Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Larry Brooks (kind of) Makes Amends

One day after we called for a Pulitzer for Dan Wetzel based on his marvelous accounting of the Great Dallas Implosion of 2008, we are treated to more journalistic magnificence from an unlikely source: the New York Post’s Larry Brooks.

Today Brooks argues, with 100% accuracy, that the NHL is doing itself and us all a great service with its never-ending Sidney Crosby glorification. He says that Alex Ovechkin could be a useful talent to promote (amongst others also shut out by the blinding light of Sid’s supposed combination of the greatness of Gretzky-Mario-Howe), and might even be the game’s best player (heresy alert!), despite what the well-documented fraudulence that is fan all-star balloting might indicate.

Whether this latest article is Brooks’ way of apologizing for his November 25, 2007, ill-conceived, ill-mannered, illogical assertion that Ovechkin should sign somewhere other than Washington (read: New York) as a restricted free agent, or is some under-handed way to somehow try to resurrect that long-settled issue, we at DCO always welcome any calling-out of the NHL and its Crosby hype-machine malarkey. Of course, that anti-DC rant of a year ago (recycling the tired and apparently now-defeated argument that DC is a backwater hockey town, unworthy of any stars, and that New York should have them all, etc.) precludes us from bestowing any honor like the DCO Hall of Fame upon Mr. Brooks, but we appreciate his jocking of Ovie nontheless.

Besides, is this really the poster boy image the NHL wants (yes, this is from well over a week ago, but we must never let it die):

Wiz on Fast Track to Playoffs

With yesterdays first consecutive win of the season for the formerly-struggling Wiz, talks of playoffs are heating up. How else could you analyze their brilliant sealing off of the vaunted Houston Rockets, who had found a way to fell the Wiz in seven straight ballgames before last night's obvious-that-the-bad-days-are-done W? After the hilarious comedic stylings that followed the Wiz's previous win over the so-much-worse-off (right down to the team name) Oklahoma City Thunder, where ESPN took time away from praising Lebron's latest commercial to pair highlights of poor basketball play with Benny Hill music, cracks from name-mispronouncing highly-paid yappers, and history-bearing stats, it seemed that a win against a team that even bears a slight resemblance to vauntedness would be impossible. This might especially be true considering these same Rockets entered Verizon Center and encountered the Wiz during a short cold snap, where the Wiz managed to miss something like their last eighty shots (and not all of them by DeShawn Stevenson!) before ultimately coming up short in the fourth quarter.

But odds-defying is something this inspired Wizards ballclub seems to encounter naturally. Just check the way the Wiz came close to defying the fixed odds of their Christmas day performance of the Cavs in their last loss, which seems so long ago. This whodathunkit nature translated to this brilliant victory last night in, of all forms, DeShawn Stevenson, who ignored all of the negativity surrounding his postively terrible season by hitting the absolutely huge fourth quarter shot, where he faded right on the baseline and gave the Wiz that insurmountable four-point lead. Stevenson's face finally lost that feeling, after he lost his starting spot, shooting confidence, ablility to effectively do anything, etc. We here at the DC Optimist see that bucket as evidence that this team has transitioned from historically terrible all the way to playoff contender. Could tonight's matchup with the also-vaunted New Orleans Hornets, where DeShawn hit another insane bucket at the end of the game last year be more evidence that the early-season hiccups of the losing variety are in the past?

Credit for the surge in winningness ought to also be doled out to new head coach Ed Tapscot, who has taken to rewarding the young, hungry and effective players with playing time. A Manny-like penchant for relaying inspirational quotes has both us and his newly contributing players inspired. Domenic McGuire does so many little things (and big things, especially defensively), that his inability to hit a jumpshot is inconsequential. Tap has also found ways to incorporate pups Andray Blatche, Nick Young, and occaisionally, Javaris Crittenden. Impressive work all around, as giving the Wiz youth the time to develop their game with playoff positioning a priority. Soon, once the Wizards finally receive a complement of players of the non-injured variety, they will be ready to overcome even the most seemingly insurmountable odds. Something they have shown an adept ability to do.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Skins' "Collapse" Really Not That Bad

Give Dan Wetzel a Pulitzer. Maybe the award is only for newspapers, and Yahoo! Sports online contributors are not eligible, but give this guy something for his brutally accurate and downright lyrical piece entitled “Cowboys, not Lions, were top flops.”

It’s so rare that a couple dozen paragraphs put such a profound perspective on an NFL season. While the Jason LaCanforas of DC gleefully revel in a Redskins 8-8 season and never cease to remind us of the “disastrous” decisions made by the ‘Skins collective braintrust, Wetzel reminds us of how much worse off the Cowboys are.

Some gems from this beautiful calling-out of the frauds in Dallas:

“The Detroit Lions became the first team to go 0-16 in league history but the most disastrous season in the NFL this year belongs to the Cowboys.”

“[The season] was a train wreck of melodrama, mistakes and misplaced priorities. For Dallas to finish 9-7 and out of the playoffs with that much talent is an epic failure.”

“Tony Romo continued to fall apart after Dec. 1” (my birthday; what greater gift?)

“Repeated late season collapses – the Cowboys have lost their last nine regular-season finales, and have done nothing in the playoffs – are in this team’s DNA.”

Perhaps most importantly, Wetzel reminds us:

“At midseason, owner Jerry Jones even mortgaged some of the team’s future to get more talent. He traded a first-, third- and sixth-round draft pick to Detroit for receiver Roy Williams. Like most of Dallas’ moves, it didn’t pan out. Williams caught just 19 passes in 10 games.”

So it seems there are other owners/pseudo-GMs out there capable of making poor decisions about trading draft picks! One would be correct in mistakenly thinking such dundering was limited to Washington, with all the previously referred to optimism-hating abounding in local publications.

There you have it: Dallas is worse than 0-16 Detroit, making the 2008 Cowboys The Worst Team of All-Time (relative to expectations).

Remember when the ‘Boys were 3-0, virtually anointed by ESPN as a 16-0 Super Bowl contender, lauded as unstoppable, with all melodrama left far behind them, and a lock to destroy a weak Redskins team at home? A less lazy blogger might dig up some damning quotes from the likes of Chris Berman, Peter King (what’s he going to do with no Romo or Favre in the playoffs, by the way?), et al, but that blogger doesn’t live here anymore (as evidenced by his first post since before Thanksgiving).

What about more failures much more spectacular than the Redskins 8-8 record?

The Broncos lost their last three games to gag away a division title, which they eventually lost to an 8-8 team.

The Bucs lost their last four to go from 9-3 and in command of their division to 9-7 and in the same could-have/should-have boat as the Cowboys.

The Jets, those Titan-killers of November 23 that spawned so much all-New-York-Super-Bowl frenzy, lost four of their last five as Brett Favre nicely evened out his TD/Int ratio to miss the playoffs, sending Peter King and John Madden into a depression from which they may never recover.

Washington at 8-8 doesn’t seem that bad anymore. That 6-2 start was just a teasing taste of things to come. Plus, now the Skins get another crack at the Lions next season, and a revenge date with the Rams. They finished where many thought they might, unlike that team of fraudulent false gods in Dallas.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wizards Lead Most of Christmas Night

An impressive Christmas night performance by our lightly regarded Wiz, who often spent the night in the lead of the ballgame against their apparently-more-NBA-friendly rivals. However, it wasn't enough to overcome the most one-sided officiating performance in recent history. Instead of having to overcome their tough opening stretch of games, injuries, poor play, porous defense, DeShawn Stevenson's presence, etc, the Wiz had to overcome both the influence of corporate partnerships and apparently something the NBA refers to as officiating last night in their 23rd almost-win. In case you were busy smashing your head against the wall instead of watching the Wizards umpteenth consecutive non-clinching fourth quarter, the Wiz were called for a phantom foul on a three point shooting player wearing 23, then they were called for charging on two consecutive plays, both of the questionable variety, sandwiched between a delightfully ticky-tacky loose ball foul with the game on the line.

There was no doubt that the fortunes of the Wiz were pre-determined, therefore it is unnecessary to look at the final score, since the illuminati-like team of Phil Knight and David Stern apparently phoned in the final score as soon as the Wiz held the lead with under two minutes remaining. The team the Wizards were playing against did nothing to secure a win other than hurl themselves to the floor (as per usual) in some of the poorest acting performances this side of "The Hills," with the "Closer"-like refereeing squad feigning influence by these pretending-to-be-hurt fakers.

Interesting note that before the game, the Wizards' opposition altered their uniform choice so as to appease one of their players and the release of his new, soon-to-be-on-sale-at-Marshall's shoe release. Interesting how exposed as terrible that player would have been if the NBA and Nike hadn't fixed up that fourth quarter and allowed the unfortunate Wiz to end that team's decrepit-home winning streak. Another interesting note that was happily buried in referee-abetted red tape: How another dude with the James surname was unstoppable, while the one from all of the lame commercials was busy complaining to the officials that his charges weren't called.

While the Wizards have had their fair share of moral victories this season, we here at the almost-monthly-updated DC Optimist feel that this moral victory is the most savorable. There was no way the NBA, TNT, Nike, et al were allowing their unfortunately uniformed darlings to fall against a Wiz team seemingly inspired by 24 consecutive hours of "A Christmas Story," which continued to air on the other Turner network. Mike James, likely leaving his now-famous progeny under worthy supervision, was shooting the Cavs's eyes out, and Antawn Jamison, who doled out impressive buckets almost as often as phantom fouls, earned an "A+++++++" grade tonight. And new starter Domenic McGuire is showing how nice it is to not have DeShawn Stevenson play as many minutes as he had earlier in the season with his improving defense, rebounding, passing, and dunking.

So even if after that pathetic excuse for a fixed outcome you have determined that watching NBA action is equivalent to watching a glorified Harlem Globetrotters performance (with terrible comedy courtesy of the anointed one during the commercial breaks!), and you will never tune in again, you ought to reconsider. Because with the odds-defying that the Wiz must overcome every night, that big win number five ought to be a more impressive victory than Ralphie's sudden beatdown of the yellow-eyed Scut Farkas.