Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Hershey Bears won an AHL-best 10th Calder Cup Championship Friday behind playoff MVP and 21-year-old Caps prospect Michal Neuvirth (16-6, 1.92 GAA, .932 SV%, four shutouts). Another dozen Caps prospects have now learned how to be champions, not including the ECHL-affiliate Stingrays, who also won their championship. This is how you build a winning tradition, from the ground up. It takes time, and it will pay off. Congrats, boys. See you at training camp.

*THUD!* Gary Bettman Passes Out Face First Into Ground After Cumming Pants For Twelve Consecutive Hours


It is through gritted teeth that the DC Landing Strip today congratulates the Pittsburgh Penguins on their Stanley Cup victory over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 Friday night. Though DC reserves its deepest seeds of hockey - and possibly overall sporting - hatred for you, Penguins, we're still man enough to acknowledge when our rivals have achieved greatness. You were the best team in the league from February on and proved to be throughout these playoffs. Goddamnit.

So get drunk with the Cup, use it as a ball-marker on the golf course, have your baby daughters poop in it, do whatever you want. It's yours until Ovechkin decides otherwise, so cherish it.

I'll save my post destroying your hypocritical bandwagonning fan base and pathetic Bettman-propped franchise for another day.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Another classy vet bites the dust. The 'Skins now have zero wide receivers above 6' tall that have ever caught an NFL TD pass.

Friday Furburgers: Nats Avoid Sweep


It's not that uncommon for a Nationals' game to be decided by a late-inning error. It is, however, a rare occasion when the worst fielding team in the majors - that would be the Nationals, in case you've been hiding under a rock - is not the culprit.

So let's briefly rejoice in victory before the inevitable AL-East 12-game losing streak that awaits.

I'd bet two of my nuts, a bet you'd love to win, that Manny Acta is unemployed by June 26, when the Nats head to Baltimore for an intense three game set between the two worst teams in the league. Mark it down.

And now I present your Friday Furburgers - links from the week, for the weekend:

Michael Nylander can't play in Russia without Caps' approval. I literally have no idea how to respond to that.
Puck Daddy

Troy Patton and Jake Arrietta are headed to Norfolk. As Dave Trembley says, "the cavalry is coming."
Camden Chat

I don't do Twitter, I don't understand Twitter, and I don't get why Twitter is such a big deal. But for those who do, here is an excellent list of DC sports figures' twitter pages.
Mr. Irrelevant

Chris Cooley interviews the Redskins' three 2nd-round picks from the 2008 draft. What to take from the video? Devin Thomas is the best at Madden, Fred Davis oversleeping last year was a big "situation" that set him back, Malcom Kelly spent this summer rehabbing and "staring at the wall", and neither of the three are any good at football. Yet.
The Cooley Zone

Laron Landry makes an appearance at OTAs and denies any rumors that he wants out of DC. I believe him because it's easier than not.
Redskins Insider

Two Redskins in Matt Mosley's top 10 NFC East building blocks. I'll give you a hint: only one of them plays every down on the defensive line!

Ovechkin makes the cover of NHL 2k10. He was also your EA Sports NHL '07 coverboy. He's kind of a big deal.
Capitals Kremlin

"Breaking the seal": not a myth! Science says it's true!
Off the Contrary Blog

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wilbon Loses Mind, Keeps Job

Take a good look at what Michael Wilbon puked out in the first sentence of his Washington Post column this morning:

"No way in the world I'd have taken Stephen Strasburg with the No. 1 pick in the draft."

Now read it again. And again.

Normally, while reading a Wilbon column, we have to wait at least three or four sentences before he regurgitates some absolute garbage he ate for breakfast that morning. But not on this special occasion.

I've made the argument several times that Wilbon knows nothing about sports, but perhaps I'm being a little harsh. So let me rephrase that: Wilbon knows nothing about DC sports.

Hey, douchebag, here's an idea! Why don't you pretend to know anything about the Nats and then write your "expert" opinion in a column the morning following potentially the most important day in the history of a franchise that has set unprecedented lows for futility?

You pretty much did the same thing prior the Caps-Pens series, pretending for brief a moment that you both know about hockey and care how close Ovechkin and Crosby push the sport to the cusp of - dare I say - nationwide popularity.

Wilbon's assertion that the Nationals drafted Strasburg solely as a P.R. move to appease their diehard, loyal fanbase, all 74 of them, proves that he has finally given up watching sports. Could it be, perhaps, that Strasburg was indeed the best player available, that the pick was not entirely made to put butts in the seats?

Not according to Wilbon.

"I wouldn't draft a guy who's going to play every fifth day to improve my team's attendance. And I certainly wouldn't pin my hopes on the most fragile thing in baseball: the arm of a young pitcher."

Holy crap, brilliant! Why EVER draft a pitcher?! He's only going to play once every five days, and he might get injured!

Wilbon ends his miserable column by alluding to the city of Boston and almost completely contradicting what he had said earlier about Strasburg. I know. Shocking.

"Had the Red Sox drafted Strasburg, I'd be less likely to think this had "bad move" written all over it because the Red Sox, of recent vintage anyway, make decisions that lead to first place while the Nationals mostly look like the Charlie Brown All-Stars. "

Then move to Boston, Wilbon. Or back to Chicago.

Either way, get the hell out of DC.

[Image via Smarter Sports Blog]

Nats Sign #10 Pick at a Bargain, Lose; O's Just Lose

In 2007, the No. 10 pick, high school lefty Madison Bumgarner (Giants), received a bonus of $2 million. Then there's the No. 10 pick from 2006, also a selection by the Giants. His bonus? $2.025 million. His name? Tim Lincecum.

This year's #10 pick, Drew Storen, received a measly $1.6 million bonus from the Nats and will likely starve to death. This sort of drop-off was to be expected, though, as the Nats are familiar with Storen's agent and the economy is in the crapper. Not that the Boras/Strasburg duo will care.

Meanwhile on the field, some pitches were thrown, bats were swung, and la-dee-da the Nats lost 4-2 in 12 innings. One step closer to drafting next year's baseball phenom! Oh and the O's lost too, of course. Although Wieters' bat is coming alive, as he's 4 for 7 in his last two games.

The O's and Nats have now combined for 16 losses in the last 12 days and are the worst teams in both the AL and NL, respectively. Welcome to summer! Redskins training camp starts July 30th.

[Image via
Washington Post]

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Best Game Show Idea EVER

This is not DC sports related, but it's summer and you might end up on a roller coaster with a chance to win some cash by accident, so this applies to you. A new Cartoon Network show called BrainRush debuts June 20th, and if this below clip is any indication of the bowel-moving comedy that it produces, I just might have to start paying for cable legally.

Show Host: "What's it called when you hit a home run, a triple, a double and a single in the same game?"
Kid: "AAAHHHH OH MY GOD!!! Like an overall something!!! AAAHHHHHHH!!!"

P.S. My gmail just signed out by itself and changed to Chinese. Whoever did this I shake my fist at you harshly!

C.R.E.A.MLB Draft: After Strasburg, Nats & O's Make Careful Picks

In a year in which 90 amateurs demanded 1st round money, and during an economic downturn in which a studly baseball hunk like Jay Gibbons has to play for the Newark Whoseewhatsits, "signability" was unsurprisingly the biggest factor in the MLB draft on Tuesday. Except for the Nationals at #1, who drafted Stephen Strasburg and are about to bend to his every whim. If he wants $50 million, you give him $65 million. If he wants to wake up next to Elizabeth Hurley every morning for the rest of his life, you deliver Megan Fox. If he wants to enter Nationals Park in a parade on elephant back, you get Ringling Bros. right on that. Because he's that good.

Due to this hefty ransom, the Nats passed on the opportunity to nab the 2nd best pitcher in this draft too, Aaron Crow, who they had failed to sign last year anyways. Instead they took Stanford relief pitcher Drew Storen at #10 probably because his agent is also Ryan Zimmerman's. They're one of three teams that think he can become a starter. Crow fell to KC at #12.

The Orioles were back to their curious ways, taking California high school pitcher Matt Hobgood at #5 even though Crow and others were available. "Hobgood" just has mediocre middle-relief pitcher's name written all over it, doesn't it? He was the 18th best prospect according to's Keith Law.

General consensus is that a lot of other top guys dropped (Zach Wheeler to #6, Tyler Matzek to #11, Tanner Scheppers to #19 and Shelby Miller to #19) because of signing concerns, but being a "top guy" of an MLB draft is about as sure a thing as Clay Aiken's heterosexuality. And I have no idea who these people are, so whatever. /MLB draft in a nutshell

Strasburg. Strasburg.

#1 - You Know Who, Scouting Report & Video: Legend in the making.
#10 - RHP Drew Storen, Scouting Report & video: Has 3 pitches, starter stuff, low 90s heat.
#50 - 2B Jeffrey Kobernus, Scouting Report & video: "projects as an average tool in the future"
#81 - RHP Trevor Holder, College Stats & video

#5 - RHP Matt Hobgood, Scouting Report & video: 6'4", 245 lbs. Josh Beckett-like.
#54 - RHP/SS Mychal Givens, Scouting Report & video: Good athlete who will fill out, hitting needs some work.
#85 - 1B Tyler Townsend, College Info

[Image via Need Morneau]

2 Games, No Cups

Tuesday night the mini-Caps and the anti-Pens had a chance to deliver a double dose of semi-awesome by winning the Calder Cup and Stanley Cup, respectively. But the Caps' AHL affiliate Bears, stacked with prospects aplenty, failed to close the deal and head back to Manitoba (the beluga capital of the world!) up 3-2 in their series.

Meanwhile right down I-76, the Red Wings blew their chance to rub the Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh's fat stupid faces. It's too bad for Pittsburgh fans, because the sting of watching Marian Hossa hoist the Cup after his offseason Pittsburgh bitchslap would have helped them forget about the sting of their chlamydia for a few brief moments. There's always antibiotics I guess.

So your vicarious and schadenfreude hockey dreams will have to wait another day friends. In the meantime, might I suggest furious masturbation?

Both series' resume play Friday. Wings-Pens Game 7 is can't miss.

[Image via The Patriot News]

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fourth consecutive year, too.
Next up: Hart, Pearson, Richard trophy repeats.

Hey! Let's all get excited about the hockey stylings of John Carlson!

It’s foolish to get overly excited about a 19-year-old defenseman; almost as foolish as thinking MTV would ever film “The Real World” here getting all engorged over the idea of a flame-throwing right-hander single-handedly reversing the fortunes of your sputtering baseball franchise with his soon-to-be $10+ million arm.

But if you saw Tarik El-Bashir's report from Hershey in Monday’s WaPo, members of the Caps brass are fully tumescent about the play of John Carlson, who, along with the rest of the Bears, is one win away from hoisting Hershey’s second Calder Cup in four years (tonight, 7 PM).

[Carlson looks for fools to wreck. Image via The Patriot News]

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Carlson impressed just about everybody in the organization at Kettler during camp last year. And while spending the year playing for erstwhile Capitals sensei Dale Hunter’s London Knights (Ontario Hockey League), Carlson was second among all OHL defensemen in points (16G, 60A in 59GP) convincing George McPhee to give the kid a three-year entry-level contract.

When the Knights tasted cruel, cruel OHL defeat at the hands of the Windsor Spitfires, Carlson joined the Bears during the Calder Cup playoffs. He’s appeared in 14 games for the Chocolate Towners, posting modest numbers (1G, 1A) but earning the trust of his teammates and, most importantly, coach Bob Woods.

“Look at how [Mike] Green shaped up. He went through the same process, through two Calder Cup runs, then made the step," Woods told Tarik.

Ah, the inevitable stroking of our expectations. When it comes to projecting NHL defensemen, for every Mike Green, there are at least two dozen guys like Nolan Yonkman, Jakub Cutta, J.F. Fortin and Ross Lupaschuk. Did you just taste a little throw-up too?

(An aside: the Caps organization has been pretty fucking bad when it comes to picking NHL-caliber blueliners: between picking Sergei Gonchar in 1992 and Jeff Schultz in 2004, the Caps drafted exactly two guys – Brendan Witt in ’93 and Steve Eminger in ’02 – that went on to play more than a full season in Washington. Shit is right.)

Luckily, the Caps already have a guy named Mike Green, so Carlson doesn’t need to become a Norris Trophy candidate right away. What he would bring to the Caps that isn’t already there is his hard, low point shot that actually hits the net more often than it misses (you may put your hand down now, Mr. Jurcina). Dude can also hit; check out his nice body-work in the opening seconds of these difficult-to-locate highlights from Hershey’s Game 3 victory over the Manitoba Moose. Carlson’s too fly for YouTube.

In addition to his offensive tendencies, Carlson plays with an edge, something the Caps desperately need. He racked up 65 PIMs in the OHL, and with a full season of pro-hockey conditioning under his belt, Carlson’s liable to add some muscle mass to his Tom Poti-sized frame. Hockey's Future noted Carlson’s good at one thing Bruce Boudreau likes in his guys: he plays well within a system. And, he’s “willing to do whatever it takes to win.” Bonus!

So, should you run out and take out a second mortgage to afford that customized John Carlson No. 74 Caps sweater? Maybe.

With the likely departure of Shaone Morrissonn this offseason, there’s an opening on the Washington blue-line that likely has Hot Karl Alzner’s name on it. Meanwhile, Milan Jurcina and Jeff Schultz, both restricted free agents, are virtual locks to re-sign here, which would leave Carlson, Jurcina and Schultz battling for the No. 6 slot, barring any off-season acquisitions by McPhee.

Jurcina had a strong postseason and Schultz is Boudreau's homeboy, so it would take a very, very heady performance by Carlson to unseat either of those guys on the Opening Night roster. No point in having Carls Jr. up here if he’s going to sit next to Michael Nylander in the press box.

So it will likely come down to injuries: much like Alzner was in 2008-09, Carlson would likely be the first defenseman recalled from Hershey when Tom Poti inevitably tweaks his fragile groin or John Erskine repeatedly bashes his cartoonish head into Riley Cote’s fists. Injuries happen, and it sure would be nice to have Carlson to recall instead of Bryan Helmer or Sean Collins.

Regardless of where Carlson starts 2009-10, he certainly has plenty within the organization excited about his upside. Splitting the season between Chocolate Town and Chocolate City wouldn’t be the worst thing for him, so long as he doesn’t get too comfortable up there hoisting Lord Calder’s The Calder Cup.

6-Time Attendance Champs TOPPLE Dream
The Mystics are 2-0! The Mystics are 2-0! The Mystics are 2-0!
Buy season tickets, today!

Monday, June 8, 2009

30 Year MLB Rankings: O's Mediocre, Nats Jealous

Today being the eve of the 2009 Strasburg draft, I thought I'd create a formula to rank all 30 major league teams over the last 30 years (1979-2008). Why only 30 years? Good question. According to my flawless logic, in a 30-year span, every team in a 30-team league should have one championship (let's ignore the strike-shortened season of 1994).

Here is the transcript of a potential conversation between Reader and Writer regarding these rankings:

Reader: The scoring on this is soooooo arbitrary!

Writer: Yes, and I don't care.

Reader: Did you really make a World Series Championship twice as valuable as a World Series Loss?!

Writer: Yes, I did.

Asshole Reader: I'm from Philly. Did you only date back to 1979 because the Phillies made the playoffs three consecutive seasons before that? I have herpes.

Asshole Writer: Sorry about the herpes, but you probably deserved it. And bingo, I did date back to only 1979 to reduce Philadelphia's score. Why? Because I can.

In all seriousness, though, these rankings are not perfect, and I wouldn't even argue if you told me my numbers were weighted arbitrarily.

Best in League. Must highlight this color to see it. There you go, punk.
Expansion Teams' Adjusted Total Points per 30 seasons

[If the table is blurry, just click on it for a slightly more focused view]

What stands out? Arizona so high. What doesn't? I'll give you a hint: it's right above this line.

The Washington/Montreal franchise has, just to confuse you, without fail succeeded at failure year-in and year-out. ONE playoff appearance in THIRTY years.

Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper can not arrive soon enough.

This Would Be Like Christmas Times a Million...4.875 Million to be Exact

Well fuck me sideways with a lunch box.

It appears our wet dream of Michael Nylander's deadweight $4.875 million salary coming off the Caps' books just miiiiiiiight come true. Avangard Omsk of Russia's KHL, better known as "the suckers who paid off Jagr's gambling debt in exchange for a season of half-hearted loafing," is interested in employing Michael Nylander's services. Jagr had an MVP-like season when Nylander centered him in New York back in '05-'06, and they're totally besties. Since Jagr is a moody queen with tantalizing talent it seems as though he's got Avangard Omsk over the barrel on this one, jibber-jabbering about a return to the NHL. Of course I just jinxed everything.

[Michael Nylander's BFF. Image via Japers Rink]

The Caps will have around $52 million in salary towards the cap heading into next season, not accounting for potential promotions from Hershey (besides Alzner, a given) and/or free agent signings. The salary cap's probably going down from $56.7 million, too. Based on absolutely nothing, I'm guessing it'll be...$53 million. With Circles off the books, the Caps would have nearly $6 million in salary cap space to work with. Chris Pronger's at $6.25 million for one more year, if you haven't heard.

Margaret Thatcher naked on a cold day! Margaret Thatcher naked on a cold day! Aaaaand, my non-sexual boner's gone. I get those from time to time. Back to work.

Friendly Reminder: Strasburg Era Begins Tomorrow

Signing him might be messy, but like any good Rusty Trombone it's always worth it.

Draft begins at 6 PM tomorrow. The Nats have a second top 10 pick too, by the way (#10), which is unprecedented. O's pick 5th. has done a phenomenal job compiling the various mock drafts out there so I will shamelessly piggy back off of them. For your perusal:

Orakpo Switch to OLB Rivals New Coke for Epic Stupidity

DC Landing Strip correspondent Marion's Crackpipe checks in with some opinions on Brian Orakpo and the Great Position Switch of 2009.

Last week a genius idea struck me. Let's draft the best defensive lineman in college, pay him tons of money, then make him play linebacker. No, better idea. Let's make him learn two positions!

Just when I thought I had the Mensa Genius Award locked up, Cerrato & Co. beat me to it. Not the first time, either: I once had this idea of paying an overrated white guy record-breaking amounts of cash to miss tackles for my favorite team. Cerrato took that one and
ran with it, too.

'Skins first round pick Brian Orakpo, the 2008 Nagurski Award recipient given to the best defensive player in college football, is a studly pass-rushing defensive end known to make opposing qb’s o-crap-o their o-pants-o. After the 'Skins nabbed him with the 13th pick McNabb, Romo and Eli were spotted at nearby Costcos stocking up on the Astroglide. An obvious need of the 'Skins and for once, a seemingly wise draft pick by Vinny boy.

Then the truth surfaced: instead of grooming this potential sack monster to take over the LDE spot as Philip Daniels with
ers into obscurity, 'Skins brass has decided to cover their own ass and have Orakpo also fill the other glaring defensive need, strong-side "Sam" linebacker, simultaneously. Hey, it worked for Frankie "Zip" Joseph on the 1925 Dayton Triangles, why can't it work for Orakpo?

To be fair,
Orakpo did work out before the draft as both a linebacker and d-end, and played a few pass-rushing downs at LB in college. The idea of switching college DEs to LBs at the pro level is not new, though it's riddled with tales of failure, the most recent being Vernon Gholston's struggles learning OLB in the 3-4 Jets' defense. And true, Orakpo is a bit undersized as an NFL d-end (as is Dwight Freeney, btw) and lighter DEs tend to struggle against the rush - and the 'Skins D is based on stopping the rush.

But that's because the 'Skins run a 4-3 defense in which the linebackers must drop into coverage, audible at the line, know varied gap and blocker assignments, and generally do the sort of things a college DE like Orakpo would never have learned. T
he 'Skins, though, think so highly of Orakpo that they're making him learn all this while figuring out DE at the NFL level. Most 'Skins fans would be happy with just modest gains in the latter.

In classic Cerrato fashion, a domino effect of personnel and cap mismanagement has led to a seemingly desperate move. Last year, it was throwing away this year's second rounder (which could have been used to draft an outside LB, for example) for Jason Taylor because the 'Skins had no roster depth after Daniels went down (we also switched JT's position; how'd that work out?). This year, it's forcing a rookie to play two positions because there was neither cap room nor the draft picks to obtain a reliable starter at both.

Look, there's a fine line between getting the most out of talented personnel and setting a kid up for failure, and Redskins management has completely obliterated that line once again.
It's why guys like Bruce Smith, Deion Sanders and even the great Joe Gibbs are considered failures upon departure, even if they did well during their tenures. It's why insane athletes like Sean Taylor aren't forced to learn second positions, even if they have the build for it. It's tough enough for Orakpo to shoulder the burden of becoming the 'Skins' entire pass rush, but then to expect him to learn a completely new skill set? In a few short months?

I understand that Orakpo will still be unleashed as a pass rusher on 3rd and long, and might very well become a Pro Bowl level OLB, who knows. And maybe he's the kind of kid who thrives under weighty expectations. I just feel like I've seen this movie before, and in a Redskins Nation where patience has gone the way of the do-do bird, I'm anxious to see how it plays out. Hint: I can already hear the "Orak-poo" calls coming.

[Orakpo image via]

-Marion's Crackpipe