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

Tracee Hamilton
Wednesday, February 16, 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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Never in a million years could I picture you doing this!: Tracee, okay, to be fair, you've acknowledged a few instances in which you went "all country". Who can blame you? Everyone's gone "all country", or "all street", if you will, at least a few times in their life. But can you imagine being so apoplectic over, say, a column gone wrong that you repeatedly expectorate all over the WAPO carpeting, toss laptop at Cheese Boy, and then tweet a half-hearted apology to your readers and fans?

Tracee Hamilton: I might toss a laptop, but I would never spit in public. Never. I have a real problem with spitting. Now get off my lawn!And good morning, everyone! Let's get started. Lots to discuss.

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Pujols: LaRussa says the Union is trying to pressure Pujols to sign with another team. I know they wouldn't let A-Rod sign with Boston. Unions moved my parents and therefore me into the middle class, but sports and teachers unions have made me rethink my once unwavering support.

Tracee Hamilton: I grew up in a place where there were no unions, and then moved to Detroit, so I've seen both sides of the issue. I was also in one for 10 years. The baseball union is very strong but Pujols is Pujols -- what, they're going to blackball the best player in the game? I hope it's just LaRussa being LaRussa -- I thought he looked strange the other day on camera; did anyone else see that? -- and that this is a crock. Pujols has the power here, if he just has the sense to realize it and not let himself be bullied.

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Randy Shannan: He was hired to clean up the U Miami football program, and under him the Hurricanes graduated the 3d highest % of players, behind only Army and Navy. So of course he gets fired, because people don't really want "clean" programs, they want wins. And he endued the most mean-spirited article SI has ever written, and that's saying a lot (full of things he would rather not have had disclosed that had nothing to do with is coaching ability.) I've never met him and know only what I've read, but I wish him the best.

Tracee Hamilton: Noted. He didn't sign with Maryland, for those who didn't see that bit of news. He would have had to pay $1.5 million, I think, and I'm guessing Maryland wouldn't pay that kind of freight for a coordinator, so the deal died. Too bad.

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Boz?: So when is Boz arriving in Viera? Can't wait to here from him (especially since you are not going down there)! - Ashburn Fan

Tracee Hamilton: Unless I'm mistaken, and what are the odds?, Boz is there today and you'll see his first offering in tomorrow's paper, or later today on the site.

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Banks: He will never play another down of football. Blame Snyder and bad karma.

Tracee Hamilton: I'm not sure about the first statement, although that's possible. I can't blame Snyder, unless you're saying blame the bad karma CAUSED by Snyder. Then maybe...

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Baby food for cats: FTF is awesome! I'm supposed to get more liquids into my big guy, who is fighting cystitis. Best success so far is liquid from canned green beans and other veggies. So yours have particular favorites? Thanks.

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, use the chicken flavor. It's mostly water anyway. I have one who drinks all the time and one who is a pain about it -- the one who nearly died after eating the poisonous flower -- and so they get a dollop every day. I know the little guy is getting liquid and the big guy isn't getting hurt by it. Perfect food.

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Comets, Their Rise and Fall, and Basketball.: On Tuesday the Stardust 1 space probe returned to Comet Tempel 1 and observed the handiwork of the Deep Impact Probe, which was the first space probe to observe the interior of a comet, which in turn gives us better theories of the origin of the Solar System. The lead investigator of Deep Impact was astronomer Michael A'hearn of the University of Maryland. Another UM professor, Jessica Sunshine, leads the investigation using the EPOXI probe to look at comets. UM researchers worked with the Pasteur Institute to show bacteria evolve new abilities by acquiring genes from other bacteria. UM's Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute helped grow Martek Biosciences into a billion dollar company. So l'm not tolerating any comments that Maryland is a second-rate school because its football and basketball teams are Eagle Bank Bowl and NIT caliber. They are what they are. The lasting impact is a few buildings away from Byrd and Comcast center. Fear the Turtle; he's smarter than you.

Tracee Hamilton: Okay!

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Zorn as QB coach of thy Chiefs!: Tracee, I'm happy that the Z-Man found another employer-- not just ANY employer, but your Chiefs! Seriously, he seems like a really good guy. Are you pleased he's on the staff of your favorite team? If you get to know him, would he ever give you the real poop on Snyder?

Tracee Hamilton: I would be stunned if Zorn ever spills the beans on what went on here. He's just not that kind of guy. And while it's a shame, I have to respect him for it. I'm happy he's with my Chiefs.

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Cursed, I tell you!: Brandon Banks was one of the very few bright spots on the 'Skins this past season and he went and got himself stabbed. We need to find someone to take the curse of my beloved Redskins. A new owner, perhaps?

Tracee Hamilton: Non-starter. Everyone pulling for a new owner, you've gotta stop. It's an unrealistic expectation.

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Who would win in a fight between Wise and Svrluga?: I'm actually going with Wise. Despite B-Svrl's hatred of people, Wise just seems crazier, and more relentless. After he takes down Barry, would he boast in a testoserone-induced frenzy, or would he help Barry to his feet, and treat him to a fruit smoothie?

Tracee Hamilton: No, I'd have Barry in this one.

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If I refer to bathing suits as "trunks," is it basically over for me?: Some friends burst into hysterical laughter when I remarked that I hope I don't forget to bring my "swimming trunks" with me on a trip. They said only folks over 80 say "trunks," and that from now on, my nickname will be "Hear ye! Hear ye!" I don't have to worry about hitting a "technology wall," since I've never been a technology guy, but did I cross some invisible portal of middle age the instant I said "trunks?" I'm having a minor existential crisis.

Tracee Hamilton: What's a men's swimsuit called these days? Swimsuit seems like a female swimsuit. Is it just "suit"? But wouldn't that be confusing? I'm right there with you in my confusion. I do think "Hear ye! Hear ye!" is an awesome nickname, though.

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Daytona 500: The winner of the Daytona 500 Dale Jr. The fix is in. Someone besides NASCAr needs to check the size of the restrictor plate used on his engine Or maybe like back iwhen he won the Firecaracker 400 ( the year his dad died) they will let him use a non restrictor plate engine. The fix is in.

Tracee Hamilton: I think the fix was in on the pole. I'm less sure about the actual race. We'll see.

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Germantown MD: Hi Tracee!It seems like a lot of misinformation is going around about the Brandon Banks stabbing. I was under the impression that 1) the NFL offers services to and from establishments to keep players out of harm/trouble, and 2) the NFL has rookie classes that teach the new kids how to stay out of trouble.Either way, what good does either do if this kind of thing happens. Banks went from being just another name to becoming a possible superstar for the Skins. If the veterans don't listen, how do we expect rookies to listen. Help is available to stop this kind of nonsense. From the way this story is being reported now, I guess the Skins fans are lucky we do not have another ST21 on our hands - we have enough sadness to deal with with our superstar DE, our record, and ST21's death...how much more will it take before the Skins regime and the NFL gets the message.Maybe contracts need to have explicit information about getting rides from the NFL to parties, etc., or the contract can be voided. Or put it in the CBA.Hope I do not sound too harsh here, I am 52 and these are just kids this is happening to and it is sad that the NFL does not care. Some of these people make millions of dollars, but if you are dead, it does not make a difference.OK. I am off my soap box now...

Tracee Hamilton: It was pretty clear by Monday that everyone was lying about the extent of his injury. No one gets hospitalized for that long for superficial knife wounds. I'm about your age and I have to pull myself back from the hectoring of young men (and woman) doing stupid things. I was young once and I did some very stupid things. I do think the league tries what it can, but it can't legislate behavior and it can't employ a mini-police force to follow these guys around.

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Pay Scales: Do you think that it's about time that a pay scale is in order for all the major sports leagues, I mean for Pujols to ask for 300 million is just crazy. The stadiums were already half empty.

Tracee Hamilton: The crazy thing is, he'll get it, or damn close. If he doesn't, the union will scream collusion (and it might be right).

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If you were a basketball color analyst, who would you like your broadcast partner to be?: For me, it would be Buckhantz hands down. He's just so Buckhantz-y. And you KNOW that, despite being a newly-wed, he would ALWAYS be up for post game beers. Would you choose him? Marv? Jim Nantz? Mussberger? Thanks!

Tracee Hamilton: I like Buckhantz, I like Beninati.

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Memo to Ernie Grunfeld: Nice Job: I don't want to "hate," Tracee, but every time I see that DeJuan Blair (whom we could have selected in the damn 2nd round!) notch yet another double double, I have to stifle a scream. I know not drafting Blair isn't his most grievous sin, but do you think he's made enough serious blunders to be in major hot water?

Tracee Hamilton: I think Flip is in hot water and Ernie is in lukewarm water but the burner's on. What Ted is looking at in terms of either, we just don't know yet. And it's always possible that he'll decide to keep Flip, because it's not going to matter who's coaching this team for a year or two, and get rid of Ernie, because it DOES matter who's building it. That matters a great deal.

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ONION VS. POTATO: Tracee, in a recent chat you said the onion was the perfect food. How can you draft the onion when the potato is still on the board? The potato's a homegrown talent, and he is extremely versatile (baked, mashed, fried, roasted, scalloped, cheesed). He's great on special teams, too, as flour for bread and donuts, the ammo for a potato gun, AND vodka!!! Sure, the potato can go down late in the season with blight, but the onion gets smut, making him a poor role model for kids.In this league, the potato is MVP while the onion is Haynesworth.

Tracee Hamilton: Oh, not Haynesworth, surely! I think of Haynesworth more as a rutabaga. I am Irish and therefore love the potato, no doubt, but it's more like the stalwart big man, while the onion is the Rajon Rondo -- he spices everything up and just makes it better. The potato is Ray Allen -- not flashy, always on his game, a solid contributor.

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Just back From Rome: Great food! Had a nice Alfa for a rental. Decent weather. And the women in Rome are hot.I had an audience with Holy Father. Who knew he was an NCAA basketball fanand catches the games on the internet etc! We discussed DC area NCAA teams. His Holiness was quite distraught when I mentioned that Georgetown will not play local teams and this had big effect on a tournament over the Christmas break with local teams for worthwile charities. He stated he will have his aides look into this matter and may make a phone call himself to Georgetown. I asked him to keep George Mason in his prayers for NCAA and he said he would. He said he was also a big Gary Willimas fan. So JTIII no prayers for you and your team from his holiness! And expect a call.

Tracee Hamilton: Where was his holiness when Gary needed him last night, eh?

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Would Svrluga refuse a ride from me because of the car I drive?: Tracee, I drive a modest 2004 Subaru Forrester. If I spotted B-Svrl stranded on the shoulder of 495, and I offered to give him a lift, somehow I picture him responding thusly: "Are you kidding me, dude? I'm not getting into THAT thing; and, furthermore, there's no chance you won't talk to me, I'll just stand out here thank you very much." Am I off base here, Tracee?

Tracee Hamilton: Yes. Svrluga isn't a car snob. He has a typical sports writer's car -- a little messy. He's ridden in my car, which is a 2001 Explorer. So you can tell he's not snobbish.

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In State Rivalries: I'm sorry for you about Kansas, but it's so much fun for their fans when the little guys win. My parents, now in their 60's, are both alums of Oklahoma State. OU dominated them mercilessly for years in football, though the once in a lifetime OSU win was enough to keep their fans going for years. OSU had the upper hand in basketball under Iba, but no other sport will ever hold a candle in OK to football. In recent years the Aggies, oops, Cowboys. have come up a bit, as has OU basketball. I went to college in Boston and now live in DC, but I always enjoy the friendly and not-so-friendly talk between rivals when I return to OK.

Tracee Hamilton: Well, sure, but I just don't think of K-State as a little guy. They were ranked higher than we were at the start of the season and picked to win the Big 12. They went further in the tournament last year than we did. My sympathy for K-State as the downtrodden is light. K-Stater, are you out there? Am I being harsh?

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Kindly pass this along to Sally Jenkins, if you would be so kind: Hi, Tracee. My wife was a little irritated with me the other night, and half-jokingly threatened to go "all Sally Jenkins" on me. I asked her if by that she meant that she would write a column in which she absolutely just eviscerates me, whilst exposing my many failings and shortcomings as a person. And she said, "Yeah... that." Would Sally be secretly pleased with this?

Tracee Hamilton: Sally will be delighted to here that.

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Daytona 500 pole: If the posters have actually seen the Daytona 500, the race itself is actually decided later than a NBA game. If you aren't in the "right" drafting group on the LAST lap, you go from 1st to 15th in a heartbeat. So all this talk about who has the "pole" position on the FIRST lap, is just blah, blah, blah.

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, which is why I do think the fix was in on the pole. No money, no points involved, so it's not a huge deal, and it's great PR, and frankly NASCAR needs that. Fixing the race -- that's a whole nother kettle of fish.Also, Earnhart drives for the best team with the best cars. He should be doing well.

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You drive an "Exploder" ?!?: Be careful!

Tracee Hamilton: Oops. Well, let's hope not. That might have been a Freudian typo. I want a new car very much but it only has 35,000 miles on it and I just can't bring myself to do it. Seems wasteful.

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DC United: Charlie Davies is on loan to DC United. Fantastic news or simply terrific news?As the kids say, Madd Props to Steve Goff for breaking and following up on the story.

Tracee Hamilton: Fantastic, I think. Need to have Goff back on the chat, too.

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Is anyone else here contemplating committing athletic adultery?: I'm hanging my head in shame as I type. I'm sure there will be horrific karmic repercussions for this, but Snyder seems to have become so thoroughly unlikable, and has systematically dismantled a once-storied football power, that the Skins are fast becoming un-rootable (is that a word?). Now I find myself becoming intruigued with the pretty neighbor to the north. I know a true fan sticks with his/her team, but does anyone else feel this way?

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, we've discussed this before on this chat. I relegated the Royals to mistress status and fell for the Tigers about two minutes after I moved to Detroit. In my defense, I had never lived in a city with a major league baseball team before in my life and it was heady stuff. The heart wants what the heart wants. That said, I didn't go looking for a new team; I just fell. If you are looking to stray, let your heart be your guide, not geography.

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I think the fix was in on the pole: Really?

Tracee Hamilton: I suspect it, yes. So does Liz Clarke, who is a far bigger expert than me.

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Pujols: I thought it was very irresponsible of LaRussa to make those comments about Pujols and alleged union pressure. He has no evidence. It was all speculation.

Tracee Hamilton: Exactly, and LaRussa is ... LaRussa.

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Handle Pending: I enjoyed the "Fear the Turtle" post earlier, but isn't that the equivalent of going into a chat about science and posting about how good your football and basketball teams are? No one should ever judge a University by its sports teams, but in the sports pages that is kind of what matters. N'est-ce pas?

Tracee Hamilton: Sure, but I thought I'd let the poster brag a little. Why not? The Terps appear headed to the NIT. Let 'em have a little happiness.

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Antonyms: I was trying to come up with the opposite of Snydery. The best I got was "Grahamy." Do you think I'm on the right track?

Tracee Hamilton: That's pretty good.

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T-BONE: Tracy, why don't you try to cultivate the nickname "T-Bone" like Costanza in Seinfeld. For Costanza it backfired and he ended up as "Coco", but for you it would make more sense, being that your name begins with the letter "T"

Tracee Hamilton: I don't mind any nicknames. I've never really had one.

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Hope Springs Anew: Today is the day that all baseball fan's favorite team are all in first place.Today is a day of HOPE!Tracy I ask you to predict the Kansas City Royals to win the World Series this year. And I am sure if for some unforeseen reason they fall short of this goal, no one will blame you. If you happen to be right, you are a genius. (i.e. no risk for you at all ...)Also - it gives me cover when I declare this to be true as a famous sports writer for the Washington Post agrees with me.Let's Go Royals

Tracee Hamilton: Why not? Okay, the Royals will win the World Series! Long live the Royals!

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Zorn's salary: When a guy gets fired with several years left on his contract for head coach money, and then works for much less money as a position coach, which team pays what? Does he get both salaries, or do the Redskins pick up the difference? Thanks.

Tracee Hamilton: Oh, both salaries, as far as I know. The Skins are on the hook for that money, period.

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Montgomery Village, MD: Tracee This is absolutely too good to be true. The Post website carried story Tuesday afternoon about the Vatican naming a tiny shrine in a small northeast wisconsin town as a holy site. The Catholic Church has officially recognized the site as the location of a siting of the Virgin Mary-the only such site in the United States. The siting occured three times to a Belgin immigrant in 1859. After two years of investigation, the Vatican validated the results in December. The name of the town ---Champion. The biggest city nearby -- Green Bay !!!! Now we know why they call that long pass a Hail Mary !

Tracee Hamilton: Amazing.

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Say what?: Did you say the Terps are headed to MIT? Will they be working on that Jeopardy computer? It seemed like there were a lot of RPI grads on that project... but then again the Terps' men's team has a pretty good RPI... I dunno, I'm just confused.

Tracee Hamilton: Did I really type that? Good gravy, my typing is bad today. For example, I typed grafy at first. Sorry about that. I would be really surprised if the Terps headed to MIT. Really surprised.And I watched that first episode with the computer. Took me 8 minutes once I edited out Trebek. And it was boring. Somewhere in Kansas, I know my dad was really confused.

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swimming "trunks": I say "trunks" - I've always said "trunks." I'm 68. Draw your own conclusions. AHG (but a young, vibrant 68!!)

Tracee Hamilton: AHG, somehow I knew you'd say "trunks."

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Gary Must Go?: Discontent seems to be building among Maryland's fans, and most of it is pointed toward Gary. Let's face it: The Terrapins are headed to the NIT. Again. For the fourth time in seven years. Most programs that consider themselves elite would not tolerate four NIT appearances in seven years. Take your boys: What would you think of the Jayhawks' coach if he only made the NCAA tournament three times in seven years (and never made it past the second round in the times he made it)?To refresh your memory, the last time Kansas made only three NCAA tournament appearances in a seven-year span was 1977-84.The discontent mostly stems from the fact that Gary has gone from recruiting coach-able kids with a glimmer of talent that can be tapped, to recruiting coach-able kids who just aren't all that talented (this pretty much describes everyone on the current team except for Jordan Williams, the two freshman guards and perhaps Palsson).Gary is lucky that Greivis is coming back on Sunday. Comcast Center would be half-empty if not. And we all know what Kevin Anderson thinks of half-empty stadiums.

Tracee Hamilton: Had a discussion about this yesterday with my editor. The question is, how much goodwill does a national title buy? In Gary's case, it's 10 years and counting, because a lot of people are still in the tank for him and react poorly to any suggestion he's not the greatest thing since sliced bread. It's pretty interesting. It might even be "column" interesting.

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Who here wants to give Justin Bieber a playful noogie and then take him out for milkshakes to talk about girls?: Tracee, I know this is horrible, just horrible, but I kind of want to softly punch Justin Bieber in the face (not in a way that would actually hurt the child), and then immediately take him out for a milkshake to talk about girls. If a punch is just too wrong, perhaps a noogie, and THEN the milkshake? Who's with me?

Tracee Hamilton: I confessed before, I'm beginning to like the Bieb. He is able to make fun of himself, which is a great quality in a superstar kid. I think he may be the new JT. Oh, and I think he's on CSI again this week playing the very scary teenager. I admit it, I wouldn't punch him. Maybe a noogie.

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GMU basketball: A Mason grad yesterday "accused" me here of Mason hating. My feelings should be viewed like a Duke fan would feel towards Maryland. My comments yesterday were more along the lines of how over the top the pep is for GMU. Yes, they had an amazing year in 2006 (a year in which there were many teams with better resumes, even in their own conference) but that was a once-in-a-lifetime deal. They are close to cracking the Top 25, but only because there are some "homers" giving them high rankings (see Steinbog's post). Their strength of schedule is decent, but certainly not the highest in their conference. I'm all for getting behind your team, and GMU is playing really well right now, but they need to think logically. Getting a #8 seed is not good, because if you make it past the first game, you then automatically face the #1 seed. I doubt GMU could hang with Duke, Pitt, Kansas and OSU.

Tracee Hamilton: I don't think they'll get an 8 seed, so I think that point is moot. I just don't mind fans of teams like GMU getting a little excited this time of year. Mason's not in the discussion every year, Larranaga seems to do things the right way. It's a fun story. Could they hang with the aforementioned three teams? I doubt it, but given that one of those teams has lost to Bucknell and Northern Iowa in recent tournaments, I'm not going to put money on it.

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Cursed, I tell you! (Part Deaux): I know Snyder will never sell. I can hope for a wayward asteroid, can't I?

Tracee Hamilton: Oh sure, I hope for an earthquake to swallow the Mizzou bus on I-70 once a year. It doesn't happen, but a girl can dream.

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Re:Athletic Adultery: I have a friend who was a lifetime Redskins fan recently switch to the Ravens after the McNabb fiasco. I can't blame him. I was a Orioles fan driven to the Nats by Angelos.

Tracee Hamilton: The sports divorce rate in this country may someday reach the heights of the real divorce rate.

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Rookie behavior: I read an article last night about how university students in medieval Europe were known for doing things like starting riots in pubs that would last for days and result in many deaths, bring swords to class and duel with each other, etc., etc. The conclusion was that 19-year olds in any century didn't make good decisions after drinking a lot. I think that stretches to a lot of 20-somethings as well, and even without the alcohol. The NFL can have all the seminars it wants, but "kids" are going to be "kids" - until they can't afford to be any longer. Playing professional football isn't exactly the kind of career that forces you to mature and grow up early.

Tracee Hamilton: All very true. Students in Germany wanted to duel so their faces would be scarred, and as I recall they often infected the wounds deliberately so the scars would be hideous. Young people are not known for good decisions on the whole, although of course there are many of them who've never been stabbed at 3 a.m. outside a nightclub.

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LaRussa: He does look weird. Could be cast as a serial killer in any movie or TV show.

Tracee Hamilton: He looked like he aged 10 years in the offseason. Maybe he hasn't gotten his spring tan yet but something was off. He didn't look healthy.

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What is it about Trebek?: Is it a "nails on a chalkboard" thing? Is it something intangible? Did he once commit road rage against you? Does he really "Mary Hart" you, a la Kosmo Kramer?

Tracee Hamilton: He really, really does. My nephew can testify that I go almost ballistic the minute he opens his mouth. I cannot explain it well. Maybe it's that he acts like he came up with all the questions and answers himself. Maybe it's his damn foreign pronunciations. Maybe it's when he declares "good category" during the rundown of categories -- who cares what you think, just read the damn questions! I'm getting upset and must stop talking about him now. This isn't feigned; I want one of those asteroids sent to Burbank, stat.

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I suspect it, yes. So does Liz Clarke, who is a far bigger expert than me: Wait, do you mean for the Shootout - where they drew for position - or for the 500? Because if it was the 500 that would be big.

Tracee Hamilton: No, the 500 pole. The theory is NASCAR let them bend the rules a bit so that he could have the pole on the 10-year anniversary of Dale's death. I don't know if it's true and I'm not even sure I really care, because it truly does not matter in this race. I forget the number of pole winners who's won the race in the past so many years -- I heard this stat yesterday -- but it's negligible. It would be a no harm, no foul thing NASCAR could do for Dale fans. Liz talked about it on Tony's show yesterday; listen to the podcast. It was really interesting.

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Speaking of the Holy Father: The Vatican just confirmed a sighting of the Virgin Mary in Wisconsin. Dunno what it means.

Tracee Hamilton: Badgers win the tournament?

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"I have a real problem with spitting. Now get off my lawn!": But-but-I'm watering it!

Tracee Hamilton: Okay, carry on.We've handled all the big issues of the day, so time to shut 'er down. Pitchers, catchers and Boz in Viera today -- spring is on the way. Let's talk tomorrow.

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