Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Chris Clark Is a Hockey God

While we eagerly await the Wizards’ impending eight-month reign over the Eastern Conference, a tip of the ‘tism cap to the Captain of the Wiz’s Verizon Center co-occupier is in order.

As information continues to filter in regarding Chris Clark’s recent injury injuries, the inevitable (and apt) comparisons to Dale Hunter gain momentum. The terms “grit” and “scoring touch” seem to be getting paired a lot. After his impressive-enough shift-finishing-following-tooth-loss almost a year ago, we might have wondered what it takes to actually prematurely end one of Clark’s shifts. Now we know: chipped tooth and a slapshot-butchered ear. As nasty as the ear business looked and sounded, the added knowledge of a second injury incurred just seconds before adds to the growing stature of #17.

We already know he doesn’t shy away from whatever tough questions come his way, and we’ll soon find out it takes much more than just a chunk of tooth and ear missing to make Cap’n Clark shy away from his grittiness-with-a-30-goal-scoring-touch style of play.

We hope he makes it back tomorrow to play the Rangers, who are dressed in their usual Halloween fare of a high-priced, underachieving alleged Cup contender.

Until then, bring on the Wiz.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Now That the Ugliness Is Out of the Way...

I never thought I’d resort to this, but let’s look to the Detroit Lions for hope in the aftermath (expect to see that word a lot this week) of the 52-7 non-win against New England. A little while ago, you may remember, the Lions went on the road against the Redskins and lost by 45 points, in their case, 45-0. Pretty bad loss. A pretty bad way to start off the 1991 season. But the Lions recovered, got back their key injured players, and eventually made it all the way to the NFC Championship game, where they of course again lost to the Redskins. So, the point is, it’s possible to bounce back from such a brutal non-win on the road and still make something of your season. If the Lions can do it, anyone can.

Note to Brian Belichick about that game: the Redskins were winning 45-0 in the fourth quarter, and had the ball on the Lions’ 1-yard line. It was a first down, even. One yard away from a truly gaudy 52-0 score. But not only did the Skins’ down the ball four straight times, benevolently giving it back to their convincingly dispatched foe, they did it with their backup QB (the legendary Jeff Rutledge), just to be sure the early crushing success of Mark Rypien did not accidentally result in more points. Such was the concern of Joe Gibbs and the Redskins not to needlessly show up an opponent. It’s called class and respect you drab-sweatshirt-wearing cheater. I know you’re still bitter about being held to the same rules as the rest of the league, but have a little respect (mercy?) for a team clearly beaten and beaten badly. Don’t go for it TWICE on fourth down, tool. Even the haughtiest Cowboys teams led by the likes of Irvin and Sanders weren’t this earth-shatteringly arrogant and heartless. Here’s hoping the Colts lay 90 on you.

But DCO, you may ask, didn’t you celebrate the late TD the Patriots scored against the Cowboys a few weeks ago, kind of sort of running up the score on them? Wasn’t that equally classless? Perhaps. That game was slightly closer, however, and right on the heels of Dallas’ miraculous (perhaps soul-selling?) victory over the Bills, in which they came back late in the game after facing a similar deficit. There: positions rationalized. End of complaint portion.

Seriously, though, at 4-3 and with the truly woeful Jets coming up next week, it’s possible, even probable, that at this time next week we’ll see the Skins at 5-3 and just a game behind the Giants at the halfway point of the season. Such a win would also match last year’s win total, with eight more games to improve upon it.

All is far from lost. They’re not the Dolphins (0-8). They’re not the Rams (0-8). But maybe they could be the *1991* Lions (12-4).

Historical Precedent for an Upset

Not too long ago (ok, a little bit long ago), there was a ragtag group of individuals in New England - visitors in New England, if you will - not highly thought of in the rest of the world. They faced down what was widely considered to be the greatest force in history. They were given little to no chance to succeed if they chose to go head-to-head with this force. They started a little scrap in the Northeast and eventually shocked the world with the ultimate result.

But enough historical bush-beating. The Patriots are the English, the Redcoats, as it were. The Redskins are the American colonists. How ironic that a team named in honor of those noble colonists who fought against English dominance now plays the very role of dominator. How much further ironic that the Patriots will today attempt to hold on to their (perhaps ill-gotten) power not far from the very cradle of American liberty.

Consider: The English stole the colonists’ money and land through taxes. The Patriots steal opponents’ defensive schemes through illicit videotaping. The English crushed weak opposition throughout the colonies with brutal tactics. The Patriots have brutalized such patsies as Buffalo, Cleveland, and the NY Jets, mostly with unnecessarily lopsided scores (though the late TD against the Cowboys was welcome). The English were perceived to be invincible against all but the French. The Patriots are perceived to be invincible against all but the Colts (sorry for that comparison, Indy). The English eventually got it handed to them. The Patriots could be ripe for a handing.

Bill Belichick = King George III
Redskins’ secondary = Minutemen
Tom Brady = Lord Cornwallis
Jason Campbell = Who else, GW
Gillette Stadium = Yorktown
Game Result = The World Turned Upside Down

It’s happened once before. It can happen again. To Arms!

Update at 0-24: Um, we can still salvage this one (this post and the game, I mean). To keep this comparison going, remember how bleak it looked at Valley Forge?

Caps Continue to Rack Up Solid Performances; Victories to Soon Follow

The Capitals continued along the road towards an inevitable winning streak with a magnificent 18-shots-against defensive performance and a completely serviceable 26-shots-for offensive performance. The penalty kill continued its recent resurrection, going 7 for 7, and the power play again showed tantalizing signs of life, despite the final 1 for 7 tally. All this added up to a 4-3 loss last night, but strongly indicates better things are on the way. We feel pretty confident at this time calling shots-against nightmares earlier this month complete flukes. That is, the complete opposite of the 3-0 start of earlier this month, which was not the least bit fluky, but rather a hint of what this season could be.

Performances lately look encouragingly similar to those of the afforementioned undefeated days, and we see the seeds of more extended winning streaks within such performances. We see gritty late-game comebacks in back-to-back nights (so close, so close) as evidence that the team does not lack heart, and will continue to battle back from deficits, perhaps stealing a game or two in the process. Sooner or later they will grow tired of late-game deficits, and an improved power play will net the necessary goals to prevent them.

If nothing else, feel better because at least as of right now the Caps are better off than the Rangers. What about the Rangers? What about their high-priced free-agent toys named Drury and Gomez that made them such fashionable picks to win the Cup? Those two centers have a combined 9 points (3 G, 6 A), while the perfectly fine center the Rangers jettisoned has 8 points (4 G, 4 A). It could be another delightfully long winter at MSG with big names that just (again) don’t mesh. We certainly hope so.

The Caps learned to avoid such tactics the hard way. Early season struggles (losing 6 of 7) show that their new way might not be pretty all the time. However, with solid (and thus, winnable) outings now piling up, it’s only a matter of time before the wins do as well, and all that good, home-grown talent, sprinkled with sanity-driven free agent acquisitions, will pay off. I choke on these words even as I am about to write them, but look at Pittsburgh last year. They stumbled around as a relatively young team for a couple of months before putting it together and, well, they lost in the first round of the playoffs, but you get the idea.

Friday, October 26, 2007

MAO of the Week: 10-26 TOSS-UP!

Hello boys and girls and welcome to another edition of PT-er-DCO, where today we will discuss this week's most optimistic sports personality. A person who, in the face of non stop defeatism, instead spread 'tism. Yes, this week's MAO is none other than Tony Kornheiser, who on the Thursday edition of's strange "Talking Points" vide-blog-thingies, said the Redskins could possibly win on Sunday. "Talking Points" is the current Kornheiser presence on the where viewers are treated to random video footage of him and Wilbon yapping shot by a cameraman who enjoys seeing himself in the mirror. This is what Washingtonians are given instead of the dreck that Kornheiser had been writing in the post-bandwagon era where most of the material involved finding someone's name that was similar to an older historical figure's name and making reference to it. But as much as we don't miss what TK was outputting, we were refreshed with his words on Thursday. Just about everyone in the world, even Canada has the Redskins getting their burgundy and gold hinds handed to them by some quarterback you may have heard about non-stop all season and his head coach, whatever his name is and their curious scouting techniques that may have been touched upon in the sports broadcasting landscape. Yeah, we are actually pretty sick of hearing about this "best ever" team and their tough road to 7-0, beating such powerhouses as the Miami Dolphins, the New York Jets, the Buffalo Bills, et al on their way to astounding offensive prowess and fantasy numbers. That is why we think it's nice that Kornheiser is sort of waffling onto the side of the skins, saying "the Redskins have good players at every position." Wow, impressive words, and without even making a reference to Jason Campbell's last name, which is the same as a soup manufacturer.
Kornheiser's debate partner in this webisode is sports editor Cindy Boren, who makes a "Dumb and Dumber" reference that likens the skins' possible victory to Lloyd's million-to-one chance of getting a date with Mary ("So you're telling me there's a chance" being the correct quote). Kornheiser sternly rebuffs Cindy's flippant tism-hatred by continuing to harp on the Redskins' goodness (another form of B-Lloyalty, maybe?).
Frankly, we agree with TK and think that the (insert overpraising adjective here) Pats have yet to see a guy like Sean Taylor, who has single-handedly set back quarterbacking with his ability to fly towards whatever ball is in his vicinity, occassionally nabbing an interception in the process. People are constantly impressed with all of the offenses that have welcomed the skins, yet afterwards, those offenses are questioned for their ability to properly perform. Why? Mostly it's because of the brillilant schemes of Gregg Williams, who dials down the blitzes against Martz and Co during the 34-3 bludgeoning of the Lions, goads Favre into going deep during their "should-have-won-it" loss in Green Bay, and scores major points during their "definitely-won-it-despite-major-injuries" victory over the Cards last week. This defense is special and it should be a mitigating factor, disrupting this oiled-up machine or whatever related picture of efficiency there is to describe that Boston-area team's offense, and likely nabbing turnovers.
Similar predictions were layed upon the skins before their visit to Philadelphia earlier this year, remember then? "national" polls had the entire world picking against the skins. In that game, it was those defensive backs sealing the win and the season for the Eagles, aparently.
Now if the associate offensive head whatever on the Redskins side of the ball can be as prolific with his backs, maybe this game-winning defense can be off the field long enough to maybe, just maybe seal a victory. According to Kornheiser, it is very possible.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

With the Ship Righted, A Win

Finally, a win for all of their keeping-shots-down trouble. After the shot-giveaway parties in New York and Buffalo, the Caps put forth their third straight sub-30-shot defensive effort (vs. NYI - 21; vs. Pitt - 22; vs. TB - 29), and this time came away with a victory. Perhaps now we can put to rest our fears that the team was in danger of devolving back to the giving up of 40+ shots/game of yesteryears. Those little defensive slip-ups of a week to 10 days ago certainly gave optimism-haters like ESPN the fuel they needed to drop the Caps down in their seriously flawed power rankings (seriously, how do the New York "We Love to Lose 1-0" Rangers still merit such a high spot, #11?), and make snippy comments about losing skids. Of course, dropping is a relative term, since even at 3-0 the Caps could barely crack the top 20 in the Chris Berman network's eyes.

The penalty kill, now again featuring Boyd "Selke" Gordon, has also righted itself after a slight relapse and looks to be heading back to the heady early season era of 100%. The PP will join its special teams partner soon enough. There was at least some true pressure applied last night, again reminding us of the halcyon days surrounding the brilliant home opener. Like the Redskins' offense, there is simply too much talent to stay dormant forever.

Eight games, eight points (three ahead of those high-flyin', high-signin' Rangers). Not bad for a team waking up from its rebuild hibernation. Much better than some teams who should in theory be defending division titles.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Clark: 1 2 of 30

Chris Clark, wisely moved back to the top line by Glen Hanlon, has made the move pay off not seven minutes into tonight's game. Clark, goal; Ovechkin, assist. Methinks we'll see that complimentary scoring a couple dozen more times this season.

2nd period: He can also score off his knee.

Important Stat From Peter King

I’ve tried to ignore this, having already been slightly negative yesterday (granted, it was about Philadelphia, and apparently I’m not alone in that regard), but I can’t let it go, and I can’t get it out of my head.

Peter King, treading dangerously close to old school Larry-King-randomly-bloviating-in-USA-Today territory, writes in the MVP Watch section of his MMQB, “Is it my imagination, or does [Tony] Romo lead the league in smiling?”

Ugh. I’m lost as to what else to say. Just, ugh. Perhaps this statement is rooted in statistical analysis, NFL-wide research, and hours of pouring over sideline footage, but more likely it’s a disgustingly flip remark and yet another indication of the inexplicable fawning over the slick-fingered Romo (no, we will never forget The Snap).

Leads the league in smiling? Maybe. He certainly leads the league in doofy backwards hat wearing. What about the rest of the Cowboys? What charming, adorable stats to they rack up? Does Wade Phillips lead the league in cute puppy scratching? Does Jerry Jones set the NFC standard in hearty chuckles? Will Roy William dust the rest of pro football when it comes to vivacious winking? Again, ugh.

There, it's out of my system. More traditional 'tism on the way, we swear.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


While we continue to enjoy the Redskins' surviving of a late-game comeback attempt, let's help our phriends in Philadelphia deal with the fact that their team was unable to pull off the same feat. Vote here on what you see for the Eagles the rest of this season. Enjoy the leading nature of the question, then enjoy even more the results from those legendarily loyal Philly fans.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Nothing Misleading Here


Not the prettiest way to achieve it, but it’s still…….4-2.

It’s disappointing to see borderline optimism-hating by our boy Steinz, who must have felt it necessary to quash whatever buzz we had left after yesterday’s harrowing 4th quarter. He called the right-in-the-thick-of-everything Redskins’ 4-2 record “misleading.” Misleading? Dan, Dan, Dan. What’s misleading about the NFC’s #1 defense? What’s misleading about shutting down back-to-back #1 passing offenses in the form of the Lions and Packers (followed by a surviving of the potent Warner-Rattay combo). But the offense is terrible, right? Not really: a perhaps-surprising #7 in points/game in the NFC. This ranks the Skins ahead of such alleged offensive dynamos as the Eagles (how can their average be so bad even with that 50+ against Detroit?), Saints, and Seahawks.

Ohio State's #1 ranking is misleading. Boston College's #2 ranking is misleading. This slippery fellow in the Alexandria Hyundai commercial is possibly misleading. The Redskins' 4-2 record is...the Redskins' 4-2 record.

The point being in all of this: let’s not look for reasons to dislike this win. Let’s, for once, revel in the fact that some other team is saying “we should have won this game” after putting up statistics to prove how superior they were to the team that just beat them. This week Arizona has “the field goal” (or, really, “the extra point”) instead of Washington having, say, “the fumble” or “the most difficult two yards in the history of existence.” As much as any person or team is ever “due” for anything, this team was “due” to win a game in which they were statistically outperformed (at least offensively).

-Off-topic for a moment: Chris Berman can discontinue saying “sexy” any time he wants to on the pre-game show. Somebody stop him, please.

Since we now safely can look past the Cardinals, let’s look at the Patriots. We’ve already documented that it’s a professionally acknowledged possibility the Redskins can win this game. It’s just a matter of the Redskins believing it can happen. They just need someone to inspire them, much as Moe inspired Homer before his fight with heavyweight champ Dreaderick Tatum. Since my few minutes of research did not turn up a video of this inspiration for the ages, I’ll borrow the quote from the Simpsons Archive.

Moe: All right, Homer, I'm not gonna lie to you. There's a good chance you can beat Tatum. But you gotta visualize how you're gonna win, okay?
Homer: Gotcha.
[dreams on about his victory]
Announcer: A congenital heart defect has apparently felled Tatum moments before he could step into the ring.

It’s that simple.

-Berman again. Please stop. Is he the only one who does not see that he is utterly insufferable? Is he the only one who feels he doesn’t deliver a joke with all the hilarity and non-awkwardness of Alex Trebek (anybody catch his whimsical Dr. Ruth impression tonight?)?

We’re bound to see a lot of “no chance, let’s concede 4-3 right now” commentary in the next six days. Like the thinking of all completely pessimistic thoughts, and like going 5-1 playing the Cowboys’ schedule, it’s easy to do. Resist. Resist in the same way you should resist thinking about worst-case scenarios.

Friday, October 19, 2007

MAO of the Week (10-19)

What do you say about a guy who has had possibly the worst game in the history of the WR position? Perhaps an exaggeration, but it was, even by optimistic standards (to which we dutifully hold ourselves), a, um, slightly below-average performance by Santana Moss last weekend in moist, gloomy Green Bay. If you are our own Bobtimist Prime, you write a blog post filled with memories of happier times past, and implore that we simply forget (or "asterisk-ize") the game.

If you are Coach Joe Gibbs, and making a blatant (and successful) play for the Manny Acta Optimist of the Week Award, you voice your confidence that Moss will "make a ton of plays for us down the stretch." You also call him a "proven playmaker" and write off his statistically abberrational early season to naughty hamstring and groin issues. In other words, you remain optimistic. Moss will snap out of his 5-game slump. We're as sure of that as we are that Brandon Lloyd will emerge intact and wildly successful from his mild 21-game downswing.

Seriously, he's coming back strong. Bobtimist knows it, Coach Joe knows it, the Cardinals will soon know it. Just think of Moss, as we do, gliding effortlessly into that inanely blue Dallas end zone (twice!), securing a defining victory two short seasons ago. Think of him leaving all of Jacksonville in his wake, salvaging (who knew at the time?) what could have been a 4-12 season. It's not hard to picture the same things against Arizona this week, New England next week (remember, the Skins can win up there), and against any other secondrary foolish enough to think that five games, 12 catches, 199 yards, and zero touchdowns are the new norms for Santana Moss.

For more optimism regarding Joe Gibbs, look no farther than his assessment of the much-needed, yet currently hobbled Casey Rabach. Sure he says "game-time decision", but we all know that means that Casey will be clearing lanes for Portis and Betts through such legendary Cardinals linemen as Gabe Watson and Darnell Dockett, while also finding the extra groin strength to keep Jason Campbell safe as he hits Santana in stride 40 yards downfield.

On an unrealted note: the Caps will be fine. Olie had a bad game. The PK had a bad game. The PP had a bad game. Reasons not to panic, in order: Olie will bounce back. Seeing him stop 49 of 52 shots numerous times over the years grants him the right to a lousy game or two. The PK will bounce back. Imminent Selke winner Boyd Gordon will soon return, anchoring the PK unit and returning it to its early season 12-for-12 glory. The PP will bounce back. Alexander Semin and his potentially glass-shattering wrist shot will someday be back, bringing another weapon to a unit already bursting with them. It defies all laws of physics and logic that the current talent amassed on the Capitals' power play unit has not been more successful. It can't continue, it won't continue, and it can't continue.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Chance in New England?

This is a couple of days old, but we have to voice our appreciation to WP columnist Leonard Shapiro for his implication that the Redskins have a chance at New England in a couple of weeks. In his piece from October 16, he proclaims the Patriots will not go undefeated this season, leaving the curmudgeonly ’72 Dolphins to celebrate their continued place in history as the only perfect team (we obviously prefer to remember the ‘82/’83 Dolphins). However, in looking at potential roadblocks to the Pats’ run at 19-0, he seems to kind of, sort of, pretty much suggest that the Redskins have a little bit of almost a chance of beating New England later this month. He writes: “The Patriots will be vulnerable in at least five more games -- Oct. 28 in Foxboro against a vastly improved Washington defense…” While not quite Optimist of the Week material, this sort of sentiment is welcome, and may be the most positive thing written about this upcoming game – outside this blog.

With the Redskins making a weekly habit of shutting down #1 rated passing offenses, the Patriots’ relatively benign #3-ranked passing O should be manageable. We only mourn that the passing attack Arizona brings to town this weekend is ranked #14, threatening to blunt the skills of Area 51, et al., before they get back to the business of shutting down to-notch attacks. Still, with hopes that Kurt Warner and Anquan Boldin will play rising, perhaps the competition will be raised a notch (no offense to Tim Rattay), providing a worthy warm-up for Brady, etc.

So there’s a nice bit of mid-to-late week optimism as we continue to recover from that what-the-hell-just-happened incident in Green Bay. If nothing else, the Skins are apparently a weekly solid pick for gambling purposes, as Steinz points out. Is he perhaps grasping for positives in order to land another MAO of the Week? Like the NFC, the race is wide open.

Speaking of the NFC and a wide open race, we are heartened that it only took one Cowboys’ loss to see the words “T.O.” and “frustration” together again. Downplay it all you wish, but like the inherent game-breaking ability of Santana Moss, the dissent in Dallas is just under the surface, waiting to explode. The Vikings could do us all a favor this weekend by truly exposing it. The Cardinals could further do us a favor by just being the Cardinals, and getting the Skins back into the thick of things.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Not the Best Weekend, But Help is On the Way

Not every weekend is going to be like last-weekend: ‘tism gift-wrapped with exquisite paper resembling a 34-3 victory, and topped off with a bow of undefeated hockey and a shutout home opener. It was easy to be optimistic after last weekend; it’s only slightly more difficult now, save for a handful of “fans” (you know who you are) eager to bail out and spread the optimism-hating that is eternally bottled up inside their dark and heavy souls. Actually, a deeper look at the fanbases reveals a stark lack of total panic. There is understandable disappointment in seeing the Caps and Skins go down in borderline gruesome fashion, but few seem to truly be ready to give up. Could ‘tism be holding the beachhead?

Let’s briefly contrast the mostly sane reactions in DC to a letdown weekend with the experience of a friend of mine who moved to Philly earlier this month. He wrote:

Oh Boy, Philly sports talk radio is awesome. On Monday when I got there they were all celebrating the Phillies -- first time in 14 years that they won the division -- and then by Thursday -- after they lost two games -- they were calling for the manager to be fired! It's hilarious.

And the Eagles...the fans HATE being 1 -3...they have completely given up on the team...there are rumors that both Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb won't be here next year. What do they want then? What would make them happy?

The people here are real nice but these sport fans are morons.

I guess I don’t really have a point in relating that, but it seemed worthy of being shared. With a little research I suppose I could contrast panic-stricken New Yorkers’ views of the Giants at 0-2 and 4-2, but I think we can all figure that out ourselves.

But speaking of New York for a moment, a word regarding the fact-challenged Sabres announcers and their bloody-murder-screaming broadcast the other night, heard courtesy of XM. One stated that “The Caps were 3-0 until they hit New York,” seeming to imply that the crazy, unstoppable NHL powerhouse that is New York state (specifically NYC and Buffalo) was too much for these pretender Capitals to handle. A brief glance at the schedule will reveal, however, that they were actually 2-0 before they “hit New York,” and managed to dispatch the forgotten Islanders (who had recently dispatched the Sabres, who, according to ESPN, were the greatest 0-2 team in history) before this brief 2-game skid. I know the Caps barely register in the minds of haughty Sabre supporters (and if you though you’ve heard homer announcers, you haven’t until you hear a Sabres broadcast), but they could have sweat the details a little (though I see where that could be difficult when you're busy "announcing" a late 5-on-3 powerplay goal for a 7-3 as though it were a Cup-winning score).

Anyway, so much for a 15-1 football season and an 82-0 hockey season. Oh well. With both teams sitting at 3-2, all is far, far from lost. The NFC and the Southeast division (featuring the 0-win Atlanta Thrashers!), are notoriously wide-open. And with our old friends the Arizona Cardinals coming to town, bravely led to their doom by Tim Rattay, what’s not to like? Anybody else miss the days of yore when we could acquaint ourselves with the Cardinals for TWO Sunday afternoons a season? Remember Tom Tupa? He was swell.

We’ve been here before, being briefly teased with utter magnificence before a brutal day or two threatened to take away our ‘tism momentum. Look back to June, when things were really turning around for the Nats and 9-25 was on the fast track to being a distant memory. Then when the Detroit Tigers came to town. Then, eventually, the Nationals got back on the relative track and continued on their critic-and-expectation-busting season. The same can happen again.

It starts this weekend, as we wipe away the memories of the one previous.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Dude, Think About It

Campbell has, in his own words, his best game of the season, while Cooley has, in NFL statistical words, his best game of his career. The defense swarmed all day, allowing only 10 points on what amounted to a Rogers whiff and a few Favre-fellating penalties, and Sean Taylor came close to having 7 interceptions (instead having just two). The offensive line, already redefining the term patchwork continued to face decimation all day yet the 'skins still only gave up three sacks. There is plenty of good to draw from this game, really. In fact, the tiny factor of win/loss in this case is completely minor when you look at what this team continues to accomplish. The Pack had the #1 ranked passing offense, yet could muster nary a pass that wasn't deflected or dropped by the skins stellar defensive backs. And when the constantly-mentioned Brett Favre finally got to gunslinging, on third down with four minutes remaining in the game, he delivered a precision pass directly to Sean Taylor for another record interception. With the cadavers standing in front of Campbell it was no wonder that no decent plays were mounted after that brilliant defensive stand, but the fact that the defense again delivered a potential game winner ought to be noted. The pieces are there ladies and gentlemen, they just haven't quite interlocked and fastened completely. Why?

My only guess is that the Redskins are a bit caught off guard by their imminent success and as a result have made a few tiny, crucial mistakes, a few blinks in the face of glaring prominence, leading to two losses. Santana Moss, bless his heart, had a Michael Ruffin "not possible"-like Sunday; it may have been the worst individual performance in the history of the National Football League that wasn't by Rex Grossman, and for it he humbly hangs his head, sheds a few inspirational tears, and focuses on what's next, the shredding of the 'zona Cards, once a yearly tradition in these parts. Motivated Moss, plus fantastic quarterbacking, and equally fantastic defense, will amount to awesomes for the rest of the season. Trust us.

Why not let history be our guide. In 2005, the skins start hot, 3-0 before two crushing road losses to Denver and Kansas City, both owning to turnovers. These tough, blame-themselves losses amounted to an obliteration of the '9ers the next week. If you recall, that season ended pretty awesomely, with the Sean Taylor diving into the endzone in Philly, John Gruden tossing failing playoff challenge flags, and Mark Brunell still having it. A key component in that dream season was Moss, who caught both Marys in Dallas, caught the OT-Field-Goal-setting-up pass two weeks later, and took to catching bounce passes off of D-backs in the Seattle rain come the playoffs. Instead of thinking about how on Sunday, every ball headed Moss's way just refused to be proactive, we will reminice about early '06 when during one of his two blistering touchdown catches against the Jags, he looked like a Madden sprite whose controller pressed the "b" button to cause a spin move that shook a d-back before scurrying to the end zone. We like those Moss memories, and we know he will have more games that will make us asterisk-ize this one. We only hope that, like the t-word's Washington Post debut being spoiled by latent editing, we can simply cut out this game from the Moss canon of glory.
If I had to give any reconciling thoughts to our loyal 'tism terrorists, I would simply paraphrase these inspiring words from Gilbert Arenas to recent heart surgery participant, Etan Thomas. “You don’t need to think negative thoughts.” Amen.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Rockin' the Interblogs with the MAO of the Week (10-12)

The 'tism levels of this region are off the charts at the moment, despite what many pundits both inside and outside of our 5-lane circular highway region may think you should be thinking. The Caps are undefeated, undaunted, unshakable on the powerplay, and yet are still underranked nationally. The 'skins are dominating defensively and garnering their own variety of "-of the week" awards, inspiring backhanded praise from columnists whose preseason projections were similar to those currently being bestowed onto the Caps. Other strangely contradictory preseason predictions regarding the Wizards will likely see the same fate. (Hollinger says a gimpy Gilbert will lead to 33 wins in one preview, yet says he will bounce back 100% from the injury in another. This is why I steal ESPN insider articles.) But this sort of 'tism inhibition has not deterred the legions from thinking playoffs with each of these respective sport powerhouses. They are LOVING the look of things. And the dudes who share the press box with us and get paid to produce gobs of spectacular copy both of the recyclable variety and of the inter-blogged variety, have been, for the most part, up to the task of whetting the area's 'tism whistles ('tistles?) with their pertinent information gathering.

But with all of these delicious apples in our circumference, there seems to be a few bad ones, namely in the form of the total 'tism-hatred from Redskins reporter Jason La Canfora, who in a strange 'tism-backlash, crafted a long pointed criticism of seldom-utilized wideout and frequent DCO subject, Brandon Lloyd, a post that is rife with backing statistics, personal observations and verbal evidence all stating that our beloved BLloyd sucks. Such a damper was not to be placed on us after we saw BLloyd emerge from the schneid he had been perched on since the beginning of the season, gathering his first catch and positive yardage on the season last week. We want more Brandon Lloyd redemption stories, not stories of his questionable attitude, play, value, contract, commitment, etc. In addition to the strong denouncement of lil' T.O., La Canfora goes ahead and takes a shot at DCO homey Dan Steinberg in the process for simply enjoying BLloyd's presence. WTF with that, Jasno?

But when it comes to blizznoggin', Jasno is out of his league, cuz our man D-Steinzz comes back with the ether the same day on the bog, bitch-slapping Jason's anti-BLloyd rant with a chill-the-eff-out meme that blasts crusty old ombudspeople for dissecting enjoyment from sports news and the like. For this effort, we reward Steinzz with the coveted MAO of the week, not only for sticking up for the freely-expressed, poorly-edited blogform of sports entertainment, but for sticking up for BLloyd as well. Such blind BLloyalty reminds us of DCO cohort, tailgate partner, frequent commenter and message board pwner, da#1skinsfan, who arrives in the FedEx parking lot weekly in his pristine #85 jersey, upseting the child-rearing ticket-holders with frequent foul language, and doing his best to ruin the experience of any fan wearing the opposing team's jersey. da#1skinsfan has been clamoring for the BLloyd breakout performance ever since he suggested his trade to the skins before last season. Why should we have guys like La Canfora looking at game footage and practice notes looking to ruin that sort of 'tism that this area could frankly use more of? We are only four games into the season, there's plenty of time left for BLloyd to emerge (not to mention the imminent playoff and super bowl matchups). Why denounce him now?

It could be a part of the general upsettedness that the entire sports journalism industry is having towards the interblogs. With increased publicity in mind, many NHL teams have been allowing brilliant online analyzers such as ourselves complete press access to their covered teams. We are (duh) super in favor of this experiment that people like our homey Ted Leonsis has duly taken under, and when we conducted ourselves in the press box last week, I feel like we were good peoples. But what do the actual real dudes think of us? To find out, instead of growing some balls and bothering Caps beater Tarik El-Bashir during the game, we hit him up on his chat, asking him his thoughts on recent NHL-blogger related beefs.

'tismville, Va.: Totally self-indulgent question here, but what are your
thoughts on having bloggers share the locker room and press box with you? What
did you think of the "blogbox" folk in Uniondale? Were you as salty as some of
the dudes whose reactions I have read about in cyberspace?

Tarik El-Bashir:
I completely undestand why some teams have invited bloggers into the press box.
But I also can understand why some professional media types are upset about it.
In my experience, some bloggers take their responsibilities seriously.
Others don't.
I've got a problems with the ones who don't.
I read a lot
of the Caps bloggers on a regular basis. Many of them are solid writers and
But I also know this: if you want news about your favorite
team, newspapers are still the place to go.

We totally wuv Tarik and his Caps coverage (totally more than former Caps beater Jasno, who BLloyded Jaromir Jagr in what seemed like every game wrap-up) and we want him to be our bff in the box and read our blog (or have Russ Thaler read it to him on the air again), but could he be in the blog-hater camp here? Does he "got a problems" with the DCO? Yeah, we know all of our readers, us included, hit the washpost first for our news, then hit the DCO for their witty interjections and renouncings of negativity, but with the DCO now asking the tough questions (when not cowering), will this spell the end of people stopping for the news before relishing in the 'tism? Other sports journos seem to be quite upset about it, calling us FoxNews and the like, but who watches FoxNews for anything that isn't FoxNews-supported? We don't expect a bevy of Florida Panthers fans to be on the DCO looking for the latest on Olie Jokinen (other than us saying that he sucks and getting mad about it).

All leads back to our MAO D-Steinzz, who sums everything up in this section of the post:
"Now, for a lot of people--most people, even--that means they want to forget
about those troubles and go see their team carry a funny-shaped pile of pigskin
past 11 grown men in strange costumes and then settle comfortably into a grassy
patch behind a white line as their teammates slap their bottoms. For certain
others, that means they want to forget about those troubles and instead listen
to a mohawked rapping athlete with a bad attitude discuss his ridiculous car. If
the mohawked rapping athlete with the bad attitude proves unable to help his
athletic team advance that pigskin past that white line, he will no longer be
paid to put on that strange costume, and we'll all move on with our lives. Until
then, I will keep talking to those athletes."
See, da blogzzz only serve to entertain. If a team wants to amp-up the entertainment whilst amping up our resources whilst amping up their online presence, so be it. It's not like we have washington post blog checks to cash.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

DEFENSE (clap clap) DEFENSE (clap clap) DEFENSE

A frequent musing from sports analyzers both local and national has been something to the effect of "X Washington team just cannot bring the D and as a result, they will suck." Well, sports analyzers, after several recent performances, what more can you ask for from X Washington team defense? For the 'skins, the Caps, and now, after a thoroughly dominant preseason performance, the Wiz can all boast of top-notch Ds. And all have been crafted using minimal major additions. Coincidence or 'tismidence?

The skins' defense of 5-11 was usually attributed to adjectives like "woeful," "porous," "historically bad," and "face-punchingly frustrating." The holy suckiness trinity of Archuleta, Holdman, and Wright, lead to widespread lead evaporations, rampant missed arm tackles, and bombs, oh the bombs! So what did the Redskins do to shore up the sieve? One might think the best thing to do would be to cut everyone, trade all of their draft picks, sign Dwight Freeney, Lance Briggs, Nate Clements, et al, and be a pretty decent Madden squad again. While that would have been right in D-Snyd's wheelhouse, the Redskins braintrust again looked at what worked with their squad, dotted in a couple of great draft picks, inked hard-nosers like Smoot and Fletcher, and voila: dominating the NFC. Malignment had been steadily emitted onto guys like Andre Carter, the so-and-so million dollar free agent bust who had like a half a sack (but some stylish lenses) or something last year. Look at Carter now, pwning Jeff Backus with a Austin stunner before landing on a cowering Kitna in the end zone for the deuce on Sunday. Carter and his team leading sack numbers are prime examples of maintaining braintrust trust, and instead of scorching the earth when the plans go slightly awry, why not plug in smaller additions while eliminating more glaring scrubs to see if a more chemistry-based improvement can be made.

Another crucial aspect of the skins' improved D has been healing body parts. Springs' groin is no longer a concern (save for the average groupie), Marcus' hips have been surgically repaired, Griff is finally not banged up; all of these health-boosts have added more to the defense than simply drafting new guys and cutting the rest. Much had been made of the skins drafting a defensive back instead of a lineman with the sixth overall pick. But, according to strong analysis from, the skins needent worry. Why, with the way the D-line has been performing, Gregg Williams didn't need to send anyone on blitz packages during the Lions game to create pressure and send Kitna to the ground five times.

So could we write off 5-11's defense as an aberration due to health? Sure. But I think the developing cohesiveness of the entire unit has been just as beneficial. Keeping guys together develops trust, communication, friendships, choreographed dance moves. And we have seen the results of that in another one of our emerging local defense teams (no not Greenberg and Bederman): The Capitals.

Last year the Caps's defense was bottom-feeder bad, giving up goals as if they were a spoiled Montgomery County teenager, wasting his life away with recreational drugs and the internet instead of working on his/her schoolwork. But in the three recent Caps' games, opposing teams have only been able to score 2 goals total, including one of Olie's "easier" shut outs in the home opener. Could we attribute this to a Philadelphia Flyer like purse-upturning, where every red-blooded blue-liner out there was trucked into Kettler to try and shore things up on the fly? No.

While one free agent, the solid, and clutch diver Tom Poti, has been a solid and clutch reason for the improvement, more credit ought to be given to the d-men already receiving paychecks. Brian Pothier, Shaoaaoaoane Morrison, Mike Green, Milan Jurcina, and Norris hopeful, John Erskine. They have been seemingly sticking every puck, disallowing every chance, and actually denying every powerplay! We attribute this immense progress not to Poti's arrival, but to the improved cohesiveness of this squad. Passes off the boards rarely end up back in the defensive zone. Forwards are constantly sprung towards the goal properly. The puck stays out of the tender middle zone. The forwards deserve credit as well, especially the Gordon-Clark-Pettinger checking line, which brings back fond memories of the old Dahlen-Halpern-Konowalchuk line of the early oughties, that used to cause blatant uncalled Mario Lemeux spears and constant rises in plus/minus. Both Johnny and Olie, the goaltending stalwarts of year and too many years past, have been magnificent. The continued reliance on internal development worked here, could it work elsewhere on likely the most maligned of all X Washington sports Ds?

If you tuned in to Comcast last night to see the gold-name tagged Wizards simply laying the wood on the fraudulent, faking Cavaliers, you would agree. The Wizards blocked just about every shot thrown up, with hated-on Haywood doing some serious Zydrunus slapping in addition to grabbing big offensive rebounds. Newly utilized center Andray Blatche also was in the shot abuse stat sheet leaping from the center position to deny chumps like Damon Jones from netting precious preseason points. But we save the heaviest praise for brilliant Grun-trust diamond in the rough 2nd rounder Dominic McGuire, who was just spectacular all night getting in Cavalier grills, swatting shots from the weakside, and providing glittering offense. He played seventeen minutes and was instrumental in what was a dominating win, one we can look very positively at.

Now what did the Wiz do to shore up this defense, other than simply say they would again? The Grun-trust didn't go out there and get some guy who would change everything up while destroying the cap situation and ruining the chance to re-sign Gilbert. No, they drafted some young talent, they eliminated some of the deadweight (and dead to us) veterans, and they spent training camp tweaking. In case you don't believe how much more defensive this team looks, check out this montage of the preseason highlights from Willitary/Asian Zero productions.

Nice usage of Chamillionaire's "Oh's" during Andre Blatche and Dom McGuire jams, although it doesn't allow the viewer to hear Buckhantz and Chenier debate over which Wizard rookie, Young or Mcguire is Chuck and which one is Larry, or the fact that it is a reference to a movie about a couple pretending to be homosexual. Regardless, the montage rules. Defense was the lone, non-God-involving weakness with the Wiz last year. We see this preseason proof of improvement as proof that an Eastern Conference Finals appearance, as predicted by Gilbert, is imminent.

So you see, improving the defense of X Washington team doesn't involve selling the farm and bringing in the latest toys or whatever metaphor you can think of for free-agency abuse. It has to do with one of the DCO's trademarks, trusting the braintrust, and realizing that keeping guys together and letting them learn works. And it is working RIGHT NOW.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The DCO Plays Gary Clark, Eric Kay Plays Tony Romo

I'll let anonymous, (Boswell?) commenter kick things off:
"Pre-DCO circa early '07: 'Skins losing record and apparent failure of 2d Gibbs
area; Wiz injuries pre-playoffs and 4 and out; Nat'ls gut the team; Caps showing
negative potential and not even in contention most of the season; United's
dismal second half season. Post-DCO now: 'Skins winning and Cambell looking like
the future of the franchise; Wiz looking to be the sleeper and Arenas certain to
have a breakout contract year with a huge chip on his shoulder; Caps undefeated
opening and excellent offseason; Nat'ls exceeding all expectations with a bright
future; United starts slow but is now undisputed top dog.Is anyone noticing
this? Too much was written about DC's citywide slump to allow DC's citywide
optimism to go unnoticed. Spread the word."
Who knew that the inception of the DCO would lead to this regional sports renaissance? It began in a rough fashion, but as we steadfastly trolled the internets, dolling out the 'tism like only the jolliest of ice cream men (yes, the chimes play "Hail to the Redskins,"), we knew deep down in our hearts that our mission was one that could achieve ultimate success. We knew that our efforts to prop up the sensibilities and eliminate the lingering cynicism and indifference were not in vain. We knew Brandon Lloyd was due. We knew the Nats wouldn't be lowly, bottom-feeding, dissapointing or sucky at all. We knew the Caps were a few offseason acquisitions from returning to that stout puck-clearing, penalty-killing, clutch-goal nabbing squad of years past. We knew the Phillies were going to dissapoint (that was no surprise).

It's as if the DCO stood in front of a microphone, decked out in a sharp black suit with matching shades, punctuated with a white-on-white shirt-tie combo (besting Bob's fashionable sweater-vest, pink tie combo from the Caps home opener), hyping up the greatest fans out there. Yes, the DCO has figuratively played the role of the latest ring of fame recipient, Gary Clark, who stood in the blistering heat Sunday, surrounded by band members and flanked by Mark Mosely, to not only bask in his former Redskins glory, but also produce dizzying levels of 'tism that in turn lead to the 21st consecutive belittling of the Detroit Lions. One of the most glorious mouths to ever grace the locker room was on blast, and instead of whoring attention on cable TV, or trying to snort everything in sight, or both, Clark used his magnificient words to amp up the non-urinating crowd members. Think it didn't work? Witness Brandon Lee's slightly NFL property-violating video montage of Sunday's "whooping."

Online Videos by

I can only add that the addition of the Clark speech to the beginning of this top-notch production is akin to the opening scene of Citizen Kane, where Orson Welles brilliantly shows the dying Kane drop the snow globe, which seamlessly transitions to his snowy youth memories. If I could nominate this bootleg video for an Oscar, I would. Bravo to you, Brandon Lee, and bravo to Gary, whose former Bethesda night club, South Beach, was a quality haunt where Journey would not be heard, unlike most places in dreaded 'thesda.

And speaking of that insipid commune on the old line side of Wisconsin Ave, we again go back to DCO nemesis, and former 'thesda resident, Eric Kay and his original piece of terrible joke-reaching to reveal our incredible progress. I'm sure that like an old Dane Cook routine, you don't want to see this pathetic attempt at comedy again, but I think it is time to re-visit some of his hilariously out-of-touch responses to the status of our local sports heroes. In fact, I would say that Kay's performance looked reminiscent of last night's performance of another insufferable douche, Tony Romo, whose attempts to goad the Bills into winning a game last night were often of the hilarious sort. We can now say that Kay threw five interceptions with his laugh-fest. Beginning with his Redskins outlook:
Short-term prospects: Horrible considering a newbie quarterback and loaded NFC
East. Long-term prospects: Horrible, considering a toy-collecting owner,
mismanagement and aging coaching staff.
What's the verdict here? After three very solid defensive performances and a maturation at the quarterback position that has been spectacular, but not unprecedented, I'd say Mr. Kay tossed up a throw over the middle to George Wilson for the pick six. What about the NFC East is particularly loaded, other than the 'boys recent loaded-with-cupcakes schedule? The Iggles haven't exactly done anything other than get ignored, and run up 56 on the Lions. The Giants have been pesky, but no one considers them anything more than lucky. (Yes, a trip over the pulling guard, and a fumbled exchange in the fourth is lucky, dammit.) And wasn't that aging, mismanaging coaching staff selecting great defensive backs in the first round, outsmarting supposed genius offensive coordinators, and getting great work out of an offensive line and receiver core that laughs at the term "patchwork?" Yes.

What about Kay's (wrong) thoughts on the Nats?
Short-term prospects: Putrid, considering half the team will be shipped out come
late July.
This analysis was deflected at the line of scrimmage, and caught in the air by the proverbial Chris Kelsay (in this case being the Nats braintrust), and returned for another touchdown. The Nats actually didn't ship anyone out come late July. The team saw what value it had in its starting infield, rewarding them with smart money, matriculating into a fourth place, prognostigator-defying finish. Putrid? Try looking at the Mets final weeks. There were no Dane Cook commercials made featuring the Nats and their playoff revenge stories. (hahaha)

What about the Kay's comments RE: The Wiz, and their slightly cursed ways?
While management's better than it's ever been with Big Ern Grunfeld calling the
shots, the Wizards still haven't developed a big man of note since Gheorghe
Muresan or found a point guard worthy enough to fill Rod Strickland's sneaks.
Anybody ready for another try at the Brent Price era?
Again, Kay lofts one over the middle, this time to Angelo Crowell. Hmm, maybe you haven't witnessed the glories of both a healthy Darius Songaila, and an impassioned Andray Blatche, but those are two big men of note, not to mention the guaranteed playtime and subsequent elated play of Brendan Haywood. And point guards? I thought we were praising Gilbert in an earlier paragraph. He only averages close to seven assists a game in addition to nailing game winners, drawing an innumerable amount of foul calls, and stealing balls at a top-ten rate. I'd say he is a pretty damn good point, one I would offer franchise money for. Lets not forget about Antonio Daniels either, him with one of the guttiest playoff performances on record.

And now for the most egregious of bad joke-making, Kay's awful analysis of the powerhouse Caps.
Short-term prospects: Bad, shunning free-agency, it's another rebuilding year.
Long-term prospects: Bad, Washingtonian hockey fans always start biting
their nails each time the word "contraction" is used by the commissioner's
First of all, shunning free agency? The Caps smartly spent 9 million on three guys who have contributed so immediately that they are now positively playoff bound. They can even have a franchise low in shots and still come away with the victory, despite jelly-like legs from having played their third game in less than 72 hours. Kozlov rips the shot that ties the game up. Nylander sets up Pothier whose blast lands on Brooks Laich's James Black-esque stick for the GWG. Poti hurls himself to the ice to stop the short-handed break in the third. The team is rebuilt, folks, and the finished product officially kicks ass. Contraction? Never likely in the fifth largest market in the US. The Caps have a long tradition of gritty, solid defensive play, and now that they have their superstar in Ovie to push them over the edge come playoff time, you'll see Verizon rocking again. This one lands directly in John Digiorio's hands near the goal line. Kornheiser might even have an eye-roll inducing joke relating to a certain frozen pizza company whose name sounds similar too.

And finally, Kay's college basketball prospects were also wrong.
With college basketball's second- or third-hottest coach, Georgetown's back on
the national scene. But with no extension imminent for John Thompson III, it's a
nervous delight on the Hilltop.
JTIII inked a new deal in September, likely to rub this negativity into Kay's face. It's as if his analysis was a pass that Jabari Greer steps in front of to seal a franchise record of ineptitude.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

'Tism at the Caps Home Opener

Getting on the Metro around 5 PM, things looked promising, with the number of new logo jerseys and other apparel increasing with each stop. Bobtimist noted a person whose pre-game odor was less than desirable, toting two separate bags of garbage with him to add nausiating punctuation. These are the things you don't get sitting in face-melting traffic on the way to FedEx Field.

Right off the bat this literally looked like a different type of season. The new hi-def scoreboard is downright snazzy, and the refurbished “Capitals” image at center ice invokes memories of the Capital Centre. All that was missing was Dale Hunter streaking across it to beat Ron Hextall on a breakaway in a Game 7 overtime. Pregame introductions were raucously received by the red-attired crowd, with predictable biggest cheers for Olie and Ovie, and slightly less predictable roars for Brash.

The Caps hit the ice looking sharp. Too bad the same can't be said for poor venerable Caps mascot Slapshot, the Eagle with an attitude, who tumbled to the ice caught up in the flag-waving that enveloped his child-entertaining self.

Pregame promotional items included new thundersticks. While Bobtimist Prime has sullen memories of thundersticks from 7-1 Penguins playoff nightmares, the DCO applauds this newfound technological wrinkle to said sticks. These 2007-2008 thundersticks feature lights that ignite as soon as your seven year old bangs them either together or overtop of your four year old's head. The result? 16 thousand plus with a pair of ET fingers.

The 'canes may be enemy number one tonight, but credit is due to them finishing god's work, abusing the Penguins to the tune of 4-1, with darling Crosby netting nothing, stretching his ineffectiveness streak to four games including their spectacular playoff flameout.

Michael Nylander is looking solid with his sixth child Niklas Backstrom on the line with him. The two continue to exchange passes like flirting toll exchangers. The chemistry is bubbling.

4:34 in the first and umpteenth Philadelphia Flyers can't-miss prospect Justin Williams heads to the box with a boarding call. The powerplay with both Alexes and that Nylander guy snap shots John Grahme's way. Who was Semin's center last year again?

While the power play didn’t strike in the first period, it again applied intense pressure, keeping play in the ‘canes’ zone for almost two minutes. Such was the impressive nature of the special teams (4-minute PPs that never got on track notwithstanding) that one member of DCO commented to the other that the Caps must have “the best 1 for 9 power play in history.” With a second period strike, they now own the best 2 for 10 power play in history).

We are staring at 11:21 in the first and the 'canes have yet to fire a shot Olie's way. The defense is looking super superior.

In our mildly scoffed-at 07-08 postseason awards predictions we awarded the Norris Trophy to an elite Capitals’ defenseman not yet acquired. Perhaps we were a bit hasty. John Erskine, we’re sorry for overlooking you. With a goal and an assist in his first two games, he’s bringing the O like Paul Coffey. With a steadying keeping-the-puck-in-the-offensive-zone presence on the blue line and an increasingly nasty demeanor in the defensive zone, he’s bringing the D like Chris Pronger. Overzealous, blinded-by-optimism comparisons? We’ll see.

After a first period of two, count em, two shots on net, the defense is looking stellar. DCO press box neighbor, and new homeboy, Justin Creech of analyzes, "They are keeping the pressure out of the middle of the ice." The DCO wants people to keep an eye out for young Justin, for he is as solid of a sports reporter as there is out there.

Speaking of sports reporting, the DCO team is interviewed during that first intermission by Washington Times Sports Biz blogger Tim Lemke, who asks about the DCO's humble origins, why our homey Ted Leonsis would do something as crazy as give us access to the Caps like he does and other such things. The DCO's newfound celebrity causes a bit of a strut to formulate in their respective steps. The first intermission ends on that high in the clouds note.

25 hits 8 for one of those totally awesome goals that you like, totally knew was coming. Kozlov to Ovechkin is sounding delicious in the DCO's ears right now, and at 14:24, they finally fruition George McPhee's Kastan-like plan. Post game thoughts with Hanlon have the coach noting that, "That is the best exchange we have seen in this building in who knows how many years." One-nothing caps. Who was Ovie's center last year again?

What's the deal with this New York Times game night promotion? Seriously, we are supposed to fork over dough to read about Jaromir and the Rangers every day so we can possibly gain a Capitals towel? Strange indeed.

Olie has only had to bear 10 shots halfway through the second period and Milan Jurcina (the Wily Mo Pena of this brilliantly planned squad) flips a wrister that deflects off of several Hurricaines before settling into its home in the net. Two-nil Caps.

Boy these High-def screens really capture Boyd Gordon's ruggedness. The Caps defensive tenacity is off the charts. Sticks touch pretty much every Carolina Hurricaine chance, and Olie pretty much only had to stand on his head once on a two-on-one in the third. The Caps finish the 'Canes off, 2-nada.

"A lot of credit has to go to the forwards," says Olie. The DCO asks Olie in the locker room if it was one of his easier shut outs. Olie politely responds, "I wouldn't say that. The less shots you get, the harder it is. I wouldn't say it was my easiest," all to the tune of several reporters guffawing. The DCO would like to clarify that we just wanted Olie to say something else wonderful about the way the defense played and that we still love him.

The media announcer announces that 16,741 have attended tonight's game, which is not quite a sell-out, but pretty damn relevant. The DCO predicts more in the future, once this furious 'tism catches on.

Postgame: The DCO prods Alex Ovechkin in the locker room asking him, "Is this the best team in the Southeast Division?" To which he responded, in a totally, non-bulletin board material starting way, "Right now, I can't say we are the best. But I don't want to say that we are the best. We have to play hard the way we played the last two games." The DCO remains equally impressed with Alex's awesomeness on the ice and his awesomeness grasping the newfound English language, being both politically correct and grammatically sound is something this blog struggles with enough to appreciate the strides he has taken. More Caps' Postgame, Olie Kolzig plainly put forward the team’s expected result: “We plan to make the playoffs and surprise a lot of people.” His tone suggested an attitude much like that of another local team who defied expectations recently.

Lions Play Inspired Football

The Detroit Lions continued their proud tradition of football in DC today. They kept it close for a short while, even keeping their deficit to a relatively competetive 14-0 at halftime. Eventually, however, they and their utterly dominant #1 passing offense (over 100 yards on the day!) looked to the past and found inspiration in such notable scores as 31-7, 45-0, 41-10, and 30-7, and realized what they had to do. The result was a second half (a fourth quarter in particular) and a 34-3 result that made the John Kitna Lions worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as its noble big-win-gifting predecessors. It would appear that Kitna was so eager to keep Lion tradition alive that he wore his chinstrap over half of his face to further give the advantage to the Skins:

Much more to come later on this optimism-endowed weekend.

Most Impressive

The Caps shut down the Hurricanes, who shut down the mighty Penguins (everybody make their own inferences). We'll have lots more to say on this later. It's way past time for sleep right now, with an early morning friend-supporting stop at the Army 10-Miler en route to a 10 AM "tea" time at FedEx Field looming. If all goes well then tomorrow night we can bask in two important home team victories. Whatever happens, call it a good weekend already knowing we have one in the bag.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

We're Just Sayin'

The Caps played extremely well last night and put actual pressure – consistent, staying-in-the-offensive-zone pressure – on Atlanta while on the power play, much more than their 1 for 7 success rate would indicate. With a road win over the defending division champion Thrashers securely in hand, they come back home to face the Hurricanes, who convincingly defeated St. Crosby (0 G, 0 A, -1; it likely won’t last but let’s enjoy it for one day) and the Penguins last night.

Thanks to the Comcast Sportsnet postgame show for this nugget: the last time the Capitals won their season opener on the road was 1997, when they beat the Maple Leafs in Toronto. We remember that as the Bill Ranford (remember Bill Ranford?) groin-injury game, which ushered in the Era of Olie. What ultimately happened in that other season in which they won their opener on the road? They went to the Stanley Cup Finals……..We’re just sayin’.

UPDATE 11:55 PM - The Capitals are now 2-0. The last time they were 2-0 was 2002-2003, when they went to the playoffs. Just sayin'.


Back when the Redskins were 2-0 (remember those days?), we heard a little buzz-killing optimism hating to the tune of: they beat two lousy teams (Miami and Philadelphia) whose combined record was blah blah blah, so the Skins’ undefeated record was somehow tarnished. Today, of course, they are 2-1 and getting ready to play Detroit, whose 3-1 record could be scrutinized in much the same way.
Dallas, on the other hand, is 4-0 and, because they are Dallas and they are 4-0, are immune to any criticism. A look at their schedule, however, will reveal that the teams they defeated have a combined record of 3-13. We’re just sayin’.

Friday, October 5, 2007

MAO of the Week (10-5)

The Capitals season starts tonight, and a few are (shudder) less than optimistic regarding its potentially glorious potential. Maybe these professional hockey writers downgrading the Capitals yet again neglected the blue-collar manner in which the Caps scrapped so passionately last year before succumbing to airborne microbes and gimpy knees. Maybe they didn't pay attention when the Caps locked in three golden goose free agents to infuse the squad with much needed talents, grits, and goals. Perhaps they had no recollection of the likely Calder winner suiting up in one of those slick new jerseys for the first time, adding even more young offensive talent. Nope, apparently they don't have the foresightedness of our Manny Acta Optimist of the Week for this season opening Friday,'s brilliant Scott Burnside. This nationally recognized professional hockey writer working for a major online news publication saw all of these pieces that both the DCO and our new homey Ted Leonsis already saw, picking the Caps as the "season's surprise story."

In part one of a who-knows-how-many-part series, Burnside details the brilliant foundation of the squad, beginning with their luscious Russian wingers, the brand-new state-of-the-art practice facility, and the enthusiastic response to this now completed product. He even notes some positive preseason statistics, including the Caps newfound defensiveness and disdain for the other team's shot-taking.
"During the preseason, the team gave up fewer than 20 shots in four of seven
games and allowed an average of almost 10 fewer shots per game during the
preseason over 2006-07."
Sweet statistics for a team whose defense, like playoff baseball performances in Philadelphia, was subpar.

Like Mr. Burnside, we too see greatness having already been brewed over at Kettler, and we will be happy to report first-hand that greatness fruitioned from the Verizon Center tomorrow evening, as both DCO representatives will be in the press box, getting our 'legitimate journo' thing on. Might more "tough questions" be asked to your favorite players? Stay tuned to find out.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Capitals and Nationals: Partners in Future Imminent Success

The Nationals just finished off their surprising season. The Capitals are about to begin theirs. We look now at the striking similarities in the two clubs' situations, and why there is more cause for optimism for each than there has been in years.

Young, rising superstars (Ovechkin / Zimmerman)

Both were candidates for Rookie of the Year, with Ovie winning and Zimmerman coming in second to Hanley Ramirez. Both had spectacular rookie seasons, and each had a sophomore season that, while still solid, was considered in some quarters (not here) as a letdown. Both are the on-field / on-ice face of the franchise. Both are one of the rare “untouchable” pieces of a re-building (or formerly re-building) team. Both will figure prominently in the imminent success to come. Alexander Semin and Niklas Backstrom could be translated as Jesus Flores and Justin Maxwell in Nationals-speak.

Necessary Rebuilds

The Nats’ need to rebuild is well-known. Abused and re-abused and neglected and re-neglected by 29 hostile-or-indifferent owners, they plied their trade in front of hundreds in Montreal and dozens in Puerto Rico while waiting for Premier Selig to make up his mind on how to fix his little disaster. When they finally came to DC, Chancellor Selig again delayed in selling the team to an actual owner actually concerned with the affairs and future success of the team. When real owners finally came in they found a franchise in desperate need of a major overhaul, and here we are today, on the cusp of the fruits of that overhaul.

The Caps were put in a hole in no small part by an underperforming, salary-eating, moody Czech and a boderline-unstable coach, who may or may not have been in way over his head. While both these unfortunate circumstances were brought on by actual team ownership, they were the right moves at the time that simply backfired, horribly, and forced the team to reconsider its approach to team-building, even as it continued to pay part of said moody (and poor-punch-throwin) Czech’s salary in New York. That burdensome salary and memory is finally off the books, however, and the franchise can finally move forward.

Similar Pair of Rebuilding Years

It was almost, almost an exact match. The Caps finished their past two seasons with 70 points. The Nationals finished their last two seasons with 71 and 73 wins, respectively. While we would have appreciated the perfect symmetry of four 70s for the purposes of this comparison, we’ll take the three extra Nats’ wins, especially since those wins contributed to late season consternation in New York and Philadelphia.

The teams’ respective rebuilding seasons were also marked by brief periods of teasingly successful play (the Caps’ flirtation with 5th and 6th place in the East during November and December and the Nats’ tremendous roll of mid-May through mid-June) and maddeningly frustrating injury (see “flu” for the Caps and “decimated pitching staff” for the Nats).


Nationals: Ronnie Belliard and Dmitri Young. Ronnie turned out to be exactly what the team needed after Christian Guzman ripped his thumb apart. He filled in at second while Felipe Lopez shifted to short and dazzled us with his near-.300 batting average and competent glove. Young’s rise from Field 5 to Comeback Player of the Year speaks for itself. Nobody wanted him. The Nationals picked him up. He’s here for at least the next two years and routinely smacked singles and doubles all over RFK.
Two bargain bin (or lower) pickups. Two cogs. Sorry, 29 other teams.

Capitals: Remember the Chris Clark trade a couple years back? Didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. Calgary didn’t seem to upset to part with him. Two years later, he keeps setting career highs in goals and points, not to mention looking dashing with the C on his sweater. To top it all off, he’s a great interview.

Ownerships, Others Agree Re-build is Over

Caps: This summer, the team’s actions said it was time to win now. The owner’s own blog would seem to back up the sentiment. He used the word “expectations”, and not in the sense of fighting for not-last-place. The Times and the Post see them as playoff-worthy. The team’s captain and venerable veteran leader agree.

Nats: Franchise actions during the summer said more than cryptic remarks from management ever could. First there was the magnificent and fully-signed draft class. Following this triumphant re-stocking of the crushingly written-off minor league system (see above on MLB management), the Nats re-upped Belliard and Young, sending the message that they were not a clearing house for current contenders looking to rent a player or two for late-season and post-season pushes. Instead, they were going to hold on to the veteran talent they had shrewdly picked up and use them as pieces of a soon-to-be successful team. No trading for more prospects this time. These actions say that there is talent here now and only a few more complimentary components are necessary.

Optimistic First-Time Bench Bosses

We've named one award after Manny Acta and called for another to re-named in his honor. This Titan of 'Tism partially inspired us to start this blog in the first place, and it's clear that the Nationals have been infected with his optimism, and that it's spreading, even if slowly, to the fanbase. Not bad for a first-year manager. Glen Hanlon has been guiding the Caps for a bit longer, but he's still in his first big-league coaching position. We find similar traces of 'tism behind the usually stoic expression of the former goaltender. This attitude doubtlessly played a role in keeping the team together during a pair of trying seasons, much more than the previously mentioned unbalanced coach was able to pull off.

I think we can all agree the teams are better off in these hands than in those of, say, Lou Pinella and Mike Keenan (names at one time or another flying around respective vacancies). And don't sell us that nonsense that the Cubs are in the playoffs because of dear old Lou. Not buying it. If kicking dirt and throwing a temper tantrum in front of 35,000 people is all it takes to be a brilliant manager, then I guess we're wrong.

There you have it. Two teams headed in the right direction. The Caps begin their season on Friday and will be wrapping it up when the Nationals are well into their new season. Then we can revisit this issue and see if our optimism has been rewarded.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I Love the 90's! (DCO EDITION)

With the Redskins signing late 90's stalwart (and member of the #4 greatest team of all time) Keenan McCardell, the Wizards tabbing 40 year old Association whore Tony Massenburg for training camp, and the Capitals getting ready to lay their highly optimistic season hopes on the shoulders of 37-year old Olaf Kolzig, the DC Optimist is suddenly feeling those lovely nostalgic pangs that can't be properly explained unless they are in the form of hour-long broadcasts dragged out over a week featuring B-rate comedians, washed up celebrities and Scott Ian waxing on the VH1 network! So we have gathered several luminous celebrities to once again look back on that fantastic decade of grunge rock, slap bracelets, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, jheri curls, and Bobtimist Prime's awkward trek through puberty! So without further ado, lets introduce the program's celebrity talking heads!

Tony Kornheiser - Formerly awesome Washington Post columnist, now professional ESPN talking head/hack. Ought to have wondrous puns involving the related names.

T-Pain - Current R&B vocoder-enhanced superstar whose electronic Cher-inflected riddims are dominating the clubs.

corpse of Biggie Smalls - One of the greatest rappers of all time who was tragically gunned down by unknown assailants March 9th, 1994. Lyrics are likely tattooed on 70% of NFL players.

Scott Ian - rhythm guitarist for seminal late 80's thrash metal band Anthrax. Currently on VH1 speed dial for head-talking purposes. Prominent goattee.

Michael Westbrook - Former Redskins wide receiver bust turned mixed martial arts fighter.

Johnathan Taylor Thomas - Former teen heart throb and star of Home Improvement. Remember him?


T-Pain: Shaaaaaaaaaawteeeeeeeeeey!

Westbrook: I admire the receivers' ability to catch over their shoulders. I could never do that during my illustrious career. I did whoop Stephen Davis's punk ass though. You all see that? Then we went to the playoffs.

Kornheiser: Michelle Tanner, Michael is displaying something more like Tiny Manners!

corpse of B.I.G.: Don't they know my &@*&@# Gutter *@#*& kidnip kids? (uhh) @#%$ em in the &@#@, throw em over the bridge (oooh)

Scott Ian: Sure Michelle was able to milk her insipid moppetty role into scads of money through endorsements, terrible movies, and the never wavering support of pedophiles, but did you see Santana's catches two weeks ago? What about Randel-El on the one? It's not like the skins haven't won super bowls with small receivers.

JTT: I coulda nailed both Olsen twins. Totally. You know I was on 78 Tiger Beat covers? I had so much child star play, you don't even know.


Kornheiser: Brandon Lloyd, I bet Dan Snyder wishes he had Christopher Lloyd and his Delorean, so he could reneg on that turkey of a deal, am I right?

corpse of Biggie: By the way, them bricks, get flipped weekly. Sold by soldiers that mix weed with the leak leak. Die for a dollar $%#@, life ain't sweet. Play for keeps wet shirts with experts on the creep.

Westbrook: I completely feel BLloyd's pain. Hated on by the legions of Redskins faithful for a lack of production, bouting with the coaching staff, having inept quarterbacks, removing helmets at the worst possible time. I know your pain bro.

T-Pain: Talk To Me, I Talk Back. Let's Talk Money, I Talk That. Crunk juice bombs, Oakley Shades. Shawty Got Class. Oh Behave. Let's Get Gone, Walk It Out (Now Walk It Out). Just Like That. That's What I'm Talking 'Bout.

Scott Ian: Sure Waterworld "tanked," and likely lead to the end of interesting science fiction that isn't a Star Wars movie being put on the big screen, but it eventually broke even, with those foreign box office receipts, product tie-ins, and DVD sales. It's not like the movie has made absolutely zero plays since the start of the season, as BLloyd has.

JTT: LOL at Waterworld. I was swimming in loot in '95, cuddling all of your children as the voice of Simba in the Lion King. You know how much tail I pull by replaying my tear-jerking Mufasa death scene? You wouldn't believe. You wanna see box office gold? Check 'Man of the House,' AKA the last Chevy Chase movie that mattered.


Westbrook: Man, I was an offensive powerhouse, but you should see my defensive techniques today. You think 48 caught a bad one, wait'll you see me in the cage. Go ahead, try and punch me. C'mon, I'll let you get the first swing in. By the way, that first down chop I used to always do? Now it clobbers my ring opponents.

JTT: Man, Herbert Walker was saltin' up my game back then, yo. I didn't need any feds messin' with my paper. Although I confess that I used to drop the "read my lips" line to the honies on the regular. Totally worked on Soliel Moon Frye.

Kornheiser: I think the Wizards are actually sounding more like Junior Bush, with their "Mission Accomplished"-like attitudes towards this upcoming seasons. Maybe they need Eddie Jordan to install a "Pentagon" offense!

corpse of Biggie: I can fill ya wit real millionaire @#% (I can fill ya). Escargot, my car go, one sixty, swiftly. Wreck it buy a new one. Your crew run run run, your crew run run.

Scott Ian: Sure the Wizards' claims to rampen up the D again are pretty laughable, but it's not like they haven't been able to outscore their opponents in the past. George Bush's declaration and subsequent take-back ended up costing us in the long run, not to mention his chances at re-election.

T-Pain: Girl he's simpin, simpin. Walk up in the club with a limp and, limp and, Girl listen, What'cha gon' doooooo with this pimpin Girl I'ma call ya, call ya. Later on tonight or tomorrow, morrow. Now follow, What'cha gon' doooooo with this baller.

Monday, October 1, 2007

A New York Lesson in Perspective (and a Philadelphia Lesson in Loyalty)

After days of watching the Nationals annoyingly play a prominent role in their postseason role, and after equal days loathing and then rooting for the same, the Mets and their by-now-insanity-struck fans are laid to rest. Putting aside the hyperbolic lunacy-laced commentary, to whom can we look for an appropriate reaction? Who will give us a true taste of the levelheaded New York fan dealing rationally with such disappointment? Who will provide us with reasonably thought-out commentary on what went awry and why? Three words: New York Post:


What do we see on the front page: a heartbroken child in a faded, crumpled Mets hat, sitting abandoned amongst empty seats, bawling as the “crushing loss” sets in. Who could be responsible for such a reprehensible act, one so heinous as to cause tears to flow from this youngster’s eyes even as he is left to fend for himself in a vacant Shea Stadium. A quick glance at the back page gives us our villain: Terrible Tom, the formerly venerable and very formerly New York-worshipped Tom Glavine, who we are told single-handedly drove the “final nail” in the Mets’ coffin. The inclusion of the Mets’ logo in the menacing “Choked to Death” header is a nice touch.

I’ve been mildly critical of the Washington Post in recent years for trying to make its headlines a little too cute (can any headline for a story about the Capitals and Lightning not contain the words “bottle” or “strike”?) and/or spectacular, even citing the NY Post as a possible inspiration. I take it all back.

Looking a little deeper into this issue, our old buddy Joel Sherman calls the Mets the worst NY chokers in 50 years. A gentleman states in the NYP’s touching-if-scathing eulogy: “We’re drinking all night. We have to be drinking all night.” Another fan provided further balanced perspective: “I’m on suicide watch. I’ve got nothing to live for.” Well-grounded individuals, both.

To be fair, many others voiced a desire to remain loyal to their team, and did not curse them when they had earned every reason to be cursed. Maybe there could be the genesis of a Mets Optimist in there. But not here. While the collapse of the Mets does give us a hint of joy, partially because of the way the Nats contributed to it, it is blunted by the harsh reality that Philadelphia benefited. Still, given that a worst-case scenario involved both the Mets and Phillies in the playoffs, things worked out ok.

Getting back to our usual optimism, what else can really be said of this Nationals’ season? They won more than anyone reasonably thought they could and played a prominent role in the NL East race. Who would have thought that Matt Chico would pitch worlds better than Tom Glavine (aka Terrible Tom) on the season’s biggest weekend? Further props to Chico for, on national television, bringing out the true fair-weather nature of Philadelphia's loyal fans, prompting them with his performance to boo their team and throw their stupid towels on the field after a close loss that still left them in the thick of the pennant race. Maybe it's another nail in that coffin (right, NYP?) of the ridiculous perception of the loyal-for-life Philly fan (granted, everyone has their fair-weather fans; they just do it much better than most). T-Boz gets it, sort of: "After all the pleasure the Phils have given them this summer, the crowd booed the seventh-inning shenanigans. And, after Chad Cordero worked a perfect ninth inning to secure Chico's win, the crowd literally threw in the towel. Out of the upper deck fluttered dozens of the white giveaways."

Lots of good stuff for the Nats, who closed out a convincingly winning September by again refusing to play down to expert expectations and roll over for those teams who smugly viewed them as nothing more than a lowly inconvenience to brush aside. Well done. Go Padres/Rockies.