D.C. Sports Bog Live: Nats, Caps, Dog Herding and More

 Dan Steinberg
Dan Steinberg (The Washington Post)

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Dan Steinberg
D.C. Sports Bogger
Tuesday, May 26, 2009; 11:00 AM

Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog was online Tuesday, May 26 to offer his wisdom and insight on the Nationals, Capitals, Hershey Bears and all the dog herding questions you can handle.

A transcript follows.

Read Dan's daily smorgasborg of the bizarre side of D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.

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Dan Steinberg: You know, since I'm doing this on my vacation day, there better be a dang lot of important questions, or else I'm leaving. I have better things to do. Like eat Skittles. About a week ago, I rediscovered Skittles, and I've been on a pack-a-day binge ever since.

Also, I'll be covering the Spelling Bee Wednesday and Thursday. Or "covering" it, I guess.

And no, I didn't make it to the weekend's sheepherding event. But I did watch lots of Nationals baseball.

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Annandale, Va.: Friday night was the one and only Nationals game I am going to make this year. Bummer result, but I had a real great time. I love it and wish I could go to more games there.

At one point Clint, the man who I hear bashed time and time again on this website, was sitting in my section. He was asking us to participate in some on-camera rally cheer that would be broadcast on the jumbotron during the next inning.

He was a real gent! He shook my hand and introduced himself!

What I'm getting at is ... why does everyone dislike Clint so much? I go to about one game a summer and every time I think he's a passable MC when he's up on the scoreboard and he proved himself to be a really personable guy.

So what's the big rub with Clint?

Dan Steinberg: I've only met Clint in person once, and I found him to be as you say. I think it's less Clint in particular than the idea of Clint. I'm trying to think of equivalents at other local teams. The Caps have that blond woman whose name I forget. The Wizards have, what, Big Tigger? Or I guess he just does the DJ'ing. Maybe others can chime in on the Clint hatred.

As to the more important part of your question, you had a great time at the game. For all my snark, and for all the continued complaints about poor concession service, closed booths, high prices, etc, I still think it's a pretty good time. Bring your own peanuts and a cup for water, like a certain sportswriting acquaintance of mine recommends, and you really don't need to spend an extra dime. Sure, you could sit on your porch and listen to a radio just as well, but it's not exactly the same.

Now, once August rolls around and you can mix in some spleen-busting humidity and mosquitoes, maybe I'd stay away. But it's still pretty fun.

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Alexandria, Va.: Please tell me Manny Acta doesn't have long for this team. How much worse do things have to get?

Dan Steinberg: Clearly I have no handle on this question. My answer last week or maybe the week before (or maybe both) was that if your team implodes through two months, superglues itself to the bottom of the NL East, chases away most of the fans and does so with one gut-wrenching loss after another, there's no particular reason to wait until late May to make a change. And that being the case, there's no particular reason to make a change at any point in this season.

But the question is still being asked, and not just by people named "Alexandria, Va." so I guess we can wait and see. Maybe this is just a ruse to keep people interested in the games for the next few months.

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Washington, D.C.: I think we're close enough to the NFL season to start talking football again, at least in theory. So what do you think about the chances of the NFL changing it's penalties for tampering? Is there any chance that an egomaniac like Dan Snyder might not tamper with a big time free agent like Haynesworth just because he'd get docked a draft pick? Seems unlikely to me ...

washingtonpost.com: The League - Should the NFL Increase Penalties for Tampering? (Washington Post, May 26)

Dan Steinberg: I think I'd recommend instead that the NFL opens up another window to allow for pre-deadline discussions, as they were considering. I mean, I have a pretty limited pool of outrage for pro sports tomfoolery, and by the time I get through steroid use and occasional crime and "student-athletes" and stadium giveaways and the state of RFK and season ticket "waitlists" and the DH and the play-in game, I just don't have much left for lunch meetings several days before lunch is supposed to be eaten.

So if the crime is stupid, the penalties are also stupid.

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Skittles warning: Don't eat the chocolate ones. Disgusting!

Dan Steinberg: I've never had a chocolate skittle. But I can't see what would be wrong with it. It sounds delicious.

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Fairfax, Va.: To jump off the earlier question: If not Manny, who? Who might be in line to be the interim manager for the rest of the year?

Dan Steinberg: Well, that'd be pretty rude to Manny, plus my sources concerning the Nats are limited to people who send me photos of spelling mistakes.

That being said, you could sort of find a parallel with the Wizards: lost season, hire a guy within the organization that has head coaching experience and actual D.C. roots. There's a guy who meets all those qualifications and happens to be the Nats' bench coach right now.

But I stick with Manny, if for no other reason than to see how happy he looks after the occasional win, and how creatively depressed his quotes can get after losses. He's a genuinely nice guy, and you know a massive (four? game) win streak is just around the corner.

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Arlington, Va.: Any chance the NFL will spank the Redskins real hard if the tampering allegations are found to be true? Maybe force Snyder to sell the team or move it to L.A.?

Dan Steinberg: No.

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Sec 114, Row E: Bog, how much of last night's blown home run call can we attribute to the fact that the umps know that Manny InActa isn't going to come out of the dugout and kick dirt on them when they worked his team over?

Dan Steinberg: You know, MASN kept showing the Zoom-in view on the tampering fan, despite saying that they weren't sure whether the umpires could see the Zoom. That being the case, I would have rathered seen the video over and over WITHOUT the zoom, to judge for myself. It was pretty close. If the umpires watched it a few times and were like, "jeez, this is pretty close," I don't understand why they wouldn't just have given up and said Sorry, can't decide, we're sticking with the call.

I would guess that dirt-kicking technique figured into their decision hardly at all.

As for "InActa," his quote last week about how yelling and screaming at adults isn't necessary or effective was a great one. Here's the highlights:

"A few people feel that that works, but it doesn't," Acta said. "Just try that at home with your own kids. I mean, that doesn't work. You don't need to yell and scream to get your point across to people. I mean, it's so silly, because how many championships did Joe Torre win in New York? Was he yelling and screaming and ripping bases and throwing them all over the place?"

I wish I knew if it were true. My bosses never yell, and I feel plenty motivated, but they have other tricks. I do sometimes, regrettably, yell at my daughter, and usually it doesn't work. But if she runs into the street, aren't you supposed to yell at her? Don't you need to reserve it until you need to actually make a point?

Of course, Adam Dunn isn't a toddler. I don't know, I'm not a pro athlete, but it seems like everyone wants a touch of fire once in a while

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Go Pens: That was nice of Hanrahan to walk in the winning run for the Pirates last week. Maybe they should call in Varlamov to catch when he pitches - he's free this spring ...

Dan Steinberg: Look, the Penguins won. They were clearly a superior team. The Steelers have a far better resume than the Redskins, at least recently.

But I don't care if the Nats go 0-162. You simply cannot talk any sort of inter-regional trash as a Pirates fan. It's like Alabama talking trash to Mississippi about illiteracy rates or something. Seriously, you cheer for the Pirates, fella.

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Chantilly, Va.: So what's wrong with tampering anyway? Like the guy isn't going to go to the highest bidder if he has to wait another day?

Dan Steinberg: Slippery slope, I guess. If it's ok the day before, then what stops it from being ok a week before, or a month before, or during the third Sunday of October.

Maybe there's a better reason than that.

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Twinbrook, Md.: It seems the local media has suddenly become very "optimistic" about the Nats, specifically their core of young pitchers. All this despite the fact that the Nats continue to have the worst record in the MLB and on most occasions their vendors outnumber their paying customers.

It takes a while for hitters to become acclimated to new pitching. I think the jury is out on this staff until August. Thoughts?

Dan Steinberg: Well, who's the local media? Boswell, Loverro, Feinstein? Yes, they all have sounded notes of optimism. MASN has a pretty well-established interest in being optimistic. The local network anchors would be optimistic about the Cleveland Spiders.

I mean, you can't possibly be more pessimistic than the actual news. Worst record in baseball, flagging attendance, misspelled jerseys, empty seats behind home plate, a Dominican disaster, etc. etc. Every media person worth a credential has already crushed them for this repeatedly. It's all about 2011, or 2093, and there are some real reasons to be at least mildly hopeful.

On the other hand, yeah, you're right, and it's not like Martis and Zimmmmm have been unhittable. There could be injuries. There could be regressions. You never know what 2011 will be like, since 2009 was never supposed to be anything remotely like this. Me, I'd be too nervous to predict anything one way or the other, but that makes for a boring column, so the big boys (and girls) have to say something.

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Bethesda, Md.: The Wizards used to have a horrible Clint-like persona called "Styles". He has been absent for a couple of years, hopefully not to return.

Dan Steinberg: Oh yeah, DJ Chris Styles. I used to talk to him. Replacement?

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Upperville, Va.: Meet any nice herding dogs this weekend? Any up close and personal encounters with sheep?

Dan Steinberg: I didn't go, I didn't go. I'm sorry. I didn't watch any of the Indy 500, either.

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Washington, D.C.: What's a sports bog? Is it the swamp upon which DC was built? Or is it the mess created by Snyder's refusal to change the team name from an ethnic slur? Or is the rut in which the Nats continue? Sports blogs I understand, sports bogs?

washingtonpost.com: D.C. Sports Bog - What the Heck is This? (Washington Post)

Dan Steinberg: It's remarkable how often I still get this question.

(And if you follow this link, you'll also see references to, for example, Brian Schneider. Yeah, I really need to update that.)

Ok, flash back to fall of 2006, I believe. I've covered Maryland football--rather ineffectually--for all of one season. I need to write one more story about Ralph Friedgen before I hand off the keys to Marc Carig (who will, in turn, hand them to Eric Prisbell). I tell Friedgen I'm leaving the world of beatwriting to start a blog.

"You know Dan," he says, "I don't even know what a Bog is."

Magic flashed in my eyes and a name was born.

I also thought there was the double-meaning you mention about D.C.'s swampy history. Hey, at least it's distinctive, right? So much so that the name is regularly misspelled.

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Bethesda, Md.:

See, David Stern is getting what he wants with Orlando waxing LeBron.

What? David Stern wants LeBron to lose? Yes he does. If Cleveland gets waxed, then LeBron gives up on Cleveland and heads to New York. Would you rather have a 26-year-old LeBron in New York or in, uh, Cleveland? Me too.

Dan Steinberg: Well, this is a great theory, except that allows you to conspiracy theorize about Stern either way in this series. I like to know which way the conspiracy is leaning before I decide whom to root for.

I think if LeBron wants to go to New York, he's going, whether or not Anderson V. figures out a way to slow down Rashard Lewis.

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Washington, D.C.: Ovechkin's first trip to Vegas next month? Any chance you have the travel budget to cover that? Seems like a very boggable couple of days ...

washingtonpost.com: Maybe Barry's going?

Dan Steinberg: I would agree with this assessment. Although you have to bear in mind that Ovechkin is a lot more generous with his time to reporters he knows well (Tarik) and reporters he'd like to know well (female TV anchors). Me, not so much.

I'm 99 percent sure Tarik is going, and no, I have no plans. The 2009 newspaper industry isn't built for two co-workers to both cover the NHL awards ceremony.

I was shocked that Ovie has never been there before.

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The Caps' Clint-like person: Are you thinking of Michelle, perchance? She's not blond (dark hair), although my seats are right near her and I must say I don't mind looking at her.

Dan Steinberg: Uh, now I'm confused. I really thought when they throw to the woman asking trivial questions to fans (in what year did Roman Polanski's "The Ninth Gate" appear while Andrei Nikolishin was busy scoring eight goals?), she had blond hair. No?

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Clifton, Va.: Hey punk, the sheep missed you this weekend!

washingtonpost.com: Dan Steinberg: Caps, Nats, D.C. United, Dog Herding and Burrito Guns (Washington Post, May 19)

Dan Steinberg: Sorry.

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Washington, D.C.: Hey Steinberg-

Since Tarik can't or won't answer this question, would you like to take a wild guess? Basically, why did the Caps lay an egg in Game 7 vs. Pittsburgh. I can't believe it was nerves but I also cant believe it was laziness or whatever. You've spoken to them since then right? I'm not being negative, just puzzled. And yeah I know Green and others were injured but they were making rookie mistakes, terrible passes. What the heck happened?

Dan Steinberg: I don't think it was either, exactly. I think they were extremely wired for the game, and they came out fine enough, for a few minutes anyhow. Like others have said countless times, if Ovechkin converts on that breakaway, who knows? Certainly, you wouldn't expect that merely changes the score to 6-3, or whatever.

It's not like the team has no heart, or showed a propensity to quit. They came down from a nasty spot against the Rangers. They came back, on the road, in Game 6. They rebounded from the late equalizer in that game to keep on trucking, and to go back home for 7 despite being outplayed for most of six games.

I just think they got down one and then two, and the Penguins--who are legitimately great--finally saw blood in the frozen water, and the Caps sort of saw the end, and it was ugly. You can run out of comebacks.

I never actually spoke to them after that night, when they expressed what you'd expect: shock, disappointment, embarrassment, whatever.

I guess what I was trying (and failing) to say here is that they were like an extremely talented but beaten-up boxer who has one more good round in him. He jumps up off the stool and has both the willingness and the courage to last for three minutes, and if he lands a few blows early you never know, but once he starts getting his nose destroyed, he just sort of realizes that he's not coming back

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Silver Spring, Md.: How about Bobby Valentine to manage the Nats? He would be great copy for you. Another gift from Japan like the Cherry Blossoms.

Dan Steinberg: I only like to write about real mustaches, not fake ones.

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Arlington, Va.: What's your take on Rob Dibble on the MASN Nats broadcasts? I was 100 percent prepared to despise him, but have been shocked to find myself enjoying him. I like his bizarre homerism, his odd stories, and the general sense that he'll say whatever crazy thing comes to mind no matter how stupid or inappropriate. He is far from a textbook TV sports announcer, and that's a welcome change from most of the corporate media landscape.

Dan Steinberg: I, too, like him. You also left out his strange fashion sense and oddly tinted glasses.

I'm not convinced about his chemistry with Bob, though. They're fairly different characters. For chemistry, go no further than Charlie and Dave.

I like all the things about Dibble you mentioned, but the incessant, flaunting use of "we" is weird and still offputting to me. I plan to ask him about this if we ever meet in person. But he's been infinitely better than I would have expected, and I think a baseball broadcast virtually demands meandering discussions of upcoming Sinatra bio-pics.

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S. Rockville, Md.: With the NCAA conducting two championships up the road near Baltimore, I'm surprised you didn't either get to the women's golf at Caves Valley where U-Va. finished eighth or accompany Wilbon to the women's lacrosse final four at Towson, especially since Maryland was undefeated heading into it, and Northwestern has a lot of Maryland ties. Seems like you could have found something new to write about instead of rehashing the Natinals inability to speel korrektly.

Dan Steinberg: Yeah, the material would have been interesting, but I always sort of weigh that against how many people would really care. No offense to any of the teams involved. Some part of me (my left shin, to be precise) wants to spend all its time covering unusual and enticingly uncovered sporting events, while other parts (brain, primarily) figure I just need to do everything I can to boost traffic.

This is, obviously, bad for journalism.

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Alexandria, Va.: re: Clint

I believe that the complaints about Clint come not from the 'once a season' fans, but from the more committed, for the love of the game, watch a terrible team in the rain fans. Clint is not part of baseball. He is there to entertain the 'once a season' fans who don't really know much about the game, and are at the stadium to be entertained, not to see the game.

Dan Steinberg: Yeah, I figured that was the case. I don't know, some of the incessant pounding background noise at every pro sporting event is just something to be expected in this day and age.

There is something to be said for quiet contemplation of noble athletics, but i go to high school games for that.

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Berryville, Va.: My herding dog is smarter than your editor.

Dan Steinberg: We're currently being bombarded with sheepherding comments.

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Lucky Dog: Nice move Dan, avoiding both Clifton and the sheepdogs.

Dan Steinberg: See?

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Manhattan, N.Y.: Here's a clue for David Stern. If your favored team has "matchup problems" against its opponent, then you don't let the opponent steal Game 1. You stop them at all costs, to give the favored team a margin of error. I know you want a seven-game series, but you can only go to the "Lakers-Sacramento 2002" well only so often. If the opponent rains threes and jumps ahead by 20, not even Tim Donaghy can do much about it.

Dan Steinberg: Coming up with Stern-related conspiracy theories is easily one of the three best parts of the NBA playoffs (the others being Lottery Selection night and the final 3.4 seconds of the game.)

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Sec 114, Row E: I'm not saying that Manny should yell and scream at everyone all the time. Of course that doesn't work. It certainly doesn't have it's place in the professional workplace.

I think guys like Larry Bowa got a bad reputation for being obnoxious and belligerent. But I think Manny could be developing the opposite reputation - he's a pushover.

I don't necessarily want him yelling at John Lannan or Adam Dunn. But Larry Vanover and Tim Welke? Yes, I think that he has to go out there now and then - just to show his players that he is sticking up for them when they get screwed.

As for the call - it's a joke. if a fan reaches over that far, it has to be interference. I think you have to give the team on the field (on defense) the benefot of the doubt when a guy is reaching over that far. Was there any doubt that he touched the ball? Of course not, I'd call interference there and forget about trying to determine whether or not the ball crossed some imaginary plane.

Dan Steinberg: Fair enough, on all counts.

And I'm sort of with you on the yelling thing. It's just part of the role. Zorn yells his brains out. Boudreau turns redder than a red-out. Tommy Soehn can do furious just swell. Eddie Jordan used to yell. It's strange, but it's part of the deal. Just doesn't seem to be in Manny's portfolio.

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Arlington, Va.: Dan, I've got a theory about baseball's unreasonably long replay process that I cooked up somewhere around the 47th minute of the review at last night's Nats game.

Baseball's umpires, threatened and offended by the encroachment of technology into their work space as they are, despise replay. As a result, they are intentionally dragging the process out for as long as possible so that the fans hate replay too and baseball gets rid of it. There's no other explanation for taking so long in last night's review, especially given that they didn't seem to get the call right (even if they ruled it a home run on the grounds that the video wasn't "conclusive," they should have been able to make that judgment inside of three minutes). What do you think, are the umps sabotaging replay, or is it really that hard to use tivo?

washingtonpost.com: D.C. Sports Bog - More Than Eight Minutes Of Your Life (Washington Post, May 26)

Dan Steinberg: Well, I wonder how far they had to walk last night. The entire operation took about eight minutes, but if the commute was two minutes in both directions, then we're down to four minutes. Now factor in, say, five replays, plus a round-robin game of rock-paper-scissors to decide who gets to hold the remote, plus a league-mandated 90-second coffee break, and really they made quick work of it.

Actually I like your suggestion. That seems possible to me.

Another thing to bear in mind is, best-case scenario, the Nats were down 2-1 with runners on second and third against a flailing Lannan. I think the Nats lose that game anyhow.

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Washington, D.C.: Mr Steinberg,

This is security downstairs we have approximately 50 very upset herding dogs of various breeds who would like to see you, now! There are several very menancing big black 175-lb bouviers who are demanding to speak with you! We are sending them up now! Good luck!

Dan Steinberg: Wait, is this my new curling, at long last?

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Colambia, Md.: What's next with the Natinals? I'm guessing that it'll be the owners names. It'll be a shame if it takes a press release mentioning the "Clerners" to make the club hire professional writers.

Though that would help with the glut of ex-Posties out there.

Dan Steinberg: As much fun as this is, and as much as you'd assume someone occasionally strolls through the gift shops to stare at the bobbleheads, Teddy Rossevelt wasn't their fault. They didn't make the dolls, they didn't ship the dolls, they didn't print the stickers. The uniforms were only marginally their fault too; sure, someone should have noticed, but it's not like there wasn't a whole lot of bad luck involved here.

All that said, I really would like to see a John Lennon Nationals Fail at some point. Lennon and Lannan are in the same ballpark.

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College Park, Md.: Does the way the Penguins are dismantling the Hurricanes make Caps players feel better or worse about the way their second round series ended?

Dan Steinberg: Oh, better, by far. After Game 6, Bruce Boudreau said the only problem with that series was that it wasn't for the Cup. I think Detroit would have a good bit to say about that, but I don't think it's a stretch to say it should have been for the East. And with the way the Penguins were pinballing around the standings in the last few days of the season, that could have easily been the case. There are some particularly surly Caps fans who won't feel better no matter what happens, but they're a small minority, and the vast majority I think would be pleased to see that they were so close with the East's best team (two years in a row)

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Rossvelt, N.M.: Steinz, is it just me or has the flopping in the NBA reached a new level? It seems like they're not even trying to pretend like they're -not- flopping anymore.

Dan Steinberg: I don't notice a change. For years and years people have tried to draw charges, and if you try to draw a charge without falling down....well, then you're not really trying to draw a charge, you're just putting your body in front of another body.

I mean, we all do this to one extent or another. I was running on Upshur Street the other night and tripped over some sidewalk, and then did an elaborate stop-drop-and-roll thing. In the darkness. With no one around. IF you're gonna fall, you might as well fall correct, is my theory.

Flopping, diving, none of it really bothers me. You're trying to gain an advantageous position, and once in that position, you're trying to cash in. I get more outraged when LeBron James acts like the defender has just reached into his torso and removed his liver with salad tongs after a normal reach-in, and then continues the act even after he's gotten the foul. Once you win the battle, you're allowed to smile about it.

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Yes! Caps-related hockey continues!: Two words that are apparently absent from today's paper: Hershey Bears!

Methinks the Sports Bog needs to report from the Giant Center on June 6 and 7!

Dan Steinberg: I thought about going up there two years ago. Then Tarik went and did a story.

I'll try to coordinate with him/Katie/Lindsay/whoever else does hockey for us, and see what we've got going on. I'm guessing someone will be in Hershey before this thing is over. Caps fans actually know these players now, and they'll be seeing several of them in D.C. pretty soon.

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Blacksburg, Va.: Agent Steinz,

I'm looking for a team to root for in the NBA's version of the Final Four. Which remaining team do do you think would provide the most bog material? It has to be the Nuggets, right ...

Dan Steinberg: Yeah, I agree. But I said this on Washington Post Live the other day, and I'll stick by it here: as much fun as it would be to root against the Lakers and Cavs right now, you have to plan long-term and actually quietly hope they advance to face each other. You would undoubtedly get massive infusions of sports-related joy to see one or both teams go down in the semis, but then the finals would come around and you'd have a tough time convincing yourself to watch Denver vs. Orlando. But if it were LA-Cleveland, you wouldn't miss a second, unless you're one of the 63 people who will immediately post a comment here about the NBA playoffs being unwatchable.

It's one of the deadest time of the year, and we simply can't afford, as sports fans, to see the NBA playoffs dismembered before the finals. Root for Kobe and LeBron. It's the patriotic move.

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Arlington, Va.: Actually, I was trashing the Caps, but yeah, it's also one of those rare occasions when the Pirates win a series ... Either way, that guy did a pretty nice impression of Charlie Sheen before he got glasses in Major League.

Dan Steinberg: Oh, my fault. I really thought you were praising the Pirates.

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Navy Yard, Washington, D.C.: Dan, were you disappointed (as I was) that what should have been a slug fest of epic proportions this weekend ended up with two pitching duels between teams not exactly known for their quality pitching? Minus Dunn's grand slam on Sunday, I was really wondering if those were truly the Orioles and Nationals on the field.

Dan Steinberg: Maybe they signed a non-aggression pact, realizing that this was their chance to finally establish some pitching bonafides, and not only to put up good pitching numbers but to win a few games. Maybe it was like an elaborate A-Rod style plot, where all 50 players were in on it together. Unfortunately, the Nats hitters forgot the non-aggression thing had expired in time for yesterday's series.

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Washington, D.C.: Clint has gotten much less screen time at the ballpark this year, so in small doses he's not too bad. They also brought in an attractive co-host (Yolanda) which helps too.

Although Dibble and Carpenter are extremely different personalities, they've worked together before and certainly have better chemistry than Carpenter and Sutton.

Dan Steinberg: I think if you went out to dinner with Clint, you two would get along famously. Trust me, Washington D.C., I know you, and I know Clint, and Clint loves Washington D.C.

As for Dibble and Carpenter, does anyone actually watch the games and switch on the radio. You hear stories, but it just seems so impractical. Charlie and Dave handle the painful jogs and the car rides, and Bob and Rob get dibs over the living room. The Internet, meanwhile, belongs to Steven on Capitol Hill and +1/2 Street and Natsfan1a1aaa1a.

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Washington, D.C.: If you're David Stern, do you go to the owners of the Nuggets and the Magic and beg them to tank the rest of their respective series? Offer them cash, offer to rig future draft lotteries, offer them anything. It seems to me that anything other than a Cavs/Lakers Finals would be horrible for the NBA, right?

Dan Steinberg: I'd guess that only Orlando-Denver would be truly horrible.

And horrible or not, more people would watch Orlando-Denver than Penguins-Red Wings, right?

It's just the possibility exists for the NBA to achieve the best thing short of Shaq rejoining the Lakers, LeBron going to NYC, MJ and Magic coming out of retirement to sign 10-days with the Knicks, who would be coached by the remains of Red Auerbach when meeting the Laker-girl-directed Lakers in the finals. It'd be sad if it comes up short.

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Springfield, Va.: "MASN kept showing the Zoom-in view on the tampering fan, despite saying that they weren't sure whether the umpires could see the Zoom"

Seriously? They have instant replay buy don't have zoom? Is this some sort of bizarre attempt to institute a program and design it to fail so that at least they can say they tried?

Dan Steinberg: I don't know if they do or if they don't, I just know that Rob Dibble didn't know. For all I know, they have see-through cam and were busy scanning the replays for attractive ladies. Or guys, I guess.

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Arlington, Va.: Went to my first Nats game of the year on Sunday and I gotta say the new beer garden is the best addition to the stadium. It definitely beats fighting 10,000 people headed for the metro at the same time!

Dan Steinberg: It's virtually impossible to imagine a sentence with the phrase "new beer garden" that doesn't also include the word "best."

I know I'm supposed to be answering the questions, not asking them, but is the beer garden open on off days?

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Warrenton, Va.: Keep July 4th weekend open sir! Three days of sheepherding trials in Berryville including large flock!

You can eat Skittles and discover the right herding breed for your family.

Dan Steinberg: Let's see, Tiger Woods vs. large flock. Well, I guess I'll think on it.

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Dan Steinberg: Ok, I really have to go. This was 90 minutes of donated time to the Washington Post. At my hourly salary, I figure they own me a Subway 12-inch sandwich, with combo thrown in.

I know not everyone cares about the Spelling Bee, but I'm gonna be doing little else for the next two days. Check the Bog in a little bit for a brief Q and A with new superstar sports columnist Tracee Hamilton, who is about 16 times funnier and 39 times more clever than me and who will have me muttering into my coffee with anger by mid-August.

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