Monday, March 19, at Noon ET

'Washington Post Live'

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Dan Steinberg and Russ Thaler
Hosts, 'Washington Post Live'
Monday, March 19, 2007; 12:00 PM

Dan Steinberg and Russ Thaler were online Monday, March 19 at noon ET to discuss their new Comcast SportsNet show, "Washington Post Live."

A transcript follows.

"Washington Post Live" debuts tonight, and will air Monday-Friday from 5-6:30 p.m. ET on Comcast SportsNet and www.washingtonpost.com.

Steinberg would like to point out that no one has ever before thought to put Washington Post writers on TV to discuss sports in the late afternoon time slot ("PTI"), and that, if any local viewers happened to be interested in such a concept, they'd have no choice but to watch "Washington Post Live." Also, Washington Post sportswriters are not, as it turns out, the most telegenic folks in the world. On the other hand, Comcast often has free cookies lying around its offices.

Steinberg writes the D.C. Sports Bog for washingtonpost.com.

Thaler has been with Comcast SportsNet since its inception in 2001, and served as the network's D.C. United beat and sideline reporter.

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Russ Thaler: Hey everybody, thanks for coming. This is a first for me.

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Fairfax, Va.: Please resist the urge to broadcast "Live" from some bar. Those shows have the worst production values and end up having fluff interviews with local athletes and all anyone does for the show is smile and laugh and chuckle a lot at each other.

Dan Steinberg: Testing

Russ Thaler: testing

Dan Steinberg: Thanks for the advice. Russ and I are but mere pawns in this whole operation, but I'm pretty sure there are no plans to broadcast "Live" from some bar. However, there are definitely plans for fluff interviews with local athletes during which all anyone will do is smile and laugh and chuckle a lot. We're talking about 4.5 hours a week of original programming. Gotta fill all that time somehow.

Russ Thaler: I'm particularly fond of the laugh and chuckle, particularly when they're sitting right next to me... as athletes are usually bigger and stronger than me. I tend to ask the toughest questions to subjects who can't inflict any immediate bodily harm to me.

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Washington, D.C.: Hi guys! So, the first thing I need to know about this show is, will it be replayed later during the evening? Because I am certainly not going to be home by 5 to see it live, and forgot it was going to be on, so didn't set the DVR before leaving the house this morning.

Russ Thaler: The idea is to replay the show during prime time hours. Tonight it'll be on from 5-6:30, 7-8:30, and 8:30-10 p.m.. Obviously we won't be able to do that every night, but many night's we'll be able to show it again at a better time for those of you who work regular hours. Remember, you can always check out the live stream on washingtonpost.com.

Dan Steinberg: Also, you could turn on your television at any time of day and immediately catch 7-9 consecutive promos for the show on Comcast SportsyNet. I believe the station does nothing but air promos for the show at this point.

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Warrenton, Va.: Will "soccer insider" Steven Goff participate in the new show?

Dan Steinberg: "Soccer Insider" Steve Goff actually participated in a very compelling dress rehearsal with us last week. The man screams charisma. He will be back. In fact, virtually every Washington Post person I've seen on set has been amazingly compelling. The plan is to turn all our writers into full-time television personalities, and then hand the newspaper over to the Comcast SportsyNet talent.

If you're a D.C. United person, Ben Olsen is scheduled to appear on set this Friday, and I have a brief interview with Bobby Boswell that should appear today.

Russ Thaler: Goff will be terrific! But you should know that he absolutely POUNDED me for picking Wisconsin to be upset in round two of the NCAA Tournament when he "helped" me with my bracket during a rehearsal last week. We'll let him keep to soccer. It's for the best.

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Damascus, Md.: Will there be a lot soccer coverage on this show? I know Russ is the DC United guy at Comcast and Dan has done extensive work with DC United. So, does that bode well for the soccer junkies in the area?

PLEASE DON'T IGNORE THE FUTBOL!!!!

Russ Thaler: It bodes well for soccer. I'm a relatively recent convert to the game, which makes me in some ways even more vigilant in my quest to cover our beloved Black and Red. Expect to see Steve Goff on the show... and Ben Olsen will be joining us in studio on Friday of this week.

Dan Steinberg: Also, I plan to be at the launch party for BobbyBoswell.com on Tuesday night, video camera in hand, for what that's worth.

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Washington, D.C.: Hello. If your show is on at 5 p.m., will anyone watch it? Who is your target audience -- people still at work at that time, or people stuck in traffic on the Beltway?

Dan Steinberg: Personally, when I found out the show would be at 5, I rejoiced, because my target audience (my grandparents) will be at home and able to watch, and my non-target audience (the rest of the world) will not be able to watch, thus missing a chance to see me potentially humiliate myself.

I will say that certain other Washington Post-centric sports talk shows (PTI) have done relatively okay in that late afternoon time slot. Which just means that any D.C. sports fans who are watching TV in the late afternoons won't be watching us.

Russ Thaler: Forgive Dan, he's had a rough week.

It's all just a setup for his complete demise.

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Springfield, Va.: Russ how badly of a beating would you give Steinberg in tennis? I have an idea for a segment on the show, Steinberg challenges Comcast people to different sports, like tennis, president racing and shooting free throws.

Russ Thaler: Keep the ideas coming, especially the ones that would ensure my looking as good as possible like tennis against The Steinz. Stray too far from that and I might be in trouble. Perhaps table tennis and competitive loafing.

Dan Steinberg: Notice he never actually answered this question.

Honestly, though, I don't have the time. Sorry. I already have a full-time job, plus a newborn kid, and now I have to do this nonsense TV thing. Maybe we could challenge each other in a diaper-changing contest or something, but that's about it.

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Rockville, Md.: So, if I understand, it bloggers are a bunch of dorky white guys sitting around their parents' basement talking about sports. So what makes listening to them talk about sports any different than talking to my friends?

Dan Steinberg: I know some dorky black guys who blog very actively, thank you very much. And several ladies. Especially Caps and Nats fans.

Also sportstalk radio has thrived with a pretty similar format, if I'm not mistaken.

But this show is not really about bloggers. I'm doing a once-a-week 15 minute segment on blogs. The rest of it is high-powered WaPo staff writers and high-powered sports guests.

You might have gotten the impression this show would be about bloggers, because my boss has chosen to highlight my name in all the promos for the show that have appeared in the paper. This was a great idea of his. Because, if you could ask people to watch a show featuring Jason Campbell, Ryan Zimmerman, Alex Ovechkin, Mike Wise and Thomas Boswell, or to watch a show featuring the author of the D.C. Sports Bog, the smart marketing move would obviously be the latter. Seriously, I wonder how some people find their way into upper management.

Russ Thaler: If I can be one of your friends for 90 minutes a day, five days a week, then it'll be a good show. If you loath me with every fiber of your being then this could work, too!

On the chance that I fall somewhere in the middle, the hope is that this will be a show of great significance, and failing that, simply something to get you from snack to dinner.

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Winchester, Va.: How will this show be different from other "sportswriters on TV" shows?

Russ Thaler: For one, I've never been paid to write about sports. It's sort of a hybrid show. We'll be discussing the relevant sports of the day for sure, but our producer Andy Siegel has been charged with catering to my whims, which is why we'll also be delving in to various other things on the show that can somehow be traced back to sport. Andy's still working on those things.

Dan Steinberg: I can think of several ways it will be different:

1) It's much longer. I mean, 90 minutes? That way you can nap midway through and still not miss anything.

2) Most of the sportwriters will be from one single newspaper. That way we can simultaneously prove why we all entered print, while also detracting from the daily product that pays all of our bills.

I saw a "sportswriters on TV" show from Chicago in preparation for this show. It was, um, great. Really great. Like, I can't wait to watch it again. Maybe in 2059.

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Washington, D.C.: Will you have women bouncing on trampolines on each show or will you be more serious?

Dan Steinberg: Are these things really mutually exclusive?

I'm probably the wrong person to answer this question, seeing as how I just spent $17.99 for a toy bilingual laptop off eBay, with the hopes of one day destroying it on set.

Honestly, I think the show will mostly be serious, except for me, but I'm hoping to get kicked off in the first few weeks.

Russ Thaler: I'm hoping that Dan does something to get kicked off the show, but that we keep him anyway.

My personal tastes (which carry great weight) range from politics to professional wrestling. Sports obviously fills a great part of it, but I like girls on trampolines as much as the next guy... maybe not as much as some.

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DC Sports Chick, Blogland: Hey Dan and Russ-

Looking forward to the show. What kinds of topics will be on the agenda? What's a typical show's format?

(See you tomorrow, Dan!)

Russ Thaler: The great thing about the show is that we're not bound to any particular format (except for the 90 minute time slot.)

While we'll have Jason Alexander, Alex Ovechkin, and Ryan Zimmerman on the show today, tomorrow we have Bob Novak, Tom McMillen, and Vince Papale.

Things could get really interesting with either set of guests. The hope is that each day we'll have something that interests me, and you, and everyone else.

Dan Steinberg: I would think by the end of 90 minutes of chatter, we'd likely resort to talking about badminton and Parcheesi some weeks.

The format is three to four people sitting around on chairs and talking, while wearing little ear pieces and microphones. Every Friday around 6ish Jamie Mottram (from AOL's FanHouse) and I will discuss the week in blogs. Comcast SportsyNet personalities will also check in from remote locations, as will Washington Posties. Occasionally there will be taped bits featuring me, such as tomorrow's Racing Presidents thing. Yesterday, Bobby Boswell and I wandered around Union Station asking random people which one of us would be more successful in life. Stuff like that.

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Renfrew, Pa.: Don't you think there is already a glut of sports programming on cable television? It would appear that The Washington Post, like so many media outlets, has gone overboard with the entertainment as opposed to news concept. What possible purpose would this serve? Perhaps the real mission is to continue to distract the public from the very, very serious problems we have with our current government and the terrible things it has done around the world.

Dan Steinberg: Wow. Okay.

Well, bear in mind that the show will feature sports writers talking about sports, which is the field in which we make our living. In the sports section, we do occasionally do very serious reporting about very serious topics, but I think you'd agree that for the most part, a game report on the Wizards is not a matter of international importance. And yet we churn out a whole section of that stuff every day. People need a bit of levity in life, no?

I will make fun of this show for many things, but not for distracting the public from the serious problems of life. If you don't want to see pasty sportswriters talking about basketball, which I completely understand, just click over to PBS.

Russ Thaler: If I can jump in here...

There will be a political element to the show. Tomorrow night we'll have Bob Novak and former congressman Tom Macmillan in studio. But let's understand that the politics we'll be delving in to will ultimately have some tie in to sports. Personally, I have an interest in both, but since this is a sports show at it's core, on a sports network, that's where it will all be pointed towards.

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Washington, D.C.: Here's the important question: Dan, will you be featuring cheese or curling in any way in this new endeavor?

Dan Steinberg: I'm pretty sure there will be a weekly cheese bit of some sort. Curling might be more of a stretch, but we'll find a way. Also rugby. Super League season starts this month, if I'm not mistaken.

Russ Thaler: And that's why Dan's on the show (among other things.)

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Kensington, Md.: No offense to Kornheiser or Wilbon, but many sportswriters who get beyond newsprint turn into egomaniacs. I get a good vibe from you guys, though.

Dan Steinberg: Well, Russ isn't a print guy, so he's already an egomaniac.

And if being obsessed with failure and being convinced that everything you do is utter garbage makes you an egomaniac, then I'm on that train, too.

An important Comcast SportsyNet executive promised me that within two months I'd be hiring a personal makeup person. Really. If that happens, I give you, Kensington, express permission to punch me in the kidneys.

Russ Thaler: Dan can use my personal makeup person anytime he wants... that's how we roll here at Comcast SportsNet.

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Arlington, Va.: How strong is D.C.-area basketball? Georgetown, Maryland, VCU, Virginia, Virginia Tech and GW all made the tournament. Can any other region claim as many tournament teams?

Russ Thaler: You'd be hard-pressed to find another. It's a great time of the year, don't you think? By the way, check out the standings for the celebrity tournament bracket on washingtonpost.com No need to venture down from the top.

Dan Steinberg: But I helped you make those picks, Russ, right? So I should get some credit.

And you forgot Old Dominion on this list. If Va. Tech counts, so does Old Dominion.

The state of Texas had five teams in the field, which was tops. Southern Cal had three teams, I believe. But we're definitely up there. Or were, anyhow. Georgetown's all we have left.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Nothing personal, but I can't think of a compelling reason to watch this show.

We have The Post on our doorsteps. We have The Post on radio. We have The Post online. We have Post sportswriters on ESPN and Channel 4 and now Comcast.

I can't think of one thing more I want to hear from Post sports. But go ahead -- humor me. Tell us how you'll be different.

And by different, I don't mean Mr. Steinberg's blog. I have no idea what he's talking about half the time. It all seems like a bypass...

Dan Steinberg: Like a gastric bypass?

Actually, Silver Spring, I've long wondered the same thing about this show. Maybe we could pull off 30 seconds a day, but 90 minutes? I'm not joking, I'm not trying to be flip, I just don't get it. Maybe Russ can explain. Russ?

As for Post radio, not too many people actually listen to that, so it doesn't really count.

Russ Thaler: That's what our producer, Andy Siegel, is for. They just prop me up for 90 minutes and say "go".

I don't take it personal, Silver Spring, since I don't pull a paycheck from The Post. I would certainly accept one, though.

Today's show will indeed be "sports" heavy with Jason Alexander, Alex Ovechkin, and Ryan Zimmerman.

Tomorrow's will feature Bob Novak and Tom McMillen, and we'll continue to expand the focus as time goes on.

I hope that gives you some reason to tune in for yet another Post creation.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hi Guys! My only suggestion is please don't spend 90 percent of the time talking about the Redskins.

Dan Steinberg: Amen to that.

Russ Thaler: You have my promise. Any complaints can be directed towards Andy Siegel. He's our producer and he can take it. If that doesn't work, look for Adam Littlefield (he wanted a mention.)

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Jason Alexander: He's your first guest? Admit it: You really are trying to steal Tony's life, aren't you.

Dan Steinberg: His salary would be nice, for a start.

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Washington, D.C.: Dan, some of the pithy comments on the local poll are very funny. Any thought given to having them on the show?

Dan Steinberg: Sadly, the Local Poll is winding down, so it might be hard to make it work this year. If I haven't quit the Post or gotten fired from the CSN thing by the time next season starts, I could see this being some sort of regular feature.

Some of the voters are obviously a lot funnier than I am. They're very impressive, in my opinion.

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CSN Newsroom: I was not aware that we had booked Jason Alexander. Are we talking George or one of Brittany Spears' ex-husbands?

Russ Thaler: Oops...

You do know that you guys put me on the air, right?

Jason Campbell today, maybe we can have both of those guys on next week. Talk to Christine Gennetti, she books the guests.

Dan Steinberg: Speaking of which, Russ, I hope you've got some great questions for Jason Campbell. I love the way he dresses, and he throws the deep ball pretty well too, but I don't think I've ever heard a memorable quote from him. Now Jason Alexander, he's quotable.

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Oakton, Va.: Glenn Brenner, Warner Wolf or George Michael?

Dan Steinberg: Maybe Russ can take a hack at this. Having not grown up in the area and never, to the best of my knowledge, having watched George Michael growing up, I felt sort of lost during the George Michael lovefest over the past few months. I'm sure this makes me a bad sports person.

I will say that one of the highlights of my life was appearing on the once proud Washington Post High School Sports Show with Chick Hernandez to discuss high school volleyball.

Russ Thaler: I'll take Chick, too.

Actually, I grew up with Warner when he was in New York City, stayed up late to watch George on the Sports machine, but never got to see Glen Brenner. From what I've been told, I missed out big time.

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RE: Bob Novak: What CIA agent is he going to help "out" on your program?

Don't let him use his usual "Fox News talking points" to confuse you.

Russ Thaler: Should be an interesting discussion with Mr. Novak, though I think his love of all things Maryland Sports and the recent demise of the men's team in the tournament will come up more than the other things he's been in the news for.

I probably shouldn't mention Jon Stewart's name, should I?

Dan Steinberg: I plan on talking about Bill Clinton and Georgetown as much as possible. Actually, I don't think we'll be on set together, now that I think about it.

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Columbia, Md.: Are you only going to cover professional-level sports, or will you get into more local and/or amateur sports in the area? Are you only going to be about baseball, football and basketball (yawn), or will you cover more of all the diversity that is out there - eg. whitewater kayaking, sailing, hockey, ultimate, marathons, etc. Will you cover the personal fitness side of sports?

Dan Steinberg: We've gotten several questions on this same topic. Ninety minutes, as previously mentioned, is a long time. I'm hoping that leaves time for most of the things you mention.

And how about grouping hockey in with whitewater kayaking? Has it really come to that for hockey?

There's always a question about whether these participatory sports generate the same sort of water-cooler fodder as the NFL and the NBA. But interesting guests are interesting guests, regardless of their sport. And I know for sure I'm gonna be doing a segment on the Washington Glory, the new pro fastpitch softball team in the area.

Russ Thaler: Way to go out on a limb there with the softball, Dan.

The point is that YES, we will indeed be covering everything that interests us, and sometimes all it takes is a little prodding to pique our interest.

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Reston, Va.: Not to be a cheerleader, but there's lot's of compelling stories and personalities in the D.C. sports scene (and tangential scenes) that just don't come out in print, or on some nationally broadcast show with less hair.

Dan's blog has done a good job of brining that to light in the last several months, and I'm sure Russ and the CSN folks can add to that.

(Russ, Dan has my address so you'll know where to send the check)

Russ Thaler: Thanks, Reston. I believe Dan is cutting that check from his personal account as we type.

To your point, it's the tangential topics that interest me even more than spending 90 minutes per day talking about the same thing as everyone else. We hope to bring some of them to light in interesting ways on Washington Post Live, which premiers tonight at 5 on Comcast SportsNet!

A double plug! My bosses will be so excited.

Dan Steinberg: And to the person who said they don't need any more of The Post in his or her life, which like I said, I understand, this might be a good answer. Our printed paper won't always have space for some of the stuff we can do on this show. Also, getting the important people to sit down in easy chairs with us for 15 or 30 minutes might lead to a vibe that isn't always easy to capture to print.

And now the CSN people can stop sending me those e-mails warning me to be more positive.

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Washington, D.C.: If you can get Kelli Johnson to do a walk-on once in a while, then I will definitely watch. Actually, it would probably work if you just kept saying, "coming up later in the show, Kelli Johnson!" over and over even if she never actually appears. It will take me awhile to figure that out.

Russ Thaler: Why do I get the feeling that you simply want her to "walk on" the set.

I'll put in a plug since she sits next to me in the newsroom.

My only question is, "why don't I get these kind of requests?"

Dan Steinberg: You don't? Gosh, I do, all the time.

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Washington, D.C. : I understand it's "Washington Post Live" but would you consider having some Washington Times or D.C. Examiner sportswriters on the show as guests? Or would the universe collapse in on itself if that happened?

Just curious, as I don't have a massive devotion to any one newspaper as long as they cover the teams I like.

Dan Steinberg: We're not the bookers, but there will definitely be people from the Times, the Examiner, USA Today, the Baltimore Sun, etc. At least, that's the plan. Not sure how they'll all feel about appearing on "Washington Post Live," but I think we'd be able to avoid universe collapse.

In the Internet era, we're all sort of friends anyhow. That's why I'm allowed to post several dozen links to the Washington Times on my blog every day.

Russ Thaler: There is no doubt we'll be having the best possible people enter the discussion on a daily basis, regardless of affiliation.

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Washington, D.C.: Thanks for taking my comment. I want to register my disgust at the chauvinistic tendencies of The Post when it comes to college basketball. As far as they are concerned there is only one tournament -- the men's. Try to find anything on the women and you have to hunt for a few bits and pieces. You would think that this all-male crowd would at least provide summaries of the games and a schedule listing. Welcome back to the '50s, compliments of The Washington Post!

Dan Steinberg: We do provide summaries of the games and a schedule listing. But is our coverage of the tourneys equal? Not even close. By my count, we have one Post employee doing the women's tournament, and have had at least seven at various men's events. I hoped the D.C. Sports Bog would feature some reports from the women's games, but thus far it has not.

I think you could make a very legitimate argument that there is more interest locally in the Maryland women's team than, for example in the George Washington men's team. And I was happy to see such prominent play on the front of Sports the day after the women's field was announced.

On the other hand, I was invited into about 17 NCAA pools for the men's tourney, and zero for the women's. That's the key issue here. Once people have money on the line, they'll want more info on the women. I'm completely serious.

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MissChatter, Blogland: Whew, glad someone asked about Jason Alexander -- I was about to ask what sport Costanza plays but thought it must be someone by the same name on one of those teams I don't follow closely!

And thanks for the comment above about not all bloggers being white males! I'll take that as a shoutout!

Russ Thaler: Sorry about that. I only get paid to know sports. We'll try to get Jason Alexander (whichever one wants to come on or both) in here to clear up any confusion.

Dan Steinberg: We did have a D.C. Sports Bloggers Happy Hour a while back that was 95 percent white male, MissChatter being the lone exception, but I think the sports blogging world will continue to diversify. Let's hope so, anyhow. That happy hour was pretty grisly.

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Rockville, Md.: How much time and effort was put into lighting the show so that Steinberg's dome doesn't blind the viewing audience/guests?

Russ Thaler: You wouldn't believe me if I told you.

Dan Steinberg: I believe I'm getting a hat allowance from CSN, right?

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Rockville, Md.: Can we expect you guys to cover curling and cross-country skiing?

Russ Thaler: Yes, and yes! Two of my favorite pastimes.

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Eugene, Ore.: I came to The Post's Web site to look for a specific piece of hard news, clicked on your link, read the transcript, and have subsequently forgotten what I came here for (story of the Web). Is that the kind of impact you're hoping for with your new show? If so, brilliant! Congrats on the baby Steiney!

Russ Thaler: That's pretty cool. I totally forgot that this was going over the Internets!

Check out the show streaming live at 2 p.m. pacific and see!

Dan Steinberg: If we bring a little joy into your humdrum lives, it makes us feel as though our hard work ain't been in vain for nothin'.

And that was a classic movie quote, for those who worry that we don't have enough wisdom and historical perspective.

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Washington, D.C.: Is it everyone's goal to get a job at ESPN? That channel is almost unwatchable with its bombastic style. Is there hope for more intelligent and understated sports entertainment?

Dan Steinberg: No, it is not everyone's goal to get a job at ESPN.

Now, there is not hope for more intelligent and understated sports entertainment. Sorry. It doesn't fit the medium. The New Republic has a college basketball sports blog going. Maybe you should check that out.

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Russ Thaler: Hey guys, thanks so much for participating! That was fun.

Check out washington post live tonight at 5 on Comcast SportsNet and weeknights from here on out.

Gotta get back to preparing for the show.

Thanks again!

Russ

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Ashburn, Va.: I like Jason Campbell's composure and maturity, but the guy is Mr. Cliche. Please, please, please get him to open up a little and get out of the robot interview mode.

Dan Steinberg: Yeah, good luck. Personally I've never seen him out of robot interview mode. I'm hoping we can get Ovechkin to interview him tonight, and that we can thereby at least inject some awkwardness into the whole situation if nothing else.

But we'll try our best.

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Dan Steinberg: And I have to go back to changing diapers and figuring out what to wear tonight. Thanks to everyone, especially the person wondering why in the world he or she would want to watch us tonight. That filled me with self-confidence and delight.

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Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.


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