Tracee Hamilton discusses local and national sports -- and whatever else you want to talk about.

Apr 25, 2013

This week, Tracee Hamilton discusses all the sports news.

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I'll get to my question, but first. . .

"When April's gentle rains have pierced the drought

Of March right to the root, and bathed each sprout

Through every vein with liquid of such power

It brings forth the engendering of the flower."

Yes, dear Tracee, that's what April is supposed to be like. But why must they play baseball in Colorado in sub-freezing weather? I realize it would have screwed up the schedule to postpone all the games during the snow, but isn't there some kind of minimum temperature for playing? I'm glad it was the Braves and not us, but still. . .I would have protested playing. It's just not right.

It's pretty ridiculous. My folks had two inches of snow on Tuesday. This has been a weird, weird spring. I don't think they have a minimum or maximum temperature rule. This is one of the "pro" arguments for shortening the season.

Oops, I just noticed the time. Good morning, all. Let's get going.

My Dad and I decided on the spur of the moment to go to uesterday's Crds/Nats game. we got there around noon for the 1:05 game. Because he has trouble with stairs, we asked for handicap seats on the 300 level. The clerk spent a lot of timechecking but said the only such seats were in sec. 302, or far LF. The good news is, they only cost $5, but they are not very good seats (duh). Around the 4th inning I walked the 300 level and, although there was a good crowd, dozens of handicap seats were not being used. I talked an IF usher into letting us sit there "until somebody comes," but nobody ever did. Do people buy seats and not come or sit in different seats? Something doesn't quite compute here.

I seem to get a lot of posts about handicapped seats at Nats games. My guess is that the ushers and ticket sellers are not on the same page. It's ridiculous that you had to go and seek out seats but I highly doubt they were all sold and no one showed up. That might happen, but all of them? I don't know who to talk to about it but I'd try a letter -- I think phone calls never get you to the right place and emails -- imagine how many emails they get. I still love an old-fashioned letter.

Honest, naive journalism question. How do reporters function on NFL draft day? How do they report anything when these 32 teams consider lying to reporters about their draft interest just part of their Machiavellian game? I imagine one big commandment taught in journalism school is to never let yourself be a tool for someone else's lies. But that is easier said than done when it seems that everyone else is beating you to the story.

It got worse when they moved the draft to the night; basically we can get a couple of picks in for our first deadline. So the reporter -- this year it's Maske -- has to right about the machinations during the day without being used. Luckily, Maske's been doing it a long time.

And you are right about wanting to be first to the story. We saw vivid examples last week in Boston of just how stupid it is to make that your first goal.

All right, fellas: listen up. We gotta step up and give our little sister a hand here with this water heater situation. I'd be there myself, but I'm stuck in America's Wang until The Current Unpleasantness blows over. Tracee, you really want to change the tank BEFORE you need to -- especially if it's in the basement -- and it's easy. Just go down to your local Lowes/Depot and get a new replacement for about $250. Drain the water out the day of the job, and the boys will be over with a wrench and a screwdriver. Takes less than an hour (I just did one, and I'm about as handy as Roger Sterling). Come on, Rico, 405, BourbonRich, let's do this!

You're funny. I know I've got to do it but this wedding is killing me financially. I appreciate your faith in being able to even drain the stupid thing. I've never had to do it. But I gotta get on it, you are right. It's in my finished basement, in the same room with my office, all my genealogy research, you get the idea...

I'm a big Nats fan who was disappointed in the Cardinals' sweep, but you have to take your hat off to them. Whatever the challenges, injuries, retirements, they always manage to field a competitive team.

Yes, they seem to. Good organization.

Que pasa?

De nada.

Is that right? You'd think I'd know, with all the languages I speak.

...Just look at the Caps' season for a reminder that the beginning of the season doesn't indicate what the final standings will be. Everyone was very concerned about the Caps, and people were grumbling about trading Ovechkin, and now look - they are on a hot streak, clinched a playoff spot, etc. So, for the Nats fans (myself included), we just need to remember that it's a long season and stick with the team and let's save the concern until the All-Star break at least. I for one think that once they get Ramos and Zimmerman back off the DL, they'll be in better shape (surely that hamstring injury affected some of those throwing errors by RZimm).

Yes, the Caps are the "look on the bright side" end of the argument for not worrying (yet) about the Nats. And their struggles are the "con" argument for shortening the schedule. The longer season gives them a little more room to right the ship.

I don't think it's the record that's concerning folks as much as the way a lot of players look, individually and collectively.

Every so often, you hit one out of the park. Your column about Don Fambrough was one of those times - a tape-measure column. I was wondering whether you got to pick the photo used online (a picture of ex-Rutgers coach Mike Rice), and why they didn't use a photo of Don Fambrough instead?

Don coached so long ago that we don't have a photo of him. The column was just put online today, for some reason (and thanks to Missy for fixing that!), so that's another reason. I should have brought in a photo of Don and me.

So a woman in Salina walked into a bathroom and found a tiger (she was at a circus, and she was unharmed). Seems to me that this is a golden marketing opportunity for the lovely town on the Smoky Hill. "Salina: You never know what you'll find in the bathroom." Well, maybe not that. But my kids are now interested in visiting a town where you MIGHT walk into a bathroom and find a tiger--as long as it doesn't eat them, of course.

I was just glad it hadn't escaped from Rolling Hills, probably the best tourist attraction in the area.

Of course, Salina's also been in the news for the incredibly racist remarks of a county commissioner. So I'm guessing Salina has bigger worries than a tiger, if you can believe it. :)

My wife broke her foot and is in a cast. We were looking at buying tickets from Stub Hub for a Nats game and saw that we could get first row "handicapped accessible" seats. Are these available for anyone to purchase, or do you have to have a handicap placard or other proof? I'm fine, but it would be great for my wife to be able to use these seats with her cast. Any idea?

I have no idea. Boy, I could do a chat just on Nats tickets. But someone on this chat will know the answer, so let me throw it out there. Does she have a temporary card for driving?

The Nats have a lot of "bargains" that you can only order online. That means you wind up paying the outrageous Ticketmaster "service" and "convenience" fees that can add almost 50% to the cost of your tickets. But I digress. Sometimes the internet doesn't work. Case in point, a friend and I would like to order a Nats Flexpack. As we understand it, you select 4 games from a list of 20 and then get a voucher for any non-premium 5th game. We both tried several days to do this, mostly to get pricing information, but when we clicked on "buy tickets" nothing happened. So I called the Nats ticket office, but the person who answered said he only handles single game and full and partial season ticket plans. He did say the $5 senior discount does not apply to Flexpacks, pretty much negating the free 5th ticket. My friend had the same problem and twice asked Nats personnel to walk him through the process but was refused. Another complicating factor is that he is disabled so we need accessible seats. Usually when you reach this point a website tells you to call the team! We saw several games a year when he could still take the Metro but have cut way back since he can no longer do so. However, a very kind friend who lives on Capitol Hill has now offered to drive us to games anjd pick us up so we can avoid the $42 (up from last year's $40)handicap parking fee. Nats front office: We want to buy your tickets, but you are not making it easy!!!

Well, I hope someone over there is reading because this seems ridiculous.

So a player leaves his current team and goes somewhere that'll treat him better (i.e., Welker). How does this work - does he sign the contract first and hope that he gets along with the rest of the team, or does he "interview" first and then sign? Thanks.

Usually he'd fly in and meet the coach and a few people, maybe his position coach. Then he'd call the people on that team that he knows, or people he knows who left that team, and ask about it, and that's how he'll find out what the locker room is like and get opinions about the coaches. Players always know players on other teams, from college, from camps, whatever. So they can make at least a somewhat informed judgment on what they're walking into.

... games left. Slumps end. Streaks happen. Everyone relax. Remember all the angst around the Caps a few weeks ago?

They may be getting their big slump out of the way early. That's a glass-half-full outlook. We'll see. You're right, though -- 141 is a lot.

Problem with the Nats is they believe hype . In the finest DC traditions of the Skins and Caps the Nats will go down in MLB infamy as winning the preseason but failing miserably during the regular season. The team lacks leadership and they should have never traded Morse. Dan whats his name the starting pitcher is washed up. What Davey needs to do is send the whole starting line up down to Double AA and bring up the players who want to show they can play at the major league level. Might even have to send them down to Woodbridge Single A to get his point across. Rizzo needs to find out who can play under pressure and who cant and use 2013 as a rebuilding year since the current group of knuckleheads has demonstrated they arent ready for the big leagues when the pressure is on. Last years Game 5 said it all. If Davey cant turn things around by the end of May he should be fired.

Um ... okay. That's certainly another way to approach it.

LinkedIn says you need Chris Gargani


You have to belong to LinkedIn, or whatever it's called, but there's a name...

In 1927 the season started on April 12. The mid-west is just having freaky weather this year.

Yes, they are. A drought, but snow the last week of April (which does little to address the drought, but makes life miserable).

Henry Rodriguez actually pitched pretty well his last two outings. Also Haren's first five innings were fine--they just left him in too long. If he'd come out after the 5th, he (and we) might have had a curly W!

H-Rod has looked pretty good, if only by comparison if nothing else. In one outing he was pitching so fast I thought maybe he needed to use the restroom. But he did well.

Haren just lets a lot of runners on base, or so it seems. That's always dangerous.

Is this the Official Chat of the Canterbury Tales now, too?

Why not? What the heck.

Given the Patriots' and Belichek's track record with their free agents, I wouldn't think it would take much to find a place that would treat players better.


Wow, that's unfortunate. Is it possible that there should be a SINGLE "Dumbass Exemption" for otherwise good people who need to learn something really, really quickly? 'Cuz I'm betting this guy learns a new way to say "half-assed."

This is the whole "accidental racist" debate. And I mean, the guy may have heard the term when he was a kid but it's not common usage, for heaven's sake. And how can he not know that the two terms he used are simply unacceptable? How could you live in the world and not know that? That's what I don't get.

Comparing Caps and Nats is not approriate. The Nats unfortunately have tougher competition than the Southeast Division, don't get an automatic 3 seed if they win their division and possibly only get one postseason game if they are the wild card.

Ha! All true, of course. But the Nats will play some bad baseball teams along with the good. Everyone does. The Caps happened to be in the worst division in a shortened season. Yes, it worked to their advantage.

But is it just a slump, or something deeper? The Nats have been swept by two potential (and likely) playoff rivals in the Braves and Cardinals. That could be a slump, or it could be that they just don't match up with quality teams? Who knows. Let's hope they return the favor and sweep a couple series from the Braves, Phils, and Mets later this season.

That's the big question. That's why I mentioned individual performances vs. collective. A slump somehow, to me, feels a little different than what's going on with the Nats. But again ... long way to go.

Agreed not time to panic, but there are not very many signs that things are going to get better in Natstown. Have not seen many games where a fluke play or bad break, got them in trouble. The bats are silent and the pitching has been okay and the defense has been bad. Usually when things are going to turn around there are signs that positives are on the horizon, but I am not seeing them (yet).

Yup, that's my problem.

Hi, Trac! I went to the Sports landing page to look for something to chat about and I noticed that the Black Hawks have won the President's Trophy. (Still find it hard to write that as "Blackhawks," but that's because I'm... er, middle-aged.) Obviously, playoffs by their definition allow teams to win championships without having the best record. Still, teams that win the President's Trophy are usually good enough to hang around the playoffs for a few years. Since 1986, when the President's Trophy was added, six different teams (in nine seasons) won Lord Stanley's Cup without ever winning the President's Trophy, and six teams (in seven seasons) won the President's Trophy without ever winning the Cup. How many can you and the gang name today? (Seems a better topic than the NFL draft or more handwringing over the Nats' slow start.) Rico

I'll throw it out there; we'll see if you get any nibbles. The Caps were obviously one of the teams to win the Trophy but not the Cup. I feel like the Canucks were another but perhaps not. And I don't  have time to cheat and look it up.

I went to several games with someone who uses a wheelchair, and traded in my regular seats in 405 for handicapped seats (which were right behind 311). I simply went to the ticket office, asked for handicapped seats and turned in my existing tickets. - Section 405

Some people have an easy time and some people seem to get nowhere. I'm guessing it depends on which person you get on the other side of the glass, or the phone or whatever.

I was being told earlier that the chat was in Spanish, now it appears that the chat is in Portuguese. Très chic, mon chéri. Oui, oui.

I always love how the computer makes a bad situation even worse by garbling all your carefully laid punctuation.

Not sure what the "duh" is all about. I have had seats all over the park, from section 100 to 400 to under the scoreboard to box seats behind home plate. This year I have a package in 303 and I absolutely love them. Someone just sounds a little bitter.

I'm not sure what the "duh" is all about either. Did someone say duh? Did I say duh?

It's weird that I can see into the office across the alley. I feel like I'm spying. Wish it were more interesting.

Can't the players union (or even someone like Scott Boras) set a policy that the game is not played if the temperature is below 40? Same if the temperature is over 100? The athletes are risking injury in those conditions.

I love the idea of Scott Boras doing it.

I think even the union would find that would be hard to enforce. You don't know what the temperature is going to be, REALLY, in advance, and it would be a massive issue with rescheduling games. There are only so many off days to play with and you need those for rain, which is more dangerous than cold or heat. And the ticket offices ... and we're back to tickets.

I seem to remember Bryce Harper hitting a rough patch and hooooboy, there was a whole lot of questioning whether he was called up to early, couldn't handle the pressure, etc. He seems to have come out of it even stronger and I think the team needs to do the same now. Team success = talent+chemistry/timing.

Harper had one last year and it ended. But that's one guy. And yes, there was hand-wringing but not by cooler heads. He was not brought up too soon and he is the real deal. He may always be a bit streaky, or he may calm down and use his head a little more as he matures. He's just a kid. The same excuse can't be used by any of those other guys. Your formula is a good one. If hitting is contagious, then I guess lack of hitting is contagious too. Plus pitching and fielding.

Hitting about as poorly as the rest of the Nats, but does not appear ready for primetime fielding wise. Although he's making errors just like everyone else on the left side of the infield. Agree?

Yeah, it's hard to find fault with the kid when the Gold Glover wasn't doing much better. He's making rookie mistakes. I think it's great they brought him up and gave him a taste but right now he looks like he needs to go back in the pot for some more seasoning.

Yesterday (or maybe the day before) there were a bunch of shots of the bullpen. Ryan Mattheus was wearing two Gatorade cups like headphones--I have no idea how he held them up! Drew Storen was walking around with cups of water (or Gatorade) on a tray, serving the other pitchers, even wearing a towel over his arm! Tyler Clippard (got him in!) was wearing long socks (only ever saw him do that on throwback days) with his pants rolled up over his knees. Having seen them read Fifty Shades of Gray at the Fan Cave, I figure they're a real fun bunch! And don't forget the Philly lottery billboard.

I think they goof around out there and I think that's fine. They have to do what they can to stay loose and get out of their own heads. Of course, it doesn't always work.

Tracee: Was also at Nats game yesterday (and Monday as well). It was nice to bask in the sun yesterday afternoon rather than shiver as we did on Monday night. Enjoyed the day if not the result. Hope tonight is different. Headed over again on Sunday. Re the earlier questioner regarding handicapped tix: for $5 you should be pleased to even get into the game. Yes, there needs to be handicapped seating, but not handicapped pricing. We pay $32 each for our tix (15 game plan, two seats), and are glad to do it. And for that we get lower level just inside the foul pole. Nice. To me, complaining about where $5 tix are speaks to someone who claims privilege when none is present. Where are the $5 seats? Would assume the furthest from the field. Want to sit nearer? Spend more money. I have no issue with there being handicapped parking meters, but am quite glad that even there people have to pay the same cost as everyone else. The handicapped need help, but if it's financial help they need that's an entirely different story. Nats need to chill and get into a better place (better feng shui). And the person complaining about where almost free seats were needs to chill a bit, too.

I think the complaint was that there were better handicapped seats available and no one told this person about them. I didn't get a vibe that anyone thought $5 was too much. $42 is too much to park anywhere, I don't care if you're handicapped or not. I'm not getting into a debate about what financial help the handicapped need; I know I'd gladly pay full freight not to have to deal with some of the issues faced by them. I'm grateful for the health I have, even when it's not perfect.

Did you ever figure out what caused the running faucet during last week's chat?

Exterminator on the front porch, mixing something. They used to call to tell me they were coming, but no more.

The person with the complaint said duh to the seats in 302 being bad. And look, I sympathize with their situation, but come on! There are far worse seats in that park. Also, jealous of your office spying situation. You can have a little Rear Window fun.

Ah, okay, thanks. I could get the chat and read back over the questions but it just eats into my time.

I will need to bring in binoculars so I can see what's on his computer. Oops, there he goes, with  his jacket. Lunch time!

I think the "duh" was just an acknowledgement that when he paid $5 per seat, they wouldn't be the best seats in the stadium. No bitterness. He just wanted to acknowledge he didn't expect to get something for next-to-nothing.


Will they select a TAMU tackle as the first pick of the NFL Draft tonight? (Having the first pick for the first time in their history isn't exactly cause for celebration.)

Sounds like it, I guess. I'm trying to get excited about the Chiefs with Andy Reid as coach. I think I'll get there. And no, it's not a cause for celebration, but then again, it's an old franchise and it's never had the No. 1 ... that can be looked at as a good thing. I'm very positive today. It won't last.

Several years ago I had a hip replacement. I started going to games again while still on crutches. There was NO WAY I was getting to our regular seats. While they would not give me 4 accessible seats together, they allowed us to swap 2 of our seats for 2 accessible seats just above our regular section. They did not require any proof, which was good, since I didn't have a placard or anything. (It was too short term to bother with a placard.)

Interesting and informative, thanks!

For me the issue is the pitching - Strasburg and Gio are giving up too many hits and it's nerve racking. If it was just one or two issues, I would say slump. But they all seem like a jumbled Rubix cube - hopefully a few twists and turns will even it all up. If not, we are just a giant mess.

Strasburg is just not right, and again, for me Gio has been a huge surprise. I didn't think he'd be a perennial Cy Young candidate, but I also didn't expect to see him struggle so much. But it's very possible, even likely, that at some point all the tumblers will fall into place, you'll hear that "click," and everything will be all right again in NatsTown.

While I know that the Bud Selig era was filled with "Let owners do whatever they want" and the traditionalists always want outdoor baseball played on grass, the idea of playing baseball in Colorado or Minnesota outdoors, where snow is a possibility even before you end up with a wacky spring weather pattern, is ridiculous. Why couldn't MLB have said, you can either build a stadium with some sort of roof, or you can expect to play on the road until May 1. But baseball in April in extreme cold conditions is no fun for anyone- not for the players and not for the fans. I think Target Field is a great stadium, but I am not going to sit out there in 20 degree weather...

I confess I don't like to be there in the cold, either. The press box got mighty nippy on Opening Day when that wind came up. I know we're inside and it's better than being outside, but those windows are open and brrrrrr.

Then Kilgore tries to bum some sugarless chocolate covered peanuts off me. There is one thing in the entire press box I can eat -- the peanuts that I brought. Kilgore can eat (and did eat) anything he wants. So he tries to get in on my peanuts? KILGORE!!!!! (Shaking fist as I cry his name to the heavens.)

Not here to snark. Really. The Nationals are way too fun to watch to kick while they're down. But to me, this looks like a big part of the learning curve championship teams have to face. It's learning to play in the face of expectations. I still think this is a team with championships in its future and one I'll willingly root for against any team other than my Cards.

This is a good point. I watched the Pistons go through this before the two championships -- the slow rise and the learning curve involved in what it takes both to get there, and to stay there, and to advance from there. It's possible to do it all in one great season, but generally those are the hastily built, hastily dismantled teams. Who am I thinking of? Marlins? Anyway, you get the point.

I went to Monday night's game, wolfed down some $1 hot dogs, and sat back to see what I could see the 6th time (including the exhibition game) I came to the park this year.

Note to fans - it's frikken COLD up there in the 400's. When they say it's 50, maybe that's the case down in 113, but upstairs, the wind's blowing and it's ***COLD""", maybe 40 on the wind chill. Fortunately, I had the fleece-lined jacket my brother gave me for Christmas last year, along with the Nats Stadium Blanket that was the giveaway on closing day one year back when we sucked (Best Swag Ever).

Anyway, we lost that night. Then we lost the next night (watched on TV). Then we lost in the next afternoon (tuned in on radio at varying times). You know what - I'm reassured.

Repeat after me - "It's a long season". Unlike some of the earlier games, they didn't lose because people nonchalanted, made terrible decisions, or exercised baseball stupidity. They lost. It happens - a lot during a season.

In this venue, I'd expressed doubt about Dan Haren. He pitched a good game Monday, but he lost. Fine.

After the Atlanta game where we choked away the win, I was worried. I'm not any more. The Nats played three *good* games this week. They just happened to lose.

Don't worry, be happy! --- Section 405

If 405 isn't worried, I'm not worried. And thanks, 405, for the head's up on the chat not actually having been created by yours truly (or not showing up, anyway). 405 is The Official Hall Monitor of Tracee's Chat.

OK, no NHL trivia lovers out there today. You are right about the Caps and Canucks; other President's winners never to win the Cup include San Jose ('09), Buffalo ('07), Ottawa ('03), and St. Louis ('00). Cup winners without the President's Trophy include Los Angeles ('12), Anaheim ('07), Carolina ('06), and Tampa Bay ('04), plus Montreal (twice) and New Jersey (three times!). Take care and let me know what time the water heater thing is. I'm not as mechanically adept as Roger Sterling, but I'll bring the gluten-free beverages. Rico

Sorry there were no takers. I think a lot of the hockey people hate me. Which is fine. I'm pleased to get two. :)

I really need to make a call about the water heater. Does anyone have one of those small ones that heat as you go and are supposed to be way more energy efficient? They also cost a lot but allegedly cheaper to run. If anyone out there has tried this, shout at me. You know the email.

BTW, Rich, haven't heard from you for awhile. Hope all is well.

Ah, come on, it's not so bad. Everybody loves cold football and hockey. I have two great baseball snow memories. The first is Opening Day in a Class A town, when the temp got colder and colder and snow kicked in in extra innings. The second is in August 1988 in Cleveland, when a random snow shower in the eighth inning ruined my scorecard. (Indians won in the ninth.)

It's funny but it seems colder to be cold in a baseball park than in a football stadium.

My favorite snow memory was an Opening Day that was snowed out in Detroit. Somehow we got into the stadium and snowmen and other things ensued. This was at the old Tiger Stadium.

Too be really hasn't been cold (20 isn't that cold!), but the amount of snow in April has been a little ridiculous. But that was part of the discussion when the stadium got built, but the taxpayers didn't want to kick in for a roof. So the taxpayers can lump it when there's a bit of snow. There just needs to be a bigger overlap between the baseball and football fans. The football fans are more than prepared to sit outside in freezing conditions for 3 hours at a stretch.

Yeah, again, I'm not sure why. I think it's a "why am I so cold in April" thing.

And some people would rather be cold than hot. I'm in that camp, although as I get older I begin to drift...

Tracee, I'm glad to hear that bullpen hijinks have resumed--it's a tradition there and it seems that performance there has improved (except maybe for Storen's one run yesterday). I think the weight of expectations has turned out to be crushing; swagger doesn't work until it's earned. Let's accept the scorn for now (World Series?/Bust!), and let the players just get out and play baseball and their talent will manifest when it's time. Since the latest chicken sacrifice (and sage burning) is scheduled for noon today, good things must be around the corner.

Chicken Mode. I like it.

I'd better sign off. I've got an issue with my column that needs dealing with, so I've got to make some phone calls. Thanks, everyone, and if my basement isn't underwater, let's talk again next week!

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 Metro etiquette. She welcomes dissenting opinions -- in the way Great Whites welcome open-water swimmers.

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