Sunday, September 30, 2007

Twisted, Marvelous Irony

Things really couldn't have worked out much better going into the last game of this delightfully overachieving season (why is overachieving so often used as a deragatory term for a team or player? Wouldn't you love to see Austin Kearns overachieve next year with 30 home runs? How about a massively overachieving Brian Schneider batting .295? An off-the-wall-loony overachieving Felipe Lopez with 100 RBI? Sign me up). The mind-screwing of fans in New York and Philadelphia has been nothing short of wondrous. Who out there cannot appreciate the irony (at least I think it's irony) of Mets fans, seeing their team on the brink of monstrously historic choking, now forced to root for the team that played a large role in putting the Mets in this position to begin with? Or how about the beauty of driving those fiercly "loyal" Phillies fans to boo their team and throw those stupid towels on the field yesterday? Are they actually scared of the Nationals now? This "lowly" team that could end their postseason hopes altogether, just days after laying a 6-0 stinker that teased them with a division title?

Whatever happens, it's been a great last week: 4th place solidly in hand; 73 wins to leave the 2006 edition further in the dust; 90 losses no longer a possibility. And perhaps above all, the afforementioned serious muddling of the entire NL playoff picture. Not bad for a "bunch of losers", eh? These losers have failed to lose in large quantities to the formerly NL-East-leading Mets all season, going 9-9 against them. A win against Philadelphia would put the Nats' record against Philly for the season at 7-11. Not great, but it would be a game better than New York's flacid 6-12 effort against the same team.

Now, we harped all summer long on the NY Post's Joel Sherman (and we're sure he's real broken up about it) for his horrifically thought-out spring piece entitled Beating Up the Nationals, in which he postulated that the NL East title would be bestowed upon whichever team could rack up the most wins against the hapless Nats, even throwing in the obligatory reference to the 120-loss 1962 Mets for good measure. It's definitely one of our least favorite posts/articles of all time, hence the months of harping bitterness. However, seeing the current divisional situation, it would seem that Beating Up the Mets would be a more apt headline. After all, if the Phillies come away with the NL East, it will be because of their 12-6 domination of New York as much as anything else. Knowing this, we pledge to at last put our anger at the misguided Sherman behind us. You know, like Baltimore, after more than two decades, has been able to put their animosity towards Indianapolis and Bob Irsay....wait, never mind.

Friday, September 28, 2007

MAO of the Week (9-28) Reloaded

Gilbert is back. Showing off his new video game, spouting off nonsequitors to fawning reporter types, holding bizarro 24-hour pressers to more fawning reporter types, hyping upcoming blog entries; it's as if it were the Early Autumn of 2006 all over again (with similar soul-crushing Redskins results included). Frankly, the DC Optimist is ecstatic. There hasn't been much in the way of Capitals-esque Wizards news lately. The Grun-trust had a fairly quant offseason with no major Antawn Jamison-for-disgruntled-power-forward swaps happening, and only two slight brushes with the law. As a result, the Wizards, a first place team last year*, have suddenly flown below everyone on earth's preseason prediction radar screens. Determined to rampen up the image of his oft-overlooked franchise, Agent Zero has taken to the airwaves to proclaim the Wiz as a powerhouse of a team, predicting to reporters that an Eastern Conference finals appearance is imminent in 2008. For this strong 'tism-boosting backslapping of the city, Gilbert has been rewarded his first Manny Acta Optimist of the Week award. The award is named after Nationals Manager Manny Acta, who, like Gilbert, had strong predictions for his first season as Nationals manager, and, like the DC Optimst, he was positively correct.

Saturday, Gilbert began his week of again showing the world that he rules by blessing the USA Today paper with 'tism nuggets denouncing the sudden anointment of the Boston Celtics as the class of the East and all but guaranteeing MVP-level performances.
"If we can get to 50-55 wins, I'm a heavy (MVP) candidate," he said. "I'm going
to do what I do."
And what does he do? Continues to dominate the press coverage, sparking a brushfire of typing with his strangely-worded analysis of the Wizards friendly big man duo.
"No matter if Etan is the starter or the backup, he's going to give you the same
kind of energy and the same kind of play," Arenas explained. "Brendan will give
you three-four (strong) games (off the bench) because he's mad, then he's going
to tank it."
This threw arms up in various other inter-blogs, but the DCO only sees a slight misunderstanding of Gilbert-speak. "Tank" in this format, likely represents Brendan's largess and explosiveness when he rebounds the ball in front of the basket and jams it in real hard two-handed style. The move (and not his subsequent name tag removing hysterics) has been dubbed the "tank," and that is what Gilbert is referring to.

But just to clarify things, Gilbert big-upped his big men (meaning de-stressed their necessity) in subsequent media meetings, while further boosting his team's prognosis like in the (not free) blog of's Chris Broussard.
"We rely so much on the perimeter that our big guys don't need to do that,'' he
says. "If one gives us 10 [points] and 10 [rebounds], he's 'The Man!' If one
gives us 5 and 5, 'Hey, that's what he does.' The guards are going to make it
up. We're not worried because when we were playing our best basketball, we were
the number 1 team in the East. We just got hurt; we got hit with the injury
See? So even if the "Tank" isn't firing, and Etan isn't providing his inconvenient truths in the post, the Wiz can rely on their perimeter gunners to fill up the basket and ultimately carry the team throughout the season, like they did last year when they were in first place.

So why wouldn't this team's return to health cause such wondrous results? It's not just Gilbert who is finally starting the season healthy. Caron has been shedding weight while reminiscing about pushing weight, giving us another much needed refill of the Tough Juice. Darius Songaila has been overseas lighting things up (with his discs not bulging), looking to finally show what 100% of Lithuanian post moves, money 15-footers, and milky skinned bench work looks like. Antoinio Daniels celebrated the storied ADAW with a hall of fame induction. In addition to that, AD has finally been redeemed, and he looks forward to translating some timely career-highs and gutty work into more Ws. And this doesn't even mention the potential contributions of potentially impressive rookies like Domenic McGuire, Oleksiy Pecherov, and Nick Young. It seems that as Gilbert has initially, impressively predicted, the Wizards are in great shape, and we trust that the 'tism he is emitting will only seek to make these greater things happen, and ultimately redeem us from the worst.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Nats Sweep Away Mets, Naysayers, and Possibly Playoff Dreams

How many cascades of boos for the home team can flow from the stands during one series at Shea Stadium? How many sullen, angry close-ups of Mets fans did we get to see over the past three days, courtesy of MASN? A dozen? A hundred? The only thing more gratifying was seeing thousands of such faithful fans stream for the exits after Ryan Church’s two-run double in the ninth. Maybe they hadn’t heard about the six-run rally in the bottom of the ninth the night before. Maybe the left before the collapse of the Mets’ season took them down as well. Where’s your strategy for winning the division now, Joel Sherman? How does a 9-9 season split with these "lowly" Nats fit in to that strategy?

On the less-fortunate side, how many people in Philadelphia did the Nats make happy with their gigantic broom? It’s an unfortunate side effect, but one that can be rectified with a few wins against the Phillies to close out the season. While it galls us that either the Mets or Phillies will win the division, it is not necessary that both make the playoffs, or stick around there very long if they do.

In helping the Phillies in New York, the Nationals potentially struck a blow to the post-season confidence of the Mets (particularly considering the nature of last night’s win). Now they can strike down Philadelphia’s post-season altogether. Thanks to their timely 10-game winning streak, the Rockies are here to help put added pressure on our tied-for-least-favorite NL East team in the wild card race. Looking back to August 24, could that ninth-inning collapse against the Rockies have happened for a more noble purpose? Could it end up to be the one win the Rockies needed to smack Philly aside? Creepy. It might have been worth the pain.

It was three weeks ago today we were celebrating win #63 (aka, loss <100). Now we can kick back and enjoy 72. 72! They couldn’t even pull that off last year with the combined greatness of Frank, Jose G, Jose V, Nick, and, um, that other guy, that outfielder. What was his name? The guy whose absence was going to be the final straw that doomed the team to absolute ineptitude? Never mind. How now shall the optimism-haters among us package this one? What will the spin be now that another arrow of pessimism has been taken from them? They don’t have 100 losses to scoff at. They don’t have last place to scoff at. Now there is coldly objective numeric evidence of improvement. And they have accomplished this with:

- Exactly one pitcher, Matt Chico, who even has enough innings pitched to qualify as a statistical leader.

- Exactly one player, Dmitri Young, who hit over .300.

- A relief pitcher, John Rauch, leading the team with 8 wins.

- No player (at the moment) with 25 home runs.

- No player (at the moment, and likely at the end of the season) with 100 RBI

Sure, the above could be pessimistically spun to the tune of, “See, they really do suck, they have no players!” Nonsense. Much of this can be attributed to the biblically wrathful spate of injuries (to a team derided when healthy) and the necessity of at-times excessive platooning of players. They survived the worst that could be thrown at them, and we all know why. We’re past the point now where we can proudly say “they don’t suck” and can confidently say, “they’re actually pretty good, and getting better.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Another Convert in the Making?

We've noted before the lack of fact-checking by Yahoo! game preview writers. That was a month and a half ago, and you would think that an additional six weeks of non-historically bad play from the Nationals would be enough to finally quell this ignorant conception, right? No, not right.

A brand new expert showed a lack of respect for facts or adequate research in describing the Nationals as "lowly" in his preview of last night's game against the NL East-leading Mets. The word "lowly" is fraught with too many desperately negative implications to accurately apply to Manny's bunch. "Lowly" screams "perpetual awfulness", "hopelessness", "no chance of ever going anywhere." That none of these describe the Nats is self-evident. That this "lowly" bunch then went out and smacked the gearing-up-for-a-playoff-cameo Mets 13-4 is another strike against this characterization.

However, this story needn't end with another permanent brand of an "expert" as an optimism-hater. For you see, the expert here in question, Nicolino Di Benedetto, has, in today's Mets-Nats preview, upgraded the Nationals from "lowly" to "bothersome." Here, now, is a label worth considering. While "bothersom" doesn't exacly convey the 'tismy positive vibes of even the backhandedly complimentary "overachieving" does, it says something accurate about this team. They won't go away. They have refused to go to their expertly decreed place of 120 losses, 110 losses, 100 losses, and perhaps ultimately 90 losses. They haven't allowed division champion hopefuls to coast through them on a late-season warm-up for the post-season.

So yes, perhaps they are "bothersome." Perhaps also Di Benedetto is starting to see something his fellow reviewer did not: that the Nats are worthy of more than a simple glance at the standings might reveal.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Searching for Optimism This Monday?

While we dig up positive nuggets regarding yesterday’s, um, mild disappointment in Landover (and if this summer taught us anything, it’s that there are always such nuggets to be mined), we can find lots to cheer about from the events earlier in the day at RFK (where even Troy Aikman still wishes the Redskins played).

First: a big crowd (biggest of the season)! Second: a fiercely partisan home-team crowd! It seemed evident from the lack of Philadelphia garb in the parking lot at 10:30 am that there might be something resembling a Nats fanbase assembling for this RFK sendoff, as opposed to the jarring “let’s go Phillies”-chanting crowd from the previous night. While there were pockets of Philly philth throughout the stadium that attempted to make their presence known during times such as heart-attack threatening ninth inning rallies, they were for the most part subdued, drowned-out, or drunkenly passed-out. Or maybe they were busy at home re-embracing Donovan McNabb, who they all had but booed out of town the preceding two weeks. There’s that “adopting-for-life”, right Chris Berman? Idiot.

In the end, the 5-3 win was a nice blow to the division title hopes of the Phillies, and it was a satisfying way to close out RFK, even if the players can’t get out of there fast enough (a la the Caps and the Cap Center/US Air Arena/US Airways Arena). As we’ve said before, it’s sad that New York or Philadelphia has to win the NL East, but at least the Nats can play some role in tormenting them each for the last couple weeks of the season. Just as the Nats avoided sweeping the Mets in the last series to dangle the outside prospect of a division win in front of the Phillies, so they took only one out of four from the Phillies to make it that much more stressful for New York going into the final week. Brilliant.

ChairManny addressed the crowd afterwards (via Don Sutton’s wonderfully leading questions), giving us the standard-yet-still-truth-ringing recap of the evil negativity heaped upon the team in the preseason and the handful of loyal-and-‘tism-seeing fans that stuck with them anyway. His key line, of course, was “I am positive and optimistic [about this team]”. But we already knew that.

So cram it, Philadelphia. And cram it, ignorant smattering of Phillies fans who attempted to lessen the sting of inevitable defeat with chants of questionable accuracy such as “Last Place Nationals”. Since we all know the Nationals are currently not in last place by the solid margin of three games, we can simply tally this defiance of reality to the frustration of seeing their team possibly choke away a playoff appearance (the Padres did lose, throwing that wild card door wide open) to an alleged doormat. Manny’s prediction of “hurting someone” continues to prove true.

Six games left. Three games needed to exceed last year’s (relatively) expensive, (relatively) squabbling, MLB-(incompetently)-owned team. That would be as tangibly a sign of improvement and progress as we could get, but we know we don’t necessarily have to see 72 wins to know improvement and progress are already here. The Plan lives.
So we can, at least for a moment, step back from the 2-1 ledge the Redskins have put us on and find positives in the 69-87 team now exiting their former home. We can pledge not to panic and bury our team for perhaps a sub-par performance in a home game against a perceived inferior team they could have/should have beaten. We can pledge not to be Philadelphia fans.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Boswell Rides Again (MAO of the Week for 9-21)

We thought we might have lost him in those pre-season days of August, but Tom Boswell, T-Boz, has come home in a big way, now pulling down his third Manny Acta Optimist of the Week award. Even the award’s own namesake, he who embraces ‘Tism above all others, has not (yet) received such a tremendous honor.

Boswell truly caught our attention early this week with a call for a September celebration. A celebration for a baseball team that did not lose 120 games by a stunningly wide margin. It was perhaps the biggest step on T-Boz’s return to the loving of optimism he had seemingly shunned a month previous.

He followed up this minor masterpiece with an exhortation to enjoy the 2-0 ride the Skins are giving us. Compiling reasons for optimism in the same manner Rocky McIntosh and Area 51 are compiling memorable defensive plays, Boz doubles the ‘Tism by simultaneously dismissing any slight negatives that may be attempting to nag the faithful.

Not content to leave it at that positive note, however, he took things even a step further with his heartfelt (if, at times, overly fawning) tribute to The Bobby, RFK Stadium. While we at the DCO may be a tad too young to remember such things as a victory over the Cowboys (curses upon them) in the 1972 NFC Championship game, we can remember grand ‘Tism-filled spectacles such as muddy domination of Jerry-Glanville-and-MC-Hammer-backed Falcons teams en-route to Super Bowl glory and the true definition of home-field-advantage in seat-bouncing taunts of “we want Dallas” (curses upon them). Throw in an HFS-tival or two, and there are some fine childhood and high school memories.

It was a touching (if, again, perhaps excessively gushing) tribute to a stadium that, much like the baseball (and sometimes soccer) team that resides in it, has been slammed far too much these past three years.

It will be a busy weekend for DCO. Specifically, a busy Sunday. The DC Optimist will be in attendance at the Nationals’ last home game at RFK, hoping to track down Man Act for some desperate last-minute ‘Tism nuggets. Just a few hours later, Bobtimist Prime will grace the parking lots of FedEx Field, preparing to watch Eli Manning (continue to) do his best Ryan Leaf impression. Not a bad way to spend the day.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

'Tism Such as We've Rarely Seen

We’ve already noted the surging ‘Tism levels that were observed in the week leading to the Miami game. The surge has only grown since then. To put it in scientific terms (since all of us took science in high school, and possibly college, and at least one of us loves the Sci-Fi Channel), if the everyday background level of ‘Tism in the DC area was physically represented by, say, a football (perhaps a football gracefully falling into the waiting hands of Chris Cooley in the corner of an end zone), then the week-prior-to-preseason level would be a wheelbarrow full of such footballs. The current ‘Tism level, then, would have to be represented by enough footballs to cover the continent of North America in a layer of synthetic pigskin 20 feet deep. Where are these unquenchable vibes coming from? Let’s review.

Admitted-and-reformed optimism hater Mike Wise goes so far as to call the Skins’ victory an exorcism, presumably one that banished all demons ever encountered who wore ridiculous wings on their helmets. T-Boz continues his return to form in urging us all to ignore any nagging negatives and embrace the cold, uncompromising, utterly objective 2-0. Did he really invoke 1991? Yes. We’ll keep it at that…for now.

Wilbon scores big points for highlighting the staggering early season success, basically saying the Skins have found the formula to go undefeated, and scores even more points for referring to the Giants as “laughably pathetic.” We’d also add “pathetically laughable” and “imminently self-destructable.”

The Washington Times is already bringing on the expectation-exceeding angle. This sounds familiar, wouldn’t you say?

How out of control is this rapidly spreading wave of ‘Tism?, never a bastion of Redskins-loving, features Jason Campbell in the first slide of its Week 2 photo gallery, showing us how big of a deal it really was to go to Philly and beat the Eagles, who were crowned as NFC East champions by experts too lazy to think of another team who could possibly win the division. Dr. Z, who himself has recently shown a distaste for optimism-hating, ranks the Skins as the seventh-best team in the NFL (though he does need to re-think that #3 rank he bestows upon the Tank-Johnson-signing Cowboys).

That’s a helluva lot of optimism, and while 2-0 may be a prime catalyst, there’s more going on here.

United: in the playoffs, on track for yet another title.

Nationals: “hurting someone”, as Manny said they could. Mark the Mets as hurt after dropping 2 of 3 in pathetic, non-competitive fashion. The beauty of 2 of 3 cannot be understated, as the situation simultaneously hurts the Mets as they grasp to hold their lead in the NL East, and the Phillies, who need New York to lose every possible game as they try to catch up. Thus are the Mets left less confident in their lead and the Phillies left wishing there could have been more ground to gain. Yes, one of them ultimately has to win this thing, but that doesn't mean they should be able to enjoy it.

Capitals: suddenly wondering where to put all this prime talent. Backstrom in the center or on the wing? Kozlov on the first line or second? 'Tism cannot be contained within the walls of Kettler. Ben Clymer feels it, and we couldn't be happier, since we know how much he loves our piercing and insightful questions.

Wizards: Wait until training camp. It's going to be glorious.

Bask in it, people. Like a total solar eclipse, optimism such as this just doesn't happen that often. And like an eclipse, don't stare directly at it. Just drink plenty of 'Tism-aide and enjoy the ride.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Why That Bomb Didn't Happen

It's late in the fourth quarter, the lead was slightly trimmed, the Eagles were guessing run, the play action drew in the safeties and Santana went free, but why did the pass sail errantly into the endzone? Take it easy, Washington Sports Fans. Jason is new at this quarterbacking on the national stage thing. Sometimes, you just have to take it slowly on your first few big tries. He had a lot of pressure on him to perform, and when it comes to really making it happen, experience is always the deciding factor. Jason was cool and collected, working the middle (routes), stretching and feeling out the defense. He knew the right moments to place in those over the shoulder throws, gently rolling right to find the open Yoder, even taking the time to work it himself, by running the ball for 20 yards. But everyone knows that even if you have your midrange and solo skills on lock, it doesn't mean you can go truly deep. You have to trust and understand your instincts, your feelings. You can't go too hard, and you can't go too soft. You have to caress the field, pay attention to the signs, know when to let it go, and when you let it go, you have to do it right. When Jason finally saw the opportunity, he thought he might have it, he thought he was there, he thought it was happening... but it didn't. Trust that with a few more games under his belt, he will be able to hit that right.

Safety First (Place) Always

Last night, the revamped, revised, retooled Redskins checked off their second consecutive win of the season knocking off the zero-time super bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in their decrepit backyard. So many wonderful things occurred during this nationally televised football event, mostly involving blunders both of the pregame prediction variety, and of the coaching variety, but the most wonderful thing, yes, even more wonderful than glorious headlines like this, was the redemption of the front office's decision-making earlier this year. On draft day, many a sports pundit heaped hatred onto the braintrust for their selection of Laron Landry with the sixth overall pick in the NFL draft. They opined, "The moment Washington filled its glaring holes on the defensive line with a safety, the priority became a party 30 miles away." How sweet it was that Landry, that nonfactor wasted draft pick, arrived at the precisely correct moment to dislodge a potential first down catch from Kevin Curtis on fourth down on one of the few Donovan McNabb passes that didn't bounce off the turf.

'Tism-hatred for the Redskins draft was marked with bizarrely incongruent thoughts of Landry clashing with the other superstar safety in the skins' lineup, Sean Taylor, culminating in Taylor missing a few initial pre-training camp workouts. Cut-and-runners decried the two sharing a backfield when their contracts were not of equal standing, assuming with a certain degree of prejudice that Taylor would never warm up to a kid making more money than him. All of these supposed red flags soon fluttered to the ground like an Jon Gruden inconclusive challenge flag thrown during a playoff loss ("I am a fan of instant replay"), and the two safeties started a noticably burgeoning relationship.

Landry broke into the starting lineup, a place never meant for green rookies. He lit up the preseason, hurdling into Kerry Collins' ribs as if he were a Jaeger Bomb in a tilt in Tennessee. He rifled through the Dolphins line to stuff Ronnie Brown to the tune of 33 yards on week one. And in front of a cable TV audience and thousands of whiney, depressed, pathetic, unwashed Philadelphians, Landry forced the knife into the Eagles.

And it isn't just the occasional clutch big play from this fantastic Redskins secondary. Everytime a receiver managed to catch one of McNabb's passes before it hit the dirt, they were met by a defender. See Reggie Brown here, being introduced to Sean Taylor's shoulder pad on a potential catch; notice (unless you are Gene Upshaw) how his lifespan has been altered. As a result of plays like this, Iggles' receivers were non-factors. In fact, as the increasingly senile Sam Huff and Sonny Jurgenson continued to point out during their slightly excruciating play-by-play last night, Redskins Defensive Associate CFO Whatever title Gregg Williams was simply dropping his two awesome safeties way way way into the secondary, just daring McNabb to bounce a throw their way. The bend-don't-break D kept the Eagles completely endzone free, leaving the lame spellings of their team name to be chanted obnoxiously only after David Akers field goals.

The Redskins defense has only allowed one touchdown so far this year, and that one was an insult to which newly-minted head-slapper London Fletcher provided pertinent ether for the locker roomers, post hoc. We noted earlier that the 5-11 defense that brought so much pain to us last year was a statistical abberation. We seem to be correct there. Interesting how, unlike the entire sportsnation poll last night, we seem to be correct about something else as well.

Monday, September 17, 2007

DCO to Andy Reid: Thank You

Apparently, Andy Reid is a closet 'tism-lover. Exhibit A: his questionable timeout called while the Redskins were lining up for a questionably called field goal attempt. We can only surmise that Reid sees the same potential in the Skins offense that we do, and wanted to give Gibbs and company the chance to re-think their flat-out weird call to try for 3 with 14 seconds left in the half. Following Reid's correct call, Gibbs responded with the correct call to go for the TD, even giving the O more room to work by ordering an intentional delay of game and false start.
Now at the end of the half we are treated to the beautiful serenade of the Philly faithful, those fans that in the pre-game Chris Berman declared would "adopt you for life" once you were "in" with them. Truly moronic.
A lead at the half! Mrs. DCO is happy because Santana and the D need to get her big fantasy points tonight. We're all happy for the lead and for the thumping the Nats are putting on the Mets.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Friday, September 14, 2007

Trapped by the 'tism with the MAO of the Week (9-14)

The 'tism rays beaming from the Kettler Iceplex have been duly noted in these parts, and we couldn't be happier with the abundance of smiles. We have already rewarded both the Capital Captain Chris Clark and his cohort Olaf Kolzig subsequent MAOs for their pertinent positivity, with them saying on different earlier occasions that all of the moves the Caps made have been brilliant, and that they are on the verge of playoffity. Thus we cannot simply hand them another honor when they are basically restating the position in front of media peoples (where was our invite, by the way?). Not even if Tarik El-Bashir drops luscious lines like "optimism flowed freely," and Alex Ovechkin describes his hair as "gangster-style."

No, this week's MAO relates to the soon-to-be wrapping up Washington baseball season, where the sport's writers are now taking to analyzing the Nats' after-the-fact brilliance in comparison with their before-the-fact dire predictions of doom. Barry Svrluga, not unlike Dmitri Young, rocks hard every day by posting in blogs, holding chats, writing books, writing game stories and dominating baseball coverage in this city. While he may have that undesirable "objectivity" keeping his material from being truly 'tism-riffic, he occasionally gets excited about the way things are going, and in this morning's Notebook, he couldn't possibly hide his enthusiasm about how the team did in 07 despite what everyone predicted in the season's beginning as hopelessness personified in baseball form. Under the completely inconspicuous headline "Better Than Expected?", Svrluga dangles this nugget of retrospective 'tism for us all to lap up.
"With 16 games remaining, 10 at home, the Nationals need to go 7-9 to better
their 71-91 mark from a year ago. Considering the dire predictions prior to the
season, that would seem to be an accomplishment."
We too feel like the surpassing of dire expectations this year was an accomplishment, as was maintaining a youthful movement, replenishing the minor divisions and revitilizing the careers of guys who turned out to rule. Svrluga then probes the Master about the good that came from this season, to which ChairManny answers in the most frankly 'tismatic way possible.
"It won't mean anything to me," Manager Manny Acta said last week. "From Day One here, I wanted to play .500."
You have to love the Master's unflappable tism, which never frayed despite that tough April and the subsequent attempts to rectify its effect on the season. But, as with the Caps continued confidence in their new team structure, you already know how Manny, the MAO's mascot, feels. Therefore, we salute Svrluga this time, for even someone who was "trapped into being an optimist last year" can be rightly swayed into the 'tism territory by peppy managers, lovable players and dance-inspiring field brilliance. And when the Nats finish the next 16 games unblemished, fulfilling Manny's not-as-dire preseason prediction, another trap will be set.

Look Who's In the Playoffs

We don't write about the United very much. It's not that we don't like soccer or anything nefarious like that. It's likely more that we admittedly don't know much about the intracacies of the game, or the details of the United depth chart. In short, we don't write often because we don't want to look stupid like posers. The United are undoubtedly deserving of respect for their place as the lone DC team to have had consistent, long-term success.

With that in mind, let's look at the newly playoff-bound team and the optimism-hating they've had to endure at times during this season. Two key moments strike us as telling. First: the panic in some quarters after an 0-3 start. This April 29 hand-wringing (and needlessly sarcastic headline) seemed to us to be the most egregious example of reactionary pessimism and desire to surrender since, well, April 23. The implication seemed to be that the United didn't have it any more, that, given the losing streak that stretched into last season, they were done and it didn't matter how early in the season it was.

Optimism-hating incident the second: following a predictable surge by United through the early summer, they laid a dud in Salt Lake City. Not a cause for concern. Here we had the predictable blather about how bad Real Salt Lake was and how could the United possibly lose to them and look so listless etc, etc.

How appropriate, then, that the team put to rest concerns from both instances in one game, clinching a playoff birth against the very same dreadful Salt Lake team to which they lost in June? Can RFK possibly hold any more remarkable turnarounds this season? Will the aging monument to DC sports excellence collapse under the weight of 'tism before it can be (eventually) demolished? Not only that, there is now a healthy margin between DC at the top of the East and New England in second place. It's all the more remarkable since we might reasonably implicate the Revolution as cheaters by association, which is to say name-sharing.

In all, yet another example of why to avoid reactionary pessimism. That goes for all our teams.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Clinton Portis Motivation Post

Listen, Clinton, we don't care how many Redskins victories you can singlehandedly account for. It doesn't matter to us that you hold the Redskins' record for rushing yards in a season, besting gawds Bobby Mitchell, John Riggins and Rickey Ervins. And you know what? It didn't matter that due to your departure from the team last year, the Redskins sucked.

Nope, we still think you are a second-rate running back, unworthy of even a first round fantasy draft pick. In fact, that guy behind you on the depth chart, Ladell Betts? He's better than you. Yep! Better. He rushed for like a ton of yards in that end of last year where you weren't around and the wins weren't coming. What were you doing? Rehabbing for the first time in your career? Returning to 100% or whatever other percentage of abritrary health you feel like achieving? That doesn't sound like a team player to us. Nope. Those attention-grabbing press conference dress-ups that everyone seems to love don't help either. We know that you were just pandering for Madison Avenue types, trying to get that Chad Johnson love. In fact, we thought your little dance after scoring the Redskins' only touchdown Sunday on a typically athletic 19 yard scamper was sub-par at best. I didn't see any props, any championship belts, any of the whimsy that Johnson continues to beat us over the head with.

In fact, we can distinctly remember coach Gibbs saying that Ladell was going to get a majority of those carries; we bet you were on the sideline whining for the ball. 98 yards and a touchdown doesn't always come with limited carries, and we can easily see that your me-first ways were plaguing a team that needed some sort of boost when down at the half. We read Dillweed's (spec-friggin-tacular) offensive game breakdown and saw that the Jansen injury can be blamed on you!

This disturbs us, in addition to the troubled offseason you've had here. Sympathiezing with dog killers? Not cool man. It's also not cool to not take every snap during the preseason seriously by ignoring nagging health issues. The preseason is important to the development of team chemistry, despite the games being meaningless and often gut-wrenchingly terrible. We were right with those guys all clamoring for your head at the beginning of the season, wondering why you and your gi-normous contract were still on this team when we had Betts and his occassionally reliable non-fumblingness with a newly signed deal and everything. You became an afterthought. And then you try your best to direct the cameras toward you, you attention-whore, to opine about your injuries and the haterz and the motivation they are causing you. And after all of the hubbub about your status for game one being questionable, and how you may not know how you're gonna play, and how your language is colorfully edited by Post staffers for legibility purposes and other stuff, we saw that none of it mattered as long as you got your carries.

And you know what, despite your competent performance against the vaunted Dolphins D, we are still nervous about giving you a majority of the carries against the Iggles. It is where you broke your thumb and subsequently washed away the whole offseason of spending and revamping, ultimately resulting in 5-11. When it comes to scampering, injured, multi-purpose running backs, your run a close second to Brian Westbrook in many people's eyes. While we are never going to side with a Philadelphian, we still want you to know that we are listening a little closer.

(This disturbing amount of hatred was meant purely for motivational purposes. Now go torch the Eagles)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Shaun Suisham Honored By DCO Hall of Fame

Redskins' placekicker Shaun Suisham has become the second official member of the DCO Hall of Fame, joining July inductee John Lannan of the Nationals. Not that they are the only members of this fledgling-yet-distinguished institution. There are numerous, and obvious, unofficial members, in the same way there are unofficially-retired-yet-still-honored Redskins' jersey numbers.

Lannan and Suisham, however, have caught our optimistic eyes with special achievements. Lannan wowed us with his bold rookie debut that featured inside-inside pitches against the Phillies, pitches which exposed the optimism-hating of a major league umpire and inspired his team to an important mid-summer victory. Suisham punched his DCO HOF ticket almost as early in his Redskins' career by connecting from 39 yards in OT to beat the Dolphins on Sunday. A perfect, down-the-middle, non-chip-shot-game-winning field goal, while a nice addition to any resume, would not necessarily be Hall-worthy on its own (see Novak, Nick). The accomplishment placed in context, however, reveals the importance (and reason for optimism) behind it.

Suisham has been nearly perfect (11 for 12) since coming to Washington after being dropped like a playoff snap to Tony Romo in Dallas. While the curmudgeons in Texas preferred their kickers crazy, the Redskins, perhaps starting their newfound trend of looking past big names, found yet another a kicker on which to stake their future. Much as the Nationals have found success with castoffs Dmitri Young, Ronnie Belliard, and Wily Mo Pena, the Skins have found their man behind the tee (and Derrick Frost's competent fingers) with Suisham.

No more having the indignity of carrying two kickers on the roster: one for kick-offs (anothe Suisham strength, save the pop-up to the 20 on Sunday) and one for field goals. No more Jose Cortez, John Hall, Brett Conway, Eddie Murray, etc. Remember the Michael Husted era? Remember the overtime game in 2000 against the Bucs when Norv decided to try to run it in three times from inside the five yard line rather than send in Husted for a field goal attempt of 23 yards or less? Remember how relieved we all were when that eventual kick actually made it through the uprights? Contrast that with Coach Joe deciding to kick a 39-yard field goal in overtime on first down with Suisham. That's confidence, that's stability, and that's DCO HOF context.

Sunday, September 9, 2007


- Joe Gibbs, showing faith in his kicker like Manny Acta shows it in his closer, calls for a 40-yard field goal attempt on 1st down in OT. Optimism rewarded (he just needs to watch the kicks instead of looking at the ground, but we still appreciate the vote of confidence).
- Portis looking every bit the big-time confident back we know he is. Leading with his shoulder as he fights for an extra yard or two in overtime! Welcome back, Clinton.
- Campbell stares down the Dolphins' blitz on third and long and finds Cooley for the biggest first down of the game.

I also appreciate the game wrapping up quickly in overtime, as I have to now leave to pick up Mrs. DC Optimist at the airport. She was unfortunate enough to have to miss all of this flying back from CA.

Fourth Quarter

- Hmmm, didn't see this coming
- How great was it to see Joe Gibbs: A) Go for it on fourth and two. B) Blow up on the refs when they called the offense for a fals start on the same play. Neither thing has been a Gibbs trademark the last few years, so perhaps this indicates yet another Redskins' change-of-philosophy, to go along with not overpaying free agents, not trading away multiple draft picks, and using the draft picks they had wisely
- The Campbell-Randle El thing is going to work out just fine. That deflected catch as time expired was just about the 'tism-soaked ending we were looking for. Oh yeah, and Campbell heaved that throw about 70 yards.
- Mike Sellers is still a beast capable of running over even the Gumbel-and-Dierdorf-worshipped Jason Taylor

Third Quarter

- Campbell to Randle El: an emerging Manning to Harrison?
- Portis eats yards; Portis scores; opening drive brilliance
- Portis absence from the preseason would seem to be a non-issue
- Rocky's preseason mastery carries over into the real season; eat the midfield logo, Trent Green
- Offensive line protection looking good, even with Jansen missing. Receivers will get open
- Good defensive stand inside the 10, again without the benefit of jumping offside
- Almost forgot how well Campbell can run. On that play, Portis shows he still knows how to throw a hit/block
- Huge catch by Moss to close out the quarter; we knew he couldn't stay out of the game forever
- Sure a 10-10 tie at the end of 3 isn't exactly what we had in mind, but the offense is able to move, the D really is holding back alleged genius Cam Cameron's offense, and, above all else, 'tism is on our side

Second Quarter

- Dislocated Ankle. Dislocated Ankle. How painful does that sound? How unnecessary was that injury to Jansen? Could Jason Taylor have been more offside on that play? Not that calling the penalty would have prevented the injury, but it would have prevented that sack and could have helped that drive result in more than just a field goal. Stupid 'Tism-hating ref.
- Despite the grotesque injury, the Skins moved 75 yards against that vaunted, god-like (or so we're lead to believe) Dolphins' D. Perhaps now they are the overrated unit.
- Loving the Portis/Betts combo. Each looks fresh every time he touches the ball; still running over D-men for extra yards.
- A sack and a turnover for the Skins in under a half! How long did it take to reach those totals a season ago? McIntosh causing the fumble. Love this kid. We'll say it again, the D is back.
- Campbell threads the needle again to Randle El for big yardage. Early INT is ancient history.
- The crowd sounds amazing, save the Dolphins' fans. Seriously, such people still exist?
- Campbell is still basically a rookie. He's going to do things like miss a wide-open Santana Moss from time to time.
- No need to worry about Santana's drop. The quality of his hands is not in question. He'll make a ridiculous grab again, probably before this game is finished.
- Booker drops a pass in the middle of Area 51. The first of many such drops with possible-beheading thoughts on the mind?
- Skins D gives up the late touchdown. They should have tried jumping offside. It worked for the Dolphins.
- 7-3 is anything but insurmountable. They can beat these bums yet.

First Quarter

- Nice of CBS to turn on the HD with about three minutes left in the quarter
- Smoooooooooooottttt. Great to hear it again, and great to see him flying around making tackles like Deion Sanders never could.
- Derek Frost punts for 64 yards!
- Redskins' RBs consistently running over would-be tacklers
- Jason Campbell shakes off an early INT (simple miscommunication, really), dropping a gorgeous long pass into the eager arms of Antwaan Randle El
- The D in defense stands for Downright violent. Andre Carter builds on last year's strong finish with a huge sack. Rocky McInstosh throws a big hit. Sean Tayolr is Sean Taylor.
- Skins driving for a score. Looking good.

Optimism Sunday

Judging from the sample of fans interviewed during the pregame and pre-pregame shows on Comcast this morning, it is clear that, despite 5-11, 'tism levels in Redskins fans remain high, as though last year never happened. It's as though the teams is still coming off of that 10-6, divisional-playoff high. And why not? The legions of fans arriving at FedEx field at 7:30 AM know that the defense is once again stout. They know that the offense will find its footing. They know that it's just the Dolphins coming to town, who are basically the equivalent of a I-AA warm-up team (does not apply if your team name is Michigan). These early optimism-lovers, as they drink their fill of 'Tism-Aide in the parking lots, know what can be accomplished this season. Perhaps inspired by Manny's Nats, they know that low expectations from the experts, including misguided notions of last-place finishes, mean nothing. Besides, we have the ultimate expert on our side, one who knows something about beating the Dolphins. Riggo says they can prevail, so they will.

It's traditionally the most optimistic Sunday of the year in NFL cities (unless those cities are Detroit, Houston, or Oakland), but in DC, 'tism levels are truly off the charts. Bobtimist Prime is in the afformentioned parking lots. I am here to cover from the TV side. It begins.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Everyone Makes Mistakes (The AP Does So Often)

We could spend days agonizing over things such as five team errors and the Future of the Team accounting for three errors and four strikeouts, but why? Why dwell on that when the headliner of the 2007 draft class, Ross Detwiler, made a flawless Major League debut? Why dwell on the negatives when everyone makes the occasional blunder? To point, look at this nonsense from the Associated Press story regarding this very game:

"Shortstop Felipe Lopez had the other miscue, throwing one into the Braves dugout after field a routine grounder."

Now, we at the DCO are not above making a grammatical or spelling error now and then, but we: A. Do not (at least in theory) have a battery of editors at our disposal to catch such things. B. Do know the difference between "field" the noun and "fielding" the verb (yes, sometimes "field" can be a verb, but most certainly not in this context). Also, "Braves" would be better served as the plural possessive "Braves'" (a little muddled with the quotation marks, but you get the point).

Thus, the AP is declared unfit to detail the Nationals' error-prone night, as they are unable to avoid errors even as they write about an error. The irony is astounding. Shakespeare-worthy, even. They have the unfair advantage, however, of being able to correct their botch after the fact. Poor Ryan Zimmerman does not have such a luxury. If only we had videotape of the AP drone who wrote this story making his/her mistake. Now that would be Sportscenter-worthy.

Riggo: Redskin Legend and MAO of the Week (9-7)

The endlessness of the week is starting to feel like one of those security lines at the entrance to FedEx Field, where you can pretty much finish a six pack before you are finally lightly frisked for weapons (hopefully with more effort than at RFK). The 'tism-aide has been quenching our thirst for optimism (as my DCO partner says: "It's got what fans crave"), but it is making me yearn for some Arena Drive face-melting gridlock, jinxed "IT'S THIIIIIIRD DOWN!" calls from Public Addresser Mark Kessler, endless walks up the hellish ramp to the 400 section and tired funky five dance routines. Never have I been so desperate to pay $8 for a beer in my life! Whilst the amount of 'tism-aide being ingested is not boding well for my bladder (meaning my anticipation, metaphorically speaking), it sure is going down easy, and providing us with another taste is none other than Redskins all-timer and now prominent radio host (granted, if the sun is still out), John Riggins.

Riggo, as if he were back in training camp acting a fool, has hit the airwaves with a bold declaration of the Redskins' potential record. Riggo is confident that the skins will completely reverse the tragedies of 5-11 and sew up the division with an 11-5 record! As for Joe Gibbs? Coach of the year! Being that, like most of the planet, I cannot hear ESPN XXXradio without having headphones hooked up to one of their three ham radio towers, I have culled this information from my homiez at, where Riggo's big prediction was posted. This prediction may not be quite as bold as our pre-preseason prediction, but like Antwaan Randle-El's similarly profound prediction, it sees only the sky as the limit for this skins ball club. And why not get excited?

According to those stat-guys from Slate we profiled in yesterday's post, these skins are basically the Indianapolis Colts, who spent yesterday abusing softy-diver defensive back Jason David to the tune of 41 points. You may recall David as the guy who upon receiving a slight nudge of contact from diminutive dynamo receiver Santana Moss in last year's Colts suck-fest, violently threw himself to the ground in a very Varejao- or Jagr-like manner, drawing a personal foul flag. The DCO sees the scorching of this tool as great karmatic justice and we salute Peyton Marketing for handling him justly.

But back to Riggo's prediction: I am sure he can see the brilliance in how the team has been assembled, as we and others have. And his legendary brilliant past leaves no doubt of his strong mental capacity and penchant for intelligence. I can remember his pertinent analysis on old Redskins Reports where instead of a lame, passe boutineer, he would insert a stalk of celery into his jacket pocket, obviously a statement about fighting childhood obesity. Riggo's depth has even inspired brilliant blogs, like DCO homiez Sandy, Baby, who we will ride and/or die with after this post. So please, drink in the 'tism-aide, and hurry up in the men's room while your at it. If you shake it more than twice, you're playing with it.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Only 4 Days Left and 'Tism Levels are Off-the-Charts!

This time of year may be tough for guys like Clinton Portis, who need haterz (aka fantasy gurus) as his motivation, but with less than 96 hours before actual meaningful football, tidal waves of 'tism are reaching the shores of the area as if Hurricaine Acta was approaching the Annacostia (please do not draw any New Orleans parallels here). First, Slate's Football Prospectus guy, who takes on the likely-impossible task of predicting how NFL seasons go via statistical analysis, has publicly announced that the Redskins will do better this year. Feast on this 'tism nugget before you write off the frugality, the level-headed decision-making and the faith in previous line-up additions of the braintrust as unworthy:
"Watch out for the Washington Redskins. Last year, Washington had the worst
third-down pass defense of any team since we started tracking play-by-play data
in 1996. As you might remember from yesterday's piece, the
Redskins had more than their fair share of injuries last year. If Washington
gets a little healthier this year, they should improve considerably on third
down and make a strong push for the postseason."
That's right folks, WATCH OUT! The DCO sees this kind of thoughtful, unbiased research as proof that the Redskins are totally going to be good. According to these statistical geniuses, we can officially write off last year's team as injury-riddled. May we suggest possible grammatical additions in light of this brilliant recent analysis?

And if the statistical data-mining done here doesn't satisfy your faith in the Redskins' makeup, how about hearing similarly bursting 'tism coming from noted ESPN talking heads? Recent Sportscenters have had Eric Allen and Sean Salisbury choosing "More than last years" for the skins win total, with Salisbury tacking on his requisite "they're gonna play physical" and Eric Allen chuckling at something. ESPN guys talking good about the skins? What could they and Sally and Mike and Boz be drinkin'? Why it would be the 'tism-aide, and it doesn't stop pourin' on the ESPN set either. On the World Wide Hated inter-website, "Hashmarks" columnist Matt Mosley lives up to his sort-of Most Valuable surname with this tide-turned answer to a superfan's (from Ballmer no less!) quiery regarding the skins' chances this year:

Jarrod, Baltimore: Does Joe Gibbs take the Skins to the playoffs this year? I
really think Joe is rallying the troups together to make the playoffs this year
and push even further next year in the last year of his deal. What are your
thoughts Matt?

Matt Mosley: (3:20 PM ET ) I'm a lot more optimistic about the
Redskins than I was a month ago. Part of that is based on thinking their defense
has too much talent to have another miserable year. Teams already feared Sean
Taylor. With LaRon Landry forming Area 51, receivers are going to be think twice
about going over the middle. A lot of this hinges on how Campbell does at
quarterback. I like him more and more, but I haven't seen enough to convince me
he'll get it done. I did hear that Al has trimmed 200 pages off that playbook.

We know that feeling, Jarrod and Matt, and we know what you're sipping too. In fact, large quantities of 'tism-aide are currently being prepared as we speak for F-40 parking lot consumption Sunday morning. Stop by for a glass.

< 100

Ahhhhhhhh. We’ve waited for four months and through the endless ridicule of co-workers and detractors, but we now know for sure that, at season’s end, the Nationals’ loss column will contain only two digits. The 100+ loss season has not come to pass in DC. The same cannot yet be said for Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Chicago (White Sox), Florida, or Pittsburgh. While these teams are likely to soon eclipse 63 wins, it’s nice to get there ahead of somebody.

The one non-63-eclipser could be Baltimore if they keep dropping 17-2 laughers to the Devil Rays. We must thank Ballmer, though, for answering our question from a couple of days ago as to how the Orioles could be further embarrassed this season. We didn’t see this one coming. Sure looks like somebody in Tampa wants to shed the Worst Team in MLB stigma. Still, record aside: the Orioles are much worse than the Devil Rays.

With win 63 securely in hand, the Road to 72 (and thus a tangible improvement over last year’s team, which wouldn’t recognize the current team) is as open as the Lerners’ off-season checkbook. They could even reach 73 wins, pushing the loss total to <90. preamble to the start of the Redskins’ season. It’s what we, and like-minded optimists, knew was inevitable.

NOTE: Thanks to William Yurasko for the iconic DC 63 road sign. If all goes according to Plan, it will be joined in history by 72 and 73.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Jinx Beater

It would seem we have another late-inning go-to guy flourishing on the Nats. A player who is as clutch as Tony Romo wishes his fingertips were. Add Jesus Flores to the relentless stream of large-and-small-scale redemptive stories of this season. His fall and rise came together in a single game, and even overcame, eventually, the bedeviling Carpenter/Sutton jinx. This dangerous jinx seems to be growing rapidly (it has already claimed Shawn Hill at least twice), and appeared to be well on the way to destroying young Flores last night.

After Jesus dropped the first of his two botched popups, our man Sutton boldly declared, "He won't do that again for five years." Anyone else think it would inevitably happen in a much, much, much shorter timeframe after that? Seriously, these guys should just start talking about no-hitters during the second inning, hitting for the cycle after a first-inning single, and a Game 7 World Series victory during a spring training preview in February. Why not? Better yet, they should start making video games.

Back on point: as we know, you can't keep a good saviorly named man down, particularly not an impressionable youngster raised in the Acta School of 'Tism. Flores delivered a ninth-inning, two-out, game-winning shot down the left field line that was as crisp and refreshing as a post-game interview shaving cream pie. Don't mess with Jesus, don't mess with Manny, and if your name is Carpenter or Sutton, just don't mess with anything.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

T-Minus Six Days and Counting the Nats

There are only six days of non-mattering football left. Marcus Washington "remains optimistic," do we? If we were Jazze Pha and also insufferable, we might scream "SHO NUFF" a scant 72 times in one minute ("LADIES AND GINNULLMEN!"). The season opener against the Dolphins is approaching faster than London Fletcher approaches a running back, and the DC Optimist is confident of a victory, why? Well it would be because of the stunning parallels between the Miami team that is currently visiting and looking to escape the district and the one that is set to be bludgeoned Sunday. Remember the Marlins? Well they once won a world series like years ago, and proceeded to gut their roster like savage fishmongers. Well now they look up at the reigning forth place team in the National League East, the Washington Nationals, after Jason Bergmann got his groove (slider) back yesterday afternoon.

In honor of this six-day waiting period, we have provided six other reasons why victory Monday will = victory Sunday:

1. Jason Bergmann's return from injury to be the guy we all thought he was looks eerily similar to the way Clinton Portis is returning from injury to be the guy we all know he should have been last season. 5-11 had it's fair share of bruises, tears and breaks of the bodily variety, and we know the team-carrying that Clinton showed in '05 was not fluke, just like we know the potential no-no Bergmann was hurling earlier this year was no fluke either. Bergmann's return to form speaks volumes to us about Clinton's eventual load carrying.

2. Similar to the Redskins' defensive line, Chad Cordero has faced much malign-ment from Nationals faithful. But in reality, he hasn't been that bad, and hasn't been really awful since he returned from bereavement leave according to B. Svrluga, who culls some very 'tism-riffic statistics in the Post's game piece.
"Cordero, too, could concentrate on his eight blown saves, the most in baseball.
But he has saves in almost half the Nationals' wins, and since returning from
bereavement leave in May to deal with the death of his grandmother, he has 26
saves in 30 opportunities with a 2.66 ERA -- even with a five-run debacle Aug.
24 against Colorado. Take that away, and his ERA over that time drops to
See? ONE bad game, and the rest = domination. Could we say the same thing about the Redskins defensive line, still the subject of much soreness? Well yes, if we count 5-11 as a much longer, more torturous ninth inning in Colorado. The Redskins defense has been #5 in the league and #9 in the league in '04 and '05 respectively. Wipe away 5-11 and this remains the #7 defense in the league.

3. The Marlins suck and the Dolphins will suck. Seriously, Trent Green? This dude is more washed up than VH1's Sunday night lineup. And his upcoming gig with the fish, where quarterbacks go to die (Culpepper, AJ Feely, Jay Fiedler), is looking similar to the third season of Flavor of Love in its predictible trashiness and ultimately unsatisfying conclusion (Debillitating injury to Green = New York, Kurt Warner = I Love New York). The Marlins also have a hurler veering towards washed-uppedness. Remember Dontrelle Willis? He sure would like to forget the Nats, who own him.

4. Untested rookie talent on display at RFK mirrors untested rookie talent to be put on display at FedEx Field. Talk about diamonds culled from the rough of undrafted free agency! Lorenzo Alexander! Marcus Mason! These are the guys making the team and causing the jettisonning of storied veterans like Big Joe Salave'a and Reynaldo Wynn (I guess that leaves more time for message boards though). Could the arrival of super-studded prospects Justin Maxwell and Ross Detwiler have a similar effect on Nationals stalwarts? We aren't sure, but we are sure that due to the dilligence of both the skins' talent evaluation and brilliance of Kasten et. al's Plan, we see the importance of infusing rosters with youngsters. It is turning the season(s) around in DC, just wait.

5. Both the Nats and the Skins are locking in their largely haired, glittering statistical outputors. Who doesn't love the skins' new "pay those guys who are already on our team more money" philosophy? Sometimes chemistry counts for something, and when guys hang around, they tend to play better and stuff. Like Dmitri Young, with the batting title in sight, he gets new contract and continues to cut baseballs like they're Jeremiah Trotter from NFL rosters. The skins, seeing how awesomely awesome Chris Cooley is, thought they too should rightfully reward him for his efforts, and we expect nothing but awesome this season. It was Cooley who snagged Jason Campbell's knee-saving heave against the Steelers, and he was also on the end of another perfect Campbell pass during the five-for-five-my-knee-is-fine Jags tune-up. Campbell hasn't thrown an incomplete pass in almost two games!

6. Personal player comebacks galore! Even while ignoring the obvious Nationals comeback player of the year, there are other guys already bouncing back from hard times. What about Matt Chico's return? Doesn't that parallel the return of enjoyable, now-again-ready-to-contribute cornerback Fred Smoot? Ryan Langerhans's season has been historically bad, so has Brandon Lloyds. Both are returning after some rehabilitation, and both look to be great(er).

So with this six-pack of definite parallels, isn't it obvious who comes out on top this Sunday?

Sunday, September 2, 2007

MAO of the Week 8-31, and the Nats are Back

As we unofficially close out the summer, and as clutch Ryan Zimmerman and the Nats close out the Giants for that desperately needed series win, we present a late Manny Acta Optimist of the Week award to all those who ever, even briefly, believed in this maligned baseball team. Back in those dark days of April and early May (we all remember 9-25), when it was easy to pile on this team (and many did), it was equally as hard to think or say anything positive. But to all those who did, and more so to all those who dared to be part of the 25,000/night to cheer the Nats, this pre-Labor Day MAO of the Week (summer?) is for you.

Maybe on May 11 you guranteed to somebody (as we did) that the Nationals would not lose 100 games. Maybe that somebody laughed at you (as they did at us) and even proposed a wager to try to take advantage of your blind homerism optimism (as they did to us). Maybe a few weeks later, as the wins and 'tism piled up at RFK, you saw something more than a 120-loss team taking shape, and credited the ultimate font of optimism, Man Act, and called for his instant recognition as Manager of the Year.

During that rough little strech in late June, with teams like the Tigers really pounding on our fragile team, perhaps you found something nice to say, even during a, say, 15-1 deluge. Maybe you got your necessary shots and traveled to Baltimore to outcheer Charm City's finest during a sweep of the soon-to-be-historic Orioles. All of you can tell your future generations, "I saw that team lose to the Nats before they lost by 27 runs." Doing our own piling on for the moment, now that they've been swept at home by the team they did not want to exist, crushed by almost four touchdowns, scored on 11 times in one inning by the worst team in baseball, and no-hit by a rookie 23-year-old,can anything worse happen to the Orioles? This is not a rhetorical question. We would really like to know the - even hypothetical - situations in which Ballmer could be humiliated again. We're running out of scenarios here.

So this MAO's for you, 'tism-spreading Nats fans. Just a few wins away from clinching <100 losses and, once again, in fourth place.

To the specifics of this series against the Giants, was it needed or what? Not that we at the DCO ever had a doubt that the Nats would turn it around, even during those blown-save, big-blown-lead debacles out west, but it was getting....slightly more feel 100% optimistic. All that was wiped away, though, by last night's masterful game (perhaps the most pefect game I've had the pleasure to attend this season), and today's triumphant return of Matt Chico (dare we say we knew it would happen?) and the sure glove of Nook Logan plus even more sure bat of Zim. The only blight on those two games would have to be the robbing of Teddy R. of his first-ever Presidents' race. DCO knows why. Is there any doubt? Who was, coincidentally enough, umpiring first base, with a clear view, and thus influence of, the race? Why our buddy Hunter Wendelstedt. This known optimism-hater had the gall enough to toss Manny from a game back in July, so he is certainly not above denying Teddy his due. Wendelstedt was also seen to be conspiring conversing with Giants' 1B Ryan Klesko on numerous occasions in the innings prior to the race, so Klesko's involvment in all of this cannot be conclusively denied.

It's been slower than usual here at DCO for the last couple of weeks, but we'll get the 'tism blazing again in the coming weeks as the Redskins and their rejuvinated first-string offense and resurrected suffocating defense get rolling, the Nationals look to ruin sombody's NL East dreams (whether those dreams are for first place or fourth), the Caps get ready for a return to the postseason, the healthy Wizards gear up to settle scores after one of the most freakish injustices of all time, and the United, with their own stalwart defense, prepare to add another banner to the wall at RFK.