Friday, July 9, 2010

What Is Our LeBron Equivelant?

LeBron's a douche.

See, doesn't that feel good? Say it out loud. One, two, three, maybe even four times.

I don't know what it is about LeBron. Maybe it's because he beat the Wizards in three consecutive playoff series, or that he complains more than my little sister when it's her time of the month, or that he created his own three-step "crab dribble" which was eventually adopted by the NBA and put into its rulebook. You know, just for him.

It could be any one of those things but in all likelihood it's every one of them, combined with the self-fellating ego-maniacal spectacle that was last night's traitorous announcement to the world that "The Chosen One" would be taking his talents to South Beach.

Before he made his announcement I didn't really care what team he'd select. I was so LeBronned out after a week of LeBronning by ESPN that I just couldn't take it anymore.

But of course I watched. I mean, everyone and their infant baby watched, and I'm sure the ratings for the announcement were sky high. And when he announced he was leaving Cleveland, doing so in that fashion, on prime time national television and dragging "The Decision" out like it was a goddamn "American Idol" episode starring Jim Gray as Ryan Seacrest, it struck a cord in me.

D.C. is a depressing sports town. We've gone over its merits before. But Cleveland? They haven't won a title since the Browns brought home the bacon in 1964. That's unheard of.

And to have their hearts and souls ripped out from them by this 25 year old arrogant prick wearing a picnic table button down shirt because he wanted to go play with his buddies in Miami - which effectively ruined his legacy - was just too much to take.

It got me thinking: what would be our equivalent to what LeBron did to Cleveland fans last night? Nothing really compares, but I have some ideas.

  • John Wall demands a trade before the season starts, holding the Wizards hostage and refusing to show up to practices. Contract be damned! The kicker: he's demanding to be traded to Miami.
  • The year is 2016. Stephen Strasburg has won two straight MVP's and is easily the best pitcher in the land. He spends his free agent summer being courted by every team out there, but anyone who knows anything can tell you that there are really on three options: staying with the Nationals, signing with the Yankees, signing with the Red Sox. Knowing full well the Lerners aren't stupid enough to fork over the kind of dough that Boston and New York are glad to (ballpark estimate ~ 10 years $790 million), he could put Nats fans out of their misery early by making his priorities clear. Instead, he inspires hope, says it's not about the money, only to bail at the last second in a nationally televised one-hour special devoted to him for a star-studded team that can carry him to the promise land. What a nightmare.
  • Alex Ovechkin demands a trade, but only two teams make his list: the Flyers and the Penguins. And he does so immediately after we win a Stanley Cup, and then leads the team he's traded to to five consecutive Stanley Cups.
  • Daniel Snyder murders a small child for complaining about the price of hot dogs at Fedex Field and gets away with it by framing John Riggins, who spends the rest of his life in prison paying for a crime he didn't commit. Are you still with me, or did I take it too far?
  • Joe Gibbs comes out of retirement to sign a life-time contract with the Dallas Cowboys. If you didn't think it could get worse, it does. After winning several championships with the Cowboys, he withdraws from the Hall of Fame completely, only to get nominated a few years later as coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He is elected first ballot, and they erect a shrine of Joe Gibbs in all his Cowboys glory.

Ever been kicked really hard in the nuts? That's what those bizarre hypothetical scenarios feel like. I can't even imagine how Clevelanders feel this morning. I'm assuming 90% of the workforce called in sick. Or just angry.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

ESPN Knows DC is The Most Depressing Sports City

I already posted on this subject on Bullets Forever, but ESPN released their Ultimate Team Standings for 2010 a few days ago and the results are about as nice as today's 106-degree weather for DC. For those who haven't heard of these 'Standings' before, ESPN ranks every pro franchise across the four major American sports yearly, 1-122, by using using a nationwide survey to determine aspects of a franchise such as 'affordability', 'fan relations' and 'winning titles'.

I didn't notice this article posted online before receiving my ESPN The Magazine, and like any DC sports fan, had the following reactions when I saw the Standings mentioned on the cover:
  • I know my teams suck, and don't need rankings to tell me they suck
  • Because my teams suck, I have no desire to skip to the rankings
To top it off, once I got to the rankings, I automatically scanned downward to work from the bottom-up to find the DMV teams. You know your teams suck when you start from the bottom and it didn't take long to find our boys......the Nationals, Orioles, Redskins, and Wizards come in at #s 94, 102, 105, and 120......out of 122 teams! Fortunately, the Caps are #11, and as we all already know, the 1 shining light in the DMV these days.

On the surface, nothing really surprised me except that the Wizards are below the Redskins. But reflecting on having 4 of our 5 teams be in the bottom 28 made me realize how jaded I have become. Seriously, I know we have Strasburg, and used to have Matt Wieters and Fat Albert Haynesworth (nope, still pissing me off, nevermind), but all of these teams are depressingly bad and have no championship in site. I already figured we are the worst sports city at this point when you consider the number of awful teams, and this ranking only furthers the notion.

What about Cleveland or Atlanta you say? Ha! The only city on the list to rival DC is actually NYC. The Knicks, Mets, Rangers, Giants, and Yankees, and Jets finished at 119, 107, 104, , 66, 62, and 50. I realize that the Caps pull our average ranking above that of any NYC combo, but our bottom 4 is worse, and the only reason NYC teams are so low is because of 'affordability'. Sure, I prefer that my team is affordable, but winning trumps everything and the Giants and Yankees have recent titles, and the Rangers won one about the same time as the last major DMV sports team. Making things worse is that the 'shining light of DC', the Caps, gave the DMV a collective kick in the balls by losing in the 1st round of the playoffs.

Maybe Shanahan turns things around in Ashburn, maybe Leonsis can do for the Wizards what he did for the Caps, maybe Pitching Jesus can carry the Nats, and maybe the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays will cease to exist for the sake of the Orioles. For now though, there can't even be much of a debate that we are the most depressed sports city in the country.

(Images courtesy of and

Monday, July 5, 2010

National Outrage: Strasburg Not an All-Star!?!

I know this topic has been beaten into the ground, but MLB is making a insanely stupid mistake by not putting Stephen Strasburg on the NL All-Star team. The game is a marketing event and Pitching Jesus is the most marketable player in the league right now, bar none; the game is for the fans, and the fans want Strasburg. In addition to upsetting the regular fans, Bud Selig, Charlie Manuel, and whoever else there is to blame, have a great to chance to draw in some new fans who are intrigued by Strasburg. Even if he didn't pitch in the game, more people would tune in for the chance to watch (although there could be mini riots if he was on the roster and didn't pitch). Then there is the fact that Strasburg is not one of the 5 players in the running for the last roster spot. As much as Joey Votto deserves that last spot, Strasburg would be the clear favorite to be voted in by the fans. I am not 100% sure who creates the 5 person list for the last spot, but omitting Strasburg is a clear sign that they did not want him in this game for lord knows what reason and that he will not be in this game as an injury replacement.

Oh, but 'This time it counts' you say? Well then the NL should put their best players out there, and Pitching Jesus is without a doubt one of the best pitchers the in the league. Charlie Manuel said:

"He got quite a bit of consideration. He is going be an All-Star for a long time. What does he have, five starts? I just felt there are other guys who have started 18 to 20 games. I just felt, 'leave him alone and let him get used to the major league level." 

'Get used to the major league level?!?' Strasburg has been an absolute force thusfar, on par with the best pitchers in the league; it is safe to say he is doing just fine at adjusting to the major league level. At least that is very sporting of Mr. Manuel to be so concerned about the development of a division rival's star talent.

The 'hasn't pitched enough games' argument is greatly hindered by the fact that Omar Infante made the NL team as a Manager's selection. Infante has only playing in 57 of this team's 82 games thusfar and does not qualify for league leaderboards. Most healthy starters have pitched 17 games, but Infante's games played % gives that his equivalent would be a SP with only 11 or 12 starts.

Those are just the general points as to why Strasburg should be on the team, and don't even address the fact that Matt Capps was picked over him. Going by VORP, Capps has been the 11th best pitcher on the Nationals, and they are trying to tell me he should be an All-Star over Pitching Jesus? Just amongst Nationals relievers, Tyler Clippard is significantly more deserving. Clippard as the Nats representative I could at least swallow a little easier than Capps, but the bigger injustice is Josh Willingham. Based purely on performance, Willingham should be starting in this game; he is 6th in the NL in VORP, and 1st amongst outfielders. If you are going to pass over the most marketable and possibly best pitcher in the league by the All-Star break for only having 6 starts, at least get the guy you pick over him right. I understand Ryan Zimmerman is stuck behind 2 guys having great seasons at 3B, but the Nats have 2 better and more sensible candidates than Capps, excluding Strasburg.

Keith Law called Manuel's selections 'comically bad'
, and I have to agree. The Strasburg omission is outrageous. Manuel deserves to lose the All-Star game and then lose the World Series in game 7 in an AL park, now that would be some sweet justice.

(Image courtesy of