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.

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