And now I’ve hit the superfecta: consecutive posts on Michael Wilbon slamming Alex Ovechkin, and Skip Bayless slamming Alex Ovechkin, and Mike Milbury slamming Alex Ovechkin, and Tony Kornheiser slamming Caps fans.
Here are some sound bites from Kornheiser, on his ESPN 980 radio program Wednesday morning, prompted by Boswell’s latest Caps column.
“There are a lot of people that write a lot of columns about hockey, and as far as I’m concerned, you can roll ‘em up in a big ball and set ‘em on fire, because they have nothing to say,” Kornheiser said. “They are like diatribes of whine most of the time. They have nothing to say.”
Well, that’s mean. For the record, when I counted up the Caps columns late last month, The Post had published a total of 15 this season, nine of which — or 60 percent — were by Tony’s good friend Tracee Hamilton. That might make for some awkward small talk.
“[Boswell] brings a measure of sanity to this,” Kornheiser continued, “because he takes on the top three people in the organization. Nobody else does this. Nobody. Else. Does. It. And Boz does.”
(As a side note, Jason Reid bludgeons Ted Leonsis and Monumental Sports essentially weekly on Post Sports Live, and Mike Wise sarcastically noted this season that “Ted Leonsis doesn’t hire general managers; he appoints Supreme Court justices,” and Rick Maese and Tarik El-Bashir wrote a massive “What’s Wrong With Ovechkin?” story for us last season. But I agree that Caps management gets less heat than Redskins and Wizards management, partly because Caps management can point to six straight playoff appearances.)
“For the rest of us who like the Caps, but don’t find them as essential as air….” Kornheiser read, quoting Boswell, and then paused.
“And let me go to this for a second, because this speaks to their fan base,” Kornheiser continued. “A fan base that knows little about hockey comparatively to Original 6 cities and other cities as well, but feels empowered to believe that the Washington Capitals have been one of the great forces in hockey for the past hundred years, when in fact they have been nothing. Nothing. They have never won a single game in the Stanley Cup Finals. Not ONE. They have been there ONCE. That’s it. All of you people who walk around town with your JERSEYS on, and your NOSES in the air, and the great SNOBBERY of the combination of your intellectualism and your love of hockey — because it is somehow ORPHANED by other cities — and you have picked it up as the birthright of Washington D.C., you people are the people that Boswell is talking about. Am I right? I think I’m right on this.”
He went on, but later, Jeanne McManus brought things back to the fanbase by comparing Caps fans with Redskins fans.
“The difference, I think, is that Redskin fans slit their wrists every week and hemorrhage and criticize the team and just drown in the misery of the team, whereas the Caps fans just seem impervious,” she said. “Everything’s fine.”
“They’re fine,” Kornheiser agreed. “They’re fine. Everything is fine, and we’re still great, and does anybody see my cross-country skis, because I’d like to go right up Connecticut Avenue if I could. I’d like to wear as much clunky jewelry as possible. That’s who they are.”
This last one is the most bizarre. Because Tony and Jeanne are both smart people, and yet we are living in different universes on this subject. The Caps fans I know — and I know plenty — spent the last part of the Rangers series in utter agony, dreading yet another postseason collapse. They’ve spent the days since in a major funk, depressed to the core by the perennial disappointment. They spent February in a state of outrage. They set their hair on fire at the trade deadline, believing the team was mortgaging the future for a weak bet on the present. They hemorrhage hope just as well as any fanbase I’ve met.
These fans are best friends with misery. They are acutely aware their team has won no Cups and embarked on no parades. Whether they do or don’t know a lot about hockey, they know a ton about heartbreak. They know that it stinks, and hurts, and gnaws at the foundations of their fandom. They don’t think everything’s fine, unless they also think pain and sadness and cardiac arrest are fine.
Also, THEY ARE NOT DIFFERENT THAN REDSKINS FANS BECAUSE THEY ARE REDSKINS FANS. Sure, some cheer for the Ravens. Some have out-of-town loyalties. But I’d be stunned if the vast majority of Capitals fans didn’t also root for the Redskins, because they live in the Washington area, and root for Washington-area sports teams, and did not emerge fully grown from some robot factory that generates mutant optimistic Caps-only sports fans who don’t care when their team loses in agonizing fashion year after year after year and instead find it funny and cheerful.
But evidently these many Caps fans I know are not representative of the larger whole, as understood by Tony and Jeanne.
Also, Kornheiser said this, which makes sense.
“I think the owner needs to say, not that we’re embarrassed, not that we stink, not that we’re choking dogs,” he said. “The owner doesn’t have to say that. The owner has to say we’ve got a body of work here. We don’t have a small sample size any more. We’ve got a legitimate large sample size and we’re not getting it done, and so we’re gonna make changes in an attempt to get it done, because we’ve had these same guys doing the same thing for a long time, and it’s not working. I mean, it’s working ok, but we think we should be better than this.”
Betcha 94 percent of Caps fans would endorse that statement.