Tuesday, March 10 at 11 a.m. ET

D.C. Sports Bog Live

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Dan Steinberg
D.C. Sports Bogger
Tuesday, March 10, 2009; 11:00 AM

Dan Steinberg was online Tuesday, March 10 at 11 a.m. ET to discuss the Atlantic 11's tournament prospects, whooping at Sergei Gonchar, good and bad fan behavior the latest posts from the D.C. Sports Bog. And cheese.

The transcript follows.

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Dan Steinberg: It's sort of unfathomable that I agreed to chat today and forgot that 11 a.m. on March 10 was D.C. Armor Media Day. I'm sick inside. The name of the dance team? Yeah, the Body Armor, of course.

Well, we all make mistakes, and this was mine. You better make up for it with lots of questions. If I sit here answering questions submitted by my producer while Randy Hymes is holding court at the Armory, I'll be most bitter indeed.

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Arlington, Va.: Larry Michael's wunderlic score? I'm intrigued. Did he blame it all on Jasno? Was the source meter off the charts? Was Matt Terl passively poised next to him preparing to twiddle his thumbs?

Dan Steinberg: He didn't actually take the test, but Terl did ask him a few questions from some sample Wonderlictitude. There was one question about integers, and Larry said "what's an integer?", or something like that, and then refused to answer. I have it on my TiVo. I really need to go back and transcribe the dialog. It was the highest of high comedy. He did do fairly well on the vocab questions.

I hear the Source Meter has been back in full force, though sadly I don't always remember to watch.

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Arlington, Va.: Your question about whether taunting Crosby makes him play better is an interesting one. D.C. United fans have taunted Landon Donovan pretty mercilessly over the years and it certainly seems to fire him up and make him play much better against us here. The same has been true in other MLS stadia as well. So I wonder if it is better to let sleeping dogs lie or if fan groups especially simply must do what they do or cease being what they are?

Dan Steinberg: And Pens fans will tell you that Crosby has performed well when the Flyers fans have been at their worst. The taunting is fun, but it's kind of like when LeBron would play the Wiz, and you'd just sit there hoping to yourself that no one on the Wizards took a run at him, because if that happened he was guaranteed to score about 14 unanswered points in three seconds.

Nice use of "stadia," by the way. Your English teacher would be proud.

Anyhow, I never stop wondering whether fans actually affect games, or whether players say so merely to be polite. Seems to me the most tangible memories of fans firing players up often involve the visitors. (Reggie Miller in the Garden?) So I'd suggest future pacifier giveaways be limited to the 400 level, perhaps.

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The Fingerman in D.C.: So John Feinstein did the color commentary for the AU Patriot League semifinal game Sunday, which ended after 2 p.m. Then he was in Richmond to write up a column for the 5:30 p.m. GMU CAA semifinal. Has anyone else ever covered two Atlantic 11 games in two different cities like that before? Does he get some kind of special recognition from the A-11 poll? And did he get a police escort to make sure he got to Richmond on time, or does he travel by helicopter?

And you're right--A Pens-Caps series would be great for D.C. sports and great for the NHL and completely insane. I just hope it doesn't come in the first round, because that scares me a little as a Caps fan.

washingtonpost.com: John Feinstein: A Long Shot Comes Through for the Patriots (Post, March 9)

Dan Steinberg: The way the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings are, it's not hard to imagine that series taking place in the first, second or Conference finals rounds. Just seems to me like these things tend to happen in the first round. That's what I'm counting on, anyhow. Would be bonkers.

I'm pretty sure Kathy Orton has done multiple doubleheaders in different cities this year. I once covered a Navy game in Annapolis and a Mason-Delaware game in Fairfax on the same weekend day. But Feinstein logged way more miles.

Speaking of John, whom I admire greatly, was it really a surprise when we were watching that "The House That Abe Built" video at the Abe Pollin luncheon yesterday, and after Marion Barry and Adrian Fenty and Wes Unseld, suddenly there's Feinstein talking on the screen? (No, it wasn't.)

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Please help!: This is driving me crazy. I have been to two Caps-Pens games this year and I don't know the answer to this question: why do Caps fans "hoot" when Gonchar has the puck? Is this leftover from his DC days? I am a newer DC resident and Caps fan, so I feel out of the loop on this one.

Dan Steinberg: I'll throw this out there to the audience. I've had multiple people suggest to me that this is a case of faulty hooting, and yet it persists.

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Wilmington, N.C.: What do you think about The Post's online and print Sports departments coming together under one roof?

Dan Steinberg: Hey Jamie.

I have certain concerns about what this means for our printed product, which still carries the freight. But it's nice to feel like you're not on the losing side of history, for a few days anyhow.

Our online and print staffs have long been divided: the former in Arlington, and the latter in D.C. This week, sports entered the vanguard by welcoming our online folks over into our office space. This means that all those depressing empty buyout desks have been filled. It also means we can all talk to each other, which is nice.

It also means that we're slamming all our print stuff up on the Web site whenever it's ready. Tomorrow's big print story about the Radford basketball team, by Zach Berman? Yeah, that'll be on the site momentarily.

So the concern is that every single thing in the print product will be available on the Web, for free, like 16 hours earlier. Why buy the newspaper, at that point? For the massage parlor ads? But whatever, we press on.

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Chantilly, Va.: Dan: What happened to George Mason last night? Bad time to play their worst game in two years.

They've had another good season but it will end in the NIT.

At least they'll never have to look at Eric Maynor again.

Dan Steinberg: They do play some nice defense at times, don't they? Could use a bit more offensive firepower.

The Pats really weren't that far from being in the at-large conversation. If they had won those tight tight tight road games at blah teams like Madison and Delaware, and then maybe pulled out the BracketBuster against Creighton, that would be enough to be in the discussion, right? As of yesterday, they had the best RPI in the DMV.

Regardless of the way last night's game unfolded, I think a 20-win season, a CAA final appearance and an NIT berth would have seemed ok at the start of the year. This will also be the end of the last of Mason's Final Four guys, with Chris Fleming and John Vaughan done after their NIT title run.

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Washington, D.C.: What's a good cheese to bring for the office on a Friday afternoon around 4 p.m.? Sort of a nice "occasion" cheese but not too heavy, and good to eat with normal crackers or whatever.

Dan Steinberg: Wow, seriously? A cheese advice question? Does this have anything to do with the 5 pm Patriot League final start?

Let me start with a correction: for an "occasion" cheese, you really want to use a crusty bread or a nice baguette, not crackers. Crackers, according to cheese master Steven Jenkins, are more likely to overwhelm the flavor of the cheese. You're not buying nice cheese so that you can taste a bit of dairy goodness underneath your salty bread product, you're buying nice cheese to taste nice cheese.

Ok, having taken care of that, I find you can't go wrong with some of the Spanish Sheep cheeses. They mix "interesting" with "popular" and "affordable" about as well as anything. Manchego is old hat to so many people now, but the lightly smoked Idiazabal or some of the three-milk blends (we called it Queso Iberico back in the day) are great, as is Mahon. I'm about five years out of the loop, though.

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Washington, D.C.: Dan, buy the paper for the design that keeps certain folks gainfully employed - for the next 6 months anyway.

Dan Steinberg: Sorry designers. That's a good point. And the graphics. We have a fairly incredible "history of NCAA tournament team performance by seed" graphic planned for our special section next Monday. That'd be a good day to buy the paper.

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Man Hat Tan: Dan, what would you rather see (personal and professional reasons both count):

-'Skins sign T.O.

-Caps win Stanley Cup.

-Maryland goes on tear, reaches Final Four.

-Gilbert returns next season 100 percent, angry, and blogging again.

-World's Tastiest Cheese Factory and Store open across the street from WaPo HQ.

-Curling World Championships relocated to Verizon Center.

Dan Steinberg: Great question.

1) Caps win Stanley Cup. The travel would be miserable, especially if it's San Jose or something, but Caps fans use computers. A lot. And a Cup win would reverberate for years, which none of the rest of these necessarily would.

2) Gilbert, assuming the team can win. At his best, there was no better, for professional reasons. It would also make me personally happy, because his and the team's downfall can't be blamed on mismanagement or incompetence or venom, just bad luck.

3) T.O. Guaranteed one traffic monster per week. And I actually think it would make the team better, at least for one season. Though that's obviously a dead issue now.

4) Terps. Surprising, but college basketball just hasn't been a big winner on our site, and so much of the tourney stuff happens on weekends, when traffic is down. Also, the Final Four is in Detroit. Have I said that when we were in Detroit for the Skins-Lions game, the casino wouldn't let me in because I had a computer bag. And the coat check was 'closed for the season.' I asked the woman at the front desk if I could at least hand her $100, so I could feel like I accomplished something. She didn't even laugh.

5) Curling and cheese (tie). No traffic in that stuff.

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Blacksburg, Va.: Hey Dan, Thanks for the chats.

What do you think VT has to do this week to make it in (barely, I'm sure)? Some say they need the automatic bid (win the ACC Tournament), others say getting past UNC would be enough. What do you think?

Dan Steinberg: There's NO WAY they need to win the tourney. This has made me furious for weeks. Our paper (and others) have variously suggested that Georgetown, Tech and Maryland would need to win their tourneys to make the tourney. Even for Georgetown, I still say four wins and a trip to the final would make a dang strong case, but for Tech or Maryland? I mean, if Maryland is on the bubble, and then beats N.C. State, Wake and Duke, how is that not enough? For Tech, it would be Miami (bubble team), UNC (1 seed) and Florida State (tourney lock), right? That's clearly enough.

For Maryland and Tech, the tougher question is whether two is enough. Really can't answer that without knowing what other teams do. But a win over UNC is a mighty good argument.

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Washington, D.C.: How much do the Redskins/Ovechkin get paid to do those stupid Eastern Motors ads?

Dan Steinberg: Web producer Paul says "Not nearly enough."

I'm not sure if there's cash involved, but they all drive around pretty crazy Easterns cars. The Easterns guy, Robert Bassam, is some kind of marketing genius, though. did you notice that the Ovechkin Easterns spot was the No. 1 viewed automobile YouTube clip in Canada yesterday? No joke. Any time Canadians are talking about your D.C. auto dealership, you've accomplished something.

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Alexandria, Va.: Don't you mean every day is a good day to read the paper?

Dan Steinberg: Well, you should of course buy the paper every day. I meant Monday would be a good day to buy two copies. Thanks for the correction.

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Rockville, Md.: Can we expect a Georgetown-Maryland NIT match up in the first or second round? Whose court ?

Dan Steinberg: Actually I'm hoping for Mason-Maryland. That might be overly optimistic too, but I think Georgetown and Maryland would both be allowed to host an opening game, maybe two.

Mason Maryland would be fascinating, though, especially with Mason's habit of recruiting tons of local kids, and Gary Williams's habit of making snide remarks about "mid majors." I was trying to imagine what would happen while watching the Patriots last night. I think they'd be very, very evenly matched, but Mason would probably have greater motivation and less jersey popping. I guess I'd say Mason by two.

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Greenbelt, Md.: Re: the "hooting" for Gonchar...it's more of a "whoop whoop" technically, and dates back to the days of Larry Murphy. While being a great offensive defenseman, he was known to have a defensive lapse or two from time to time which led to the "whooping" whenever he'd touch the puck. It's carried on to other former Caps making their returns to DC, but Gonchar is definitely the most prominent -- because, not only was he a prominent Cap for so long, but also because he quite spectacularly gave the series away to Pittsburgh in overtime of game 6 in the 2001 conference quarterfinals.

Dan Steinberg: There's the answer.

But some fans object, right? Why the objections, I guess?

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Charlottesville, Va.: Dan, Glad to see GW finally stopped getting votes in the Atlantic 11 poll. Did you take Karl Hobbs's vote away?

Dan Steinberg: For those of you who don't vote in the Atlantic 11, we have a fairly bare-bones voting page, and it's pretty easy to accidentally vote for the wrong team, especially when three local teams have "George" at the start of their name. I'm assuming that's been the problem.

More worrisome to me is that lots of people voted Virginia in this week, and that wasn't a mistake. Look, they're 10-17. I don't care if they beat Maryland three times in a row, you can't just ignore the fact that they've been a bad basketball team this year. Take the loss out on Maryland, but don't use it as a credit to Virginia. How is Mount St. Mary's not among the 11 best teams in the area? Outrageous.

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Fans changing games: Back at RFK I had Nats tickets in the first row about 30 ft. past 1st base. During one game (I think he pitched for the Mariners at the time), J.J. Putz came in from the bullpen. About 15 of us all across the first row mercilessly savaged him by mispronouncing his last name in a yiddish fashion (you can imagine). The result was a Putz meltdown, Nats rally, and win. I am convinced we had a huge amount to do with it.

Dan Steinberg: Funny story, but really, if you were on the Chair of Truth and you knew that you'd get 40,000 free knishes if you answered correctly, and the question was "what would have happened in that Putz game if you and your friends had stayed quiet?" you would answer "a one-two-three inning." More credit to you, if it's true.

When I was in sixth grade or so my friends and I used to go to Division III Fredonia State basketball games and heckle the opponents. I particularly remember chanting "GOG-GLES, GOG-GLES" at one guy who, get this, wore goggles. All game long. We were SURE we were influencing the game. Then I talked to my parents later, who were sitting like six rows behind us, and they hadn't even heard us. That experienced ruined me from heckling for the rest of my life.

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Washington, D.C.: What are the odds of an Obama appearance at the A.U. game on Friday?

Dan Steinberg: Um, a LOT lower than the Odds of a Mike Wise appearance.

Though I was glad to see the Times report on Obama at Opening Day odds. Nothing makes for a great Opening Day more than extra security lines.

The second most-memorable moment of last year's Opening Day will forever remain GWBush's first pitch, correct?

Also, the only sporting event my two-year old daughter has ever attended live remains last year's Patriot League final at Bender. Still haven't decided if we're gonna make it two ina row.

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Brooklyn, N.Y.: What is your stance on fighting in the NHL? I think it's dumb. Thanks.

Dan Steinberg: Well, I don't regularly punch any of my co-workers, nor do I punch staffers from the Washington Times or the D.C. Sports Box. Though they deserve it, for ripping off my name. But there's no great tradition of newspaper people punching bloggers who rip off their names.

I feel about this like I do about the fourth Idol judge and the execrable "wild card" round: yes, keeping things fresh and appealing to new viewers is important, but you can't do something that will so agitate your longest fans that they might go away and not come back. You have to find a solution that works for old and new.

Speaking of hockey, I just received an email with the subject line "GO CAPS" and this text:

Just kidding - DC sports are a joke. Pens win. Steeler fans outnumber Skins in their own house. Maybe you can cheer for the Ravens - oh wait - we own them too. Love, Jim

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RE: Surprising, but college basketball just hasn't been a big winner on our site...: this may be because you cater to the Terps at the cost of the other programs so readers/supporters of those clubs go elsewhere for their news.

Add that together with the Terps being a shadow of what they once were and the declining basketball numbers on your site make perfect sense.

Dan Steinberg: I didn't say "declining."

And I don't agree with you, in any way. Look at the message board threads on the Hoyas board, or the Mason board. Try to find an American board. Heck, look at the traffic on our Terps Insider blog compared to our pro team blogs. That's why the numbers are lower; because fewer people care.

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Western Alexandria: Just a reminder to folks -- your hate of the other team/star should be less than the love of your team.

Thanks.

Dan Steinberg: True, but you can only make so many signs that read "I Heart Ovie," plus if you brought red roses to the arena that might be weird. Unlike pacifiers.

Actually, some fan once did give a bunch of red roses to Sergei Fedorov. And it was weird.

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Winchester, Va.: The so-called fans who "whoop" Caps or ex-Caps should be run out of the building. My wife often had to restrain me from assaulting them when they did it to Murphy. A lot these doofuses know; he left here and won something like 4 Stanley Cups and is in the Hall of Fame.

Dan Steinberg: Caps fan on Caps fan violence would not help my argument that we host a nobler breed of fan in this region. But thanks for the comment.

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Cleveland Park, D.C.: How true are the rumors that President Obama will be throwing out the season opening pitch for the Nationals? And if true, how do you think he'll do?

Dan Steinberg: How true are they? Uh, 74 percent?

I think he'll do better than Caron Butler, that's for sure. Caron made a big show about how he was gonna go back last year and try to redeem himself, but I don't think it ever happened.

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Arlington, Va.: Steinmeister:

I heard a podcast proclaiming that the D.C. sports fan was actually the most depressed one (in terms of cities) in the U.S.: no championships since '92, not many playoff appearances. What do you think?

Dan Steinberg: Here's the problem: so often, these rulings are based on "four pro league" stats. That means you have to have a hockey team and an NBA team, but MLS and college sports don't count. Thus, we ignore Maryland's national championships in men's and women's hoops, the Mason and Georgetown final four runs, and the fact that D.C. United was a title monster for much of a decade.

Now, we definitely have plenty of reasons to hang our heads, but even the Redskins have made the playoffs twice in four years, the Wizards four straight years, and the Caps are working on two straight division crowns.

And as chat producer Paul writes in IMs to me, "Cleveland hasn't won a title since 1964! Never even been to a Super Bowl!"

Add to that the fact that the NFL franchise leaves and then wins a title, the Indians being a subject of national ridicule and losing that awful World Series, etc, and Paul concludes that "Cleveland fans would love to have the 'misery' of DC fans."

But since they don't have an NHL team, they don't count? Nah, I say they still count.

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Three Desks Over: The plural of stadium is stadiums, not stadia.

Dan Steinberg: This chat is doing gangbusters traffic inside the Washington Post building.

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Fairfax, Va.: The Caps have lost 4 straight. The Wizards are on a current winning streak of 1. Isn't it about time to start blogging about the Wiz again? I want to know what it feels like for Javaris Crittenton to sign autographs. He probably has one of the most time-consuming signatures in sports. You haven't even given us any hair style updates after Nick Young just shaved his head. Can you give us Wiz fans a little something to enjoy while this dreadful season finally winds down?

Dan Steinberg: Well, the Wiz have been out of town. That's a good excuse, no?

I might have written this before, but Antonio Daniels's departure had an unexpectedly significant impact on that locker room's bloggability, in my point of view. He wasn't the star of the tomfoolery, but somehow he was the glue that made it all stay together. In my memory, anyhow. Haywood was also huge. It just isn't the same.

But this is a slow week, with the Caps gone, so I'll try to go over there at some point.

I think Bald Young is interesting.

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Arlington, Va.: Adam Dunn seems to be a real comic. In addition to being a great player, will his sense of humor be a big lift to a team like the Nats? Will help loosen them up and relax so they can play their best?

Dan Steinberg: I think the better question is "how many games under .500 would the Nats finish if they were loosened up, relaxed and playing their best?"

In my limited experience, wins make players loosen up and relax, and losses make them act like parents chaperoning a girl scout trip to see the Jonas Brothers. Dunn, though, should be a major lift to the media members forced to cover this team during the month of August.

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Fairfax, Va.: Now that T.O. will be in your hometown of Buffalo, you're not going to pack up and leave us, are you? Although, I won't be surprised if you do considering all the blogging material T.O. would provide in a small town market. Will he do sit-ups in front of the media in -12 degree weather? Will he cry for Trent Edwards and then later accuse him of being to buddy-buddy with Lee Evans? You know what? Just go.

Dan Steinberg: I am jealous, for sure. It's hard to imagine the people of Buffalo turning into T.O. lovers, but it's also easy to imagine some of his antics getting less attention than they would in more robust media markets. Unless the Toronto media decide he's one of their own. Maybe then Don Cherry can get involved.

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Washington, D.C.: So, Flip Saunders, huh? Do you think he'll bode well for your blog traffic? And how about as a coach, thoughts? I feel like he could bring Defense to the District, but hopefully the offense won't suffer.

Dan Steinberg: If he can get them to win, that'd be fine.

I find it highly amusing when Wizards fans say Flip Saunders isn't the one, because he wasn't able to get over that title hump. Titles? We're talking about titles? Not playoff wins, but titles? Win a playoff series, and then come back and worry about titles.

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Stuck in Philly: Hey Dan, I'm a huge DC sports fan living in Philly which is just awful. I'm thinking about going to the Caps-Flyers game Thursday, and I want to wear the most offensive thing possible to Philly fans.

Advice? Will my health insurance cover ambulance rides from the stadium?

Dan Steinberg: Yeah, this sounds like a great idea. Why don't you also wrap yourself in raw cheesesteak meat?

Dunno, a picture of the three Super Bowl trophies? The whole World Series thing makes that a bit less effective, I'd think. Hard to do much with hockey clothing that wouldn't be well countered with a "Game 7" response. I've also never been sold on the "Philly is a pit!!!!!??!?!?!?" angle, because, maybe you've heard, there are some parts of D.C. that aren't exactly Georgetown-like.

Maybe you should just be really nice to them and try to play the confusion card.

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Dan Steinberg: Yeah, I'm gonna go now and respond to more emails telling me I'm encouraging obnoxious, decline-of-civilization-encouraging fan behavior. Pittsburgh fans are also big computer users, turns out. Till next week...

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