D.C. Sports Bog Live: The Gilbert Arenas apology, Super Bowl, Redskins, college basketball and more

Dan Steinberg
D.C. Sports Bogger
Tuesday, February 2, 2010; 11:30 AM

D.C. Sports Bogger Dan Steinberg was online Tues., Feb. 2 to break down the Super Bowl, college basketball, the latest Atlantic 11, the Redskins 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, I was told Clinton Portis would be on ESPN2's First and 10 Take Five or whatever it's called around 10:30. Then they said he was "running late." And he didn't go until well after 11, which means I can't transcribe it right now because I instead have to make jokes here about poop and cheese. Typical.

If you have questions about Portis's hoodie, Craig Laughlin, poop or cheese, by all means, bring them on.


Darnestown, Md.: The Caps fans have become among the most energetic in the NHL, and nothing seems to get the crowed more fired up than the "Unleash the Fury" montage (reserved mostly for the last TV timeout in the third period). Can you think of any other tradition/ritual, that has as big adrenaline rush?

Which begs me to ask the question, do you know of statistics when the Caps play the "Unleash the Fury" montage? Wins vs. Losses (when tied/behind/ahead)? Goals for vs. goals against right after the montage is played? I am convinced that it helps decide more than a hand full of games a year.

Dan Steinberg: And that was fun, I just disappeared! Sorry. Talking to Craig Laughlin from up in Boston about the last time the Caps won 10 straight, this was the only time he could chat and I needed to get that done.

Anyhow, where were we? Unleash the Fury. I do not know the stats, but you're not the first person to wonder something like this, and the players in the past have talked about how much they feed off the third period crowd. Interestingly, the game-ops guy who created Unleash the Fury has left the team for the NFL, but UTF is his lasting legacy here.


Silver Spring, Md.: What's your opinion of Arenas' Op-Ed piece in the Post today? Is it sincere or just a PR stunt to repair his image? I noticed he didn't mention the Wizards by name, or Ernie Grunfield. I think that's telling.

Does Gilbert still think the Wizards didn't support him enough? Given the stories written about Gilbert's many other practical jokes I'd say Ernie and the Wizards did all they could to insulate Arenas until it got out of control. Plus, they did offer him a huge contract.

Isn't that a strong showing of support for someone who has not come close to playing well, or playing at all, lately?

Dan Steinberg: I have a hard time concluding much of anything from that piece, since it was so clearly not him. Really, I don't see much difference from what he "wrote" through his lawyers two times during this mess. A lot more references to the Pollins and the children of D.C., I suppose.

"Is it sincere?" I mean, there's no way to judge. You have to assume that he regrets what he did for a whole lot of reasons. His connection to kids is genuine, and he's done a lot of stuff for area kids, much of it without publicity. But Gilbert, or "sources close to Gilbert," has said so many things in the past few weeks, about resenting the organization's lack of support, about his joke not being understood, about how he was trying to force David Stern's hands, that it's just not possible to put your hands around his true emotions.

And let's be honest, anyone whose career was in such trouble would be thinking different things every other minute.


Washington, D.C.: Hey, you mentioned last week that you have a problem with Karl Hobbs. What's that all about?

Dan Steinberg: I was the beat writer for his team the year they had such great regular season success and advanced to the second round of the tournament. It was also the year that the New york Times, WaPo and others were writing stories questioning his recruiting practices. I wasn't writing those particular stories--and I was actually in Italy when they started breaking--but I represented The Post, and we got in a few arguments over the nature of the coverage. He made some points that were very true, and he correctly faulted me for using an anonymous source in a faculty council story. I was wrong to do that. I guess the rest of it is better left in the past. I didn't cover the team again.


Clarendon, Va.: I agree that Op-Ed piece wasn't entirely done by Arenas. How much input do you think he actually had?

washingtonpost.com: Gilbert Arenas: Learning to be a better role model (Washington Post, Feb. 2)

Dan Steinberg: I have no idea. I do wonder why the op-ed page would publish something that had so little news in it, and something that read so clearly like a lawyered up press release. They could have just as easily run one of his statements issued by the law firm earlier in the process.

But I wonder that extremely gently, and without wanting anyone from op-ed land to come speak to my boss.


Washington, D.C.: Ive been meaning to ask you this, but with Arenas's downfall and other things I keep forgetting to ask whether you are ever going to ask Flip about Vinny's downfall?

Dan Steinberg: I'm not sure that would go over real well. But it hasn't been the best eight months for either of those guys.

Remember, Vinny warned Flip about the D.C. media. Maybe he should have warned him about the New York Post, too.


Arlington, Va.: Thanks for that Way Back Machine moment with the Caps coverage from 1984. Really brought back some great memories for me, but it also brought up a disturbing feeling for me. I HATE bandwagon fans with the passion of a thousand red hot suns. All the nouveau Caps fans who "rock the red" and post comments on stories and blogs saying how "Schultz is horrible" and "how can Boudreau play blah with blah" like they actually know something make me livid. I've been a Caps fan from the start, luckily that first year I was mostly learning hockey so I didn't understand how historically bad they were (still the worst ever).

I guess I just wish fans would be smart enough to know what they don't know and actually understand that there are people who root for this team win or lose.

Am I just the old guy telling the kids to get off my lawn? Or are many of the new fans the very epitome of the Red Sox pink hats?

Dan Steinberg: Well, I see this as slightly different than the Pink Red Sox Hat phenomenon. For one thing, I'd assume a lot of the Pink Hats aren't even from Boston; you can suddenly find Red Sox fans in every corner of the country. I think the "Bandwagon" Caps fans are generally real D.C. sports fans who always wish the Caps well, just haven't done so with much passion or energy in the past. Now that the rest of the teams in this area are stinky and the Caps are incredibly exciting, they're investing more of themselves.

I completely understand your feelings, but I think you have to suppress that. More fans are great for this franchise in every way: they bring more media attention, more national respect, more sponsorship opportunities, more money, etc. I think the more important response is to make sure these newer fans stick around as much as possible when the team doesn't have the best record in the East; that's more productive than complaining about their ignorance.

And obviously, I'm part of the media bandwagon, so I can't complain much.


Nerd Question: Steinz,

I have a nerdy question for you. How much information do you have access to about your web traffic? Pure Clicks? Unique Users? What I'm most interested in is referral links. Basically, can you tell if someone is coming to the bog linked through another site? I think that would be fascinating.

It was obvious this morning that someone up in the Great White North linked to the bog this morning, creating our own little re-enactment of the movie "Canadian Bacon" in the comments section. Do you have the ability to find out where these hosers are coming from?

Dan Steinberg: Every day I see my click count and my five biggest referring sites, which on a typical day account for a tiny portion of my traffic. If I get linked by SI's Hot Clicks or by a front page link on Yahoo, the numbers (and percentage of referrals) go way up. In general, I'm getting some modest referrals from Japers Rink, ESPN.com blogs, Yahoo's sports blogs, Twitter, etc. If I write something rude about Duke or the Penguins, I'll get a decent uptick from their fan sites.

The only link I know of to today's Alan May post came from some Canadian journos on Twitter, but maybe it was linked somewhere else that I won't know about until tomorrow AM.


Queens, N.Y.: Dan,

Great article on the Wizards name change today. I know it took you awhile and it was completely worth it.

So...do you think any of the proposed names would have been better than the Wizards?

Washington Generals? Washington Stars? Washington Monuments? Antelopes? Astronauts? Geckos? Funkadelics? Accelerators? Zulus? Wolverines? (guess this would have been fitting when Webber and Howard came on board...) Litigators? (would be hysterical during the Gilbert fiasco...) River Dawgs? Power Cats? Glory? Fury? Cobras?

Dan Steinberg: Thanks, Queens. It was fascinating, but entirely too long and extremely unwieldy. Hope it makes some sense.

Most of the names referenced were terrible. There were plenty of others that the franchise said carried trademarking issues; I don't remember the specifics but they were along the Federals/Generals line. People also pointed out that the D.C. style nicknames (Colonials, Patriots, etc) were mostly taken.

Having read all the coverage, my conclusion is that they should have just stuck with Bullets. Wizards did them no favors from a marketing standpoint, and Bullets should have been protected by its history. The gun violence in D.C. was on the way down by the time they made the switch, and Baltimore Bullets was referring to a city landmark.

If a change was necessary, I think some sort of local wildlife would have been best, a la Terrapins. Something to connect the team to the region. Wizards does not do that in any way.


Game Focus: OK, camp has started ... new coach, semi-new team. Does D.C. United make the playoffs or not in 2010?

Who does Will Chang have to 'buy off' to get a stadium inside the beltway?

Dan Steinberg: No idea on the playoffs; these rosters turn over so quickly, and I haven't seen half the team's roster play one minute of soccer in my life.

The stadium ... sigh. I read Goff's latest update on the Soccer Insider, and it just makes me sad. Kevin Payne is understandably not talking specifics, and Will Change is understandably emphasizing how much he wants to stay inside the Beltway, but until I hear a workable suggestion it's hard not to imagine the worst (somewhere not Metro accessible) or the worse-than-worst (somewhere well outside the Beltway, or even outside the area entirely). D.C. United is so iconic in part because of being so D.C. I wish there was a way to make it work.


Nat's Fanfest: Hi Dan! Did you attend the Nats FF recently? If so, anything stand out for you? Hope and optimism always run high just before spring training for any MLB team, but then the harsh reality of the season can manifest itself quickly irt Wins/Losses as it did last year. Hopefully the Nats aren't 'out of it' by the beginning of May, like last year. Go Nats!

Dan Steinberg: I did not go--I'm doing this new and awesome thing where I mostly work M-F and then hang out with my family on the weekends. Before you accuse me of being a slacker, this is the first time since 1999 I've worked such a schedule, and it probably won't last.

Anyhow, I was glad it seemed to be well-attended. The Saturday events, which included a blizzard and the Nats bus being stuck on the Beltway, seemed very 2009: imagine the worst. But there are reasons for hope here; even Baseball Prospectus's revised predictions still have the Nats winning 76 games I think, which would be enough to keep people interested for a good long while. Strasburg's first start at home, if it happens this year, will be a zoo, something to remember forever even if he turns into a bus. The flashbulbs at his first pitch alone will be something special.

By the way, credit to the kid for getting married and taking off on his honeymoon and all that, but if I'm the Nats, I tell him the Honeymoon can come any week of the year besides FanFest. He's got to be the most marketable player on the roster, certainly the most desirable autograph. I know he's young and he needs some space, but I think he should have been there.


Beltsville, Maryland: Heard any news regarding the Redskins about the draft?

Dan Steinberg: Yeah, Bruce Allen texted me the other day. He's taking Bradford.

No, it's early February. If the Redskins know what they're doing, they're likely not going to be announcing it to the press corps, or even the blogging corps. Whatever you think the team should do, I think you'd support the idea of them waiting until they can gather the maximum amount of information, review possible trades, etc. I love draft nerdness as much as anyone, but I'm willing to wait until March before losing my mind over it.


Silver Spring, Maryland: Did Mike Wise write Gilbert's apology?

Dan Steinberg: Couldn't be. No references to Jeff Van Gundy, playing basketball at the YMCA, or nearly drowning in a frozen canal.


D.C. United Stadium: Isn't a soccer field more or less the size of a football field? Why do the taxpayers have to build another venue when there are several more-than-adequate stadia in the market?

Dan Steinberg: Stadia that seat 17,000? Such as?

The key is DCU needs to control the stadium for concessions, and to prevent paying rent, and all the usual reasons. It's why franchises all over MLS are getting their own facilities. And it's why the team can't be considered the jewel of MLS in any way until it has one.


Washington, D.C.: I read Gilbert Arenas' apology letter in The Post today. When a high-profile person writes such a piece, how does The Post know he or she actually penned it? I always wonder that when I read a contribution by some muckity-muck. Does it matter to the paper if Arenas really wrote it himself, or if an attorney or NBA flak did?

washingtonpost.com: Gilbert Arenas: Learning to be a better role model

Dan Steinberg: I always wonder that too.

And while I think you can safely assume many op-eds published under the name of muckety-mucks are written by staffers, you sort of don't care as much if it's one young dude in a suit faking the words for some old dude in a suit. Gilbert has such an easily recognizable voice, that the op-ed under his name came off as sort of absurd.

(Locking door. Just in case.)


Laurel, Md.: C'mon, Cheeseboy. How can you not warm up to the idea of LeBron in the blue and copper? The biggest of the big fishes always manage to find their way to D.C. at some point. Go as far back as Williams and Lombardi, right on up to Jagr, Jordan, Frank Robby, Tiger (yeah, I said it) and Shanahan. It's almost inevitable that LeBron's gonna wind up here, right? Besides, we all know Ted loves the big names, almost as much as The Danny.

Dan Steinberg: But he's not washed up yet. He needs to be washed up, right?


Fed Ex Field: Wait a second, the Washington Capitals are allowed to play crowd inspiring music to the enjoyment of their fans? Well, that may be cool, but its not as riveting as the Harris Tweeter fan of the game contest at Skins games where they dont even show a live video of the current gameday crowd. Maybe if they sponsored Unleash the Fury it would be better.

Dan Steinberg: Don't forget the robotic mechanical DEFENSE guy, and that one extremely intense fan they always show waiving his arms to the crowd.

I know people complain about the Redskins' excessive sponsorships, and with good reason, but there are also sponsors everywhere at Caps games. You don't notice as much if

1) The team is winning, and

2) The things being sponsored are actually done well. When you have in-game entertainment as lively as the Caps do, you can gloss over the fact that Pulte Homes or whatever is splashing their logo all over it.

Anyhow, the difference isn't particularly subtle. If the Skins marketers want to understand what fans are saying, all they have to do is go sit in the 400 level for a Caps game, and then go sit in the 400 level for a Skins game, complete with the walk up the ramps and the waiting in line for a cold hot dog in front of a blurry TV with broken audio.


Beltsville, Maryland: Kind of random

Why do Mike Wise and Tony Kornheiser hate each other? Is it an old school new school thing? I feel like I've missed something

Dan Steinberg: I think the conventional wisdom version is that Mike Wise doesn't hate Tony, he just yearns for his iconic local status, and that Tony has kind of resented Wise's gradual seizure of his former turf. Then you throw various barbs onto that general storyline, couple it with everyone's inordinate love of media feuds, etc.


Woodley Park: Any way you can do a piece on the old caps announcers and their thoughts on the Caps' success?

Growing up I loved listening to Mike Fornes (sp?) and still think he has one of the best goal calls in TV. And Jeff Rimmer was no slouch himself, despite the unfortunate name.

Dan Steinberg: Those names definitely pre-date me. On Frozen Blog had a brief piece with Ron Weber (sp?) today.

Trust me, if the Caps' run this spring goes as long as we think it will, you will hear from everyone ever associated with the franchise. You will hear from the young kids who were responsible for washing the team's socks in February of 1979.


In the minority: I just have to go on record: I'm a big Caps fan, have been since the '70's, and I hate "unleash the fury."

Fury? Really? At whom? For what?

But then, I wasn't fond of the Hockey Song either, so maybe I'm just a hopeless curmudgeon.

Dan Steinberg: I can't see how you don't like the hockey song. It's awesome.

I like hearing the noise for Unleash the Fury. The clip itself, meh. And I've always been the sort who can't really chant at rallies or sing children's songs at music class or whatever, so even if I were at a Caps game as a "fan," I wouldn't be yelling "Unleash the Fury" at the top of my lungs.

The only thing I don't love about it is that it originated with the Thrashers; any time you're borrowing a gimmick from Atlanta hockey, it's a little dodgy. But it clearly works for a lot of people, and the explosion of noise is cool.


Washington, D.C.: Excellent Bog Item on the Bullets/Wizards name change ... After Pollin died, I initially thought there was a chance Leonisis would contemplate changing the name back to Bullets. I changed my mind after reading some of Leonsis statements regarding his affinity for Pollin. Having said that, with the sale of the Wizards turning saltier than an Exit Ramp this winter, do you think he might do it now out of spite?

washingtonpost.com: D.C. Sports Bog: Why Abe Pollin went from Bullets to Wizards (The Washington Post, Feb. 2)

Dan Steinberg: I don't know Ted Leonsis too well, but he doesn't seem the type to completely unmake his team's public image out of spite.

My guess is that the name stays and the colors/uniforms change. Leonsis obviously knows what getting rid of a horrible color scheme and going back to something more classic can do for merchandising and fan excitement; he lived it with the Caps. The Wizards colors just don't work. Red white and blue does. You can honor Pollin, please the fans and boost the sales by slapping the Wizards name on some throwback red white and blue duds, and everyone is happy.


Bandwagon, USA: Thanks for your response about Capitals bandwagon fans. I honestly do not understand this odd adversion so-called "real" fans have to people just getting into the sport. I am a huge, long-term Redskins fan - anyone want to jump on that Bandwagon, I'll move over to make you some room. (yes, I realize its been in the garage since I was in high school).

I think most DC area sports fans are generally fans of all DC sports - I wish them all well - check to see if they have won, etc. The Capitals played at the Cap Centre when I was in college - after one bad experience trying to get back to Foggy Bottom after a Billy Joel concert (um, no metro out there) meant I would never make a trip out there again. Plus, the Caps were bad - it's hard to root for a team that's bad (trust me, I went to ONE Redskins game this year and ate most of my other tickets).

I grew up going to minor league hockey games in upstate NY - finally went to my first Caps game in December 2008 because I had free tickets and forgot how much I loved to watch hockey live. Yes, this happened to be right after Boudreau had come in (and yes, I knew that, even if not a fan) and I was hooked - I am not just hooked if they win - I am hooked for life now. I have found a hockey bar here in Houston and have enjoyed watching games with diehard hockey fans who are more than happy to explain a delayed penalty and icing and do not seem to care that I have only been really following the Caps for the past year and half.

So, I guess my long winded comment is Why the Hate? This isn't Dallas Cowboys fans that have never been in Texas - these are DC people who are now learning about a new sport and a good bunch of them may be in for the long haul - just because you have been a fan since 1984 doesn't mean that I like the team any less.

Dan Steinberg: I agree. Thanks.


Arlington, Va.: I've been a hockey fan since the Original Six era and the only way that the bandwagon fans bother me is that free tickets are harder to come by.

Dan Steinberg: This is a fine reason to object to the Bandwagon. But the Bandwagon has made going to games an event, and I think that outweighs the negative.


400 level: Hey, I was in section 432 for Friday's game. First time at Verizon Center, first Caps game - it was awesome! Excellent view and audio, packed arena, food and drink close by, and easy to get to and from via Metro. Tickets were definitely worth $60 a piece.

Not sure you could say that about the Redskins or Wizards game experiences right now.

Dan Steinberg: E-mail Ted.

No, thanks for writing. The "food and drink" aren't really much better than you'd get at FedEx, but they're certainly warmer, from my experience. Well, not the beer. Actually, as a vegetarian, I'm probably not the best judge of food concessions.

But as much as hardcore fans care about wins more than in-game entertainment, I think this is important. Even if the Caps lose nowadays, you feel like you've just spent time somewhere that mattered, that you've been entertained. If the team wasn't winning you wouldn't be able to fake that feeling, but just because they are winning doesn't mean the buzz is inevitable. And the Rock the Red thing is simply amazing. It's got to have 85 percent participation at this point. How great to see a D.C. sporting event where suits are discouraged.


Washington, D.C.: Do you actually like the Cheeseboy name? Or is it getting old fast?

Dan Steinberg: Indifferent. Actually, I like the connotation that I'm somehow young, since that's rapidly becoming untrue. Well, not rapidly, I guess. I seem to be aging at a normal rate of one day/day.


Downtown: So the NCAA is pretty much set on expanding the tournament. In your eyes, has there ever been such a decision that's been made even though it's so universally reviled by so many? Doesn't have to be sports-related. I can't think of one.

Dan Steinberg: I'm the rare person not in the employ of CBS, ESPN, TNT, the NCAA or its corporate partners that doesn't think this is a bad idea. My brief, non-thought-out arguments.

1) Anything so unpopular can't be as bad as people are making it seem.

2) When the tourney expanded previously, it just got more awesome.

3) George Mason nearly missed the tourney in 2006, and they seemed worthy enough, in retrospect.

4) The first weekend is the most deliriously exciting, and we would get another full weekend of those 8-9 style toss-ups.

5) People complain that all the extra berths would go to mediocre BCS teams, but that's a matter of execution, not of the concept. The concept doesn't mandate that all the extra teams come from the middle of power conferences.

6) The NFL has the leas made-fun of playoff system. About 1/3 of the NFL teams make the postseason. About 1/5 of the NCAA teams do. Even at 96 teams, the NCAA tourney would still allow fewer entrants proportionally than the NFL playoffs, and way, way fewer than the NBA or NHL.

So I say bring it on.


Washington, D.C.: Who says hard core Caps fans "hate" bandwagon fans? I've been in Verizon when it was less than half full. The more the merrier, I say. Is this a media creation?

Dan Steinberg: If I said that, i didn't mean it. I think a few old-timers resent some of the newcomers.


Unleashed Fury Early: There was one time earlier this season where the Capitals were playing flat, the video team on their own initiative played "Unleash the Fury" in the second period instead of the third and Boudreau credited the excitement that generated with energizing the crowd, who energized the team, who came from behind to win. It got written up in The Post; maybe your chat producer can find the link?

washingtonpost.com: It's not easy, but Green lifts Caps, 4-3 (Washington Post, Dec. 12)

Dan Steinberg: Done.


Woodley Park: Any thoughts on Changing the Sports Bog's name out of respect for the thousands of DC commuters who are stuck in traffic every day? The time has come. The other day I heard Bob Marbourg on WTOP say the word Bog and I thought he was going to talk about Capstrnaught, but no, it was a terrible five mile backup on 495. Time has come Dan, Time has come. Or do you need to wait until your good friend Tony Reali gets stuck in traffic before you consider it?

Dan Steinberg: If I hold a contest, would you vote on a 1-900 number? The cost would be $1 a vote, and the proceeds would go to my daughter's college fund. The leading choices are D.C. Sports Swamp, D.C. Sports Automatic Weapon, and D.C. Sports Sea Dogs.


Brooklyn, N.Y.: From what I remember of the Wizards name change, it was actually "C-Dogs" that was submitted and one of the highest vote getters in the naming contest, and that was changed to "Sea Dogs" for the final decision. C-Dogs were either an actual gang, or just some gang lexicon for dawgs from the capital.

Maybe my memory is taking creative license, but I swear there was some "street" behind Sea Dogs.

Dan Steinberg: The Post archives would suggest you're wrong. If you're being serious. Frank Ahrens actually tracked down the guy who suggested Sea Dogs. There was some sort of revolutionary war connotation, as I recall. I've read too many name change stories, sorry, this one was a blur.


Washington, D.C.: If that NY Post story which was proven to be not so accurate never came out, do you think Arenas is still suspended for the season?

Dan Steinberg: I think it's possible. Really hard to predict how things would have gone. Gilbert's Twitter meltdown had a lot to do with Peter Vecsey, and that steered things in a bad direction, but that's not to say something else couldn't have led things in that bad direction absent Vecsey.

I think he was likely winding up with a felony no matter who was writing about it, and David Stern likely wouldn't think that was funny.


Germantown, Md.: Do you think the Caps themselves use this anti-Russian/anti-Caps mentality from the media in Canada and the NHL itself as motivation?

Seems that every time there is a iffy call, or something is said about them ... they respond quickly and in force.

Dan Steinberg: I don't know if they see an anti-Russian anti-Caps bias. A lot of people would suggest that's bunk. Ovechkin is certainly wildly popular with Canadian fans, and the team is spotlighted regularly by Canadian TV.

I think a lot of very good teams respond in force to perceived slights, no matter where they come from. I'm not around the team nearly as much as Tarik or the other beat folks, but I've never sensed a feeling of persecution. They're having too much fun right now to be persecuted.


Overland Park, Kansas: Dan, has your daughter shown any affinity for the new music being played at Caps' games, or have you successfully delayed that for the time being?

Dan Steinberg: My daughter has still only been to one sporting event in her life: the Patriot League basketball final two years ago. She didn't like it. I haven't tried again.

I'm pretty sure I've written this about 80 times, but I see tiny tiny babies and tons of toddlers at Caps games, and I'm just amazed. First of all, because of the bed time issue, but more than that, because of the noise and flashing lights and roaring crowd and all that. My daughter would be cowering in the bathroom, asking to go home and do some puzzles. We must be raising her wrong.


Bowie, Md.: Can you do a bog item where a lucky Bog Fan gets to follow you going to a Caps game?

Dan Steinberg: I'm not sure how lucky that would be. What would they do, watch me take photographs of fans wearing weird jerseys, and then follow me as I eat free popcorn in the press box and pretend to be busy?

The Caps should run a promotion where a lucky fan gets to follow Stretch Leonhardt. That would be entertaining. There's a guy that's the life of the party wherever he goes.


Baltimore: Have you heard any reaction to Jim Zorn's hiring as Ravens QB coach? I did not realize that he had been responsible not only for developing Matt Hasselbeck, but also for helping Charlie Batch achieve the highest passing rating ever by a rookie.

John Harbaugh noted that one of the things that convinced him to ask Zorn, following Hue Jackson's departure for Oakland, was that Zorn, in addition to being experienced developing QBs, is a "good person."

Dan Steinberg: I think Zorn is a good person. I don't think anyone would argue with that. And Hasselbeck has praised Zorn for years, while the two were together in Seattle, after Zorn left for D.C., and after he was fired.

Still, there's no guarantee that this will work, just like there's no guarantee Mike Shanahan will be able to find success in Washington like he found in Denver. Maybe Matt Hasselbeck is just an above-average quarterback, and would have been with or without Jim Zorn. Jason Campbell's numbers improved both years under Zorn, and there were so many other distractions and a pretty short window to develop, but you wouldn't say the Zorn-Campbell relationship was a giant success.


Beninati and Laughlin ...: ... best game callers on TV or am I just a bit biased?

Dan Steinberg: I think a lot of times people start to feel even fonder about their announcers when the team is winning. Remember, Buckhantz and Chenier got their own bobbleheads during the Wizards' playoff years.

But I think all four of those guys are excellent, and I enjoy their work very much. Plus, Locker has the best Canadian accent in the world, far as I can tell.


Washington, D.C., Eyestreet NW: Free Antawn Jamison! Free Caron Butler! They've suffered enough. Where are the human rights abuse foes? I mean, just because these men are multi-millionaires doesn't make their mistreatment acceptable, imprisoned for years on the roster of most boring professional basketball team in America.

And while we're at it, exile Brendan Haywood and Ernie Grunfeld.

Dan Steinberg: A friend of mine recently suggested that the halos over their heads are slightly undeserved, that they were unable to lead this team above wretchedness last year, have been unable to convince the team that defense matters, have been captains of a team that's had infighting for several years dating back to the Etan-Brendan stuff and continuing with the jabs at the young'uns last year and the Caron-Gil stuff this year, and that they've also presided over a team that consistently plays to the level of its competition.

That said, I agree with you.


Alexandria, Va.: Dan,

Great piece on the name change for the Bullets - Well done since the issue was so confusing. Something to highlight is the backlash against Portis and Gil for failing to live up to expectations due to poor habits, bad counsel, and plain stupitidy. Take a page from Oveckin who is clearly a leader by example (last off ice and first to camp and greeting rookies) Something to also point out is the Ovechkin Effect on rising number of youth hockey in the DC metro area. Keep up the great work.

washingtonpost.com: D.C. Sports Bog: Why Abe Pollin went from Bullets to Wizards (Washington Post, Feb. 2)

Dan Steinberg: Thanks.

This does bring up an interesting point, though. Ovechkin is great at a lot of things, and his style of play puts his body through a lot, but he hasn't been shy in the past about missing optional practices and taking days off, sometimes with urging from above. But it has never been an issue the way it has with Portis. As with most things, winning makes you not care.


Ref: PTI Reference: Did you get an increase in number of hits on the Bog because of PTI ??

Dan Steinberg: I'm not sure, but you should have seen the women throwing themselves at me after they realized that a shot of my blog was shown on ESPN for about six seconds on a Monday afternoon.


Reston, Va.: Hey Dan - What do you think - Canada/Russia Olympic Hockey final? Ovi and Sid? Where does U.S. hockey fit in this year?

Dan Steinberg: I think more D.C. sports fans will pay attention to this year's hockey tournament than at any tournament since 1980. And I think that Tarik should be there, despite the financial crunch. And I think that more D.C. sports fans will be rooting for Team Russia than have ever rooted for a Russian national sports team. And I think that a Russian win would make things very interesting during the Caps' remaining trips to Canada this season, and during any potential postseason series. (Montreal?)

U.S.? Not sure.


Washington, D.C.: Lady Ga Ga

Dan Steinberg: Indeed.

And with that, I have to go. Programming note: both City Paper's Dave McKenna and I will be appearing on Washington Post Live Tuesday afternoon at 5. Talk about appointment viewing. Thanks for all the questions, see you next week.


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