First Things First -- Tracee Hamilton talks Caps, apologizes for all wrongdoing

Apr 20, 2010

Every morning, Post columnist Tracee Hamilton discusses the most amazing and outrageous news from the world of sports.

Let’s see, what to talk about on a Tuesday in April? Oh, what the heck, let’s go with Game 3 of the Caps-Habs series last night in Montreal. Was I there? Bien sur. Will we be chatting in French? Mais non.

We will also hold our first-ever Apology Festival. I will apologize to you for misspelling Habitants last week (I threw in an extra e) if you’ll apologize to me for the attacks upon my person after I dared to criticize Jason Marquis last week. I mean, come on!

Tracee, good morning. Just wondering if the commenter who said that the Caps would lose in four will dare show up this morning? Go Caps!

Bonjour! And my French is spent at that point, so good morning to you all from beautiful Montreal. I can report that I have had no trouble thus far despite my lack of French, except at Starbucks, and I think that was less of a French problem and more of a barista problem.

I declared this to be Apology Fest, so yes, we need the "swept" person to admit his/her mistake. I am a big believer in admitting wrong. For instance, I said last week that the NFL and the Steelers would move quickly to punish Roethlisberger in order not to distract from the draft. Instead, they are delaying it till after the draft. I'm sure I was wrong about many other things, so call me out!

Since you discuss "the most amazing and outrageous news from the world of sports," how outrageous is it that Nats hurler Jason Marquis has an ERA of 20.52 after 3 starts? Should the Nats rest him?

Well, last week, when his ERA was 12.96 after two starts and I said I thought this was not the offseason upgrade Nats fans had hoped for, I was scolded for not realizing he's no better than a .500 pitcher.

So here at Apology Fest, I'd like an apology from those who lit me up for that remark.

It's completely outrageous. That performance Sunday from a veteran starter -- the kids up from Syracuse don't look that bad. I'm not sure he needs rest in April, and if he does, that's a whole nother problem. A little relief work?

Your bio reports "Someone said, 'Hey, you've got a lot of opinons and can write a little. Why don't you become a columnist?'" Isn't that rather faint praise?

Yes, I'm very angry about it and I'd like an apology.

Kidding. I think it was meant to be a joke. Maybe it didn't work.

How does one explain the fans in Montreal booing the singing of our National Anthem on Monday night's Game 3 vs. Caps?

Well, I can't explain it. Tarik said they have done this before. I thought at first they were booing the singer, though why they would I don't know because he was good. Obviously that never happened at the Olympics so I was unprepared for it here.

I was trying to think whether I would ever boo a country's national anthem. I mean, other than, like, Nazi Germany. It's so unbelievably disrespectful.

I read the article in the Montreal Gazette that the Caps Insider blog links to, and it said: "Much has been made of the Capitals interfering with goaltender Jaroslav Halak..." Really? I haven't heard anything about this. I mean, outside of the Montreal papers at least

Yes, I think the Habs fans feel the Caps crowd in to much on Halak. There was a lot of booing and whistling in a few such plays last night. I don't think interference is what caused Halak to allow three goals last night, and the Habs fans must not have thought so either, since they began chanting for the backup goalie.

Good Morning Mrs. Hamilton, heck of a game last night.

How much of a series killing blow did the Caps deliver to the Canadiens last night? I've seen this happen before, when the higher seeded team with all the expectations get's an inspiring win like the Caps did in Game 2, they always come back very strong. Like the Red Wings did after winning Game 3 of the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals against the Hurricanes, or like the Penguins did to the Caps in 1995 and 1996. They used inspired overtime wins and cruised the rest of the series. Loved your column this morning, thanks.

I think last night will prove to be the kill shot for the Canadiens. They expended a lot of energy last night with one goal to show for it. They were feeling pretty good about being even with two home games to play.

Conversely, if they had won last night I think the roof would have blown off that place and Wednesday night would have been very tough for the Caps. I think Wednesday night could still be very tough for the Caps. But I think they will win the series.


Tracee: On TV, the crowd seemed like one of the most organically loud and crazy crowds I've ever seen. Can you describe it? How does it compare to other amazing crowds you've witnessed in person?

Oh, one of the loudest places I've ever been. The bowl is very steep so everyone is close to the action, really, though high up. The sound just spins around in there. The press area is sort of a suspension bridge so there are fans behind us as well as below us and there were times I just couldn't hear myself think.

And until the second period onslaught, very active, lots of chanting.

I love the enthusiasm Caps fans display but one has to wonder about the new, a.k.a. "bandwagon" fans.

During Saturday's game numerous Caps fans, booed during the Canadian national anthem and started chanting "USA, USA, F Canada" The same fans later in the game asked me what icing was. I get it, some of the fans are new to the game, but please, don't act like idiots and boo the anthem of the country that invented the game that has captured our attention.

On another note, Mike Green is killing us. Clearly his game is an offensive defenseman, but he still has defensive responsibilities, otherwise he'd be a wing or a center. Why is he so incapable of playing basic D? Did you see the way he played that 2 on 1? I learned in pee wee hockey you always shut down the passing lane and Green went right for the shooter and left the passing lane wide open, resulting in a goal.

I honestly did not hear booing during the Canadian National Anthem and hope I don't in Game 5. For one thing, a lot of the guys you've come to cheer for are Canadian, so that seems kind of crazy. It'd be like booing the Russian anthem, then chanting for Ovie. The anthems ought to be off limits to all partisanship, and that includes screaming "O's" and "red" during our own. God, I hate that.

It could be bandwagon fans, although I think bandwagon fans get a bad rap. For years the Caps fans have bemoaned the fact that no one comes to their games and now that people do come, they don't like them. Can't have it both ways. The best thing to do is instruct the newbies.

Yes, Mike Green is having a bad playoffs. Don't understand it. There will be more on this topic.

Geez, I assumed you wrote it yourself, considering how witty it is.

I don't know what to say to this.

Tracee, who do you think has the louder hockey rink, the Caps or the Habs?

Habs. Sorry, but it's not a debate. A lot of it has to do with the shape of the arena -- Verizon flattens out somewhat and the aisles aren't as steep. I'm probably not describing it very well but it's noticable. Fehr was asked about it and said without hesitation this was louder. He didn't mean it as a rip; it's just a fact.

From 2003: "On behalf of the entire Montreal Canadiens organization, I would like to express my deep regret over the conduct displayed by certain fans prior to Thursday night's game against the New York Islanders," Habs president Pierre Boivin said in a statement Friday. "During the performance of The Star Spangled Banner, some of the fans in attendance at the Bell Centre chose to express their political beliefs by jeering the American national anthem. It is our firm belief that this kind of behaviour has no place in the context of professional sports."

It's been going on from both sides since at least the start of Gulf War II.

I'm quite sure it has. I had just never experienced it. Still no excuse. I'm reasonably sure that John Carlson had little to do with U.S. policies in the Middle East.

I will be surprised if Boudreau starts Theodore in goal for any playoff game. Whaddya think?

Agreed. I think now it's Varlamov's job to lose, as it was last year.

That was a compliment. But enough of this hockey business. What's Harvard going to do about its squash coach?

They are going to scour all the top squash programs in the country and make absolutely the best hire for Harvard, for squash, and for Americans everywhere.

And you thought I wouldn't know the answer!

Do you think at any point Nicklas Backstrom will find himself on equal footing with Ovi as far as recognition from the media and fans? Backstrom is just so incredibly clutch and skilled, and I think we'll see him score over 40 goals next season.

Backstrom isn't as flamboyant as Ovie -- at least on the ice -- but he is incredibly skilled; even I can tell that. I think 40 goals next season is possible.

I fear that the on-again/off-again Semin is off again. The Caps aren't gonna make it to the Cup if this doesn't change.

Yes, they need both Green and Semin to step it up.

I think if most Caps fans realized that the whole yelling the "O" thing during the national anthem was invented by the Balitmore Orioles they'd stop doing it. Just wanted to throw that out there and increase awareness. ;-)

I'm with you in this effort. It really bothers me that this was invented in Baltimore, where the damn anthem was written in the first place. I know I'm old-fashioned, believe me, but I just think some things shouldn't be monkeyed with and this is one of them.

Given that something is clearly wrong, wouldn't it be a good idea for the Nats to send him to someplace like the Mayo Clinic for a full workup to see if there's a physical problem? How many more times can they send him out while getting abysmal results? My guess is once more...

My guess is once more too. I don't know him, but if he's inside his own head now the next start could be absolutely brutal. Some guys are like that.

Yes, they need to figure out if it's physical or mental or what, and deal with it. There aren't a lot of Livan Hernandezes out there waiting to be picked up.

I'm a little new to the red craze so bear with me. I watched the Caps dominate Les Habs last night. It was a very impressive performance. I couldn't help but notice that the Canadians seem so small along side the Caps. Are the Caps really that much bigger?

On a related note, I often thought that certain football uniforms make teams look big or small. Chicago Bears always look big. New England Patriots always look small. Do I need to have my eyes checked?

You know, it's hard to tell from where I sit. The Caps are big but then when you see them in the dressing room, out of pads and off skates, it's kind of amazing. But Washington's roster, overall, has some size on Montreal's.

You know, you are right about uniforms. Maybe when you see the Bears uniforms, you think "Monsters of the Midway" and they seem bigger? Maybe some uniforms are slimming?

Perhaps all lineman ought to wear horizontal stripes to look bigger? Fashion and football ... I think you're on to something.

You can hardly blame them, can you? There are all these Americans running around speaking English. Geesh, is it so hard to order a cup of coffee in French? All kidding aside, what are the Montreal papers saying about last night's game? What do the Habs think they need to do to stop the Caps in game 4?

I try to throw in a French phrase wherever possible and they try not to laugh at my accent. We're working it out.

I am sorry to tell you I didn't get up in time to read the Montreal papers. Three hours of sleep the night before last, and yesterday was a long day. So when we're done here I'm going to speak to Mr. Tony on his radio show and then head to Starbucks -- hope springs eternal --and then the skatearound and I'm sure Tarik or I will have some update on the papers. Should be interesting...

Come on, the Nats are over. 500 for darn sake. Who would have thought that last month when they were losing 15 in a row, given their early season schedule they are doing a fine job and fun to watch.

Nats are doing great. Top offseason pitching acquisition is not. Eager to get out and see them -- on a day when Marquis is not pitching. :)

The long-term fans watched the Caps in Landover, MD. Not too far from B'more. I think most of us know why we do it, and have been doing it for 30 years.

I know why you do it, too. Doesn't mean I have to like it.

Well, Francis Scott Key would have been an Orioles fan, I'm sure. Maybe I need to look at it that way and adjust my attitude.

The Caps - am I still worried? Yes! Zero for whatever on the power play, and one good game against a #8 seed does not a good playoff goaltender make. Are you enjoying the Montreal cuisine? It goes down better after the Caps win.

Another thing on my to-do list today: find the cuisine! I'd better get started, hadn't I? Let's chat again tomorrow; thanks, everyone!

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It’s all the talk in Montreal, so let’s do it – let’s talk Redskins on the morning before the night of the first round of the NFL draft. No chat Thursday morning, so it’s our last chance to add our meaningless speculation to the hours and hours of meaningless speculation that’s already clogging the internet. All the kids are doing it!


It appears likely that despite more coy dissembling than a production of the “Mikado,” the Redskins will do the right thing and take an offensive lineman with the No. 4 overall pick. Does this please you? And what would you do with the other three picks? Do tell. Really. Tell!

In This Chat
Tracee Hamilton
Tracee Hamilton has worked at the Post since 1993, toiling in office obscurity as an editor before someone said, "Hey, you've got a lot of opinons and can write a little. Why don't you become a columnist?"

Her interests range from geneology to Nordic combined to Kansas basketball. If ever there was a Jayhawk who once flew off a ski jump, she'd know where he was buried.

Her list of pet peeves is considerably longer, but includes Missouri basketball and poor subway etiquette. She welcomes dissenting opinions -- in the way Great Whites welcome open-water swimmers.

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