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Michael Wilbon
Washington Post Sports Columnist
Monday, August 6, 2007; 1:15 PM

Welcome to another edition of The Chat House where Post columnist Michael Wilbon was online Monday, Aug. 6, at 1:15 p.m. ET to take your questions and comments about the latest sports news and his recent columns.

The transcript follows.

Discussion Archive

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Washington, D.C.:

Mike,

Did you see Irvin's Hall of Fame speech? Did you think he was sincere. I still find it hard to believe that someone like him got in before Monk. All Monk did was be a better receiver on a team that had many talented receivers and not get in trouble with the law. We seem to reward prima donas like Irvin. I don't know why?

washingtonpost.com: Michael Irvin's Hall of Fame speech youtube.com

Michael Wilbon: Hi everybody! Welcome back to the ChatHouse. I'm just back from Alaska and Vancouver, having missed a million things in the world of sports, but having missed none of it, really. The world is small now and you see everything no matter where you are, even 6,000 miles away at sea...So, I really didn't miss anything, and certainly not Michael Irvin's Hall of Fame speech, which I watched from my living room Saturday...It was an amazing speech. Please don't tell me you watched that and your only thought was of Art Monk. Please. I hope your vision is a little broader than that. I spoke in the Hall of Fame selection room on behalf of Mr. Monk for six years, so I hear you. But please, not today. For those of you who didn't see the speech, find it either on-line or on NFL network where I'm sure they're replaying it. I've known Michael Irvin since his days at the University of Miami. And I've flinched at some things he's done, while marveling at his play. But that speech was what many of us will remember for years and years, to admit before the world that you've not been a good husband, not been a good father, not been a worthy role model, but will not try and reconcile that for the sake of his kids. Please, don't give me Art Monk today...That's one of the touching moments in sports the last 10 years as far as I'm concerned.

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Bridgewater, Va.: Should the Wizards dump Blatche after his recent gaffe?

Michael Wilbon: You want to dump every professional athlete after every run-in. Uh, no. Believe me, he's embarrassed enough over this. If he wasn't very humble before, he ought to be now.

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Williamsburg, Va.: Tiger delivered an emphatic smackdown against Sabbatini. Why can't people like Sabbatini just say "Hey, I like Tiger, he's the best, I was trying to motivate myself, and I meant him no disrespect. I apologize because my comments were taken that way"? Instead he has a retired firefighter removed from the course for just giving him a little trash talk. What a crybaby.

Michael Wilbon: Worse than a crybaby, Sabbatini is a morn. Seriously, he's a fool. He runs his mouth time after time while getting his butt kicked. To quote my friend J.A. Adande while we were watching the final round Sunday, Tiger is delivering the golf equivalent of "What's my name, boy?" to Sabbatini...and he's too dumb to know he's making a fool of himself. Idiot. Anybody can lose on the field of play...anybody. Anybody can look bad. But to continually be a moron is so unforgivable...

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Edison, N.J. : Welcome back Michael. Hope you had a nice vacation. I believe, as far as offensive strategy went, Bill Walsh was the greatest NFL coach. Your thoughts ?

washingtonpost.com: Walsh's Vision Led To NFL We Now See (Post, Aug. 1)

Michael Wilbon: I wrote about Bill Walsh while aboard the ship because I wanted to try and pay tribute to the man I believe to be the greatest coach since Lombardi...There were inventive coaches who came before Walsh. Sid Gillman, for one. Paul Brown...who passed over Walsh when he retired as coach of the Bengals, leading to Walsh resigning and ultimately winding up in San Francisco, where, yes, he was a genius. Every offense in the NFL, as we know it today, looks like something Walsh created. Everybody runs some version, to some degree, of the West Coast offense. And all the defenses are geared to stop that Walsh-created offense, which means he had a huge effect on the modern defense, too. His team's were the smartest, the best-prepared, the most entertaining. I feel honored to have been The Post's NFL beat writer during the final third of Walsh's career in San Francisco. I got to go and hang out around the 49ers more times than I can count, from 1986-1989...There are a lot of great football coaches, but I think Walsh might be on the Mt. Rushmore of NFL coaches.

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Portland, Ore.: Mr. Wilbon:

What a depressing month in sports! Michael Vick, Tim Donaghy, Chris Benoit, the Tour de France. No wonder The Onion satirically calls Barry Bonds' steroid-fueled quest for the all-time home run record "the feel-good sports story of the summer." Any overarching lesson from all this bad and sad news, or just the randomness of human nature?

Michael Wilbon: No...I don't know that there is any lesson to draw from all of it. And you're right, it was quite a bad run. Spectacularly bad, actually. But I'm sure we could look back and find similar periods. But yeah, normally July is a slow, nothing sort of news month. Wow.

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Dulles Airport: How will the Kevin Garnett trade to Boston affect the NBA?

Michael Wilbon: The Celtics should be right there with the Cavaliers, Pistons, Heat and Bulls as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. Orlando will be good, but I don't think it'll happen this year. The Knicks will be better. The Wizards should be pretty darned good, if healthy. But Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will be so difficult to defend. Point guard is a question. Rajon Rondo is the point guard...and I don't know what that means, exactly. And who does the dirty-work that stars rarely do?

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L.A.: Where is your friend JA Adande going to end up? We miss him in La-La Land.

Michael Wilbon: ESPN.com and you should still be able to see him on Around The Horn and (I hope) subbing on PTI for either Tony or me. The Los Angeles Times may not acknowledge it, but J.A.'s departure is a big loss for the newspaper...but I think he's already written one column for ESPN.com, so you will be able to check him out there...

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Bethesda, Md.: Will you be watching ESPN tonight at 8?

Michael Wilbon: I have no idea what's on ESPN tonight at 8...

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Washington, D.C.: Hey Mike,

What's your take on Selig's response to Bond's record tying home run on Saturday night? Premeditated and scripted to "show up" Bonds in the moment or did the commish genuinely not know how to respond?

Michael Wilbon: Bud's entire response is silly. Seriously, why follow a guy around for nine games and say nothing to him? It's just immature and ridiculous. Bonds has handled himself so much better than the commissioner this entire season. Somebody strong and tough and smart should be in Bud's ear...then again, we're talking about baseball owners.

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RE: "Sabbatini is a moron": Indeed, Michael, you are correct that Sabbatini is none to smart. But look at Blatche. He couldn't wait a week until his five-year guaranteed contract was signed to get in trouble. I think this is what is giving the Wizards pause, as much as the offense itself.

Michael Wilbon: Oh, I totally agree with you...Totally.

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Arlington, Va.: It completely pains me to says this as a Cubs fan, but if they had to lose yesterday (after the Brewers gave them a gift of a loss), might as well that they lose to Tom Glavine, a class act in MLB. I refuse to mention the team he plays for -- I'm not that charitable! Thoughts on No. 300?

Michael Wilbon: Glavine might be the last 300-game winner of my lifetime...He might be the last for a long, long time...I'm talking decades. That Braves staff of Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz was just so amazing. It's a shame they couldn't stay together even longer.

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Dulles Airport: Do you think there was no interest in the Tour de France in the U.S. because of cheating or because no one cared about it anyway before Lance Armstrong?

Michael Wilbon: It's just cheater's paradise...to the extent that it certainly makes me wonder again about Lance Armstrong and all the accusations out there about him. I know, I know, I know...he never tested positive for anything banned. But neither has Barry Bonds. People hate Bonds because he's surly and arrogant, and like Armstrong because he beat cancer and he's affable and goes public after every accusation to say, "That's a lie, I didn't do this...and here's why." Bonds simply says, "I don't care what you think" and goes about his business...Also, race plays a part in everything, and I do mean everything. It doesn't mean white people who are sick of Bonds are bigots...what it means is race colors--pun intended--the way we see everything, and to deny that is simply stupid. When I hear people say, "I don't see color" I tune out. We all do. The honest statement is that we try as best we can to see beyond race...but please don't tell me, "I don't see color."

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Laurel, Md.: Would you agree that the preseason for NFL is worthless unless you are fighting for one of the last roster spots. Too many people get injured. Lets cut the preseason to 2-3 games and get the real games started earlier. No other league has a preseason that is 1/4 the length of their regular season.

Michael Wilbon: Yes, I agree completely. And remember, used to be, as recently as the 1970s, that there were 14 regular season games and 6 preseason games...That was even more preposterous...I don't want to see any added regular season games..just cut the preseason to two games and get on with it.

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Gaithersburg, Md.: Mike, Settle a debate between a few friends of mine and myself.

Is baseball's career home run record the most well-known sports record (individual or team) in the U.S.? I say it is but other friends think it is the Dolphins going 17-0 or Wilt scoring 100 points. Which other records would be in your Top 3?

Michael Wilbon: Career home run record...no question. Anybody who argues this doesn't really know that much about sports across sports. I'd say 56 (Joe D's hitting streak) is second. And maybe Wilt's 100-point game could be third, but I'd be open to other suggestions. There's no sacred number in pro football...Gretzky's best record of 92 goals is pretty spectacular...Good barroom question...Like it.

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New, York, N.Y.: Wilbon,

Do you think Strahan is serious about retiring?

Michael Wilbon: I think he's conflicted...But I also think that like any other veteran, he hates camp...and has every reason to do so...

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Cheaters Paradise: Can you imagine how many of the MLB, NFL, NBA players would be exposed if they tested like cycling does? Cheaters paradise my butt. They bust people.

Michael Wilbon: They bust some people...You have no idea whether they bust a big percentage of people...Nice try.

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Baltimore: What do you think about Sergio Garcia's performance at the British Open? I thought it was fitting that after years of whining about Tiger getting preferential treatment, he finally had a put up or shut up moment with that 7 foot putt to win the British Open. And we all knew he was going to miss it. What does he whine about now?

Michael Wilbon: You said it...so I don't need to. And you said it perfectly. Thank you.

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Chevy Chase, Md.: Welcome back. Why do you guys pick on Dan LeBatard so much?

Michael Wilbon: Because it's fun...for us and for him...We love Dan...We're friends, in case you didn't know...

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Washington, D.C.: What am I missing? Did the Wizards really trade away the right to a potential great player in Navarro in order to keep the mediocre Stevenson?

Michael Wilbon: Okay, you and I think EXACTLY the same way on this...I haven't talked to Ernie Grunfeld or Eddie Jordan...and I hardly ever find myself thinking Grunfeld makes a bad move. Look at Grunfeld's talent-scouting record. He's great at knowing who can play and who cannot. Yes, I must say, without benefit of any reporting, my initial reaction is that I hate this deal...I really, really like Navarro and think he could be on the ball and get Arenas off of it, which might be one of the reasons the Wizard didn't want him...

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Herndon, Va.: Mr. Mike: Cut the NLF pre-season to just two games??!! Good lord, PTI would be just fine, but what would the 1,000s of sports-talk shows and their employees do? Do you want to cause a recession? If we can't hear for at least four weeks about prospects for the Redskins' free agent with the ingrown toenail, what do we have to live for?

Michael Wilbon: Ha ha. I hear you. Then let some people do some work and cover baseball. Not YANKS and SAWX but baseball...and golf...I hate NFL preseason. It's a joke and mainstream media people have been brainwashed to think it's important and in turn have brainwashed readers/listeners/viewers that it's important. I, just to brag, am not drinking the kool-aid.

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Boston: Are you surprised Kevin Garnett decided to come to a city you described as racist? What does Antoine Walker know about Boston, having lived and played here for eight years, that gave Garnett comfort in coming here (to say nothing of Moss, Big Papi, Manny)? Were you irresponsible for speculating that race might be an issue for Garnett, without any knowledge that it was, and interjecting an inflammatory issue onto Garnett as he comes to Boston?

Michael Wilbon: I didn't speculate and I never said or wrote than KG thought Boston was racist, so if you can find that, then bring it. Don't create garbage and put it under my name. I said I had been called a "Nigger" and spit at in Boston Garden and that generations of black people have found Boston to be unfriendly toward people of color. Got that? And if anybody thinks I'm going to apologize for being called "Nigger" to my face in Boston, multiple times. And I'm not going to be afraid to talk about the reputation of Boston--deservedly--for years of ugly behavior directed purposely as black people. And anybody who has a problem with that can just have a problem and we can go toe-to-toe, face-to-face...no problem. I also said and wrote that the reality of Boston today has to catch up with the perception of Boston that the city earned over the years. And no amount of denial on the part of people in Boston is going to change that...What I haven't seen enough of is people writing from Boston to say, "We had a problem here..and here's what's being done and needed to be done and it's a damn shame there was this sentiment for so long..."

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The Billy Goat Curse lives!: Not a Cubbies fan, but my goodness was I sad to see Soriano pull up lame last night. Were you watching? Were you immediately silent like the 40,000 people in Wrigley?

That's a big blow to their playoff chances. Good thing the play in the Central.

Also, the Mets sure look good with Castillo in the No. 2 hole, no? And Milledge as the fourth outfielder when Beltran comes back? Should be a real slugfest down the stretch run between the Mets and Braves.

Michael Wilbon: When Soriano went down like that, I turned off the TV...Seriously, I turned the game off and didn't tune back in. My producers had to tell me this morning he's out 2-4 weeks...It certainly hurts the teams's chances of getting to the playoff. He was hitting .300, led the team in home runs with 17...it's so...so...typical...I'm pretty down about it today...Let's see what happens over the next couple of weeks.

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All-Time Records: Mike,

What about Ripken's record? That is pretty amazing to play that many games (and for the majority - all of the innings). Too me, I think that is a higher record than the home run record. Your thoughts?

Michael Wilbon: As impressive as Cal's record is, hardly anybody knows the exact number. Hell, I was there and I don't know it...Okay, I'm guessing it's 2,532...Now, I'm going to turn to Tony Reali and ask him to look it up...okay, Reali informs me it's 2,632 (without looking it up, he adds.) But my point is, most people don't know the number. Everybody knew 714, and 56, and 60 or 61...Cal's number is too evasive.

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Washington, D.C.: Wilbon,

your thoughts on Evander Holyfield getting a WBO Heavyweight Title fight? Can Holyfield actually be a champion again?

Michael Wilbon: Boxing, which I love dearly, is over as we knew it. I grew up on it, loved it as a teenager, covered it as an adult. It was so, so, so exciting for me...every fight I saw. Holyfield was such an honorable champion...He's done, the sport is done, and I'm saddened by that reality...

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Alexandria, Va.: Hey Mike,

Glad to have you back to the Chat House after some much deserved time off.

Quick question for you. Some buddies and I are headed out to Phoenix/Scottsdale in the next few weeks for a bachelor party. As an avid golfer and frequent guest to the area, do you have any golf course recommendations for us? None of us have ever been before, so any insight would be much appreciated.

Thanks!

Michael Wilbon: Do I have golf courses in Scottsdale? Are you kidding? Wee-Ko-Pa (I might have spelled that incorrectly) has two courses. Troon has 36 holes, too. They're both fabulous. We-Ko-Pa has no houses, Troon has $3 million mansions all over it. Grayhawk has 36 holes...Just start with those. I've played all of those courses (well, not the new course at Wee-Ko-Pa)...There are a thousand great courses, but those are near my house in Scottsdale and easy to get to for me...Have a great time.

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Bethesda, Md.: Michael, which do you think are the best cities in America to be a sports writer or sports columnist?

Michael Wilbon: Great question, and the one we'll end on today...It depends on how you define it...You need either a great newspaper, a community with passion for sports, and a literate community. Or some combination of those...The performance of the teams doesn't matter because it changes. Washington doesn't have a passion for sports that matches NYC, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Philly, St. Louis...but D.C. has a great newspaper (okay, I'm biased) and the most literate community in the country...All the aforementioned communities are GREAT for column writing. And there are some small communities that have to be great for it, too. Oh, I almost left out Denver and Cleveland...Cleveland especially. Teams stink, people care nonetheless. And they care passionately. You think Redskins fans are more engaged than Browns fans? You'd be so dead wrong. Seattle's gotten better over time...Phoenix now has all four teams and new arenas and big-time star athletes that makes it fertile ground...Plus, Phoenix has two big-time college programs, Arizona and Arizona State, much the way D.C. has Maryland and Georgetown...I know I've enjoyed living and working in a place that cares about pro and college sports, and issues...I write about issues in a way I could not in Chicago, my hometown, which you have so many teams (five pro teams) that you can't often wander off the beaten path and write about out-of-town things that interest you...I'm quite thrilled to work in a place where people care about a range of things and are smart about a range of things because I hate the one-team situation, which is the case in some communities...

Okay, gotta run and prepare for PTI for the first time in at least a couple of weeks...Talk to you next week...MW

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