The Washington Post

First Things First -- Tracee Hamilton on the latest sports news

May 13, 2010

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

The Nats won Wednesday in a New York matinee, taking sole possession of second place in the NL East. Roger Bernadina finally starts hitting the way the Nats thought he could. Tyler Clippard picked up his seventh win -- and if you say you predicted that in February, shame on you.

The Nats are 19-15, and exceeding all preseason expectations. Or are they? Are you expectations rising with each Clip 'n' Save? Be honest now. Let's discuss. (Oh, and we can talk about what's-his-name in the minors too. Not a bad outing...)

So, first start June 6 or June 8? ESPN is going with June 8, claiming some extra rest based on Syracuse's schedule, which lines him up with June 3 (Nats on the road) and June 8 (home against Pittsburgh). The Post's line seems to be June 6. Which game should I buy tickets for?

Well, let's start here, because this is becoming the million-dollar question and the answer is becoming less clear as the time approaches.

In Adam Kilgore's story today in The Post, you'll see that the Nats are thinking of giving Strasburg an extra day of rest, which throws the whole timeline into disarray. Kilgore mentions the June 4 game as a possibility, which would give him an extra day of rest for a June 10 start.

Before yesterday, The Post's line was definitely June 6. Now, I just can't say. The Nats will say at some point, but I understand people want to get tickets early. I also imagine the Nats don't mind if there are bumps in sales for pretty much every home game in early June.

Best advice: Keep an eye peeled on the coverage from Kilgore and Dave Sheinin.

Page 19 of Local Living the Fairfax county edition "Cat Bites Vet Clinic Worker" Is your vet clinic located on Moorefield Creek Rd? Then your cat is a known criminal celebrity just like Arenas, Sonny, and various members of Congress. Quarantine a cat? You shouldn't have to since cats should never be able to roam free. If my dog can't roam than cats shouldn't be allowed to either. And sorry Cap fans the Choking Dogs were the number one seed and up 3 games to 1 and the Pens losing does not mitigate the choking and embarassment. Caps need a new GM, coach and team blown up. They will never advance beyond the first round. Curse of Les Boulez rules! Caps fan since 1980

OMG! Gotta be my cat. Good grief, now I am MAD.

And let's be clear, ace. My cats do not roam free. Never have. So just settle down.

As for the Caps, well, I don't honestly think the entire team needs to be blown up. But you do, so there it is.



The team is finally getting some good publicity from the national media. Curt Schilling is calling Strasburg the best pitcher in MLB right now. The team has started to talk "WILD CARD."

I am scared to drink the Kool Aid that Boswell is serving - 205 losses makes you leary of drinking anything. Can you please bring us back to reality and give me what would be your expectations for this season?

I started with a prediction of, I believe, 72 wins. I am thinking now a .500 record would be tremendous. I think it's way too early to talk wild card although the NL East so far is pretty underwhelming, outside the Phillies, and the NL in general is a little tepid. But it's May, so that's just so premature.

That said, even a wild-card RACE at the end of the season would be tremendous for this team, not to mention this town. Enjoy the ride.

Tracee, I watched Strasburg last night on MLB Network. Al Leiter and Dan Plezac were beside themselves watching The Phenom pitch. (At one point offering to drive him down to DC from Syracuse). The Norfolk batters were missing his slurve and changeup by feet. I know it's minor leagues. I know anything can happen. But good grief, I didn't think he'd be this dominating. I don't have a question, just a startled look on my face.

I got some emails during the telecast last night, basically saying the same thing. The guy is for real. I've never had a doubt about that. I just want to caution that he won't win every start in the majors (and if he does I'll happily admit I was wrong). I'm beginning to think, however, he'll win a lot of them. And Tyler Clippard will win the rest, so the Nats should be set.

(whisper) can't we all just keep the Nats secret for just a little longer? I love being the underdog and I want the surprise this year to be a big one. p.s. (louder now) love the mini-chats. Morning Quickie has my vote. LOL

Given the way most of the country regards the Nats, I'm guessing it'll be awhile yet before a lot of people notice. When Strasburg arrives, attention will be focused and some folks WILL be surprised to see that the Nats are sitting pretty in the NL East.

Glad you like the chats. FYI, when I'm in Kansas, Dan Steinberg and Barry Svrluga will handle First Things First, aka Morning Quickie. This will make Svrluga uncomfortable so be sure to bring it up. Somehow, I don't think we'd better call  it Hamiltime! just yet.

When will be able to have Strasburgers at Nats Park?

Attention Stan Kasten!

Hey, Tracee, I hate to say I told you so, but - hey! - I told you so.

Okay. Not sure what you told me, but I'll let you have your "I told you so" if you need it.

Hi, I'm a Pens fan and I'm expecting mass amounts of gloating from Caps fans. The Pens didn't bring it. That's my simple assessment. In game 6, they didn't want it, in game 7 too. I hate to say this but maybe there was a simple satisfaction knowing that they already had a cup and better luck next year. The Habs wanted it more and played for it. But, for all the Caps fans ready to gloat, the Pens still won last year.

Ah, the pre-slam. I'm going to insult my own team to take the wind out of the sails of those who want to insult my team. I have practiced the pre-slam myself. Nicely played.

Hi, Tracee, Since last year, I've been comparing Strasburg to Clemens because of their similar college careers and paths to the Majors. Clemens made 7 starts for AA New Britain in 1983, going 4-1 with a 1.38 ERA and 0.83 WHIP (12 BB's, 59 K's, 10.2 K/9). In 1984, he started 6 games for AAA Pawtucket (and was a reliever in another), posting a 2-3 record, 1.93 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 14 BB's, 50 K's and 9.6 K/9. So far, Strasburg's on pace if not just slightly better at the same stages in their careers. Why haven't I read any sportswriters -- including my fellow New England native Kilgore -- making this comparison?

Adam, one of your New England buddies is at the door. Do you want to go out and play?

Do you think we need to invest in the big guns? Dunn, Zimmerman and Willingham can't carry the team - oh, and of course Pudge for the next year and a half.

I think you might see some dealing at deadline this year. But when the Nats are doing as well as they are by sticking to the plan, I wouldn't expect to see a lot of deviating from the plan.

Who benefits from the MLB CBA when it comes to the arbitration/super-two clauses? Clearly a team (the Nationals) would anticipate if a player (Strasburg and Storen) are likely to command premium compensation under arbitration... So the smart teams delay the start of their major league service.

This basically renders the Super-two clause moot, except that if everyone is delaying the start of the major league service of their promising rookies, doesn't that push the cutoff date later into the season? All the while, (most) players are getting paid as minor leaguers, teams don't have the use of talented youngsters, and fans (like us) have to wait to see Strasburg.

Sounds like lose-lose-lose to me... But clearly, it was intended to benefit someone. Who?

The teams, I believe. Yes, they don't have the use of Stras and Storen, but they will save a lot of salary money. And they likely figured that the Nats couldn't already be eliminated from the race in early June so where's the harm? If the Nats were one starter away from a division title, then maybe they wouldn't be keeping Strasburg down.

Good lord, what if they ARE only one starter away from a division title? Oops, channeling Boz.

I see that the hockey gods have deemed the Canadiens this year's team of destiny, but is this a good thing for hockey? What does it say when a team that just barely made the playoffs beats both the best teams from this year AND the defending Cup champions? At least we get to watch one of the most storied rivalries in hockey next round (assuming Boston pulls itself together).

Big assumption on the Bruins. That is an epic bed-wetting. I don't know what it says about hockey. I want to embrace this sport but the disparity between the regular season and postseason is nuts. You gotta admire the Habs, though. If they make it to the finals, no one can say they lucked into it.

June 6th? Is that the date? Daddy has to buy some tickets...

See previous answer, daddy.

As a geography major from CU - Boulder, it's great getting the perspective of another contemporary Big Eight alum. One reason it was worthwhile for all y'all to schlep to Boulder is that you could see the games. We couldn't be bothered since we went to a school that had other things of interest, like the outdoors. Thus, while OK and NE alum flooded Folsom Field during the Chuckles the Coach era, we were skiing. Win-win for everybody since we've never cared about the athletic programs even when cooky McCartney was winning.

Well, okay, although the "school that had other things of interest" seems a little conceited. But I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you didn't mean it that way.

Tracee - Should we be completely ruling out a road debut for Strasburg? It's starting to make a lot of sense to me. If he is still completely unchallenged in his next 3 starts, why wouldn't he debut 6/1 in Houston? He could start against a bad team with a friendly crowd away from the pressure of 40,000 feverish home fans. It's hard to imagine his home debut would be much less hyped, and the Nats need to do what's best for Strasburg.

I thought about this too, given his aversion to attention. However, if I'm the Nats, and I've invested this much in the kid and been patient, I'm ready to sell out the house and make a huge fuss. And frankly, it's a little like teaching him to swim by throwing him in the deep end. It's time he learned to handle this. If he's half as good as every expects, he needs to get used to the attention ASAP. So I'd do it at home, although I do understand the logic in the road.

Les Habs take down the Pens! Ok, the Caps are still out till the fall, but at least now I don't have to suffer through my brother's wedding in 2 weeks (he's marrying into a Pittsburgh family; we tried to stop him). Halak was brilliant, and they've got a hell of a rookie in Subban. Watching the live feed from Bell Center gave me chills - and I don't even like the Canadiens! Fun fact I learned last night: Montreal played the first and last games in now named Mellon Arena, won them both.

Wedding crisis averted. Excellent. Bad form for the groom's brother to fight with the bride's family.

...take some solace that the Penguins also fell in a Game 7 to the Habs?

I'm guessing a large number will do just that.

For all the comparisons between Crosby and Ovechkin and how much better Crosby is and how he finds ways to win... his team ended up with the same fate against the same team. I'm not saying the Caps didn't choke. What I am saying is that the choke doesn't seem as bad anymore. Maybe Ovie isn't that bad. And my favorite, of course, Misery loves company. Did you watch the game?

Not all of it. I'm on a farmer's schedule and can't get off it. I can't stay awake at night any more. And I'm up between 4 and 5. I'm hoping to get that adjusted on vacation because it's getting ridiculous. (Shorter answer: Fell asleep in the chair.)

so Crosby is clearly number 1 now right? I mean he was so much more clutch in his series with Montreal than Ovie right? His team also advanced against the number 8 seed where the Caps didn't, er wait i guess none of thats does this mean we don't have to hear about these comparisions until next year?

Yes, I think that's what it means. I think this will be my column for Saturday, in a way.

The sun is a little brighter, the breeze is a little warmer the day after the Canadiens' victory. Even the Natinals look decent today. Not a question, just savoring. (I hate the friggin' Penguins.)

Gotta let you savor...

Any idea why we need to have to completely denigrate everyone who doesn't win the championship? LeBron James & Alex Ovechkin come to mind. Why do people think that they are complete losers for not winning it all? It is a team sport, no? Should Crosby quit the game of hockey after last night? This reminds me of TV commentators asking Olympic athletes who finish 6th in the WORLD why they performed so horribly.

This is a fair question. I think it's *A* yardstick but probably shouldn't be the only one.

Hi, Tracee, Who are you rooting for in the Celtics-Cavs series? Former Jayhawk Paul Pierce's team, or Akron native LeBron James's? Alma mater loyalty or much-needed emotional boost for the city of Cleveland and the Buckeye State? Which team has a better chance of beating Orlando next round?

Rooting for the Celtics, but because I became a Celts fan long ago when Jo Jo White played for them. I met him a couple of years ago; big thrill. I like Paul Pierce and will always follow him, and have zero resentment that he left early. In that system he did the right thing. But he's also only one of two Jayhawks I've ever written to for an autograph who failed to respond. I have a huge collection of signed magazine covers and that's one hole in it. So I'm a little bitter.

Tracy, just a comment for the Washington Post on hockey. In full disclosure, I am a Montreal boy originally, and root for the Habs. In my life I have lived in 3 NHL cities, one of which is Hartford, the home of the long lost Whalers. In my opinion the media has a lot to do with the success of a sports franchise. I think that if Washington as a city wants the Capitals to succeed as a franchise in the long term, the Washington Post needs to step up its coverage of hockey. OK, so the Caps are out of it this year. There was a game 7 and a game 6 last night in the Eastern conference (yay Habs), but the news is buried below early baseball, AAA baseball, basketball, post draft football moves, college football and almost any other sport. Despite being in more of a hockey wheel house, the same thing used to happen in Hartford and, eventually, bye bye Whalers, despite a pretty big contingent of fans that wax nostalgic about them to this day. If you cover hockey well as a sport, even if the news is not about the Caps, then I am sure that the Caps will have better fortunes and a long term home in Washington, DC. I guess this was more of a comment than a question, but what do you think?

I know exactly what you're saying, and I know exactly why we're never going to be able to cover that much hockey. The biggest reason is readership numbers. The other is money. We have less travel budget than ever and more demands (although the Caps left some on the table this year).

Seeing the contigent of people Montreal sends to cover games is impressive but every person in Montreal follows hockey. That's just not true in Washington.

That said, Tarik will be picking up the Eastern Conference finals with our Habs, I mean, THE Habs. Hopefully that will spur a lot more angry emails about why we continue to misspell Canadiens. And queries about why we call them the Habs.

First the caps, now the Pens. What does this say about offensive hockey? Are we headed for a world of neutral-zone traps?

If I were the NHL, I'd be a little worried about that possibility. A lot of the Caps-Habs series was great, but a lot was also pretty dull with that trap. It's effective but I don't want to watch three periods of it.

Yeah, I misspelled it. Anyhow, can we have a bit of a celebration for the elimination of a certain hockey team last night?

Aw, I misused it. Cut yourself some slack. And yes, go ahead, knock yourself out.

... isn't she in fact a Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris)?

Too much Animal Planet for you!

I ran long today because my felon cat's nutrionist called right in the middle. But I'd better quit. I'm sorry I didn't get to all the questions; I typed as fast as I could. Let's talk tomorrow.


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.

• First Things First Archive
• Tracee Hamilton Column Archive
Recent Chats
  • Next: