Sports Fix

Sports Fix Special: A Day for Wicked Pixels

Photo courtesy of philliefan99
one way FAIL
courtesy of philliefan99

Boy, what a morning.

First up was Alex Ovechkin, who today opted out of the All-Star Game, citing a lack of passion brought on by a 3-game suspension for an off-his-feet hit on the Penguins Zbynek Michalek during Sunday’s game. I can understand his frustration with the league for a 3-game suspension when Michalek was cleared of a similar hit in the exact same game. It can be hard to be a professional hockey player. That is also why he’s paid $9.5M on average per season. As Don Draper says, “That’s what the money is for!” I suppose that he’ll instead be chilling in his new house in McLean, valued at $4.2M.

In acting the petulant teenager, Ovechkin hurts the fans and the league, when he’s really just angry that his team can’t seem to feed him the puck up close to the net. Look, Ovi, I know you’re having a rough go of it right now, but the answer here is to buckle down and do more not do less, especially in the face of criticism. There’s a lot of concern out there for the team’s work ethic, and that there’s no combined leadership on the ice. By opting out and saying that you’re just not feeling it, well, I have to wonder – have you felt it at all this season? I know you’re hitting like crazy, and your game against Pittsburgh this week saw you with 3 points, but I’m not seeing the leader that I was hoping for.

The Capitals, in standing by their star, are at least giving him an “honorable” out, and given the lack of discipline for Michalek, that seems to be at least justified in part. In doing so, aren’t the Capitals doing more to hurt the hockey capital’s enthusiasm for the sport as a whole? I had thought that this was an organization dedicated toward hockey as a whole, but this latest set of actions seem to belie that isn’t the case always.

And now on to the firing of Flip Saunders, first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.  The Wizards have started the year at a lovely 2-15, including a 20-point loss in Philly last night, a game in which they trailed by 30 at the half, which is something I was pretty sure was only possible when a JV team plays the varsity at DeMatha. Sadly, it’s not likely that the elevation of assistant Randy Wittman to the head coach, even temporarily, is going to change the slide of the Wizards – not that they can slide much further down the charts.

I can’t remember a more terrible day for Monumental Sports in the new era, and though it feels like piling on, the state of DC sports is fairly deplorable, given the Redskins’ back to back 6-10 seasons, the Wizards seemingly-perpetual last place position, and the Capitals struggles amid an abundance of talented players. How terrible is it that a .500 season from the Nationals seems to be the brightest spot in the DC Sports world right now?

So yes, Uncle Ted, this is a day for wicked pixels, but it’s hard to dodge these as just being the words of some pajama-clad bloggers when it’s the whole of the sports media with their head in their hands wondering what could possibly be going on.

Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

For first time in three years, Wizards win a 3rd straight game

Photo courtesy of
‘John Wall | Wizards’
courtesy of ‘Danilo.Lewis|Fotography’

Like a lot of things, basketball works in mysterious ways. If Austin Daye’s buzzer-beating three-point shot Tuesday night had done what many thought it was going to do and rattled through the net, Washington’s 107-105 win over the Detroit Pistons would instead have gone down as one of the three most excruciating losses of a largely excruciating season (my top two being the 95-94 home loss to Miami on December 18, the day the Gilbert Arenas trade was officially announced and the Wizards blew a four-point lead with 17 seconds remaining, and the 100-99 home loss to Orlando on November 27 that was settled with a Dwight Howard baby hook).

But Daye’s shot didn’t rattle through the net. Instead, it rattled back out, leaving the Wizards players shaken by just how close a call they’d had. “I’ve never seen [a shot like that],” said John Wall after the game. “I’ve never seen one go all the way in like that before coming out.”

“We’ve lost enough tough ones,” Flip Saunders said ruefully after the game. “We deserve a little bit of luck. That last one was definitely pretty right on.” Continue reading

Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Without Wall, Wizards fight hard, but lose to the Heat

Photo courtesy of
‘Wall Ascending the Sky’
courtesy of ‘Mylar Bono’

Defying the odds and most expectations, the Washington Wizards gave the star-studded Miami Heat a run for their money Wednesday night at the Verizon Center, twice cutting their deficit to one point early in the fourth quarter. But ultimately, the 94 total points scored by LeBron James (35 points), Dwyane Wade (33 points), and Chris Bosh (26 points) proved too much to overcome as the Heat (52-23) defeated the Wizards 123-107.

As heartening as the performance was by the Wizards (18-56), it’s hard not to wonder what might have happened if Washington’s star rookie point guard John Wall hadn’t gotten himself thrown out of the game with 8:48 to go in the first half and the Wizards leading 37-36.

The incident began innocuously enough, as Zydrunas Ilgauskas grabbed a loose ball at the top of the key and was defended by Wall. As Ilgauskas turned to face the basket, the Wizards rookie got right into the Lithuanian’s personal space, and Ilgauskas responded by nudging Wall twice with his right elbow. Wall took a futile swipe at the ball as Ilgauskas brought it over his head, an action which left the Miami man’s midsection exposed. As Wall turned to face up to Ilgauskas, television replays showed that the Kentucky alum pursed his lips, picked a spot, and let fly with a right cross to Ilgauskas’ ribs at the same instant that the 7-foot-3 center reached out with his left arm to shove Wall further back. Continue reading

Sports Fix

Sports Fix: Delayed Gratification Edition

DSCN0905
DSCN0905 by bhrome

Capitals
Record: 23-12-5, 51 points
Last Two Weeks: 4-0-1
Place: Tied for first in the Southeast, Fifth in the East

We’re pretty much at the halfway point of the 2010-2011 Season, and the Caps have settled into a winning groove after their brutal losing streak in early December. They’re about to be tested, though, as January looks to be a defining month for the season. Two games against co-leader of the Southeast Tampa Bay, tough games in Philly and Atlanta, and home matchups against the Rangers and Senators, with just a few matches against teams they should beat.

Looking back on the Winter Classic, we saw a Caps team that continued their first period struggles, their second period explosion, and a third period full of fight. That’s been this Capitals team all season long, and until they can figure out their first period struggles, I think they’re not going to be strong contender for Lord Stanley’s Cup. There’s much to work on this season, and still a good amount of time to see it happen. Continue reading

Sports Fix

Sports Fix: Bye Week Edition

Slapshot

Capitals
Record: 10-4
Last Two Weeks:
Place: 5-1 First in the Southeast, 20 points

A four-game winning streak. A trio of capable young goalies. Undefeated in Overtime. That’s not a bad first month of the season for the Capitals. Perfect? No, they’ve made some mistakes, but they’ve had a pretty good start, and that’s all that Coach Bruce Boudreau needs right now to keep things moving.

The Caps are still trying to find their offensive groove, and some of the lines are working better than others. They’ll be testing things out against the NY Rangers on Tuesday night at the Garden, then back to DC for Thursday night’s match with Tampa Bay. They bounce around a bit for the next two weeks, with games here and away against Buffalo and Atlanta. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Cheat Sheet: Bye Week Edition

Puck Warning

It’s Monday morning, and there’s a water cooler to talk at, but the Redskins are off this week. “Crap!” I can hear you thinking, “with no Redskins, I know that Darryl from Accounting is going to talk about the Wizards,” or “Roger from Marketing wants to talk about the Capitals!”  Fear not, DC, we have your talking points regardless:

Hockey: It’s not just for breakfast anymore

Okay, relax. Hockey’s easy. Talk about how disappointed you are that the Caps haven’t put their offense all together yet.  If they grill you, citing a few blowouts, ask about where Ovechkin’s mojo is.  They might get defensive, yes, but you can say that you’re still happy with the top of the Southeast with last night’s overtime win.  You’ll be fine.  I promise. And get out to Verizon Center, that’s a pretty fun and fan-friendly atmosphere.

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Mythbusting DC, The Features

DC Mythbusting: The Sports Curse

Photo courtesy of
‘Strasburg – Coming Spring 2012′
courtesy of ‘afagen’

We all know about the Sports Illustrated cover curse.  And we know the story of the Madden NFL cover curse.  But is the worst curse of all just being part of the Washington sports scene?  That’s what ESPN claims, saying, “A star-destroying black hole of unimaginable proportions, the Washington curse goes beyond sports, touching everything from reality TV (worst seasons ever for “The Real World,” “Top Chef” and “The Real Housewives”) to politics (the reputation of any popular pol who stays in town long enough).”  Ouch.  But does the DC area really have a sports curse?

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Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Can The 2K11 Version Of John Wall Do This?

Happy NBA 2K11 day basketball fans! While you maybe lining up to get the latest 2K b-ball title, excited to play as Michael Jordan (before he joined the Wizards,) let’s not forget that the real-life Washington Wizards can still be as electric as any video game franchise.

Thanks to John Wall.

Just take a look at this clip of John Wall from the Fan Fest scrimmage:

YouTube Preview Image

Can the 2K11 version of Wall do this? Maybe, but it’s way more fun to see it in real life.

[h/t Wizards Extreme]

Sports Fix

Sports Fix

Photo courtesy of
‘Zim be nimble, Zim be quick’
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

Nationals
Record: 56-75 (Last in the NL East)
Last Two Weeks: 5-8

The impossible-to-miss, off-field story involves none other than his Royal Strasburg. Late last week, the team announced that a tear in Strasburg’s pitching elbow will require reconstructive surgery of the Tommy John type. The Nats enter the last month of the season looking towards next year, but it is also safe to say that many already think even next season could be a lost cause. Still, in the “looking forward” department, there is still at least one bright spot: Bryce Harper was on the scene at Nationals Park, putting on a Nats jersey and launching bombs during batting practice.

On the field, things have been up and down. Last week, the Nationals got swept at home by the lowly Cubs, but managed to take three out of four from a Cardinals squad that is very much in contention in the Central to conclude the homestand. For a team that’s been fairly lifeless in the past month, maybe the Strasburg news is a reminder that no one man makes a club. In the next two weeks, the Nats will play the majority of their games against NL East rivals, save one trip to Pittsburgh next weekend.

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Sports Fix, The Features

Sports Fix: Gearing Up

Photo courtesy of
‘Center Ice’
courtesy of ‘Ghost_Bear’

With the 2010 Vancouver Olympics kicking off Friday night and continuing throughout the weekend, it’s kind of hard to recall the significant happenings that have occurred over the last two weeks in DC sports.

Capitals
Record: 41-13
Last Two Weeks: 4-3
Place:1st in the Eastern Conference

The Caps continued their winning streak with spectacular W’s against both the Penguins and the Rangers, but were stopped at 14 wins on February 10th by the Montreal Canadians in a 5-6 squeaker in OT.

Since their loss to the Canadians, the Caps have lost their last 3 games heading into the two week break for the Olympic games. They still lead the Eastern Conference with 90 points, and their next game will be away versus the Sabres on March 3.

Despite this minor downturn, Mr. Ovechkin is still the NHL’s leading offensive player in both goals (42) and overall points (89). And Alexandar Semin is on a super hot streak, sniping goals left and right, and racking up 5 goals and 4 assists in the last 4 games. Continue reading

News, Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Verizon Center Takes Down Arenas Banner

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcwashington.com/video.

NBC Washington has the video of Verizon Center personnel removing Arenas banner from the side of the building this afternoon. It’s not clear if this is a deliberate move by the Wizards, or by the Verizon Center management, but either way, Agent Zero’s profile is a bit smaller right now.

News, The Daily Feed

Arenas in Drawn Gun Incident with Teammate on Christmas Eve

Photo courtesy of
‘Introducing Gilbert Arenas’
courtesy of ‘afagen’

I know, it’s New Years Day, the start of a brand new decade. It’s about fresh starts, and optimism. That is, unless you’re a Wizards fan. And then you wonder how this happens. Gilbert Arenas was reportedly in a dispute with drawn firearms with teammate Javaris Crittenton in the Wizards Lockerroom. On Christmas Eve. Over a Gambling Debt.

Fellas, be glad that Abe Pollin didn’t live to see this. Because this would’ve killed him from sheer embarrassment.

In addition, federal authorities and MPD are investigating the incident. I’m not sure why the feds are involved, as this would likely be an MPD investigation, but if the reports are corroborated, Arenas and Crittenton could face felony firearms charges.

The best comment so far is from abias, a commenter at DC Sports Bog: “Judging by the way they’ve been shooting on the court, was anybody really in danger?”

Entertainment, Interviews, The Features

The Harlem Globetrotters take to the capital’s courts

Blakes on the ice with Capitals players
“Buckets Blakes” with the Washington Capitals
Courtesy Washington Sports & Entertainment

In early December, I sat down with Harlem Globetrotter “Buckets” Blakes over some tacos and salsa—the spicy garnish as well as the flavorful tunes playing overhead at Rosslyn’s Baja Fresh. A warm soul with a wide smile, Blakes arrived all suited up and with his basketball perched nonchalantly on his hip. When the behind-the-counter Baja employee jokingly extended his hands for a pass, Buckets playfully tossed the ball his way, afterward posing for a photo with the ecstatic fan.

Buckets Blakes (#15), now in his eighth season with the Globetrotters, clearly enjoys these press junkets he’s sent on as one of the team’s more experienced players. He kept busy during this past DC/VA tour—taking to the ice rink with the Capitals (learning “just how bad he is at hockey”), gift-wrapping at Tysons Corner, surprising Horton’s Kids youth with free eyeglasses and even, to the delight of some Wizards fans, swiping tickets at the Verizon Center (“Hey, I’ve got to make some cash somehow!” he joked). Blakes returns to the area with his teammates next week as they take over the court December 29 at Fairfax, Virginia’s Patriot Center at 7 p.m. and then at downtown’s Verizon Center December 30 at 7 p.m.

The Harlem Globetrotters are as American as apple pie. Who doesn’t hear Brother Bones’s whistled version of “Sweet Georgia Brown” and envision those red, white and blue-clad, towering magicians miraculously spinning basketballs atop long fingers and catapulting balls into the net from a court’s length away? The group, formed by London-born immigrant Abraham Saperstein, evolved in the 1920s on the South Side of Chicago where the original players grew up. The team (then called the Savoy Five) turned professional in 1927, later getting a new name when promoter Saperstein wanted to give the impression that the all-black team represented that mostly black New York borough. Famed for their unique combination of athleticism, theater and comedy, the Globetrotters have fluctuated between playing competitively and for show, resulting in one of the best-known sports entertainment franchises in the world.

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Sports Fix

Sports Fix: Snow Edition

Photo courtesy of
‘Ovechkin about to score’
courtesy of ‘afagen’

Capitals
Record: 22-8-6
Last Two Weeks: 4-3
Place: First in the Southeast

The Caps hit a bit of a skid this week. Sure, it’s hard to say that 4-3 is a skid, but when you’re as dominant as the Caps have been this season, it’s tough to watch losses at all. Especially when they’re shutouts like the game against the Sabres last week. Sure, Ovechkin is lighting it up like crazy, with 23 goals and 41 points, and Nicholas Backstrom is proving to be the assist machine with 28.

Injuries continue to be a bit of a plague, as they’ve sidelined important parts of the Caps lines, and now include Semyon Varlamov with a groin-strain. Perhaps the team is just road-weary? Long road-trips have taken their toll on teams past, so that’s entirely possible

One important piece of info, though, for Virginia-based Caps fans, the drive for a Capitals Vanity Plate for your car continues, and they need your help. On Frozen Blog has the details and applications close on the 31st.

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News, The Daily Feed, The District

Ride With Style: New DC Sports Vanity Plates Are In-The-Works

Photo courtesy of
‘Preamble (203/365) (048/365) [Explored]‘
courtesy of ‘kimberlyfaye’

Want to drive with pride while donning your favorite team’s colors with a new vanity license plate? You could be soon thanks to council members Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) who announced their plan to create plates for the Redskins, Wizards, United, Capitals and Mystics on Tuesday.

All plates would still say “Taxation without representation”, but at least now you can add a unique touch to the front and rear of your daily ride.

Extra fees would include a one-time payment of $25 for the plate and a $20 biennial renewal.

The only question I have is: What about those Nationals? They need some love too!

Fun & Games, News, The Daily Feed

Wizards Win Season Opener, 102-91

Photo courtesy of
‘Caron Butler at the line’
courtesy of ‘afagen’

Don’t look now, but the Wizards won their season opener against the Dallas Mavericks last night.  For a team that won fewer than 20 games last season, it’s an impressive feat.  Gilbert Arenas announced that he was healthy by putting back 29 points with six assists.  The Wizards moved like a well oiled, respectable team and led the Mavs for almost the entire night, winning the game 102-91.  Is this a prelude of things to come?  Will the DC field a decent basketball team this year?  It looks hopeful, right now.  What are your thoughts from last night?

News, Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

Wizards Kick It Off Tonight

Photo courtesy of
‘Washington Wizards’
courtesy of ‘RMTip21′

The Wizards kick off their season tonight in Dallas against Mark Cuban’s Mavericks. While it seems the Wiz will wait even longer for the holy trinity of Arenas/Jamison/Butler to be united, but since we’ve been waiting since 2007, anyhow, so what’s another 3-5 weeks? This will also mark the Washington debut of coach Flip Saunders, who took over at the helm during the off-season. Saunders’ past success with Detroit and Minnesota make him a candidate to lead the turn-around for the Wizards, but much is dependent at this point on getting everyone healthy and keeping them that way.

The Wizards start of with a brutal first fifteen games. Four of their first five opponents made the playoffs this year, and they’ll be down Antawn Jamison until mid November at the earliest. It’s not exactly the sort of situation you want a team that has so much to prove to be in so early in the season. This is the kind of stretch you want to see much later in the year, once the engine’s running on all cylinders. But, if Saunders can keep the keel even, and can come out of that first fifteen with six or seven wins, then I’d say there’s a fair chance the Wizards might be back to their earlier form. Don’t hold your breath.

Tipoff’s at 8:30 tonight, and the game’s on Comcast Sports Net.

Sports Fix, The Features

Sports Fix: Four Sport Edition

Photo courtesy of
’00001201′
courtesy of ‘Keith Allison’

Wizards
Record: 17-59
Last Two Weeks: 1-8
Place: Last. Still and Always.

It’s nice to see that Gilbert Arenas is back off the bench and in uniform again, but I’ve got to ask: shouldn’t we let him wait so we can guarantee a #1 draft pick? I mean, it was great to see him on the court on Saturday, putting up 15 points and 10 assists at the Phone Booth, but shouldn’t we be conserving at this point? I don’t mean throw in the towel and throw the games, but c’mon. Let Agent 0 play in the summer leagues, don’t risk our draft pick, okay?

Just six games left for the Wizards, and I think it’s safe to say we’ve seen just about the worst performance in years. If they take 3 of the last 6 games, they’ll tie for the worst record in the 36 years they’re been here in DC. I’d put good money that they don’t win more than 2. Sad.

Capitals
Record: 47-23-7
Last Two Weeks: 4-2-1
Place: 2nd in the East, 1st in the Southeast

The Caps have clinched their playoff spot, and with just 5 games left in the season, it’s all about jockeying for opponents in the first round. As it stands, the Caps would face the Rangers in the first round of the playoffs, a team they’re 3-1 against this season, outscoring them 14-11. In the unlikely event they finish in third, they’d be facing Carolina, who they’re more evenly matched with.

Can Ovi lead the Caps to the Stanley Cup? We’ll see.

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The Features

DC Obama-Watch: Verizon Center

courtesy of Keith Allison

courtesy of Keith Allison

At around 10am, the rumors started swirling. President Obama was probably, most likely, could be, was maybe considering, attending the Wizards/Bulls game at the Verizon Center Friday night.  And indeed after all the hubbub, long screening lines and increased security presence, the Commander In Chief showed up just before tip off.
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Sports Fix, The Features

Sports Fix: Capital Delight

Photo courtesy of
’090127 Alex Ovechkin’ courtesy of ‘Dan4th’

Ben here, filling in for Tom as he wings his way back across the Atlantic. He’ll have more National angst in a couple weeks, I’m sure.

Capitals
Record: 36-16-5 (77 points)
Position in Division / Conference: First / Tied for second

Two words to describe the current sports darlings in town: On fire.

And at just the right time. The Caps enter this week, just about 2/3rds through the season, at a red-hot pace and fighting with perennial standings goliath New Jersey on a near-nightly basis for the second spot in the Conference. The Caps are 9-2-2 in their last 13, though their road record needs some work, evening out at 14-12-4.

Ovie, to no one’s surprise, has scored 27 goals in his last 29, including a hat trick last night against a surprising Florida team. Alex Semin knocked in another point last night as well, notching himself as the teams’ fourth 50-point scorer this year. Mike Green had a NHL record eight game point streak for defensemen come to an end, however, but his success is typical of a well-oiled hockey team just hitting the right stride for the upcoming playoffs.

With the NHL trade deadline nearing, it’ll be interesting to see how McPhee sees the team and if any moves might be made. Barring a total failure by Theodore – who’s been showing consistent signs of his early Vezina career – the team look solid enough to go far come April and May.

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