so far as pantomiming an ankle sprain caused by a phantom Etan Thomas foul. That supposed foul, whistled after the Wizards had already begun to set up their offense, was nearly the spark the Wizards needed. Instead, utilizing the simultaneous panic-attack both David Stern and ESPN execs likely had, the referees halted the Wizards' giant-killing prowess and the Cavs went on an 11-2 run.
If James' fake injury would have been real, than the DCOptimist's world-reknown sweep prediction might have held true. This bold prediction, almost told to Antonio Daniels before the game, would not have been the first time this blog was right about something. It would have been the second. Daniels was no doubt reading the mind of the invaluable Dan Steinberg flirting with a triple double before Eddie Jordan's grueling schedule claimed him as well.
Since we at the DCO have a predilection towards proverbially yelling "Three V-Dubs for under 17-grand" in the face of Optimism-haters like Mike Wise, one wonders, if given the DCO blog URL, if the remaining Wizards would be equally inspired, maybe even adopting one of our nicknames and giving us a percentage. Maybe "Seldom Silky-Smooth Shooting Swingman" or "Head Coach-cum-scientist" would enter the Verizon Center locker room vernacular. We picture Eddie Jordan, in the midst of his metaphorically brilliant Texas A&M comparison speeches, reading a grammatically challenging DCO post, inspiring Brendan Haywood to take advantage of his five minutes of play, instead of using the limited exposure to show off his two-step fadeaway.
But despite our efforts, the "overflowing urinals" of Washington Post sports columns continue to seep into the local sports mindstate. Speaking of escaping a fecal–matter soaked mindstate, Larry Hughes, no doubt thanking the Wizards for making him grossly overpaid, looked more like the one-time big three-er than a Nelly video extra, coming close to matching his playoff career-high of 33, which he had for the Wizards back in '05. If you recall in that series, the Wizards lost the first two games, before ultimately ending up victorious. Does the DCO see a pattern here? To sum it up in four Wise-like words, we deja can't lose.

Friday, April 20, 2007

MAO of the Week, 4-20


One of the coldest stretches (temperature-wise, not Zimmerman-wise, nor Wizards-wise) in the history of the month of April looks to be fading away, and like the suddenly warming temperatures in the DC area, optimism in the local professional sports clubhouses is beginning to brighten up the attitudes of players and fans alike. It is with this Eternally Springing Hope that the DCOptimist would like to present the second of its weekly Manny Acta Optimist of the Week (or MAO of the Week, for its redness like the chairman, but with a slightly lower body count) award to who else but Manny Acta. The award, which was named in Acta's honor for his consistently bright and cheery nature in the face of doom, will be presented to him for his recent remarks following the Nats getting nearly shut out by a 44-year old from an even crappier team.
"I love the way we are playing right now. They do not give up. They are giving
all the effort they are supposed to give," rookie manager Manny Acta said after
his team cut a 4-0 ninth-inning lead to 4-2 and had men at second and third base
before falling short to Philadelphia at home yesterday. "We were not going to
play the whole season the way we played the first week. That's pretty much
impossible. We are a different team now. I hope it can stay like this."
Simply irresistable spirit for the rookie manager in what is fast becoming a slightly memorable season. Of course Man-Act loves the way the Nats are playing now, after their 13th inning mercy killing of the Phils on Wednesday (after going 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position), narrowly avoiding another implosion by fading closer Chad Cordero on Monday and being saved by this lovely April weather Sunday, the Nats are avoiding ineptitude like people avoiding death-by-beat-up-Hondas while crossing University Boulevard in Langley Park. Thomas Boswell notes, in a column eerily resembling a certain blog, that the cheery nature of Acta is rubbing off on his players, making the team so much different than the historically crappy teams they are often compared to.
"This Nationals team does not have the dismal attitude, the dreary clubhouse
atmosphere, the palpable cloud of depression that follows a breathtakingly awful
team. An upbeat club, even if it lacks talent, can only be so bad. Knowing that
you can't be a good team doesn't curse you. Hating your situation, rather than
working realistically to improve, is what blights a season."
Many might think attitudes like this is are, like Sidney Crosby's last two playoff games, pointless, and leading to no wins. But we here at the DCOptimist know the importance of a great attitude. Why, to some, it may be a strange thing that once a blog hits the interwebs, the worst finish in the history of the ever occurs on the court followed closely by two star players on the only viable playoff team going down with injuries, only to be then cruelly followed up by bad baseball and worse weather. But, like the Penguins, we know a quick exit from this is upon us, and like Wizards coach-cum-scientist Eddie Jordan says, "We have a point of reference now. We can throw everything else out the window." Hey, we could be Seattle.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

The DCOptimist Playoff Preview Special. HINT: WE SMELL SWEEP!


After another big W last night against the always tough Indiana Pacers, the playoff-bound Washington Wizards secured the seventh seed in the first round of the endless NBA playoffs. Posting three consecutive 40-plus win season for the first time since the late 70's, and coming off of consecutive road wins, the Wizards are poised for a long playoff run. Their prodigious efforts at the tail end of the regular season have drawn a familiar playoff nemesis, Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Despite having never won anything, supposed "sports experts" have already given this series to the Cavaliers. However, we here at the DCOptimist are predicting just the opposite. Due to these simple factors, the Wizards are primed to win four straight games and motor on to the second round.

1. LeBron James remains unmotivated. The annointed Nike shill has been coasting all season, sporting declines in every one of his statistical categories. While many see this as him saving his energy for the playoffs, where generous refereeing, dubious commercial tie-ins and fawning media coverage will enthrust him back to the position as the top NBA star, we see his unmotivated play as a deeply-rooted issue that will haunt him throughout the series. Why even care about D-ing up on Jarvis when the Akron slot parlor may be hitting too often? Why take four steps in the lane to finish a game-winning lay-up when Sprite Commercials need to be filmed and nubile groupies need to be accosted? Why hold the ball for 23 seconds of the shot clock before launching a three when homosexuality needs to be banished? These questions are never asked/answered in the so-called experts predictions. We see all of LeBron's worldly aspirations, and lack of true basketball motivation as problematic and it ultimately leads to a lackluster series. Advantage Wiz
2. Mike Brown is a worse coach than Eddie Jordan. With a strangly-constructed unit of glacial seven footers, shoot-first sorta guards, a playmaking swingman, and a harre-krishna, the Cavs need a creative mind to put forth a competitive product, especially during these vastly important playoff games. The Cavs have Mike Brown, he with the stylish eye-wear and unfortunate insistence on bludgeoning the basketball viewer by installing San Antonio-style game sets on this diverse group of players. Only a coach with the acumen of Eddie Jordan could tinker with these lineups and deliver a winner. Eddie would have the anti-venerable Eric Snow playing double his minutes, and you need a veteran presence on a team like this. Advantage Wiz
3. Jarvis Hayes is playing. Absent from the last two playoffs with his gimpy kneecap, the great Jarvis Hayes is set to make his playoff debut and provide his usual brand of jumpshooting and other things. He can't wait to get in the game.
"I'm excited," said Hayes, who came up with a pair of big steals in the fourth
quarter. I've been hurt the last two times we went. This is going to be a 2-7
matchup, and we know we're going to see a lot of LeBron. So we're just going to
put our hard hats on and get ready for a dogfight series"
Impressive words from the seldom silky-smooth shooting swingman (aliteration rules!). Advantage Wiz
4. Antawn Jamison is having, yes, a career season. Even if he had to sit a few games with a bum knee and even if he had those games where nothing seemed to fall, the lone remaining Big has surpassed his 19 ppg average this year and at the tender age of 30, is at his peak. After his recent go-to performance against the Magic, Jamison has shown how this career year ought to continue into the post season. Advantage Wiz
5. And finally, the imminent return of injured starters! We already detailed Gilbert's comeback, but we have yet to mention the huuuuuge winks Caron Butler is giving to sportswriters regarding his health. Comments like these mean that there is no doubt "Tuff Juice" will be donning the number three jersey in time for Sunday afternoon's tip. Advantage Wiz
So break out the brooms Washington!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

There's Someone Worse Than Us!

Inspired by Ivan Carter's Wizards Insider piece, in which the general-incompetence-induced plight of the dreadful Indiana Pacers is shown to be much worse than the current freakish-injury-induced plight of the Wizards, DCO thinks it useful and uplifting to start a series looking at other pro sports teams who are much worse off, and for much worse reasons, than our beloved Washington franchises. We've already examined how the imminently self-destructive, hedonisitc free spending of the Philadelphia Eagles will negatively affect that franchise, while making the Redskins look downright thrifty in the process. Point, us.

Let's continue by looking at the heavily maligned Washington Capitals. There may be no larger self-flagellating group in the world than Caps fans (look no futher than the comments section of Capitals Insider - an excellent blog, by the way - the love of some for trashing the team is only eclipsed by their love for trashing other fans). Part of DCO used to be such a fan, before he found hope and solace in the arms of eternal, numbing optimism.

Sure, the Caps missed the playoffs by an enormous margin, but would you rather they be the Atlanta Thrashers, currently taking it on the beak (sorry) in the first round from the Rangers? The same Thrashers who paid a Redskins-like ransom to acquire aging Keith Tkachuk at the trade deadline? Would you take a fluky division title, a proverbially mortgaged future, and a first round humiliation over a franchise that really, really promises they're working to be good?

Or how about the Edmonton Oilers, last year's Stanley Cup runner up? They traded face of the franchise and leading scorer Ryan Smyth to the Islanders for seemingly no reason. I guess the point-a-game average wasn't good enough for them and was dragging down their season (which resulted with only one more standings point than the Caps).

So you see, for every seemingly overnight success story like the Penguins, there are your perennial-disappointments-with-no-bright-futures like the Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Chicago Blackhawks (their #1 overall pick notwithstanding - good luck with that one). The Caps may seem a little disjointed at times in their approach, but bless 'em, they swear they're doing their best. And they can finally stop paying part of Jaromir Jagr's salary after this season. That alone is reason to celebrate.

Vintage Jamison on Display Last Night


WASHINGTON, April 17 — Capping off the final home game of a historic season, Antawn Jamison of the playoff bound Washington Wizards brought his game back to the inspirational levels of his youthful days dropping a season-high 48 points on the Orlando Magic. Despite being 30 years old and thus, useless in the eyes of many-a sports columnist, Jamison decidedly stepped up his game against the Magic by executing his patented flip shots, running floaters, unneccessary threes and missed free throws on bewhildered defenders Hedo Turkoglu, Grant Hill and Tony Battie. The Wizards remaining "Big" had yet to truly shoulder the load of the scoring since the untimely departure of his two prolific teammates, but after a performance like this, there is no doubt that Jamison is ready to be the go-to-guy come playoff time. Now, if given the opportunity by the often experimental Eddie Jordan, Jamison ought to finish the job. In this game he had plenty of opportunities to take the victory, but after accounting for nearly 50% of the team's output, Antawn ran out of weird-looking shots. Jamison hadn't scored this many points in a game since his back-to-back 51-pointers as a member of the then hapless Golden State Warriors, a team that knows a thing or two about moral victories.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Eagles Not Showing Fiscal Restraint


In an act seen only in the most fiscally irresponsible of football teams, the laughably inept Philadelphia Eagles have hilariously overpaid their starting tailback Brian Westbrook, doubling his signing bonus of $3 million dollars in what was called an "accounting error." Unlike a certain local football team, which happens to only sign their players to reasonable, sound, easily voidable contracts, the Philadelphia Eagles see no problem in spending this huge sum of money on one often-injured player when the team is the main concern. This highly questionable move even has reverberations on "da Iggles" salary cap, crippling the team's ability to sign another one of their players that has left their team for free agency only to crawl back to their decrepit landscape for another tryout. Their frequently terrible personnell decisions have coincided with a distinct lack of superbowl championships, and this unreasonable contract further proves that signing players to glittering contracts is not the answer. Despite "thinking-man's" coach Andy Reid's insistence on refusing to give the DeMatha High product the ball in an effort to throw as many times as possible, Westbrook has proven to be a halfway decent player. But by crippling the Eagles financial prospects in the process of satisfying this very loyal soldier, the team continues to show a lack of winning desire.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Nationals Continue Beating Up on Top of NL East, Surge Past Phillies

The rain held off this time, and the Nationals continued their recent thrashing of the "elite" teams of the NL East, thoroughly besting the Braves, 5-1. The Nats are now on a "three-day" winning streak, having not lost since Friday. In the process, they left the NL East basement the sole purview of the Philadelphia Phillies. We now wait for the naturally inevitable comparisons between these last-place Phillies and the 1962 Mets. It's only fair.

If the bottom of the order carried the team during its dismantling of the Mets on Saturday, the top carried them here, with Felipe Lopez, Ronnie Belliard, Ryan Zimmerman, and Dmitri Young (doing a fabulous Jackie Robinson impression in both jersey number and hitting prowess) combined for all nine Nats' hits and all five runs. Young would have had a pair of home runs were it not for the freakish dimensions of RFK. Looks like Mitchell Page was right: this team can hit. They may even be able to pitch, with the fourth straight solid contribution from starting pitching. Matt Chico did the honors this time.

Playing division opponents for almost the rest of the month gives the team ample opportunity to further bury the Phillies and gain on the rest. Look out behind you, Florida Marlins.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Rain Prevents Nats Series Win


An enormous "spring" storm was the only thing that prevented the Nationals from winning their first season series today. All the signs of the imminent demise of the Mets (at least for this weekend) were there. The Nationals outscored (8-5) and very nearly outhit (15-16) the Metropolitans through two games, and on Saturday closer Chad Cordero even felt comfortable enough with a four-run lead to tease the home team with a pair of ninth-inning baserunners before getting down to business and shutting down the "rally." It's that kind of confidence that the Nats (winners of 2 of 3 overall, by the way) need in order to continue gaining ground on the allegedly NL-East-Championship-bound Mets.

No doubt the Mets are grateful for this respite from what would assuredly have been a humiliating, and potentially season-deflating, series loss against a team they were expected to easily beat up on all season. The fact that most in the sports world project these Nationals to best the much-referenced 1962 Mets in dreadfulness must also weigh on the minds of New York players, as they are the ones in the best position to ensure that their franchise is no longer home to the worst team of all time. (As an aside, can we dispense with the "worst team of all time" talk until at least August? It's not like there aren't other teams out there at or near 3-9 right now).

Even more heartening than the almost-won series was the steadying of the starting pitching. After a below-average couple of weeks, John Patterson and Shawn Hill for the most part stifled the much-ballyhooed Mets lineup. Ronnie Belliard is looking good in the field as well as the plate, and Ryan Zimmerman, perhaps taking advice from his hitting coach, is unconcerned by his early season struggles, surely an indication that he will break out in a big way soon.

So call off the dogs for at least a moment, because this team may yet disappoint many with its (relative) success.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

He Walks!!


Based on recent comments from DeShawn Stevenson, DCO believes it is reasonable to conclude that Gilbert Arenas is mere days away from returning to the court. Note that Stevenson says that Arenas is "up walking around" AND "playing video games." This is a double dose of good news, as the juxtaposition of these two verb phrases must mean that Arenas is both mobile and has somehow come into posession of an advance version of NBA Live for Nintendo Wii. This is good news for Wii and Wizards fans everywhere.

Never ones to rely upon only one source for news, we at DCO maintain that we have confirmation Arenas will return to save us all based also upon this box score, where Gilbert is clearly listed as not having played due to "Coach's Decision" (no doubt to preserve him for the playoff run). If there is any reason to state this other than Gilbert's imminent return, and subsequent leading of the Wizards to glory, we'd like to hear it.

Friday, April 13, 2007

OPTIMIST OF THE WEEK

It is with pleasure that DCO introduces the Manny Acta Optimist of the Week Award. Each Friday we will recognize a figure from the Washington sports community who best embodies the values of DCO and of the Nationals' indelibly positive-thinking manager. Even with most of the sports world expecting (hoping for?) the worst from these Nats, Manny has kept his chin up, as well as the collective chin of this franchise.

The inaugural Manny Acta Optimist of the Week Award goes to Nationals' hitting coach Mitchell Page (pictured, right), for his stubborn insistence that the team is not in a batting slump and will be just fine if only one key hit could be had.

Not letting the numbers even remotely speak for themselves (no need to delve into those numbers here), Page maintains that the Nats are hitting the ball well, it's just those pesky opposing fielders getting in the way. He further exhorts critics to check back in at the All-Star break to see just how much this ship has righted itself. We at DCO priase this rosy projection and look forward to seeing Page and the Nationals’ lineup vindicated.

We even submit that last night’s stirring 2-0 victory in Atlanta is partial, if not complete, vindication, considering the reportedly legendary reputation of Braves’ pitching. Putting aside the two latest instances of leaving the bases loaded and scoring no runs, the Nats (ok, Ronnie Belliard and Ryan Zimmerman) produced key hits late in the game when they were badly needed. Who else but the hitting coach can be saluted for this?

For his brutally refreshing optimism in the face of seemingly overwhelming statistical evidence to the contrary, we award Mitchell Page the first Manny Acta Optimist of the Week Award.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Summer of Ryan (but which one?)

Everyone looking for a bright spot in this Nationals season inevitably mentions Ryan Zimmerman, as well they should. In his second full season, he is expected to improve on his magnificent rookie year numbers. Yet DCO asks, what of the other fine Ryans on this team? Those who may yet make us smile during this potentially (and it is still only potentially, ye harbingers of despair) dismal summer: Ryan Church and Ryan Wagner.

Zimmerman is no longer on his record-setting pace for triples, but nevertheless is still in line for a respectable 20 three-baggers. He has yet to hit a home run but, as Barry Bonds will testify, hitting home runs never proved anything.

Church leads the Nationals with 2 home runs, double that of any teammate, and only 2 off NL leaders Miguel Cabrera and Adam Dunn (though their numbers should be adjusted to reflect that Cabrera has faced Nationals pitching and Dunn has not). He also leads the team with 5 RBI and his .355 batting average is second only to teammate and NL pace-setter Ronnie Belliard, who is making the frozen body (or is it just the head?) of Ted Williams shake with his astounding .444 average.

Wagner looked good in his first four appearances,allowing only one earned run and one hit through 5.1 innings, though his ERA has taken a temporary statistical hit with the 3-run bomb he gave up last night. DCO attributes this freakishly long-hit ball to nothing more than the unusually cold air in Atlanta. Had typical southern April weather been present, no doubt would that ball have died at the warning track. One simply cannot always predict Divine Intervention.

See, there's a little more to look forward to already than 8-x losses and inning after inning of multiple-run deficits to overcome. Enjoy the Ryan Show.

Wizards Giving Great Effort and Great Quotes


MIAMI, April 12 — The Wizards, focused heartly on their forthcoming playoff matchups, continue to play strong games down the stretch of the season, often coming close to snatching victory from their opponents. Last night's game was no different as a unified team effort bolstered by contributions from unsung heroes like Donnell Taylor, Roger Mason Jr., and Brendan Haywood, lead the Wizards to once again challenge their opponents all the way to the final minute. With competitive demeanor, adequate defense, and the occasional made basket, the Wizards made the Miami Heat, minus Shaq, but with Darling Dwyane Wade and his posse of fawning referees in tow, work hard for their usually automatic "w." Haywood in particular was a standout. Posting a double-double (team-high 14 points, 10 boards) for the first time since February, Haywood, suddenly given viable court-time, forced his wavering will upon the geriatric Heat by utilizing his patented "hideous-hook" and generally being gangly and tough to deal with. With Haywood's strong play last night, there is hope that Eddie Jordan will see what including the one viable defender on the team in the lineup may bring to the table.

The Wizards bench scored 40 of the Wizards' 82 points last night, giving a much-needed blow to the already over-worked starting lineup, who were on the second night of back-to-back games. Taylor, given crunch-time minutes again despite having nothing even close to resembling a jumpshot, was pesky on defense forcing Darling Dwyane to cough up 7 turnovers (a feat not mentioned between Stuart Scott's various Boo-yeahs on Sportscenter) and forceful when driving the lane with a couple of nice fast-break jams. One hopes that the entire Wizards roster will be able to put together a cohesive game instead of one glaring weakness presenting itself to the forefront every night while another one is seemingly cured, like a deranged dam with several leaking dykes.

Yet, in the process of these trying times, the Wizards have been consistently spectacular when it comes to quote-giving. The process in which the team provides a nugget of locker room insight for professional reporters often, when involving corporate lackey-stiffs like Wade, lead to cliched, dull mumbles of emptyness. However, with the adversity of this late season struggles, both Darius Songaila and Brendan Haywood have been eloquent and, at times, brilliant. When asked of their recent struggles to finish a game, Songaila provided this detailed metaphor.
"It is like a scratched CD that keeps clicking at the same spot."
The visual detail in this quote is profound, even if CD's are pretty much obsolete. One wonders what awful techno music is the proverbial CD in Darius's boombox during this trying time. Haywood too provided verbal excellence with this quip regarding their close-but-no-whistles-on-Zo finishes:
"Being close in games doesn't count for much except horseshoes and hand
grenades," Haywood said. "We have been close in all of our games since our guys
have been out. We just need to continue to work hard, continue to fight for each
other and believe in what we do."
Haywood echoes the tragic battlefields of the Southeast division, where similar to a Middle-East battle, bodies are piling up on the disabled list, ultimate victory is becoming unlikely and the call to pull out is growing louder by the minute. Does this make the DCO John McCain? Maybe, but rest assured, while this group may have suffered endless torture, there will be no flip-flopping here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Another Postseason to Anticipate


Speaking of unstoppable marches to and through the playoffs, the Redskins' schedule has been released. After careful consideration and objective analysis, DCO has ascertained that, in an absolute worst-case scenario, the Redskins will finish the 2007 season 13-0-3. The team will jump out to an impressive 6-0 start, with Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts tied for the NFL rushing lead, and Lance Briggs well on his way to Defensive Player of the Year honors (playing for the Chicago Bears).

The winning streak will come to a halt on October 28 in New England, though a last-second, record-setting, 64-yard Shaun Suisham field goal will secure an eventual tie. Ties on the road against Dallas and at home against Chicago will be the remaining bumps in the road as the Skins head towards their season-ending dismemberment of the Cowboys on December 30. This historic thumping will result in the Cowboys missing the playoffs, the firing of Dallas coach Wade Phillips (Wade Phillips!), the definitive end to the inexplicable national love affair with Tony Romo, the cancellation of plans for a new Texas Stadium, and the dissolution of the Dallas franchise. Now THAT'S optimism!

Wizards Motor into Third-Straight Playoff Appearance


WASHINGTON, April 10 — Achieving a feat not known to Washington basketball franchises since the late 80's, the Wizards secured their third-straight playoff appearance last night after the Indiana Pacers lost to the Philadelphia 76ers, 90-86. The last time the Wizards had made three straight postseasons was the halcylon days of 1984-1988 where those memorable Gene Shue/Kevin Loughery/Wes Unseld-guided clatches of twilight-aged veterans and scrappy young freakishly-tall Sudanese spear-wielders, freakishly short point guards, and unrelated Malones took their .500 records to first-round losses like it was a Summer tradition. The Wizards are the first Washington-area non-soccer team to make the playoffs three straight years since the Capitals, who made it to the postseason 14 straight years by dominating their division(s) and losing in the first round from 1982-1996.

Such a magnanimous, fan-inspiring feat was not lost on the Wizards, who decided to spend the final 1:41 of their meaningless game against the Nets resting up for real playoff matchups. Darius Songaila, quickly carving an ivory-like niche for himself off the Wizards bench, had a season high 19 points. Eddie Jordan, in all of his wisdom, negated giving the ball to leading scorer and lone player of note Antawn Jamison in the final minute, instead taking the Nets by surprise by running two consecutive isolation plays for Deshawn Stevenson (7 pts). The moves may have not paid off, but the acumen of a daring head coach must be noted.

On the subject of terrible drives, the Wizards continue their late season playoff push against the hilariously-fraying Miami Heat, who will likely be without forward James Posey, arrested yesterday on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol. Posey maintains that he was neither drunk nor driving at the time. Stevenson on the other hand, had no comment regarding his driving.

While the game result wasn't on the positive side in terms of the win-loss column, the Wizards again played a nail-biting, ultra-competitive game, which has become a hallmark of this late season push. 12 of the Wizards previous 13 losses have been by less than 10 points. So much for getting blown out every game, right! Despite another game-time setback however, the Wizards, in the playoffs where they belong, are not, I repeat, not giving up, wimping out, cutting and/or running. Venerable guard Antonio Daniels sums up the remaining Wizards' feelings: "That which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger," Daniels said. "And we're getting stronger." Amen AD.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Blatche Relishes Savior Role


WASHINGTON, April 10 — Andray Blatche, the infinitely talented and precociously young Wizards Big Man is poised to return from a 7-game hiatus and resume his quest to become the answer to all Wiz-related problems. Eager to uplift a Wizards team that has been a bit less than spectacular, Blatche ought to be the missing piece that will push the Wizards over the line from "gutty" to "dangerous" and will have hundreds of computer-based Canadians shaking in their mooseskin caps.

After a knee sprain against the Clippers a few weeks back, Blatche—who has suffered a gunshot wound, the scorn of Eddie Jordan, a bench seat next to Michael Ruffin, and Roanoke, Virginia in his biblical path to Wizards greatness—is ready to finally fullfill his promise and be the big man the Wizards and their growing legion of pundits so desire. Having assumed the starting role of Caron Butler during the stretch when Butler was injured in February, Blatche averaged double-digit points and rebounds. He has surpassed his career high twice, once in non-garbage time, and he is fast becoming a fan favorite.

Drafted as a project forward from high-school whose lone weakness was "attitude," Blatche has taken every limited Eddie Jordan-owned opportunity presented to him and used it to blossom into a dirty-working, yet offensively gifted power forward, instead of a whiney, feminine, child-man, who buckles under the 2 minute per game average. Check the humility:
"Patience is key with everything" said Blatche, who is averaging 3.8 points and
3.5 rebounds in 12 minutes. "I've been through it before with not playing so I
already have the mind-set that I need to be patient, wait for my knee to get
better. So I'm just coming out with the attitude that I need to play hard and
work hard."
The Wizards thankfully ignored the red flags that may have propped up in the previous high-school big man whose lone weakness was attitude, the braintrust in Chinatown were this time able to determine that this power forward project would be less likely to throw confections down instead of dunks. Encased in his prodigiously lanky 7-foot frame, is the ball-handling of an even lankier Donnell Taylor, the jump shooting of a less awkward Antawn Jamison, the shot blocking of a more motivated Brendan Haywood and the teeth of a British sailor.

While many fans have become faithful of all five of their starting lineup players, Blatche's increasing contributions ought to pierce that fine brilliant set of individuals and catapult him into the limelight. I liken the situation to Willis Reed coming off the bench for the Knicks back in the day, except this time, the fate of an entire country rests on the big man's sharply angled shoulders.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Abused Nats Need Our Understanding


Everyone's so negative. Geez, Barry. No wonder the dearly departed Frank (pictured) never looked happy.

The Nationals may own the 30th-best record in the majors at 1-6, but they can take heart that they are only ½ game out of 27th place, which would shatter many experts' expectations, leaving them grasping for answers as to how they could have been so totally wrong.

There is also much more reason for cheer because the Nats are at last not beginning a season under the neglectful watch of MLB: they are being neglected by actual real owners. The lack of starting pitching or depth of proven hitters is not due to the indifference of 29 other team owners, it is because the season is being written off by individuals who actually, personally, own the team! What a wondrous development from last season, when Commissioner of the Century Bud Selig steadfastly refused to allow the team to be purchased until he ensured he could bleed every last possible dollar out of the team find the ownership group who would best serve the interests of himself and the rest of the MLB royalty the Washington franchise and its fans. DCO believes: success!

It's good to know that, even though the Lerners and president/psuedo-owner Stan Kastsen care nothing about this season, there is a plan behind the abject misery to which they are subjecting the team and its loyal fan base of sports columnists. What the 17,000 fans in attendance on Sunday need to realize is that this is but a bump (cistern?) in the road on the way to guaranteed success. So let's get out there and support the boys. It will take some time for the franchise to recover from years of MLB sabotage stewardship. That at least is a compelling and logical excuse for onfield struggles and a reason to not jump ship. What's your excuse, Baltimore?

Highly-Touted DC United Begins Season


COMMERCE CITY, April 9 — In case you hadn't noticed, the greatest franchise in the history of Major League Soccer, DC United, began their annual blitzkrieg of the league Saturday in a friendly (that counted) against the Colorado Rapids in the icy, yet consumer-friendly confines of Commerce City, Colorado. It was obvious that the incredible draw of the league's historic juggernaut was used to open the brand new soccer-slash-equestrian-but-not-strip-club arena in Commerce City christened Dick's Sporting Goods Stadium, where cold weather, and unliveable thin air conditions lead the championship-bound United to fall 2-1 in front of 18,806 people, many of whom were legal immigrants.

Speaking of non-Americans, United plans on leaning on the contributions of two Brazillian newcomers Luciano Emilio and the awesomely named Fred. No, that wouldn't be the whiney puberty-challenged teenager Freddy Adu, who was sent to the boarding school-like confines of Chivas USA (based in Utah), where he will flounder, wishing he could again sip the majestic liquid from the MLS Cup. No, this Fred is a Brazillian midfielder acquired in the latest attempt for the fledgling America-based soccer league to gain international notoriety. Given free-reign to sign a foreigner, United balked on dumping cash on a washed up English hair model, instead rooting the dregs of superior countries for their spare parts. Thus, Fred, who was allowed to wear his singular name on the back of his jersey, like Yao, Ichiro or Nene, but not Jahidi, and is expected to do big things. The other Brazilian, Emilio, notched United's lone goal in Commerce City, his fifth since joining, which came at the 78th minute after United had problems with flanking, marking and other soccer-ings.

Next week United holds their home opener against the Kansas City Wizards, who are not missing their top two scorers with knee and hand injuries.

Wizards Amassing Moral Victories, Hayes Amasses Career Highs



WASHINGTON, April 9 — The Washington Wizards continue their march to the postseason having played two extremely competitive games over the weekend. Most so-called sports professionals had deemed the Wizards unable to compete minus their two all-stars, but instead of forfeiting, as some cowardly, cut-and-running, bleeding-heart Al-qada-supporters might, the Wizards have welcomed the surge of support from a few guys that have been lurking on their bench and in their starting lineup remaining in the hunt in two games against playoff-bound opponents.

In an effort to make up for the missing 47.5 points per game the Wizards two all-stars routinely provided, Jarvis Hayes (!!!) has stepped to the front. Sporting a dazzling array of jumpshots, a few even going into the hole, Hayes has taken the opportunity that affronts an injury-decimated team and turned it into a positive looking to fool somebody into signing him into a new contract. Despite often being inneffective in most games, Hayes' play in Saturday's loss to the Nets was other-worldly. Scoring a career-high 29 points, hitting 5 threes and playing Wizards-brand defense on Vince Carter (46 points, also a career-high, but with more whining), Hayes sparkled, as opposed to clanking. Hayes' play has been noticed by team officials, who have included him in their latest playoff ticket commercial, no doubt appealing to the fans who Jarvis inspires every day.

Hayes' co-star in those advertisements, Antawn Jamison, or the big one, has been equally fastidious with his recent play, scoring 37 huge points in the meadowlands loss. By ignoring the need to body up his defender, instead concentrating on the offense that the Wizards really need, Jamison was again the dependable force he has established himself as throughout the years here, ultimately factoring into a game that got extremely tight in the final stages. Down three with three seconds remaining Jamison, Vince Carter's soon-to-be ex-brother-in-law, stroked a three from the top of the key, sending the game into overtime, where the Wizards were not rewarded a standings point.

The Wizards again match up with the Nets on Tuesday, although this time, away from the acres of browning grass and pollution-spewing McDonalds flavor factories of the barren wasteland off of the New Jersey turnpike. The Wizards couldn't manage to gain a victory in a land where human life cannot be sustained, but they shouldn't have that problem at the Verizon Center. Andray Blatche, the young, nubile 20-year old forward of whom everyone sees a striking Garnett-like resemblance, ought to log in more than the one minute of action he had against New Jersey, having just recovered from a knee sprain. The magic number remains at one.

In other news, no one is comparing Saturday's Washington area sporting events, in its endless audience-bludgeoning violence and despair to Grindhouse yet.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Capitals' Captain Not Ejected for Spearing

Yes, the Capitals lost their season finale 2-0 to the Buffalo Sabres. However, they also lost where it's more important, being outscored in cowardly spearing penalties 1-0. Once again, Sabres captain Daniel Briere got into a little tussle and retaliated in the best way he knows how: spearing Caps defenseman Milan Jurcina in the mid-section after Jurcina shoved aside Briere's pathetic attempt to fight with the big kids. Unlike December 26, when Briere also showed his bravery by spearing Alex Ovechkin in the groin, he was caught and ejected. While DCO applauds the 5-minute major and game misconduct penalty, we still await word of Briere's arrest, prosecution, and subsequent imprisonment (where a hockey stick will do him no good in prison yard brawls), as well as an explanation as to why he was permitted to play in Buffalo's season finale in Philadelphia today.

Meanwhile, Capitals captain Chris Clark did not spear anyone, and finished off a career-best season with 30 goals and 24 assists. While GM George McPhee has received plenty of criticism for his moves over the years, acquiring Clark last year was an undeniably fantastic move. DCO would like to see Clark back on the top line with Ovechkin next year, centered by a quality pivot who does not have a penchant for groin spearing.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Caps Definitely Better Than Flyers (and other reasons for cheer)


As maddening as this season has been for the Caps and us fans, at least it's unequivocally clear that they are better than the Philadelphia Flyers, at least for one season. The Caps will finish no less than 12 points ahead of Philly, and convincingly swept them 4-0 in the season series (ditto for the Wizards v. 76ers as well I believe).

Flyers fans of course counter with "how many Cups ya got?" Yeah yeah yeah. That was what, 30 years ago? It's about as relevant as yelling "How many rings ya got?" at Charlotte Bobcats fans (the answer, by the way, is 0). How long do we need to stretch this argument? Should we start comparing more recent Cup appearances? Maybe take it to another level and compare Super Bowl rings? Nothing but semantics in an attempt to drown out the delightful "last place Flyers" (as opposed to "let's go Flyers") chants that serenaded Philly and their smattering of fans at Verizon Center after their 4-1 humbling on December 16. And really, what happened to all those Flyers fans that used to show up for every game in DC? At least we Capitals fans are consistently apathetic. There are 12,000 of us there every game whether this team racks up 100 standings points or 70.

Speaking of standings points, the boys can surpass their mighty total of 70 from last season with a win or OT/shootout loss (horrible rule, but this is a positive blog) against the never-whiny Lindy Ruff and the never-whiny-or-cheap-shot-giving Buffalo Sabres. Sure it doesn't seem like much considering the Caps were in 5th place in the East in early December, but it's something. Maybe.

The off-season quest for a #1 center is a little more difficult now that Pavel Datsyuk has been retained by the Red Wings. Still, it is not necessarily a world-ending development, so long as it doesn't push Caps management to pursue the King of the groin-spearing tools: Daniel Briere. 95 points or no, keep him away from here. Perhaps even look towards the Sabres' third-most-talented pending free agent center. His name is Dainius.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Gilbert to Return in Time for Championship Parade


The Magnetic Resonance Imaging results on Wizards' guard Gilbert Arenas revealed what looked to be a rift in the meniscus-time continuum, likely leaving him out of action until the Wizards celebrate their inevitable championship on the streets of DC, where he will be 100%.
With 66.6 (coincidence?)% of the Wizards' big three out for the remainder of the regular season and the beginning of the playoffs, many fans are less than optimistic. However, with solid contributions from guys who have not been contributing during the more competitive stages of the Wizards season, the loss shouldn't amount to much. For example, Antonio Daniels, given starter duties last night by eerily prophetic coach Eddie Jordan, had a career high in assists. Etan Thomas has returned to first-two-games-of-the-season form with double digit points and rebounds in consecutive games. Antawn Jamison remains upright as well, averaging 19+ points and almost 10 rebounds, and Darius Songaila, although Jarvis-esque last night, is rearing into some sort of eggshell-colored form. Brendan Haywood, with the pressure of legitimate competition likely behind him, ought to return to pre-sulk levels of loopy post moves and fumbled put-backs. Lets not forget midseason call-up Mike Hall, who has been a small, acne-like blip (thank you High-Definition) on the Wizards lineup radar. Everyone loves this kid, a few even for his basketball talents.
See, they are almost there! And to help the Wizards retain their focus for the playoffs, the DCO has put together a list of to-dos for the Wiz to finish up their 9-game win streak, motor into the playoffs and crush any team they face, whether the other team wants to face them or really wants to face them.

1. Have Daniels average more than 17 assists per game. Shouldn't be a problem now that he has the offense at his command, even while Eddie Jordan makes the decision to keep him on the bench in order to watch the lead evaporate. Daniels ought to continue barrelling through the lane hitting cutters (no, not the Wizards fanbase), and pulling up for his occasionally reliable jumpshot.

2. Have Etan average more than 17 points and 10 boards. He's motivated, he is smallish for his position, he tends to scream a lot and he has dreds. No one predicted Lil Jon's rise to popularity either. (WHAT!?)

3. Have Jamison average more than 19 points and 10 boards and remain upright. Alright, this is looking like the same team that lost back to backs to the Charlotte-freakin'-Bobcats, but if Jamison can be the third (non-sprained) leg of this new big three, the Wiz ought to at least beat the Hawks (MAGIC NUMBER STILL = 1)

4. Have Mike Hall breakout (sorry).
5. Have Andray Blatche get healthy, fullfill his potential, and transform into Kevin Garnett like the internet says he will.

There are still tickets remaining for the Cleveland game too!