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

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Tracee Hamilton
Tuesday, February 22, 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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Mutually Assured Destruction: Tracee, let's not pit Kansas and Nebraska against one another, for if Kansas is going to sack parts of Nebraska because Nebraska has won football national championships, then Nebraska is going to have to do unspeakable things to the state of Kansas for your school's basketball prowess. Instead, let's just focus our energies on Missourah. - RHG

Tracee Hamilton: Ha! Yes, let's. You know I would never destroy a corn crop, having some idea of the difficulty in just growing it. I thought both you and AHG would get a kick out of the reference, though.And good morning, everyone. Before we start, I've got some bad news to relate. This is the last week of First Things First. My role will change a bit starting next week. I'll still do a weekly chat; maybe with Steinberg, maybe we'll alternate, but I'll still chat. Right now the target day is Thursday. Boz is moving his chat into the Wilbon Chat House spot on Mondays.I really hate this because I really like talking to this group every morning. But the numbers, while good, haven't grown, and that's the name of the game. I'm sad about the decision, but I understand it. Don't be mad at The Boss; he's the one who handed me a column and then a weekly chat so he's been nothing but good to me.Anyway, let's get started. Four days to go.

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Editor question: Tracee, put on your old editor's hat and answer this question, please:At some point in the not-too-distant future, the Nationals could be a good team, with exciting young players, maybe even a playoff contender. They will draw national attention because of the presence of players like Strasburg and Harper. How will the Post adjust its coverage, especially between the Nats and the Skins? Will the paper wait for fan support and interest to grow or will they base it on on-field performance? I'm biased as a Nats fan/non-Skins fan, but I think the Skins get more coverage than necessary, almost out of habit than anything else. I really don't think there's the same depth of support for that franchise. How does a paper know when to make a change in its coverage of local teams? Thanks.

Tracee Hamilton: A lot of those decisions are based on readership numbers. A short and seemingly inconsequential posting on Redskins Insider can draw more readers in a day than the lead story in the section. Not every day, but Redskins reporting OF ANY KIND gets the highest numbers. It just does. It has been this way since we measured those numbers with surveys and it's that way now when we use page hits to tell. Given what a wreck this franchise is, it's surprising to me that these numbers haven't slid a bit, but they haven't. This is a Redskins town until someone knocks them off the perch.That said, if interest in the Nats ratchets up -- and I really expect it will -- so will coverage. When the begin challenging for a division title, I would expect more Nats coverage. Will that mean less coverage somewhere else? Like most newspapers, we're being asked to do more and more with less and less, so it might be so. That part of the equation is harder to predict, just because of the uncertain nature of our business. It's more uncertain than the Nats, I think!

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Fist bump explained: Last week I mentioned a description in Sports Illustrated of Bruce Allen giving Jon Gruden a fist bump during negotiations to lure Jake Plummer out of retirement. Gruden had just promised to donate to Plummer's charity as a clencher to his pitch. Bruce Allen then gave Gruden the fist bump "under the table" (the part I left out.) But Jake saw it and was turned off by it and decided to stay retired. Maybe not a big deal, but a poorly concealed "under the table" fist bump does come off a bit sleazy. Like two car salemen celebrating almost selling a lemon.

Tracee Hamilton: Okay, thanks, that makes more sense, I guess. I will say I am tired of Jake Plummer, though. :)

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NOOOOOOOO!: You're the best chat host EVER! I'm not joking. . .you're responsive, intelligent, knowledgeable, fair, witty. . .and a fast typer! Pretty much the perfect chatter. I am sincerely sorry to hear this but am thankful I was able to participate while it lasted!

Tracee Hamilton: I'm sorry, too. I will really miss this group. But I promise we can still get together weekly and we'll go as long as you want...

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Washington Redskins Placed on Probation by ACAA: Following an exhaustive investigation, the ACAA (Airless Cubicle Athletic Association) is placing the Washington Redskins on probation. Reports have come of repeated violations of the ACAA code of conduct, including frivolous lawsuits, attempts to intimidate the free expression of speech, and extortive prices for tickets. The terms of this probation include a banning of television broacasts of Redskins games among ACAA members and a reduction in ticket allocations. The terms of this probation shall continue year-to-year until there is a demonstrable improvement in the conduct of the team. "Let this be a warning," said ACAA spokesmand T.A. Cubicle. "The 'death penalty', a permanent ban on sports fan support, is still on the books. It happened to the XFL. Don't let it happen to you, Mr. Snyder."

Tracee Hamilton: Now if we put this story on the website, it'll get 1 million hits. :)

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Another win over Wilkes-Barre!!!: Welp, looks like the Caps got another big win over the Wilkes-Barre farm team! I'm very excited, although I'm surprised the league allows us to get two points for beating the scrubbiest bunch of scrubs that ever scrubbed...they might want to look into changing that rule in the offseason, so that anytime good players for the Penguins get hurt they get two points every single game those players are out. In fact, I'd be okay with them awarding the Stanley Cup to the Penguins right now in recognition of the horrible hardships they've had to endure this season.

Tracee Hamilton: Now, now. Okay, that's funny. The Caps had a good run against the Pens this season, which means, of course, nothing in the playoffs but still it's kind of nice for Caps fans. I do hope Crosby comes back soon, though.

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We could use some more feel-good stories these days...: ... any chance we could see a column -- or even just an "insider" mention -- about Doug Williams' return to Grambling? Sort of a "where are they now (again, actually)"? Guy's a DC treasure ... favorite 'Skins QB for many native Washingtonians, and central to a cherished Super Bowl memory. Gotta be some bandwidth on staff to indulge us...

Tracee Hamilton: Yeah, this is an example of where the loss of Wilbon hurts, because Michael knew him, of course. I've never met him. Boz probably did but Boz is gazing lovingly at Bryce Harper this week. But it's a good idea. And I'm sure our wily editors have thought of it. I'll check.

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Sleepless in Mount Vernon: Good morning, Tracee So the Knicks finally got their man. And gave away 4 starters including a point guard having a career year. Something tells me that this is going to be a big mess. At least we can look forward to the rise to show biz prominence of Carmelo's wife, one LaLa Vasquez. (Must have been interesting for the minister at the altar. Do you Carmelo...do you LaLa.) Great name. Too bad they didn't trade him to LA though.

Tracee Hamilton: I'm just so glad it's over I could cry. What a lot of drama over one guy. In some ways it got worse than LeBron.

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Presidents' Day : Just want to weigh in on the Presidents' Day question from yesterday - the intent was to jointly honor Lincoln and Washington. Millard Fillmore et al were never part of the equation.

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, that was my understanding as well. But for all intents and purposes, it's really a day for furniture and mattress sales. Sad.

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Not your Mom: But we're worried about you, My Dad had a heart attack caused by pneumonia. His lungs were so full his heart couldn't pump through them. We want you hosting FTF for, say, 30 or 40 years or so. Plus your cats need you. Take care!

Tracee Hamilton: Well, 30 or 40 years isn't going to happen, but thanks for the thought! That pneumonia is a bear; I now get how people die from it. And it's messed up my lungs, which I'm pretty bitter about. :)

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Boz on Bryce: Nice piece but no new information. I guess there won't be anything new until he starts facing Major League pitchers during Spring Training proper. I feel far less anxious about Harper's future than Strasburg's. Like I commented yesterday, it is quite possible that Strasburg has seen his best days and he will be the new epitome of failed potential. In any event, I am very excited about baseball and think the Nats will exceed expectations.

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, hard to have new information at this time of year, which is why you see so many pieces about the injured guys. Sheinin's piece in March should be all you ever wanted in a Harper article. I'm dying to read it myself, having heard some of the stories. He's no Strasburg, personality-wise. Man, I wish I was going to Florida.

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Caps v Pens: Now that looked like playoff hockey! Conservative, defense oriented, great goal keeper performance. Please, please, please let the Caps go deep this year!

Tracee Hamilton: Passing this on to whoever grants these wishes. It was a great game. Bylsma's comment about Neuvirth may be the best thing that ever happened to that kid. The Caps should hope every coach in the league insults him as well.

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Six Nations Rugby: Ireland plays Scotland this weekend in what they like the call the Celtic Confrontation. You should try to check it out - I know a few Guinness-serving establishments will be showing it.

Tracee Hamilton: I think I have basketball Saturday. Maybe it'll be on BBC America; I'll check listings.

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Advertisements during a show: I think we are all used to a little product placement in tv shows and movies. However, it is starting to get way to obvious and annoying. They have had several car ads on the show Bones, with one example being the character Angela expousing the benefits of the backup camera on a Toyata minivan. I guess I have two questions. 1.) Is is me or are the ads getting worse? 2.) How do we stop it?

Tracee Hamilton: It's not just you, and there is no way to stop it. I know exactly what you mean about Bones. They are so dreadfully done. Now I think I saw one on "House" last night that, if it was a product placement, was well done. For House watchers, it's when Taub said, "It also holds three bags of golf clubs," or something like that, about the trunk of his car. The sad thing is, it might not have been product placement but I'm so jaded that now I think it is.I try to tell myself that these shows are really expensive to make and that if I want to keep seeing my favorites, I have to put up with a few groans. I just wish the Bones writers were more adept.

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Numbers?: What numbers are you referring to? The number of chatters? How many of us are there?

Tracee Hamilton: The daily number of "hits" on the chat transcript. I think it hovers around 2,000.

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Rotaion: Livo, Marquis and Lannan are in. Who will take the other two slots?

Tracee Hamilton: Jordan Zimmermann and ???. Detwiler? I think it's too soon to tell.

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Wow, I'm really gonna miss this: As a freelance writer, editor, and ad guy, I don't really have boyz at the office to BS about sports in the morning. I guess it's back to work. TBHitW

Tracee Hamilton: You also have your BHitW duties to consider...

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Down with the boss: I think I just died a little bit inside.

Tracee Hamilton: It'll be okay...

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Devastation!: WHAT.. No daily FTF? Does this mean I have to work now? Any way. we will miss our daily time together!Boz's column on Harper makes me wonder if he is shaking his head at the kid and all the hoopla surrounding him (or is it deja vu from last year with Stras?).- ashburn fan

Tracee Hamilton: At least they aren't making me go all video. At least I hope they're not.My guess is that Boz is loving the hoopla around Harper.

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Pittsburgh Wife: With regard to yesterday's question, I allow PH to watch the Nats, and they have often won when he is watching. He appreciates Zimm (not as much as I do), regrets the loss of Adam Dunn & Josh Willingham, and things Strasburg looks like a goat with that beard! We saw the Nats play the Bucs at Heinz Field over Labor Day weekend & the Nats won big!

Tracee Hamilton: So Pittsburgh Husband can't be blamed for the Nats woes. That's good to know!

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Penguins fans: Thank you for putting them in their place. The sour grapes of "The Capital beat our minor league team" is getting old. Last time I checked Matt Cooke, Mike Raupp, Jordan Staal and Mark-Andre Fluery are regular NHL players and I seemed to hear their names a lot in last night's game. Every team has injuries. Suck it up!

Tracee Hamilton: Flower -- was great last night. It took a great shot to beat him. They have a lot of weapons and they're headed to the playoffs. What's to complain about?

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Presidents Day: It's still Washington's Birthday. Let Lincoln have his own day, but don't diminish the Father of the Country's.

Tracee Hamilton: I'd be happy if we had two holidays, one each, but it's not going to happen. And once the Super Bowl moves to President's Day weekend, it's not going to matter. Ugh.

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Oh No!: One more reason to hate mornings at work (save for that one chat of the week). Grrrr.

Tracee Hamilton: Everybody talks about this Angry Birds game. Maybe try that? :)

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NCAA Tournament: I know that you are not a College Basketball expert, but I am seeing from lots of folks (including Eric Prisbell) predictions of GMU getting a 6-7 seed and ODU (which looks likely to get an at-large bid, unless someone besides ODU or GMU winning the CAA) somewhere in the 7-9 discussion. Are these two teams really that good? I'm a grad of one and have respect for the other but even I think we are looking at 8-9 for GMU and 10-12 for ODU. Partially I think they also don't like to give mid-majors higher seeds.

Tracee Hamilton: I would not give GMU a 6 seed. I think your numbers are closer to what will happen. But if Prisbell says it, I'm probably wrong, because he's The Man.

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"My role will change a bit...": Are you allowed to be a little less vague?

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, I am just not quite sure (and neither is anyone else) how this is all going to shake out, but the idea is to have me write a quick morning hit on the topic du jour, shorter than a regular column, and get it on the website. Some of those would then be fleshed out for the paper. I will still go to games and do those things, but maybe this morning I'd write a quickie on Carmelo Anthony. That's the plan, anyway.

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KANSAS: We see a lot of Jayhawk love here every day, which is understandable since you're a homey, but I seem to remember not that long ago the big news out of Kansas was the evolution vs creationism school board brouhaha. Not a lot of good pub for the state back then. Have things settled down yet?

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, that has died down. Kansas is a very conservative state. Lawrence is a very liberal town. It's kind of interesting to see the dichotomy. The school boards are now worried about money because like every other state in the union they drastically overspent and now they're broke.The state still has that horror of a "minister" and his dreadful acts. Appalling to most of us.

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Ads in shows: I assume the writers put them in as poorly as they can get away with, in the hopes that they don't have to continue doing them or to let us know we can tune out for a short while. If we're going to have them, I think I prefer them to be glaringly obvious - they're more fun to mock that way.

Tracee Hamilton: That's a point to consider. If that's the case, Bones will be dropping them soon. They were like something out of an SNL skit.

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Sleepless in Mount Vernon: I didn't see it in the Post, but did the Knicks get Chauncey Billups in the trade too? Normally, I'd say trading young for old is a bad idea but that sure solves the point guard problem (for now, anyway).

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, they got Chauncey. I felt sorry for him, a class guy whose name has been dragged through this muck for far too long.

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Boo!!!: Now I'm sad. Oh well, thanks for doing FTF for as long as you did.Somebody else said this before but it bears repeating -- the Post's live chats are one of the best things on the internet. They are the main reason I come onto the Post's site every day. I've been a regular participant since the days of the Chat House, Bob Levey and Sharon Waxman. This is just like how the best shows on TV are always on the ratings bubble. Are there really so few of us out there who appreciate quality?

Tracee Hamilton: Well, you're a small but hearty band, I'd say. But please still be a weekly visitor. I'm with you on the chats; I love them.

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KU suspension: So what's the deal w/KU suspending its point guard? Any idea of how long this will last? Or what the kid did? Oh, and I second the "Oh great, now I have to work" sentiment. The daily chats will be missed. Local Pat's Fan

Tracee Hamilton: Well, no one is saying. Lot of speculation because his girlfriend was suspended from the women's team. And he's the player who was involved in the altercation with the football team over a girl. Tyshawn has not been without his issues. But Bill likes him and he was there last night. I don't expect this to be a season ender. I think he's trying to get the kid's attention, once again. Meanwhile, Elijah Johnson was GREAT in his place, so Tyshawn better think about that. That's one thing I'll say about that team, and you know I try never to brag them up, but it is a DEEP team.

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Product placement: Yesterday evening, I watched "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest", third of the "Dragon Tattoo" trilogy. There were a number of spots where product placement would have been expected (i.e. a bottle of water, a number of cars, etc.). There were no product placements. While I enjoyed the movie (not nearly as much as the book), the lack of brand names in obvious spots was oddly jarring. Am I falling into some sort of strange alternative universe?

Tracee Hamilton: Sadly, future generations will play drinking games based on product placement. Heck, maybe our generation will. Those movies were made in Sweden, correct? Maybe it hasn't hit there yet."30 Rock" handles them the best, making them funny and snarky but giving them their due.

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2000 HITS NOT ENOUGH?: The Post is obviously not doing enough to promote FTF. They missed a golden opportunity lately by failing to pony up for an ad during the Super Bowl!

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, I would like to have been with Lil' Darth Vader. Or driving that Chrysler in the Detroit commercial. Sweet!

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g-burg OSU fan: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!! Who do we call o complain to?

Tracee Hamilton: Well, you can't call my boss because he's on vacation this week. It's my fault for not growing the fan base. I'm the Wizards.

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Wonderful comment regarding Carmelo Anthony: One story on the now confirmed trade indicated that Carmelo Anthony wanted to go to New York because it was close Baltimore, which is where Mr. Anthony is from, and he wanted to play near home.Am I missing something very obvious in that "reporting"?

Tracee Hamilton: Meaning what? That Washington is closer to Baltimore? Am I missing something?

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They call it "product placement": And it's an increasingly important part of the revenue stream for production companies. If you want to watch TV or movies, learn to live with it and/or (my solution) make a drinking game out of it. TBHitW

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, the drinking game has merit. And I agree, the dread "revenue stream" is important to keep all of our television from becoming about the Kardashians and bitchy brides.

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re: "hits" on the chat transcript: Couple of things: (1) how does this number of hits compare to the other chats? (2) the new format doesn't require refreshing, which means fewer hits as well (3) perhaps they could make the advertisers appreciate the value of a returning target group -- that's the nature of the ad business now that broadcast is dead -- and do better, less random targeting.

Tracee Hamilton: I don't understand all the mechanics of it, and I don't know how many hits other chats get. Carolyn Hax's chat is huge, and Tom's ... if you add my five days together my number is great but if it's all repeat business ... I don't know. I just know it's disappointing.

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Boo of the Week: (There's an old DC media reference for you)Bad decision by the Post to continue to cut back on the chats. They were a differentiator for this site and for the paper. I'm not sure they've given these chats enough time to mature and fully gain an audience before booting them (and, regarding the end of the political chats, I really think they stopped because the reporters couldn't take the abuse they were getting. Sissies). Counting on people to maintain their interest in the Post based on the articles that are written isn't going to cut it. Chats may not be the answer (God knows video isn't) but you have to do something more to attract an audience. Just my $.02.

Tracee Hamilton: I agree re the chats. We have a lot of people who know a lot of stuff and we can also attract experts because of the brand. I love the chats and I hate to see them dwindling.In defense of reporters taking abuse, however, I will say that I occasionally get an email so unbelievably abusive and offensive that I'm stunned. Last week was the closest I came to calling the lawyers and security. It gets hard to be called names on a consisted basis. If I got screed like that every day they'd have to reopen St. E's.

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last two slots: conventional wisdom at this point is Zimmermann and Gorzelanny

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, Gorzelanny is definitely in the hunt. We've got to see these guys pitch against hitters. Still early days. But if he can be the No. 4 or No. 5 that will be a good deal by Rizzo.

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Follow-up to "Loss of Wilbon": Can you put on your editor's cap?It used to be you could read columnists virtually every day of the week, or at least on certain days but now it seems that colums are published on an ad hoc basis if even that. Do the columnists for the Washington Post have regular schedules for their columns?

Tracee Hamilton: No, and really, we haven't for quite some time. When I first got to the Post Tony had fairly firm days, and maybe Beyer, and definitely Angus. Beyond that it seemed that my old boss spent Monday morning lining up the week. That's what happens now. I knew last week that I was writing for Tuesday, I found out Sunday I was covering Georgetown this weekend, and I'm awaiting my other assignment. So it's a fluid process, to say the least.In some ways it would be comforting to write the same days every week, but on the other hand, if I'm writing every Monday and everything interesting is happening Tuesday, I'm going to get frustrated.I did write every Monday after Redskins games during the Zorn era, and you can pretty much count on Boz and Wise on Skins game days. Now J-Reid will be in the picture, and that Monday column became a pain because Shanahan on Mondays just isn't worthy of a column. So I'm guessing you'll see an altered lineup in the fall as well. But that's a guess.

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Not to Change the Subject, But. . .: Last night I saw a program (on The Learning Channel, would you believe?) called Outrageous Kid Parties. This woman spent $32,000 plus on a birthday party for her 6-year-old daughter, including a coach & horses to take her to the party, a $3000 cake, costumes for all 150 guests, asking her 16 year old daughter's cheerleading squad to perform an original cheer, hand-printed invitations on scrolls delivered by 18 year old son & his friend in costume (she paid the boys each $100!). The mind absolutely boggles. The kid's dress was $750!

Tracee Hamilton: And that show doesn't need product placement because it costs nothing to produce. I fear the complete decay of television, which I know is a laugh, but still ... That is vomitous television, right there. I'm not even sure that's a word but it should be.

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"I'm the Wizards!": Tracee, you're ever so much better than the Wizards. And we love you, we really do!

Tracee Hamilton: Well, I love you guys and gals too, not to get maudlin.

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Ads: The most egregious example was on Chuck a year or so ago when the actual actors were in the Honda car/van ads aired during the show. Just blended them right in. I also remember hearing Angela on Bones say we can take my Sienna, calling it by name. More to come I am sure.

Tracee Hamilton: Well, and Chuck and Subway, of course. That was a famous one.

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2,000!: In this era of unending options 2,000 unique page views is phenomenal! They should shut down the rest of the website and just have you chat all day! Geesh. . .your editors just don't get modern media!

Tracee Hamilton: Now I hope I quoted that number correctly. I'm not cc'd on those emails anymore. :)I'm the easiest chat on the board, I know that. I never have a producer. Someone has to build the template every day but if they'd teach me that they could ignore me completely. :)

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You're chatting with pneumonia?: I had pneumonia last fall and I thought I was going to die.

Tracee Hamilton: No, this came up yesterday in reference to my first week of chats, which yes, I did with pneumonia. I have never been so scared in my life because I live alone. I was smart to finally take myself to the ER. I was coughing so badly I was blacking out and coming to. I never ever want that again. Did they tell you to get the shot? No idea if it works but can't hurt. I sure got one and intend to every year.

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"TRACEE HAMILTON : Meaning what? That Washington is closer to Baltimore? Am I missing something?": I think the point is that that line of reporting is kinda, well, stupid. With the dough Anthony makes, he could easily move the one or two good things about Baltimore (yes, I'm being generous) to anywhere he's playing.

Tracee Hamilton: Oh, okay. Hmmmmm.

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The difference between abuse and vigorous criticism: Nobody, least of all you, deserves to receive abuse from readers. But I think I know where the other chatter is coming from about the politics chats. Those guys would dish it out but refuse to take it. They'd lob out a grenade like "liberals need to get over their Bush hatred and learn to work with the Administration" and then wonder why people got upset.

Tracee Hamilton: Ah, well, you know my longstanding "I ignore politics" rule so I never read them. Yeah, you can't throw grenades and then disappear. True.

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re: "I'm the Wizards!" : Now I'm thinking about that Seinfeld with the guy who did the late night commercials where he would prance up and down saying "I'm the Wiz!" while wearing a crown.

Tracee Hamilton: Proving once again that EVERYTHING in life can relate back to an episode of Seinfeld!

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REVENUE: I know the NY Times charges for some online content. Has the Post figured out a feasible way to do it, without alienating too many folks who are used to getting it for free (including me)?

Tracee Hamilton: Nope, and I don't think it's in the cards. Remember, I'm no longer in the meetings where these things are discussed, but it's never seemed very "Postie" to charge. I know Don was against it. Now, of course, everything changes. But I'd be surprised.

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Product Placement: On Heroes, Jack Coleman (HRG) gave his daughter Hayden Panettiere (Claire) "the Rogue" for her birthday. She said loud & clear, "You're giving me the Rogue!!!"

Tracee Hamilton: That sounds just like what a teenager would say! :)

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Pens: Hi,I'm a Pens fan who watched the game and wondered--if the Caps are that good, why only one goal in the entire game and during a PP when the Pens' defense was limited with Martin out and a focus on Letang? The Caps barely beat the teams the played on the road and Caps fans are thinking playoffs? Get serious. Yes, Crosby, please come back. Will miss you on a daily basis.

Tracee Hamilton: If you knew how bad the power play has been for the Caps this year, you'd feel bad that the Pens let him score a goal on it. Seriously, the Caps' PP has been dreadful. And why shouldn't the Caps think playoffs? They're going to be in the playoffs. Not sure I'm getting you.

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rename the chat: Just rename the chat, "Redskins Daily Chat, with Tracee Hamilton." You'll get thousands more viewers.

Tracee Hamilton: Ha! I could change my name to Mike Shanahan and you all could call me Ol' Laser Eyes.

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Arlington, VA: Seriously - what is the email adress to send a letter of complaint about the demise of FTF as we know it. I have tried before on other issues to find an email route/address/link on the Post web site without any luck - do the editors/owners NOT want to hear from the dwindling numbers of suscribers they still have?

Tracee Hamilton: You can always use the department box, which is sports@washpost.com. Address it to the sports editor. It should get there.

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I occasionally get an email so unbelievably abusive and offensive that I'm stunned.: You know this happens to all kinds of people just because they have contact information on the web. I used to work for a law firm, working on their website, and the lawyers would regularly get scary threatening e-mails. They were from people who didn't have anything to do with our attorneys. Just freaky people who get their jollies from scaring others.

Tracee Hamilton: I can well imagine. I don't mind the ones who don't like the column. It's just the name-calling ... my god, that you could write something so heinous to a total stranger. It's my smalltown mentality, I guess. I'd like to get this one guy into my small town. They'd kick his ass.

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"I IGNORE POLITICS": Does that mean you have no political opinions at all, or just that it's safer not to discuss them in print?

Tracee Hamilton: Well, if I really answer that, I might open a can of worms. I suppose I have political opinions because everyone does. I just don't see the world as Dem or Rep and I think in the end it doesn't matter who's in charge. Neither side is exactly lighting it up. And I will waste not two seconds of my life debating politics, or who did what to whom, or where the President was born. Blah blah blah. I know this is a failing, living in DC. I came here 17 years ago feeling not this deeply about it, but I'm numb to it now.

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Pneumonia shot? : I didn't even know there was one. I've got bronchitis right now and it's becoming a regular trend. I will have to ask my doctor about this. Thanks.

Tracee Hamilton: Yes, do. Because I had recurring bronchitis, two or three times a winter at least, and severe, for several years until I developed pneumonia. You might be able to prevent it, which would be great. Seriously, I hope I'm never that sick again in my life.

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"My role will change a bit...": Maybe you could use the extra time to catch up on reading emails from Kilgore? (rimshot)Seriously, sorry to hear that FTF will end but good to know that you'll still be chatting at times. Will miss your smiling (virtual) face in the mornings.

Tracee Hamilton: Ha! Thanks for the laugh. I'll miss all the people I've "met" here as well.

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We few, we happy few, : We band of FTFers...I dunno about everyone else, but I will still come visit once a week. Just don't go video!

Tracee Hamilton: My favorite speech from Shakespeare. I used to recite it to my folks on the eve of the Olympics. Sally in particular loved that. "And men in England abed this day will think themselves cursed, and hold their manhoods cheap..."That's not exactly right but I haven't had to perform it in awhile.

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Not my place to ask but.........: "My role will change a bit starting next week." Beyond not having a daily chat, what else will change? Will you be doing more reporting, column writing, editing or something different? From my perspective, you're a damned good reporter and writer. Insightful and can relate to the reader. Your absence from the morning chat will be felt.

Tracee Hamilton: I'll still be writing columns; that won't change. I think my role may evolve a little over the next couple of months but we'll see. I hope to be during some Tournament action and some playoffs as well. But we'll see!

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Worst Week in Washington?: Are you now on the short list?

Tracee Hamilton: Gosh, I hope so. I'd finally be on the short list for something!And I've run even longer than usual so I'd better stop. But we had a lot to talk about. Let's chat tomorrow, while I can still say that!


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