Archive for the ‘Wizards’ Category


As I turned on the radio yesterday afternoon after getting out of work, I was disappointed to see that I did not catch any of the Nats game, but was very pleased to hear that we had swept the Mariners.  Then the radio guys who call the game suddenly blurted out, “we have breaking news, Jim Riggleman has just re-signed we believe with the Nats”.  I guess the piece of paper they had in their hands did not have the ‘ – ‘ .  Thus what they should have said was that Riggleman had just resigned.  Oddly enough, without the dash, they are spelled the same way.  You can’t blame them for the mistake since the Nats had won 11 of 12 and were over .500 for the 1st time in a long time.  They soon corrected their mistake leading to a period of dumbfounded disbelief that has not yet evaporated.

Riggleman made a crazy, dumb decision.  I don’t care if Rizzo’s version of the story is true (that Riggleman gave the front office the ultimatum to extend him by the end of yesterdays’ game or else) or Riggleman’s assertion that all he wanted to do was talk about an extensions is what really happened.  Riggleman is crazy to demand anything.  Until recently, many people had really been calling into question his decision-making as a manager and while he didn’t deserve all of the blame when the Nats were 27-36, he certainly doesn’t deserve all the credit for them being 38-37.  Listening to Riggleman, it sounded like he really couldn’t handle not having a longer contract as he kept on repeating in his interviews, “you can’t manage on a 1-year deal, you just can’t”.  And frankly, why should the Nats re-sign him now?  While I am hopeful that the Nats are going to continue playing great baseball and will finish over .500 and hell maybe even contend for the wild-card, things may not go that way either.   If Riggleman was fired when the Nats were 27-36, people would have thought it unfair and hasty.  I would have had the same reaction if the re-signed after yesterday’s sweep of the Mariners.

If Riggleman finished the season strong and the Nats were short-sighted enough not to re-hire a D.C. native who had been instrumental in helping turn around this baseball team, he would have had offers from other major league teams.  Now, how could anyone re-hire him?  And while I know that the world of sports has nothing to do with our reality-based existences, I would like to tell Riggleman that as a D.C. public high school teacher, I only get 1 year contracts and I have never made more than $51,000.  He could probably have made it on $600,000 this year.

The whole situation is sad and we shall soon see if baseball is more about just how well players pitch, hit, catch and throw or is there much more to it than that.

Double vision:  This white boy CAN jump!  That was my 1st reaction when I saw highlights of the Wizards pick Jan Vesely.  Now to be honest, I am not thrilled with this pick.  Too many of these European players don’t work out.  I would have preferred to see the Wizards get a big man who can bang and rebound.  All the same, Vesely can run the break and his skill-set should compliment Wall’s ability to push the ball at all times.  I’m trying to be positive, but honestly, this pick has me worried.

On the other hand, I love the Chris Singleton pick.  The dude can defend the 3 position, is long and rangy and kind of reminds me of James Posey coming out of college.  He will be a contributor on this team and I love his attitude.  In an interview I heard with him last night, he said “if we all buy in on the defensive in, we can be a great team”.  Love it Singelton.  Love IT!

The Sheldon Mack pick could be good and in theory, having a kid who can shoot well and play both guard positions should bode well for a team like us who has two solid young players in Wall and Crawford, but who needs more support of the bench.  Vesely’s development and his ability to perform in the next two years will ultimately determine whether this draft is a successful one or not, but there is some hope that we could see an improved Wizards team this year based off of the players the team chose last night.


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I really like the new Wizards uniform.  I like the colors (of course) and the design.  I love the “dc” which is on the shorts and I love the fact that hands are shooting out of the top of the ‘d’.  It’s overall a great look and one that is long overdue.  What is really strange though is that my wife says that she likes the Wizards teal better.  I guess that’s why people say you never really know what is deep down inside someone else’s soul.  I also like the fact that John Wall and Jordan Crawford were the models.  Jordan Crawford has a bright future in this league and he may be almost as important as Wall is in getting this team back to respectability and high level of performance sooner rather than later.

Double vision: The Nats almost blew it last night and wasted an excellent outing from Jason Marquis.  Our bats came alive with a couple of huge hits by Werth and Nyx who both homered to drive in 3 runs.  The Nats were the better defensive team by far last night and it’s not often you can say that when they are playing against the Braves.

I think Bernadina really should be given a chance to bat lead-off for a while.  His defense in centerfield has been very good. (Last night he had an amazing throw to get an out on a ball that should have been an easy double for Atlanta).  He has the speed you want at that position and his on-base percentage is getting better.  The team needs a lead-off batter and it just seems like he fits really well.  Let him grow into the position and put Ankiel someplace else when he returns from injury.

So far the Nats are 3-4 on this really tough road trip.  One more win would make it quite satisfactory.  I’m not going to think about 2 more wins because that would mean we sweep the Braves.  Yes, let’s just focus on getting one more.

Triple vision: While I don’t like to speculate on legal matters, I’m going to speculate on legal matters and say that our old friend Haynsie is taking a big risk in letting this sexual harassment/assault trial with this waitress go to trial.  Maybe Haynsie is totally innocent, but he doesn’t have a lot of good faith in the public on which he can draw during tough times like this.  He may have been on his way out of here already, but now the Redskins really need to get rid of him. The problem is for him and us is that no one will want to take him because he may be going to jail for a while.  The whole thing is a mess brought on by his idiocy and arrogance.  Haynsie has made a lot of money in his career, but it seems like he doesn’t have much left and it seems like it’s going to be really hard for him to make much of anything from here on out.

By the way, is it just me or is John Beck’s name popping up everywhere?  He’s at the Redskins informal, player-only mini-camp leading drills and throwing the ball to Anthony Armstrong and Malcolm Kelly.  He’s appearing on the radio.  He’s reaching out to our BBRs, most notably, our blog favorite Evan Royster.  Maybe it is time for the John Beck era.  The DC Bog has this great series of quotations from him where he sounds like he possesses the leadership to be the next Bart Starr.  Maybe we should be more open-minded?

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The funny thing about the Caps/Rangers upcoming playoff series is that both coaches are probably telling their teams the same thing right about now.

Here’s Bruce Boudreau:  I know that those sob’s from New York clobbered us twice this year and beat us 3 out of 4, but not once did they play with us after we had mastered our new system and they didn’t play against us since we got Arnie and Sturm on our team.  So the 1st 4 games we played them this year, they don’t mean dick.

Here’s John Tortorella: I know we clobbered those punks down from D.C. twice this year and beat them 3 out of 4, but not once did we play them with all their new players so we can’t be over-confident and think we are just going to roll over them this series.  So the 1st 4 games we played them this year, they don’t mean dick.

The truth of the matter is that the regular season doesn’t mean dick when it comes to the NHL playoffs.  That being said, last year was very unusual and if you think about it, most of the time, the top teams move forward.  Does that mean that I am confident the Caps will clobber the Rangers?  No, but I do know that for the last 6 weeks we have been playing like a top team.

There is not much that is new between these teams.  Sure, almost half our team is different from two years ago when we beat the Rangers and maybe theirs is too, but the fact of the matter is that the stars are mostly the same and the coaches are the same.  The Rangers may have a little more offensive punch with the addition of Gaborik, but we have a better defensive system and in fact rank better than the Rangers in all major defensive categories other than blocked shots.  Of course, they have Lundquist and we don’t.  But we have Neuvy and that’s not bad.

This is the kind of series that the Caps got Arnie for.  His physical presence will help prevent the Rangers from trying to grind down every game we play with them to a halt.  He can grind back.  Having the home ice advantage should allow Gabby to match-up Ovie’s line against someone other than Staal who has historically done a decent job containing the Russian Machine.  Since we’re playing the Rangers, I wonder whether Boudreau will play Laich on the 2nd line to give us a physical presence in front of the net and create a speed line of Johny (Marcus Johannsson), Sturm and Chimera.  Fehr may also fill in for either Chimera or Sturm although I bet Sturm gets the most play out of the 3 just because of his playoff experience.

The Caps also got Wideman for this kind of series because of his knack for getting pucks to the net which could help balance out the Rangers propensity for blocking shots.  But, he will not be playing.  Will a rested and possibly healthy Mike Green be the answer for the Caps to fill in for Wideman on the PP and quarterbacking the point or will he be rusty and out of game shape?   My guess is that he will play in Game 1 to give the Caps a sense of what they have in him before the series moves on too far.

The games where we got blown out by the Rangers saw our defense give up too may odd-many rushes and our goalies give up some soft goals.  If we prevent those things from happening on a consistent basis, I don’t see how we lose this series.  Every game may be no higher than 3-2 or 2-1, but there is too much positive momentum from the Caps defensively over the last 25 games and offensively the last 15 games, to make me think that the team we are going to see this week will be scared, nervous or shell-shocked in any way.  And even though Tortorella will say there is no pressure on him or the Rangers, the fact of the matter is that we beat them two years ago, they didn’t make the playoffs last year and if they don’t win this series, all of their spending and “great” coaching from Tortorella will have amounted to…that’s right dick.  So both teams will be feeling the weight of the world.  It’s so very exciting to think about, but so very scary at the same time.

Double vision: The Nats won their 1st series of the year beating the Mets today 7-3 in New York.  The Nats once again got solid pitching

Wilson Ramos scores as a pinch runner off of Pudge Rodriquez's key 11th-inning RBI to help give the Nats their 1st series victory of the young season.

performances from all of their starters this series and when we got timely hitting, won easily.  Laroche’s bum shoulder and Zimmerman’s abdomen strain have to be causes for concern in the long run, but for right now the Nats have something that has been totally absent from any team they have fielded in the last three springs:  a starting rotation that is not in shambles and is actually consistently pitching to keep up in games.  Our bullpen to this point has been solid as it was once again today and with a few big hits, the Nats may begin to approach respectability.

Triple vision: I know it’s not popular to say this, but the Wizards are actually beginning to look more and more like a team with a future.  It’s also popular to say that Blatche sucks and that the Wizards will never go anywhere with him.  I continue to think that he is improving as a player each year.  While he settled last night for a lot of outside jumpers which were going in, over the course of this season, he has played with more intensity in the lane and has become a consistent rebounder.  Now he will never be a defensively imposing power forward and while he has work to still do on rotating out on pick and rolls and moving his feet on defense, he is getting a lot of steals on a consistent basis and is becoming a more fundamentally sound on the defensive glass.

It’s also popular to say that the Wizards should not re-sign Nick Young, but I think his scoring could provide the kind of offensive depth that we lack right now as a team.  I don’t think he could ever be a starting small forward in this league because he does not play nearly enough defense, but the Wizards should keep him, only if to provide a very solid rotation at the shooting guard between him and Crawford.

Javale McGee flushes two points home in the Wizards route of the Hawks last night at Verizon Center.

It’s also popular to say that Javale McGee is a terrible defender and is a space cadet.  There are times when I agree with both.  But if you have been watching of late, he is beginning to play better against fundamentally sound big men who used to kill him and cause him to get into immediate foul trouble.  I think he has suffered from a lack of tutelage since he came to Washington.  During his years here, he has never had one coach on staff whose specialty was grooming big men.  While I think he has shown improvement in his overall game this year, I do think he still has work to do and he needs to get one offensive move which he masters so that we can count on him for 15 points a game.

Anyway, the pieces are there for this team.  Beating a lackluster team like Atlanta that will definitely lose in the 1st round against Atlanta is not that much to hang their hat on, but the Wizards seem to have something going aside from the obvious – John Wall.

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Well, I have to admit that I was wrong again about just about everything.  Of course, as anyone who reads this blog knows, I am a first and

Ovie snaps a stick and the Caps break Toronot's heart in our 3-2 shootout victory which clinched our 4th consecutive SE division title.

foremost a Caps fan.  But even the most optimistic, red-tinted glasses, could not have predicted in the throes of our 8-game losing streak or after we lost in consecutive games on our home ice in late February by more than 3 goals to Western conference teams, or after we got blown out twice by the Rangers by a combined total score of 13-0 that we would end up at the top of the Eastern Conference at the end of the season.

It really does seem rather fantastical that we are once again atop the conference.  Although, in truth this year and last year could not have been more different.  Defensively, we rank 4th in the PK and 4th in goals allowed while offensively, we are 16th on the PP and goals scored.   Strange how we rank, exactly the same in the respective defensive and offensive statistics.

I had said that the key stat this year would be to hold our opponents to 2 goals or less.  In those games, our record (including 3-2 shootout wins and 3-2 shootout losses where the last “goal” is not really that at all) is: 37-4-6.   The record in the games when we allow our opponents to score 3 goals or more is 11-18-5.  Overall we have limited teams to 2 goals or less a total of  47 times and allowed them to score 2 or more 34 times.  None of these totals add up to 81 games of course because we play our final game tonight.  But since it is meaningless, I thought I would check out the season stats now.

Sean Collins scores his 1st NHL goal in the Caps' 5-2 victory over Florida which put us all alone atop the Eastern Conference with one game remaining.

What also has been decided is that we will be playing Carolina or New York.  I don’t know who I would rather play, maybe Carolina since they have going so hard for so long that they may run out of steam.  But then again the Rangers have not looked good of late and have some key injuries and frankly, if it wasn’t for them pulling that game out of their ass against Boston, they may have been eliminated already.

One interesting thing that we have seen from the Caps recently is the PP which features 5 forwards on the ice.  This give proof to the expression “out of necessity comes invention” since Boudreau would probably never tried this if either Mike Green or Dennis Wideman were healthy.  But they haven’t been and this 5-forward PP is a new aggressive look which has been working well to this point.

The Caps last two games saw us return to the form which we have seen throughout much of the season.  While Toronto was able to score 2 quick goals on us, we really limited their chances over the course of the game and Neuvy came up very big when he had to.  Against Florida, we got off to a slow start, but righted the ship and after the 1st period, we really stymied the Panther attack.  In fact, the last 2 goals came with the game already having been decided since the Caps were ahead 4-0.

In hindsight,  one would have to say that this team is more ready for the playoffs than last year’s team just because we have a solid defensive core, a stronger down the middle with the additions of Arnie and Johannsonn at 2nd and 3rd line center and because we have had more consistent goal-tending.  Plus we have our emergency back-up in Holtby who has been nothing less than stellar.   We beat Carolina 5 out of 6 times this year and our only loss was in a shootout, so on paper they would seem like the opponent we should want to play.  But nothing is clear or certain in hockey and the playoffs are truly the 2nd season.  For right now, let’s get out of tonight’s game healthy and see when we drop the 1st puck.

Double vision: I have continued to enjoy watching the Wizards play and aside from a putrid game against Indiana, the Wizards have played effort-filled, decent basketball.  Last night against the Celtics, what I like most about the way we played is that we didn’t back down and didn’t pack it in after we fell behind by 10 points early on.

I know this may not be that popular a sentiment, but Grunsfeld has done a decent job this year.  Getting Crawford for Hinrich and then playing tough with Bibby so that we have more cap room next year on top of getting rid of Arenas (which I blame Pollin more so than Grunfeld) is not bad.  Seraphin has shown that he will be able to play in the NBA and Trevor Booker is at worst a solid rotation player which we got with a 2nd round pick.  This year, we will have two more 1st round picks and if one of those picks becomes a solid 3 who can play defense, a starting lineup of Wall, Crawford, 2011 draft pick, Blatche and McGee has potential.  This will also prevent us from overpaying Nick Young if some team throws a lot of money at him although I still continue to say that we should not give up on someone who can score like he can.  In my mind though, Crawford has shown more versatility to his game already in his rookie year to tell me that he could be  the future at that position for us for a while to come.

It’s hard to predict much else since this team will not have Josh Howard on the roster next year since his contract expires next year and maybe we’ll have Rashard Lewis and maybe the front brass is thinking that he is the starting 3 for next year.  In my mind that would be a mistake since he really seems to have little energy left.  The best bet is to trade him in a cap-saving move over the summer or next year.  Hell, we may even be able to sign some free-agents if some become available with the $20 million in cap-space we have free.

Triple vision: I continue to keep an occasional eye on the Nats although it’s hard with all the hockey going on and the Wizards recent resurgence, but a 2 game winning streak is important for the Nats and if they win today, a lot of the pessimism and skepticism of those two tough losses to open the Florida series after a blow-out loss to Atlanta in the series finale will be temporarily calmed.   Look forward to seeing how Gorgz pitches tonight.

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Maybe I had to have been there, but I wasn't quite as excited as Ovie after the Caps' 5-4 OT victory over Buffalo last night at the Verizon Center.

The Caps are making me more and more uneasy of late as they continue to climb higher in the Eastern Conference standings.  Last night’s win against Buffalo was eerily reminiscent of last year when we would win with all kinds of offensive fireworks and defensive lapses.  Try scoring twice in the 1st 5 minutes and then allowing two goals in less than 5 minutes.  That was our 1st 10 minutes of the game last night.  Then we give up two goals and score two goals in the final 6 minutes only to score on a deflection with less than 2 minutes left in OT.  Entertaining, but garbage hockey.

Whether it was defensemen screening Neuvy or Neuvy misplaying pucks that ended up in the net or John Carlson jumping up into a play and then getting caught out of position while we were trying to kill a penalty in a tie game in the waning minutes or getting out-maneuvered consistently in the neutral zone, the Caps did indeed play like garbage last night.  The question is whether we can get our play turned around with only 3 games remaining for the playoffs.  It makes me anxious to think about the idea that we played our best hockey for about 10 games in March and are now slipping into bad habits just as our offense is coming around and the playoffs beckon.

Neuvy seems to be Boudreau’s choice for the playoffs and ever since he has been getting consistent starts, he too has been playing a little shaky.  Sure, he made some good stops, but all NHL goalies do.  His rebound control was terrible last night and he looked jittery in the net.

Of course, having to play with 5 defensemen for over the half the game for the 3rd game in a row did not help and the lines Boudreau trotted out last night really were not all that effective.  I think my favorite line combinations since the trade deadline remain:

Ovie Backstrom Knuble

Semin Arnie Laich

Sturm Johannsson Chimera

Bradley Gordon Henricks

Of course Fehr will probably get in there as well and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Boudreau stick Laich on Johannsson’s line to help out with face-offs depending on the situation.

All in all, tied at #1, but feeling very nervous.

Double vision: The Nats lost a series this weekend despite getting decent starting pitching.  By my count, no starter went less than 5 innings, and none gave up more than 2 ER.  Our defense was bad today and our offense was bad on opening day.  Too early to tell much of anything else, but it’s nice to have baseball back.

Triple vision: The Wizards played rather well tonight against Charlotte to pick up their 3rd road win of the year.  All 5 starters scored in

Wall scores a pair in the Wizards' 3rd road win of the year, a 97-91 victory over Charlotte on Sunday night.

double figures.  John Wall played well, but a little out of control.  Jordan Crawford continues to amaze me.  He hits high degree of difficult shots and misses some others badly.  He played a little out of control tonight, but he definitely seems like the real deal.  How is a fan to know whether the light is turning on for two players like Blatche and McGee?  One good sign is that at least they are not fighting each other outside DC night clubs.  Both played really well tonight and dominated the paint against Charlotte.  For the most part, both played within themselves and were very aggressive going to the glass.  Blatche really had another monster game and McGee showed that he can be a dominating inside presence.  Despite the bleak record, the Wizards are definitely worth watching as our big men are starting to play consistent ball and we have a dynamic backcourt that can take over games.  Let’s see how we do as the competition gets a little stiffer in the upcoming 10 days.

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Weighing heavily

The loss of Dennis Wideman is a dark could that definitely looming large over D.C. sports fans these days.  The fact of the matter is that without him in the lineup for the last two games, the Caps have struggled on defense as evidenced by the fact that we have given up 5 goals during that stretch.  While we have remarkably crept to within 1 point of the evil Flyers atop the Eastern Conference, winning that crown,

Knuble scoops up the loose change and nets a goal in the Caps' 4-3 victory over Columbus on Thursday night.

while cool, obviously means nothing to all of us.  It was not that long ago that all of us had fantasies of possibly having Mike Green and Wideman manning the point on on our PP or alternatively, having two separate units led by one or the other.  Now, with 4 games left and only 11 days until the post-season begins, we may have neither of them.

I know that Boudreau and GMGM have calmly mentioned having Brooks Laich or someone up from Hershey join the lineup, but inside, you know that they, just like all of us, are freaking out more than a little bit.   It will be interesting to see who plays tonight against a Buffalo team that may be without Ryan Miller, but who definitely be playing balls-to-the-walls hockey since they have not yet clinched a playoff berth.  Erskine apparently hurt himself fighting and is listed by the Caps as “day-to-day” which in Caps’ terminology really means, “he’s hurt and we don’t know when he’s coming back”.

The reality is that none of these defensemen are as important to us as Alzner and Carlson since those two represent our shutdown pair.  But the rest of these dudes all play vital roles in this team’s attempts to become a champion and without Green or Wideman in the lineup, we not only have no room for any other defensemen to get hurt, but are lacking two of the players who could take us over the edge.  Because let’s face it, the Eastern Conference is totally up for grabs.  Philly has been playing like garbage and is really missing Pronger while it is going through some goaltending issues.  Pittsburgh is missing its 2 best players.  Tampa doesn’t scare us which leaves Boston among the top 4 teams in the East.  If the Caps can get past the 1st round, we definitely have a shot to go very deep.

Double vision: Jordan Crawford once again showed last night that he is the real deal.  A triple double and scoring 21 points on only 15 shots, was quite impressive.  On top of it, he shared the basketball beautifully with his teammates in the 4th quarter which really keyed the Wizards ability to pull ahead and stay ahead of the Cavs.  Blatche had one of his best games as a pro and, unbelievably enough, set a franchise record by grabbing 16 offensive rebounds.  That’s really amazing when you think about that Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes and Moses

Jordan Crawford scores two of his 21 points in the Wizards' 115-107 victory over the Cavs last night. His triple-double, along with the several John Wall has had, represent the 1st time any NBA franchise has had two rookies have triple-double in the same year. Is the future suddenly a litter brigther?

Malone all played many years with the Bullets.  Javale McGee continued his very solid and consistent play of late with a big offensive game and solid game off the glass.  And of course Othyus Jeffers continues to show that he belongs in the NBA and frankly, with a name like that, I hope he stays with the Wizards.  I’m not saying he’s a starter, but he could be a nice kind of hustling, role player the likes of which we haven’t seen here since maybe…..Charles Jones.  Anyway, it’s encouraging that the Wizards have found another building block this season in Crawford and while the future is still unclear, one thing that is clear is that the combination of Crawford and Wall in the backcourt could revolutionize the Wizards franchise for years to come.

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Last season I predicted that the Nats would win 75 games, a number I described as being “full of optimism”.  I was off by 6 games as we won only 69.  I don’t know how baseball predictions go, but that seems pretty good to me.  This year there is even more excitement around town about the Nats;  radio stations are making a really big deal about opening day, a lot of folks are wearing their Nats’ caps around town now that the dark, cold winter seems behind us and people are talking about how this team could actually be decent.

Now what does decent mean?  I’m not sure.  I guess decent would mean finishing close to .500.  In order for that to happen, it would seem to me that a lot of things would have to break right.  Let’s start with a few that are on my mind.

The batting order is a work in progress.  From what I’m gathering from having listened to a couple spring training games and reading the papers, the Nats are going to go with Desmond, Werth, Zimmerman, Laroche and Morse as their 1-5 batters with Ramos,  Ankiel and Espinosa  bringing up the rear.  Werth was always the #5 hitter in Philly and it seems to me that you should pay a dude like Werth the kind of money you did to bat in the #4 spot.   Of course, the reason the Nats are doing this is that Zimmerman had less than 90 RBIs last year because no one could get on base in front of him.  I would expect that Espinosa, if he gets off to any kind of decent start, will be batting lead off soon enough which should allow Desmond to fall back into his more natural spot at #2 in the lineup with Werth moving to clean-up.  That to me seems like a pretty decent lineup.

The Nats’ pitching has been a mixed bag during spring training.  There have been signs that Zimmermann’s fastball and curve are even better than before he had surgery two seasons ago.  But he also has been lit up.  Jason Marquis had an awful year last year and things would seem could only go up for him, but the proof will be in the pudding with that.  The Nats seem high on Gorzelanny who I know nothing about, but if he can solidify the #5 spot in the rotation, that would certainly be a change from years past.  John Lannan has always been an up & down pitcher and a year of consistency from him would be nice and of course Hernandez will b e taking the mound today and while he does seem ageless, it seems hard to imagine that  he will have as low an ERA as he did last year.

I’m surprised that the Nats got rid of Morgan so quickly and that Bernadina was sent down leaving Ankiel to play centerfield.  The move to let Dunn go to the White Sox seemed to be a move in the direction of defense and while people say that Ankiel has a stronger arm than Morgan, he could not have nearly the coverage.  Bernadina on the other hand is just about as fast as Morgan and had a stronger arm than Nyjer.  I hope that Bernadina is back up playing with the Nats soon and Ankiel is a stop-gap until Roger gets his swing back because I was very excited with his growth last year as a batter and outfielder especially subbing in for Morgan.

So, despite this somewhat skeptical analysis of the Nats 2011 season, count me in among those who are excited for the season to begin. My daughter can’t wait to see the heads running around the track either.  So my number filled with optimism this year is… 78 wins for the Nationals and I think we may not be occupying the cellar of the division either.

Double vision: It’s so easy to hate the Heat.  Last night’s game was one of the worst officiated NBA games I have ever seen and that’s pretty bad considering how bad NBA officiating can get from time to time.  LeTravel and his cronies got tons of calls, I mean TONS of calls.  While the called the NBA’s next biggest cry-baby Wade for traveling once, LeTravel clearly took 3 steps on 2 different drives, neither of which was called.  Then I really loved the one where LeTravel pushed Crawford down with a stiff forearm to the latter’ back then goes in uncontested for a dunk, hangs on the rim and scowls at Othyus Jeffers (which has now taken its name among the great names in Bullets/Wizards history including:  LeBradford Smith &  Pervis Ellison) and doesn’t a draw a technical for hanging on the rim or taunting.  Godd job refs.  But when Crawford claps his hands in frustration that he didn’t get a foul call, you immediately give him a tech.  Awesome job refs.

Jordan Crawford is playing very well. And the thing I love about him is that he is fearless.  Nick Young has demonstrated great scoring prowess, but it’s all from the outside and his ventures into the paint are more so on the move.  Crawford takes it inside all the time and he is not scared of anyone.  He is not the greatest on the ball defender yet, but he is trying which is something other great offensive stars for this team have never demonstrated.  As a Wizards fan, you have to like the prospects of him and Wall being our backcourt tandem for the years to come.  The dude can definitely score the ball.  Does he take some wild shots?  Yes, but he is learning to let the game come to him as well.  Last night, we could have won had Wall not been thrown out of the game.  That was the only call the refs got right by tossing Wall, Z and Howard, the latter two of which are really a bunch of punks.  I loved how LeTravel later said that “elbows are part of the game” like the time he gave Blatche a concussion in the playoffs when he popped Andre with an elbow, but when Haywood grabbed LeTravel’s elbow on a subsequent drive, LeTravel grabbed for his eyes as if Brandon had performed a three stooges eye-rake on LeTravel and went to his coach exclaiming “they are trying to hurt LeTravel”.

The Heat are so easy to hate and really I have no worries because their two leaders  are both just a couple of big babies.

I look forward to seeing Crawford play this year and next year I look forward to him knocking LeTravel out his precious little cradle.

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