D.C. Sports Bog Live: The Wizards, Nats, All-Star Game and Cheap Vegas Hotels
Wednesday, July 15, 2009; 11:00 AM
D.C. Sports Bogger Dan Steinberg will be online Wednesday, July 15, at 11 a.m. ET to discuss the Nats, Manny Acta's firing, the Wizards, D.C. United, the Caps, the Redskins and the latest sports news and your questions and comments about his latest bog posts.
Dan Steinberg: Hey peoples. I'm in a hotel room at New York New York, where the Internet is a lot shabbier than it should be. And yes, I've been up since 5:15 Vegas time, since I'm still on East Coast toddler time. I have nothing to do until the Wizards hold their morning shootaround (yes, they have shootarounds for Summer League games), so keep things interesting.
And if anyone has anything they want to know about the Wiz Summer Leaguers, whether serious or outlandish (like about Mike Miller's former pet monkey), lemme know. Also, if you have any hot WNBA gambling tips.
Palisades, D.C.: So now that First Fan called out the Nationals as the only team not giving fans hope, will the Lerners give the ok for at least one high profile trade?
Dan Steinberg: Well, he did say the Nats were young, and that they have a new ballpark.
Chico has fairly well disabused the world of the notion that the Nats are young. Their starting pitchers are young, but that's about it, right? Is there a site that compiles total age by inning for MLB teams?
Anyhow, I don't think the Nats will base their personnel decisions on the musings of a White Sox fan.
Seattle, Wa.: I don't think the Home Run Derby was long enough. Do you think next year they can go four hours?
Dan Steinberg: I'm proud of two things:
1) I didn't watch one pitch of the Home Run Derby
2) A vegetarian won
Actually, I don't know if I should be proud of not watching. If a Nat was involved, I would have watched. Job concerns have turned me into some weird automaton who only watches sports when D.C. teams are involved. It's probably not a great career decision. I need to work on that
Also, shouldn't they make a three-week exception on steroid use for Derby purposes? Or at least move in the fences or something? The Derby seems like a real remnant of the Steroid Age. They should have a Slap Single Derby next year.
Burke, Va.: Nice to see the Prez at the All Star game last night. He barely threw an acceptable pitch that didn't embarrass him. Geesh, why does throwing a ball 60 feet, 6 inches seem to be so hard for so many? I think it is time for Obama to pay a visit to Nats Park. His absence to date is beginning to smack of 'diss'. He doesn't have to stay all game, of course, but drop by for the President's race and a few innings of ball.
Dan Steinberg: I agree with you. I'm sure I would find something to complain about if he actually went, but he lives within a few miles of two major sporting arenas, he's a massive sports fan, and he's extremely popular in this town. I don't see the downside.
Did you see today's Washington Times item that Etan Thomas is rumored to be a basketball playing partner of the President's? That will be a fun story to read if it ever comes out.
Washington, D.C. in the 35332: So I say the only way 106.7 The Fan will get me to listen now is when we hear the Steinbog radio show. I would be happy to call in for a discussion on various Nat's Fail topics :)
Dan Steinberg: Maybe Mike Wise will have me on as a guest. Put it this way, I'm more likely to be a guest of Mike Wise's than a guest of Tony Kornheiser's if/when he ever makes his return to local airwaves.
Those four hour chunks they have set up are intimidating. None of 980's locally originated sports shows have to go on for four hours. (Sheehan gets two hours, Thompson gets two hours, and the Sports Reporters get three). Having the same voices go over the same local sports stories for four hours at a time seems a pretty daunting task to me. That's why I turned down the seven-figure contract offer from The Fan.
(That's a joke.)
(I want The Fan to succeed, but I hate the name. It just doesn't ring true to D.C. to me.)
Redskins Hype: It has been pretty quiet with the Redskins lately. Is the hype machine just getting warmed up as summer camp is ready to open soon? They will be a nice diversion to take focus off the Nats.
Dan Steinberg: Well, this happens every year in July. Last year, I believe I was talking to Jason Fabini about cooking an Italian meal for 30 guests around this time of year. There's just not much football stuff to report, and there aren't many readers to consume it. Have you looked outside lately? There's no one there.
But August will be what it always is around here, don't worry about that.
I just picked up this week's NFL win total over-unders from the MGM Grand Sports book. Skins are at 8, along with the Dolphins, Seahawks and Jaguars. There are 11 teams below 8, and 17 teams above 8. That would suggest that we all tend to overestimate how good teams are in July. Take the under!!!!
Bethesda, Md.: Thanks for taking my question. I wanted to get your thoughts on coverage of the WNBA generally and the Mystics specifically. The only way you can watch Mystics games is on line. Coverage and analysis are very limited. And whenever there are general discussions of sports, the WNBA is either ignored or treated as a punchline.
Do you attribute this to sexism? Problems with the way the league has marketed itself -- a combination of girl power and family fun rather than as a sport? That many men don't take the sport seriously and therefore there is no point in offering coverage?
Dan Steinberg: They're all good questions, and it speaks to the larger quesion that I always grapple with in this space: how should a news organization with extremely limited time/space dole out its sports coverage? By reader interest? By team success? By team existence? Obviously it has to be some combination of the three, and probably other, factors.
The Mystics are definitely held back by their glaring lack of success over their entire existence. They get far less attention in D.C. than the Maryland women's hoops team, which to me is a function of wins and losses. (And also the fact that so many Terps fans on the men's side have been yearning for a successful team to embrace.) So I think "sexism" is too broad an answer, but there's no question that men are the primary demographic that sports outlets appeal to, and that relatively few men are WNBA fans.
Fairfax, Va.: You are right. It should probably be called 106.7 The Bandwagon Fan, especially after last year with the Caps.
Dan Steinberg: 106.7 The Wagon would actually be cool. Paying homage both to this city and to the Kornheiser columns.
Washington, D.C.: Great piece on Pecherov last week Steinburg, but you didn't answer the $111 million dollar question: Did Pech go to the comedy clubs with the guys?
washingtonpost.com: D.C. Sports Bog: Some Final Words From Oleksiy Pecherov (Washington Post, July 8)
Dan Steinberg: You're right, I did forget to ask him that. I believe his Timberwolves are still in Vegas (and he's been playing well, by the way), so maybe I can follow up.
He had 15 points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes the other day. Also zero assists.
Arlington, Va.: Why are you staying in a dump like NY/NY? For the same bucks you could get much better accommodations. The Wash Post doesn't stick Wilbon or Boswell in a dump like NY/NY when they go to Vegas!
Now check out of your room and go to the Palazzo and charge it to the Post!
Dan Steinberg: I called the Wash Post travel office. They told me I could stay here for like $60 a night. I said fine.
Honestly, I hate traveling, because I feel like my copy has to be XX percent better to justify the travel expense. I mean, I can sit in my basement and write nonsense and it doesn't cost The Post a dime above my salary, so how can I justify sitting in NY/NY if I'm not $60 better a day? So I like to keep the expenses as low as possible. Dinner tonight: Summer League popcorn.
Washington, D.C.: Is 106.7 The Fail too negative?
Dan Steinberg: That's funny.
I do shed silent tears when Nats fans write in to tell me my Nats Fail posts are boring, predictable, repetitive, simple-minded, and generally stoopid. Actually, they're not just silent tears; I've started calling one of my editors and forcing him to listen to my agonized self-doubts about making fun of the Nats. But I just feel like I'm too far down the road to stop. Like D.C. with the stadium when the costs started rising.
Western Alexandria, Va.: I think your theory that the Nats have more local buzz is actually true, even though they have been awful. I'm also with you that the area will embrace them when they turn the corner, just based on the number of curly W caps I see.
That being said, they better sign Strasburg and learn how to treat season ticket holders.
Dan Steinberg: I wish I had some sort of stat to prove it, but I agree with you on the caps, and the chatter, and even the media coverage. It seems counterintuitive. Maybe it's just because I'm paying closer attention.
DMV rapper was apparently on the Jimmy Fallon show last night wearing a Curly W hat.
New Presidents Race Idea: Got thinking last night while watching video clips of the living Presidents, present and past, highlight worthy volunteers and their accomplishments. Maybe the Lerners can spring for 5 new big heads (both Bushes, Clinton, Carter, Obama) and race those dudes every other night to give the dead Prezes some time off. And then once a week or so, have the big smackdown where all 9 race. Maybe that way Obama will show up to christen his 'head' with a Bud Light, or something.
Dan Steinberg: I can almost guarantee this is the first time "christen his head with a Bud Light" has ever appeared on Washingtonpost.com, so I wanted to field your question.
I've long said that the Nats should spring for all 44 (or 43?) Presidents, and rotate them by theme. Founding Fathers Night. Great Presidents Night. Awful Presidents Night (Buchanan ftw!) Dynasty Night (Rossevelts vs. Bushes vs. Adams). Supply Side Night (Reagan could be miles behind, and still insist that the deficit doesn't matter!) The current version has, against all logic, become a bit stale.
I'm not sure about active Presidents, though. I think there's too much potential for tomfoolery to trot out an Obama Prez while he's still in office.
Frederick, Md.: Are the Nats really going to blow the No. 1 draft pick again this year by failing to sign Strasburg?
Dan Steinberg: Nope. No chance.
Honestly, I will read every word of it, but there's nothing that the current crop of stories will teach us. The wise men have said for months that none of it matters until a few days before Aug. 17 (my birthday!). So I'm gonna believe them. And the PR fallout would be too dismal. I just don't see it happening.
New York, N.Y.: New York New York, huh? What, Circus Circus was out of rooms? WaPo really goes all out. Let me know how the roller coaster ride goes.
Dan Steinberg: Hey, particular elevator tower dumps me out right next to a pizza place. That's a cheap meal. We have budgets, you know.
Budapest, Hungary: Did you know that Liptauer is a Hungarian cheese?
Dan Steinberg: Thank you, Budapest.
I did not know this.
Would that Vegas had built a Budapest Budapest hotel.
HaikuMan: Riggleton calls 'pen Walks, implosion continue Manny smiles from home?
Dan Steinberg: I've said it in private emails, I've said it online, and I'll say it again here publicly: I believe the Nats come out of the break with an extended streak of .500 ball, maybe 5-5 or 6-6.
Also, it's Riggleman, though I like the sound of Riggleton.
Md.: Is there some logical explanation for why Comcast SportsNet has opted not to air any of the Wizards summer league games this year? Aside from the fact that they have aired every game for the past several years now, this is the most loaded summer league team we've ever had -- with four players who have NBA starts under their belt, and all of whom got regular playing time with the team last season.
It makes zero sense to me.
Dan Steinberg: I don't know the exact answer, but I believe the NBA may have been producing the games for regional sports networks in the past, and that they're not doing the same this year. The games are all available online.
Comcast does have Chris Miller and Brooks the camera guy out here, and they've gotten some good interviews. They're going to do pieces with Antawn Jamison and Flip Saunders in the next few days, I believe.
Arlington, Va.: As an Arlington native and a Boston transplant, I say thank you thank you thank you, CBS Radio, for starting new sports radio stations in D.C. and in Boston. Finally, someone who doesn't fawn over the team their employer owns. And finally, someone who provides an alternative to the Czaban/"Big Show" screeching one finds at WTEM and WEEI, respectively. CBS, your arrival is anxiously awaited!
Dan Steinberg: There, someone who's happy.
The longtime JFK fans, and especially the longtime Mike O'Meara fans and Big O and Dukes fans, have been extremely vocal in their unhappiness.
Also, I know the popular perception is that 980 fawns over the Redskins, and is unable to be honest. I don't see it. They devote inordinate amounts of time to the Redskins, but so does every outlet in this town, the Post included. That's a smart financial decision. I haven't noticed any change in the level of criticism since they came under the Red Zebra umbrella. And I love Snyder conspiracy theories.
I guess the most interesting moment will come when Steve Czaban's contract expires.
But I share your enthusiasm.
Arlington, Va.: What a great moment for the Nats last night! Obama, talking baseball with Tim and Joe during the All-Star game, saying it's great about the existing parity with teams in the league ... with the exception being the Nationals!
Being called out by the President on national TV. Awesome. Now will the Lerners say a few words to the remaining Nats fans?
washingtonpost.com: D.C. Sports Bog: Obama Disses the Nationals (Washington Post, July 14)
Dan Steinberg: Something else I wish I knew the answer to: how often does an owner join the press conference for a mid-season baseball firing. Lots of fans and commentators have brought this up, but is it extremely rare for the owner/owners not to show, or have others done the same?
I think the Lerners have made plenty of PR blunders, but I'm not sure that failure to be visible really bothers me. Excessive visibility strikes me as a far more troubling fault. Ahem.
Ashburn, Va.: Can you redeem your PostPoints at the pizza place there?
Dan Steinberg: I've seen a few blue circular items out here, but they haven't been Post Points. They haven't been redeeming, either.
Arlington, Va.: With Jim Riggleman now taking over for Manny Acta, I'm delighted by the breath of fresh air it provides to the Nats' future, but at the same time, I'm worried that expectations might be high to turn the team around on a dime.
With only 26 wins under our belt this late in the season, the need for a winning team has never been more great. Thus, the greater the pressure on Riggleman to deliver.
Dan Steinberg: Wow, I don't know what the temperature's like in Arlington, but I haven't sensed much pressure to turn the team around on a dime. If Riggleman can reduce the errors and mental mistakes, and get this team playing at a .400 pace instead of a .300 pace, lots of fans would be grateful.
Any reason giving on why Blatche (a known commodity) got so many minutes instead of an unknown, Heytvelt?
Dan Steinberg: I'm going to try to ask that question today, but I think it lets you see a bit what the priority is this year. That obviously wasn't an accident. This team is in the market for a veteran big man, who would be the 14th man on the roster. They could sign a 15th, but that's certainly no given. I guess if they go to 15, and they don't make any more trades, Heytvelt could be the 15th, but the priority is on winning right now. Like, right this second. And so the braintrust apparently would rather see what Blatche can do.
Blatche said he expects to play two more summer league games (the team has four left), so you'd think in the other two Heytvelt would get a longer look. I did write a story about Heytvelt's unique career arc in this morning's paper.
Sports Frequency Modulation: I like the JFK switch to sports, though I've heard they are making a play for the Capitals. Since they are the "Home of the Wizards", we are going to have a hard time finding the Caps games when they share a night, right? Surely they'll be like every other station and ignore the Caps except for a few weeks in April and May when they are really the only good thing on.
When can we expect the Sports Bog Show on The Fan?
Dan Steinberg: Every time I go on the radio, people ask whether I'm sick. I have to say no, that's just the way my voice sounds. So don't expect a Sports Bog show any time soon.
The Caps could still wind up on 980, or back on Bonneville. Obviously they'd like to be on a frequency in which they wouldn't be bounced around, the way they used to be when they shared 980 with the Wiz. I'd guess they're unlikely to join the Wiz on JFK, but you never know.
Fairfax, Va.: Did you wake up this morning with a tiger in the bathroom and a baby in the closet?
washingtonpost.com: The Hangover (imdb.com)
Dan Steinberg: No, but I did wake up with Summer League rosters and MGM Grand odds sheets on one of my queen beds.
Washington, D.C.: Theoretically, there is only so far that the Nats can sink. We have to be getting pretty close to the bottom.
Dan Steinberg: The bottom would be not signing Strasburg (not from a baseball standpoint, but from a PR standpoint). I'm not sure where you go after that. I guess 121 losses.
Ok, the bottom would be not signing Strasburg and then finishing with 121 losses. And then, truly, there just wouldn't be anywhere else to go. It would be like beating the game. You'd have to go back and return it to the store and pretend that you got it as a gift and you already had it.
Reston, Va. - Lavar on the radio? EPIC FAIL: I dont get it. The few times I've seen him on TV he was unwatchable. So the logical conclusion would be to break up the Big O and Dukes team and put him on the radio for four hours?
Put me down for boycotting CBS radio. Sorry, and I say this as a huge sports fan, but the last thing I want is more sports talk radio.
Dan Steinberg: Well, there are obviously plenty of other people like you. Me, as a radio listener, I could use some more.
And I don't agree with you on LaVar. He sometimes chooses his words very carefully (or at least slowly), but with four hours a day, I think he'll get over that. He's got an engaging personality, and he's definitely smart. I'm curious to see how it all works.
The one puzzling thing about this is the ratings; WTEM doesn't exactly tear things up, and if you divide that audience in two (with some, but not all, of the audience from JFK tagging along), it would seem to be a rapidly diminishing pie. Blueberry pie.
Bowie, Md.: Dan, You getting pumped up for the Legg Mason? I'm thinking lots of opportunity to get some good crowd pieces for the Bog. Lots of adults with those big tennis balls for the players to sign. I have always wondered what the heck they do with those balls after they are signed? Too big for a mantle and too clumsy to go anywhere else.
Dan Steinberg: You know, I've never actually been. Redskins training camp, and all. I live about a mile from the tennis center, but I'll be moving before this year's tournament.
I always wonder what people do with those weird autograph fabric things that are everywhere at golf tournaments. They're just not very attractive, and so often they get filled up with the signatures of sort of no-name golfers. Then what?
I mean, this is old ground, but autographs in general make little sense to me. You might as well ask an athlete to write the first four words of his favorite song on a piece of paper, as far as I'm concerned.
My name? Yes, this is my name. Here, I'll write it for you on this cloth. I mean, I just don't get it.
Radford, Va.: Do you know the guys that do wizznutzz.com? (They seem to be a huge fan of you)
Great site, but why does it take them two weeks or more to turn out a post?
washingtonpost.com: The Wizznutzz (wizznutzz.com)
Dan Steinberg: I do know them, yes.
And they have actual jobs, that require actual work. Plus, everything they post on their site is genius, and you can't do genius when you're writing eight times a day. (For example, please see the Washington Post's D.C. Sports Bog)
Silver Spring, Md.: The President of the Nationals and its Acting GM were at the press conference announcing Acta's firing. Criticizing the Lerners for not being there is another example of a gratuitous shot. So, you're right. If the owner is the President of the ballclub he should be there. In this case the President was there. Lord knows there's more than enough material to criticize the Lerners about without resorting to a garbage shot like that.
Dan Steinberg: Someone agrees with me? Hooray?
Another criticism I didn't completely understand was the unsigned letter to the fans. It was signed Washington Nationals Baseball Club, and I guess a lot of folks thought it should have been more specific. To me, it was obviously vetted in some fashion by both the Lerners and Stan Kasten, and it was obviously written by none of them, at least not completely. I mean, if it had been signed by Ted Lerner, would that make you think he sat down at his typewritter and banged that thing out?
Washington, D.C.: RE: Summer League: The NBA is charging $14.95 to watch the summer league games online. Summer league -- not even preseason. In this economy. How can someone not be fired over this?
Dan Steinberg: The crazier part is that some people are paying it. I would love to fill a room with 100 people who are paying $15 to watch Summer League basketball on their computer. And I know and like some of them. It's just a strange way to spend an evening.
Though I think you could argue that in some ways, Summer League is more intriguing than preseason. Less structure, more new faces, more randomness.
"I want the Fan to Succeed.": I don't. I'm a longtime WJFK listener, and I'm appaled by what just happened. Not only the way a DC radio institution was obliterated, but the way in which Oscar Santana and the entire Mike O'Meara show got railroaded. I have vowed never to listen to 106.7 again in protest that likely will mean nothing to anyone other than myself ...
That said, I agree with the last guy - I would permit myself the double-standard of tuning in 106.7 for a Steinbog show. You were great on "The Big O and Dukes Show"(R.I.P).
Dan Steinberg: See, there are lots of folks like this out there. Or at least a few folks posting under lots of different names.
Washington, D.C.: I think the biggest winner in the WJFK sports flip is you. Getting the Redskins cheerleaders at their kickoff event ... first shot across Danny's diminutive bow. How long after he cracks the mic do you think it will take Lavar to talk about his "contract" issues with Danny. Don't think they will be promoting the NFL Radio package too much either. Should be good, boggable stuff ...
Dan Steinberg: True. When I heard that this was all going down on Tuesday, I thought that it would be worth canceling my trip to Vegas so I could cover that event, and then throw in a few days of the Caps development camp.
And I would guess that some of the JFK shows will get great sports guests, which will give me more chance to show off my college degree by transcribing the words of sports stars who appear on local radio shows.
Old Town, Alexandria, Va.: On this whole 106.7 thing, it's not necessarily a question of dividing up 980's audience. I used to listen all the time, but their ESPN feeds are just awful. Mike and Mike are boring buffoons. Colin Cowherd is unbearable. So, boring, unbearable, and not focused on local sports has driven me to other programming. I would welcome an alternative station that had more local programming, and might go back to sports radio.
Dan Steinberg: Fair enough. But I have trouble believing there are tens of thousands of people like you.
And I could not agree more on Mike and Mike and Cowherd.
Arlington, Va.: Dan, how did you led the 'Couch Slouch' scoop you on the Beckham piece? That was pretty funny stuff because it was 'spot on'. I was sorry to see that Landon Donovan backed down a bit about his criticism of Becks. That said, MLS got what it wanted out of the deal so even if it seems that Beckam took 'advantage' of MLS, it was a symbiotic relationship, for sure. Pay the man, Shirley.
washingtonpost.com: Norman Chad, Couch Slouch: The Incredible Shrinking Becks (Washington Post, July 13)
Dan Steinberg: I'm reading Grant Wahl's book about Beckham, which spawned the beginning of this Donovan-Beckham episode. It's great stuff. I was with Grant in Carson the day that Beckham was first introduced (two years ago yesterday, during the last few days of that year's Vegas Summer League). Some of the Beckham anecdotes are just priceless.
That said, and I love Norman, especially when I'm in Vegas, but his cheap shots at soccer are no better than my cheap shots at the Nats. It's a battle he, and the other sportswriters of a certain vintage, will lose over the long haul. Even if Americans wind up embracing the EPL over MLS, the soccer haters will be on the losing side of history.
Curse of Les Boulez: Hi--
Enjoy your blog. Are we to assume that the wizards are putting their hopes for front line improvement on Andray Blatche and an improved Javale McGee? If so, we're doomed. No trades on the horizon with our surplus of (mediocre) guards?
Dan Steinberg: There will be a veteran big man of some sort by the time preseason starts. Blatche said yesterday that he and McGee want to prove that it's unnecessary, but even if they explode, you just need some more insurance there. But there's no particular hurry, and I sure don't want it to happen while Mike Lee is on vacation.
Which also doesn't mean that the Wizards don't hope for improvement from Blatche and McGee. But you could theoretically get both improvement from them and a veteran presence, to replace those Songaila minutes.
Washington, D.C.: You joke, but I'd love to see an NHL style skills competition: Bunting, timing guys sprinting to various bases (wouldn't it be cool to see Ichiro and Carl Crawford race from home to third?), outfielders throwing at targets 300 feet away. Could be cool.
Dan Steinberg: Don't NHL fans hate the NHL style skills competition? Or is that only NHL bloggers?
I would like to see guys gassing balls to home plate from the warning track though. the same way that NBA players can hit like a jillion three-pointers in a row when no one's in their face--even bad NBA players--you have to assume that we'd see some ridiculous throws from the outfield. But chicks dig the long ball, you know.
(Maybe have the home run derby guys do a sprint? I'd like to see Fielder vs Howard)
Manassas, Va.: What's this about Mike Miller's former pet monkey?
Also, I like the Storm over the Shock tonight in some WNBA action. Straight up $$$
Dan Steinberg: Taken under advisement.
Mike Miller used to have a pet monkey. He would take it to the mall and stuff. I'm gonna try to write more about this later.
Dan Steinberg: Wow, so many questions I can't answer here. Sorry but I have to get myself out of this hotel room for a couple minutes. Will post a few Wizards things during the day, and will be back at night for updates from their game against the Nuggets.
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