Do you care about silly blog-based back-and-forths between media members and D.C. sports owners? Judging by past such incidents, hell yeah you do!
Last week I published a snarky blog item noting that Ted Leonsis has compared the Caps’ injury woes to locusts, even though it turns out that the Caps’ man-games-lost-to-injury have been fairly typical for NHL teams this season.
As expected, he responded in blog form, although he didn’t put me or The Post in his headline or his opening thoughts, so you might have missed it. This was the crucial paragraph
Even though court stenographer Dan Steinberg disagrees, losing key players is tough on a team and its offense. I, too, am shocked at how many shutouts we have experienced this season. The Washington Post lost George Solomon, Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon to retirement and free agency and the sports department hasn’t been the same since - not as many points on the board - but they have lost about the same amount of people as most newspapers these days. Rim shot.
Well then. A couple people have asked my thoughts, and one blogger even took to my defense. So, since I’ve been summoned, here’s what I’ll say.
Is the printed Post sports section a lesser product than it was, say, a decade ago? I mean, duh. We have less space and fewer resources and worse deadlines; there’s no way to escape all that. And The Post sports section from a decade ago was bloody awesome.
But does The Washington Post company now do a better job of informing D.C. sports fans about the things they’re most interested in? Is there any question about that? We publish exponentially more words about local sports than ever before. We update the news five zillion times a day, instead of once. And we have a much better grasp on what our audience — or at least, our online audience — wants to read. Which means we understand that they want to read about, lookie here, the Caps.
I mean, Tony Kornheiser has long mocked the Caps for being choking dogs. George Solomon famously argued that there were only and perpetually 15,000 Caps fans in Washington. Michael Wilbon regularly rips Alex Ovechkin. These, apparently, are Leonsis’s D.C. sports journalism standard-bearers.
And yet this current not-as-many-points-on-the-board Post sports section now has two reporters following the Caps full-time — Tarik El-Bashir will be adding his voice since Georgetown’s season is over. I sort of write about the team a lot. Barry Svrluga keeps producing fascinating Caps features, and is working on some more as I type. Tracee Hamilton and Tom Boswell have both written Caps columns without using Kornheiser’s famous dismissiveness. As a group, we publish many, many more words about D.C.’s hockey team than ever before.
And so now, this is the time for the Caps owner to hearken back to the glorious days of sports-sections past, the ones that so often ignored or dismissed his team? Seems odd.
No hard feelings between us, though. I still like what he does, and I still like his blog, and I still think he’s a positive for our little sports world. But what do I know? I’m just a court stenographer.