First Things First -- Tracee Hamilton on the latest sports news

Tracee Hamilton
Tuesday, September 21, 2010; 9:30 AM

_______________________

Long Island, NY: Tracee, Did you see the plaque that the Yankees installed for George Steinbrenner? 7' x 5' and weighing over 700 pounds! It takes a special arrogance to consider yourself bigger than Babe Ruth.,

Tracee Hamilton: Weren't you surprised it wasn't a larger-than-life-sized statue? I kind of was. Well, he was a bad owner that turned into a good owner and for the Yankees players and fans, I'm sure that feels right. So good for him.LaVar, Dan and Rick will have a new edition of Redskins Insider Live today. You can watch it live, watch it recorded or download a podcast.And good morning, everyone. We can talk about whatever you want; I'm eager to hear from anyone who saw a new TV show last night and actually liked it. I did not fall in love with "Boardwalk Empire" Sunday night but will probably give it another chance. Anyone else? Let's get started...

_______________________

taking control of the paper: Have you considered the DeAngelo Hall approach to crisis management and just take control of the Post yourself? It's your paper and it doesn't matter what Donald Graham says. How would that go over in the board room? That's okay, Tracee is showing "initiative."

Tracee Hamilton: Ha! If there is ever a responsibility I DON'T want ... plus I love Don Graham. So no, I don't think I'll go all D'Angelo any time soon.Personally, I like seeing a guy saying he wants to take on the big dogs.

_______________________

Nats Attendance: I understand that any team that is out of the running late in the season is going to see a slump in attendance but does the historically low figure at Nats Park last night tell us something more? We've seen slippage in attendance every year since baseball's return and there's no real promise of the play on the field improving any time soon. Isolated outbreaks of interest, like Strasburg, might boost attendance in the short term but the only thing that will but people in the seats consistently is winning. Will the Lerners continue to pander to the bottom line instead of the fan base until such time as they are no longer making a profit with a losing team or do you think they are truly committed to building a winning team and have just had bad luck?

Tracee Hamilton: I think they are committed to winning; no one wants to buy a team and lose. But I think they underestimated how long it would take The Plan to come to fruition -- and perhaps underestimated the patience of fans while The Plan was hatching. A chatter emailed me yesterday saying that they can't keep losing because they don't have the solid fan base of, say, the Cubs (or the Sawx in the old days) and that is absolutely true. I really don't see them having bad luck, except for Strasburg, I guess. They've got to improve the lineup and the rotation before next season or people are going to stay away in droves.

_______________________

Strasburg: His reclusivity seems almost psychotic. OK, maybe, not to talk to the press, but not to the Nats' pitching coach? His PR status may be taking a beating here, at least from me.

Tracee Hamilton: He is a different kind of kid, that's for sure. I've said before, I think the team is handling him too gently in this regard.

_______________________

Inside Dope?: So what's the talk around Redskins Park about why we collapsed on Sunday? I hope they're as angry as I am that we gave away a 17 point lead in the 3rd quarter. That should never happen. Any word on changes in the defensive secondary that might make them more effective at stopping the pass?

Tracee Hamilton: I wasn't at the Park yesterday; one of the downsides of writing live Sunday instead of Monday. But check in on Redskins Insider this week. There isn't much availability on Mondays and Tuesdays, usually, so you'll start seeing the news ramp up on Wednesday.

_______________________

Saints were Lucky Last Night: But for two insanely lucky turnovers at the goal line - one by Vilma punching the ball out and an interception by Porter - the 49'ers would've beat the Saints last night. With the Falcons, Bucs and John Fox in their division, repeating as champions looks much more difficult that I thought it would be. They may be 0-2, but Singletary has the 49ers playing hard.

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, the Seattle loss hurt the Niners. But the Saints weren't lucky where Reggie Bush is concerned. That's big.

_______________________

Saw a new tv show?: New tv shows? I was at the ballpark! I can say that I was part of history. :) For it being the smallest paid attendance in Nats history, it seemed better attended than some other Nats games that I have attended.

Tracee Hamilton: Oh, YOU'RE the one!

_______________________

Boardwalk Empire: I quite liked it actually. It was unmercifully hyped all summer but I think that for the most part, it lived up to the billing. High production value, good performances by the actors, very interesting but little know story based on real events. What's not to like?

Tracee Hamilton: It was beautifully done but left me cold. However, I didn't like "Treme" very much the first few episodes and it grew on me, so I'll probably stick with it. Gotta love Buscemi.

_______________________

New TV: Hi Tracee: I watched the Event and DVR'd Hawaii 5-0 last night. The Event was ok. Not enough to fill the "Lost" void, but not a bad way to kill an hour. Will watch H50 tonight.Onto a sports topic...how awful for the Denver Broncos to once again be dealing with death. Just a sad situation.

Tracee Hamilton: I passed on The Event. I taped Hawaii 5-0 but we'll see about that one.The Broncos' situation is tragic. Just tragic.

_______________________

"No one wants to buy a team and lose.": You're assuming that they are motivated by competitive spirit. They are making a lot of money with lousy teams. I don't know if they've recouped their initial investment yet but by all accounts they are doing quite well. What if they see this team as just another money making cog in their business empire? The P&L sheet will tell them that it's been a very successful investment. And you know the old saying. . . if it ain't broke don't fix it. Perhaps they will only "fix it" when it is no longer making money for them. I have been patient with the Lerners but am now decidedly of the opinion that they were the wrong people to give the team to. They need to show clear committment to spending alot of money on upgrading this team or they need to sell before it's too late and MLB ONCE AGAIN takes a team out of Washington.

Tracee Hamilton: It just seems like there are better ways to make money than this. I don't pretend to be a financial wiz, however.

_______________________

Out for six weeks...: September's not turning out to be such a great month for Bush (Reggie, that is). Any thoughts on whether this is karma for not marrying Kim?

Tracee Hamilton: The Kardashians aren't good for the NFL, or for much else, as near as I can tell. Not a fan of that genre. I would say it was Heisman karma but he gave it back!

_______________________

Has Cheese Boy ever pulled a DeAngelo?: Top of the morning to you, Tracee! From what you can recall, has the unicycle-riding, cotton candy-hawking, Cheese Boy ever stomped into a WAPO senior editor's office (yours?), and exclaimed, "This is MY sports section! I don't care what Tracee says. I will Bog about the biggest story. That's how to make a winning paper! Me me me!!!"?

Tracee Hamilton: Ha! No, but I'd pay to see that. Cheese Boy is here today. I never see him anymore so this is a big event.

_______________________

Orioles magic : Tracee, it's been a long time since I could type those words seriously, but under Showalter, a team that always fell to pieces in September is beating the Bucs, battling the Yankees and bamboozling the BoSox. It just doesn't seem possible to me that a managerial change could suddenly mean a young pitching staff starts throwing strikes, closers actually close and clutch two out hits start falling in bunches. It's great, but I wouldn't think that pro ballplayers need to be inspired by a manager to play better--especially as Showalter isn't the rah rah type. (Boswell quoted him as saying to an Os coach before a game started, "Well, let's see what the boys have in store for us today.")

Tracee Hamilton: Clearly he brought something to the table besides fiery speeches. Did he throw the bats in the shower? Call them lollygaggers? I don't know, but whatever he did, he ought to bottle it and sell it.

_______________________

Firings if Dallas 0-3?: Having seen the Texans up close and personal, there is no way Dallas avoids going 0-3, an impossibly long distance from the Super Bowl in the Jerrah Dome. Will heads roll? Whose?

Tracee Hamilton: Jerry Jones is preaching caution, but if (when) they go 0-3, he's going to have to do something. I think Phillips goes.

_______________________

"Unmercifully hyped": That made me laugh out loud thinking of my father who would watch incessant promotion of a new tv show or movie and proclaim "that means it's terrible and they've already shown all the good stuff in the commercials!"

Tracee Hamilton: Your father was a sage. I will never see Avatar, ever, for that reason. Yeesh.

_______________________

Kansas point guards!!: Hi T-Ham. I'm not a Kansas fan, but I know you are. Who, in a critical situation, would you most like to see bringing the ball up: Kirk Hinrich, or Jacques Vaughn? Thanks.

Tracee Hamilton: Hmmmmm. Hinrich, but it's close!

_______________________

Jerseys: OK, here's a riff on the Great Jersey Debate: How about bicyclists wheeling around clad in outfits that looks like they came off the back of a Tour de France entrant, replete with team colors, sponsor logos, etc.?? Give me a break. What pretentious nonsense. Bike in plain colors, OK? Or shorts and a t-shirt. But don't dress like you're Lance Armstrong unless you've got the drug tests to prove it.

Tracee Hamilton: I think there is a legitimate reason to wear bike shorts even for the casual biker. The rest of the outfit does, in fact, look ridiculous on the streets.

_______________________

Washington Times?: Are you allowed to talk about the competition? What's going on over there? Will they survive? Will the Post pick up any of their sports reporters? I never liked the Times though they interviewed me once for a story about the Nats first Spring Training game. I still miss the Washington Star. . .though that may be a bit before your time!

Tracee Hamilton: I don't know if the Times will survive. I hope so; big cities need two newspapers. A lot of the sports writers have gotten gigs, but not all of them. It's a tough market right now for journalists in general.

_______________________

Last Night's TV: I saw The Event last night & LOVED it. People have compared it to Lost and to 24, which I can see, but there was also a touch of a show that died too soon called Nowhere Man. I liked what I saw of Hawaii 50 (early to bed, VERY early to rise!).

Tracee Hamilton: Maybe I should have watched it. I grew to despise "Lost" by the end, though, so maybe not.

_______________________

I'm used to the losing, but...: Morning, Tracee! Ok, I've been a Nats fan since day one (and a 'Stros fan before that), so I'm pretty used to watching my team lose. However, in the past the Nats have managed to finish strong every year. Not so much this year. This team has become listless and sloppy. They just don't seem to be in it. Is this the way it looks to you, or am I just bitter 'cause the canceled Strasmas?

Tracee Hamilton: No, they have at least played the spoiler role in September a few times. The Orioles are doing that now. It's like all the air has gone out of the balloon.

_______________________

Defending Strasburg: I actually just read that article about Strasburg.....and I gotta say...I totally relate to this. I am not the most accessible, and if you miss me, you miss me. It's just that talking sometimes seems like so much work. So get us while we have a moment! And we aren't pyschotic!

Tracee Hamilton: I screen phone calls too, all the time, but not from my employer. Even on vacation.

_______________________

Freedom: At the risk of being the brunt of ridicule and scorn, the Washington Freedom (yes, women's professional soccer...ever hear of Abby Wambaugh?) lost to Philadelphia over the weekend and are out of the playoffs. Do you see the women's pro league making it much longer? And why isn't it more popular with the explosion of Youth Soccer???

Tracee Hamilton: Boy, if I could answer the question about why women's soccer can't catch on in this country, I'd never have to work again. I don't think it will ever have the staying power it needs to succeed, sadly. The WNBA is holding on by a thread as well.

_______________________

Steinbrenner: The size didn't bother me. I was more repelled by the fact that the plaque pays tribute to having built "the most recognizable sports brand in the world." Branding? Honestly? He built winning teams and a legacy. That should be enough; this ain't CNBC. Then again, this plaque clearly needed an editor ("he followed a personal motto of the greatest form of charity is anonymity" -- really? Would Marcus Brauchli or Katharine Weymouth put up with words like that? Don Graham wouldn't, but he's been kicked upstairs).

Tracee Hamilton: Um, that's really bad. I would hope Marcus and Katharine wouldn't put up with that. Didn't anyone read it first?

_______________________

Is the Wing Out of the Sling?: How you doin'?

Tracee Hamilton: I'm hearing this question in a Joey Tribiani voice, so I'm laughing. I'm in the sling in public, still, but I'm typing with much less pain. Traveling this weekend is my next challenge.

_______________________

Sports as War: Tracee,I really enjoyed your column yesterday, although entertaining to a non-fan means risking a heart attack for fans. Reference your comment yesterday that you forbid war analogies in sports copy, thank you. Like yesterday's poster I've also been down range several times and it drives me up the wall when athletes call themselves warriors, coaches talk about going to battle, etc. I appreciate your keeping sports in perspective. Now if we can just get athletes to quit talking about themselves in the third person...

Tracee Hamilton: Ha! Good luck with that. I hope I didn't offend that veteran. I didn't mean to. But that can't be the standard to judge anyone else's stress.

_______________________

Avatar is actually worth it: I was not psyched about Avatar but I watched it on Netflix and loved it. I even strongly considered seeing it in 3D in the theatre when it was re-released. But I have trouble with the ridiculous cost of 3D tickets so I've not gone yet and am not even sure it's still out there.

Tracee Hamilton: Well ... maybe I'll give in one of these days.

_______________________

But he promised her he would propose if the Saints won the Super Bowl!: He broke his promise--plain and simple. Karma is a (ahem) Kardashian.

Tracee Hamilton: And Miles Austin is dating one now, and the Cowboys are 0-3. Is it the same one? If it is, then perhaps Bush knew what he was doing. You can see how much I know or care about the Kardashians.

_______________________

Do you wish KU had Mark Mangino back?: I liked him because he was fat, and I'm a fat guy. Fat guys are mean (Friedgen used to break blackboards at Ga. Tech halftimes) and mean guys can win. See Showalter, Buck; Singletary, Mike; Shanahan, Mike, mean, albeit thin.

Tracee Hamilton: Coach" T-shirt. But no, the wheels had come off that bus. I think he'll be back in a year or two as a coordinator somewhere. He has a lot of friends in the biz.

_______________________

Air Out of the Balloon: What do they expect when they refuse to sign good players who set good examples who want to be here and lead this team? Of course I refer to Adam Dunn. Ryan Z. should be thankful he's not up for renegotiation this year. I'm not convinced that the Lerners wouldn't play hard ball with him and let him drift away.

Tracee Hamilton: Dunn is now saying he thinks he'll be back. These have been some confusing negotiations.Oh, I've gotta fly. Sorry about that, but Tuesdays I can't go long. Thanks, all, and let's chat tomorrow.


© 2010 The Washington Post Company