Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Optimistic Observations From Up North

I’m back to posting after a little more than a week in my new location, experiencing, at the moment, only mild withdrawal from my beloved DC sports, thanks to some fortuitously timed television broadcasts.

Our cable was hooked up just in time to see all of Game 7 between the Caps and Flyers. While the result of that game and series was undeniably undesirable (Tom Poti for tripping in overtime? Really?), it’s hard to see the Caps now-ended season as anything more than an unqualified success and another step on the road to a decade’s worth of Cup contention. The stated goal was to make the playoffs. Playoffs made. Next year: advance. Given the way Jack-Adams-winner-in-waiting Bruce II and the lads played since November, it’s hard to see anything but serious advancement happening next year.

There was also some disappointment. Mike Wise, so close to DCO Hall of Fame induction with so many recent non-Jason-La-Canfora-like columns, backslid in a serious way during the last week. Disturbing evidence surfaced in his mostly positive eulogy of the Caps’ season. The insidious shades of long-dormant optimism hating came to the surface in Wise’s decidedly unwise quoting of a deluded Flyers’ fan who somehow thought his team forged the Capitals into mature hockey players with their unwielding manliness:

Bottom line about the series comes from an astute Flyers fan, who said: "When your team plays like a hockey team and not a bunch of figure skaters with padding, you win. Our fans and team didn't beat the Caps up. We made them men. You're welcome."
Down the road, the Caps will thank you, Philadelphia, from the bottom of their Game 7 hearts.

Bad enough is the quoting of this nitwit. Worse is the lending of credence to the baldly faulty logic by referring to the fan as “astute”. Still worse is thanking the fan for this logic, while failing to ask if this pillar of astute fandom helped to boo his team off the ice after Game 6. And let’s examine the logic. First, the wildly clichéd “figure skater” derision, applied in an appropriately clichéd fashion to the Capitals, simply because they possess a modicum of true hockey skill and don’t base their game purely on goalie-running. Oh, and Alex Ovechkin is nothing like a figure skater, if that’s what this idiot was getting at. Second, I would argue that a few months of must-win hockey, culminating in a season-closing, division-clinching 11-1 run, made this team “men” much more than a bunch louts and their badly conceived playoff slogan.

With the Caps gone, Wise went back to his true favorite pastime: Wizards bashing, as Bobtimist Prime ably documented. So we’ve had to cancel the DCO HOF bust-carving. We’re sure Wise is crushed.

Speaking of DCO HOF members, this past week has seen John Lannan extend his scoreless inning streak to 14 innings, a solid 23.7% of the way to Orel Hershiser’s record of 59 innings.

Thursday the 24th brought me a nice treat, being able to concurrently watch the Nats’ 10-5 dismantling of the Mets and the Wizards’ 108-72 emphatic dumping of the Cavs on blessed regional and national cable. For a few precious hours, Westport, CT, felt a lot like Alexandria, VA. It was fleeting, of course, as the end of the Capitals’ season sunk in and the Nationals moved off to non-New-York climbs, but it was a nice transitional day.

It was also a start of a nice little run by the Nats, who’ve won four out of five since then. Busting out of that early season slump? Yes. Just like Ryan Zimmerman, he of the 3-for-4, 3 RBI performance last night, is emerging from his own early season nadir.

I’d be totally remiss in not mentioning another A+ draft effort from the Redskins. A trio of optimism-spouting second-round picks, ready to make all sorts of pass-catching, field-stretching contributions: that’s the stuff. So positive-sounding was this article that I thought for a moment, “what’s with La Canfora and all the positivity?” Foolish me should have realized such ‘tism was impossible from such a purveyor of negativity, and that the more forward-thinking Jason Reid penned this lovely draftee introduction.

So, not the worst week, even with the Caps temporarily feeling the sting of first-round elimination and the Wizards being pushed to the proverbial brink. Just as it’s doubtless the Caps will be back, it’s doubtless the Wizards will yet make this a long and competitive series, the faulty predictions of an allegedly infallible golden boy notwithstanding. I hope to be able to post a little more now, with the move settling down, and look forward to following from afar the Wizards’ comeback and another Nationals season turnaround. With any luck I’ll even be able to pop into DC for a game or two this summer.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Things We Have Witnessed

- Cowardice on display with the anointed one crying to the officials, Jay-Z, David Stern, et al. regarding the false injurous reputation of the Wizards, not only during a heinously overwrought skinned elbow incident, but also during a press conference yesterday. Whatever falsely upheld legacy that Lebron weilds upon his leaving of the Cavs and joining of the Brooklyn whoevers before he retires ought to be stained by his behavior during this series.

- More cowardice on display as the anointed one pretended to want to drop the gloves against Deshawn after a namby-pamby flagrant-one to which he added in his legendarily lame presser yesterday that "if it were on the playground something would have happened." Yeah, it wouldn't have been a foul.

- The only Cavs fans in existence sitting behind me during game four making lamely racist quips about Deshawn Stevenson being "high" despite no official reports deeming such a thing as ever happening. The quips about Caron being a former drug dealer were also tasteless, but such trivial racism is the only thing to grasp when you have no championships, ever, to grasp.

- Lebron providing more locker room post-its for the Wiz to generate positive, competivitive-fire-igniting reaction in the form of winning the next three.

- Possibly the lamest diss song since "What's Clef Got to Do With It" being performed by the supposed greatest rapper alive. A pathetic attempt to stay interesting by grampa Jigga, trying hard to help poor baby Lebron stave humiliation at the constantly-trumping via pop culture, Stevenson. Someone get Cam'Ron on the horn.

- Mike Wise forgoeing all the fine work done during the Caps series to awkwardly pretend to understand the rap music, then return to the fawn-fest upon anointed's passing up of the game winner.

- Seven-step drives to the hoop.

- The Verizon Center, rife with Optimilitia members, again turning the place out with fan-tastically brilliant "over-rated" chants, cheers for every Deshawn move, and lustful boos for the oft-terrible officiating. Hopefully game six will feature a Cavalier catching a wayward beer bottle too.

- The effectiveness of pretending to be injured, as it is the main thrust of Cleveland's defensive philosophy.

- A very not-100% Gilbert gutting out a series he could have street-clothesed through.

- Brendan Haywood being awesome on and off the court.

- The mainstream media and the NBA establishment's rampant desire for mute, smiley, styrofoamy talking game-slaves over interesting people who offer a glint of personality. The manner in which Cleveland's terrible clatch of column-scribes have eviscerated Stevenson for speaking the truth, oftentimes reaching for generalizations not unlike the douche-bag Cavs fans who sat behind me and chortled in ESPN hats, has truly been a sight to behold. One wonders the purpose of becoming a basketball reporter, as when a player expresses some sort of opinion that isn't 100% vanilla milquetoast, said player becomes the anti-Christ all of a sudden. Now Gilbert is an attention-whore for writing a blog that has revolutionized professional sports on the internet, and these people would rather him be a wordless chimp, chucking up jumpshots after passing three times, lest he possibly make a name for himself.

- The weeks-long phenomenon that is "Crank Dat" getting stuck into your head.

- The ineptitude of Gary Williams's recruitment strategies (hello urria ballers Beasley, Durant, Green, Hibbert, etc. all never having been invited to college park).

- The blossoming of a young, strong-willed, best-offense-shutter-downer pitcher in John Lannan
- A universally well-thought-of NFL draft, where all needs were met; despite what you may have read from meandering hate-scribe La Canfora.

- The inevitable cutting of Larry Hughes from the Bulls followed by him re-signing at the vets minimum to play for the Wiz followed by a career resurgence.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"They Are Trying to Hurt Me, Danny!"

When not badmouthing Verizon Center bound, hopefully-white-clad faithfuls, Ivan Carter puts in the reporting god-work, as evidenced by his recent lip-reading of the intolerable douche-bag anointed one, providing the quote of the playoffs. Here's what IC wrote:
I'm no professional lip reader but I swear that after Brendan Haywood's hard
foul on LeBron James last night, James mouthed the words "They're trying to hurt
me Danny!" to referee Dan Crawford.
That is pretty much the most softest, manly-less display of basketball fakery in the history of men playing each other in non-soccer sports. Lebron, him with the grimmacing wincing "whoa-I-got-touched" facial expressions delivered whilst given another favorable whistle, is pleading to the NBA officials to throw the genial Brendan Haywood out of the game for causing what amounted to be a skinned elbow, just begging Dan Crawford to save him from the slight contact that playing in a basketball game might affront. Now I don't want to invoke Bobby Knight, really ever, but in this situation, I must. The General said during one of his numerous ESPN whore-sessions, "This is a game where kids get bloody noses, and broken arms..." I figured that this whole "playoff toughness" mentality that is supposed to be proving paramount according to those twinkling piano, zoomed-in-images NBA commercials would involve not literally crying to the officials about a team playing hard. As if Haywood's foul, one that pretty much 100% of Oakland Terrace Elementary School Saturday afternoon ballaz have experienced at least twice per game, was done to maliciously destroy that super important layer of skin that protects poor Lebron's precious shoving-0ff elbow.
Actions such as this need to hurl the 'militia into the throes of throatal response. Recent displays post-Caps games have been wondrous, and we need to apply the same amount of fracas-inducing attitude towards Mr. Shill. Chant's of "Man" Stevenson's "OVER-RATED" mantra need to be audible. Posters of the above image need to be visible. Resistance to Cleveland professional hackery need to be strongly reinforced. Referees need to be reminded that they do not work for Nike with "REF-YOU-SUCK"s. I want to not be able to feel my ears.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Wizards to Schedule Playoff Games During Your First Child's Birth

Seriously, wtf Abe?

Apparently, unbeknownst to the dude owning like 49% of the team, the Wizards will AGAIN be playing a playoff game AT THE EXACT SAME TIME as the Caps tonight, just as they did Saturday night, to which I had to receive text updates of the Wiz score from the incomparable Fredy while I participated in another friggin' awesome red-out at Verizon. If I had known that the Wiz were to be playing their first playoff game simultaneously, I might have thought to stay home and thus miss Verizon Center's tribute to the DC Optimist through its playing of "UWay" after a glorious third period Cristobal save. Holy validation! I am correct to assume that the brilliant minds on display at the Verizon Center, having pieced together such brilliance as the opening playoff vid punctuated with the Dale Hunter SWOTGWG at the end, happened upon our blogspot, noted the awesomeness and the resulting burrowing effect of the song into their subconscious, and then played it for the rest of the Caps fanaticals, thus boosting their enjoyment factor 10-fold? I only hope that when the cup is hoisted, I am given at least one trip around the rink after Milan Jurcina's turn. Just kidding, I guess full access to the locker room whenever we wanted was reward enough.

So yeah, what exactly happened at the Wiz game Saturday? Apparently, Deshawn "Man" Stevenson was crazy accurate with his shot, and he kept Lebron James in check almost all game! Gilbert played, Caron, reading from a box score sure doesn't breed pertinent analysis like actually viewing live footage would. But the guys who both schedule Wizards games and serve to profit from them seem to think that since I enjoy basketball, I care not about local hockey teams. But these wealthy individuals would be wrong. Despite what Ivan Carter keeps carping about regarding the regal lameness of a Wizards game-event, this city loves all five of its sporting teams, especially when they participate in playoff action! Wouldn't it be lovely if we could participate in watching them at a time in which we could fully view them without the aid of DVR (which I don't have thanks to Comcast's gouging rates causing me to eat Ramen noodles three days a week just so I can see Phil Chenier's glorious 'stache in high-def)? I bet the people who both own and schedule the Wizards and the Capitals games may think that because I enjoy watching hockey in person for a substantially larger fee than normal, I also don't care for the rap music, right? Why can't the people who stand to earn significant sums of dough from my enjoyment of both of their sports see that I, and many of the 40-plus per day readers of this site both enjoy the Capitals' playoffitude, and the Wizards' playoffitude. The Verizon Center technical reps understood, thus their installation of "UWay" into the arena song cannon (obviously replacing the heinous "Good Ole Hockey Game"). Why can't the folks who own that building and fund those brilliant minds see that as well?


For the last portion of this post, I would like to abstain from further negativity and instead celebrate the contributions of the dude whose namesake is this blog's title (which kind of confused some people, as it is a two-headed monster, but one whose namesake invokes just one participant). This blog was born out of the DC Optimist's brilliant mind and fed uppedness with local sports coverage and its lack of positivity. He managed to take a lackadaisical lackey on with a sorta-cute name and an obsession with the internet and let him express his thoughts in a manner that impressed his mother and aunt, both frequent readers, and got the attention of people who matter. This blog has been a wondrous outlet for my creative spellingz and wordingz and to have people actually reference it, as I repeat, THE VERIZON CENTER DID DURING A PLAYOFF GAME SATURDAY, is a magnificent feeling, one that could not have been felt without the steady contributions of the actual DCO. I truly feel like the Semin to his Ovie. Especially when I disappear for like two or three weeks trying to find some clever way to incorporate my love of crime novels, rap music and boxing into some post about Lorenzo Alexander. 80% of the good stuff came from him, and as if there wasn't enough self-fellation going on around here recently, I felt like with his departure to Yankee-Met-whoever is winning country, a bit of this blog will vanish up there with him and Mrs. DCO and thus more tribute should be paid.


But fear not, tism-hounds, I (promise) to step up my blog-game as these playoff series become more intense (and congruently shown on television)! I will be flipping betwixt both broadcasts tonight and will detail my finest feelings in a manner that properly encapsulates some sort of originality, praise, analysis, jokes, and fun you've come to expect from the DC Optimist, but will have to receive from his sidekick (and Semin has been pretty freakin' awesome this series no? BTW: Here's a preview of tomorrow's post, Semin's punching in the face of Danny "lil [**female dog curse word**]" Brierre earns him Conn Smythe honors).

Stay Tuned (unless it is being broadcasted simultaneously with something else you enjoy).

Sunday, April 20, 2008


The day has arrived. As of tomorrow, Mrs. DCO and I will no longer be residents of the friendly confines of the DC area. We’ll be setting up shop in southwestern Connecticut, where I will spend my days holding tightly to my loyalties to all Washington teams, refusing to root in any fashion for wretches such as the Mets, Yankees, Rangers, Knicks, and Giants. It’s actually pretty amazing how many people have asked me, “When you move are you going to root for the New York XXX?” Seriously, what kind of person do you think I am?

I’m sure to irritate some of my new neighbors with my DC-centric wardrobe, but I see it as fair payback for all the tools I’ve had to endure down here with their Giants car flags and multi-colored Yankees caps (Red Sox gaining ground in that category, too). It will be interesting to examine the Cowboys-bandwagon factor in a new market as well. Will there be as many ugly blue stars found up there as down here? I'll find out soon enough.

So, while I will be tremendously lacking in my physical access to my beloved teams, my contributions to DC Optimist will continue completely unabated (bless the Internet, Center Ice package, NFL Total Access, XM Radio etc.). Still, I will very much miss things like 15-minute Metro rides to see the Caps and Wizards, day-encompassing odysseys to attend a Redskins’ game, and having my choice of seats in the intimate company of 20-25,000 fans at the Nationals’ lovely new stadium. I never did get to that DC United game I was always talking about attending, but they’re swell too.

I’ll be back as often as I can, for sure, gracing the above-mentioned venues, and hopefully also gracing the Caps press box/locker room to bring back first-hand reports of burgeoning optimism as the franchise prepares for a decade-long run of championship contention.

Most of my fondest game-attending memories in this area revolve around the Caps. I got my first hockey stick as a giveaway against the Winnipeg Jets in 1988, when I was ten. In high school I really got into the Caps during the shortened 1994-95 season. We scored tickets to the home opener against the Islanders that year, a solid 5-2 Caps victory. Later that season, the Sprint to the Playoffs don’t ya know, my friends and I became something of Jim Carey worshipers, as he came up from the minors and made us all want to play goalie in our pickup games with his goal-preventing prowess.

Of course there were the traditional gatherings of friends to attend any game vs. loathsome opponents the Penguins, Rangers, and Flyers, with various cocky-youth-fueled confrontations with fans of the same. A stirring Game 4, 6-2 blowout of the Pens in that shortened season still stands as one of the top three sporting events of any kind I’ve been to (disregarding the, um, ultimate result of that series).

No conversation of Caps-Pens would be complete without the April 24, 1996 Game 4 myself and four other friends went to. We joked outside about the game going to triple overtime, only to find out several hours later we were off by one extra overtime in our guffawing. There we sat through the whole thing: Mario Lemieux punching Todd Krygier in the back of the head and being shown the exit in the second period, Joe Juneau muffing a penalty shot in one of the overtimes (they really all run together after a while), the anticipation of a game-winner every time the Caps gained possession of the puck in OT, the dread of the opposite every time the Pens did the same, Olie Kolzig’s incredible 60+-save performance, and the ultimate 2:30 AM heartbreak brought on by Peter “F$%@-ing” Nedved with less than a minute left in the fourth overtime. It was a pretty quiet, sullen car trip back to Northern Virginia, but looking back it’s still one of my fondest hockey memories. Still being in high school at the time, I had to be “sick” the next day, then receive knowing glances from some of my Caps-fan teachers the day after that.

The last game at US Air Arena/Caps Centre. The first game at MCI Center (Jeff Toms, everybody!). Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 vs. Buffalo (damn you, Hasek!). The division-clincher vs. Florida this year. Too many more memories to go through. So we’ll move on.

My first regular season Redskins game was pretty much a stinker, vs. Seattle in 1995. I remember it as the beginning of the end of the Heath Shuler era. If memory serves, his first pass was an interception, and the patience of the fans, already frayed by that point, came apart pretty quickly after that. Chants for Jeff Hostetler grew as the Skins continually came up empty on drive after drive. They ultimately lost 27-20, but being at a game at RFK made watching the Skins’ futile efforts worth it.

I only made it to a few Bullets/Wizards games here. I do remember in fifth grade being confused by the old mascot, Hoops. I guess I’m still confused. G Wiz makes a lot more sense by comparison.

My first baseball game in years and years was in August 2005. I hadn’t quite decided on my loyalties regarding the Nationals just yet. I had only fleeting, partial fandom towards Baltimore, fandom which basically disintegrated when Premiere Angelos threw his years-long temper tantrum to keep the Expos away from DC. That night game in August was a turning point of sorts. I went with then-future Mrs. DCO and a few friends. I don’t remember who the Nats played or who won, but it was a good time, back in the days of 30,000+ in attendance, and from then on out it was an official, final dissolution of my relationship with the Orioles and an embracing of the Nats.

Finally, there was the last baseball game at RFK, which just happened to fall on my first wedding anniversary, so my wife and I celebrated by seeing the old place off. That I will always distinctly remember as a fantastic late fall afternoon, and a solid, stadium-closing victory over the Phillies. I tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to keep score for the first time in my life, and still have the semi-completed scorecard. I’ve managed just one game at the new park, since this moving business has sucked up a lot of time, but I hope to make it back once or twice this summer for more.

So that’s it. Time to finish packing and wait for the movers tomorrow morning. I’ll be out of posting commission for at least the next week, but Bobtimist Prime will hold down the fort, shining the light of optimism on things such as Capitals and Wizards playoff comebacks and the sure-to-be-brilliant Redskins’ draft. Don’t miss it.

Talk to you all next from enemy territory. Good day.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Wizards Playoff Preview: COLD GETTIN' DUMB

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Hey party people, it's Wizards playoff season, and you know what that means (as based on the past two seasons), it's time for Lebron and his roster of referee friends to make their way through the speed bump that is the Wizards towards his endless anointing via the NBA marketing machinery, right? Well according to Wilbon (WILBON!) that is wrong. QUICK, take one guess who might agree with the onery occassional-carer of DC sports: that's right, us. Wizards. Sweep. You know the drill. Except this time, the humor and irony that trying hard to find the silver lining in a season torn from us by a non-playoff-participating Jordanairre's statistic amassing legs is not the basis behind this post. No, the Wizards will sweep because the Wizards are a better team. And Lebron, and his newly added clatch of crusty old floppers are barely treading water since they were thrown together as if they were methadone attempting to break a smack addiction (something native Clevelanders may know about). The team has just gone from mediocre to extra mediocre, while the Wiz have risen high!

It's nice to be so unlike last year, when people were giving the Wiz-Cavs series the same amount of attention they gave quarterlife during it's epic one episode run. In fact many are calling this series the Envy-Eli Porter MC battle of the east in both it's competitiveness and it's inclusion of rap and hilarity. We too are excited about the potential rap battle between DeShawn "Man" Stevenson's new bff, Souljah Boy, and Lebron's tired old father figure fogey-type bff, Jay-Z. Now, Bobtimist has been known to bump one or four of Jay-Z's eight number one albums from time to time in "the whip," but ever since the much publicized lame Lebron comparison between his old idol (who actually experienced success without the aid of record company official types abetting his rise to prominence through the non-calling of industry rules) and how he is like MC Joe Camel while DeShawn is like Souljah Boy, because he isn't as important, talented, or necessary, I have been upset with the misperception. Unlike "Man's" brilliant player analysis, Lebron is wrong.

When making a metaphor, as many rappers do from time to time, one must find some sort of congruence on both sides of the "like" and in the case of DeShawn Stevenson's play, he is not congruent to the teenage fad dance creating, likely-forgotten-three-months-from-now, flash-in-the-pan rapper Souljah Boy. If you look at "Man's" career (and fellow blogger-types, please stop calling him D-Steve, that sounds like a terrible nickname the IT department would give their newest database management administrator David Stevens after his third straight homerun during the company softball team's two-game winning streak) you will see that he was never "like" a one-hit phenomenon who will subsequently fade out into a career of Indian Reservation Casino performances and VH1 talking head gigs.

Although "Man" began in a phenom-sort of way, coming straight out of high school to the league, winning legendary dunk contests at Mickey-D's All-American games, he ended up losing touch with the mainstream golden oldies Stockton and Malone in these formative stages, but he put in endless work, eventually landing in the perfect situation in Washington where in his two years of steadfast improvement, he has flourished as both a defensive pest and a spot shooter (career-highs in three pointers two consecutive years). If any rapper type could be compared to "Man", a practice performed better on many-a blog sites, I think the New York rapper AZ (not to be confused with Jay-Z) would be a better comparison. AZ began as the phenom sort, stealing the show from Nas during "Life's a B1%ch" and instead of forming into the mainstream rap-god everyone saw in him, he settled into a steady stream of solid releases. AZ even goes so far as to lash out at the supposed big guns, like he did when he went after 50 Cent on the "Royal Salute" track.

Which brings us to the other side of this analogy, and who better to compare Lebron to than 50. Insane hype before the first full-length album/season, a steady string of well-received materials but an overall disdain for anything truly spectacular, lots of style, yet little substance, quite literally a douche bag, -- seems a lot more congruous than Jay-Z, who has put in a lion share more work, and provided many more quality releases (unlike Lebrick's last release vs. the Wiz --clank!), than 50 ever will. A more apt comparison to Jay-Z would be someone like, as Jigga often mentions, Michael Jordan, who touched the untouchable reached the unreachable blah blah blah for so long before wilting into a terrible general manager. (The jury is out whether Jigga's reign as the Def Jam CEO = Michael's years in Washington).

So I would say that Lebron, in addition to being overrated, is obviously wrong in his actual rating abilities. So with "Man" trying to hook Souljah Boy up with tickets and a game-worn for the series and the Optimilitia hopefully energizing the lame-according-to-Ivan-Carter crowds with their steady chants of "OVER-RATED" during free throws, it's obvious that the Wizards have the right idea when it comes to getting into someone's head (unlike one jerk-hole-ish way to get inside someone's head that should have been assessed with a technical, but I digress).

So does that make the Wizards the "dumbest team in the history of civilization," as stated by the autobiography-writing, and re-writing Charles Barkely? Only in the sense that they are COLD GETTIN' DUMB on the court during this series. As relentless as Kurtis Mantronik's bassline was in that stellar Just-Ice gem, the Wiz will be relentlessly attacking the basket, this time with healthy, talented, superstars, not crochety pieces on the washed-up side of their careers. Caron Butler: back after nursing a sore knee and the notion that he is injury-prone. Antawn Jamison: also returning from bumps and bruises after manly performances against the elite. Gilbert Arenas: another returner from injury who only sealed the Wiz's playoff positioning with a classic fourth quarter against the Sixers last week. Antonio Daniels: soldiering through a torn wrist ligament towards another strong playoff series. Brendan Haywood: Career highs in everything. The bench rotation: Songaila, Mason, Blatche, the kids. All a huuuuge improvement over disasters of yesteryears.

No need for snark, this is series is sweep material, Right? YAH TRICK YAAAAHH!

DCO Salutes 1988

Ahh, 1988. What a year. I turned 11, was a big fan of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and loved hearing schoolyard whispers of the supposedly imminent release of Super Mario Brothers 3 (one kid was even said to own a copy from Japan. He was a god).

The Cubs played at Wrigley at night for the first time. Iran-Contra and perestroika captured our hearts. Sonny Bono became Mayor Sonny Bono. Dan Quayle. Michael Dukakis. Kirk Gibson’s home run. The Seoul Summer Games and highly curious boxing judges.

Let's see, what else happened? Oh yeah, the Caps faced a 3-games-to-1 deficit against the Philadelphia Flyers (after losing game 4 in overtime in Philly) in the first round of the playoffs and came back to win the series in seven games. Loved 1988.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Puzzling Playoff Sloganeering

Just one question from yesterday’s Game 3: What’s with that clever little slogan emblazoned across thousands of garishly orange shirts: Vengeance Now? Uh, what? Vengeance on whom? Dale Hunter, for that Game 7 overtime business twenty years ago? Bobby Clarke, for his three-draft-picks-to-rent-Adam-Oates trade? Do the members of the Flyers’ marketing department and those thousands of lemming fans know what vengeance means? Not that Rock the Red is any kind of profound poetic prose, but this just doesn’t make sense. Who knows, maybe I’m stupid and this really is a brilliant way to bring out the latent rage hiding just underneath the surface of every Philadelphian. Whip up a phrase that sounds angry, slap it on a t-shirt and BAM: instant raucousness.

On the other hand, Vengeance Now might be an apt slogan for a first-round NBA series.

One other note on the Philly Phaithful: they sure do posture a lot and laud the physical and goony play of their team of physical goons (and Danny Briere), but they truly are famously outrageous complainers when it’s doled out in the other direction. A run on Cristobal Huet is greeted with approving roars, as is a Mike Richards’ open-ice hit on Nicklas Backstrom. But brush by Martin Biron? Dare to throw a check at the aforementioned Richards? COMPLETE (noisy) INDIGNATION. Where’s the penalty??!!

There were some (perhaps subtle) signs that the Caps are slowly waking up to the nature of the Flyers and what it will take to beat them. With about ten minutes left in the second period, Huet stopped a shot from the high slot and a pair of Flyers steamed forward for the requisite bump/punch combo. Mike Green and John Erskine quickly formed a wall in front of Huet to push back the hit squad. Huet himself finally threw a shot at Briere, who responded with his traditional back-of-the-head-punch-and-skate-away-as-quickly-as-my-wee-legs-will-carry-me scheme. Finally, Brooks Laich made the ultimate goalie-running prevention move by burying Kimmo Timonen into the net as the Flyers' defenseman was preparing his own assault on Huet.

Let’s not lend credence to this burgeoning-and-false idea that the Caps are a bandwagon team by jumping ship. Let’s not be like Typical Flyers Fan, who likely would be calling for the head of a coach if their team been outplayed early in a first-round series. The Caps are just down one game, a measly 2-1. It’s not all that unlike being 6-14 on Thanksgiving Day, wallowing in last place in the East, then making a spirited four-and-a-half month run to the playoffs. Hmm, that run started in Philadelphia didn’t it? Interesting. In any case, Game 4 does loom as something of a must-win. Hmm, a must-win. Kind of like every game the Caps played from mid-March on, and that turned out just fine. Rock the red vengeance now.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Caps' (Undefeated) Run Continues Tomorrow In Philly

With the slight speed bump of yesterday’s series-tying game now behind us all, it’s on to Philadelphia, where the Caps have won four in a row, undefeated for two seasons. We don’t even need them to repeat that feat: winning a mere two games in a row will suffice. On to the place where Bruce Boudreau got his first taste of NHL victory, where Nicklas Backstrom discovered the similarly sweet taste of birthday OT winners, and where the Caps have not lost since February 10, 2006. You might remember those days, when “rebuilding” was still something in progress, rather than a fading memory.

Being shut out at home in the playoffs always stinks. It’s far from the end, though. Look back to 1998, when the Caps were shut out by the same 2-0 score by the Buffalo Sabres, at home, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals (I seem to recall some manner of ridiculous Dominik Hasek flopping around the crease, arms pinned tightly against the goalposts, as Adam Oates tried repeatedly in vain to flip the puck over the prone goalie). Those Caps went on to win three games in a row (after being tied 1-1 after two games), including a pair on the road in Buffalo, to ultimately win the series in six games. Sure that was ten years ago and the only links to that team are Olie Kolzig and George McPhee, neither of whom is on the ice these days, but we find it relevant. We read several sources after Game 1 needlessly pointing out how the Caps historically lost x of x series after winning Game 1, so if teams with Bob Mason and Mike Ridley are game for comparison, so is 1998’s Conference Champion squad.

During any kind of review of video of the game, it will have to be obvious to the Caps that they tried to be too fancy. Too much fanciful passing and too many attempts at artful weaving through the neutral zone. There will be adjustments. Thus, we’re likely to see more of Brooks Laich crashing the net in the face of Martin Biron and less of Alexander Semin trying to curl and drag his way around two defenseman and a back-checking forward before throwing a blind pass to an empty point position. More of the Bradley-Gordon-Brashear line firmly establishing a Philly-exhausting cycle in the offensive zone corner and less of Mike Green attempting to split three Flyers on an up-ice rush. More of Ovie firing away instinctively as he has all season, rather than over-thinking and choosing a blockable wrist shot over a goal-seeking one-timer.

We’re confident the Caps can rebound and counter Philly’s “traditional” “physical style”, which seems to have evolved into a “traditional” “running-over-the-goalie-in-as-filthy –a-manner –as-possible-whenever-possible style”. Speaking of which, isn’t it cute to watch Danny Briere try to goon it up; flailing his stick around like a 5-year-old, and throwing adorable little punches at the back of the goalie as he skates away as quickly as possible? Awwww.

So here we are tied 1-1. No big deal. This “home ice advantage” stuff is hugely overrated as it is. Nobody really expected the Caps to sweep the series, so a defeat or two had to come at some point, whether at home or on the road. The important thing is for the Caps to continue to shed that playoff nervousness and get tough in the way they are capable of getting tough. Look no farther than Backstrom brutally shoulder-checking Mike Richards (he who is beloved by math wizard Pierre McGuire, whose reporting we estimate to be about 50% accurate), who promptly looked for a penalty, incredulous that someone might return the punishment we are told he is so good at doling out. We need more of that, starting tomorrow.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Keys to the Series vs. Philly

Like many Caps fans (and possibly members of the Penguins’ organization), I had initially hoped the team would draw the Senators in the first round. To again quote the brilliant sage in the men’s room following the playoff-clinching victory over the Panthers, “We dominated them (Ottawa) when we sucked.” It looked like a nice cakewalk through the first round, the kind of cakewalk the Penguins are apparently on their way to enjoying, if their seemingly effortless 4-0 victory in Game 1 is any indication.

Upon further review, however, I welcome the series against Philadelphia. Perhaps you have been like me in recent years, becoming complacent in your disdain for all things Philly. Maybe the feverish dislike for the Flyers waned along with the relevance of the Philadelphia franchise, particularly last season, when a sad, last-place Flyers team was swept in the season series by the Capitals. We’ve also been further distracted by this nearly three-year wave of newfound darling-ism cascading over Pittsburgh and Sts. Crosby and Malkin, refocusing our ire on a team that, like the Flyers, slipped to the brink of being an afterthought.

This series against the Flyers offers a chance to bring back the warm feeling in one’s heart that comes from despising Philadelphia. Judging by the Pennsylvanian-disparaging Caps fan I encountered on the Metro last night, that feeling is making a comeback. His harsh words regarding those who would come here and root for wretches such as the Penguins and Flyers perhaps heralded a return of those old days at the Cap Center, where Philly and Pitt fans showed up but were not tolerated, were not allowed to out-cheer the home crowd. So bring on the Flyers, and let’s take a look at some key match-ups in this series.

1. Danny Briere’s stick blade vs. Capitals’ groins – How many cowardly spears Briere is able to dole out could well affect the outcome of this series. Past spearing victims Alex Ovechkin and Milan Jurcina can vouch for the potential game/series-ending injury that can result from such an action, particularly when Lil’ Danny works his trade while hiding behind a large teammate. Unrelated note to Sports Illustrated: why must you insult Paul McCartney? The Ovechkin comparison was kind of funny, but that was just flat out unnecessary.

2. Mike Wise vs. Thomas Boswell – Who can write the more poetically waxing column? Boswell fired the first shot, invoking the image of a fairy tale within the first ten words of his post-division-title piece. Wise shot back three days later with his touching tale of a rejuvenated Sergei Fedorov hoping to re-live past glory with the Capitals and guiding the Caps’ talented youngsters with his sage-like 38-year-old wisdom. Wise even called up on the memory of Vladimir Konstantinov and the way Fedorov and the Red Wings were inspired by their severely injured teammate to take down the Caps in four games in the 1998 Finals. He closed with the “new lease on life” angle to sum up Sergei’s current condition. These two could battle through the first round, and possibly beyond, for saccharine supremacy. We look forward to it.

3. Caps impending first-round victory vs. Specter of Pittsburgh in Round 2 – Thanks to the Penguins inept tanking (intentionally or not) in the season finale against the Flyers, not only do we have Philly coming to town for Round 1, we very well could see Pittsburgh in Round 2. Will haunting memories of things like 3-1 leads vanished and 4-OT-games-with-muffed-penalty-shot lost creep into the heads of Caps players as the first round wears on? Of course not. Nothing would be sweeter than knocking off the Flyers and Pens in succession. Let’s do that.

4. Caps fans vs. Invading Flyers fans – During the last couple of years, Philly fans have either been fewer in number or just not as loud at games in Washington, at least in my experience. There just hasn’t been the noticeable split in crowd loyalty that there used to be, or the fairly large number of inevitable confrontations between a Caps fan and some tool from Camden. This could all change, of course, with the Flyers having recovered from their brief down-turn. We’ll see if Verizon Center is invaded by those frontrunning-fans-who-never-get-called-out-as-frontrunning fans. If so, silencing them will be an important aspect of this series.

Well, the day is finally here: the beginning of the fruitioning of the now-officially over re-build. It was, at last, done properly (just look at that vaunted core of home-grown youngsters), and this promises to be a team not designed for just a one-year playoff run followed by salary cap hell disaster (hello, Pittsburgh). So you want a prediction? Fine. Here goes: the Flyers may well goon/spear their way to a victory or two, but the Caps will ultimately prove superior to the glorified “physical” play of Philadelphia. Washington in no more than six.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

"One of those Manly Games"

That quote is from playoff-bound Wizards coach Eddie Jordan regarding his team pwning the constantly vaunted Boston Celtics and their best record in the league for a third straight time. It references a style of play where 'men' emerge from the pomp, circumstance, anticipation nerves and pressure packing that usually belie a team that has withstood much in the way of adversity on their way to another successful season. The 'manliness' that was on display in front of 20,000-plus at the Verizon Center became glaringly apparent when Antawn Jamison shook an "intense" Kevin Garnett on the baseline with a post move, swung left and blasted a dunk over the grill of Kendrick Perkins. On the next play, Garnett, who earlier managed to toss two no-look passes into the stands, attempted to post up Jamison, only to have the ball deflected off of his leg by non-nicknamed number 4 and his inherrent tenacity. One wonders if Garnett, who couldn't help but recognize the swagger of the Wiz after the game, cried to John Thompson after seeing the highlights (at least he managed to block some shots after the whistle. INTENSELY).

We were supposed to be mourning this Wizards team, after Jamison and Deshawn "Man" Stevenson crumbled during that freak jump ball and subsequent Buckhantz "NOOOOOOOO!" against the Bucks, but as we noted earlier, this team can withstand gut punches, much like Andray Blatche withstood gunshots and Oleksiy Pecherov withstood the screams in terror of young children who bear witness to his ghastliness. That is why the Wizards remain the manliest team in the league. When the Miami Heat received a few injurious days, they withered like the pages of an old paper back, with on-again, off-again head coach Pat Riley taking "scouting trips" during the more mundane required schedule appearances. Quitting in the face of adversity is not manly.

Neither is posturing, as the intense KG continued to do last night despite being worked up and down the court by Jamison and Brendan Haywood. Remember before the year started when Gilbert was on a media rampage, and he made some comments about not double-teaming Garnett in the clutch and it lead to a bunch of people bad mouthing him and Bostonians to lose their chowdah? Geez, Gilbert sure is sounding clairvoyant now, despite weathering the boos of a lustful Boston crowd in the only non-successful meeting between the C's that occurred after his fateful interview with Dime. It reminds me of other sets of clairvoyant predictions made in these parts. Could weathering the maelstrom and emerging in a strong playoff position be in the cards for the Nationals? We think so!

Now that the real big three have returned, it is time to properly get excited about the Wiz. The fourth seed could be secured in a very Caps-like fashion if the next four games are won, and Cleveland falters slightly. A first-round matchup with those hated Cavs, who, barring the intervention of marketing-minded referees, shouldn't be much of a problem, as shouldn't a second rounder with those Celtics and their vauntedness.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Revisiting Pre-Season Predictions

In this basking-in-it time between the Capitals utterly improbable run to the post-season and their equally improbable run through the post-season, let’s look back to the predictions we made back in June regarding the 2007-2008 NHL awards. This tiny post has been one of our most accessed, with hundreds of unsuspecting Google and Yahoo! searchers seeking information on award prognostication finding their way to our DC-centric forecasts. We will now examine these predictions, assigning each a grade based on hindsight benefited by ten months and an NHL season, plus a statistical probability that our optimism will be rewarded.

Prediction: Nicklas Backstrom
Grade: A
We in Washington of course knew of the potential dynamo we had quietly finding his way into the Caps lineup, while much of the rest of the league drooled over names like Kane and Toews in Chicago. While one of those two may yet take the Calder (benefiting somewhat from the absurdly lacking-in-logic argument that Backstrom’s numbers are inflated because he happened to play with Alex Ovechkin), but this was a solid pick.
Probability: 75%

Prediction: Boyd Gordon
Grade: C
The pick was based on solid logic in June, even though it may look a little flawed now in April. Gordon definitely looked to be on the rise (and still will be) as a top-notch defensive forward with that always-desired third-line offensive upside. He did get a little derailed by injury early on, which is why we cannot completely discount him as a potential Selke nominee in the future.
Probability: 0% Another time.

Prediction: Soon-to-be-acquired (by trade or free agency) elite defenseman
Grade: C
Partial credit. What, you say? How can we justify this seemingly completely wrong prediction with a generous middle-of-the-road grade like C? Well, the partial credit comes from a couple of aspects. Around the middle of the season, Mike Green started getting some attention for his swift skating, penchant for OT game-winners, and speed that allowed him to jump up into plays while still granting him time to hustle back down the ice and be defensively sound. His name and “Norris” were uttered once or twice, and the general sentiment was (and remains) that he will blossom into an elite defenseman. So he could be construed to be our unnamed-in-June man. The only thing preventing this from being a higher grade is that tricky phrase “soon-to-be” in front of “acquired”. While Green was acquired with a draft pick obtained a trade, it happened back in 2004.
Probability: 11% Nick Lidstrom, anyone?

Prediction: Olaf Kolzig/Brent Johnson
Grade: B-
Again, partial credit. Right team, wrong player(s). In a way, we could claim to have been a little mixed up in our predictions for Norris and Vezina, for an elite player was acquired via trade, but it wasn’t a defenseman, it was elite goaltender Cristobal Huet. Did his playoff-cinching nine-game winning streak, 11-2 record, 1.63 GAA and .936 save percentage in 13 games with the Capitals come too late for consideration for the Vezina? NO!
Probability: 17%. Might grab some consideration, a la Manny Acta and his should-have-had-it Manager of the Year award.

Lady Bing
Prediction: Donald Brashear
Grade: Incomplete
Ha, ha! See the irony. You see (snicker), Donald Brashear does not play a gentlemanly form of hockey (chortle). Therefore (suppressed giggle), he would never garner consideration for the Lady Bing. Oh the hilarious irony.
Probability: < 0%

Jack Adams
Prediction: Glen Hanlon
Grade: B
Again, right team, wrong man. Can there really be consideration for anyone other than Bruce Boudreau? His only potential derailment comes from optimism-haters and their nit-pickery about not coaching an entire season. That of course can be easily remedied when Boudreau leads the Caps to the Presidents Trophy next season, but for now it’s really his only obstacle.
Probability: 95% It’s gotta be Bruce.

Prediction: Alex Ovechkin
Grade: A+
Not exactly a profound prediction, though doubtless many a Canadian media member and resident of Pittsburgh and West Virginia took extreme umbrage at any pre-season notion that their anointed one would not take home a second straight MVP. They likely still hope for a Pittsburgh Hart in the form of Evgeni Malkin, since that in a way would pay proper deference to their tragically injured diety.
Probability: 99% I’ve never been one to encourage or condone rioting, but if Ovechkin does not win the Hart, I encourage and condone rioting.

Conn Smythe
Prediction: Brooks Laich
Grade: B+
We invoked the memory of Druce on the Loose in penning this somewhat obscure up-and-comer in for the playoff MVP. Coming off a career regular season, it might not be that absurd a premise. We’ll start to see come Friday.
Probability: 21%

Saturday, April 5, 2008


My head hurts. My voice is gone. My ears are still ringing. Caps are division champs. Sound a feasting horn.

Bring on the Senators. At least we hope it's the Senators, because, as the wise, wise man in the Verizon Center bathroom said after the game, "We dominated Ottawa when we sucked." We don't suck any more, do we?

At Last, The Break of All Breaks

Finally. After week after week of enduring three-point game after three-point game involving teams ahead of the Caps (usually the Bruins) and seeing them unable to truly gain meaningful ground in the playoff race as a result, we all got a break. Those overlooked (for good reason, considering their late-season disappearance into comfortably familiar irrelevance) Panthers, of all teams, delivered it. Shocked Carolina, ruined their Fan Appreciation Night, pushed the 'Canes to the brink of elimination after weeks and months of Raleigh complacency at the top of the Southeast.

Now it's the Caps' turn. As a poster on Capitals Insider brilliantly put it, there is new playoff math: win and we hang a banner. That Southeast division title, which we at DCO optimistically thought might be securely in hand by mid-February, is there for the taking with but a win. We won't even talk about OT losses. Those are for Boston to collect. But that would work too.

Members of the Optimilitia will be at the Booth tonight, lost in a sea of red up there in section 407 with 18,274 of our friends. It's the win to finally, truly talk about the playoffs as something happening NOW. It's the win to bring trophies with names like Hart and Jack Adams indisputably to Washington. It's the win to bring the Senators (at least we really really hope it's the Senators) back here for a first-round series, where the Caps can run their season record against Ottawa to 8-0. And finally, it's the win to validate those post-Jagr years of blowing up and re-building. We said back in October the rebuild was over and the team was thinking playoffs. Time for the team to make us not look stupid. They won't. Bring on the Sens.

Friday, April 4, 2008

All 92- or 94-Point Teams Are Not Equal

Well, it’s pretty simple now (in a complicated way): if the Caps win on Saturday we get to breathe in the post-season. We at DCO share the maddening frustration of loyal Caps fans everywhere when we say: how in the F&%$ is this team not securely in either the division lead or a comfy fifth or sixth playoff spot? That’s six wins in a row and 10 of 11. If not for that non-Rookie-of-the-Year-having Chicago Blackhawks team taking advantage of a road-trip-weary Caps team waaaaaay back on March 19, we’d have a straight-up 11-game winning streak on our hands. With such a streak, it’s positively criminal to not see the Caps with a little “x” or “y” next to their name in this morning’s standings.

They do have those 92 points, though, same as Boston and only two behind Ottawa’s 94. The Caps are worlds better than either of those teams. Remember when the Capitals consistently beat up on Ottawa before it was fashionable to consistently beat up on Ottawa? Those were the days of the Senators’ record-breaking start to the season. That’s when Washington racked up its season series sweep of the apparently hapless Sens. Since then, of course, the rest of the NHL has enjoyed knocking them around and threatening their playoff livelihood, but the Caps did it first. Thus they are the superior team: one surging upwards towards a post-season run instead of flailingly grasping at a slipping-away playoff spot, hoping to carry just enough inertia to get swept in the first round.

The Bruins? They just flat-out stink. Why are they even in the playoff conversation? That’s actually an easy question to answer: overtime losses. They’ve got 12 of them. They had that gift-wrapped 5-on-3-rich 2-1 victory over the Caps that prevented, at the very least, a 13th OT loss. They excel at giving up 19 goals over a three-game stretch. They lost to the Senators when nobody was losing to the Senators. Like I said, they stink. Let’s hope for some sort of definitive regulation resolution to tonight’s Boston-Ottawa game. That sets the stage for a Capitals playoff berth sometime around 9:30 Saturday night. Simple. As simple as Craig Laughlin’s postgame analysis: “I’m tired of scenarios. I don’t care about scenarios. If the Caps win against the Panthers they’re in the playoffs.” Well put.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the other inferior 92-point team: those irritating, won’t-go-away Carolina Hurricanes. Whoever wins the Southeast will be subject to at least some derisive “Southleast” commentary to go along with the fact that the division champ, the #3 seed, will have fewer points than some teams seeded lower. Of the two remaining contenders for Southeast supremacy, only one has been playing at a consistently unworthy-in-the-eyes-of-the-rest-of-the-East clip for the entire season. That would be Carolina. They’ve acquired their 92 points with regular stretches of mediocrity, taking full advantage of what we’re told is inferior competition in the Souteast. The Caps, on the other hand, have been playing at a blistering 100+ point pace since that wondrous November day when Bruce Boudreau came into our lives. It’s a pace that, had it started on October 5 instead of November 23, would have long-since relegated Carolina to the afterthought they should be this season.

Finally, we’d also be remiss if, in this discussion of afterthoughts, we didn’t mention the ninth-place Philadelphia Flyers. All we need from them is a regulation loss, of which they are perfectly capable against New Jersey or Pittsburgh (anyone feeling utterly dirty for rooting for the Penguins lately?). Then not only is Philly out (completing their own little collapse of sorts), they lose their quasi-battle with the Caps for the “Most Improved Team” mantle. They might technically have a greater points improvement, but in playoffs vs. no playoffs, playoffs wins. And while the Caps put together their ever-improving squad on the rock-solid and built-to-last foundation of wise drafting and prudent free agent signing, the Flyers house of straw/cards/whatever is constructed on the flimsy and costly base of $10 million, underachieving, -22 mistakes.

Bottom line: get ready to think playoffs for real come Saturday night. After all the disappointment the team and we fans have endured in scoreboard-watching lately, hoping for just that little bit of help from somebody, at last the wins have piled up enough to make at least one of the many playoff scenarios become reality.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


The Nationals completed their successful series against the Phillies today, finishing a stretch in which they took two out of three games from Philadelphia, including their Home Opener. This entire sequence of events took place to the sonorous soundtrack of boos from loyal Philadelphians, eager to jump on each and every mistake and error (including four today) committed by their “beloved” Phillies.

The Nationals won their two games in the traditional nine innings, while it took the Phillies ten full innings to finally subdue the scrappy Nats in their lone series victory. Even in that win, Philadelphia’s Jayson Werth resorted to cowardly non-swinging to walk home the winning run. The Nats, by contrast, won their contests by using their bats in the originally intended manner: to hit baseballs. Whether it was a doubles-rich 11-6 series-opening triumph or a Ryan-Zimmerman-clutch-homer-aided 1-0 squeaker, the Nationals eschewed cowardly walk-drawing for true baseball action. The result: a successful steal of a pair of wins at Citizens Bank Ballpark. That and an identical record as the World Champion Boston Red Sox (again, draw your own conclusions. We have.).

Thus the Nats become the last or second-to-last team in the National League to lose a game (depending on when the Brewers finished up folding to the Cubs in a pathetically meager nine innings). This compares favorably to last season, when it took them one game to lose their first game. It compares even more favorably when you consider that the Nats did not secure their first series win last season until May 11-13. That's some tangible, completely objective progress. So watch out, St. Louis Cardinals, you’re next. The question is: will there be anyone there to see you get swept?

A Throwback Wizards Game/Season/Mindstate

Last night, in a move that wasn't surprising, at least to us, Gilbert Arenas returned to the lineup to score 17 points off the bench for the Wiz in a game where they lead pretty much the whole time, all the way up to the end in fact. Gilbert, as per his usual flair-for-the-dramatic ways, kept Wizards beat writers, the internet, sports talk 980, etc all on the edge of their press boxed and cubicled seats regarding his decision to ignore sound medical advice and abstain from game action during that so-so west coast road trip, only to skip shoot around, make statements about his non-playing status, and then play. Mr. Cliche'd Quirk suited up in one of those number zero jerseys that are freely tossed into the stands after games and sank his first four shots. Rust was not really displayed as he managed to exude a bit of his patented clutch-osity hitting two free throws at the end of regulation. It reminded us that it has been a long year of waiting for the Wiz to finally return to full strength.

So with that close-to-full complement of Wizards players, the team returned to their Eastern-Conference-leading-at-one-point ways by losing in heart-gouging fashion to a team so beneath them, playing defense reminiscent of last season's legendary squad. Also similar to their recent glorious past, key players managed to injure themselves in a most awe-f*&%$-inspiring manner. As if the good lord was hand-guiding them in that final fateful few seconds, both Antawn Jamison and DeShawn Stevenson managed to injure themselves simultaneously on a dive for a loose ball a mere seconds before a d-leaguer sank a freakin... seriously, you can't script fatefull season endings of this magnitude. (I am hearing a certain twinkling piano-still photo montage commercial in my head about "Amazing" things...)

But with this recent blast-from-the-past style of play, one can (make a flailing attempt to) look to the positives. Back in those days when "not possibles" rained down from marginal players, and centers were both brawling and bawling (and not ballin') and crucial ligaments and bones shredded at the most inopportune times, etc et-f&*%in cetera, the play of Gilbert Arenas was nothing short of spectacular. These types of losses happened frequently, even before they started to really happen even more frequently when Arenas and Butler's seasons bit the proverbial dust (remember the Donaghy-assisted depleted Iverson trade-Nuggets loss post-60-pointer? That gawd awful Atlanta Hawks Caron-is-finally-back game?). The Wiz were able to withstand those soul-crushers, just like they were able to withstand soul-crushing injuries, soul-crushing refereeings, soul-crushing home crowds, soul-crushing draft picks, and soul-crushing blog posts that eventually jinxed whatever goodness surrounded the team in an alarmingly short time period. The Magnetic Resonance Imaging results from 'tawn's shoulder are to arrive soon making the past look like it may eerily repeat itself, but instead of huddling into the fetal position, chanting "Nats undefeated, Caps playing meaningful games" to yourself while you soil your Jared Jeffries jersey, think about the good parts of the past. Try. Seriously.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

1-0 = 3-0

Not bad. Not bad for a team with allegedly no pitching, against a team allegedly loaded with hitters, in a park known for favoring hitters. One hit. One hit given up against that scarily talented Phillies lineup. One more reason for the Philly phanatics to boo their beloved team.

So here the Nats are at 3-0. Only one other team in the majors currently has three wins: the World Champion Red Sox. Draw your own (optimistic) conclusions.

Hit the Club Make the Folks Scream HU-ET!

I know ATL-based Southern-fried crunk rap and French Canadian goalies are about as congruous as Tom Boswell attempting to interpret the lyrics to "Bend Ya Knees," but everytime I see the Cristobal Huet, he of seven straight W's, and nine of his last eleven, shut down a flopping Carolina Hurricane two-on-one (leading to a fitting Jordan Staal board-delivering that Staal, channelling Manu Ginobili, somehow found a way to flop into), I can't help but think of Youngbloodz' 1999 hit "U-Way" thus leading to its hook burrowing itself into my conscious. While I will temporarily justify the usage of the insufferable Journey get-drunken-white-girls-to-sing staple "Don't Stop Believing," as it is Nick Backstrom's favorite song according to Brooks Laich, I think the CapsMix2008 might be missing this gem (as it is missing pretty much all rap music). I implore you not to listen to this and want to hit the club (Verizon Center) and make the folks scream it.