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

Tracee Hamilton
Wednesday, January 12, 2011; 9:30 AM

Every morning, Post columnist Tracee Hamilton discusses the most amazing and outrageous news from the world of sports.

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WKRP Classic: Les Nessman leads the news with "Monster Lizard Strikes East Coast". Apparently the "b" was broken on the printer.

Tracee Hamilton: Perfect way to start the morning!Looks like it's more lizard than blizzard out there this morning, but I'm sure there are some areas that got more snow than we did here in Vienna.I want to say that I was wrong yesterday; TCU should be No. 2. Thought about this a lot yesterday and changed my mind.Now, on to the questions...

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Business of Sports forum: At the Business of Sports forum yesterday with all the owners present, did any of the owners thank Dan Snyder for a 10 year tutorial in how to not run a team? Any time the other owners had a big decision, they could have just asked themselves "what would Dan do" and do the opposite.

Tracee Hamilton: It was interesting, when the owners were asked what they'd learned from other owners, Snyder repeatedly said that he was just rooting for all of them to win a championship.The highlight video is well worth watching, I think. There are some funny moments. J-Reid wrote a story as well.

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Typos: I submit a question or comment every week or so and am often embarrassed to find that they contain typos. In my defense, I am old and my eyesight isn't the greatest; and the on-screen type is small and light. (Note use of semicolor!) This is as opposed to my regular email, where the default settings are large, dark t ype. I do read them over before submitting but sometimes still miss things. So please, no snarky comments, unless the typo is really a whopper. Thanks and apologies in advance.

Tracee Hamilton: I know I make typos, too, because I'm in a hurry to answer as many questions as possible. If I take the time to edit myself, I'd answer half the questions. So no worries and no snarky comments here! I think I smacked one person, once, for a misspelling, and that was the guy who lambasted me and the paper for constantly writing about Brett Farve [sic]. If the guy was forced to read about him constantly, shouldn't he be able to spell his name correctly? That, I think, has been my lone shot, and I stand by it!

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Clinton, not Hillary: Do you see Portis hanging around next year? I think he's reinventing himself as 100% Shanahan so he can bag the Redskins rushing record. He only needs 500 yards, but I don't think his body can take being more than the 2nd back.

Tracee Hamilton: I don't think they keep him because of how much he's due to earn, a figure I don't have at my fingertips but it's high for a second back. It's high for a starting back, which he no longer is.

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8 point lead with less than a minute to play: I finally watched some Wizards basketball last night. The last couple minutes of regulation made me never want to watch another game, ever. Only the Wizards could blow an 8 point lead with less than a minute to play. Only the Wizards could give up a 4 POINT PLAY in the final minute. Their defensive scheme is to just play the "matador."

Tracee Hamilton: If you missed the game -- and I'm betting some of you did -- read Michael Lee's account. "Only the Wizards" could be the perfect ironic slogan for this team. Yeesh.

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Every Now & Then They Surprise You. . .: The Wizards won 136-133 in overtime. I'm amazed! The Caps lost but still got a point. It's possible to win the President's Trophy with a losing season, BTW. Just win 40 and lose 42 in overtime--122 points!

Tracee Hamilton: And here's someone who sees the glass half full and just enjoys the win! The Caps, meanwhile, did well to come back from three goals down but ...

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Tracee, I took a calculated gamble last night-- and lost.: A jaunty and appropriately-relational top of the morning to you! Okay, like many of us, I'm sure, I wrongly assumed that I would be given a 2-hour delay start to my work day. So, I did what any red-blooded American would do: I stayed up until 1am playing Wii Tennis, figuring that I could bank on sleeping in a bit. It didn't work out that way. Now I'm really really tired. You can scold me if you wish, bench me in favor of Rex Grossman, or scratch the eyes of a cheetah to teach me a lesson. I accept whatever is coming to me. Thanks in advance.

Tracee Hamilton: If I bench you in favor of Rex Grossman, you'll just take a nap under one of those large hooded garments they wear on the sideline, so no, your punishment is to sit at your desk and work hard. :)

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Re: Clinton not Hillary: Portis is due to earn $8M next year. No way he isn't cut.

Tracee Hamilton: Thank you for the number, and you're right. No way they're paying him $8 million.

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Hoyas: What do the Hoyas need to do tonight to get back on track? This is going to be a great game.

Tracee Hamilton: Well, simply put, they have to win. If they lose, and then go on the road -- Rutgers and Seton Hall, I think, not the toughest games but I'd be surprised if they won both -- they will be in such a hole in the Big East.Austin Freeman's not looking good on the court. He says it's not a blood sugar issue but there were times Saturday, esp. in the first half, when he was just standing around. Just doesn't look like the guy we saw last year.It's strange, and I didn't get into this in my column, but last year they essentially had seven guys who could play, period. They are much deeper this year and not as good. Obviously Monroe is one answer, and their inside game has suffered. Trying to win on three-pointers isn't going to work every night.

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My cat : is white and wants to go out into the snow, but I'm afraid I'll lose him. What should I do?

Tracee Hamilton: Keep him in. He'll get over it.

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Epic Collapse by the Wiz: I know it won't get much attention, because the Wiz ultimately won the game in OT, but last night, the Wiz blew an 8 point lead with 40 seconds to go. Twice, they fouled players while shooting 3 pointers. They failed to inbound the ball on multiple occasions. Is Flip just not preparing this team to play in the NBA? Also, any word on John Wall's latest injury?

Tracee Hamilton: Too early for Wall word but keep track of Wizards Insider today. They have practice at 11 and I know Michael Lee will be all over it. this is what it's going to look like. Should they be able to inbound the ball? Yes. But I'm not sure if that can all be blamed on coaching.

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yay no Eagles!: It's nice to be able to enjoy the playoffs without having to root against a team.

Tracee Hamilton: I'm back to my standard: Enjoying the playoffs without having a team to root FOR. Sigh.

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2nd back: I happily volunteer to be the Redskins second back for half the price, a mere $4 million.

Tracee Hamilton: You're a true giver, you are.

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cut and resign Clinton?: Of course no one is paying him 8 million, but would the Redskins cut and sign him back for 1 or 2 million? I can't imagine there are many teams that will be interested in him. Or is out on the street?

Tracee Hamilton: of course. Depends on the state of his Shanny relationship, I guess. But setting aside the money, you still have the injuries ... he's breaking down. I don't see him coming back here. (Which guarantees he will. Didn't I say Miles would go to Michigan? See, my streak is intact.)

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Saunders' job: I haven't been able to see the Wizards play this year, but I get the impression that they're more talented than their record. Usually that's a sign of poor coaching. What's the evaluation on the job Flip is doing. And do we need a coach named Flip? Sounds like a guy who doesn't take things seriously enough.

Tracee Hamilton: I think Flip is taking things seriously. Let's face it, that job can't be a lot of laughs. They may be more talented than their record, but only because their record is so bad. This is a team that has to be almost completely rebuilt.

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Take money over principle: I can't work myself into dudgeon over the BCS system. 1. It makes a lot of money for a lot of colleges. This buys those labs and Nobel prize winners they tout in the commercials. 2. It provides us with free TV, way more bowl games then a playoff would. Would you really like to see 3 Auburn bowls in a row? 3. The system is open, every one can see how the rankings are done.

Tracee Hamilton: Okay. I would say I don't think all that bowl money goes to the university; it usually goes to the athletic department, which it does help pay for men's lacrosse and women's field hockey and the like. It's not FREE TV in that most of these extra games are on cable, and cable is not free -- unless you know something the rest of us don't. It provides a lot of programming for cable, no question. But the championship game used to be a network that actually WAS free. So I'm not sure I'm on board with all your arguments. But if you can't work yourself into high dudgeon over it, there's nothing wrong with that.

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Nats Caravan: I think those organizing the Nats Caravan - not - may have been spooked by last year's experience, when nearly all caravans had to be canceled or cut short by the various blizzards we experienced. I remember following a blog as it took one busload something like 6 hours to get from the burbs back to Nationals Park, and the players still had to get home.

Tracee Hamilton: That's possible.

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Winter Dulldrums...: When do Pitchers and Catchers Report.... I hate winter!

Tracee Hamilton: Mid-February. About a month to go, give or take. I used t love winter but I know I'm getting old because I'm starting to be cranky about it. This is the early stages of Snow Birds Disease, I suppose. But after last winter, I refuse to complain about the weather.

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Quick answer needed: 1. Continue in my master's degree program in a career I no longer enjoy but gives me job security. OR 2. Ditch the program and spend the money on developing the hobby I love into a career, which is more risky.

Tracee Hamilton: Oh, no, no way I'm giving advice on this one. Have you learned nothing from my various sports picks?

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Wizards - What was THAT?: Tracee:Took my daughter to her first pro b-ball game last night (she's in college, for what that's worth). Weird game. Lots of scoring, which is fun to see, but some of the most egregious errors at game's end that I've ever seen. Even local HS b-ballers know NOT to throw the ball in under the opponent's basket - but not the Wizards. NOT to dribble into a corner when the opponent needs the ball - but not the Wizards. NOT to cluster around the ball when an outlet pass is neede - but not the Wizards.I want to thank their Coach the team for providing so many lessons on what NOT to do in b-ball. Are they actually coached? Sure didn't seem like it.BTW, wonderful fan experience at Verizon. Friendly staff and lots going on during the innumerable time-outs (how many do they get anyway?).So, ... do the Wizards have a real coach? What does he do?

Tracee Hamilton: Flip's taking it on the chin this morning. I'm not sure your daughter actually saw her first pro game. She maybe saw her first high minor league game. Poor thing, she's probably wondering what the fuss is all about.My first pro game was the Kings as well -- they were in Kansas City at the time. That was a LONG time ago. I was in college as well.

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NHL Hits to the Head Debate: A lot has been written about hits to the head in the NHL since Dave Steckel clipped Sidney Crosby during the Winter Classic. (Crosby is now out with a consussion.) The consensus seems to be that even incidental hits to the head should result in a fine and/or suspension. I believe that hits to the head are a very serious matter, but incidental contact shouldn't be a punishable offense. My question is, if a 3rd or 4th liner had been hit instead of Crosby, would the conversation be as intense, or would we be having it at all?

Tracee Hamilton: I was watching film of Bobby Hull on the NHL Network this weekend and just seeing those guys all playing without helmets was scary. The game was slower, but still ...

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Re: Clinton: I think that re-signing him is more of an academic discussion. The bottom line question is, "can he contribute"? I think the answer to that is no, he can't anymore because he has been beaten up too much. This happens to every RB eventually. So, I don't think it's a matter of money, it's more a matter of Shanahan not wanting to waste a roster spot on him.

Tracee Hamilton: Also true.

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My cat is white and wants to go out in snow: Douse him in some pink food coloring. It'll come out.

Tracee Hamilton: Hadn't thought of that. Not sure I'd want a pink cat lounging around the house, personally.

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re: "8 point lead with 40 seconds to go": I've overcome that kind of deficit many times...in my driveway, when I was 8. The key is to make the three, get fouled, miss the foul shot, get the rebound, and drain another three and the and-one. Then you steal the inbounds pass, sink a jumper at the buzzer, and win by one. Piece of cake.

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, it sounds like a piece of cake.

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Relegation: Given the recent (kind of) comments about reducing the number of teams in the NBA, do you think a relegation system would work like in soccer abroad? I know it's been mentioned for baseball, but I think it would be good for basketball too. I know it'll never happen, but it still would be great to follow. New Delhi Fan

Tracee Hamilton: NDF, I don't think it would work in this country, and I can't put my finger on just why. It just doesn't seem like a very American system to me. That's not a knock on relegation, or a value judgment. Just not sure Americans are ready for that. For one thing, fans don't want to be told the team they have season tickets for is suddenly in the "minors." Nope, can't see it in this country.

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Career vs. Hobby?: As an Accidental Entrepreneur, the main suggestion I can make is that you consider how you could develop the hobby you love while you continue to draw a steady paycheck. It's tough out here trying to build a business without that biweekly pat on the head. FH

Tracee Hamilton: Here's some advice from someone who's been there...

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Viera: Batteries report: Feb 15thFirst workout: Feb 17th

Tracee Hamilton: Here you go.

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Is Cam Newton tough?: I haven't seen the kid play that much, but I wonder how tough he is after watching that game. Did you see when he got hit in the shoulder and he stayed on the turf and chattered his teeth. It didn't look like that hard of a hit, but he looked hurt the rest of the game. He even seemed to be wincing in the post game interviews. Did anyone else notice this?

Tracee Hamilton: I've heard him praised for toughness and criticized for lack of toughness in the last few days, although the former more than the latter. Not sure what to make of that since the commentators, by and large, seem to be in love with him. He's nice looking and he's got that big smile. Is he tough enough to play in the NFL? Yes, I think so.

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Methinks Dan Snyder doesn't, as the kids say, "get it": Hi Tracee. When you hear Ted Leonsis speak, he is thoughtful, articulate, and outlines a plan and a vision as to how the Bullets and Caps will be run. But when you listen to Dan, it''s just kind of, "yeah, when things don't work out, you feel bad-- you gotta own up to your mistakes," and the like-- it just seems like empty platitudes. No wisdom or vision, just so much drivel. No sense that he is interested in learning. Plus, I remember that when he first took ownership of the Skins, he publicly said that he intended to "put pressure" on Norv to win! What??? What sayeth thou?

Tracee Hamilton: Well, I would say he's a different person than when he took ownership of the team. I really mean that. He was 34 years old, had never faced business adversity and thought he had the world by the tail. A dozen years later, a lot has changed. For one thing, 12 years ago, or 10, or 8, he would never have mentioned making mistakes.He is at a definite disadvantage sitting next to Ted because Ted really knows his audience and is used to public speaking and engaging one on one with people from his various pre-sports careers. Dan Snyder is not, and it shows in that regard as well.Do I think Dan Snyder "gets it" yet? Perhaps not, but I think he's closer than he was just a few years ago. I sure wish he'd give me an interview some time because I hate discussing him based on quick observations and second-hand tales.

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The Wizards are winners!: 10-8 at home, anyway. What happens on the road doesn't really count, right?

Tracee Hamilton: Right, those games don't count in the standings.

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develop the hobby you love while you continue to draw a steady paycheck.: Yes, I would stay in my job but redirect funds from paying for school to paying for hobby expenses.

Tracee Hamilton: More advice.

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beauty is in the eye . . .: Ms. H: After looking at some of the comments by writers for the Philly newspapers after the Eagles's loss, it's amazing what success will do to perception. To Skins fans, the Iggles have done well for years, but up there . . . all along the lines of - should Reid go? why can't the Eagles reach the next level? who should be the new coach? In a way, like KC a few years back when Marty was winning the division, but not getting far in the playoffs. I'd love to be complaining about how the Skins are only making the NFC championship game, but not the Super Bowl. AHG (I see NU is visiting KU this week in b-ball - be afraid, be very afraid - if you took KU and are giving 35)

Tracee Hamilton: Philly is a tough, tough town. When I moved to Delaware I was amazed by the fans. Detroiters were much more "good job boys, we'll get 'em next year" type fans.Please, AHG, tell your boys to go easy on my boys. Thanks.

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Cam Newton a Redskin: I saw something on the Post site asking whether the Skins should draft Cam Newtwon. Why? There are probably 5 players on that Auburn team the Skins would be better of drafting than him. I get the sense he's going to be the next Vince Young.

Tracee Hamilton: I would hope that they don't see Cam Newton as the answer at quarterback, because I don't think we have enough of a body of work on him to know. A lot will depend on the combine.

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More Business of Sports Forum: I thought it was interesting that on the question of their biggest monetary mistake, Snyder dodged it ("I think you already know") whereas Leonsis immediately said Jaromir Jagr, and explained why. I took from this that Leonsis has just earned a much longer leash than Snyder because Leonsis has built a winner, whereas Snyder has built an expensive failure, and therefore Leonsis is free to talk about whatever he wants, but Snyder has to hide behind marketing phrases. Would you agree?

Tracee Hamilton: That's perhaps true. I thought Snyder's answer was pretty good, actually, because everyone in that room DID already know. Everyone got a big laugh. Did he say the name? No. But it was pretty clear. One other difference in the scenarios is that Jagr is long gone and Snyder's big mistake is still on the team, if only by a technicality. I didn't hold that answer against Snyder.I do think he had an opportunity to say "I like the way Ted is responsive to his fans and I want the Redskins to be more like that" because that is an area that needs improvement. But Snyder is not Leonsis and he's never going to have a blog and answer emails. Just not going to happen. He could hire someone to take that role, though.

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RE: More advice.: Oh, I'm the one who posted the original question. That would be my plan.

Tracee Hamilton: Ah, sorry.

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who has food coloring in the house?: not me

Tracee Hamilton: Then that won't work for you!

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White cat in snow: Just knit him a sweater. Cats love to dress up!

Tracee Hamilton: Yeah ... no. Although that is a jaunty little sweater.

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re: "I would stay in my job but redirect funds from paying for school to paying for hobby expenses.": Absolutely, then -- as long as you can continue to earn without the Master's in your current field, that's a great way to start. FH

Tracee Hamilton: There you go.

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Dan Snyder and "Getting It": What Dan really needs to say is this:"Redskins fans, I know we have not performed up to the expectations of this franchise the last 10 years. We are at a point where we are developing a plan for the future, and while we may take some lumps over the next few years, Allen and Shanahan are working on a plan to build the team to have sustained success."IE, admit that the Redskins have stunk and don't do this fake marketing BS that the Skins are close to being considered good.

Tracee Hamilton: In a word, yes. This was my thought last offseason. If the Skins had come out and said, "we're rebuilding, it's going to take a little time, we ask for some patience from the greatest fans in the NFL, blah blah blah" it would have been the smart play. Skins fans ARE patient; they've proven that over my 17 years here, certainly. Make it a "we're all in this together" moment and people will get on board. That, of course, is what Leonsis did with the Caps.

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More Re. Cam Newton: I agree with your comments on Cam Newton. However, the Redskins need a QB, and they only have the 10th pick. What do you suggest they do?

Tracee Hamilton: Oh, they could very well end up taking him as the best available quarterback. And maybe he'd work out. I am just not sure I see him having the same kind of success against NFL defenses.

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Newton's Dad at the BCS game: Supposedly Cam Newton's father agreed not to attend the BCS Championship game, but did anyway. Is this a big deal. I can't imagine a father not being allowed to see his son play in the college football championships. Why not just tell him he can't be at Cam's wedding or the birth of his first born?

Tracee Hamilton: I were Auburn, I'd ban him from campus and from team functions but otherwise ignore him. However, how do we think he got those seats? Ebay?

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Clinton as a 3rd down back: At the right price, would it not make sense to keep Portis as a 3rd down back? He is the best pass blocking back in the league and he has decent pass catching ability. Without the wear and tear of being a no.1 back he should be able to have a few good runs.

Tracee Hamilton: I'd find someone younger and less injury-prone for that job, plus of course cheaper. A third-down back might have to also play special teams; don't see Portis doing that. And there's the factor that when he's unhappy, he's not quiet about it. I'd part company with him.

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I'm beginning to think that B-Svrl has nudged asideCheese Boy : as far as garnering questions from chatters. If this is so, to what do you attribute this? My half-baked theory: people are somehow interested in curmudgeons, and when B-Svrl announced in this forum that he doesn't like people, the masses were sold!

Tracee Hamilton: That is certainly possible. Everyone likes a challenge.

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Handle Pending: Tracee, I reluctantly did tune in for the end of the Faux Championship game the other night. I had planned on skipping it entirely to protest the joke of the BCS system and the horrible NCAA discipline system which seems to take into account what Bowl Game your team is going to be in when determining your punishment. I wish I had access to the polls before the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament started last year, I would love to see what the BCS Faux Championship matchup would have been, instead of the Butler vs Dook game that was EARNED on the court and was totally compelling. Is there any chance the BCS will be retired soon and a playoff system implemented?

Tracee Hamilton: Truthfully, I don't see that happening any time soon. I wish it would, but no. Too much money at stake.

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Cat sneezed: When I opened the window. Don't think he wants out anyway.

Tracee Hamilton: Smart cat.

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Cats hate sweaters: Also: People. Also: Most everything else.

Tracee Hamilton: My kitties would hate sweaters but they mostly like people. Mostly.Well, I've gone over in a big way. Time to go shovel the walk; that ought to take about 10 minutes. Then it's column time. Let's talk tomorrow!


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