Two weeks away from the Washington sports scene. Immersed in England's Premier "Football" League and pretending to be Formula One star Michael Schumacher in a wool scarf burning rubber on the hairpin turns of narrow Scottish highways and byways after the grand guys in the starter's shed at St. Andrews proved they will permit anyone on the Old Course.
Wore my red Arsenal jersey in London all week in hopes of the Gunners completing the first undefeated top-level English season in 115 years, which is exactly what happened last Saturday with a 2-1 win over Leicester. The Arsene Wenger-coached side finished the regular season 26-0-12 -- a fabulous accomplishment but still shy of the Miami Dolphins going 17-0 in the '72 NFL season.
Because the Dolphins won them all. No draws.
And, Arsenal lost nonleague games to Manchester United in the FA Cup and to Chelsea in the European Cup, which would be like the New England Patriots, in the middle of the NFL season, playing St. Louis in a nonleague Tagliabue Cup. Go figure.
And speaking of Chelsea, that team needed to beat Monaco by two goals to advance to the final of the European Cup. A 2-2 tie simply didn't get it done, and there were a lot of "Blue Chelsea" headlines all over town. Tried to buy one ticket from our hotel concierge for the Chelsea-Monaco game. "Can do," the concierge said proudly. An hour later he told me the price: 2,000 U.S. dollars. Even Wilbon wouldn't try to expense that. Well . . . who knows for sure what he'd do?
Meantime, Leeds United -- relegated from the Premiership to the second-tier First Division for finishing among the bottom three teams in the top league -- had its township in total despair. I spent much of the week watching yellow-clad youngsters on England's version of ESPN (Sky Sports) weeping in the streets as their demoted, vanquished heroes trudged off to the minors, or new teams. I like the concept of relegation for the NFL and the Chargers; it would strengthen the CFL.
Note to Bud Selig: There are five teams in London playing to large crowds in the Premier League. London is the capital of England. Washington is the capital of the United States. There are no Major League Baseball teams in Washington. What if Peter Angelos bought Chelsea and tried to run off the other four soccer teams in London? How far would he get?
Two weeks without Redskins news? It was cold turkey, with nary a word about minicamp in the British press. Nothing about rookie safety Sean Taylor firing his agent; not a word about Mark Brunell and Patrick Ramsey set to begin Sonny-Billy II; nothing on LaVar or Joe Gibbs.
Thankfully, this week the Redskins began something the NFL calls Organized Team Activity -- which is 14 days of practice, conditioning and meetings for six hours a day. Old friend Allen Iverson would call this " just practice." Will pursue OTA developments in next week's column.
Red on Roundball
Despite being abroad for two weeks, I missed only a few NBA playoff games, since they play them about every five days, or so it seems. The topic of conversation among Red Auerbach's lunch bunch at China Doll last week was San Antonio's failure to contest the Lakers' inbounds pass to Derek Fisher, who scored at the buzzer for a one-point victory in Game 5. Auerbach had questions about the Spurs' strategy and clock timer, who probably would not have held such a position for very long in Boston. . . .
While the Wizards began their offseason ages ago, the WNBA Mystics opened their season at MCI Center last night with former Bullet Michael Adams at the helm. "I'm having fun," Adams said. "The women know the game; I'm trying to give them an NBA frame of mind: be offensive-minded, attack, look to score."
Adams raves about rookie guard Alana Beard, whom he says "plays like a veteran." The Mystics fans -- and there are many -- deserve a winner. Meantime, team president and Washington Sports honcho/marketing whiz Susan O'Malley continues to draw interest from prospective employers outside the building. But she won't talk about it.
Changing His Tune
I didn't know Jaromir Jagr was so evil. His former coach, Ron Wilson of San Jose, told The Post's Steve Fainaru recently that Jagr's reputation as a "coach-killer" was accurate and deserved. Three years ago, when owner Ted Leonsis and GM George McPhee signed Jagr amid much fanfare, Wilson called Jagr the "Tiger Woods of hockey." How can you go from being Tiger Woods to Evil Man in three years? . . .
MLB owners and the relocation committee met last week in New York, as Washington Mayor Anthony Williams looked to finalize his financial and stadium plans to satisfy council members and the Seilg Gang that will decide where to ship the Montreal Expos for 2005. Selig's "let's not hurt the O's" remarks after the meeting Thursday seemed to be a step back from his telling The Post last month Angelos would not be an impediment to the future of the Expos.
We've been down this path before -- although rarely so close to actually getting a team. Formidable obstacles remain: Peter the Great looming large, greed and menacing in Baltimore like a huge float.
In harking back to the Oakland A's and San Francisco Giants sharing the Bay Area, Selig is leaning on 35-plus years of history, most recently showing surging attendance for both teams.
Selig, who told me Angelos will go along with any decision he makes, needs to show his backbone and courage in deciding where to place this ballclub.
This and That
You have to love Smarty Jones. But wait until the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner gets a look at the stretch at Belmont Park. What a schlep. . . .
My money is on Roy Jones in the rematch against Antonio Tarver. . . .
Glad there was a seminar on fan behavior at the University of Maryland this month and that football coach Ralph Friedgen and basketball coach Gary Williams attended. Still believe the only way to silence the true foul-mouthed offenders is to pull their tickets. And, finally, Landon's 6-5 victory over Georgetown Prep in four overtimes to win its 23rd IAC lacrosse title was one for the books. Tip of the hat to the Bears and midfielder Stoddie Nibley.
Have an opinion or question? Reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Leeds United fans welcome to vent.