D.C. Sports Bog Live: Fear and Loathing in Viera

Dan Steinberg
D.C. Sports Bogger
Tuesday, February 24, 2009 11:00 AM

Dan Steinberg will be online Tuesday, Feb. 24 at 11 a.m. ET to discuss the Atlantic 11, Nats spring training and his latest posts from the D.C. Sports Bog.

Submit your questions and comments before or during the discussion.


Dan Steinberg: Hey everyone. It's been an exciting week, as I watched my traffic numbers crater while enjoying the charms of Viera, earned nasty e-mails from Penguins fans in exchange for merely enjoying the happiness that is Ovechkin-Crosby, and missed Gilbert Arenas's first public words in weeks. "Hey," he reportedly said to reporters yesterday.

I'm willing to discuss all that, plus whether or not Maryland would beat Georgetown if the teams played tomorrow. (My guess: Yes in College Park, no at Verizon, maybe at the Cap Centre.)


New York: Dan, how could you have missed the convergence of Chris Cooley and Alexander Ovechkin at the Patriot Center on Saturday night? You're slipping.

Dan Steinberg: Well, I knew it was happening, and I posted some photos provided by one of the PR companies that worked the fight early Monday morning. Was that really not good enough?

I'm still trying to catch up with Mike Easton, the "D.C.'d up" fighter who won a UWC title in the headlining bout, against an opponent who volunteered like two days before the card.

Whether it would have been worth it for me to drive to Fairfax to take paparazzi photos of Cooley and Ovechkin, nah, I'm pretty sure it wouldn't have been. One of the principals was sure to blog all about it (he did, early yesterday) and the other hasn't given me more than a four-word answer in 2009.


Rockville, Md.: My 13-year-old son and I are going to National Spring Training the last weekend in March. I hear that players are a lot more accessible there than during regular season games. What are the best places to get autographs before and after the games? Also, we have 3rd-row seats just beyond the Nationals dugout? Is it okay to try and pass something into the dugout to get autographs during the game?

Dan Steinberg: A question about Viera! Woo hoo!

To be honest, the autograph willingness varied wildly while I was there. One day, I marveled at some of the guys signing over and over and over again: Wily Mo, Bergmann, Manny, etc. The next day, I saw a prominent Nats pitcher refuse an autograph without making eye contact; I was told he had turned down a young girl the day before. And my final day there, I saw some players say no, then joke to each other (once out of earshot of the fans) in profanity-laced words about how they weren't getting paid to do that. I nearly vomited.

But fans there told me that the Nats is well known as a great spot for autograph seekers, and before games start at least, there are tons of opportunities to get close to the players. Sadly, I wasn't there for any games, so I can't offer any sort of help to you on your specific question. Anyone?


No Mets Fan in Nationals Park!: Dan, I really like the name, Nationals Park. I hope they don't change it to something stupid like GEICO Park. That would be really bad in my estimation.

Dan Steinberg: Well, it likely won't be named after a bank, if I had to guess.

It's fine to like the name, and obviously I share the nostalgia for parks named after people or things instead of obscure dot.coms, but look, those days are gone. I grew up with Rich Stadium in Buffalo, which was "Rich" as in "Foods," if I'm not mistaken, and once the name was around long enough we all got attached. The Q in Cleveland is a solid enough name, and no one has to worry about the specific commercial interest behind that letter. People will do the same with GEICO Park. The Cave, maybe?


Chantilly, Va: I loved all your Nats related Bog postings, but was bummed that they drew far less interest than the other teams. So what can I, as just one reader, do to artificially inflate numbers on the Sports Bog?

Dan Steinberg: I'm glad to have a chance to address this, since I don't want to appear vindictive by devoting a whole post to the topic.

I didn't spend a crazy amount of money or come up with crazily wonderful material in Viera, but it was a pretty typical road trip for me: three days, about 20 posts, a few videos, etc. When I've done these things in the past, for basketball or the Wizards or the Caps or whatever, it's generally been good for traffic. This time, I dropped, right away, and never recovered, even after many Nats fans clearly knew where I was and what I was doing.

Now, is it possible they were all distracted by the Frowny storyline? Sure. Is it possible it was just too early for Nats fans to be hyped over their team? I guess, though our traffic for Redskins Training Camp has always been swell.

I don't think this is a disaster--the fan base will explode when the team is good--and I don't think a lack of interest in poorly taken goofy photos is great evidence, but I do think it's interesting, in light of everything else that's been written about interest in this team.

As for inflating my numbers, don't worry about it. I know that Nats interest will be there when they get good, and I want to have a minor stake when that happens, so I'll be out there this summer. Just leave me some comments. Let's me know that someone's out there.


Silver Spring, Md.: It is not a tough choice tonight. No need to cover Maryland v Duke. You better be at the Caps game!!

Dan Steinberg: MD-Duke is tomorrow. I'll be there. Not sure about tonight. Someone has to feed the ravioli to the two-year old at home. Does it count if I arrive during the second period?

Also, don't forget AU-Navy tomorrow night. Serious implications in the Atlantic 11, where the Eagles are an all-time high No. 4 this week. Would be interesting to see what would happen if Virginia Tech played AU or Navy at their home courts.


Alexandria, Va.: Did your traffic numbers really drop off while you were in Viera? Seemed like the number of comments jumped. Not the same thing, I understand...

Dan Steinberg: Yeah, I wish I could make the numbers public, but I can't. On my blog, at least, there is absolutely no (observable) correlation between my traffic and my comments. Bear in mind that my daily traffic is in the five figures, and my daily comments are in the 40 or 50 range, so 30 more comments (denoting, I guess, 30 more clicks) doesn't really register.


Alexandria, Va.: Dan, what would it take for the Washington Post to actually print the scores of the Big South teams that are ranked in your Atlantic 11? I mean if they are good enough to be ranked in the Atlantic 11 and are considered local, shouldn't the Post at least print their scores?

Occasionally I will see some of the Big South teams mentioned if they are playing a local ACC team like Virginia Tech or Maryland. But this past weekend Radford beat VMI to capture the Regular Season title in the Big South and there was no mention of it in the paper. Not even a box score.

From a disgruntled post reader and fan of the Radford University Highlanders. GO RU!

Dan Steinberg: Will pass this along.

Couple things here. The scores should always, always appear, both for the Big South and most any other DI team. The Big South scores, I believe, would appear in the "area" section at the top of the scores. There are three editions, so it's possible that you've gotten an early paper that doesn't have later games.

Box scores are a different issue; they take up a lot more space. For those, we're limited to (I think) Navy, American, GW, Howard, Georgetown, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech and George Mason. The agate space in the paper is shrinking, not growing, with our space issues, so I wouldn't count on seeing any Radford boxes. Washingtonpost.com?


Reston, Va.: What if I were to get one of my buddies in Pittsburgh or Montreal to set up some kind of computer script that gave you thousands upon thousands of hits? I hear they are good at that kind of thing.

Dan Steinberg: That would be great. In exchange, I promise to wear an Australian hat with a little flag in it and sunglasses to work every day. Thanks.


Tip for Rockville Nats Fan: I think an MLB rule forbids players from signing autographs during a game, even in spring training, and security probably wouldn't let you pass anything into the dugout anyway. In any case during games players are supposed to be concentrating on the game being played, maybe picking up information that might be useful during the season, rather than signing autographs.

(I know, I know, that's why I said "supposed to be concentrating.")

Dan Steinberg: Ok, so that seems unpromising. But I feel pretty sure you'll find a place to get lots and lots and lots of autographs.


Name names: If some of the Nationals players have a bad attitude towards the fans, we should know that. It would definitely impact my decisions on where to spend entertainment dollars. If they don't think that being paid an average salary of $3.1 million is enough to warrant treating the fans right, I'll find some athletes that don't have contempt for me to support.

Dan Steinberg: The pitcher I saw was refusing to give an autograph to a middle-aged man who was there all week, asking players multiple times. I don't have much sympathy for him. That man told me the same pitcher had refused to sign for a little girl, which to me is a more serious offense, but I didn't see it so I don't want to name his name.

As for the guys laughing about not getting paid to sign, we were all walking back to the clubhouse from the practice facility, and they didn't know who I was. I think it's fair for me to say what I heard, but I just don't feel comfortable singling those people out.


Viva Viera: Will do on the comments. But, dude, you got paid (presumably) to fly to a warmer clime, watch baseball, and blog about it. I'm guessing that there are plenty of people who'd welcome the opportunity to be in your shoes.

On another note, I have to admit that I was envious earlier in the week when I read about how Caps fans outnumbered Penguins fans at a recent game. I've lost track of the number of times I've gone hoarse trying to shout down Mets or Phillies fans at Nats games. Guess that the bandwagon fans will hop on as the team improves. In the meantime, Nats fans, how about protecting the house?

Dan Steinberg: I had fun. No complaints. But I feel the self-imposed daily guillotine of failure hanging just over my neck, and The Post doesn't let me expense Xanax, and I don't know another way to judge success and failure other than the daily number that haunts me from my inbox.

And yes, I'm as convinced about this as I am about anything in the world: when the Nats inevitably get good, this town will like them, and if the Nats one day get great, this town will go crazy. Trying to make things better in the stands before that is likely an impossible mission.


Autograph City: "The next day, I saw a prominent Nats pitcher refuse an autograph without making eye contact;"

Wait, what? The Nats have a prominent pitcher?

Dan Steinberg: Let me fix that.

"Pitcher whose name I had heard of"


Aldie, Va.: Dan, my wife and I need you to settle an argument - after Sunday's Caps game, we disagreed over the color of Crosby's eyeliner - she says Rich Sable, I say Lucious Lime. You were there (and your consultant was in the Penguins locker room) - which color was it?

Dan Steinberg: And with that, the Washington Post will likely lose yet another subscriber with Western Pennsylvania roots. Thanks a lot.

Anyhow, didn't you ever go through that phase in high school where you painted your fingernails black and wore eyeliner? No? That was just me? Ok.


Bethesda, Md.: Did you hear Adam Dunn on that Junkies Friday morning? That interview was great, he is a funny guy. And those kind of things are usually perfect for the blog...

Dan Steinberg: I did not hear it, but my friends at Nationals Review posted some quotes, and they were good ones. (Link here: http://nationalsreview.wordpress.com/2009/02/20/big-donkey-talks-to-the-junkies/". Best quote, after EB asked him whether he could sense where the catchers are:

"Nah, just, I mean, you can hear em. Like, you can hear the fat ones."

Look, with those kind of things, either you have it or you don't. Either you're willing enough and sharp enough to give an entertaining interview that makes people smile without doubting your commitment to the seriousness of the game, or you aren't. Dunn will be, by a gazillion miles, the best thing in that clubhouse for the D.C. Sports Bog since it was launched 2.5 years ago.


Washington, D.C.: Dan - I'm an undergraduate psychology major with delusions of psycho-analytic grandeur, and I find your blog fascinating. Have you slowly spiraled into depression over the last year or so, or it just that the addition of these chats made it more obvious?

Dan Steinberg: Ok, this is, by far, my favorite question of all time. Thank you.

No, I've been equally depressed since I started writing for The Post. Some people encounter pressure and rise above it, producing results that are just bafflingly competent. See: Derek Jeter, Tarik El-Bashir. Others encounter pressure and turn into mashed yams. See: A-Rod, me. A-Rod responded with the Juice, and I respond by repeating asking my bosses to fire me and by applying for jobs writing press releases for obscure non-profit organizations.

(Dear obscure non-profit organization HR people: I'm available. Call me.)

I've tried to give the illusion that I have fun in my blog, but for some reason I haven't felt the need to do so in these chats. So don't go telling my blog readers and spoiling their enjoyment.


Washington, D.C.: Dan - who is the best Washington Post beat writer?

Dan Steinberg: Wow. Now this could definitely earn me some enemies.

Can I slightly avoid the question and instead ask another one: what Washington Post beat writer has done the most admirable job of building a massive blog community based on the presumed size of his team's fan base? Steven Goff, hands down, game over. Goff's blog traffic battles with the biggest of big boys on our site, and that's not what you would necessarily guess from something focused on D.C. United. He's dedicated to the online world, plugged in with the team, and he knows the sort of major (and minor) details that fans want to know.

But that's just blog-based. All of our beat people do great work in very, very trying circumstances.

Except Tarik. He's a joke.


washingtonpost.com: Chris Cooley: Man O War


Pierre McGuire: Those Capitals were using potty mouths towards my boyfriend Sidney Crosby.

Dan Steinberg: Homophobic noun aside, they were. And did you see what Crosby said yesterday, Sir Pierre?

"He taunts and does those things. I don't think that's the way to play. I'm all for playing hard... he plays hard. There's no doubt. He's a tough guy to play against, but he doesn't need to take runs. He went at (Malkin's) head probably three shifts before he went after me. He's hitting to hurt guys in the head."

When I asked McGuire after the game about the comments, though, he downplayed them, saying it was just typical NHL stuff.

And I know many players would be appalled if they saw it phrased this way, but stuff like that is just tremendous for the game. Malkin-Ovie recedes, but Crosby-Ovie makes a comeback. No sports fan needs an excuse to watch playoff hockey, but sometimes we all need a reason for watching the 62nd regular season game, or whatever it is, and you can't stay away from as beautiful and natural a storyline as this one.

In one final note, when NBC puts mics on these guys and then plays the blandest soundbites, it really makes you wish you could listen to the unedited feed just once.


Washington, D.C.: Self-imposed daily guillotine of failure... for Pooh's sake Dan, you're almost as much a prima donna as Jason LaCanfora or Tony Kornheiser. Why does the Washington Post have so many divas? Need more good, workmanlike journalists like Ivan Carter.

Dan Steinberg: Jason and I may both be divas, but trust me, it's in very different ways. Jason doesn't stare up at the Self-imposed daily guillotine of failure very often.

And hey, I was joking. Though I'll grant you that no one's ever called me "workmanlike."

But enough about me! Ask me more questions about my co workers!


washingtonpost.com: Mike Wise on Crosby vs. Ovie: When Stars Collide


Other name candidates for Wiz: This was the list.

1) Wizards 2) Express 3) Stallions 4) Sea Dogs 5) ??

I can't remember #5 and it's killing me. Luke Bogwalker, you're my only hope.

washingtonpost.com: Dragons

Dan Steinberg: I'm confused. Didn't we already do this question last week? Or am I imagining things?

Anyhow, there's the list, which is the most inscrutable thing of all time. Wizards is awful, awful, awful, and it wasn't close to the worst thing on that list.

Oh the other hand, if the franchise had become the Express, maybe our free newspaper sales would be even better than they are. And imagine the competition to get the URL ExpressNightOut.com!!!! (That's Express's Web site, if you didn't know.)


Barno, Md: Will Forsythe be attending any Maryland games this year? Or will his several year long absence from Comcast Center continue?

Dan Steinberg: Well, as long as this is all about Washington Post personalities, might as well spread the love to WashingtonPost.com's video mastermind.

Two kids, my friend, two kids. And lots of Nats video to edit. I still have about 15 minutes footage of of Balester, Montz and Zimmermann at the driving range to send in. And all of it will be ruined by the massive wind storms of Viera.

Barno, you are now a known name in the Washington Post sports editors' pod. "Hey Matt, I grabbed a comment from Terrapins Insider." "Ok, thanks. Let me guess, Barno1?"


Washington, D.C.: Dan do you find all the mean comments/jokes funny, or just mean? I'm starting to worry about you you seem so depressed lately.

Dan Steinberg: Sorry, it's mostly an act, I think.

But yeah, it's not like I celebrate when I get an email telling me I'm a no-talent hack whose 15 minutes are about to expire. Some media members enjoy that more than I do.


"The Unedited Feed" -- Just Once: Back in the 1970s the NBC Game of the Week put a wireless microphone on an umpire working an Orioles game. That wasn't common at the time, and apparently Earl Weaver didn't know or forgot that the ump was wired for sound when he came out to argue a call. The profanity was impressive, even by the standards of someone who used to earn a paycheck from the USMC. None of that went out on the game broadcast but I was working in the field at the time and copies of the unbleeped tape must have found their way to every TV and radio station in North America. Ask one of the older sportswriters about it -- I'd bet Boz has a copy on cassette somewhere.

washingtonpost.com: I'm guessing this is it: Earl Weaver gets pissed (NSFW, obviously).

Dan Steinberg: See, that's the stuff.

I know someone who's actually gotten to listen to an unedited hockey mic feed. He was asked whether it's the awesomest thing in the world. He smiled and nodded.


Silver Spring, Md.: What are you thoughts on Mayor Fenty attending a tennis tournament in Dubai that banned an Isreali player? Very poor judgment in my view.

Dan Steinberg: This is, I suppose, a bit more serious than 438 questions about me. I'm leery of mixing the two.

You can make plenty of jokes about Fenty even being in Dubai, and his travel schedule is well documented. And it's a pretty easy argument that, if you're going to travel to a sporting event halfway across the world, you might want to avoid one that's particularly controversial.

I guess the easy answer is that sports are supposed to be one place where you don't have to worry about politics, but those tournaments became political, so at that point there's really no avoiding the implication that you're endorsing the tournament by appearing. I'd have passed.

Speaking of sports and politics, did anyone see the ESPN program on Tommie Smith and John Carlos going back to Mexico City? Just fascinating. Could not look away.


the Q: Dan - "the Q" is actually Quicken Loans Arena, very close to "the P" aka Progessive Field (Indians, man I miss Jacob's Field). Friends of mine want to open a bar and name it R next door to the Q.

Dan Steinberg: I did know this, but I try to forget it. Some Cavs PR people once took me on a tour of the team's offices, which include tons of Quicken Loans propaganda.

I will say that some of the corporate sponsored stadia are more oppressively branded that others. I'm thinking now of a UFO-shaped monstrosity located within 39 miles of Washington D.C.


College Park, Md.: Dan,

Any love yet for the Maryland-Duke annual throwdown tomorrow night at Comcast Center? While Duke was the one doing the "throwdown" at Cameron a few weeks back, you should feel the buzz already on campus in College Park. Operation Scheyerface to paper the entire arena with unflattering pictures of John Scheyer is already well underway. We'll see some Bog action on this, right?

Dan Steinberg: I do plan to attend, and Rush the Court has posted about Operation Scheyerface.


Is it wrong that I feel different when fans make fun of a college kid like Scheyer than I do when they pick on a pro athlete like Crosby?

If Maryland beats Duke, are they automatically ranked by the AP next week? I think so.


Washington, D.C.: What was Gary Williams' reaction when all 42 staff members of the WaPo sports section showed up at the UMD game half a week after their paper tore him to shreds? Did he then say "It's not my job to talk to the media?"

Dan Steinberg: Aside from one brief blip, where he seemed to intentionally not answer the question asked by a WaPo employee, it was pretty much a standard post-game Gary Williams press conference. His pre-game press conferences seem more likely to yield the good stuff.


lunch: Anybody see Cerrato, Grunfield and Bowden crying together over lunch yesterday?

Dan Steinberg: It has been a tough few months for some local general managers, that's for sure. I think one of the three guys below should be grouped into a decidedly different category than the other two, but the next few months should clear that up a lot.


Chicago: Dan, can you compare athletes for a second? Last year you hung out in Beijing with alot of obscure Olympians. You just spent a few days in Viera with baseball players who make jillions of dollars a year. Are they different? Does one group care more? Or is the gentleman/jerk ratio pretty much the same? Thanks.

Dan Steinberg: From some brief conversations over a few days in vastly different circumstances, it'd be very hard to say for sure.

I think it's easier to judge their willingness to do the media. I think clearly athletes who have spent less time being hounded by sportswriters are more willing to allow themselves to be hounded by sportswriters. The baseball clubhouse, with reporters just kind of standing around in the middle of the room for long spells while the players eat, dress, change, etc., doesn't necessarily lend itself to close media-athlete friendships.

So I'm completely dodging your question. But if you ask me whether I'd rather take a cross-country road trip with a New Zealand curling player, a sponsored track star, or a baseball millionaire, I'd probably choose the former.


Calvert County: Did you know that the U.S. olympic trials for curling are taking place in Denver this very minute?

Dan Steinberg: I did not. but I interviewed a Scottish Caps fan from the birthplace of curling on Sunday. She doesn't like the sport. (Curling, not hockey.) Will post more on that in a minute.

Isn't it pretty early in Denver this very minute? I always thought curling was best in the late afternoon.


S. Rockville, Md.: Can the Bog find out John Feinstein's schedule for this week? Will he cover Maryland/Duke or AU/Navy? He has to be torn, right? Both games have A-11 implications, and he has to know that voters take his appearance at a game with utmost seriousness.

Dan Steinberg: He will be at neither, that we know of, according to WaPo credentialers.

How about a four-day spell in which the Caps play the Penguins and the Flyers, and Maryland plays Duke. I want more rivalries this week. I want Cowboys vs. Redskins, Wizards vs. Knee Surgeons, and Nats vs. FBI Agents.


Dallas: BrickBreaker tip for you Steinz - if you can make it through the 2nd time through all the screens then the balls slow down and you can score astronomically high! I'm up to 461,000 and 115 lives, and going strong...

Just thought you'd like to know going into baseball season...

Dan Steinberg: My Blackberry is hopelessly broken due to excessive coffee spillage. The P, M, N, C and A keys don't work, and possibly a few more, and the roller doesn't click. So no brickbreaker for me until that gets fixed.

But thanks. That's just amazing, and disappointing.


Washington, D.C.: How great is it to hear a little Haywood news (however small it may be)? Where does Haywood rank on your all-time boggable athletes?

Dan Steinberg: He had some good quotes in Michael Lee's story today, with the Cosby Show and jell-o references. He's one of the best quotes among D.C. athletes, that's for sure, and is possibly the best non-Gilbert quote on the Wizards.


Dan Steinberg: Ok, I think that's more than enough. You know how Jason La Canfora is always talking about what's on his iPod as he chats? I'm thinking I should pick an existential novel of the week, the way these things have been going. After each of these chats I've needed to go buy some fatty baked goods.

Anyhow, enjoy Caps-Flyers, AU-Navy, Maryland-Duke and all the rest.


washingtonpost.com: Haywood Makes Progress Wizards Center Resumes Shooting With Injured Right Wrist

Dan Steinberg: Here's the Michael Lee jell-o story.


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