D.C. Sports Bog Live: Mark McGwire and steroids, Redskins offseason, Mike Shanahan, Gilbert Arenas and more
Tuesday, January 12, 2010; 11:30 AM
D.C. Sports Bogger Dan Steinberg will be online Tues., Jan. 12 to discuss Mark McGwire's steroids confession, break down Mike Shanahan's future and the Redskins offseason, Gilbert Arenas's gun issues, the latest Atlantic 11 and sports news and your questions and comments about his latest bog posts.
A transcript follows.
Read Dan's daily smorgasborg of the bizarre side of D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
Dan Steinberg: Well, here I am, 12 hours after departing my first MMA show of all time. It wasn't necessarily a life-changing experience, although I did enjoy myself, partly due to a nearly unprecedented binge on garlic bread.
I'm hoping all of the questions today concern arm bars and rear naked chokes and the cultural implications of the ring girl in 21st century Northern Virginia. Or Gilbert Arenas, or whatever.
Woodley Park, Washington, D.C.: I was at the Wizards game on Friday and management made some fans in front of us take down a "Free Gil" sign, which I thought was petty and sad. I disagreed with the sentiment of the sign, but come on. Is Dan Snyder running the Wizards now? Did the Wizards announce anything publicly about a change in sign policy?
Dan Steinberg: I talked to Wizards PR about this. They actually had a meeting to make clear that their policies on fan signs hasn't changed: only signs that are profane, offensive or disruptive to other fans are off-limits. A normal sized "Free Gil" sign would not meet that threshold. Wiz PR has at least one report of a Free Gil sign being confiscated, apparently in violation of these rules.
That's why I haven't made a big deal out of it. The Wizards have the right rule, and it's been wrongly enforced, at least once but possibly more than that. But having the right rule is the most important thing.
Wheaton, Md.: With all the bad news going around, why can't we get the Post to mention the success our local college wrestlers are having?
The teams that the Post regards as "local" (AU, Maryland, Navy, U-Va. and Va. Tech) currently sport 18 wrestlers ranked in the top 20 of their respective weight classes.
Further, Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech are all ranked in the top 20 with Maryland currently at No. 7 in the nation.
Dan Steinberg: Malcolm? Is this you? This guy named Malcolm has been asking me to write a piece on Maryland wrestling for about 14 years. I still haven't done it, though it did prompt me to have a discussion about Maryland wrestling with my friend Joe, who runs the clock at Mason wrestling meets.
I'm not sure that collegiate wrestling is a massive winner for a local sports blog, but hell, one of the Terps is apparently big into magic. Maybe I can make that work. Plus, I do love some cauliflower ear.
The FAX: Hi Dan,
Its terrible news about the Washington Times Sports section, and leaves an obvious whole and an abundance of writers who know the teams, area, etc.
My question: Do you think Washington D.C. is a good idea for an ESPN city? Like ESPN Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, etc. We already have an ESPN Studio (PTI/Tony Reali), a lot of writers that need jobs that are over-qualified, and a market that just lost a newspaper.
Any thoughts on why this would be a good or bad idea? Chances of it happening? Thoughts from a competition standpoint?
Dan Steinberg: I think if it was a sure winner, ESPN would already be here. i think it's not a huge coincidence that they're in traditionally stronger sports markets like Boston and Chicago, though I'm not sure how L.A. fits into that. But yeah, obviously I think they're coming sooner or later.
Were I running ESPN DC, I'd obviously go ridiculously overboard with the Redskins, and also attempt to own Caps coverage, because those two things are proven Web winners. And I'd force Wilbon and Kornheiser to write and do D.C.-focused PTI segments and all the rest. And maybe offer me $1 zillion.
The only caveat is that D.C. remains D.C., and sports will never be the biggest show in town. So I'll say the chances of it happening are probably 98 percent. And I think it's generally a good idea, but not nearly as good an idea as ESPN Boston or ESPN Chicago.
McGwire: What's your take? Honestly, just a different non-baseball talking head would be nice ...
Dan Steinberg: I haven't thought much about it. Based on his previous statements, the progression of his stats, the era he played on, etc, I would have obviously chosen "juicer" if forced to guess with my life on the line. So, absent any surprise, this one didn't light up my loins.
Here's one thing that bugs me, though: all those "before" and "after" photos of McGwire and Bonds, showing how they became massive men, leaving readers to whistle and say "whoooo, boy, look at those roids at work." I mean, show me before and after biceps shots, maybe, but the actual enlarged men does nothing for me. You should see what I looked like when I was 19. I was a stick. When I worked at Whole Foods in my early 20s and was carrying around large wheels of cheese all day, I literally looked emaciated. It's frightening. Now, I'm still scrawny-ish, but my head is much more bloated, as is my gut. I look a lot different than I did then. And I haven't juiced.
I'm not the best example. I just think men tend to look a heckuva lot different at 19 than they do at 38. But that's not what you were asking. If you're asking about the Hall of Fame, my honest answer is I just don't care that much. It's a museum in the finger lakes; I could buy either argument, but I'd much rather argue with myself over whether the Chargers will win by more than 7 points this weekend.
Arlington, Va.: Will Arenas now be forever remembered as the dude who pooped in his teammate's shoe? Is that worse in some ways than bringing guns to the locker room? Wilbon says this sort of thing happens all the time (the poop, not the guns) and that baseball players are a whole lot worse. Kinda makes me glad I don't spend time in locker rooms. Why do these guys lack maturity so much?
Is it because they get paid too much money to play a game? Is it some sort of machismo thing? Please tell me my DC United players don't do things like this to each other.
Dan Steinberg: Poop in each other's shoes? I'm guessing the DCU guys don't, but I'm guessing they've done ridiculously immature things to each other that you'd rather not know about. Gilbert just has a gift for elevating "ridiculous" to "ludicrous."
I don't think pooping in shoes is worse in any way than bringing weapons into the locker room, but I do think it might be more memorable. And I don't think it's surprising that maturity is sometimes in short supply; they play a game for a living, they get paid gadzookians of dollars to do so, and they spend their lives in the very birthplace of locker room humor. It's not terribly shocking.
Alexandria, Va.: Maybe this isn't your beat, but I was wondering why baseball writers are being put in the position of being moral arbiters sitting in judgment of whether Mark McGwyer or other steroid users are "worthy" of the Hall of Fame. Shouldn't the poobahs of MLB make that judgment...just like they have already done for Pete Rose?
Dan Steinberg: Well, it's not my beat, but I agree with you. Journalists hold grudges, and are prone to moralizing and stubbornness, and are riddled with conflicts of interest in stuff like this. I don't know who should judge, but I'd say it should be someone else.
It also strikes me as similar to the Pro Bowl in that it can make for a rollicking debate, but ultimately matters very little. Like, London Fletcher to the Pro Bowl! Sign me the hell up! To the barricades! Watch the Pro Bowl? No thanks. I've been to Cooperstown once, and it was awesome, and I will definitely go again, but I wasn't there to see which names were in that one giant room. I was there because it's a cool museum. Might as well get various marine mammals to complain that they're not represented in that sea room at the Natural History museum.
SW Washington, D.C.: FYI, there is no "ESPN Studio" in DC. there is the ESPN Zone restaurant and Atlantic Media, but that is owned by the Moonies aka the Unification Church (and former Wash Times), not ESPN directly.
Dan Steinberg: FYI back at you.
EagleBank Bowl: Dan, did you attend this year? Looked pretty frosty at old RFK while viewing from home. Hard for us locals to get jazzed about UCLA and Temple. In the cold. Very cold. I take it that ESPN doesn't have a TV blackout policy. Probably smart they don't.
Dan Steinberg: I did not attend. I was driving back from Philly at the time. Had I been here, I would have gone, and I would have been cold but happy.
No local TV blackout policy.
And the attendance definitely seemed spotty.
Reston, Va.: So do you think secretly behind closed doors maybe the Wiz ownership/management is maybe not sooo sad that all this Arenas stuff has happened? It's embarrassing for sure, and I think Grunfeld's master plan is making him look pretty bad right now....but everyone in the building had to already be sweating the fact that maybe he wasn't going to be worth the remaining 80 mil before the gun stuff, and from what I've heard they'll likely have a pretty good case for terminating his contract now. Sounds like an opportunity to rid yourself of an immense contract and start over.
Am I being to cynical?
Dan Steinberg: I think this has gone way past "cynical" to "overly obvious" at this point. I think we need a new counter-intuitive theory now for who was helped or harmed by Gil's guns.
And when people ask me for my "honest" take on him, which they have, golly, I go back and forth myself. Read Wise's 17-hour chat from Monday, he's better informed and seems to have a better view. One day, I think Gilbert's an unbelievable doofus who needs to be saved from further embarrassing himself and his franchise, the next day I think the sermonizing and moralizing and lesson-learning and hang-wringing from all of this is the reason I wanted to avoid this profession in favor of Mongolian sheep-herding.
Pooping n Locker Roo, MS: Read "Ball Four". Jim Boutons theory was that baseball locker rooms were worse because not as many players came through the college ranks like other sports.
Dan Steinberg: Though the total collegiate years reflected in the NBA has definitely plunged since Bouton's era. Look at the Wizards: Blatche never went to college. Crittenton had one year. Stevenson never went to college. Arenas and Butler I think both spent two years in college. That's five guys combining for five years, off the top of my head.
washingtonpost.com: Discussion transcript: Mike Wise: Gilbert Arenas suspension and entitlement in the NBA (Washington Post, Jan. 11)
Washington, D.C.: Hi Dan,
Portis and Haynesworth ... any chance they'll really start practicing and get in shape under Shanahan?
Dan Steinberg: I'm guessing, along with the rest of the world, that Clinton Portis is not back in D.C. I think Haynesworth is enough of a veteran and has enough of a track record that he won't have a transformation. But I do think it's possible that Shanahan commands enough respect that guys won't be mouthing off about coaches and gameplans in the media.
Brookeville, Md.: The fury at Gilbert Arenas seems entirely out of proportion to my understanding of what actually happened. Is this all just a scheme by the Wizards to get out from under his contract?
Dan Steinberg: I'm not sure how to measure fury, but I think among some Internet commenters, anyhow, you'd be accurate.
I'm not privy to the schemes of the Wizards. I can say that there seemed to be lots of empty seats downtown even before all of this, and a real lack of buzz. If you consider this to be a PR fiasco for a team with a terrible record and a buzz-free building, you probably don't want to ignore it entirely.
But there have obviously been some real tasteless and stupid things said by fans (and, more than that, non-fans).
Wizards Owner: Dan, is Ted Leonsis becoming the owner of the Wizards a 'done deal'? If not, any chance we can get Dan Snyder to make a bid? If he wins, it could divert his attention long enough to let Shanahan and Allen really make the necessary decisions regarding the Redskins.
Dan Steinberg: I think done deal would suggest 100 percent certainty, and I'm not sure that'd be accurate, but everything I've read/heard suggests that everything is proceeding according to the succession plan.
And I think one team is quite enough for Snyder, thanks.
Washington, D.C.: Can we get any sort of further comment by Mike Wise on his "With all due respect, it's hockey" remark? As a longtime Caps fan, I've been happy to see WaPo's hockey coverage increase significantly over the last couple years, but Wise's comment made me think twice about picking up your sports section tomorrow morning. P.S. - I wonder how Tarik feels about it.
Dan Steinberg: Well, he was narrating his chat answers to Stephen Ball from his radio show at that point, if I'm not mistaken. Mike Wise likes to make off-handed quips that would be better left unquipped. I wouldn't take it too seriously. He certainly wasn't speaking for Post hierarchy. Editors are sending me (I know, bad choice) on the road with Tarik to the Pens game next week. We haven't had a second writer travel with the Wizards to a regular season game this season. I think that shows the priorities well enough.
Silver Spring, Md.: If anyone poops in my shoes at my office, you can be darn sure I'm getting them fired...just sayin'.
Dan Steinberg: Or at the very least, you'd go out and get some Gold Bond, right?
I much prefer baby powder to gold bond. That medicinal odor really bothers me.
Look, I'm not condoning poop in shoes. Absolutely not. But we've heard a whole lot of stories of hazing incidents in recent years that are much, much, much more disturbing than this one. I'd still say the story I heard about Gilbert chucking a full Gatorade bottle at a moving car is more disturbing than poop in shoe. I'm not sure if it was an athletic shoe or what, but NBA locker rooms might as well be shoe factories. There are shoes everywhere, spilling out of lockers and garbage cans and ceiling vents. They have different relationships with shoes than you do.
Washington, D.C.: I just left this as a comment on your latest Bog post about the Zorn-Snyder film sessions: I don't see why this was such a bad thing. Snyder was simply trying to learn more about football, from the person at his disposal that is most qualified. So who cares if Zorn takes an hour per week to teach his boss some of the intricacies of the game?
Dan Steinberg: 1) He has enough going on without having to worry about this.
2) Why not wait til the offseason?
3) It feeds into this perception--a perception he has tried to combat--that Daniel Snyder, who came to football from a very different walk of life, is much too involved with football operations. Jack Kent Cooke has been praised probably excessively in recent years, but Bobby Beathard said he'd almost never even show his face in the football wing of the building. As a fan, you want your team being handled by football veterans, and you want your owner to concentrate on smoking cigars and eating steak dinners.
Washington, D.C.: So. The Caps are doing okay, no?
Dan Steinberg: Yeah.
San Francisco: Hey Dan,
Why can't I buy a Gilbert jersey at the NBA.com store? How is putting his name on the back 'Language deemed inappropriate, derogatory, or profane,' as the error message tells me. Is it normal for suspended players' gear to be unavailable?
I guess the bigger question is, do the NBA and the Wizards think they can just pretend this man doesn't exist? It feels like he is being punished simply because he made fun of the situation, which, while being a black eye on the league, isn't close to as bad as what many other players have done over the years. It's just sad that he's being made such an example of when the man clearly needs help, not another chip to put on his shoulder.
Dan Steinberg: But you can still buy Arenas gear from the team store on the Wizards' Web site, which is odd. So I guess it's unclear whether the NBA is trying to disappear Gilbert, or the team itself is. Or both.
It does bring back memories of the Michael Vick stuff. Perhaps, fearing Gilbert notoriety, the NBA just wanted to make sure it didn't become the hip thing to throw Arenas on the back of every team's jersey as a synonym for "I'm an outlaw" or something. You know, a real reporter would just call the NBA and ask. Let me do that after I finish here.
Arlington, Va.: Is there a more sensitive twitterer amongst D.C. sports media than Chad Dukes? That guy is always whining about someone not giving him credit or not being followed by enough people or the right people or some other thing.
Dan Steinberg: I saw Dukes for the first time at the UFC show in Fairfax last night. I didn't realize it was him at first and walked by him without greeting him. Still waiting for his Twitter fusillade.
I like Chad. And LaVar. And Drab and Othella, the producers of their show.
Also, when I asked the UFC organizers what celebrities were there last night, they told me LaVar. But not Dukes. Slighted!
Falls Church, Va.: Why hasn't Crittendon been suspended like Arenas? If what we're hearing is true, he brandished a gun.
Dan Steinberg: Thankfully, the NBA doesn't yet pass down suspensions based on "what we're hearing," and "if" it's true. Thus, we all have to conclude that Gilbert was suspended for
1) Repeatedly suggesting he had done nothing wrong.
2) Clowning about the incident in an image that became a massive media obsession
3) Saying David Stern is mean
"If what we're hearing is true" turns out to be true, trust me, you won't have to complain about Javaris Crittenton getting off too easy. Also, not much point in rushing to suspend a guy who is injured and can't play.
Traveling to the Pens game: That's simply following the crowd like sheep. Ovi/Sid, that's old news. Not a personal slam on you, though. How about spending some time in the press box at Verizon? (Well, maybe sitting with the paying customers, anyway)
Dan Steinberg: Well, that's a fair point, but you could say the same thing for Wiz games at Cleveland/LeBron, and we don't send extra reporters to those.
I don't think I'm breaking news to suggest that I'd be unable to provide insightful little-realized hockey nuggets by watching games at Verizon. That's not what I do for any sport, really. I would like to spend more time with the paying customers, and I surely will, now that football is over, but I really get better stuff for my purposes from practices. I promised Nate Ewell of the Caps that I wouldn't ignore the team during October, November and December this year, and it turns out I completely lied and continued to obsess over the Redskins. But I can always hope I do better next fall.
McGwire : So, is it time to give the home run title back to Roger Maris ?
Dan Steinberg: 162 games? Fat chance. Babe Ruth it is.
Poor Mark: If only someone had stopped him from using steroids ... If only he had played in a different era ... if only there was drug testing, he wouldn't have done it.
Dan Steinberg: And yet I saw a Sports Illustrated writer suggest this morning that the four worst apologies of 2010 have come from Harry Reid, Rod Blagojevich, McGwire and Balloon Boy's Dad. I'd say that Gilbert's was worse than all of them.
Gilbert's was a farce on the face of it. He made jokes about it in his own voice, and on his Twitter page, and then issued a ridiculously contrived "apology" through a law firm. At least McGwire had the decency to issue the ridiculous apology through his own two lips.
Bethesda, Md.: Do you think that this latest mishap definitely deters the Wizards from going back to Bullets? There seemed to be hope with Leonsis becoming owner they might do this, but now I guess that dream is all but over.
Dan Steinberg: Without having talked to any of the key figures, I'd agree that you shouldn't hold out hopes.
I've never understood though why the team couldn't be the Wizards in red white and blue. There's no particularly iconography that suggests Wizards are a ghastly combination of blue and bronze, is there? Or whatever their official colors are called. I've said this before, but I don't think there's anything wrong with being a tad cautious in the promotion of "Bullets" as something awesome. I do think the franchise appears hypocritical when they continue to sell Bullets branded apparel, however.
Uptown: Just out of curiousity, who decided to describe your blog as a "smorgasbord" (see top of this page). Do you enjoy having your work compared to a Scandinavian buffet?
Dan Steinberg: Needs more smoked fish.
Washington, D.C.: Any Curt Onalfo stories in the offing?
Do any old teammates have any wild stories about pooping in boots?
Dan Steinberg: D.C. United fans really have greater cause to be mad at me than Caps fans. Two reasons.
1) I used to write abut their team a lot. So the expectation was created.
2) Now, I never do. I mean, never. At least I'll quote Alex Ovechkin talking about Gilbert Arenas.
When's DCU media day? Maybe that would be the chance to ask about boot pooping.
You have to figure the past two days mark a new high for "poop" references in sports chats. Weingarten has got to be steaming. Like a fresh...well, you know.
Burke, Va.: Agree or disagree with the following that I believe should become MLB policy: Any MLB player who is found to have used PEDs via a sanctioned drug test or who readily admits that they have used PEDs during their career will be deemed automatically ineligble for HOF consideration.
Dan Steinberg: Disagree.
I'm glad I have to do sort out which players were great enough that they would have been HoF caliber without the extra juice, but I refuse to admit that none of them were great enough. Lots of people in that building weren't saints.
Gilbert Arenas: Why is everyone so upset about that picture? I was just waving my ahnds like a wand. Like a Wizard would do.
Dan Steinberg: I assume you all saw the nugget in the Wise/Lee follow-up, that said Arenas and Young were planning a more elaborate routine for the next day in Cleveland, involving some sort of John Wayne set-up from 10 paces. If you think the Gilbert thing was a PR nightmare, then
1) The outrage would have multiplied within 24 hours.
2) It's good Stern stopped the madness when he did.
3) I can't stop making lists today.
American U: Dan, Gilbert Arenas memorabilia is now back up on the Wizards website. What are the chances that Ernie was telling the truth when he said the organization wasn't distancing themselves from Gil, just focusing on the players they have?
ALso, is this the most ridiculous story you've covered, or does the Jim Zorn Era beat it?
Dan Steinberg: Still no Gilbert Arenas matches at NBAStore.com.
Players have been suspended on lots of teams in lots of sports without their jerseys being yanked out of team stores in favor of, I don't know, Nick Young's. Combined with the re-edited video intros, I can't believe there wasn't a conscious effort to do at least a minimal Gilbert purge.
And none of this really fits in the "ridiculous" category, in my mind. It's all kind of sad to me. Not that I feel sorry for Gilbert--this was obviously his doing -- but D.C. sports have been sorry enough without something like this. I'm not sure I've ever covered anything more ridiculous than Chris Cooley trying to take a photo of his playbook on his naked lap and accidentally posting his manhood on the Internet.
Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: So if Rep Cantor compares Obama to Zorn, who does that make Snyder?
Dan Steinberg: You've jumped from my Twitter account to my chat. Most of these other people don't know what you're talking about.
But I guess Snyder would equal the electorate in this metaphor. Or maybe the electoral college? Either way, that was one of the stupidest things I've ever read.
Washington, D.C. : Can everyone please stop saying - if this (poop, guns, mayhem) happened in my office! Your professional office is nowhere near a professional sports "arena." I'm not saying guns or poop (there's a misplaced guns and butter joke in there somewhere) are good, but, not as shocking as my mailroom guy taking a shot at my next interoffice memo.
Dan Steinberg: I do agree with this. Moreso with the poop/mayhem than with the guns, but these guys do lots of thing in their office that we don't do in our office, starting with walking around naked much of the time and ending with cashing checks that have an awful lot of zeros on them. Baseball and football and hockey players also do plenty of things in their offices that wouldn't fly in yours.
Washington, D.C.: I'm a U-Conn fan. I hate the Verizon Center. First GMU, then Hibbert's luckier-than-Turtle-landing-Meadow-Soprano 3, then the collapse. Just needed to vent.
Dan Steinberg: Oh yeah, when I wrote about the Mason and Georgetown games the other day, I forget about that Hibbert 3. That was crazy. Haha, U-Conn. fan.
Did you hear Chvotkin's call. It was a good one. Will post to blog momentarily.
Dan Steinberg: I guess I should go post some more items for people to use as evidence of my idiocy. I'm definitely threatening to set a personal record for "most times being called idiot and/or moron in one day" and it's only 1 pm. Thanks for all the questions, even though I didn't get one single question about UFC. Next week, maybe.
Where can I see this?: "Chris Cooley trying to take a photo of his playbook on his naked lap and accidentally posting his manhood on the Internet. "
washingtonpost.com: Cooley Exposed More Than His Playbook (deadspin.com, Sep. 14, 2008)
Dan Steinberg: And for the rcord....
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