“Leonsis may not call his new order of business a five-year plan, but five years is about what it will take to rebuild this team,” the great Bill Gildea wrote in the fall of 2003. “The Capitals don’t even have a quality second pair of defensemen. And their best blue-liners, Sergei Gonchar and Brendan Witt, haven’t worked as well together as they did last season when Gonchar was paired with Ken Klee, now in Toronto, and Witt with Calle Johansson, now retired. As for a checking line, a very good one checked out some time ago. Ulf Dahlen, Steve Konowalchuk and Jeff Halpern had a fine run together for a couple of seasons. But Dahlen is retired and Konowalchuk is playing for Colorado, where his eight goals in 17 games (eight goals!) since being traded by Washington further identify him as one of those many Capitals who over the years played better if part of the right combination. As for the contributions of Bates Battaglia, obtained in return, I won’t go there.”
Jason LaCanfora later said Battaglia was “woefully ineffective since being acquired from Colorado,” and that was sort of the forward’s legacy as a D.C. sports figure. Until now!
Because Battaglia and his brother just won this season of Amazing Race after Battaglia caught a baseball his brother dropped from a zipline above Nationals Park while he (Bates) was dressed as a giant inflatable baseball mascot and surrounded by random dudes in Nats uniforms plus some Presidents.
That wasn’t quite the last scene of this season’s show, but it was close. After running around with some “spies” near the Tidal Basin who responded to secret questions about Cherry Blossoms and Half Smokes, the contestants were directed to make their way toward the “Home of the Nats.”
“What’s the Nats?” Battaglia asked.
But he and his brother got there first, and Battaglia caught the baseball, and eventually — after a trip to Hains Point — he and his brother triumphed, after lots of images of the stadium, and Screech, and the Presidents, and some dudes in Nats jerseys.
Some more imagery.