Friday, March 5, 2010

Blowing Off Some Steam

With the Skins showing some prudency by not having already signed/traded for Julius Peppers, Brandon Marshall and Darren Sproles, and instead showing some sensibility in going after offensive tackles, I feel an overwhelming sense of relief. This is fantastic, as the status quo would have made me seek relief in the form of Wii fitness, like these hosts of the Australian Today Show:

They remind me of the Redskins scoreboard graphics for chanting "De-Fense". See how I made that a DC sports post?

The Offseason Dynasty: Will the Stupidity Continue?

Let me start by saying that I am not totally opposed to the Redskin strategy of throwing money at free agents. I realize that this has only brought us a decade of mediocrity, but I think that signing Albert Haynesworth, who is the best defensive player in football, is a good move. I think our problems stem from undervaluing draft picks, having constant coaching turnover, and spending resources to strengthen the secondary, receiving corps, and just about everything ahead of the offensive line.

The Skins have already been the talk of the league this offseason by hiring Mike Shanahan, but we are apparently just getting started on our annual plunge into stupidity (although Snyder got a head start with this sweet shirt). In the words of Pro Football Talk, the "Peppers-to-Redskins rumors go to full boil." Yes, Peppers is an uber-talented pass rusher who can be dominant on his day, but let's take a step back to the 2009 NFL draft. The Skins, sitting at #13, were desperately in need of help at defensive end/rushing the passer, and lo and behold, have the best defensive player and best pass rusher in college football fall into their arms, awesome. Even the Snyderrato train wreck couldn't screw up that pick, but oh, we did. After drafting this incredible defensive end, we decided to move him to linebacker! Not even 3-4 linebacker, but a 4-3 linebacker! Rak proceeded to be an unstoppable force whenever he was allowed to rush the quarterback, but play a generally mediocre linebacker, which everyone except the Redskins saw coming. I know Rak made the Pro Bowl, but that was based on his sack total and those few plays where he was allowed to do what he does best; God forbid we actually put a promising young player in a position to succeed (see Campbell, Jason). If you want any proof that the pick is stupid as long as Rak plays OLB, then consider that Brian Cushing went 2 picks after Rak, and ended up as the ROY as an OLB in a 4-3 defense. The bright side is that Rak could make a great 3-4 OLB, but I still would prefer to see him in his 'natural' position.

Now fast-forward back to this free agency class and Julius Peppers, who will command a monstrosity of a contract. Putting aside questions about his consistency and desire after getting this new contract, the Skins are trying to sign an elite defense end and move him to OLB! I have seen this movie before and it doesn't end well! I understand that Peppers is supremely athletic (like Rak), has the talent to play LB and DE (like Rak), and the immediate need is for his unnatural position (like Rak), but that doesn't mean that this is a good move. Peppers is going to get a record contract because of his performance and ability as a DE, not because he might be a really good OLB. In this case, really good won't be good enough for the money we are potentially about to spend. I have plenty of questions about whether Peppers will be a dominant enough DE to live up to a huge contract, but now to basically need him to be the best defensive player in the league as a 3-4 OLB? Not to mention rumors of us going after Brandon Marshall, aka instant locker room aids. Meet the new regime, same as the old regime.............

(Image courtesy of

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Welcome to the Squad, Scottie

Put yourself in the shoes of a Boston Bruins fan for a moment, if you will. Quickly get over your disgusting beer gut, bald head and poor hygiene and imagine it is May 10, 2009, Game 5 of the East Semifinals against the Carolina Hurricanes. You're up 4-0 and sitting pretty. Out of nowhere, some little fourth-line weasel sucker punches one of your top 4 blueliners. WHAT A ####### &*%#)*&@ BASTARD!! you think. HE'LL DEFINITELY BE SUSPENDED.

It will only get worse my bizarrely accented friend. Because the arbitrary wheel of NHL justice decided to kick your Nomaaah-lovin' butts where it hurts: no suspension. Now cut to overtime of game 7 when that same said weasel decides to score his first ever playoff goal and end your magical season forever and ever:

Ladies and gentlemen of Boston, Scott Walker just owned you. Ok, now you can be a Caps fan again.

On thursday night Mr. Walker, a.k.a. Wild Thing, just welcomed himself to D.C. with total awesomeness. In his first game in the red, white and blue, Walker notched two late third period goals, both of which were grind-em-out backhanded rebounds, one of which served as the game-winner against a hungry Tampa Bay team that had just clawed its way back into the game.

These are exactly the types of goals the Scott Walkers of the world are paid to score. The ones that happen when you need them most, when you least expect them, and by the guy the other team wants to squash like a bug. He is precisely the type of fourth-line spark plug who kicks butt in the playoffs. Eric Belanger, Joe Corvo and Milan Jurcina are technically better players, but Scott Walker might prove to be the most valuable trade deadline addition. Between he and Matt Bradley other teams will have their hands full with the feisty clutch grinder department.

There are certain hockey players who make you think "I hate that guy...but I'd love to have him on my team." Scott Walker is one of those guys. Welcome aboard, Scottie.

[Image via Getty/ESPN]

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

More Brutality: Nationals' Early Season Schedule

It looks like the O's aren't the only area team facing a ridiculously difficult stretch in the first month or so of the season. Dear Baseball Gods, what did we do to deserve this??

Will we be seeing Stephen Strasburg sooner than we thought?

Buster Olney reports (must be ESPN Insider to read full article) on the toughest NL schedules early on:
  1. 1. Washington Nationals
    Home/away: 19 of their first 40 games are at home.
    Games against teams that finished over .500 in 2009: 31 of their first 40 games.
    Meat-grinder stuff: The Nationals will get challenged right from the start, with six of their first nine games against the Phillies, and starting on April 19, they play a stretch of 19 straight games against teams that contended last year. Maybe it would be good to call up Stephen Strasburg in May, to let him get his career started under a little less stress than he already is going to face.
Nat's and O's: punished for futility by not getting to play themselves since forever 1997!

    Wilbon Blows My Mind Yet Again

    Michael Wilbon is an idiot.

    In his recent column for WaPo's "World Wide Wilbon", he goes above and beyond what I consider ignorant and irresponsible journalism. I say stupid things from time to time, but I'm just a guy blogging for fun. I don't get paid. Wilbon gets paid. To constantly say things devoid of logic and fact:

    One of the biggest Olympic winners has to be Canada's Sidney Crosby, who at 22 years old has already won Olympic Gold, the World Championship and the Stanley Cup.

    Sidney Crosby has never won a World Championship. Never. Last time he participated, Canada was shut out 5-0 by Finald in the bronze medal game. Canada did win the World Championship in 2007, but without Crosby. Oh, and by the way, Ovechkin won a World Championship with Russia in 2008. Excellent reasearch, Wilbon. I'm glad you're too busy to spend 46 seconds on the internet like the rest of the truth-seeking world.

    These graphics from Wikipedia, albeit not the most reliable source but in this case 100% accurate, would have been tremendously helpful. Ovechkin's and Crosby's International histories:


    Right now, Ovechkin would need a telescope to see Crosby, who's that far ahead in this race.

    Crosby won a cup his third trip to the playoffs. Ovechkin will presumably participate in his third postseason this spring. Crosby has an MVP trophy. Ovechkin has two. Crosby has a World Junior Championship. Guess what? So does Ovechkin. Because Wilbon doesn't really follow hockey and instead dabbles when tempted to rile up the Caps' fanbase for no particular reason, he couldn't possibly have understood that the Penguins' rebuilding process essentially began one year earlier than the Caps'. And why would he? It's not like we're talking about the NBA, so who cares?!

    Another priceless quote, this time regarding Ovechkin's semi-altercation with a fan holding a camera:

    Somehow, Ovechkin's lapses in judgment (or was it a disregard of civility?) went largely unnoticed. Ovechkin is damn lucky he's not black and playing basketball; my brethren in the national (and local) media would have put on their Sunday church robes and preached him to death by now. We'd have read about "those thug basketball players" and such. Ovechkin, apparently, is for whatever reasons, beyond their reach. He's untouchable. All these folks writing and talking about the Winter Olympics and I haven't seen a word of criticism directed at Ovechkin, famous as he is.

    I just...can' words. None. Links to contradict his assertion that Ovechkin is "untouchable"? Sure, here are just a few: THN, Puck Daddy, Deadspin...But Wilbon, perhaps the reason Ovechkin isn't being crucified (in your eyes, at least) is because nobody really knows the truth behind the camera incident. It's all speculation.

    Unless, of course, google translations of youtube videos in which Ovechkin is described as a "100-pound hockey player" are considered fact. Then I profusely apologize for discrediting your opinion.

    The Bog already touched on this in depth, and a lot that is said here is somewhat repetitive. I just had to get my two cents now so I can mentally prepare for Wilbon's next truly groundbreaking story.

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    Orioles Facing Brutal Early Schedule

    For those who, like me, are expecting big things from the Orioles this year - and by big, I mean hovering around .500 for much of the season - your enthusiasm might be tempered by some tough early season matchups.

    Red Sox Nation invades Camden Yards on April 30.

    ESPN's Buster Olney reports (must be Insider to read entire article):

    Here's a look at the AL early-season schedules, with teams ranked from the toughest (bad news for the Orioles) to the easiest (the Rays catch a break this year).
    1. Baltimore Orioles
    Home/away: They are home for 15 of their first 35 games.
    Games against teams that finished over .500 in 2009: 28 of the first 35. No kidding.
    Meat-grinder stuff: From April 23 to May 5, the Orioles play four consecutive series -- 12 straight games -- against the Red Sox and Yankees.

    Let's elaborate on those numbers for a second.

    • Home/away: They are home for 15 of their first 35 games. The Orioles went 25-56 (.309) on the road and 39-42 (.481) at home last year.
    • Games against teams that finished over .500 in 2009: 28 of the first 35. No kidding. Their combined record against those teams was 22-46 (.324). 
                                 vs. Tampa: 8-10   
                                 vs. Boston: 2-16   
                                 vs. New York: 5-13   
                                 vs. Seattle: 4-5   
                                 vs. Minnesota: 3-2

    • Meat-grinder stuff: From April 23 to May 5, the Orioles play four consecutive series -- 12 straight games -- against the Red Sox and Yankees. Shit.
          Yea, I think it's pretty safe to assume we'll have a good idea what these O's are capable of right out of the gate.

          Caps Vancouver Scorecard: How'd They Do?

          Sidney Crosby scores the gold medal-winner while Alex Ovechkin gets torch duty at the closing ceremony. That's about all you need to know about how the Olympics ended if you're a Caps fan. But let's not let one sour ending obscure the fact that this was an incredible tournament for fans of hockey, both new and veteran; there's no better advocate for the game than the game itself when it's played in such a fashion.

          But what about the players the Caps sent to Vancouver? Five players represented three countries, and all are returning to Washington without medals of any kind; raise your hand if you picked Sami Lepisto to medal over Ovechkin and I'll give you a loonie.

          Take a bow, Lars. [NHL]

          Now that the games are behind us, let's review the Olympic exploits of the Washington contingent and rate them, figure-skating style, based on expectations:

          Semyon Varlamov, Russia - 10.0
          The young Russian didn't play a single minute at the Olympics, and that's just as the Caps wanted it. He was there to learn while not getting re-injured, and watching games from the press box next to Vlad Tretiak isn't a bad way to do that. Incidentally, the Caps first player back from Vancouver made 30 saves for Hershey last night, so it appears that he's finding his game. Let's hope all that knowledge turns into wins in D.C. come April.

          Nicklas Backstrom, Sweden - 9.1
          Many observers expected the Olympics to be Backstrom's Bäckström's turn in the spotlight, and the young Swede did not disappoint, leading his team in scoring (1G, 5A) while averaging around 19 minutes in six games, without taking a single penalty. More impressively, it appears the young Swede has firmly planted himself as Sweden's top pivot, skating more minutes than Henrik Sedin and Henrik Zetterberg. For a national team that prides itself in skill down the middle as the Swedes do, that's worth celebrating (and rewarding with a long-term deal).

          Tomas Fleischmann, Czech Republic - 6.2
          Not a bad showing for Flash, who posted three points (1G, 2A) in five games while skating second- and third-line minutes for a plucky Czech squad that was ultimately bounced by Ovechkin's shoulderRussia. He played mostly at center, but it will be interesting to see if he stays there when the Caps take the ice on Wednesday in Buffalo.

          Alex Ovechkin, Russia - 4.5
          Perhaps the most hyped player in the tournament, from gap-toothed grin to flame-adorned skates, Ovechkin registered two goals, two assists, one symbolic hit for the ages and one unproductive shootout, while averaging more than 18 minutes in four games for a dysfunctional, miserably-coached Russian squad, of which he was the face. That's the good news. The bad news: Ovechkin's off-ice behavior, primarily an embarrassing camera-shoving incident, has damaged his off-ice image worse than his team's on-ice performance against Canada. For a fan base that takes anything negative written about Ovechkin as a personal affront, that matters in this equation, if not on the ice. Oh, and now it's Crosby 2, Ovechkin 0. Your move, Alex.

          Alexander Semin, Russia - 3.1
          A disappointing tournament for Ovechkin's linemate, but what were you really expecting? Yes, he showed nice chemistry with Ovechkin on occasion, and yes, his pass to Evgeni Malkin for the goal of the olympics was a thing of beauty, but twice the number of PIMs (4) as points (2) is simply unacceptable...and yet, not entirely unexpected either. Sigh. But on the plus side: Semin can throw his weight around when it matters least!