Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Are You Kidding Me?

What a game! It was especially fun to read this morning's recap of the Capitals' comeback in the New York Post; the beat writer essentially arguest that the Rangers aren't who we thought they were. Can you imagine how depressing the sports scene would be in DC without the Caps?

Wizards Lose -- To the Bocats

How bad are the Wizards? Last night they lost to a team made up of players who are half Bo Jackson, half cat. How do you lose to a team with whiskers and no hips? You start a lineup that features Andray Blatche and Mike James, and proceed to shoot 32 percent, that's how.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Consolation Prize

So the Nationals lost out on Mark Teixeira, but they got the next best thing: Corey Patterson! The Nationals signed the can't miss prospect-turned-journeyman who can't stay healthy to a minor league deal. Pop that champagne. Grab a stale Noah's pretzel. Patterson is a poor man's Mark Teixeira -- about $179 million poorer, actually. He hit .205, got on base at a .238 clip, and walked 16 times in over 350 at bats in Cincinnati last season. In other words, Jim Bowden signed an older Emilio Bonifacio. With Patterson guaranteed to come off the bench given the Nationals' already crowded outfield situation, Washington can boast the best pinch runner in the game. Outstanding. I just hope Santa's elves can sew me a Patterson jersey in time for Christmas.

Oh, and Teixeira, may you rot in pinstripes and be booed mercilessly when the fans realize that you're no Derek Jeter.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cowboys Suck > Ravens Suck


Go San Diego!

Go Minnesota!

Go Redskins! Or don't, and put these far-fetched playoff aspirations to rest.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Wizards Win...(a simulation of) the NBA Draft Lottery!!!!!

The Wizards could really use the first four picks in next year's draft. What are the chances of that happening? Maybe .02, .01 percent?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Simeon Varlamov

There was a woman at the Caps game last night sporting a No. 40 Varlamov jersey, which was either really, really cool, or really, really questionable. Can something be really questionable? I don't know. I do know that it's still too early to proclaim Varlamov the Capitals' Next (First?) Great Goalie -- I'm still fighting the tendency to call him Varmalov -- but he did look pretty solid in making 29 saves against the Blues. Let's just hope that Varlamov has more sustained success in Washington than Jim Carey (above) and, 10 years from now, the woman in the No. 40 Capitals jersey is considered a trend-setter and not an unsuspecting model on

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mike "Wild Thing" Green?

During the Capitals' thrilling 5-4 overtime win over the New York Islanders on Tuesday, the color commentator remarked that Mike Green's skating style reminds him of Al Iafrate. That's pretty solid company for Greenie.

In 1992, Iafrate became the first player to officially break the 100-mph shot barrier, when he did so in front of a Capital Centre crowd of 9,000 at Washington's Superskills competition. The event was one of 24 team-sponsored skills competitions throughout the league, with the top four qualifiers in each conference earning a spot in the skills competition at the All-Star Game. Iafrate, who attributed his success to "clean living," had the hardest qualifying shot among Wales Conference players that season; his 101.4 mph rocket beat out the likes of Uwe Krupp and Zarley Zalapski.

Amazingly, Iafrate's time in the fastest skater competition ranked second in the Wales Conference behind Mike Gartner and .06 seconds ahead of fellow All-Star qualifier and teammate Peter Bondra.

Iafrate didn't disappoint at the All-Star Game, blasting a shot that was measured at 105.2 mph. The video above is from the following season, when Iafrate retained his title with a shot that only registered at 102 mph.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Playoffs?! Playoffs?!?!

It's disgusting that the Redskins still have a chance to make the playoffs, but I suppose it's nice that there's still something besides other teams' misfortune to cheer for. Or is it?

At this point, I don't really know how I would feel if the Redskins backed into the NFC's sixth playoff spot. I'm pretty sure I won't feel like I did after improbable late-season playoff pushes in 2005 and 2007. Those two teams caught fire at the right time and provided a reason to believe that maybe, just maybe, they could keep things rolling in January. This team provides a reason to do yard work on Sundays.

One of two things will happen if the Redskins, by some unimaginable stroke of luck, make the playoffs: They'll either win the Super Bowl or they'll lose badly to the Vikings in the first round. There is no middle ground. There is no medium, to borrow a term from the Zorn Star, with this team.

So what do you think? Do you want the Redskins to make the playoffs, or are they better off going 7-9 and getting a higher draft pick?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Holidays From the Redskins!

Dear Redskins Fan,

Larry Michael here. Well, the bad news is that after Sunday's hard-fought loss in Cincinnati, we're more than likely going to miss the playoffs. The good news is that I have time to write this holiday card! Now, the season may not be ending exactly how we all had hoped, but take a minute and think back to training camp and the preseason. Ask yourself if you thought the Redskins would make the playoffs. Maybe you picked them to finish a respectable 8-8. Maybe you were a little more optimistic like myself and picked them to finish 10-6. The pundits and the so-called experts were picking the Redskins to finish fourth in the NFC East and I'm pretty sure the Sourcerer picked them to finish 0-16. Well, it turns out that some of those so-called experts might be right. Anyway, I don't remember what the point of this exercise was, but hail to the Redkins and be sure to visit the team store.

The point is, no matter how the Redskins finish this season, it shouldn't take away from what rookie head coach Jim Zorn and this team have managed to accomplish this year. So many people want to harp on the negatives -- the loss to St. Louis, the loss to Cincinnati, the entire offensive line -- but let's look at some of the positives from 2008. The Redskins were once 6-2. Not many teams could say that this year. The Redskins also did something that no other NFL team -- no other team! -- did this year when they won at Philadelphia and Dallas. Granted, there weren't many teams that played both Philly and Dallas on the road, but whatever, that was really impressive. And hey, we may not be playing in the Super Bowl, but we're going to be well represented in February's second most important game. It's going to be the Redskins against the AFC in this year's Pro Bowl. I sure hope you booked your tickets for Hawaii. I mean, when you think about it, only an idiot would choose to go to Tampa Bay over a trip to Honolulu. Now go vote Cedric Benson to the AFC roster; he played like a man on a mission on Sunday. Show me a defense in the NFL that can stop that guy and I'll show you one bit of criticism I've levied against the Redskins.

It's been a good season. We've watched the development of players like Chris Horton and, uh, well Chris Horton has been great. Let's give credit where credit is due. Hats off to Vinny Cerrato for finding that diamond in the rough. What a job Vinny continues to do year in and year out. We've had him on the show throughout the season -- just a class act and a great, great football mind. I can assure you that Vinny will be working feverishly in the offseason to make this team better for 2009. And really, the Redskins are probably only a couple of key pieces away from being something really, really special. I'd like to thank all the fans who tuned into Redskins Nation, especially those of you who took the time to write incredibly thought-provoking e-mails. And lastly, I'd like to thank Mr. Dan Snyder, without whom I'd be out of a job.

Happy Holidays, Redskins fans!


Larry Michael

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Baking is Therapeutic

Shortly after Shaun Suisham's onside kick attempt bounced out of bounds -- and the Redskins' meager playoff hopes along with it -- I whipped up some icing for the gingerbread cookies I made before the game and went to town. (It seemed like a better idea than downing the entire case of Miller Lite someone brought to our Halloween party and crushing the empties with my face.)

One hour -- or the approximate length of the Bengals' final scoring drive -- later, I had completely forgotten that I had just spent a good portion of my day watching the Redskins make Cedric Benson look like a pot-smoking Jim Brown.

Here are Clinton Portis and Jason Campbell. Why are they smiling, you ask? Because they're gingerbread cookies.

Here are Carlos Rogers and Shaun "Golden Foot" Suisham. Rogers, you will be happy to know, underwent successful hand amputation surgery. Why are his feet black? Because he got burned. Why is Suisham frowning? Because even gingerbread cookies frown after booting kickoffs out of bounds. If Suisham gets cut, Ryan Plackemeier would be happy to eat him. And for the record, Rogers' hands taste better than they catch.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What if...Chad Johnson had joined the Redskins?

Long before the Mark Teixeira chase began, this was the hot trade talk in Washington. The Redskins reportedly offered two first-round picks for Chad Johnson, but when the Bengals rejected the offer, Vinny Cerrato decided to address his team's receiving needs in the draft. It remains to be seen what sort of pros Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly, and Fred Davis will turn out to be, but their numbers combined haven't come close to matching Johnson's production in one of the worst statistical years of his career. So, would Chad Johnson in Burgundy and Gold be a good thing?

Yes, because:
  • It would allow Randle El to become the third receiver -- or the designated leader of the hip, hip, hooray cheer.
  • If Chad ever decides to change his name to Chad Lloyd or Chad McCants-- hey, crazier things have happened -- Skins fans could recycle their No. 85 jerseys.
  • Those gold teeth: So hot right now.
No, because:
  • Every week would be like a really bad soap opera -- with Larry Michael providing the narrative.
  • We could really use that draft pick to take an injury-prone WR who isn't NFL-ready.
  • Those gold teeth: A hot mess.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Biggest Kick of Shaun Suisham's Life

Amazingly, Shaun Suisham is the leading vote getter among kickers for this year's Pro Bowl. Maybe this whole democracy business isn't so great after all. Hours after the news broke, General Motors announced the contestant in the halftime contest they're sponsoring where one lucky fan will attempt a 35-yard field goal for $10 bajillion: Shaun Suisham. Talk about giving new meaning to the term bailout!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Better Santa

The Nationals have made an offer to Mark Teixeira: 8 years, $160 million. Will it be enough? Probably not. Have more unbelievable things happened? Uh, yes. So please, Santa, forgive Jim Bowden and the Lerners for being naughty this year, leave Willy Taveras at the North Pole, and deliver Big Teix to DC. Otherwise, a huge flat screen TV would be nice; I'd like to watch the Nationals' anemic offense suck again in style.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Clinton Portis, Cheerleader

This is getting ridiculous. Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse -- at least until a loss at Cincinnati on Sunday -- Clinton Portis has some harsh words for Jim Zorn. Look, I love CP, but if he's going to ruffle his pockets, sarcastically refer to his head coach as a genius, and suggest that he should pick up some pom-poms and join the cheerleader squad, he should at least do it in costume! Portis needs to channel Reverend Gonna Change, practice his ass off this week, and run for 200 yards against the Bengals, so that we're looking back at this episode in early January and marveling at the internal strife that this team managed to overcome en route to the playoffs.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bamboo > Redskins D-Line

Watching the Redskins' defensive line fail to generate any sort of pass rush in Sunday night's deflating loss to the Ravens, I was reminded of one of the opening scenes in Garden State, when the Obnoxious Girl --'s label, not mine -- snaps at Zach Braff's character in the restaurant.
Obnoxious Girl: I'll have a Ketel Cosmo, with Red Bull -- and some bread ASAP.
Andrew Largeman: Uh, we don't have bread.
Obnoxious Girl: What do you mean you don't have bread, how can you not have bread?
Andrew Largeman: We're a Vietnamese restaurant. We just don't have bread.
Obnoxious Girl: Well, you're not Vietnamese.
Andrew Largeman: No, I'm not.
Obnoxious Girl: Can I have something to chew on?! Fuck, bamboo! Whatever!
Andrew Largeman: I'll see what I can do.
Substitute Angry Redskins Fans for Obnoxious Girl, Vinny Cerrato for Andrew Largeman, and defensive linemen for bread, and you've basically summed up the state of the Redskins' front four. Here's the Redskins rank in sacks for the past eight years: 29th; T-16th; 32nd; 20th; 9th; 27th; T-9th; 29th; 8th; 14th. As Emmitt Smith would tell you, those are some pretty abmissile numbers.

Since drafting Kenard Lang with the 17th overall pick in the 1997 draft, the Redskins have drafted a total of six defensive linemen. Feast your eyes on this list of Hall of Famers: Delbert Cowsette, Mario Monds, Greg Scott, Kedric Golston, Anthony Montgomery, and Rob Jackson. Bra-freaking-vo. I'm willing to give credit where credit is due, and Montgomery has turned into a solid pro, but his value is more in his versatility than in his ability to get to the passer.

Last I checked, the Redskins were neither a Vietnamese restaurant nor a Vietnamese football team. They should have some bread. They should have some pass rushers. I blame Kenard Lang and Vinny Cerrato.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Make It Happen, Vinny

Vinny Cerrato, the brilliant evaluator of talent who was responsible for landing Devin Thomas, Malcolm Kelly, Fred Davis, and Durant Brooks in last season's draft -- yes, I know the Redskins also drafted Chris Horton, but even a blind squirrel finds a nut -- should do everything in his power to ensure that the Redskins draft a stud defensive end next year. Shit, trade the entire 2008 class -- the players who haven't already been cut, anyway -- for Jared Allen or DeMarcus Ware. I'm tired of watching opposing quarterbacks sit back in the pocket as if they're playing in a flag football league that employs a five-second count before the defense can rush the quarterback. The Redskins' defensive and offensive lines were abysmal against the Ravens. That is all.

List of defensive ends who could start tomorrow for the Redskins courtesy of

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Great Ideas: Wizards Throwback Jersey Night

If the goal of Friday night's promotion at Verizon Center was to get fans to wonder aloud, "Who were the Zephyrs?" and , more to the point, "What is a zephyr?", well then, bravo. Mission accomplished. But if the goal was to get fans to forget about the Wizards' putrid start to the season, then dressing their under-performing players in the jersey of an obscure team from Chicago that went 25-55 in its one season before moving to Baltimore and becoming the Bullets was a really lame idea.

If the promotions department wants to celebrate the glory years of the franchise by rocking the throwback theme later this season, here's a suggestion: Wear 2005-2007 Washington Wizards jerseys. It would take fans back to the happier times when Larry Hughes and Roger Mason lit up opposing teams, Juan Dixon wore No. 3, Gilbert Arenas occasionally played, and Peter John Ramos still had promise. Maybe Kwame Brown could sing the national anthem.

Oh, and if you care, a zephyr is a gentle breeze. How fitting.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Well That's Depressing released its playoff odds today, and no surprise here, it doesn't look good for the Wizards. According to John Hollinger's projections, the Wiz have a 5.5 percent chance of making the playoffs and their best-case scenario in terms of a win-loss record is to finish 48-34. F that. What kind of silly math is Hollinger using? After tonight's loss to the Lakers, Washington could still finish 67-15. That should be good for at least the second spot in the East, right? I'm digging that 0.1 percent chance of winning a division title. Keep the faith, Wizards fans.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Jimmy Patsos: "Take the #$%@ ball inside!"

With Loyola head coach Jimmy Patsos making news recently -- first for his brilliant decision to double-team Davidson's Stephen Curry for an entire game last week and then for the letter he wrote to Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser defending the strategy -- I'm reminded of this column in Sports Illustrated from 2004. In it, Rick Reilly captured what it was like to be on the Maryland bench alongside Gary Williams during a second round NCAA tournament game against Syracuse. Reilly describes the scene after the Orange took a 6-4 lead:
"Beside himself because his players won't attack the 'Cuse zone, the 59-year-old Williams turns salmon pink. He wheels on his assistant coach, Jimmy Patsos, and hollers, "You dumb mother [deleted on delay]! Make them take the ball inside!"

Why does he scream at Patsos? Because it's scream or herniate, and Williams doesn't want to scream at the Maryland players on the court. In his 13 years with Williams, Patsos has been fired more times than Donald Trump's barber. But he never actually leaves. "I know he doesn't mean it," Patsos says. "He's one of my best friends in the world."

Shortly after the column ran, Patsos was hired to take over a Loyola (Md.) program that was coming off a 1-27 season. The Greyhounds won a school record 19 games last season, but are off to a 2-6 start this year. Loyola closes 2008 with back-to-back games at North Carolina State and Duke, two places where Patsos should feel plenty comfortable. The only difference is now he's the one calling his assistants dumb mother [deleted on delay]. I won't be surprised if Loyola leaves the Tarheel State with a win -- while the double-team strategy failed, Patsos might consider not guarding Duke's Greg Paulus -- and then contends for the MAAC title. An NCAA tournament rematch with Davidson would be amazing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

All Your Lakes Are Belong to Us

Is it too late for Maryland to schedule Western Michigan, Wayne State, Oakland, and Lake Superior State? Because with the Final Four scheduled for Detroit's Ford Field, the Terps would be poised to cakewalk to their second title in seven years with a few more opponents from the Wolverine State on their schedule. The Terps downed Michigan 75-70 in the ACC-Big 10 (hardly a) Challenge, one week after upsetting Michigan State. Clinton Portis was in the house at Comcast Center, evidently scouting out the best places to celebrate on the way back from the Skins' win in Bal'mer on Sunday.

If there was any question why Quint Kessenich and Mike Kelley were assigned to broadcast the Michigan-Maryland tilt on ESPNU, as opposed to a game that more people would be watching, it was answered when, after a Maryland transition basket, one of them asked, "Is there anyone in the nation better at finding the open man than Greivis Vasquez?" Uh, does Gary Williams sweat?

Vasquez is a tremendous talent, and when he's on his game he's an All-ACC caliber player. He was brilliant in the second half against the Wolverines, finishing with 23 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists, and, get this, zero turnovers. It'll take a few more nights like that one before Vasquez should be mentioned as one of the nation's best passers, much less anything else, except perhaps hairstylists. Vasquez has 34 assists and 20 turnovers this season, which isn't bad, but leaves plenty of room for improvement. Here's hoping it continues against GW this weekend.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The 3 Worst Redskins Kickers Ever

The Redskins have employed 16 kickers since legend Chip Lohmiller (above) was cut after the 1995 season. During that time, the likes of Chris Jacke, James Tuthill, Jose Cortez, Brett Conway, Ola Kimrin, Scott Bentley, Jeff Chandler, Nick Novak, and Shaun Suisham have all worn the single digits and soccer shoes for the Skins. And those were just the slightly above suckage kickers of the bunch! Here are the three worst of the worst, all of whom, incidentally, kicked for Washington during the 2000 season:

Michael Husted: The Redskins signed Michael Husted early in the 2000 season to replace the steady Conway, who was later placed on injured reserve. Husted proceeded to miss four of his first eight field goal attempts along with an extra point. Four weeks later, Husted was cut. He went on to attempt one more field goal in his NFL career, with the Kansas City Chiefs two years later. He made it. That's a good story for the grandchildren.

Kris Heppner: The former Montana star was signed to replace Husted and was serviceable through his first three games with Washington. In his fourth game, though, Heppner missed a 33-yard field goal in a painful 16-15 loss to the Cardinals. "It's a $100 million team here," Heppner said afterward. "They demand winning. I completely understand that. Especially when you lose a game to the Cardinals." Wow. That's the type of thing a player would say about today's Detroit Lions. Vinny Cerrato, who was only director of player personnel at the time, weighed in on Heppner's release. "He was in position to put us ahead . . . and he didn't do his job. We owe it to the rest of the guys to upgrade also." Upgrade with whom? Eddie Murray? Sounds like a good idea to me!

Eddie Murray: Eddie Murray's career -- all 19 years of it -- stacks up as one of the best in NFL history among kickers, but his two seasons in Washington (1995 and 2000) didn't exactly inspire chants of Ed-die! Ed-die! at RFK and FedEx Field. Murray came out retirement to replace Heppner for his second stint with the Skins, and in hindsight, it was a terrible decision. Murray missed two field goals, including a 49-yarder with less than a minute to play in a season-crushing 9-7 loss to the New York Giants. "I gave it my best shot," Murray said after the loss, which dropped the Redskins to 7-6 after a 6-2 start. "I thought I had hit it well enough. What's my future here? I guess we'll wait and see what tomorrow brings." Tomorrow brought the firing of head coach Norv Turner. Way to go, Eddie.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Danny Smith Is a Genius

Redskins special teams coach Danny Smith has taken a lot of heat for his unit's struggles this season. First, rookie punter Durant Brooks was cut, only to be replaced by a man who has downed more double-cheeseburgers since joining the Redskins than punts inside the 20. Then, kicker Shaun Suisham forgot how to make field goals, which would be fine if it wasn't, you know, his main job. And Antwaan Randle El still leads all punt returners in LABYAC. That's "lateral and backwards yards after catch" for the uninitiated. Get your mind out of the gutter.

Rather than sit idly by and watch the Redskins continue to give new meaning to the term "special teams," Danny Smith is attempting to light a fire under his players' asses before Sunday night's game against the Ravens. Behold his weekly PowerPoint presentation:

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Off With His Hands!

I don't know how Carlos Rogers spent his bye week, but he would've been well served spending at least a few minutes browsing this site if he didn't drop his laptop first. Yes, 'Los has emerged as the Redskins' best corner this season. Yes, he's been solid in coverage and he's laid the wood to a few dudes. And yes, he's played remarkably well one year removed from serious knee surgery. But good gosh almighty, the guy can't catch a ball to save his freaking life! I suppose that's why he's not a wide receiver -- or a fireman. Can you imagine the horror of being trapped on the fifth floor of a burning building and looking out the window to find Carlos Rogers at the end of a ladder one floor below screaming "jump"?

The solution to Rogers' problem? Amputate his hands. If it sounds ridiculous, that's because it is. Ridiculously brilliant. If Rogers can't catch with hands, then removing them is no big loss, right? Rogers' hands are kind of like the human tailbone, evolutionary remnants that serve no real purpose. Without hands, Rogers would never be called for holding and he'd be forced to improve his technique. Win-win. People would also no longer curse Rogers when he dropped an interception because, well, that would just be wrong. I mean, the guy wouldn't have any hands.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Predicting Tonight's Boomerisms

By now you've heard that Chris Berman will interview Barack Obama and John McCain during tonight's Redskins-Steelers game. How might Boomer refer to the presidential hopefuls, I wonder...

Barack "Cartwright" Obama

Barack "Chalk, Jayhawk" Obama

Barack "And Roll" Obama

Barack "Collection" Obama

Barack "Save Your Drama For Your" Obama

Barack "Oh! Oh! Oh!" Obama

Barack "You Like a Hurricane" Obama

John "Edwin" McCain

"Ral" John McCain

John "Riggins "McCain"

John "Night Train" McCain

John McCain "And Abel"

John "Bring the Pain" McCain

John Mc "Lane Kiffin"

Please feel free to leave your own superior suggestions in the comments.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Metro Opens Doors; Doors Open for Jim Zorn

So, what stop should I get off at to go to the Spy Museum? Belichick told me it's awesome.

Jim Zorn was in the house on Halloween to get his drink on, mingle with admirers, and talk strategy with the Metro. Zorn threw a challenge flag during beer pong, but there was inconclusive evidence to overturn the call that his elbow was over the line when he released the ball. He also carried around a game plan for Monday's showdown with Shitsburgh -- Zorn's nickname, not mine -- which was only 699 pages shorter than Al Saunders' playbook:
1. Defense! Defense! Defense!
2. Give the ball to Portis
3. Coooooley
4. Go deep with Moss and Randle El
The man keeps it simple, much like Coach Janky Spanky.

I'd normally hesitate to reveal the Skins' plans for the Steelers, but they're hardly a secret. After all, Ben Roethlisberger was in the house too, trying hard to avert his eyes from the cheerleader stretching in the bathroom line.

Hip, hip...

Around 2, the Zornstar headed to the Metro, demanding that I post photos from the night on Facebook. He promised a win Monday in return. With a game plan like Zorn's, the Redskins can't lose.

You think they'll hold that train for me?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

To Be a Lions Fan

As you probably heard, Sunday's Lions-Redskins broadcast was blacked out in the Detroit metropolitan area because the game wasn't sold out. It was a blessing in disguise, really. Why watch Dan Orlovsky attempt to navigate the mysterious boundaries of a football field when you can watch the apparent sequel to Brokeback Mountain? Check out the synopsis of Alias Smith and Jones:
A good-natured buddy Western about two charismatic outlaws who are trying to stay straight for one year so they can earn a pardon from the governor for their past misdeeds.
It'll probably take more than a year for the Lions to earn a pardon from their frustrated fans.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The true meaning of Jamey Carroll

The following is a response to a recent column on I didn't change most of the words because I'm lazy and I'm not perfect either, but hey, I'm still standing. Or something. This will make no sense unless you read the offensive column linked above first.

Let's be clear: Shin-Soo Choo, regardless of what happens to the global economy, is the new face and future of baseball. He's everything the game needs, everything it's supposed to be about. Daisuke Matsuzaka should be angry.

Sitting 15 to 20 feet away -- and 2 inches below -- him in the dugout during a game is Choo's teammate who may be more important to the game than Choo is destined to be. But little does Jamey Carroll know that just as Choo must realize the game's future is in his possession, the same tag applies to him. As one of the central players in the Indians' unremarkable 81-81 season, Carroll has elevated himself -- with the aid of a booster seat -- as the face and future of "rural" baseball. A face that has been slowly disappearing in the game. To be considered the future of a sport is a gift and a curse no athlete really wants placed on them, especially when that athlete only weighs 170 pounds. With it comes a quasi-responsibility to "save" something that may or may not be on its way to dying. In Carroll's case, he has unknowingly become the one player that Geoff Blum and Craig Counsell have been looking to who can bring the game back to the farmlands in a way no other young white player in the game has been able to do.

He has put on display both the feel for the game and the look of the game that resonates with those Future Farmers of America who have decided that cow-milking and corn-growing provide a brighter future. His permanent 5 o'clock shadow (which almost every 12-year-old male who hits puberty early has sported, but there's something about Jamey's), his high socks, his slight build, his Leprechaun-ish features, his low slugging percentage. He's the player the kids who have lost interest in baseball -- or who never had an interest at all -- can see themselves in. The one they can see themselves dressing up as for Halloween, because Carroll is, after all, about their size.

Maybe not on the same level, but with similar reverence, Carroll might become to Caucasians in baseball what Dice-K has to Asian players or what Papi has to players in the Dominican Republic. The player who corresponds with a culture; a player who may not be mentioned by a player in next year's College World Series, but if a team from Des Moines or Topeka makes it to the Little League World Series five years from now every one of the players will claim nothing runs like a Carroll instead of a Deere. The fact that Carroll's not perfect makes him perfect. His propensity to strike out (as witnessed in September when he whiffed on three different occasions in a game against Boston), the fact that he hit .094 in games played on turf this season, his pedestrian stolen base rate, allowed question about his lack of ability to surface. All display a flaw in him that almost works to his advantage when kids and wannabe players look at him and say "I can't hit either, but look, he still has a job." And he's standing in a way and in a place that no other homegrown player of Caucasian descent has stood on this stage at this age since David Eck or J. McEw in their primes. And it's happening without Carrol saying he wanted to be the one to make it happen. The kid's simply playing ball and being true to who he is, and he's connecting in a way that could help raise the percentage of white players in the major leagues in a few years. Crack. Another infield single. Pop. Another lazy fly ball settling into the centerfielder's glove. The lateral movement he possesses at second base, the way he covers first base on a grounder to the right side, the Billy Ripken remix style he has in getting into ready position.

So rural.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Meet Jose Theodore

17 shots against, 4 goals. Jo-please-se this isn't a sign of things to come.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The NFC East Meets "The Office"

What do you get when you combine the best show on television with the best division in football? Far-fetched comparisons, for one. The Mottram Bros. have already identified the tremendous likeness between Redskins owner Dan Snyder and Dunder Mifflin boss Michael Scott, but what about the NFC East's four coaches? Who are their kindred spirits in Scranton?

In order of their current standing in the division:

If things don't work out with Andy, Angela could always cozy up -- or whatever hard-asses do together -- with the Giants' Tom Coughlin. I'm sure she could plan one hell of a Super Bowl party, with red streamers, not green, because green is whorish. Obviously.

They're both goofy. They both have adoring fans. They once shared the same hairstyle. And if you don't think Jim Zorn could score with Pam Beesly, well, you're sorely mistaken. Hail to the Redskins, indeed.

Besides kind of looking alike, Wade Phillips and Creed share the same dry sense of humor and propensity for dropping one-liners. Phillips, on the welcome he received from fans during his first practice with the Cowboys: "That's the last time I'll get a standing ovation, I'll tell you that." Creed, who is slightly more creepy than Phillips: "Oh, I steal things all the time. It's just something I do. I stopped caring long ago."

Take this to the bank: Andy Reid and Kevin can both fit more M&M's in their mouths than you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Those Tricky Redskins

ARE the QB > ARE the WR > ARE the PR

When Antwaan Randle El connected with Chris Cooley for a touchdown pass in last Sunday's win at Philadelphia, it marked the eighth consecutive season that a non-quarterback has thrown a touchdown pass for the Redskins. Randle El, who starred as a dual-threat QB during his college career at Indiana, has thrown two touchdowns with Washington, while Clinton Portis leads all current Redskins non-QBs in career touchdown passes with three.

For comparison's sake, I looked at the non-QB passing statistics for the entire NFC East going back to the 2000 season, the last year a non-QB failed to throw a TD pass for the Redskins. The numbers, which include the first five weeks of 2008, may surprise you:

14-for-25, 9 TD5-for-17, 3 TD5-for-13, TD0-for-3

Given Steve Spurrier's penchant for trickery, I fully expected the Redskins to lead the division in most attempts by a non-QB, but I had no idea that their unconventional playcalls had produced such positive results. The Cowboys and Giants' numbers are somewhat skewed, as Ryan Leaf and Jared Lorenzen both technically qualify as quarterbacks and their stats are not included. Two of the Giants' paltry three attempts were by punter Jeff Feagles, so Tom Coughlin is apparently a conservative play-caller. Who knew? One of the Eagles' three TD passes was by Brian Mitchell, who was 5-for-13 passing during his Redskins career, on a fake punt.

With two touchdown passes apiece, Rod Gardner and Kevin Lockett accounted for the other four Redskins passing touchdowns by non-QBs since 2000. Gardner threw two TDs in 2003, including one to Trung Canidate to beat Seattle in one of the few feel-good moments of the Spurrier Era. Surprisingly, that play only qualifies as the second most unlikely scoring combination in recent Redskins history. Lockett, who retired with 1/4 as many TD passess as TD receptions, and Derrius Thompson earned that distinction when they hooked up for a 14-yard score in 2001.

If you're scoring at home, ARE has a career 154.8 QB rating; Clinton Portis' is only 130.8. It's time to step up your game, CP.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A Modern History of Hip Hip Hooray!

What exactly does Heath Shuler have to do with Hip Hip Hooray? Not much.

Thanks to their zany, by-golly leader Jim Zorn, Hip Hip Hooray is fast becoming the rallying cry of this year's Redskins (get your t-shirts here!). The cheer, which some claim has ancient origins, hadn't been used much in NFL circles since George Allen coached the Redskins until Zorn unearthed it in the Texas Stadium visitors locker room two weeks ago.

That's not to say that Hip, Hip, Hooray wasn't invoked at all in the last 20 years...

December 17, 2003:

Toronto Globe and Mail sports columnist Allan Maki lamented the increasingly over-the-top nature of NFL endzone celebrations the week that Joe Horn infamously caught a touchdown pass and retrieved a cellphone from underneath the goalpost pad as part of a choreographed act.

He conlcuded: "So remember: players who score touchdowns can grab their teammates, be hugged by fans and shout a mighty, "Hip hip hooray!" They cannot, on any occasion, grab a lower body part and gyrate, make throat-slashing gestures or pick up a cellphone to make a call -- unless it's to find a job in another line of work."

A man after Zorn's own goofy heart, it turns out that Maki was five years ahead of -- and 30 years behind? -- his time. I think even Maki might have excused Zorn had he grabbed his crotch in Philadelphia on Sunday after Clinton Portis converted that crucial fourth down.

July 26, 1994:

After signing the richest rookie contract in NFL history to end a 12-day holdout, Marshall Faulk was quoted in USA Today: "I didn't have time to celebrate -- no champagne, no hip, hip, hoorays." Even as a rookie, Marshall Faulk apparently knew how to party. Perhaps the Redskins should keep a few bottles of Krug and Dom Perignon on ice for the postgame celebration this Sunday.

Incidentally, the same brief included the following update: "Also, the Washington Redskins and quarterback Heath Shuler, the No. 3 pick, are closer to a deal, says agent Tom Condon."

Hip, hip, -- uh, nevermind.

December 16, 1988:

A young Michael Wilbon wrote a column in the Washington Post about Cincinnati Bengals head coach Sam Wyche's memories of his former coach and original hipster George Allen.

"George used to come in after a win and would say he wanted to hear three cheers for the Redskins. And he'd yell, `Hip, hip, hooray. Hip, hip, hooray. Hip, hip, hooray.' And he'd jump up in the air and get himself all fired up."

"Well, we [the Bengals] went to Philadelphia the second game of [this] season. They had just beaten Tampa Bay and everybody was talking about the Eagles for the Super Bowl. It was a pretty big game at that time, and we won it, on the road. We came into the locker room afterward and I had a flashback.

"I hollered, `Hip, hip, hooray,' and the room was quiet. It was a little bit louder on the second time. And on the third one, everybody was saying, `Naw, we're not doing this.' In the early '70s, under George, it was fun. Every now and then, I hear one of our guys behind me going, `Hip, hip!' "

Naw, we're not doing this? That's hardly the spirit, though it should hardly come as a surprise. The fact that the Redskins didn't have a similar reaction 20 years later is either indicative of Zorn's serious gift for endearing himself to his players or the fact that this is one ridiculously kooky team. It's probably a combination of the two. Oh, and I'm sure it had nothing to do with the hip, hip, hooraying (albeit half-assed), but the Bengals finished 12-4 that season and lost to Joe Montana and the 49ers in the Super Bowl. Just sayin'.

November 24, 1988:

During the 1988 football season, the Washington Post ran a guest prognosticator column each week. This particular week, author and playwright Larry L. King broke out the ol' triple-H before making one of his picks.

"Monday night might be a good opportunity to catch up on lost sleep, the 6-6 Seattle Seahawks hosting the 6-6 Los Angeles Raiders, even though the lead in the AFC West is at stake. Hip-hip-hooray and all that, but somehow here in Washington that isn't of equal importance with the national deficit or even whom President-elect Bush may name as third assistant undersecretary of nuts and bolts. I'm tempted to call the Monday night game a 6-6 overtime tie, but here's a weak vote for the Raiders-getting three-to cover. The Raiders have won four of six on the road outright, the Seahawks don't scare anybody, and likely the Raiders have more grit. So take the Raiders and the points, but don't risk large sums."

For the record, Dave Krieg would outduel Steve Beuerlein in a thrilling 35-27 Seahawks win. It's unknown whether head coach Chuck Knox led the team in a locker room cheer afterward.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Strike Up the Bandwagon

In Week 5 of the 1991 season, the Redskins shut out the Eagles 23-0 at RFK Stadium. It was Washington's fifth straight win to open the season and third shutout at home. Tony Kornheiser, whose Bandwagon was gaining steam, wrote: "The Redskins lead the O's in home shutouts, 3-2. They could be playing in Group F."

Flash forward to yesterday.

In Week 5 of the 2008 season, the Redskins defeated the Eagles 23-17 at Lincoln Financial Field. It was Washington's fourth straight win after opening the season with a humiliating loss against the New York Giants and the Skins' second straight win against an NFC East rival on the road. Mike Wise, who is more than bald enough to succeed TK as Bandwagon chauffeur, wrote: "Did we mention the Redskins, barring a major injury, are going back to the playoffs? They are, and I don't want to hear anything to the contrary after this surreal 4-1 start."

Thursday, October 2, 2008


I lived in Casper, Wyoming for nearly two years, so the latest Easterns Motors commercial takes on some added significance for me. For my first and only Halloween in the Cowboy State, I went as Cap'n Comin' Backatcha, a character inspired by Clinton Portis' Sheriff Gonna Getcha and Reverend Gonna Change. The costume featured a life preserver inscribed with "S.S. Playoffs", a Heath Shuler jersey, a black velvet jacket, cowboy boots, a stick-on goatee and some dollar-store stunna shades. Unimpressed, the Redskins would finish the season 5-11.

For the record, I never encountered a liger in Wyoming, though it's possible they were hiding in one of the state's four trees. I did see a a lot of pronghorns and one night I bumped into Casper native Mike Devereaux in a bar.

There's more on the new Easterns spots at the D.C. Sports Bog.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Stick to Movies, Gheorge

Former Washington Bullets 7-foot-7 center Gheorge Muresan -- You the man! You the man! -- was on the Doc Walker Show yesterday, marking the first time in the illustrious history of the program that a guest was more difficult to listen to than Doc himself.

Muresan was promoting a book he co-authored/endorsed that will be released this weekend, The Boy's Fitness Guide: Expert Coaching For the Young Man Who Wants to Look and Feel His Best. Muresan spoke to Doc about the challenge of getting kids off their fat, Twinkie-eating asses and outside to exercise. To paraphrase Muresan's message: "Kids these days just want to play video games all day. Sports aren't necessarily for everyone, but kids need to be getting exercise. My kids don't have video games. I tell them 'If you want to play, I'll play with you. If you want to get video games, I'll get you video games.' But they don't have video games." (One can only wonder how Gheorge's hand-eye coordination would have benefited from a little Mario Brothers action.)

If Gheorge's interview with Doc was any indication, this book won't motivate kids to put down the Playstation controller. One of the many brilliant nutrition tips included in the book that Muresan was kind enough to share on the show was -- spoiler alert! -- "avoid junk food." Another was "watch your rations." The longer the interview went on, the more I had to resist the urge to drive into oncoming traffic. (I could have also changed the station, but the conversation was equal parts mesmerizing and mind-numbing). Look, I'm all for fitness education and it's good to see one of my favorite Bullets joining the cause, but if you're going to write a book for boys on the subject, tell them something they don't know.

The following is from the free excerpt on
Physical fitness is a way of life -- a commitment to exercise, eat right, and care for your body.

Being fit has many rewards. Your body is healthy and strong. Your weight is proportional to your height. You feel good about yourself. You're alert, able to think clearly. And you look your best.
I'm pretty sure that the first sentence would be easier to read if it were written in Romanian. Muresan will be autographing copies of the book at Tysons Corner this weekend, so put down that ice cream and get out there. The book could make a nice stocking stuffer this holiday season, if only for the fact that the cover includes the unintentionally hilarious phrase "endorsed by NBA Star Gheorge Muresan."

Movie star? Maybe. NBA star? Not so much.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Only 4.5 Months 'Til Pitchers and Catchers Report!

I meant to post this video a few months ago. It's from better times, when losing 100 games was unfathomable, and would have to make any "Top 10 Happiest Moments at Nationals Park" list.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rustico and Redskins

I went to the Virginia Wine Festival on Saturday at the Prince William County Fairgrounds, where local Redskins and Cowboys fans alike were flaunting their allegiances in advance of Sunday's showdown (Chris Cooley jersey, good; pink Redskins hat, bad; "D.C. stands for Dallas Cowboys" and "Tony Romo for President" t-shirts, ugly).

Having run a 10-miler that morning, I was feeling pretty good after one tent's worth of tasting. Around the same time, I learned that Maryland had come back to beat Clemson. Things would only get better. My friends and I moved to the second tent, which featured the Virginia Wine Lover magazine table. In addition to a wine glass, every festival attendee was entitled to a free subscription to the magazine. I wasn't planning on taking advantage of the offer until I saw Todd Collins' goofy, grinning face on the cover of the latest issue.

I picked up a complimentary copy and examined the cover more closely. I'm not sure that this photo wouldn't have been a better choice, but that's why they pay wine magazine editors the big bucks. Collins is holding a bottle of Rustico from Villa Appalacia in the photo, so I checked the festival program to see if Villa Appalaccia had a table. No doubt they did.

My girlfriend and I approached the tasting table and Villa Appalaccia's wine grower, Dr. Susanne Becker, noticed what I was holding. Like a proud mother, she took the magazine from me and excitedly pointed out that Todd Collins was gripping a bottle of her wine like a brand new Wilson.

"I know," I said. "That's why I'm here. I sought you out. You must've had a lot of Redskins fans stopping by today, huh?"

"No," Susanne said. "You're actually the first who noticed us on the magazine."

Impossible. Does that make me creepy? I asked her if she was a Redskins fan.

"No," Susanne said. "We're located in Virginia Tech country (Floyd, VA). There aren't a lot of Redskins fans there."

She later told me she was from Finland and didn't really follow football much. Sadly, she also didn't know anything about cover boy and oenophile Todd Collins. I asked if she had framed the magazine or enlarged it to display on a wall in her cellar. No and no. She keeps a copy at her winery, but is otherwise taking her newfound celebrity status (read: at least one new fan!) in stride.

At some point during this conversation I tasted the Rustico, which is made from the Corvino grape and is delicious. When it hit my lips, images of Todd Collins zipping spirals to Santana Moss flooded my mind and there was no question I was going to buy a bottle. In hindsight, I should've bought a case. Susanne was happy to pose for a photo with me, Todd, and the Rustico.

I read the cover article, written by the Examiner's John Keim, when I got home. It rehashes Collins' well documented propensity for sniffing things, including footballs and wine, and also includes a few original choice quotes:
"The general culture is more involved in wine and a lot of athletes have moved beyond beer. Not that they're turning their noses up at beer or anything, but I think they appreciate some other things, they get into wine and start tasting and they combine wines with meals and they go to nice places and they're not afraid to spend for a top bottle and then they start buying and cellaring and start talking about it."
-- Former Kansas City Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil

"I didn't know Virginia made so many different types of wine."
-- Todd Collins, whose aging Keim compared to a quality Brunello or Cabernet

Clearly, the only way for Virginia Wine Lover to top this is to put Clinton Portis in costume (Sommelier Jerome?) on the cover of the Winter edition. I will eagerly await its arrival. As for my bottle of Rustico, I plan to let it age until the Redskins win the Super Bowl or lose a game in particularly brutal fashion, whichever comes first. At that point, I will proceed to down the entire bottle in one sitting, pausing only occasionally to sniff its sweet aroma. Todd Collins wouldn't have it any other way.

The 12th Man on the Grassy Knoll

Leading 23-17 with 6 minutes to play, the Redskins faced a third-and-2 on the Dallas 31. The Cowboys stuffed Clinton Portis for no gain, apparently setting up a long field goal attempt. There was a flag on the play, however; the officials ruled that Dallas had 12 players on the field when the ball was snapped. After Dallas head coach Wade Phillips appeared ready to throw his red challenge flag, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman attempted to count the Dallas defenders using the very latest in telestrator technology. Numerals!

According to the resulting screenshot, the Cowboys' 12th defender on the field (upper left) was the ghost of Roy Williams. Dallas fans were undoubtedly screaming for Phillips to challenge the call at this point, but wisely he didn't. (There are two Dallas defenders behind the No. 2).

Zorn Again!

Portis pockets straight. Suisham field goals straight. Campbell passes straight. Horton interceptions straight. I still don't really know what any of that means, but I do know this: The Redskins' 26-24 win in Dallas was straight up awesome.

Where to begin?

Jason Campbell's passer rating was 108.4 and he has now thrown 6 touchdowns with nary an interception this season. Against Dallas, he used his legs to elude the Cowboys' pass rush, buying extra time in true Tony Romo-fashion on a couple of occasions to find Santana Moss wide open downfield for big gains. Campbell's most incredible Houdini act resulted in a touchdown pass to Antwaan Randle El on a broken play that was nullified by a penalty. Campbell pocket presence straight. (A well articulated description of Campbell's improved decision-making here).

Moss had another monster game, Randle El and James Thrash made touchdown grabs, and Chris Cooley had four catches, including one on a crucial third down in the fourth quarter. Portis had his first 100-yard game of the season, though he did nothing to dispel the recent knock on him that he gets winded and takes himself out of the game too often. Given how many shots there were of Portis on the sideline during Redskins drives, you'd think Brian Mitchell was in the production truck directing the camera traffic. "Stay on Portis! Keep that tight shot! Zoom in on his pockets! Yeah, right there. Yeah, what's up now, man? You want to steal me now while you huffin' and puffin' on the sideline?"

Portis had a touchdown run wiped out by a penalty, which is a shame, because the ensuing celebration was top-notch. Or straight, whatever. First Portis mocked Terrell Owens' lame, gimme-a-T-gimme-an-O celebration. Then he mimed using a bow to shoot an arrow that apparently struck Portis, who was perhaps still acting as T.O., in the ass. I hope -- and fully expect -- video of the whole charade will surface this week.

Update: Video evidence is already on YouTube, thanks to the Mottram Bros. at Mister Irrelevant. Their video of a violently giddy Jim Zorn is also worth a look.

Washington's defense shut Marion Barber down, effectively forcing Dallas to completely abandon the run. The dangerous Felix Jones didn't have a single carry or reception. While the Skins' defensive line never got to Romo, the secondary was more than up to the challenge. Rookie Chris Horton made a key interception by jumping a sideline route and Shawn Springs helped keep T.O., who burned Washington for four touchdowns in Big D last year, in check. Carlos Rogers wasn't at his worst, which in this game was good enough.

On special teams, Shaun Suisham drilled all four of his field goal attempts and Durant Brooks wasn't chewed out on the sidelines by Zorn.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Please Don't Fire Groh

I can't wait to see the update at after Saturday's 31-3 loss at Duke. If the "momentum was building" after the UConn game, it's now gathering speed like a runaway freight train. I'm also eagerly anticipating the write-up in the Cavalier Daily, which took a glass-half-full approach in the article previewing the game:
The tenuous 24-13 win against Duke in 2007 sparked something for the Cavaliers, and fans can only hope the same will be true this season.
Keep holding out hope, 'Hoos fans. The only thing yesterday's game sparked was a fire on the unintentionally hilarious UVA message boards.

If Maryland blasts Virginia in Charlottesville next weekend -- if this doesn't happen, um, Fire Ralph Friedgen! -- the Scott Stadium security force should begin to surround Groh in the waning minutes as if he's a goalpost, fending off the masses who want to carry his body out of town.