Friday, April 06, 2007

Leaving Nats Game Early

I did it. I did the very thing that drives me craziest about sports fans. Last night, I left a game early.

Early isn't even the word to describe it. Early is when someone leaves a sporting event with time still on the clock and a chance (albeit small) that the losing team could prevail. This is one of the most reprehensible actions a male can do and the one thing you DON'T do if you're a "true fan." Beat traffic, my ass. Yogi Berra knew his shit, It ain't over 'til it's over. There are countless examples, (Duke @ Maryland, 2001; Indian Pacers @ New York Knicks, 1995; Boise State vs. Oklahoma, 2007), that prove you do not leave early and you do not fall asleep while watching the game. But last night... I did it.

I didn't leave early; I left beyond early. I arrived in the bottom of the 1st and left in the top of the 3rd. It was horrible. I knew I was wrong, but it was just... so... cold...

Freezing view from section 408, row 6, seat 11.

Don't get me wrong, I could have toughed it out. I could have proven my manhood and stayed until the very last pitch. It wasn't just the cold. It was the combination of awful weather conditions and awful play on the field.

The Nats are bad. Not in anyway is that a bad thing. I'd rather them be bad and rebuilding with young talent than spending cash on a second string star just to avoid 100 losses (See: Baltimore Orioles). The Nats are easily headed for more than 100 losses, some are even suggesting 120. In the long run, we'll all be seating in cushy seats at a cushy stadium watching the Nats make playoff runs in a two-three years. But right now they're not worth a case of pneumonia.

Agent Z-Man up to bat. How'd he end up? Fuckedifiknow.

I'm going to my fair share of Nats game this season, believe me. I'm not going to give up on a team that finishes last three years running. The fact that DC has a baseball team still brings a huge smile to my face. I'm just going to games starting in May, or June, or whenever it heats up around here.

DC United MLS Season Preview 2007

Although the hoopla for Major League Soccer in 2007 might center around David Beckham, the fact of the matter is that Becks isn't arriving until July. The big story from the start of the season until then should be the dominatation dealt upon MLS by DC United.

A typical RFK sight in July.

Last year, DC United jumped out of the gate and cruised from the very get go. They had a 15-match unbeaten streak at one point and had the entire league by the balls for the majority of the season. That being said, the Black-and-Red struggled mightily down the stretch, going 3-5-6 post-All-Star Game. DC barely hung on to win the Supporters Shield, edging out FC Dallas by a mere 3 points. If the regular season was one week longer they likely would have lost out to the Hoops.

DC continued the so-so performance in the play-offs against the New York Red Bulls. Christian Gomez bailed the Black-and-Red out twice in those encounters. The league MVP scored DC's only goals in both games, including late in the 2nd leg to clinch advancment to the Eastern Conference Finals. Let's just say that if you're celebrating a tie with the New York MLS team, things aren't going as well as they could be. DC United finally looked sharp against the New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference Finals, but the Revs were better overall and held on for a exciting 1 - 0 victory at RFK.

In the offseason, DC United had some major acquisitions and some major departures. All things considered, the team should be better in 2007 than they were in 2006.

This season, there are many changes to look forward to...

The coach. DC has a new coach at the helm, Tommy Soehn. He's replacing Peter Nowak who left to become an assistant for the US Men's National Team. Soehn has been an assitstant for DC for many years and is getting his time to shine.

The newbies. Luciano Emilio instantly won over DC fans with four goals in three games during the CONCACAF Champions Cup. He netted three against his former team, CD Olimpia, and one late goal against Chivas de Guadalajara. Also joining the team are former Australian League MVP, Fred, and English youngster Yinka Casal. These players should take some of the load off of Jaime Moreno and Christian Gomez during the dog days of July.

The competition. Clint Dempsey is gone and the Revolution have added no one to keep their string of MLS Cup appearances alive. Chicago added Mexican superstar Blanco, but that's more of a ticket-seller move than Beckham. The Red Bulls, Columbus Crew, Kansas City Wizards and expansion Toronto FC don't seem a threat, as well. The Eastern Conference is definitely DC's for the taking.

With all the good about the team, there are a few points of concern:

The veterans. Jaime Moreno is old. Old people aren't good at soccer. This is worrysome. Aside from the absolutely AWESOME bicycle kick against Chivas, he's done very little for the squad in the CONCACAF Champions Cup. Also, Christian Gomez is looking for more money at the end of the season and DC might opt not to give it to him. These two players are the heart and soul of the team and need to be consistent contributors AND have their heads in the game. If not we're toast.

The departed. Freddy Adu and Alecko Eskandarian are gone, to Real Salt Lake and Toronto FC, respectively. Both of these guys were key members of DC's 2004 MLS Championship team and last years Supporters Shield team. Neither of them, however, was very consistant. Backup Goalkeeper Nick Rimando is also gone, leaving us with a weaker back up (Jay Nolly). It's yet to be seen if their departure will be a blessing or a curse.

The schedule. DC's season started two months earlier than most MLS teams because of the CONCACAF Champions Cup. They'll also be playing in the new MLS/FMF SuperLiga and could lose a few starters for the Gold Cup and Copa America. This team ran out of gas last year because they were overworked with matches. This could be there undoing again in 2007.

With all that being said, DC United is clearly the best team on paper. The only other serious challengers for MLS Cup 2007 are the Houston Dynamo (last year's champs) and Los Angeles Galaxy (assuming Beckham and Donovan mesh well).

Expect many reasons to wave flags this season.

With MLS Cup 2007 taking place in Washington, DC at RFK Stadium, I fully expect the Black-and-Red to be playing for their 5th Cup Championship. Along the way I wouldn't be suprised to see them pick up another Supporters Shield and possibly the new SuperLiga crown. The foundation for success has been set. It's time for the players to take the pitch and continue the winning tradition for DC United.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Agent 2-3 Months

The Wizards dreams of a deep play-off run are over. After losing Caron Butler last week, Gilbert Arenas is out for the rest of the year. He's expected to miss 2-3 months with a torn knee ligament.

Let's recap the Washington sports scene of the last week, shall we?

04.02.07 - Washington Nationals start season opener, lose to the Florida Marlins. 119 more losses to go.
04.02.07 - Caron Butler injured. Out 6 weeks.
04.02.07 - Georgetown Hoyas lose to Ohio State Buckeyes.
04.03.07 - Jeff Green reappears, saying, "What happened? I blacked out."
04.03.07 - Nats lose to Marlins, 118 more losses to go.
04.03.07 - Capitals beat Panthers. Already eliminated from play-offs. Lose ground in NHL Draft position.
04.04.07 - DC United outplays Chivas de Guadalajara, still loses 2-1. Eliminated from the CONCACAF Champions Cup.
04.04.07 - Caps beat Thrashers. Lose ground in NHL Draft position.
04.04.07 - Gilbert Arenas injured. Out for season.


Oh Gilbert... No... No... [Deadspin]

Sunrise from the Lincoln Memorial

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Maybe Next Year

Well that sucked.

After all the hype, after everyone saying this would be the greatest Final Four ever, it turned out to be a snooze fest.

Georgetown's National Championship dream ended unceremoniously at the hands of Mike Conley, Jr. and the Ohio State Buckeyes, 67 - 60. The only bright spots for the Hoyas were Roy Hibbert outplaying Greg Oden and Jeff Green playing so horribly that he ultimately NEEDS to come back next year and redeem himself. That offensive charge he had, when G'Town had the ball down 4 with two minutes to play, was absolutely inexcusable. Just horrible.

On the bright side, things look good for Georgetown next year. If everyone comes back, the Hoyas will be back in the Final Four and better prepared to win the whole shebang. Roy Hibbert should be back, he's still soft. After pulling that disappearing act, Jeff "Five Freakin' Shots" Green needs to come back and boost his reputation. Sapp, Wallace, Summers, Ewing Jr. will all be back. To top of all off, WCAC superstars Austin Freeman and Chris Wright will be suiting up for the Hoyas.

Mark it down...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Gilbert's Middle Name

Gilbert's Billboard, 8th & H Street NW

There are two billboards around Chinatown with Gilbert Arenas on them asking, "What makes you different?" These are to promote Gil's foundation, ZeroTwoHero.

As well all know, Gilbert is different. His name is different. His personality is different. He rides his bike for exercise throughout DC. He doesn't hang out with a posse. He stays in during nights on road trips, opting to order colon cleansers off of infomericals rather than go to the clubs with his teammates. He wears his own bizarre shoes for Adidas. This has all been widely reported.

With everything that's been said about Agent Zero over the past two years, I've never heard mention of his middle name. This got my mind a'wondering. Could it be as unusual as 'Gilbert'? Could it possibly be 'Danger'? My money was on something glorious and fitting, something that would set the blogosphere on fire, something like 'Alfonso'.

Thanks to the wonders of Wikipedia, I found out that Gilbert Arenas' middle name is 'Jay'.

At first, this was awesome. It brought to mind the episode of The Simpsons where we learn that Homer J. Simpson's middle name is 'Jay', an ode to cartoon legends Rocket J. Squirrel and Bullwinkle J. Moose of Rocky & Bullwinkle fame. The middle name 'Jay' is a big deal in the cartoon world. It was fitting that an animated character such as Gilbert Arenas would share the classic middle name. After all, he did admit to Chuck Klosterman that he watches the cartoon Gummi Bears.

However, on second thought, the name seemed shockingly normal by Gilbert's standards. Sure he's got a nice jump shot, but 'Jay' just doesn't fit the stereotype of the "craaaazy" Arenas. That's when I realized that I've been buying into too much of the hype for Agent Zero.

Gilbert Arenas is not a cartoon character. Gilbert Arenas is not a joke.

Before the mainstream media completely turns him into a one-dimensional "character" that simply does quirky, off-the-wall things, we need to remember that it's his game and revenge mind-set that makes Gilbert Arenas an absolute assassin.

Another billboard, on the NPR building, 6th and Mass Ave NW

Before he was the blogosphere's darling, Gilbert was on a one-man mission to enact revenge on every team that skipped over him in the 2001 NBA Draft. He cried when he wasn't drafted in the first round. He has worn #0 for his entire college and professional career because that's how many minutes his critics said he would play at the University of Arizona. His blog is entitled "The Takeover." He vowed revenge on the Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, and (if ever possible - and I wouldn't put it past him...) Duke University because Mike D'Antoni, Jerry Colangelo and Mike Krzyzewski snubbed him for the U.S. Men's National Team.

Does this sound like a joke?

It's apparent that Gilbert takes every insult to heart. Everything negative said about him is taken at a deeply personal level. This is what drives Agent Zero to become #1.

This is also what makes him the player in the National Basketball Association most relatable to fans .

In his most recent blog post, Gilbert wrote, "To understand me is to understand a fan." The reason he jumped off a trampoline at the All-Star Game and did a between-the-legs dunk wasn't for the money offered by Shaq to Gilbert's foundation. It was because he wanted to know how it felt.

How does it feel to be an Elvis impersonator jumping off a trampoline and dunking?

That's the same feeling I have when I see Gilbert ball.

How does it feel to hit a game-winning, buzzer-beating, three-pointer?

That is why I can relate.

If it takes some lunatic antics to get some recognition, than that's what he's going to do. If he needs to fill out an entire box of All-Star ballots to see his name on the roster he'll do that, too. If he needs to insert an oxygen chamber in his house to increase his stamina, he's going to do that as well.

From his clutch shots to his strong personality, Gilbert Arenas stands out from the crowd of NBA players. Never in my lifetime has an athlete exposed a personality that made him more relatable to fans. In today's sports culture, every athlete tries to show their personality to win over fans. Most of the time it seems like an agent-driven plot to gain a shoe contract. This isn't the case with Gilbert. He shows his emotions, his personality, his smile, because he's geniunely having fun taking out the naysayers.

That's why it's a shame that Gilbert Arenas has become known more for his antics than his game. He may be funny, but he ain't no joke. With a plain old middle name like 'Jay', it's easy to see that Gilbert Arenas is human. He's one of us. He's a Clark Kent. And that makes his Superman performances even more impressive. Fans and bloggers need to focus more on Gilbert's dagger and less on his swagger, lest they feel the wrath of Agent Zero.

Monday, March 26, 2007


Georgetown outlasted North Carolina last night to win the East Regional and move on to the Final Four in dramatic fashion. Jonathan Wallace nailed a game-tying three-pointer with about 30 seconds left, and then the Hoyas clamped down to hold the Tar Heels scoreless for all but the last 8 seconds of overtime to seal the victory, 96 - 84.

This is Georgetown's first trip to the Final Four since 1985, and the first for a D.C. area team since, well, last year's George Mason squad. (We're not exactly starving for college hoops success, unlike all those Philly schools.)

I watched the game at McFadden's in Foggy Bottom then strolled through Georgetown to see the atmosphere. Suprisingly, I went to sleep last night thinking that Georgetown kids just don't know how to celebrate these days. Long story short, I was born at Georgetown Hospital the day between the Hoyas advancing to the National Championship game and the day they won it all in 1984. My mother never let me forget that she couldn't sleep a wink all weekend because of the rowdy Georgetown students. Needless to say, I was shocked to see M Street NW almost entirely empty.

Well, after checking some blogs this morning, it turns out I didn't see anyone because they had already moved down M Street onto Pennsylvania Ave and were chanting "We Want Bush!" in front of the White House.


Anyway, the Hoyas now collide with the Ohio State Buckeyes for the right to play for the National Title. I'll get a preview up later this week. For now, I'm just going to enjoy the high spirits in D.C.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Love for GDub

Lost in the hoopla of Hoya Paranoia pt. 2 is the tremendous achievement of the George Washington Colonials.

GW has made it to the NCAA Tournament three years running (a longer streak than any other DC area men's team), and they're looking to notch their second win in as many years.

Last year, in one of the most awful hose jobs on recent memory, GW was given an 8-seed after finishing 26-2. Not only were they an 8-seed, the Colonials got to face UNC Wilmington and overall 1-seed Duke in Greensboro, North Carolina. Sweet deal. Compared to that, this year's seed is a gift-wrapped basket.

Three reasons George Washington can advance to the Sweet 16...

The seed. As an 11-seed, George Washington University will play 6th-seeded Vanderbilt University in the first round. If they get past Vandy, they'll match-up with either Washington State or Oral Roberts. GW can beat all three teams. Washington State is so inexperienced that no one on their team has ever played in the NCAA tournament before. Oral Roberts, seen by many as a Cinderella candidate, is still the weakest team in this pool. Also, all these games will be played in Sacramento, California, not exactly a home-court advantage for anyone.

The athleticism. The Vanderbilt match-up is great for GW. Their athleticism could push them by the slower Commodores. I envision Regis Koundijia and Rob Diggs unleashing hell on the defensive end and when going for up-for-grab rebounds. Steals, blocks, and fast breaks will lead to big wins for GW.

The experience. Another key strength of the Colonials is their veteran experience. Carl Elliot is a senior and Maureece Rice is a junior. Never underestimate the importance of guard play in the early NCAA rounds. Never. They've been dancing three years running and a Cinderella splash is not out of reach.

Although the Colonials didn't win the Atlantic-10 regular season crown, (they finished 3rd behind Xavier and UMass), they did string enough victories together to claim the A-10 Tournament Championship. Some might say their title might be tainted because they didn't do any of the leg work. After all, Rhode Island took out Xavier and St. Louis took out UMass. However, GW opportunistically made the most of their chances by wiping both SLU and URI out. Can't blame them for that.

Normally, I don't look favorably on teams that snuck into the NCAA Tournament through the back door, but GW's speed, experience and strong back court will make them a difficult out. I got 'em dancing all the way to the Sweet 16 before bowing out to the Hoyas. But who knows, maybe this year's George Mason is the other other 'George' team from D.C.

A homer? Me? No way.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

WaSHINgton, D.C.

D.C. = Docile Crowd?

The Shins played DAR Constitution Hall last night, performing to a sold out, but rather tame, crowd of DC hipsters.

Aptly opening with "Sleeping Lessons," the first track off their most recent album, Wincing the Night Away, the band tried to get the audience into the show early. Since the venue is an all-seater, the crowd had to be implored to stand and get into the groove. This led to the awkwardness of some sections standing, some sitting, and some complaining either way. One positive result of this was clearly hearing the band, especially singer James Mercer's voice, in the better-than-advertised acoustics of Constitution Hall.

After all was said and done, the Shins played 18 songs (a 70-minute, 16 song set and then a two song encore). The setlist mostly comprised of their two most recent albums, Wincing the Night Away and Chutes Too Narrow. They did sneak in earlier tracks "Caring is Creepy," "Know Your Onion!," and "New Slang."

Although the performance made me more appreciative of the new album, the real highlights of the show were almost exclusively songs from their second album, Chutes Too Narrow. The Shins nailed a more aggressive version of "Saint Simon" and "Turn a Square" pleased the crowd more than any other.

It seems the band has two strengths in their live show. First, getting into the zone in some songs and rocking out, as evident in their cover of Modern Lover's "Someone I Care About." The other is the thought-provoking lyrics in slower songs, as heard in "A Comet Appears," the Wincing closer.

The between song banter was mostly filled with references to American history, you know, because nothing ever happens in DC unrelated to government/history/politics. Even still, the band missed so many puns, (Daughters of the American RevoluSHIN, ConstituSHIN Hall, WaSHINgton, D.C.) that I don't think I'll ever forgive them.

Probably wouldn't matter anyway, since they'd be lost on the emoSHINless crowd.

01. Sleeping Lessons
02. Australia
03. Pam Berry/Phantom Limb
04. Kissing the Lipless
05. Mine's Not a High Horse
06. Girl Inform Me
07. Girl on the Wing
08. New Slang
09. Saint Simon
10. Turn on Me Girl Sailor
11. Turn a Square
12. Gone for Good
13. A Comet Appears
14. Turn on Me
15. Know Your Onion!
16. Caring is Creepy
17. Someone I Care About (Modern Lovers Cover)
18. So Says I

Thanks to for helping me finish the setlist.