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Archive for July, 2010

So every year my old man returns to Greece to get some good, old-fashioned R&R. This rejuvenates his mind and body and allows him some reprieve from local sports. As such, he checks in from time to time with some inquiries about what’s going on.

Here is what he had to say.

Wizards: who is this Yi person?

Redskins:

I hear Al failed his fitness test, which is hardly surprsing or newsworthy. Any further news from the camp?

What kind of injury does Kelly have?

Who is this new tackle from NO?

Carter at LB? I thought he hates to play  there and that is why he came to the Redskins. Will they trade/cut him? he is a good dude. Alexander at LB? Is Haslett a genius or a bust? has he ever won anything?

Prediction: with new systems and so many new players or old ones in new roles, we will start the season 2-6. It will take a while for everybody to figure out what they are doing. Anything better will be a bonus.

Good questions Dad, but a pretty somber prediction.

This blog may go into self-destruct mode if the Redskins go 2-6 for two years in a row.

Hopefully, all the sun, beautiful women and calm seas have clouded my old man’s judgment.

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So Haynesy failed his physical.

Maybe this is surprising news, maybe it isn’t.

What is a little surprising is the lengths to which Shanny is willing to take his ever-growing pissing contest with Big Al.  It is also clear that Shanny does not want to see Al rolling on the ground in agony during games primarily because he is out of breath.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s back up.  If I understand this correctly, the reason #92 failed is because he took too long of a break to go the bathroom.  This must have been some bowel movement to get Shanny that bent out of shape.

This failed test is such massive news that no one even mentioned that McNABB IS OUR NEW QB!!!!!

Glad to see Kelly is running around and glad to see that Trent Williams will be in camp today.

Mmy advice to Haynsey: go to the bathroom before you take the physical, you’ll feel lighter and fresher.

Double vision: In addition to completing a well-played series against the Braves, the Nats took my advice and traded Capps for a couple of guys I never heard of, one of whom seems to be our catcher of the future and the other who will be playing in AAA very soon.  Seems like a good deal to me.

Hold on to Dunn and Willingham.  Keep listening to B2BR.

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For those of you who read this blog and are not from D.C. area, you may not be aware that in Sunday, D.C. got hit with a sledgehammer of a  storm that came fast and hit hard.  As a result, I have not had power since Sunday afternoon and have thus not been able to do the blog.  It is only due to the kindness of my sister who took in me and my family that I now have power, air conditioning and unspoiled food. I really feel bad for those people who don’t have family in the area and have no where to go.

Anyway, as such, I have not been able to closely follow the world of D.C. sports with a fine-toothed comb as I usually do.

However, now that I am back, there is indeed lots to talk about with each of our teams.

Let’s start with the simple things first:

The Caps re-signed Fleischmann which means that he will have the opportunity to win the 2nd line center job along with Marcus Johannson.  If Johannson wins the job, I would not be surprised to see the Caps trade Fleischmann since he has not demonstrated the ability and toughness in the clutch that one would want.  That being said, Boudreau does seem to love the guy, but if you look closely, it is obvious that GMGM is in charge of this team and not Boudreau.  Fehr, who had to often fight for ice-time last year, got a healthy two-year deal while Fleischmann who played more than anyone would have expected, especially in the playoffs, got only a 1-year deal.

In other news, the Caps traded for some dude named D.J. King, someone I have never heard of, which doesn’t mean he’s not good, because I had never heard of Jason Chimera either and he turned out great for us.  I guess King’s role is to make sure no one starts taking runs at Ovie, Backstrom and Semin.  I guess Max Talbot should watch his back at the Winter Classic.  It’s hard to see King getting much ice-time on the team since we have an established 4th line that already has Bradley, Steckel, Gordon & Beagle on it.  Now throw in King and there’s not that much ice-time to go around.

Double vision: I was happily surprised to see the Wizards re-signed Josh Howard.  He still has a lot to prove and with the 1-year, relatively inexpensive  deal  he signed, the Wizards should get a motivated dude with a lot to prove and someone who’s energy on both ends of the floor made an impression on everyone who followed this team last year.   So now our starting five is: Wall, Arenas, Howard/Thornton, Blatche/ Yi and McGee/Blatche.  Not great, but not terrible with some depth there in the form of Heinrich and Nick Young.

Triple vision: So Haynsey showed up to Redskins contest.  Obviously, the long-streamed pissing contest between him and Shanny is not over as Shanny declared that #92 would 1st have to take a physical since he wasn’t around all off-season and that Al would start with the reserve team and would have to work his way up the depth chart. Shanny also did not come out and say that Haynesworth would definitely be here come Sept. 12th against the Cowboys.

Don’t get me wrong, I agree with everything Shanny is doing.  It just seems clear that for once in a long time, showing up is not good enough, which is a good sign for us Redskins fans.  The fact that Malcolm Kelly is already injured is depressing and does not bode well.

Let’s see what happens today when the real bonanza gets underway.

Quadruple vision: I know this is a little late, but the Nationals really demonstrated a top notch way to piss away a whole series over the weekend in Milwaukee.  Friday night, the relief pitching blew a 5-1 lead in the 5th inning.  Saturday night, the hitting blew a chance to take the lead in the 9th inning and suck the life out of Milwaukee after the Nats had come back to tied the game on a close play at the plate and Sunday, the defense pissed away a decent performance from Detweiler.

Sunday’s loss is on Riggleman as Willie Harris, who has been playing well, should clearly not have been at 3rd base which got the whole thing started.  Let’s see who’s still on the team when the Nats take the field on Sunday afternoon.

Sign Dunn. Sign Willingham.  See if you can get a lot for Capps.   See if you can get a steal for Guzman of Willie Harris.

That’s this man’s opinion.

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Apples and Oranges

Strasburg slings another dart against the Reds in the Nats' 8-5 win on Wednesday.

Stephen Strasburg and Livon Hernandez provided as different viewing experiences as anyone could imagine on consecutive days.    Strasburg obviously throws very hard and dominates hitters all while making the baseball defy physics. When he’s on, Hernandez seemingly could throw a baseball into a tailpipe from 50 yards away.  Yesterday, Cincinnati was dumbfounded chasing Hernandez’ pitches to corners of the plate that hitters did not want to swing to.  The contrast between the Nationals current #1 and #2 pitchers was stark to me and it probably was even bigger to Cincinnati’s players at the plate.

The Nats bats beat a couple of decent pitchers the last two days. Why have they come to life all of a sudden?  Who the hell knows?

I do know that we haven’t scored more than 6 runs in 3 consecutive games all year.

Frankly speaking, we are getting more and more used to the Nats winning when Strasburg pitches since it doesn’t really require more than 2 runs to win.  We have won often with Livo pitching since he goes deeps into games and rarely gives up a big inning to the opponent.  Our Achilles heel all year has been what happens when neither of these guys is on the mound.  Then what do we do?

That’s what we face this weekend when we face a club with about the same record as we have in the Brewers.  Stammen goes tonight, while

Livo baffling the Reds in yesterday's 7-1 win for the Nats

Martin pitches on Saturday.  Matt Chico or John Lannan will probably go on Sunday.  It would be great to win the series and finish the 10 game road trip with an even 5-5 record.  But the Nats have shown this year that they often don’t have the starting pitching in combination with the timely hitting to play consistently on the road.  Fortunately for us, the Brewers aren’t throwing anyone that’s gonna get confused with Doc Gooden or Jim Palmer either.

Let’s see if two of our guys and our bats can step up this weekend and do something we haven’t seen in a while on the road:  win a series.

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So I recently heard that Charles Barkley has become a Redskins fan due to his allegiance to Donovan McNabb.  Since he doesn’t support teams, but rather only players, he switched from being an Eagles to a Redskins fan-  a reprehensible act in itself, despite its positive outcome.  Now, it doesn’t make me feel any better that Barkley is a fan of the ‘Skins and frankly I have never liked Barkley.

As an adult, I find him to be annoying, but I hated him as a kid when his 76ers beat my Bullets in the 1st round on two consecutive occasions in the mid ’80s.  In fact once, when Barkley beat us with a three-pointer at the buzzer, I remember uttering these exact words: “I hate Charles Barkley”.  If you put my old man under some kind of hypnosis, he could probably give you more detail, since he and I were watching the game together.

All of this emotion came to a head when I once ran into Barkley in a Philadelphia airport bar.  I did not recognize him at first.  My wife was the one who picked him out as he sat in a dark corner trying to remain incognito.

Once I saw who he was, I decided I needed to get this hatred off of my chest.  On that particular day, I was wearing my Bullets warm-up jacket given to me by Bowles.  I approached him and when he was close enough to hear what I had to say, I said to him “When I was a kid, I hated you for what you did to my Bullets in the mid-80’s.”  He looked at my jacket and smiled.  I extended my hand to him and as we shook hands I said, “I still don’t like you all that much since you got nothing nice to say about the Wizards”.  He wished me a safe trip probably trying to gently send the message that he wished to remain incognito.

But now, Sir Charles wants to go to the Linc wearing a Redskins McNabb jersey and in fact is on record egging on the Philly fans to bring their worst.  That is my kind of bravado.  And since he has decided to join the good guys and defect from the dark side of the force, I think it’s time for me to forgive and forget.  I will forgive all Barkley’s negativity towards D.C. and try my best to forget about how he killed the Bullets on so many occassions.

I will embrace Barkley at the Linc this year as I embark on a dangerous journey into one of the darkest, most inhumane of environments in support of our team, the good guys of the NFL.  And maybe, just maybe, witnessing a Redskins victory side-by-side with Sir Charles on a brisk fall afternoon in the city of brotherly hate will thaw the icy hatred that I have kept caged in my heart for this man all these 25 years.

Double vision: I went to sleep, but just shook my head as I saw that the Nats lost again by one run, this time 8-7 after an almost 3 hour rain delay.  We are losing in just about every way imaginable.

In encouraging news, apparently the Nats have signed Yuniesky Maya, a Cuban national who was sought after by the Yankees, Mets Phillies, Blue Jays and others.  It is said that he could join Strasburg and Zimmerman at the top of the rotation as soon as he shows up.

This has been a weird season for the Nats; so much to be happy about and so much to be disappointed about.  At some point, you would figure things would have to break in our direction and our decent – at times excellent starting pitching would start paying dividends.

It’s weird though because even though we are losing, with new players and returning players coming into our lineup, the Nats are still compelling to watch and follow even though the season is becoming a bit of a slog with all the losing.

Strasburg pitches tonight…….

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Well if you liked low-scoring games, you must have discovered Shangri-La with this weekend’s Nats/Marlins series.

Oh and by the way, in case you thought I am on some sort of anti-arithmetic drug, those numbers above represent the number of innings played by the Nats over the weekend, the number or runs and the number of innings in which we scored.  That equation does not add up to a lot of wins.

While I have gone on record as saying that the Nats should keep Zimmerman, Dunn and Willingham together, there is something dysfunctional about this team’s lineup.  How else can you explain that we lost two out of three games and only gave up 3 runs in those two losses.  And of those 3 runs, one was unearned.  Our pitchers and defense only allowed the Marlins to score in two separate innings.  Of course, we only had one scoring inning in three games.

Unbelievable.

Is there something wrong with our 3 – 4- 5 hitters in combo?  Can I not see the forest for the trees?  They present a perfect right-left-right combination and combined will have big numbers at the end of the season.

Is it the lead-off spot with Morgan?

Is it the bottom of the order?  It is true that without Pudge, the lineup seems to have a lot less teeth, but still?

So the old adage that pitching wins baseball games did not come true this weekend.  I fear now that Atilano and Martin are not going to be able to hold up tonight and tomorrow against the Reds and that our offense will be asked to score more than one run to win a game, something they couldn’t do yesterday.

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Things are going well in India.  6 weeks down, 10 to go (hopefully less, but at least not more!)  Been keeping up with Washington sports news lately.  Glad that the Caps signed all the RFAs except for Flash so far…hopefully his contract will come soon.  Nats are looking alright…hopefully no major trades…I don’t want to lose anyone like Dunn.  For the first time in a long time I can say I’m excited about the Wizards future.  As for the Redskins…where do I begin?  Disappointed that M Williams might be out for the season.  Wish we could get rid of Haynesworth.  Not sure how I feel about the T.O. speculation…unless he’s willing to sign on for a minimal contract and work his @$$ off.

These were the words written to me recently by Ryan from section 449 who has been sent to work in India.  Even half a world away, the man is still keeping up with what’s going on in D.C.

I will treat this post like a “Dear Bowles” segment where I address Ryan’s statements about D.C. sports.

The Caps are having a “quiet” off-season  yes, but the story around here is whether Marcus Johansson will rise to become a starting center on this team, preferably on the 2nd line.  Is it possible that another kid could come in here and have the impact that Backstrom has had on this team?

If the Caps think so, then they will be driving a hard bargain with Fleischmann who had a great run at 2nd line center last year for us.

By the way, if you want to know how much the Caps have become the 2nd team in this town, pay attention to the nightly local sport shows and  local sports radio updates where highlights and final scores are given to the Caps “Red Team vs. White Team” scrimmages.  That kind of thing sure as hell never popped up in the Post when I was a kid.

As for the Nats, I have gone on at length, even quoting myself twice, to say that Dunn and Willingham should be re-signed.

However, is it time to start evaluating whether Riggleman is a good manager?

For a while, with our decent ending last year and great beginning this year, there was no question that Rizzo had made the right decision keeping Riggleman.  But with the team’s defense struggling as bad as it has and the over-work of the bullpen early in the year which has shown up in recent losses to the Mets and Giants, is it time to start evaluating Riggleman’s worthiness to be this team’s manager for the near future?

I think the end of this season will be very important.  A good ending of the year, where say we finish somewhere between 75 and 81 wins would not only show the team that Riggleman has got what it takes to get us to a point to contend, but will ensure that quality free-agents will continue to be interested in playing for us.

What’s not to be excited about the Wizards?  Wall is tearing it up in the summer leagues.

Yesterday may have been his most impressive performance so far as his shot was not falling, but he still got to the free-throw, set up his teammates (he had double-digit assists) and committed only 3 turnovers.

Javale McGee and Nick Young are going to see their scoring totals go way up this year.  The Wizards can only go up and I am on board with having Arenas be our shooting guard.  This will work.

I have criticized Shanny a little for his unwillingness to talk to Haynesworth in the past.  Obviously, Haynesworth’s recent actions have made it impossible not to take Shanny and the Redskins’ side in this dispute.

Isn’t it interesting though that with training camp less than 2 weeks away, Portis and Haynesworth, our two “problem players”, have both shed serious weight and are seemingly in excellent shape.

Quietly and confidently, Shanny has gotten guys to commit to his system. It bears worth mentioning that both Big Albert and Portis are essentially playing for new contracts since neither may be with us next year.  Haynesy has been paid most of his guaranteed money and Portis’ huge contract from 2004 is finally over.

Meanwhile Laron will be healthy and mean and we have old man McNabb ready to prove to Philly and the rest of the NFL that he can win a Super Bowl.  Oh and T.O won’t be coming here, much to the disappointment of my lovely wife.

We miss you Ryan and can’t wait to have you back in section 449.

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