First Things First -- Tracee Hamilton on Leonsis's purchase of the Wizards

Apr 28, 2010

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

Caps owner Ted Leonsis has reached an agreement to buy the Washington Wizards and Verizon Center from the family of the late Abe Pollin. Leonsis has waited a decade for the opportunity. Is this good news for the Caps? For the Wizards? For Leonsis? I say yes, yes and yes. What do you say? Let’s chat.

 

Dropping Oscar Wilde and Isak Dinesen in the first paragraph? Trying to reassure your parents that you're not wasting that college degree???

Oh ho! Nice shot! That ship has sailed, I'm afraid. That journalism degree looked pretty smart 27 years ago.

My favorite English class in college, by the way? The Literature of Baseball.

Good morning, everyone! I'm frantically trying to keep the cat from licking his stitches but otherwise ready to roll. (That's not a euphemism for anything.)

Your front page quote said it all this morning. Leonsis says he had to "learn to lose." Maybe he should ask Michael Jordan or Tiger if they ever decided to learn to lose. Of course that is why we like Ted, because he is so likable, and those other two are complete jerks. But someone who has learned to lose, will just get to keep losing, especially game 7s at home.

Well, I see your point, I guess. But I still think we ought to play Game 7 and see what happens.

Also, Leonsis is different than Jordan or Tiger in that he's an owner. I don't think it's such a bad thing for an owner to learn some humility and take a few punches. It's different for a player.

Nobody cares about the wizards -- especially today... not really a question.

Well, that's true. Not many people cared about the Wizards all season. I do hope that changes. You want all your pro sports teams to at least be viable.

Where is Sally Jenkins? I hope there is room for two women sports writers on the WP! Haven't seen an article by Jenkins in quite a while.

I had Sally knocked off so that I could do more More MORE! hahahaha (that was an evil laugh). Truthfully, my dear friend Sally is working on another book, so you'll see her less frequently for a bit. But she's out there, plotting her revenge upon me...

Good morning, I love Leonsis and what he has done with the Capitals. How fast do you think he changes those awful Wizards uniforms? Think he will change the name?

I think he might change the colors and uniforms. He could really extend the Rock the Red theme and cross-promote if he had one color scheme, not to sound like a decorator or anything.

The name, I am not so sure of.

The Caps need to realize that playoff hockey is a different beast, the regular season is irrelevant. As a Red Wings fan, I know this well. Before we won all the Cups, we used to crush the regular season only to lose in the first/second rounds of the playoffs. Our mentality was that the Cup should be handed to us, we didn't want it enough. I think that describes the Caps, they think they deserve the Cup on the regular season alone and don't need to work for it.

You had me at "Red Wings fan." How about that win last night? I remember this phase in the Wings' history. You could be right.

Yes, it has been good for the Caps and will be good for the Wizards, BUT would he do it again knowing the losses he has sustained and may continue to endure !?!

I think he would, to get the ultimate prize -- Verizon Center. (Did you think I'd say the Wizards?) He'll make money with it, I'm sure. He can streamline the separate operations and save some money that way, too. Hopefully without too much of a loss of jobs, but that remains to be seen. Just making money on your own ticket sales has to be a relief -- it must have galled not to see any of that money from the suites and club seats.

Satellite Head Kitty is one of the great self-amusement tools of our time.

Try to give him a cone break every now and then, to wash the cone. The last five days in this house have been ... not pretty.

Yeah the curse of Les Boulez can't be broken until the Wizards become the Bullets again. And as a result Caps lose game 7. They are down 6-0 after ten minutes in the first period and they are seen on the bench polishing their clubs.

Sure, let's call them the Bullets again and the mascot can be Gilbert, firing his finger.

Halak had an amazing game one, then broke down in Games 2 and 3. This suggests that he may not have the endurance to be the reason the Habs win. Do you think Halak could falter, and if so, will this basically give the Caps the game?

Possible. I can't imagine he'll stop 53 shots in back to back games. The Caps need to keep firing on him and hope that that's the case.

Hi. I've been a Caps fan for 3 weeks and might have to start looking for a new bandwagon to join after tonight. What exactly are the bandwagon rules? Do I have to follow one city, or can I be a Bruins Fan while also being a Yankees fan. By the way, what is "icing" anyway because I didn't see any cake.

Okay, settle down. I admit I have a tendency not to like the bandawgon fans of a certain team that I follow. When people who didn't attend college at said school say "I can't believe WE signed Josh Selby" I want to scream sometimes. I was the freakin' mascot, for heaven's sake. I had the KU wallpaper. I've got the tattoo. I stayed an extra year in college because I couldn't bear to leave. Don't equate your fandom to mine. It's petty and childish and I feel it. But I do try to suppress it.

Icing is when Alex Ovechkin throws his shavings on a Habs-clad tot holding a torch, by the way. 

(No tots in the NHL, please. Tots are sadly a part of the Olympics, but must we have tots in the NHL?)

What's the story with Austin Kearns batting cleanup for Cleveland and hitting .386? Did the Nats give up on him too early?

Well, when he was tearing it up in spring training I said, "give it time." We may be nearing the point where we have to admit they did. Although he had ample opportunity to do this in Washington.

Since everybody out here in The Real America (TM) hates Washington anyway, why not rebrand the Wiz as villains, like in rasslin'? They could be the Washington Bureaucrats, wear pinstriped unis, and the home crowds would revel in how their local boys beat the bad guys from DC.

Now this idea has some merit. You couldn't go with a red, white and blue color scheme, however, because TRA would never be able to hate anything in those colors. (I am from TRA and know what I'm talking about.) But still, it's an idea.

I just read about Poti - get better soon, man! The Caps need you when they advance to the semis! Go Caps!

Hey, Tom, since I'm sure you're reading this, this is for you.

Growing up, was Ted Leonsis a bigger basketball or hockey fan? Which sport do you believe he has a higher IQ for?

As I recall, he didn't have much of a hockey background when he bought the Caps and his comfort level was more with basketball.

As a long-time Caps season ticket holder, I say to Wiz fans this will be a good thing. But don't expect miracles. Ted will have a plan and will stick to it. You will never wonder what's going on in the front office and never be in the dark about the owner's strategy (although you may not always agree with it).

And the last thing anyone should be worried about is the team name. The ship is sinking, no need to polish the floors.

BTW, lost in this is that Mark Lerner, as a minority investor in Lincoln Holdings, will have an ownership interest in the Caps, Wiz, 'Sticks, VC and the Nats.

That is an interesting point about Mark Lerner, Man of Mystery.

Ms. H: Let's look on the bright side here. If the Caps get behind tonight, the gloom, doom and "we're dead" aura will spread like a blanket, all the Caps' shots will hit the Habs goaltender, and we then can concentrate on the Skins' upcoming season and how close the Nats can come to .500. It's not that bad!!

This is your bright side! My God, you're darker than me. I like you!

I personally am not quite ready to whittle the list down to OTAs and the Nats. The last two weeks of June and first two weeks of July will be dark days indeed, although hopefully Strasburg will arrive to save us all.

Any word from Boudreau yesterday on the poor performances of the players listed above yesterday?

b

You know, Boudreau could have said many words but I couldn't get within 20 feet of him because of all the Montreal reporters using up the oxygen and speaking French. Merde!

I really did miss most of what he said and was going to get his comments from Geno, and then my assignment changed, and I moved on. Check out Caps Insider; I'm sure my buddy Gene Wang blogged the heck out of it.

You need a good herding dog. Since Steinberg is backing out of his promises and whining too much how's about coming to a few herding trials. there is one Berryville Memorial Day weekend. The USBCHA(United States Border Collie Handler's Association) Sheepdog Finals are Sept 18-26 at belle Grove Plantation in VA. Herdings the smartest and best conditioned athletes you will ever meet.

Dan, help me! They are coming for me now!

Frankly, I'd love a herding dog but have about as much business with one as I would an alligator.

Would the Caps be in this situation if they were facing Marc-Andre Fleury, Brian Boucher, Raask, or anyone other than Jaroslav Halak?

I don't think so. He was out of his mind in Game 6. But any goalie can have one of those nights, I guess.

Everytime there's an article about the Capitals' finances, it's mentioned that Lincoln Holdings has lost $100 million. True, but that 44% of WSE they owned would have helped offset that over the years. I sincerely doubt the owners actually had to pony up that much of their own money. Doesn't change that the hockey team by itself isn't profitable, just a comment.

Good point.

Now that Caps have let the MC back in the hunt, I see where good ol' "Choking Dogs" is back. He/she was rather quiet during Caps went up 3-1 and didn't lose out 4-0 as they predicted. Go CAPS.

Here's an optimistic fan. I knew there were some hanging about.

Hi, Tracee, I said before the trade deadline that the Caps needed to trade for an imposing defenseman and another muck-it-up forward. They're still playing wide-open pass-happy hockey in the playoffs when it's all about shutting down the other team, scoring those clean-up-the-trash goals and having a hot goalie. What are their chances of winning Game 7? And, if they survive this scare, can they shorten the Philly series to 5 or 6 games to catch up on the rest they didn't get this round? No NHL team has gone 7 in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd to get to -- and win -- the finals, have they?

I think they have a good chance at winning Game 7. I would not, however, immediately count on a short series against Philly to give them some rest. Looking ahead may have gotten them into this mess to begin with.

The 7 question, I'd have to look up, and we're about out of time. I thought I heard someone say on TV that it had not happened.

Everyone writes about his great arm, but what are the reports regarding his ability to field his position, fundamentals like covering bases, bunting, covering first...have you heard anything ?

He's a good all-around athlete who loves loves loves to hit. I don't think bunting will be a problem. Dave Sheinin just had a chat the other day; he's seen all of Strasburg's starts. Keep an eye out for Dave's next chat and ask him -- he's our Strasburg expert -- but I haven't heard anything to the contrary. Saw him in Arizona and like I said, an athletic kid.

Bruce has been publicly berating his players by name in the press. He must feel the heat. Let's say the Caps lose tonight (I don't think they will), is Bruce's 1-3 record (all going to a game 7) going to cost him his job? Sometimes the person to take you to the mountain isn't the same person who takes you to the top.

I don't know if he feels the heat as much as that's sort of his way. He doesn't couch a lot of what he says, which is why he's fun to deal with.

But certainly, if they lose tonight I'd say they will have to take a close look at him. This would be an epic fail. And you are right, sometimes a coach just can't close.

Well, someone's gotta ask this so here goes: Dare we dream about LeBron in the blue and copper? If anyone can make it happen, it's Ted, right? He can sell water to a whale.

Oh my. Well, the question of how to fix the Wiz could be an entire chat. You can't rebuild in the NBA the way you do in the NHL. You have to use more free agent signings and trades because the draft is small and you have no real minor leagues (I know, the D league, but really...) So one big signing, someone young but established, who'll put butts in the seats...

No pressure, Ted, but see what you can do....

Ok, here's the thing. When Montreal was the 8 seed I was worried. They've played the Caps tough all year, and well, guess what they're playing hard again. I'm naturally cynical about post season success (I grew up in Ohio and other than the Cavs lately, we've had nothing, and even they can't win - yet), but I actually started to hope after the OT win in Game 2. It's going to take guys crashing the net, screening Halak then pushing the d-men out of the way for the rebounds. They didn't play badly Monday, but it didn't seem like anyone was really the concerned about redirecting the rebounds.

There was talk at practice yesterday among scribes who see more hockey than me that the Caps were aiming too many shots instead of just firing them in and trying to get a good look at a rebound, so I think your theory has merit. In 12 hours, we'll know!

Thanks, everybody, for a lively conversation as always. I'm guessing our topic tomorrow morning will be ... the bass fishing tournament, herding dogs, or Game 7. We'll see.

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 opinions and can write a little. Why don't you become a columnist?"

Her interests range from genealogy to Nordic combined to Kansas basketball. If ever there were 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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