Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Top-5 Most Popular DC Athletes Right Now

I know, I know, this post has already been run by Steinz over at the WaPo (a voting in which I participated), but SB Nation DC also had a list today, so I thought it would only be fair to jump on the bandwagon and chime-in.

The term 'popular' is left vague so there is room for interpretation, but here is how I define it - as a combination of recognize-ability (name recognition), and being well liked; I believe that a notorious person can still be popular. My initial list for Steinz a few weeks ago was this:
  1. Ovechkin
  2. McNabb
  3. Orakpo
  4. Backstrom
  5. Zimmerman
My logic:
  • Ovie is widely known and loved and has to be #1. That said, the overwhelming popularity of the Redskins in this town pushes football players to greater heights. I realize McNabb has not played a game, but he is more widely recognized than Ovechkin; as Chad Dukes and Lavar Arrington said on WFAN a month or so ago, if you put McNabb and Ovie in a mall, McNabb would be the one who more easily creates a mini-riot. As much as I hate him and that the Skins acquired him, he is a close #2.
  • I skipped Portis and Gil because I thought they were not generally well liked.
  • I should have replaced Rak with Cooley, but thought Cooley's injury removed him from the spotlight too much.
  • Strasburg had not played a game and was not as widely recognized as he is right now.
  • Backstrom was fresh off of a season where the Caps elevated themselves to the #2 team in the DMV, so was very newsworthy.
Ah, how quickly things change......my list for today would look like this:
  1. Ovie
  2. McNabb
  3. Cooley
  4. Portis
  5. Strasburg
  6. Backstrom
  • I ranked 6 because at this moment, Strasburg is #5, but his hype will likely die down after about 2 months, and I expect him to drop a few slots. The only way he stays that high is if he puts up All-Star/Cy Young candidate numbers immediately. When
  • Rak was a mistake the first time, I should have put Cooley in that spot; Rak is just not as widely known as the man formerly known as Captain Chaos.
  • Portis is not completely well-liked, but my Dad, who is not a sports fan, knows him, which puts him in select company.
  • Ryan Zimmerman is having a terrific season but struggling for All-Star votes, so it is hard to put him anywhere near my top-5 anymore. He just isn't widely recognized, and won't be until the Nats contend, or he does something outlandish like gets a tattoo on his face.
My only major differentiation from the Steinz and SBNDC lists are the omission of Gilbert Arenas, but come on, isn't he closer to the least popular athlete in DC? I can see John Wall, London Fletcher, and Mike Green pushing for honors, but I think that list of 6 is head and shoulders above the rest right now.

(Image courtesy of misterirrelevant.com)

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