washingtonpost.com
Sports Year in Review

Dan Steinberg
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 4, 2007 12:00 PM

Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog discussed the top local sports stories of the year, from George Mason's run to the Final Four to Gilbert Arenas's MySpace page.

Steinberg was online Thursday, Jan. 4 at noon.

A transcript follows.

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D.C.: Dan,

If you were going to redo your list during your lunch break today, would Gilbert's phenomenal swag from last night make the list?

There's your layup.

Dan Steinberg: Hey people. The point of this discussion was supposed to be to pick through the top local sports moments of 2006, so even though I submitted what was sort of a jokey list last night, feel free to fire away if you have real ideas for things I missed. Or if you want to ask me about putting together a nice cheese plate.

Anyhow, since I'm renaming my blog the Arenas Bog, might as well take this one first. I did get pretty excited last night, but as far as I remember, the phenomenal swag took place in calendar year 2007. So it'll have to wait for next year's list, which will be compiled by either Tony Kornheiser or some college senior, whichever takes my place. It was definitely fun, though.

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Bowie, Md.: Why is your intro still talking about George Mason's run to the Final Four? This season has clearly shown that they are a fluke, and don't deserve all this press.

Dan Steinberg: I was trying to pick the top 11 sports moments of calendar year 2006, based on things that were fun, biased in favor of events I actually witnessed, and bearing in mind their national impact. I don't think there's any question that George Mason was No. 1, even if it was a total fluke and they never win another game.

By the way, how many Final Four teams have ever lost to William & Mary at home?

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Bethesda, Md.: Hey Dan

Here's one for the future. Which one can I buy first? A ticket to a Nats' World Series game or a Redskins Super Bowl. The door is wide open isn't it?

Dan Steinberg: Wow, that is a great question. It has nothing to do with our topic, but I'll answer anyhow: Redskins. No contest.

Much as some non-'Skins fans might smile at the despair, I don't buy all the Redskins hand-wringing. Yeah, maybe last year was a bit of smoke and mirrors, but still, the 'Skins were two wins away from the Super Bowl. Things change awful fast in the NFL. Lemme know when the last time the Expos were two wins from the World Series.

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Van Neezy, D.C.: Dsteinz - What are you going to wear to Gilbert's birthday party?

Dan Steinberg: Despite the fact that James Lang told me I'd have no problem getting into the party, I still don't have an Arenas Express card. There will be a big Red Carpet thing with media availability, but they haven't given us a dress code yet. Frankly, I might let the Style section handle this one.

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D.C.: Even though Arenas is a great player, I'm not a big fan of his. I don't like people who whine that they are under appreciated, but they're getting a megabucks contract, shoe deal, and consideration as one of the top NBA players.

I know he grew up with tough circumstances with his mom not being in the picture, but then he has kids out of wedlock also especially to a woman he's hot and cold with. Now to hear that he's throwing himself a million dollar birthday party takes the cake. His antics are starting to grate on people.

Dan Steinberg: Wow, really? Are people grated? One guy posted on my blog today that last night demonstrated why so many Wiz fans have a man crush on Arenas.

I don't really agree with the use of the word "whine." I don't think of Gilbert as a whiner. It's something a little bit different than that. Especially because his tone of voice is always very conversational.

Personally, I wouldn't spend a million dollars on a birthday party, but I'll bet the desserts are well-made. It does seem out of character.

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Anonymous: I'd say that the Saturday and Sunday Nationals victories over the Yankees were pretty big moments, much bigger than whatever Gary Williams thought he was doing about the NIT.

Dan Steinberg: Yeah, probably so. But George Solomon, the former Post sports editor whose lack of a single George Mason basketball reference in his year-end column prompted my list, already talked about the Zim walk-off, and I didn't want to look like I was copying his column.

I wasn't there, and didn't even see it on TV, but it probably was one of the funnest 11 local sports moments of 2006. Funnest or most fun? Either way, those games sounded like a good time.

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EricS: Thanks for all of the Caps and United love this year. Any chance of Barra Brava making onto the list for 2007?

Also, any chance we might see you at a UMD women's game sometime?

Dan Steinberg: You know, if I can keep using George Solomon as my inspiration in this Chat....he actually asked me if I was going to the Maryland women's game last night. I said no, Wizards, largely because it's an easier commute from downtown. George said he'd been to far too many Wizards games in recent weeks, which is why he was gonna go watch MD-N.C. State.

I'm sure that 19-point win was thrilling. Luckily, he didn't miss much downtown.

I guess the Barra could make the list next year if MLS Cup involves DCU and there's a pre-party featuring Diddy and Nick Rimando. Otherwise, might be a longshot.

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Reader Glenn In Lovely Fairfax City, Va.: At the risk of making you work through another lunch break....who would you have in your top 10 local sport FIGURES of 2006? Obviously Hibachi and Ovechkin, but who else? Soriano? Larranaga? Adu? Nick Rimando? Gunston?

Dan Steinberg: Thoughts? The Chat Host, whose name is P. (am I allowed to say your name?), voted for Giant Teddy Roosevelt.

Other names off the top of my head: JTIII (so Georgetown people stop being mad at me), Frank Robinson (O.G.), Gregg Williams (because the ESPN.com story was possibly the biggest story involving a local team all year), Joe Gibbs (automatic, every year, even after he retires), Brenda Frese and Adam Archuleta. Actually, a real list, based on what people here are interested in, would probably be Snyder, Gibbs, Williams, Saunders, Bugel, Portis, Jason Campbell, Ladell Betts, Mark Brunell, Sean Taylor and that kicker with the funny last name.

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WDC: You've got "The Goal" at No. 2 and Gilbert's 60 points in LA at No. 3. Does that mean you'd take Ovechkin as second place in the 2006 local MVP race over Arenas?

(Assuming, of course, that Gunston from No. 1 Mason is the obvious MVP.)

Dan Steinberg: Wow, another fascinating question. Local MVP. My understanding is that YouTube has a lot more Ovechkin than Arenas. I wonder which has greater worldwide name recognition? I honestly don't know. But Ovechkin is definitely more important to the NHL than Arenas is to the NBA, right?

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Washington, D.C.: I wanted to thank you for covering local sports with a wide-angle lens to include as much as you can (even some of the faces in the crowd from time to time), while retaining just enough of a fan's point of view, and a sense of humor.

Do you think the coverage of sports on whole can tend to get a little too serious, given that, as the old cliche goes, it's just a game?

Dan Steinberg: Well thank you. I publish this only so I can look at it fondly during one of those days when LaCa gets 732 comments on the Redskins blog and I get Kim.

If you're asking me the second question honestly, heck yeah I do. A lot of sportswriting types get really mad when the news people look down their noses at us. "We're not the toy department," is what they say. Well, whatever. We write about people playing games. Our readers read about it because they'd rather be doing that than reading about the weather or the war, or (more likely) for gambling reasons. I don't see what's wrong with admitting that what we do isn't exactly Iraq.

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Arlington, Va.: I saw your comments on The Post coverage taking the wind out of the sails of GW's amazing win over Charlotte and was very impressed by a Post reporter acknowledging it. The timing of the piece -- regardless of its merit -- was horrible.

And by the way, William and Mary beat North Carolina in 1978, the year after UNC finished as the NCAA runner-up to Marquette (which I only know because I was at the game).

Dan Steinberg: Well I stand sort of corrected. Good work.

re: GW, all I meant to say was a fun event became less fun thanks to us. And I agree the timing was sort of rough. As I've said before, I was in Italy during the whole process and came back a few days before it ran, but the timing was out of everybody's control. Trust me, no one was intentionally pegging it to GW's final regular season game, and no one knew what was gonna happen in that Charlotte game. But I don't think I'd be risking my job to say that it worked out pretty unfortunately.

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Washington, D.C.: I think David Betancourt's thrilling 5-1 virtual victory in "NHL '07" with the American squad over Alex Ovechkin and the Russian squad deserves some best of '06 consideration. Alex has been playing ahead of last seasons scoring pace in real life ever since. That and GTown over the non-NBA factory that is Duke.

Dan Steinberg: Hey Dave.

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Falls Church, Va.: How could you omit Zimmerman's walk-off versus the Yankees from your list? RFK has never been louder. The sheer joy of shutting up all those obnoxious Yankee fans still warms my heart.

Dan Steinberg: Ok, like I said, I messed up on this one. Did people dance in the aisles and hug and stuff?

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Providence, R.I.: One of the highlights of my year was reading your Olympics blog. My sister lives in northern Vermont and is going to a beginner's curling clinic this weekend. Needless to say, I'm INSANELY jealous.

Dan Steinberg: Yeah, my friend Jack from the local curling club keeps promising me lessons. I don't know why I haven't taken him up on it yet. I definitely will. Maybe we can go as a group. Kim, you out there?

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D.C.: I just don't get it. This cliched (and I mean EVERY cliche in the book) birthday party seems so contrary to the quirky, humble Arenas that's been portrayed. Please reconcile these two figures. I'm stunned that Agent 0 is all of a sudden such a materialistic follower.

Dan Steinberg: Like I said, it is a little odd. I'm not insider enough to know whether his frequent assertions that he doesn't leave his hotel room on the road, doesn't go out, and prefers playing video games are entirely true. I'd suspect they're a bit exaggerated. Sorry if I spelled that wrong. But the million-dollar bash still seems out of character. I think it's all more of a responsibility to live up to his status in the league (seriously). All the guys on the team say they're going "to support my teammate," which is a weird way of putting it, like it was a square-dancing contest or something.

I do know that one of the young fans Gil met via MySpace has since been invited to a Gil shootaround to meet Gil in person, so some of his bizarre down-to-earthitude is definitely legit.

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misschatter in D.C.: You posted that you were getting a complex from people not replying to e-mails and I am too - either that or e-mails sent from nationals.net don't make it through the WaPo mail filter?! That's what I'm going to believe, anyway.

George Solomon isn't the sports editor anymore?

I'm biased, but I think the Nats night game against Philly was one of the best moments, at least from a fan's perspective. I suppose Soriano's 40/40 year (and party!!) are also up there in my book.

Dan Steinberg: I've never gotten an e-mail from you. I swear. Post your address in a comment and I'll write back.

I just don't feel like Soriano embraced his stardom like Gil and Ovie do. I don't feel like the city's sports landscape will be markedly different without him next year. Or this year, I guess.

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Phoenix, Md.: Big Stein, we missed you at VCU's double-OT thriller victory at Towson last night. In a game that had major poll implications, Gary Neal had 36 but no swag when he came up short on a potential game-winner in the closing seconds. Number one sign that you are getting old: VCU's first-year head coach is referred to as a "Billy Donovan" protege.

Dan Steinberg: Tough loss. Strange night in the CAA. Lots of road wins. I think we might be seeing VCU in the NCAA's.

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Reston, Va.: What? I'm not equal to 732 of LaCa's readers?

Dan Steinberg: Sorry.

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Dagger-ville: Gil for MVP?

Wiz with a top-three seed?

August Strindberg gets his own blog at the Post?

Actually, Steinberg and Strindberg are only a few letters off. I smell conspiracy.

DAGGER!

Dan Steinberg: Strindberg's got a better 'stache.

How 'bout a Wizards-Bucks playoff series? That could be pretty good. Plus I've never been to Milwaukee.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm struggling to come up with a good Maryland Football/Men's Basketball moment. Does Coming back to beat Clemson after the refs totally blew that safety call warrant any discussion?

Dan Steinberg: I thought the Maryland football moment of the season was the bizarre comeback at UVA. I mean, the bowl hopes were done at halftime of that game. I could not possibly have been more wrong about that Terps team.

Frankly, the best Maryland men's basketball moment of 2006 might have been that win at UVA, too. That was 2006, right?

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Rob Iola: Fantastic work, Dan, picking up where you left off after the great Torino blog. What I love is how you leverage your press pass (and gumption, and quality education from the world's finest university) into unique stories that really resonate with the common reader. Who else gets professional athletes to drop watermelons from the top of RFK? My question: how much latitude/guidance/tongue-lashing do you get from your editor?

Dan Steinberg: Is this a real question or just some sucking up from a longtime reader?

Well, either way, no one ever tells me anything. I've long wondered what would happen if I just stopped writing entirely. I think I'd have at least 48 hours before anyone at The Post noticed. By that point I could make it to Idaho.

I try to pick events to cover based on interest from reader people and interesting material. And also things that I don't have to drive a long way to get to.

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MVP?: Uh, Christian Gomez was MVP of his entire league. Don't see Arenas or Ovie getting that kind of love.

Dan Steinberg: I love DCU fans, and I loved the Christian Gomez pumpkin, and he had an unbelievable year and lugged that team to the conference finals, but....maybe not quite the national renown of the other two. Maybe. In my opinion.

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McLean, Va.: What is the controversy with the USC Song Gal? Apparently I missed something. Happy 2007, Dan!

Dan Steinberg: Really, you haven't heard about this? Experiment with Google. Or go to awfulannouncing.

Or maybe you just don't understand why this is controversial, which would be a fair enough point. I can't think of anything controversial about it.

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Falls Church, Va.: Yep. There was much jumping, high-fiving, hugging and screaming when Z-man's blast cleared the wall.

Remember, it was summer and it was outside. And the beer vendors had been busy that day! People are less inhibited at baseball games.

Dan Steinberg: Well, I'm all for public hugging.

Maybe Zim has a chance to be a Top 11 sports figure of 2007. Actually, maybe he was one in 2006. Almost Rookie of the Year is pretty good.

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Overland Park, Kan.: Dude, you could have a Domestic Cheese Blog if the Wiz play the Bucks in the playoffs.

I think we need to send this up to David Stern.

Dan Steinberg: And that thought had never even crossed my mind. Great, great point. Plus, imagine what would happen with the Ike Austin Cheeseboot if the Wiz went to Wisconsin.

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Chest Rockwell, Md.: Dan, two athletes with local ties (Olney's Oguchi Onyewu and DC United's Ben Olsen) played in the world's biggest sporting event this year. I know things didn't go well for the US, but somehow the World Cup having locals in it seems bigger to me than, say, high school basketball or anything the Nats did this year (they won like 70 games; 2 wins over the Yankees are a drop in the ocean).

Or am I just being a greedy soccer fan?

Dan Steinberg: I didn't do anything World Cup or Olympics on my list. Regardless of local involvement, they just don't feel like local events to me.

Plus, I'm bitter that I didn't get to go to the World Cup.

On the other hand, my personal Top 11 Steinberg Sports Moments of 2006 definitely had a World Cup moment. It's about 3 p.m., Las Vegas time. I've just finished delivering a horribly embarrassing talk on sports blogging to a bunch of sports editors who could care less about cheese. I log onto the Internet and see.....yes, Croatia has tied! I won my $10 bet on the Croatia tie! (During the opening rounds of the WC, you could place bets on either team to win, or on the tie). That paid something like $22.

Also, I went 2-0 betting on the WNBA while in Vegas. Am I allowed to say that?

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College Park, Md.: How can you include the embarrassing Terps men's Team (even making fun of them) and not include the women's victory over arch-rival Duke in overtime for the National Championship?

Dan Steinberg: Yeah, I was just trying to be funny, and there wasn't much funny about the MD women, at least not that I knew of. Cleary that was a better overall local event, and I hereby put it in my list, replacing Gary and the NIT. Tolliver was Arenas-esque with that dagger. I watched it at home. Actually, I was supposed to be there, but when Mason went to the Final Four all our plans got screwed up.

Anyhow, if I had included the MD women in the list, I would have made fun of Sally Jenkins's semifinal column in which she said everything about Maryland's win was ugly, down to their black shoes and baggy shorts. I love Sally, but I'm not sure when she turned into my grandfather. That's how you know when the women's game has made it; when outraged sportswriters start complaining about the players' baggy shorts.

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Berwyn Heights, Md.: Maybe I'm just a greedy, brilliantly named D.C. fan, but I think Nick Rimando's Water Wars success was one of the biggest athletic achievements in the area. It took focus, patience, quickness and intelligence for Nicky to last so long. Plus, it was probably the most fun thing I read all year.

Dan Steinberg: More sucking up will get you a place in this chat.

On a real list of local sports moments, that was probably about 12,014, but thanks for the support.

As for the achievement, Nick had unfair advantages; he didn't have to go to work, he had a huge army of volunteer helpers, and he was completely safe on his own property. Let's face it, he hastened the end. He could have lasted all offseason if he really wanted to.

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D.C.: No. 1 local sports moment of the year: Brashear (and a few other Caps players) pummeling the Atlanta Thrashers' heads with their fists (and leaving blood stains all over the ice) after a cheap attempt by Andy Sutton to hit Mike Green in the face with an elbow.

Dan Steinberg: Wow, really? I watched that, too. It never ended. It was a spectacle for sure, but I don't think it would make my second-team top 11.

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Multi-Tasking: Loved your cheese column in the Food Section. With Kornheiser he went from Sports/Style to ESPN PTI to MNF. Are you looking to have a regular Food column so you can start along a similar path? Or are Fedex Field tailgates the closest you plan to get to the MNF booth?

Dan Steinberg: Thanks. Plus I got to taste cheese out of the whole thing.

There had been some talk of a weekly cheese columnette in the Food section. I immediately volunteered. But there are probably more qualified people out there.

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Washington, D.C.: Since you didn't have a "What You Need to Know" today, I just wanted to make sure that the UVa basketball team gets proper love.

Dan Steinberg: I'm still working on it. It'll be posted later this afternoon, as soon as I stop answering questions about cheese.

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Arlington, Va.: Is there a better metaphor for the odd, dual-nature of this area than comparing the Dem's swearing in party tonight to Gil's bday party?

Dan Steinberg: Dunno. More importantly, which party will have better snacks?

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We Got Next!!!: Dude.

You went to Las Vegas and spent your time betting on Croatia and WNBA games? Ever wonder why the official slogan is "What Goes on in Vegas Stays in Vegas"?

Dan Steinberg: Wow, everyone's all outraged about WNBA gambling. I had a feeling about the Silver Stars, what can I say? I was right, wasn't I?

I actually thought about not cashing the ticket so I could frame it. Once I gave up both WNBA tickets, there was no proof that I had ever placed those bets, other than my word.

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Bethesda, Md.: Dan, I still haven't managed to get to a Nationals game. Since you know what's fun, am I missing anything?

Dan Steinberg: Really? Do you like sports? Do you actually live in Bethesda? And you never made it to a Nats game?

Jeez, what's fun? I like the burrito brothers stand, I like the racing presidents, I like when I get ushered into the Lerners' private box and shake a lot of hands and watch them eat soft-serve ice cream, and I like ballpark peanuts. Those are my favorite four parts. Ballpark peanuts are, by far, the No. 1 ballpark snack.

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D.C.: My question is, did the Wizznutzz and August get Arenas Express cards? The originators of the "Agent 0" nickname should get something other than hits to their blog. Buckhantz and Chenier use it interchangeably with "Gilbert" these days.

Dan Steinberg: Did you read their latest post, about Etan? It's pretty genius. I need to link to that later.

But I think they'll manage to get a "report" on the party, which will probably involve far more lunacy than the actual party. Actually, maybe not, in this case.

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Reston, Va.: Dan,

The Gilbert Arenas Blog? Have you gotten over Nicky "The Goose" Rimando, and Alecko Eskandarian that quickly?

Dan Steinberg: You blog about the local athletes you have, not the local athletes you wish you had.

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Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Boy or girl?

Dan Steinberg: Can't say. There's one very loyal blog reader who really, really doesn't want to know.

But the due date is March 7. So I'm gonna disappear for a long while.

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SE D.C.: How huge was Georgetown beating J.J. Reddick, Shelden Williams and the Dukies last January? It took six months off Dick Vitale's life, it may have been the turning point for the school and, more importantly, it was a lot of fun.

Dan Steinberg: I believe it was fun, but I was watching on TV in Charlotte. And it was the regular season. And Georgetown has won a national championship. A regular season non-conference win can't really compare to that.

I don't know why they're not back in the Top 25 yet. They might not have beaten anyone (well, Michigan, I guess), but they've got to be one of the 25 best teams in the country, right?

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Arlington, Va.: Nice to see you finally included William & Mary in your "local" hoops poll. The campus is closer to D.C. than Tech or ODU. Plus, last night's win over Mason Nation should vault them into the top 10 or 11!

Dan Steinberg: I think they're in, for sure, without a doubt next week. And I guess Mason's out.

We don't really cover ODU. We do cover Virginia Tech. It drives people from GW, Georgetown, American, Howard, Maryland, Catholic, Marymount, Gallaudet and PGCC nuts that we cover Va. Tech.

Plus we wrote a VMI story this year. VMI ain't so close to DC, either.

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Sec 515: Baseball events would get more attention if the season were still going or if it had ended in the last few weeks.

Another memorable moment was Soriano's 3-HR game vs. the Braves on a rainy night. There weren't many of us there, but it was an announcement that he had arrived.

Dan Steinberg: So when was the announcement that he had departed?

You're probably right. I'd have to do the math, but I imagine the Nats have more total people in seats over the course of a season than any other local team, right? So even despite the losses, their total man-and-woman-fun-hours must be pretty high.

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Eastern Europe-ish: Steinz,

What do you make of your recent feud with Tony Kornheiser? I heard him badmouthing you this morning in the men's room at an Applebee's in Silver Spring with Andy Pollin, saying something about how when he was through with you, you'd be working as a copy editor for the local paper in Butte, Montana, and that there are good cheeses and GREAT micro-brews in the Big Sky state. This seemed a little harsh, considering that you can at least put "camcorder operator" on your resume. The same probably can't be said for TK.

Dan Steinberg: No feud. I don't want a feud. I don't want to be axed. Tony was just joking yesterday. I'm sure of it. I'm sure that my nameplate is still on my desk.

And something tells me his fan base is a bit larger than mine. So I would completely understand if I was made to disappear. That would be the smart move.

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Rockville, Md.: Why should the Nats make it on any positive list? All they've done is come in and screw up once was a fantastic place for DCU to play soccer. Now they have to play with an infield covered with a lousy sod job and the dumbest missing section in the bleachers right behind a goal. The Expos should go back to Montreal.

Dan Steinberg: This must be a member of La Norte. That big missing section is definitely a blight. Remember my long-ago campaign to have all local sports fans to be friends? Still a work in progress.

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Moment of Genius: Steinz,

I think we may be onto something here. What key demographic does the Food Network lack? Men who are also sports fans. What's your area of expertise? Sports and cheese. Sports + Cheese = hit show for Food Network. Ratings will skyrocket. We're talking "Iron Chef America" big. I'm planting my flag right here in this chat as co-creator. You know where to send the royalties.

-The Duke

Dan Steinberg: Exactly how many of these questions did you submit? At least Kim prefaces all his questions with his home city so I can ration the number of his that I choose.

Anyhow, I guess I'll close with this one. I think this needs a little tinkering, but it has potential. What I'm thinking is maybe you get two sports stars from different sports and match them up with artisanal cheesemakers from their approximate geographic area. Together, they can choose whether they want to work with goat's milk, sheep's milk, cow's milk, or some combination. Then they choose their moulds, and their molds, and their aging techniques, and their brines, and then we see one of those fast-action montages of the cheeses being loaded into storage and turned and prodded and all that, and then a few months later each player feeds his cheese to five teammates and the head coach of the other player, while David Stern looks on and watches. He's like the chairman or whatever. And the tasters are sitting on a bus at the time. And they all say "Next!" a lot. And Roger Lodge is involved somehow.

Nah, that still needs tinkering. Well, I'm interested, anyhow.

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Bethesda, Md.: All the things you said you liked about Nationals games have nothing to do with actual baseball!

Dan Steinberg: Well, if you just want to watch baseball, you can stay at home, no? Who goes to the park to watch baseball?

Okay, that was really the last one. I've gotta run. Thanks for all the questions, I'll be back here someday.

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