D.C. Sports Bog Live: Olympics, Caron Butler Brendan Haywood trade, college basketball and more

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Dan Steinberg
D.C. Sports Bogger
Tuesday, February 16, 2010; 11:30 AM

D.C. Sports Bogger Dan Steinberg were online Tues. Feb. 16 to break down the Olympics, the Caron Butler Brendan Haywood trade, college basketball, the Redskins, other sports news and your questions and comments about his latest bog posts.

A transcript follows.

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

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Dan Steinberg: Chat!

Just finished writing something about Robin Ficker's newfound heckling talents at Maryland Terps wrestling matches. Getting ready to watch Olympic curling. Thanking the heavens every minute that I'm not in Vancouver. Trying to figure out what I should write about Caron Butler before closing that chapter. Wondering if Maryland or Richmond should be ranked higher in the Atlantic 11. And thinking about Western Canadian cheese.

Your questions on these or other topics are welcome.

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Caps/Wizards ratings: One way to perhaps shed some light on the ratings conundrum you mention might be to see if you can find any CSN ratings for the high-water mark of the Wizards, the 05 and 06 seasons. How do they compare to the baseline of the last two years? Did the Wizards average leaps and bounds higher in the ratings than the 1.5 they're getting now back then, when they were good? Did they earn a 3, 4, or 5 rating or even average a 2.8 for regular season games in February? Or do they just simply have a stronger die-hard base which will watch them on TV no matter how good they are but when they're good aren't really that much more popular than a winning Caps team?

Dan Steinberg: Man, more work. Sigh.

Ok, I'll try to do this. I find the ratings endlessly fascinating, but I could understand if readers are getting sick of them. If you haven't seen my latest post, through the end of January the Wizards and Caps were getting nearly identical ratings on CSN/CSN+. Lots of possible factors to offer all sorts of context to that basic fact, but the basic fact is odd to me. You would certainly expect the numbers to diverge widely over the next two months, with the Caps contending for the President's Trophy and the Wizards starring Andray Blatche.

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Mt. Lebanon, Penn.: In college basketball, everyone has lost; Kansas and Kentucky look to be above the rest of the pack. Maybe Purdue, too.

So who's the overall No. 1 pick should the dance start on this Tuesday (play-in game)?

Big East still seems like the best conference, all things considered. Yes?

Thanks much.

Dan Steinberg: You're asking who would be seeded No. 1 overall? Not sure, but if I were filling out a bracket this week I think I'd have Kentucky beating Syracuse in the final, with a tiebreaker of 6 (number of years until Kentucky vacates its Final Four appearance).

Sure, the Big East looks to be ridiculously strong, but don't forget I won $1 by betting Eric Prisbell last year that a Big East team wouldn't win it all. The UConn/Pitt/Louisville trio seemed unstoppable last March, but both Pitt and Louisville bowed out before their seeding dictated (though Pitt lost to another Big East team).

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SW, Washington, D.C.: Dan, do you think GW will can Karl Hobbs if the Colonials don't make the A-10 tournament? In a season when a record number of NCAA tournament berths could be given to the A-10, I find it incredible GW is risking missing the A-10 tournament all together ... again. How long will underachieving and mediocrity be tolerated in Foggy Bottom?

Dan Steinberg: I don't know his contract situation and haven't been following the buzz over there, so honestly I'd be remiss in speculating.

I don't think the Colonials will miss out on the tourney, though. With four of six remaining games at home, three against fellow bottom dwellers, I think GW will do enough to get to Atlantic City.

And as we found out a few years ago (and Binghamton found out more recently, with the help of a former GW assistant), there's a fine line between underachieving and achieving in unsatisfactory ways.

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Washington, D.C.: We were outplayed and outmuscled by Brian f'in Zoubek. That is embarrassing. Well, on the bright side, we only lost by half as many as last year. Is it just me or is Duke actually improving as the year goes on? I have a sinking suspicion that Coach K might actually get them to the Final Four. Please talk me down off my ledge.

Dan Steinberg: Well, I think you'll be off on that ledge by yourself if you pick Duke to go to the Final Four. The past few years have made it virtually mandatory that you pick Duke to bow out ahead of schedule in the tourney. I mean, they got absolutely run off the floor against Villanova in the tourney last year, and two years ago at Verizon Center, West Virginia seemed clearly superior. Ditto with this year's meeting with Georgetown. That's three Big East opponents.

The sinking suspicion you might be searching for is that the ACC is again sub-part this year, which is why Duke is now looking better

I guess we'll find out in a few weeks, though.

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Washington, D.C.: Think Flip is smart enough to get JaVale some playing time now that Haywood is out of town? He's, like, the only interesting young player left on the team.

Dan Steinberg: I mean, I don't know what the point would be of not playing him at this point, but I could have said the same thing two weeks ago. He's been the only interesting young player on the team all season, and the team has been bad all season.

I don't think you could find a single Wiz fan who would have argued against breaking up this outfit, and yet the rest of this season is going to be so hard to care about. It's not like the end of the '09 Skins season, when you could watch guys like Brian Orakpo and Devin Thomas and Fred Davis and maybe try to muster up some optimism. It's strictly a wait and hope for the Lottery situation, which in Wiz history has spelled disaster.

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Somewhere in a nicer, much more friendly universe: So what are the odds the Pirates and the Nats play for the pennant this year?

Does you calculator display that many digits or did you have to guess-timate it?

Come back please, Mr. Mazz- - a lonely nation looks for greatness once again. Raw talent, grit, natural body parts.

Thanks.

- Bill Mazeroski - ask Yogi Berra who he is.

Dan Steinberg: More interesting, if Pittsburgh and D.C. are facing off for a pennant, will the simultaneous labeling of each others fans as bandwagoning losers cause the universe to explode?

I would hope that one day, in a nicer, much more friendly universe, Nats and Pirates fans could develop the sort of mutual admiration that Pens and Caps fan have. That sort of stuff is great for Web traffic.

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Caps/Wiz ratings: It's pretty simple: The Caps have a tiny group of core fans, even now, versus the Wizards. Leonsis has put the Caps number at around 50,000. I don't know what his math would show for the Wizards, but based on just about every metric you can think of -- ticket sales, TV ratings, merch sales, Web traffic/searches, column inches in the Post -- they have to be way ahead. It will take more than one 14-game win streak to overcome that. Plus, people play hoops here in great numbers, indoors and outdoors, at every level. Can't remember the last time I was driving down the street and saw anybody playing on a frozen pond. Sorry, but the White House street hockey games do not count.

Dan Steinberg: I don't know if I agree with you. Ticket sales, Wizards way ahead? Doubt that. Web traffic/searches? No way. Not this year. I see The Post's Web numbers, and the Caps are way, way ahead of the Wizards. Not close.

To engage in random and irresponsible conjecture, I'd think there's a big demographic element here. Caps games are the whitest show in town, way whiter than even Nats games. Wizards games are the most diverse sporting events I've attended at any arena in any city in the country. D.C. is a hugely diverse area. If (and I'm not sure, I'm just conjecturing) the TV audience matches the in-stadium audience, then the Caps have a whole bunch of households they're just not competing for.

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Caps/Wizards and CSN: I really don't care about CSN vs. CSN+ ratings, what irks me is when both teams have games at the same time they invariably put the Caps on CSN+. That means no HD for the Caps, at least for those of us in FIOS land. Hockey in HD is so much better and I would think that Comcast would want the "good team" in HD as opposed to the "bad team."

Dan Steinberg: I've been over this ground before, but "invariably" is the wrong word. The teams had a virtually identical percentage of games on CSN+ this year. When the Caps had a recent game switched off + and onto CSN, that meant the Wiz had a higher percentage of their local games on +.

Now, you could argue that CSN should base the whole thing on success, but entering this season, the Wizards were supposed to be competitive. No one thought this was coming.

And as a hockey fan, if the Caps are bad and the Wizards great in 10 years, you would not want all conflicts resolved in favor of the Wiz. You have to maintain some basic standard of equity between the two teams. What everyone really wants is an overflow HD channel, which could make everyone happy. (FIOS has now picked up CSN+)

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Leesburg, Va.: Steinz,

Do you watch "The Simpsons?"

Whole episode aboot curling on Sunday, and it was great.

Dan Steinberg: I used to. Maybe 10 years ago.

And if it hasn't already, curling will very soon enter the land of "way too much ironic love from hipsterish people causing it to completely lose its initial luster." I mean, this love affair has been going on at least since SLC in 2002. But I think we can love it at least one more cycle.

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Alexandria, Va.: Interesting that you can order a Wang jersey at the Nats' site, but not a Strasburg jersey.

And secondly, can you comment on the Adam Kilgore to the Nats beat rumors?

Dan Steinberg: I don't talk to anyone official about Post personnel moves any more, so you got me, but former newspaperman Mike Harris from Nationals Fanboy Looser says he's confirmed Kilgore to The Post. Mike Harris is a man you can trust.

Good point on Strasburg.

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Randy Foye: I'm not interesting!? Ok, you're right. I'm not.

Dan Steinberg: There's also no particular reason to think you'll be here next year. Plus, you'll be 27 by the time the next opening day rolls around.

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McLean, Va.: This may be kind of back-handed, but I insist it is intended as a complement...

Since you've stopped transcribing Radio Interviews about the Redskins, the quality of Bog articles has really gone through the roof. You better be careful, my expectations are starting to raise.

Dan Steinberg: So you're saying you didn't appreciate my first entry today, a transcribed Russ Grimm radio interview?

(I know that the transcribed radio interviews are terrible content, but man do they do well. That LaVar Arrington-Clinton Portis stuff last week? Killer numbers.)

(And as more and more people start talking about Web numbers at The Post, I'm more and more inclined to start wringing my hands about the future of journalism. Pretty soon I'll be back to writing 14,000-word entries about local polo matches that absolutely nobody reads, just to make sure I'm ethically pure.)

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Ballston, Va.: What no coverage of the US winning the America's Cup and bringing it back to U.S. for the first time in 15 years?

Come on, I know its not a stick and ball sport but it deserves blog space over Lez Boulez and the Redskins!

Takes more physical stamina and athletic skill to sail that trimaran than to play in the NBA or NFL. America's Cup sailors have significantly better reaction times than 99 percent of MLB, NFL, and NBA players!

Dan Steinberg: You mean from me? Or the paper? Angus Phillips covered it for the paper, yes? Can't possibly ask for a better writer or reporter than that. As I've often said, even though I've never hunted, fished, sailed, or done anything more taxing that hit record on my digital recorder, Angus's Sunday pieces were my favorite thing about the Sunday sports section. So sad to see those go.

As for me, I really wouldn't have much to say of any value about the America's Cup, since I really know nothing about it, nor does it have a D.C. angle.

I'd be willing to bet you on that reaction time thing, though. Russell Coutts is 47. It's tough for me to imagine a 47 year old having significantly better reaction times than 99 percent of players 10 or 20 years his junior.

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Washington, D.C: Isn't it almost a shame that the Wiz got a few reasonably talented players in return for Caron, etc.? I mean, wouldn't you rather see Nick Young, McGuire, and Javale out there getting minutes than Howard and Gooden? Not to mention, we'd never win another game and maybe have a better shot at Wall.

Dan Steinberg: Well, the Wizards aren't catching the Nets anyhow. They could literally lose out and still not catch the Nets. There are only two other teams worse than them, and the difference in odds isn't that massive between fourth and second-worst. Plus, the lottery loathes D.C., so even if they got every ping pong combination in the hopper, the thing would still explode and in the mad rush of bouncing ping pong balls somehow John Wall would wind up in New York. So forget that.

The shame of it is not getting a draft pick. That at least would give us something else to keep track of throughout the spring, and another set of collegiate players to wonder about.

But no, I can't say that major minutes for Nick Young and Dom McGuire would really make me more likely to watch the Wizards down the stretch. Either I'm watching (due to existential angst and too much laziness to reach for the clicker) or I'm not. Dominic McGuire ain't making the difference there.

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CSN and MASN: Don't you think CSN and MASN could increase their ratings if they showed stuff we actually wanted to watch? Like video re-enactments of Russ Grim eating a regurgitated hot dog?

Dan Steinberg: Well, aside from fictional Skins re-tellings, like what? Obviously last night's menu of ACC women's hoops (CSN) and MAAC men's hoops (MASN) isn't getting it done, but what would be better in this market, at this time of year? CAA basketball probably doesn't rake in the viewers. You can only play Redskins Nation and WaPo Live replays so many times. Spring Training previews? MAAC WOMEN'S hoops would do better than that.

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Capped: Hey, Dan, remember when the Caps were good? Jeez, they haven't won in their last three games. I think Ted should break up the team.

Dan Steinberg: Thought it was interesting to see the very different reactions of the Blues and Caps players walking off the ice on Saturday. The Blues were slapping helmets, jumping sillily, all smiles. The Caps had heads down, looking glum. The difference? One stupid skill competition shot that bounced off metal and then hit Jose Thedore's back? Sure, those are the rules, but in terms of quality of play, it's a pretty marginal thing to get emotional about.

As for breaking up the team, send Ted an e-mail. He loves that sort of message.

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Arlington, Va.: What did you do to Thomas Boswell?

Dan Steinberg: I asked him to get me 14,000 words of transcribed Skins interviews. Then he disappeared.

He's on vacation. Will be back for spring training.

Here's what I was talking about with the curling: people in the office are ooing and ahhing over every stone right now. It makes me want to watch figure skating. Why is it that ironic loves stop being so passionate once the object of your desire becomes universally loved?

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Washington, D.C.: So now that Mark Zuckerman raised $10,000+ to go to Nationals spring training, are you prepared to start a fund raising drive to follow A-11 favorite Richmond across the country on its march to the Final Four?

Dan Steinberg: No. Richmond isn't really D.C., much as I'd like it to be.

But Zuckerman's drive has gotten some major national pub, huh? One of the topics of Slate's podcast this week.

Richmond is still being projected in the 7-9 range, right? That could be one and done. I'd feel much better about ODU as a 12 seed going to the second weekend than Richmond as a 7 or 8.

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Takoma Park, Md.: Your comment about the demographic diversity of Wizards fans reminds me of those great lyrics penned by Nils Lofgren for "Bullets Fever" (original, pre-championship version): "It makes no difference what county you're from,/the Speeding Bullets play for everyone." The lyrics went on to say, "The Celtics and the Sixers, when they come to town,/they better be amazing, or they're gonna go down."

That's right - you have to be quite good to beat our team!

Dan Steinberg: Not sure what the question was, but I love the fact that the message extolling diversity came from Takoma Park.

(And obviously there are minorities who like hockey and love the Caps. Just making an observation.)

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Re: MAAC men's hoops: Speaking as a daily college basketball gambler, MASN showing MAAC and whatever other random conference college basketball games has been one of the great things to happen to cable television in several years.

Go St. Peter's!

Dan Steinberg: Wait, Rider won by six, at St. Peter's, and the Peacocks had a better MAAC record. No chance you could have won by betting on St. Peter's. Unless you teased it with Fairfield or something.

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Speaking of the draft lottery: For what it's worth, I have a buddy who works for an NBA franchise, and based upon his conversations with front office types, he is 100 percent convinced the conspiracy theories about the lottery being rigged are true.

Dan Steinberg: Just wish the conspirators had somehow conspired to force Michael Jordan to pick Pau Gasol or Joe Johnson.

Course, without Kwame Brown, the Wiz never would have gotten Caron Butler, and without Caron Butler, the Wiz never would have gotten Quinton Ross, so I shouldn't really complain.

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Stuck in snowbound SE: Are Wizards games more diverse than even D.C. United matches? I'm sure they're diverse in different ways, but how do the two crowds stack up?

Dan Steinberg: Ok, that's a good question. And yes, they're diverse in different ways.

I think I would argue that Wizards games are more diverse; there's a really large Asian population there, in addition to the obvious black/white thing I was referring to. This racial fanbase profiling feels wrong, incidentally. But the DCU diversity strikes me as more of a white/Hispanic only thing.

It's a good point, though.

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Falls Church, Va.: In trying to make sense of your ratings conundrum, why not consider the most likely reason for it, namely that the entire ratings system is most likely corrupt and cannot be trusted. Look at radio ratings. They changed their methodology a couple of years ago, and all of a sudden the ratings went topsy-turvy. Local radio legends like Donnie Simpson and Don and Mike have been forced off the air, because apparently no one was really listening to them all those years they were No. 1 in the ratings. But who's to say the new methodology is reading things right? No one knows.

The same thing with TV ratings. If your common sense tells you that what's being reported just can't be right, then it probably isn't. The methodology is suspect. Science evolves. People used to think bloodletting and leeches were good for you, after all ...

Dan Steinberg: Skepticism is fine, but there's a certain internal consistency to these numbers if you follow them from week to week or year to year.

My common sense doesn't tell me that what's being reported just can't be right. It's surprising, but not literally unbelievable. When you consider national ratings and history and so on, it makes some sort of vague sense for the Wizards to remain competitive with the Caps on TV.

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Washington, D.C.: I'm watching TV yesterday and hearing all these national and local TV sports reporter talk about how great of a player Caron Butler is and how he will help Dallas compete with the Lakers, then imply how his bad season was all Gilbert's fault. I'm calling bs on that. Gilbert is to blame for a lot this season but he's not to blame for Caron's bad season, because after he was banished Caron still was bad. Your thoughts?

Dan Steinberg: I agree with you that Caron was bad from beginning to end, though his numbers are a lot less bad than you'd have guessed from watching him.

But I completely think Caron Butler will help Dallas. He's young enough, and he was good recently enough, that it seems reasonable to suggest that a new background, a new system and a chance to actually win games will bring back the old Tuff Juice.

That said, I will not be one of these people dumping on Caron on his way out of town. He was a perfect gentleman with the media, was funny and charming and honest, had an incredible back story, and was a terrific performer for most of his tenure here.

And at some point, some of the fault for what happened to Caron has to carry over to Flip Saunders, right? I don't know why he never seemed comfortable in Flip's system, but that seems like a two-way problem.

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New York, N.Y.: Not sure why it took me so long to put this together, but it just hit me last week when I saw an advertisement that the Nationals' baseball cap logo is almost exactly the same as the Walgreens drug store logo. Any plans for the Nats to change? If not, shouldn't Walgreens be paying them a hefty advertising fee?

Dan Steinberg: People have been saying this for years. I don't know that an association with the Nats would help Walgreens much, so maybe it's just a wash.

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Downtown: Are you the Capstronaut? Mild mannered reporter by day...

Dan Steinberg: No, for the last decade or so, the only costume I've ever worn is that of the Unabomber. Not terribly funny, I now realize, but when I was a 22-year old with poor planning skills, all I ever managed to do was find some sunglasses and flip up my hooded sweatshirt.

Odds that the Capstronaut shows up for a Russian Olympic hockey game in Vancouver?

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Bethesda, Md.: Dan - can you act as sort of a moral compass for me? This entire Olympics I have been glued to any and all luge coverage. It's an addiction I can't cure. My friends and I agree we don't even care what or who is going down the track, we just want to see people tackling '50/50' at 90 miles-per-hour. All I want is more luge, is that wrong?

Dan Steinberg: Yeah, that's a little twisted. Though I watched the video online. I said I wasn't going to, and even after I found it I briefly considered stopping it before the crash happened, but damn it all, the human condition got me. Pretty disturbing, to think about why we're drawn to stuff like that. But luge certainly wouldn't be the first spectator sport to profit off the allure of the crash.

As for me, I'm not finding much impulse to watch the Olympics. Here's the thing: they have luge and skating and skiing championships like every winter. And if I don't care about them in the winter of 2009, why would I care about them in the winter of 2010? Because a dark-haired Bob Costas is sitting in front of a fireplace?

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Durham, N.C.: Slate seems to have picked up a story that should have been right in the Bog's wheelhouse: Cheese and Olympic skiing.

washingtonpost.com: Why Does Lindsey Vonn Have Cheese on Her Leg? (Slate, Feb. 15)

Dan Steinberg: That is absolutely amazing. Of course, if I were in Vancouver, I'd have been running around with some obscure team/athlete from Cape Verde that no readers actually care about, so I'd have missed this entirely.

I think cheese might be like curling. Maybe it's run its course. Get it? Run?

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19th and R: Should Wizards fans close their eyes on this season, ignore what the Pollin family has decided to do to save money, pretend Ernie isn't selling our assets at 25 cents on the dollar and just wait for the glory, glory days of the Leonis era?

Dan Steinberg: That sounds like a fine plan. I'd consider putting my tickets up for sale on Craisglist, too. Or better yet, on WaPo.com, assuming we still sell classifieds or whatever.

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Bethesda, Md.: Dan - I understand you have little to do with this but putting Va. Tech at No. 2 in the Atlantic Poll is bogus ... Tell me how that goes over when they lose to Wake and Duke this week. Let's go Terps!

Dan Steinberg: Well, they ARE 20-4, with an identical ACC record as the Terps. If they lose two this week, they'll drop. But if you're convinced the Terps are better and no results actually matter, then why even have the poll?

The bigger outrage is Maryland over Richmond. Surely you agree, yes?

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Edgemoor: It puzzles me that the Wizards were willing to let Hayward go at all. He has been better and better the last couple of seasons and very very consistent. Is it really so easy to find starting centers in this league? Is see the reason for trading Tough Juice, despite how much I liked him. He was not consistent this year and did not seem to fit the offense. Jamison is another favorite. However, as has been argued, he is of a certain age and not a keeper if you are blowing up the team and can get value for him.

Value is my other question. Why trade any of them for less than value? Why not wait until next year if no value is available in the present circumstances?

Dan Steinberg: Luxury tax. Financial flexibility. A fear that Haywood will be impossible to re-sign, which would lead to literally no return value, which winds up being less than $.01 on the dollar.

There's a lot we don't know. Who's calling the shots here? Who benefits most from getting under the luxury tax threshold, or even just reducing the bill? Such a weird scenario, trying to demolish this team right as its sale value is being appraised. Some people have called for more openness from the franchise about the plan, but with all the behind-the-scenes action, that seems like an unreasonable suggestion. Lot of sitting and waiting, and then a lot of unnamed sources dishing. That's what we can expect.

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20 feet away: GW's chances of making the Atlantic 10 tournament may be somewhat good, but the Colonials' chances of making a trip to Atlantic City are slim: First-round games are at campus sites, so that would mean GW likely will travel someplace that isn't AC for its first-round game.

Game on Wednesday against U-Mass. is huge in determining if GW will travel anywhere. The battle for the bottom of the league is like a bizarro version of the six-way scrum at the top.

Dan Steinberg: Aha, I didn't actually realize that. Maybe if I were responsible for the travel budget, I'd have known.

And the fact that you are following this makes me a little bid sad. I'm sorry.

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Washington, D.C.: Dan, what's your take on rooting for Russia in the Olympics. Some say "OK against any country except the US," and maybe that matchup won't happen, but if it does? I don't know if it's physically possible to root for Brooks Orpik against the Alexes and Federov. Is this wrong? Is it treason?

Dan Steinberg: I've dealt with this before, but I think it's completely expected and natural and might possibly be irrelevant, since as you say they might not play. It's one thing with the out-of-season NBA stuff, but this is right in the middle of the season. Last week you loved Ovi and hated Orpik, and that'll be hard to switch off and then switch back on two weeks later.

Of course, the further issue is guys like Malkin and Gonchar; it's not like rooting for Russia is ethically pure for diehard Caps fans. I say you just evaluate each game on its merits, and sort of let the natural rooting interest emerge. Your heart will tell you if you're on the right path. And if the final's something like Sweden vs. Canada, it won't be hard to figure out what you should do.

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Washington, D.C.: When do you think Gilbert speaks to the media again ... if ever?

Dan Steinberg: I don't know if it'll be a big press conference, but he'll speak to the media. Even his disdain for Peter Vecsey didn't make him stop speaking to reporters he trusted when the whole gunz thing went down. And his op-ed in The Post was an acknowledgment that public opinion still matters.

Remember, he tried the media boycott earlier this year. He didn't like the fines, so then he tried to be sullen and uncooperative. But he couldn't maintain that for more than a few weeks, and then he was regular old Gilbert for a spell. Maybe it wont' be like that ever again in D.C., and maybe "regular old Gilbert" no longer exists after something traumatic like this, but my own guess is that there are actual Gilbert Arenas quotes before this NBA season ends.

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Barftown: Why don't we just sign Joe Johnson this offseason? Problem solved.

Dan Steinberg: Which problem solved? Fan interest? Competitiveness? You think Joe Johnson makes this team playoff-caliber? Or sellout-caliber?

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Ernie: Hopefully Ernie G will also be gone when new leadership takes over. For every one of his good ones (Brown for Butler), he has about 4 debacles. None of his recent picks are starters or even getting much playing time. Blatche and Young are head cases and McGee needs PT.

And with this latest trade, the Wizards get only salary cap relief and nothing else.

Agree?

Dan Steinberg: Pecherov?

The drafting legacy has some blemishes, that's for sure. But remember, as recently as two years, he was hailed as a wizard, the best GM in town, etc. The franchise had been horrendous forever, and he turned them into an annual playoff team, seemingly out of nowhere. Who knows what happens with the front-office after the ownership change happens, but those four years of playoffs (despite frequent injuries) aren't getting erased from Ernie's resume.

As for the trade, I know why you'd say what you're saying, but it's hard to judge without knowing what other offers might have been out there, and what other deals might still come.

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Wheaton, Md.: Glad to see Robin Ficker found a new outlet since they won't let him into Verizon Center and Roadside Veggie Stand season is over.

Although he seems very sedate these days I wonder if he acted like that when his kid was wrestling?

You have anything to do with the fact that the scores of the last two Maryland Wrestling matches have appeared in the Post?

Dan Steinberg: No credit here. Maybe Ficker gets credit, after The Post published his letter to the editor.

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Downtown: Why do a lot of people (Maryland fans, especially) take the Atlantic 11 poll so seriously? It's like they think the selection committee awards at-large bids based on what the Thighmaster and Jamie Paquette think.

It's humor, people.

Dan Steinberg: Wait, this doesn't affect at-large bids? Like, not at all?

I think your comments are fine regarding the jokes, but if people really didn't care about the order at all, someone should tell me to stop doing the excel stuff. I would hope that people are at least mildly curious about the weekly rankings.

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DeeSee: Dan,

Your aversion to the Winter Olympics is odd and a bit unfair. The Winter Games are very warm and embracing, while the Summer Games usually feature some behemoth of a venue, and 5 bazillion meaningless attendees. I'm not saying that anything is particularly wrong with the Summer Games, but I think that your assertion that nobody cares about the Winter Games is a bit wannabe hipsterish (I think I've even seen a tee-shirt that reads "nobody cares" below the Vancouver logo -- how creative). There are weird sports that people don't notice every SUMMER too... it's just FUN to watch the Olympics. ...Give me a break man.

Dan Steinberg: I didn't mean to make this a Winter vs Summer thing, more of an Olympics vs Sports I Follow Every Other Week thing. I feel much the same about the Summer Olympics; I don't follow javelin or paddling or badminton in the summer of 2011, so why would I be passionate in the summer of 2012? I don't say the winter or summer attendees are meaningless; it means a lot for a lot of people. But I don't know that it means a lot to me.

Also, I didn't mean to say nobody cares. Obviously a heckuva lot of people care, based on NBC's involvement and the sponsors and all the rest.

One of my editors was surprised that visiting the last two Olympics didn't make me care even more, and I told him it was quite the opposite. Being around the corporateness of it, and the TV-studio feel inside every venue really sort of ruined it for me.

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Alexandria, Va.: Not a big fan of all the ice skating/dancing that the networks will be cramming into primetime.

But I did tune in last night, just in time to catch that crazy snowboard race with the jumps and curves and the jostling between the racers - that was good TV.

Dan Steinberg: Is that SBX? I saw Tweets about SBX last night, and thought it was South by Southwest or something.

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Well, if it's diversity you're all about there in D.C. land..: How about starting a professional cricket club?

With English tea, scones, petit fours, lady fingers, butter, jam ... for the attendants.

Willow bats, balls, sticky wickets and all.

And a whole new sports lingo to learn to boot. Centuries, overs, and goodness knows what else?

Play ball (or whatever they utter) ...

Dan Steinberg: There's a big cricket scene in D.C. Some section of the paper or other does a feature on it about every other year. I'd rather have some daal than the scones, though.

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Strasburg Shirt/Jersey: You can order a Nats jersey or t-shirt for Strasburg. Just choose custom and enter in "Strasburg" and "37". Bingo.

I got my Strasburg t-shirt a couple months before he was drafted and my brother got me a Strasburg jersey for Christmas. Can't wait to see Strasburg pitch in person.

Dan Steinberg: Yeah, but it's harder to make a conspiratorial blog post out of that.

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Caps/Wiz Ratings: To the guy who has never seen anyone play hockey on a frozen pond ... he should have been by the canal a few weeks ago to see that. Better yet, try and get ice time other than 3 am at a local rink.

The Caps fan base is more than 50,000 as evidenced by the fact that they are now drawing over 100,000 to watch regular season games. basketball gets better ratings because this is a great basketball town. more people are basketball fans than hockey fans..now. I bet a smaller percentage of basketball "fans" watch the wiz than the percentage of hockey "fans" watch the Caps.

Dan Steinberg: Interesting point, but I talked personally to a few actual sports fans who said they were watching games during the Caps' streak due to snow and the streak, but that they won't be regular viewers until the playoffs. If the Caps maintain this insane cushion in the standings, it might be hard to keep the casual fan in March, especially vs. NCAA hoops.

But the net of POTENTIAL viewers has obviously grown massively over the past two years, and you'd expect that to really manifest itself in the playoffs.

Man, I've obviously run out of words if I'm using manifest like that. I gotta get out of here. Apologies for that. Will be back here next week.

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