First Things First -- Dan Steinberg on the latest sports news

May 21, 2010

Post sports bogger Dan Steinberg discusses the most amazing and outrageous news from the world of sports.

While I'm happy to field any question whatsoever, especially ones about whether parents should ever take away one bedtime book from their toddler after she hits them in the bathtub, I figured maybe we should focus on this Orioles-Nats series.

When I get mail about the Orioles, it's generally one of two things. It's either, "Why don't you and your paper devote more resources to the Orioles, I've loved them my whole life and it's acceptable to root for both an NL or an AL team?" Or it's, "How dare you so much as mention the franchise that did so much to keep baseball from D.C.?"

This has been a perpetual debate since 2005, but this space is all about perpetual debates. So, do you still care about the Orioles? Do you feel bad about the decrepit state of that team? Do you revel in their misery? Do you still go to games at OPACY? Do you get any more jacked for this annual series? Or would you rather just talk some more about John Wall?

Mornin Steinbog. So, have the Nats seized their 'window of opportunity' with the other DC franchises struggling? I know ratings are up, but I'm curious how your page views have been for the extra few Nats items you've done recently. If I reload them a million times will you keep posting more? p.s. I'm having my bachelor party at Nats Park tomorrow, and my best man has secured 5 elvis wigs that are "like 2 feet tall" and inflateable.

Talk about burying the lead. This is incredible news. For all the talk, I'm not sure I've seen any Nats fans in Elvis wigs yet, much less five of them that are two feet tall and inflatable for use in bachelor partydom. Great, great work. And you better send me the photos immediately. Like, while you're still at the Park.

I think the Nats' window -- just like the Caps -- is more about them making themselves interesting, and less about the other teams. This probably contradicts something I've written elsewhere, but people here like winning teams. I think they also like multiple winning teams. If the Nats and Redskins are both contending for the playoffs, I'm sure our clicks for the Nats would be well higher than if the Skins were wretched and the Nats merely mildly above average.

I don't see my page views broken out by teams, exactly, but the views for Nats Journal have definitely gone up as the team has continued to flirt with a winning record. It's about the wins much more than the other local teams.

And Strasburg, of course.

I have one question and one comment. I expect an answer to the question and a slightly shocked reaction to the comment. Question: Has Moss actually been accused by sources of taking HGH, or as of right now is he just being identified as the player the person arrested was going to see? It seems like the tone of the earliest articles yesterday was that sources had said he was getting HGH, while the tone of later articles was that he was linked to the a doctor that was linked to HGH. The distinction may end up being unimportant, but it seems relevant now. Comment: I went ahead and pulled the trigger on some 6/4 tickets in hopes that is, indeed, the date of Strasburg's debut. The cheapest pair of tickets I could get was over $30! Does that mean the Lerner's have already sold out most sections to Reds fans? (I guess this counts as a question too).

Last one first. I scouted some June 4 tickets a few days ago and there seemed to be tons of choices. I guess that has changed. I would love to see a sellout, just because that stadium is awesome when it's filled with people. The flash bulbs for his first pitch will be the kind of thing you never forget, just like Livo's first pitch in 2005. I still remember.

As for Moss, no, I haven't seen any firm accusation that he used, though I certainly haven't read everything.

My girlfriend is a former amateur natural body builder and she currently trains several clients for bodybuilding competitions. She didn't not use any performance enhancing substances when she competed because she was also serving in the Army. As a trainer she tells her clients if you want to compete at an elite level you have to pay your dues training and also pay for the technology. According to her right now their are several performance enhancing drugs, substances and therapies that the drug testing authorities and sports regulating bodies are not even aware of. HGH is East German technology from the late 70's. Technology has made significant leaps and right now all the really good stuff is undetectable. Problem is Moss went cheap and didn't talk to the right folks. I am sure the Redskin"s no1 pick for 2010 could have given Moss the advice he needed. Many elite college football programs are using this technology. Even a little Catholic school located in South Bend, IN. Problem this school faced was coaching and recruiting not performance. You know she could turn you and Wise into real men not girly men who go togther for wax jobs.

Well, this started off mildly interesting and turned into an accusation that I'm a girly man who gets wax jobs?

Either way, here's my general feeling about performance enhancers: meh. I don't want to be an apologist for rule-breaking, and Boz's column this morning has me feeling a bit guilty, but I just assume a huge, huge number of pro athletes flirt with the borders of performance enhancers regularly, if they aren't streaking across those borders.

Now, if someone broke the rules and gets caught, sure, punish away. And sure, I'll probably read the news. But I just don't get outraged.

I used to root against the O's cause Angelos tried to stop the Nats from coming and hurting the team with the MASN deal. I used to go to the Battle of the Beltways games and exchange rounds with Orioles fans about which team was better or whether the NL or AL rules were better. The one thing we all could agree on was hating Angelos, of course. But not anymore. I hate the Phillies far more now, especially after opening day this year. They are our true rivals. I want them to lose every night of the year, no matter who they're playing. The Orioles... I mostly just don't care. I pity them, mostly.

This is my general feeling as well.

I do, however, think it's sad when I see those photos of OPACY one-quarter full. It's a lovely park. It's a great baseball city. I don't want to see it just die up there. They need to win.

I have been a lifelong O's fan and still vaguely remember the good ol' days but those memories have beeng getting increasingly hazier over the past 15 years. In your honest opinion will the O's ever become relevant again. I thought this year they would show signs but it looks like they are taking a step backwards.

Relevant to whom. To Baltimore kids? Sure. No matter how long this trough lasts, every team wins eventually. Now, I sort of doubt that they'll ever have that reputation as a sterling model franchise they once did, because baseball is a lot different now than it was in the '60s and '70s, and Baltimore will never be a major market. I was raised an Orioles fan, and it was something to have real pride in, the Oriole Way and all that. Hard to imagine those days coming back.

And for D.C. kids, jeez, I just don't know. Why a kid from Arlington would grow up rooting for the Orioles is a bit hard to conjure. But so much of it depends on your parents. I grew up in Buffalo but rooted for the Orioles because my dad was from Baltimore. Still, I think the days of them being a second washington home team will gradually fade.

Will the Wizards trade their # 1 draft pick to Minnesota or another team?

Flip Saunders is not often a conclusive man, but he conclusively, definitively, absolutely said they would not trade the pick.

Is he trying an updated version of "Rope a Dope"?

I guess he wouldn't be the most credible witness in court at this point. It's hard to know what to make of someone who's said every single thing possible.

This, though, is why it's so hard to believe any athlete when they deny drug tests.

Mr. Blog: I'm not at all shocked (except that some athletes seem to be willing to let any quack with a syringe of goodies shot them up) and don't care that much. If there's enough evidence, Moss gets a 4 or more games suspension, and that's it - until the next time, next player(s).


And I understand Boz's point -- that this is against the rules of the sport. But still, I think an athlete who drinks and drives -- and there are plenty of those -- is risking far more, putting others at risk, and setting a much, much worse example for the youth of America.

I'm in the camp that the D.C. media should have dropped the Orioles coverage after Angelo$ kept the Nats off of most cable systems. That hurt the team's chance at growing a fanbase in the critical first season and the damage has been under-reported. Oh and Angelo$ told the Sun that he's glad the Nats are doing well and having an AL and NL team in the region is good. No kidding, a--clown. He's only saying it because he gets to control the TV situation. Also, I'm in the minority, but Mark Lerner shagging flies is OK with me. Its kind of goofy and makes him a little more likable to me. Not likable enough to forgive the retention of Jim Bowden, but its something.

Angelos's quote this AM:

What's good for the Nationals is good for MASN. That makes me happy, and that makes Mr. Lerner happy. They are partners in the MASN network. The better they do, the more interest it generates.


I don't hate the Orioles; I hate Angelos for doing so much to keep baseball out of D.C. The Orioles were a nice way to be able to see some major-league baseball during the long period in which MLB saw fit to give new teams to Tampa and Miami but not the capital of the free world. They were even good a lot of the time. I don't resent them. But Angelos has earned my undying enmity for his actions. I'm not bringing an anti-O's sign to the game on Sunday; I'm bringing an anti-Angelos sign.

Well, don't leave us in suspense. What will your sign say?

The fact that the Nats success leads to Angelos success, at least vaguely, in the form of higher ratings on MASN, definitely confuses the whole rivalry issue. I have to imagine most Nats fans would rank every team in the NL East, even the Marlins, ahead of the O's as rivals.

The top two are the Phillies and the Mets, I guess.

That reminds me, someone was arguing with me on e-mail about my claim that Philly is overall D.C.'s most hated sports city. I understand the Cowboys trumps all, but I think when you combine Eagles/Phillies/Flyers/vomiting fans, that beats Cowboys/Rangers/Stars/Jerruh, and certainly beats Giants/Mets/Rangers/Texeira. Thoughts?

Why is undefined responding? Is that your relevance now? I'm confused...

Refreshing your page will fix this glitch. Sorry about that.

So Santana uses, Floyd confesses, and Lance denies. Meanwhile, Sally pontificates. Somehow though she completely ignores Lance's role in this story. She's a colleague of yours, at what point in your opinion should she stop being so protective of him? And at what point does she recuse herself from writing anything about steriod abuse given her financial relationship with such a central figure in all this?

I think you should ask Sally those questions. Or Dave McKenna, her sparring partner at City Paper.

Wilbon's right. DC sports has been and will be for some time about a) the 'skins and b)basketball at every level, in that order. Wall seems like a game changer for the franchise, especially with the ownership of Leonsis. If Arenas comes back and plays reasonably well, do you think that it's a better move for the Wizards to keep him for the next four years or move him and his $20 mil a year contract after next year for some talented young players and salary cap space? The guy has missed basically two full seasons with bad knees, and I'm gun shy about him, bad pun intended.

I'm extremely dubious about Gilbert ever really being Gilbert again. Even when he was racking up some impressive stats early this past season, his team -- starring two other recent All-Stars -- couldn't get out of its own way.

That said, it's easier to say "move him and his contract for talented young players and cap space" than it is to actually pull that off. And do you think franchises are lining up to snag Gil? I'm guessing that outside D.C., people are much less likely to remember the fun-loving, dagger-dropping superstar, and much more likely to think "thug thug thug!" no matter how unfair that is.

I will disagree with you about the "basketball at every level" characterization. Go to a Hoyas game and a Caps game. Often they play in the same building on the same night. The Hoyas are often playing the very best teams in the country. The Caps are often playing the Lightning. Go to both games and tell me what D.C. is about.

I was born in 1977. I grew up in Reston. Cal Ripken was my #1 sports hero. My dad would take me out of school to go to Memorial Stadium for opening day. I was at Game 1 of the 1997 ALCS and can still remember feeling after the 3-0 win that the O's were going to the WS. Since Cal has left the O's, I haven't really paid them too much attention (and especially not since the Nats came to DC). I have not been to Camden Yards since Cal was on the team. Peter Angelos ruined a once proud franchise. If he sells the team and, frankly, they get good again I'll follow them as my "AL team" but not until then.

Probably a fairly standard set of feelings. You have to think that Angelos's approval rating in Baltimore is far beneath that of Dan Snyder in D.C., especially after what's happened to both franchises the past few months.

And I would say that I will never feel about another athlete the way I once felt about Cal. (I'm your age.) Sure, it's not professional, but I was a kid at the time, not a journalist. When I saw him at an All-Met luncheon a few years ago, it was the first and only time I've felt something like awe at seeing an athlete in person. Weird.

Earlier in the week on Tracee's chat, numerous individuals were disrespecting the pleasures of getting the paper. You know, sitting on the backporch on a fine morning, doing the crossword puzzle with a pen, reading the comics without having to click the back arrow button, then another link, etc. To all those folks I say "GET OFF MY LAWN."

Well, you're in the wrong place, sir. Or ma'm. Or m'am. Our subscription lapsed when we moved, and some of us have been a tad remiss about re-upping.

There are many pleasures to holding the paper paper. There are also newsprint stains on your hands and shirt, and stacks of recycling, and inserts falling all over your kitchen floor.

By all means, subscribe. Get subscriptions for your friends and neighbors. Teach your children well. But I"ll be on my back porch with my BlackBerry.

Do you think Haynesworth likes playing football? Follow-up Orioles/Nats question - how do you think Tech will do this fall?

I've heard the criticism -- including some from Tedy Bruschi and Darren Woodson that I posted on my blog this AM.

I guess I'd say he doesn't love the sport the way some do, the guys like London Fletcher and Rock Cartwright who just seem to lap up their time on the field. But I can't imagine he actually hates it. You don't get where he did without some affection for the game. If you're only in it for the money, that'll weed you out at some point.


No. No. Not particularly, since I have some Annapolitan friends who still like the O's. Not since I moved away. Not particularly, since interleague play is an abomination. Who? Oh, right...another one-and-done who will make no significant impact on Lez Boulez' irrelevance.

You're crazy if you think Wall makes no significant impact. I don't know the impact he'll have on wins, but people around the country will buy his jersey and tune in for his games. He will sell tickets. He will be an attraction. Barring some sort of serious injury, of course.

John Wall is already a pop-culture presence of some sort, which Kwame Brown never ever was.

You heard it here first -- on Strasburg Day, whenever it is, Teddy wins!

See, that idea has been floated, and it's really not a horrible idea, but I don't think Stan would go for it. He's said again and again that they don't want to burden Strasburg with undue pressure. Marking his debut as some seminal event in franchise history would seem to qualify.

Look, if they wanted this to be the biggest event in team history, they would be marketing the hell out of June 4 right now. They're not. I say Teddy loses, with some special gimmick.

Tons more questions, but I've got to run. Got to take parents to the Metro and then find some other experts to talk about Haynesworth. One of us will be back on Monday. Enjoy the Nats-Os series, and please, send me all relevant photos.

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Dan Steinberg
Washington Post staff writer and D.C. Sports Bogger.

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