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

May 14, 2010

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

Let's talk Nats. Let's talk Cavs-Celtics. Let's continue to talk Habs, if you want. In fact, let's talk about whatever YOU want. It's your world; I'm just chatting in it.


Ms. H: Isn't waaay too much being made of LeBron's "collapse," and not enough of the Celtics getting it all together? You play a pickup game between the two teams, and, after LeBron, the next 4 or 5 players you take are on the Celtics.

Good morning, one and all! Good place to start this morning.

I think you are correct, but I admit to bias: I'm a Celts fan. I guess we can no longer be in doubt that LeBron will be leaving Cleveland. He must be feeling he needs to get someplace with a better chance of winning. I do not think LeBron will go his entire career without a title.

Tracee I have become a fan of your wrting. However, where is your story asking the question, can Crosby be the greatest player in the world but fail to drag his team past the 8th seeded Habs? Can you be the best hockey player in the world if your team underachieves to such a degree? Crosby ended up -3 with one goal, OV had 5 goals and was +5. I did not see any story from you or, or the Washington Post talking about Crosby's epic failure in this series. Whatever happened to "Fair and Balanced"?

Thanks for saying that. Yours is a fair question. I hope you'll read my column in tomorrow's newspaper (should be online this afternoon).

I'm not backing off criticism of Ovie. However, there is a big difference in criticizing Ovie and criticizing Crosby. The main one: I'm not in Pittsburgh. I think Ovechkin is fair game in a way Crosby isn't. I also wasn't at this series. I WAS at the Olympics and I WAS at Caps games and most of the Montreal series. That, to me, is a fairness issue.

Another difference: The Capitals were the best team in the league this year, by far. And the most important: Crosby's failure this year still leaves him with a  Cup and a gold medal.

He had a bad series, there is no doubt, and if he'd played better, the Penguins might have advanced. But only "might." The Habs are one of those teams ... I don't know if there's a word for them. I think of Michigan in the 1989 tourney -- destined from the beginning to win it all. Only you don't see it at the beginning. The Caps series could have been a fluke. Two such series -- not so much.

But again, I hope you read my column in Saturday's paper.

I've got a fever! And the only prescription is STEPHEN STRASBURG!!

Medic! I need a medic over here!

Tracee, this might be a bit O/T, but IMO unlimited beer for $20 at the Preakness is going to be an unmitigated disaster. Do you remember what happened at various nickel beer nights at baseball parks over the years? My wife and I were considering going, but this is a definite turn-off. We live near a major college and see enough drunken teenagers as it is.

Nothing is off topic on a chat where my cat's criminal behavior is constantly under review. Yes, you couldn't pay me to go near that infield. The stands would be much, much more family-oriented, I think. The one positive is that I am not sure how much interest teenagers have in horse racing, even with cheap beer. Gambling, I suppose, is another question entirely. This is one of those, "Is there a chance someone will throw up on my shoes?" decisions. Some people find that an acceptable risk. I don't, and you don't. Watch it on TV.

(For me, this nightmare is encapsulated by riding the Metro on whichever Saturday the bars decide to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Last year: Projectile vomiting down an entire window and onto the poor schlub sitting next to this kid, who then lost consciousness. Lovely!)

(And yes, another Metro story. I have a million of them.)

"I just wanted to say to the people of Cleveland..." (clutches throat, makes gurgling sounds, staggers away...)

I'm not sure that's comforting, but I'm guessing it wasn't meant to be.

Why do the Nationals let Burnett wear his hat askew? I know he thinks he's cool and hip hop but he looks like a punk. Are there no restrictions on how a player wears his uniform?

No, I think if you wear the pieces required you can wear them any way you want. High sox, low sox, flat brim (The Chief!), whatever. I hate the hat askew thing on or off the baseball field, but this, too, shall pass.

If Mike Green was had an injured wrist, as he says, why was he not held out of the rest of the regular season so it could heal? Or is he using that as an excuse for another year bad playoff games?

The injury question is always a big one. Boudreau flat out denied any injuries during the playoffs. (Well, Belanger's was so obvious he couldn't deny it.) We ask the questions but the teams aren't obligated to tell the truth. It's part of the gamesmanship. So was the wrist the reason for Green's play? No way to tell since we are just now hearing it about.

Do you hate Ovechkin, because every time something goes wrong with his teams your headlines read what a complete failure he is. How can you really blame the Olympics on him? That was a Russian failure...not Ovechkin. And to call the round one loss a Captains failing seems very short sighted and unduly harsh. One player is not responsible for an entire team even if they are captain...and he had 10 point in 7 games versus Crosby's 3 points against the same team.

Okay, if I agree to admit I was too harsh on Ovechkin will you agree to admit that I've written ONE CRITICAL COLUMN of Ovechkin in 10 months.

Except I wasn't too harsh on Ovechkin. I really do believe that. Yes, the Russian failure was a Russian failure, but please remember I was there and saw those games and he was a complete non-factor.

Crosby played poorly against the Penguins. See the above answer: I'm just not entirely sure that's the only reason they lost, and that has more to do with the Habs than the Pens.

I really don't mind being beaten up over this issue, but I also really do try to be fair. Just because you disagree with a columnist doesn't ALWAYS mean the columnist is wrong.

Brilliant Belle of the Kansas Plains - Did Jacques Martin out-coach his AHL rivals with his trapping at the blue line, swarming the puck, opportunistic scoring game? Or should the refs have called interference until the "Hab and Grab" game is consigned to oblivion? Listen to "Tribute to O'Carolan" from the Chieftains in China - I remember where I was when I heard it on March 16, 1990-and I was alone in the car waiting in a parking lot. Oh, but 'tis mighty!

I don't know the answer, I just thought the salutation was awesome.

I certainly think the "Hab and Grab" (good name) is an effective tool against offensive-minded teams. It makes for some boring hockey but they aren't required to make it pretty, I guess. It will be interesting if the league will see this as a problem and try for some rules changes. Not that the NHL will be sorry that the Habs have advanced, but it will regret the absence of Ovechkin and now Crosby in the later rounds. That won't help the TV numbers a bit.

Thanks for the Chieftains tip -- will do. Getting ready to freshen up the iTouch for Kansas.

The media has missed the big story since most of them just have their head up Lebron's behind. The Celtics are back to the form they had two years ago and they are the only threat to the Lakers. The Magic and Suns have good teams but they don't have the mental toughness of the C's.

I'm sorry, I didn't hear you because my head was up Lebron's behind.

Dude. It's too early in the morning for the visual.

Some people certainly wrote the Celtics off in the playoffs but I also heard and read a lot of people saying the Celtics could definitely eliminate the Cavs.

The Celtics are certainly experienced enough to give the Lakers a run. I'm hoping they advance, obviously.

T-Ham: At what point does this go from "a nice little story" to "hey, we have a legit chance to make a run at the post-season"? I am trying to contain my excitement. (Love your work!)

Thanks. Like T-Ham. I think it's still a nice little story and I think it should remain that way for awhile. It's so much better like this. Around the all-star break is when I might start to think "what if..."

Deep breaths.

I think that chatter is my neighbor. He's always telling me to get off his lawn and to turn down that Rock n' Roll music. Lighten' up, old man.

Ha! I know; I am the same way. I am about one birthday away from telling some kid to stop thumping his damn bass and pull up his pants. It's terrible to get old. My nephew wears his hat like that and it drives me nuts and I take a deep breath and remember all the reasons I love him.

Yeah, but it's not really a fair comparison...Les Habs have a much lower payroll than those Wolverines.


So, June 4th, 6th, 8th, and 10th. Tickets purchased for all 4. Which will it be?

If I knew, you'd be the first person I'd tell.

...are the Wild Card for the NL and 1 game behind the Phils. Fun times!

Wild, isn't it?

I find it interesting that it takes 2 males to replace 1 vacationing female...sorry, I couldn't resist. Enjoy your time off!

Oh, ho, snap again!

Tracee: As an old NU grad who left NU in the 60s (before you were born), I can't say the idea of NU going to the Big Whatever bothers me. The old Big 8 days are dead, when, as you said in your recent column, we could drive to games (although climbing Mt. Oread was always a chore). Texas runs the Big 12, and NU has no real traditional rival since the yearly NU-OU game went by-by. I trust if Mizzou switches, it will keep playing KU every year - that much hate needs to continue.

Before I was born? Well, bless you heart! If only...

You aren't dissing Mt. Oread, are you? Ha! Chatters will laugh at that but when you're from the flatland (and that includes my neck of the woods) Lawrence resembles the Rockies. I remember when I arrived and those first few weeks of my legs burning from climbing all those hills.

I can understand the apathy, in all seriousness. The yearly NU-OU game should never have been scrapped. I suppose KU and MU could play every year but that would eat up a non-conference game on the schedule and let's face it, the BCS makes it necessary for teams like KU to schedule and beat on creampuffs for the points. So I'm not sure it would last. You are right; when the hatred dates back to the 1850s you have to keep it going!

old people using such words is a no-no

Oh Lord. I worked with a guy who said it all the time and it stuck. Sorry, but I'm going to type like I talk.

I'll admit, it was hard to take you seriously at first, just because of the name. Two questions- is that the name your parents gave you, and have you encountered any problems professionally because of it? Anyway, it could have been worse, like Brandee....

I once got a furious letter from a reader who hated my name. Um... seriously? Yes, it's the name my parents game me. In first grade, I "changed" it to Nancy, for Nancy Sinatra, and the teacher called my mother in. I'll never forget her saying to me, "Your dad picked that name and he'd be so disappointed." See, my dad had died a few years previously. So I'm Tracee, and I'm going to stay Tracee.

You said, about the infield: "This is one of those, 'Is there a chance someone will throw up on my shoes?' decisions." I've been in the Preakness infield, and actually the question is "Is there a chance someone will pee on my shoes?" I've never been any place grosser.

Ugh, I hadn't considered the pee factor. And the porta-potty factor. I also can't believe we're discussing this! Good point, though.

With M. Neuvirth having already won a calder cup and looking to win his second, do you think the caps will possibly give him a chance as the starter. I know Varly is supposed to be the guy, but look at Montreal. Price was supposed to be the guy, yet, might the caps have a better, more clutch goalie coming along in the wings.

Boudreau is high on Neuvirth. I do know that. He said in his chat earlier this week that he'll have a chance to make the team and I think that's true. Who would go if Neuvirth makes it? I suppose Theodore, just because of age if nothing else.

Yes, Price's rise and fall in the first round was something else. I've never seen someone come so completely unhinged. in so short a time.

Hi Tracee. Would you trade Gilbert Arenas straight-up for Boston's Rajon Rondo (not that Boston would)? Confession: while I am interested in your answer, I just wanted an excuse to say, "Rajon Rondo." Is that not a seriously cool name? Thanks!

Yes, I would. Yes, it's a cool name. No, the Celtics would never do it. But it's fun to dream.

I gotta fly. I'm sorry I didn't get to all the questions today. I'll be back Monday and hope you'll all be here too!

In This Chat
Paul Williams
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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