In the last week, The Post has published two excellent columns on what Redskins players are up to during the lockout: Jason Reid’s look at Lorenzo Alexander’s charity work, and Mike Wise’s examination of Chris Cooley’s pottery empire. Two great talkers, two unique columns concerning the most important sports team in this town.
Of course, in the past week, The Post’s general sports columns have also published zero columns on the Washington Capitals, who have sold out more than 100 straight games, recently completed a dramatic recovery to clinch the best record in the Eastern Conference for the second year in a row, have several crucial personnel decisions entering the postseason and are considered favorites to win the Stanley Cup.
This was all brought to my attention by The Fingerman, one of our persistent sports ombudsmen, who went back and examined what Post sports columnists have been writing.
The day-to-day beat coverage of the Caps and the placement of stories on days after games — and features on off-days — is fine and I have no complaint about that. My problem is with the columnists at the Post, who seem to have abandoned the Caps as the team spent the last month and a half going from a group in disarray to a red-hot team that looks like it may have a decent shot at making waves in the playoffs. Sounds like a good story that a sports columnist would be interested in, doesn’t it?
And yet somehow there have been FOUR TIMES as many columns written about the Nats in the last month and a half than about the Caps,
Four times as many Nats columns? Surely not. This was worth a look.
So I went back and tried to compile a comprehensive list of the printed bylines by our five full-time Sports columnists: Mike Wise, Sally Jenkins, Thomas Boswell, Jason Reid and Tracee Hamilton. They published 126 columns since the Winter Classic coverage ended on Jan. 2. Here are the leaders.
Nationals - 23
NFL - 20
Local college basketball - 17
National college sports - 17
Wizards - 13
Golf - 9
Capitals - 8
Redskins - 8
NBA - 6
Other - 5
But wait, you say! What about the Caps’ columns by Tarik El-Bashir???? I love them. Great addition to our Web site, and great addition to our newspaper. But until he gets an office and a business card that says “sports columnist,” his On Hockey pieces don’t really go in the same category.
Now, fortunately, I don’t have to make difficult decisions on space and priority and areas of emphasis; I just write snarky second-guessing blog posts after the fact. But looking at these numbers, and considering the story lines of D.C. sports over the past four months, I think I’d tend to agree that maybe the Nationals got a bit too much attention from our columnists, and maybe the Caps could have used a bit more.