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: