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

May 16, 2013

This week, Tracee Hamilton discusses all the sports news.

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I don't like those West Coast games. Too late to watch, and no stories in the next day's newspaper. (Of course, with current deadlines, The Post often can't even get the results of a night game in St. Louis into the paper.)

No argument here. I don't like it. We used to be able to get those West Coast games in, even if they only made the very final edition.

Good morning, all. Let's get going. I think I have bronchitis and if at some point I disappear, it's because the pharmacy has called to tell me my meds are ready. :) I am trying to leave town Sunday and this might make it interesting.

(And the water heater is installed and working like a charm, for those who are following the soap opera-like saga.)

Let's go!

Boz got it right. I'm 83, grew up in Brooklyn and still remember how thrilled we were with his magical 1941 season. Then he went off to war, survived that, but couldn't survuive his desire to crash into outfield walls. They've done so much now to improve things, including thickly padded walls and making a real difference underfoot between outfield grass and the warning track. I don't know what more they can do. Harper is clearly financially set for life, but I hope he can enjoy it on the playing field and not in a wheelchauir.

He can be Roy Hobbs or Bump Bailey. Here's hoping he chooses Hobbs. (And if you haven't read "The Natural," you should. Don't see the movie; read the book. Much better.)

Continues to use less and fewer improperly; has he no shame?

He has less good editors and fewer shame than some, I guess. (That's a grammar joke. He does miss his old editor -- that would be me -- who does know the less/fewer rule.)

Ovie came out and basically said that after the Caps got up 2-0, the games were rigged. The reffing definitely changed at this point in the series as game three was horribly officiated. Why weren't these statements made in the series (like the NY coaches generally do) so they got discussed earlier? They have more weight in the heat of the moment then after it's meaningless. It also makes it harder for me to be excited about my season tickets if the game is rigged for the big market teams.

The Caps wouldn't complain about the officiating until after Game 6, and even then it was pretty mild complaining. I think they were probably warned by Oates or someone else that that could backfire for them. I don't think all of their problems were bad calls; some of those calls were deserved. The retaliatory ones -- you just can't take that bait. But the lopsidedness of the total number, plus the numbers at MSG certainly raise eyebrows. I think it was A problem, but not THE problem.

These two guys are exactly alike. They are both great leaders in that they are both willing to get killed to make the extra yard or make the fantastic catch. Unfortunately, they don't realize that you can't help your team from the sidelines when you are hurt. Maybe Bryce needs to have a discussion with Cal Ripken on what it takes to play every day for more than a decade.

It's great to be young and brash, but you're right, longevity counts for something as well.

I was at game 7 (STH, already renewed) but left after the second period so I could hear the end of Joe B and Locker's season from the comfort of my couch. I heard goals 4 and 5 scored as I listened to the radio broadcast on the bus. Still, I felt sad when I got home and saw so many empty seats during the last period. If the game had not started so late, I might have stuck it out but given the direction it was going, I opted to get home earlier. So my actual question - would it have made a difference if Oates had replaced Holtby with Neuvy? BTW, this has not been Ovie's week, has it? First game 7 and now the Worlds. Hope he and Maria are still solid. Thanks, O Goddess of the Plains.

I don't think it would have made a difference, no. Maybe it would have ended up 3-0, but the Caps couldn't get anything by Lundqvist so once the Rangers' first couple of goals were scored, it was essentially over.


Hope all the water issues are solved. Now that Bill Self has secured Andrew Wiggins, what's the expectation level at Kansas for this year? Had some great bourbon barrel age stouts and porters last week. I know you are beer free and I am happy to enjoy them for you. I had my third hole in one this spring. Lots of celebrating that day. How is your cat doing? My two seem a little calmer but are still very active.

I am sure expectations are high. I was amazed at the shock in my office that the kid would choose Kansas. Good Lord, it's not like he chose some rinky-dink program no one has ever heard of. That said, it's one year, so I'm not going to turn cartwheels over it, but we'll take it. Cat is fine; eating better at the moment. Still torn on whether to get him company. He managed four days along while I was in NY with the Caps but the upcoming trip may be a real test. He was sure glad I came home! :)

Nats leave playoffs after coming within a strike of advancing . . . RGIII's knee explodes . . . Wizards totally irrelevent . . . Caps blow it all the time. WE JUST CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS

So true ... and a great expression from my childhood. Wonder if parents still use that one?

When asked to compare Strasburg to himself, he said, "Ask me after he's won his first 100 games."

That seems fair.

Good morning, Tracee. I watched all of the weekends games at home because of dreaded flu-like symptoms. FP was all over Stras after the Zimmerman error. He said for all the times the infield saves a pitcher with gravity-defying plays, it's up to the (purported) Ace in that situation to say "it's OK, I got your back. This next batter is my job." I particularly agree about the "look of disgust" from Stras. So unprofessional. Well, during the break someone must have told FP that the last guy lost his job for dissing Stras, so he came back and softened it with an interesting theory: it's in the minor leagues that you learn to deal with adversity, bad breaks, errors behind you, etc. And since Stras is such a phenom, he didn't stay long enough in the minors to learn that "stuff" happens. Makes sense, but the translation is he's a spoiled brat, pure and simple.

That's very interesting. The Nats are a little less cotton-woolly with Strasburg but it may be too late. His personality doesn't lend itself to adversity.

So, I was driving across Georgia Saturday afternoon and picked up a Braves game on the radio. The announcers--Don Sutton and some other guy--were talking about how the Braves are a game up on the Nats. Sutton said "And that's Gnats with a 'G' in case you were wondering." TBHitW

Wow. Well, so far this season the Nats haven't exactly dominated the Braves. But time will tell. :) Still, kind of a silly thing for an announcer to do, name-calling the other teams. To what purpose?

Tracee, it seems no matter what the combination we send out, we just can't hit or, as we did last night, can't put them together (we did have 9 hits!). And, if we're going to put Tyler 2 and Lombo in the outfield, why didn't we bring up Rendon rather than Perez? And what do we do if National Det is hurt? I'm sure we will bring up Solano for Ramos if necessary, but where do we get a pitcher? By the way, another great performance by Craig Stammen (also Clippard). Why won't Storen's problems go away?

That's a lot of questions! Why not Rendon? I'm guessing it has to do with the number of times he can go up and down, although I can't swear to it. Let's not borrow trouble with Detwiler. Back spasms happen and they can just go away. And there are pitchers on the farm if needed. Just no Lannens that we've all heard of. As for Drew ... I don't know. Wish I did.  Hate to see it happening.

Hi Tracee, What a disappointing way for the Caps to go out in Game 7. My question to you is, where do the Caps go from here? DO they re-sign Rebeiro. Make a few trades to make them more solid on defense? One thing we do know. GMGM is not going anywhere.

I'm a little torn on Ribeiro. He certainly was the star for the first month-plus of the season, but he tapered off as Ovie ramped up. And there were a few playoff games in which he had little impact. Still, that could be said of a lot of players. Seems like every year around this time we're talking about the Caps getting stronger on defense, doesn't it? That would be nice. So would figuring out why they can't win in the playoffs -- although as hard as it was for them to win the Southeast, this result shouldn't have been terribly surprising, since the SE was so bad. And I agree, I don't see GMGM going anywhere.

I wasn't personally familiar with his work, but from what I read in Joe Posnanski's blog item, it sounds like he would have been the baseball announcer of your girlhood. I know what I'd feel like if I heard that Marv Albert, voice of the NY Rangers when I was a kid, had passed away - a part of my childhood (yes, I was a hockey fan as a kid more than baseball - my dad had Rangers season tickets, and never forgave the Giants for leaving in '57). Section 405

Yes, I remember Fred White from broadcasts in my youth. He really was very good. His firing was a little like Ernie's in that there was just no reason for it, but he, like Ernie, took the high road. Nice piece as always by Poz.

I carefully wrote up this item when I heard Houston had released him:

The Astros released him last Thursday; which probably means it's over for him. While he can't hit worth a damn any more, he's still an amazing outfielder with a rocket arm. What I don't understand is why some contender in the NL doesn't pick him up as a 21st Century Paul Blair -- a superb late inning defensive substitute for some good-hit no field slugger said contender is attempting to hide out in left. With a double switch, he need never come to the plate - a "designated fielder".

I sent it in to the chat, and literally the next thing I did was open the sports section to read that the Mets, of all people, signed him. I don't understand that move, either. The Mets are so pitiful in talent that they're trying to get that last squeeze of the bar rag. Unlike most players trying for the last hurrah, he still has one talent that's undiminished from his prime - his defensive play. He should be in an environment that maximizes that talent, and minimizes his hitting collapse. That's not going to happen with the Mets. Since Ankiel's skills decline is the opposite of most aging players (who can still hit long after they're a liability in the field), a manager who's a platooning wizard should be able to get a great deal of value from his peculiar remaining skill set. I'm sure Earl Weaver would have cherished having this chess piece to play.... Section 405

Agreed, that doesn't seem like a great fit. But he's a guy whose going to get taken just to see if maybe there's something in the tank that the Astros couldn't find, and the Mets are desperate enough to need.

I'm sure you'll be deluged with comments about the Caps and the recent unpleasantness. I offer something a little different. I once worked on a production of a play by Samuel Beckett called "Play". The three characters are each buried up to their necks in urns. Each speaks, telling their story. When one is speaking the others are silent but they switch, sometimes in the middle of a word. It turns out they are a guy, his wife, and his mistress, and they've all died. You get their full story from listening to them for about 20 minutes, then - THEY TELL THE EXACT SAME STORY over again. They start a third time, and the lights black out -- they're condemned to do it for eternity.

Please tell me this isn't the Caps....

That sounds like a dreadful play. And it could be a metaphor for the Caps. It sure is starting to feel familiar.

Tracee, I'm no hockey genius but, have you noticed how rare the Caps crash the net? They barely created any traffic in front of Lundquist. He is a world class goalie. If he sees the puck he will stop it. Yet, the Caps were shooting from the blueline most of the game. Does this blame go on the Coaching staff or is it just poor player execution?

I think the Caps knew they needed to fire a lot of shots at Lundqvist and try to block him, but also give great to the Rangers defense. They forced the Caps skaters away from the crease and protected their goalie well.

Tracee, I must congratulate the NYR for beating the Caps in 7 games. But, I must say there was something fishy in this series? Marc Joannette the referree who refing both the games in NY Game 3 or 4 and Game 6 was calling penalties only on the Caps. As you saw, Game 6. Five or six penalties on the Caps vs zero on the NYR. Even Alan May stated in the postgame that the league should be ashamed for throwing in this rogue referee into this series. In a few years will there by an investigation i.e.Tim Donahugh the rogue NBA referee. Or will the league just cover it up? This outcome was wanted by the league as NU and BOS are huge markets and both of the teams are original six. Something is fishy here.... What says you?

Again, I think part of the disparity was warranted -- the Caps made some really dumb mistakes. But the numbers seem too off-kilter. Was it fixed, or just the way the puck bounces? I don't know; I know the NHL wants NY teams but it's not like the Caps AREN'T a draw, too. It seems an extreme measure to take.

20 years ago my Dad and I were at a minor league game. An outfielder crashed into a wall, breaking his shoulder and wrist. He never fully recovered and never made the majors. This had a big impact on me. I now play in an adult league and coach at a local junior high where this is not a problem. But it's a challenge to restrain the more shall we say high spirited kids who throw themselves headfirst into everything. Let's hope Harper doesn't become a cautionary tale for some of my future teams.

It would be a real shame not to see this guy spin a long career. He's just something to watch.

I wrote a column last fall, I think it was, saying that John Wall had to quit throwing his body around or he'd end up injured more than he was healthy. (This was before his knee injury.) I really got criticized for dissing a kid who was playing all out. Isn't that what we want? Well, of course, no one likes someone who's not trying, and the Wizards' alumni roster is full of those guys, but you need your floor general to remain healthy. So where is the happy medium in all of this? Wish I knew.

Just let 'er rip on the plane and you'll have all the privacy you want.

That's true! For once I can be the carrier, not the infectee, as it were.

Well, I'm guessing that the Post chat interface is still running on dial-up modem, so you probably won't get that call until we're done here.

Luckily I'm working from home so it should be fine.

Hi Trac! I know I said I was going to relax and enjoy the ride with the Caps as long as they were going to go. But they looked so bad on Monday night that I was more disappointed than expected. I would have felt better if they'd lost like this in Game 3 or Game 6 and then dropped a heartbreaker in Game 7. I think I'm getting over it, but... how upset should this make me? Rico (PS Now I will switch to the Bruins, which was the first team I ever rooted for. You never forget your first.)

Hey, Rico. I don't see how you can't be upset at Game 7. They sure looked rattled after Game 6. But that doesn't necessarilty mean anything. Except that this time, it apparently did. I'm sure Oates learned a lot from his first playoffs as a head coach.

Hiya Tracee. Now that the Caps games are over, the players are showered, and the lockers are cleaned out, what is there to be gained by whining about the refereeing in the last couple games? Ovechkin, McPhee, and others come off as Al Gore-ish complaining about how they didn't lose those games, they were taken from them. No one votes for Al Gore after his whining, and no refs give the Caps the benefit of the doubt after hearing their performance criticized. Why do the Caps persist in this course?

It's not the path I would take, because there's no way it doesn't come out al sour-grape flavored sore losery. I do not think officiating cost them this series. I think they cost themselves the series.

Seriously? Are you guys never satisfied?? Okay - I'm happy for you. Just like I'd be happy for Bill Gates if he bought a winning lottery ticket. -K-Stater

Now, now. Easy there, big fella. I'm just surprised he didn't go to FSU.

Could be worse. See: Cleveland (my home town)... - space cader

There's always someone worse off than someone else. If we followed the "it could be worse" rule, only one person in the entire world would allowed to gripe about anything. And then how would we fill the chat?

At what point do the Nats need to bench Espinosa and give Lombo a chance to play 2nd base full time? I know Espinosa has the greatest potential but he never seems to be able to hit with any consistency.

Yeah, this is becoming a problem. They wanted to give Espinosa all the time they could to see what he could do, but the experiment may have to end. If their true hitters were consistently hitting, his failings might not be as noticeable, but when they're all struggling, off and on ...

So we gave up our second best prospect (our best who was NHL ready) for an aging power forward. I was concerned at the time that GMGM had stopped acting in the teams best interest and started looking to save his own butt. Is it time to bring in a new exec to shape the team. The people he brings in can't get it done in the postseason.

I would be stunned if Leonsis led GMGM go. The only way I thought it would happen this year is if they hadn't made the playoffs. Still not sure the Forsberg deal was a good one. We'll have to see how he pans out, but he certainly looked to be a tremendous prospect.

Sutton had no trouble taking extra money from the Nationals when, for instance, he was the official emcee for the opening night festivities at Nats Park in '08. He had no trouble taking MASN money to be the color guy for Nats broadcasts for two years. I do not believe he called the team that helped pay his salary the Gnats, even once. I guess he was pining to return to the portico of his Georgian mansion all the time he was up here carpetbagging. Meh.

Fairly classless, yes. Dissing former employers ... there is no percentage in it. Makes you look small, not them. IMHO.

These are pretty much the same if you wanrt to spend around $20 a ticket, which will get you a pretty good seat. The Nats have more $5 and $10 tickets, which are not bad, but their widely touted flex and other discount promos can only be bought using Ticketmaster which pretty much wipes out your savings. The Nats have a $5 senior discount for tickets that cost $20 or more if you buy them in person, while the O's have a ridiculous IMO day or purchase surcharge of $2 - $10 that discourages walk-up traffic. O's concession prices are higher, $6.50 for a souvenir soda and $15 for a crab cake sandwich w/no extras, not even chips, and an extra $1 for tartar or cocktail sauce. Both let you bring in outside food and drink, though the Nats for some reason prohibit outside sodas. The real kicker for a handicapped person is the $42 parking fee at Nats Park, as opposed to $10 at OPACY.

Interesting comparison. Can't believe the crab cake is now $15!

I seek your "insider" opinion. This kid is supposed to be "the best since LeBron". Do you think the year he'll spend at your alma mater will benefit his future NBA career? Section 405

As much as a year anywhere can do. It's not enough time to get some kids ready -- I think we've seen some examples of this locally -- and for other kids, they will transition quite smoothly. I think he's in that second group. I do not want to be a one-and-done factory, like Kentucky, but I can't fault Bill for wanting the kid. Should be fun.

Good morning Tracy, This comment isn't really for the chat. I just want to make a remark about your needy cat. I am sure you have already taken him to the vet and you explaining that to me is outside the scope of this chat!! However, I had a needy cat too (well, I still have him) and had some varying success getting vet diagnosis. The post had that article about misdiagnosis in humans. I wonder how bad it is in animals that cannot speak, but I digress. My cat's problem was/is renal failure. There really isn't any treatment except that they need water because they cannot concentrate their urine. So a side effect is lots of cleaning the litter box. I also try to give him very soupy wet food he likes. There is an expensive vet food for renal failure, but he didn't like it. I decided getting your favorite food (and living a shorter life? not sure I believe that) was better than being miserable being fed healthy food you don't like. So now I have two water dishes I clean and fill twice a day and he gets three meals of wet food he likes and he has stopped being nearly so needy. He has put on weight too. He is 17. Good luck with your cat.

Glad to hear your kitty is doing well. My guy already had renal failure years ago, and almost died. This is some kind of liver problem, or maybe intestinal. At any rate, he is currently doing a good job of eating, drinking and everything else. He is just needy as in needy for my attention, constantly. He's exhausting. If I'm not in the recliner, he hounds me to get there. He did the same thing to my pet sitter. He sort of herds us to the chair, or makes any other kind of activity impossible. He's wearing me out! But there are worse problems.

The Caps pressed in Game 7. When things didn't go their way early, they got out of their system and took too many chances. This same inability to play the game one step at a time is why Super Bowls were so lopsided for the longest time (though coaches seem to have figured this out in recent years). My favorite example of the Game 7 phenomenon is when Whitey Herzog threw in the towel and brought Joaquin Andujar into Game 7 of the '85 series. If I recall correctly, Andujar visibly and audibly protested every ball and strike call (he pitched a four-pitch walk) and then got himself ejected. Whitey then took a powder and the Cards lost 11-0. Of course, I think I'd still rather be a Caps fan than a Leafs fan. We had two hours to digest the loss. The Leafs were simply blindsided.

What an amazing comeback for the Bruins. Toronto must still feel gobsmacked.

"Before you complain about the refs, try scoring more points."

Yup. That's the thing.

Less is perfectly fine for many count nouns. The less/fewer rule is artificial and contrary to the way the English language is actually spoken. For an example of how this rule can make your writing worse, see here.

I don't know, a lot of rules are contrary to the way the English language is actually spoken. For example, if we used the way the English language is actually spoken, we'd have to insert "like" into everything we write, like, 47 times.

Loved your reference to it in your column about Strasburg! The Bard has fallen out of favor to a large extent, but I'm looking forward to Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing, with actors from Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, Firefly, etc. Do you think we have a Henry V on the team? Werth, perhaps?

I am trying to think of anyone on the team who could give that type of speech. I don't think Werth is that guy. I'd like to hear Harper's version, though.

O goddess of the Plains and Knower of all things Great and small. Nice column about SS. Time for him to put on his Big Boy pants . How long before Davey moves him down in the rotation and moves Zimmermann up which would still give him the r-l-r-rotation he likes?

That move would be fraught with implications. An open acknowledgment that he's not No. 1? Can't imagine he'd react well to that. My guess is that Davey leaves it alone but never say never.

But what if the refs were not calling a square game? I am far, far, far from a conspiracy theorist but the lopsidedness of the calls is beyond random chance. I'm pretty sure the Rangers players knew they could get away with murder and that the Caps would be called on every ticky tack penalty. Also, I said during game 7 that if we scored, it would have been disallowed for some reason. Too bad that theory was never tested. The bottom line is that the players and fans all saw it. It was obvious. But it seems unsportsmanlike to call out the refs, and more to the point the NHL, for the purposefully poor officiating. Someone wanted the Rangers to advance to the next round. They got what they want. But if that's the game being played, I don't want to pay money to watch it. What's the point?

The lopsided calls made it hard for the Caps to get into a rhythm, but the delay of games? Too many men on the ice? Just dumb penalties. And then the retaliation. Guy hits you, ref doesn't see it, so you belt him back, right in front of a ref? Is it fair? No. Is life fair? No. The refs didn't keep the Caps from scoring in Game 7 -- Lundqvist did.

I was at Nats stadium when we lost to the Cardinals. I was at Fed Ex when RGIII blew out his knee. And I watched as the Caps fell apart in the playoffs. . .again. I'm a grown man now. Why do I still care? I've spent (tens) thousands of dollars every year in my adult life lavisishing my hard earned pay and loyalty on the Redskins, Caps, O's and later the Nats. What do I get for it? I've raised my children to be fans of the teams I love. I think what I have done may amount to child abuse. If one of these teams doesn't win a championship soon, they could alienate entire generations. In fact, I don't care if they lose.. .just stop losing in the most gut wrenching fashion possible. I've just got nothing left. I don't care anymore.

I hate to suggest this, but maybe you're the jinx? Seriously, though, I know this is a point fans can reach. Some give it all up. Others stick with their teams but don't get as invested as they used to. That's kind of happened to me. Makes it less fun when they are winning, and less painful when they are losing. Comfortably numb fandom, I guess. I hope you are able to snap out of it.

I'm not going to suggest I have any psychiatric training or that a franchise owes me anything as a fan, but the Nationals seem to be missing the spark of last year's campaign. The players seem almost nonchalant at times and while watching the past few games, I kept coming to the same conclusion: joyless. Do we all need a Crash Davis "rainout" and other shenanigans?

I still think there a huge difference between winning when no one expects it and trying to win because everyone expects it. They seem tight at times, and I think they're scaring themselves with some of their mistakes. They'll come out of it all right, I think, and Davey's the guy you want managing in this situation. But it's not fun like last year, for you or for them.

I recall that you'd said we'd be skipping next Thursday's chat. I'm putting this message in as your unpaid producer so you can remind everyone about the schedule....

That is right -- no chat next week. On May 30 I plan to chat but I'll be at Redskins Park, hopefully, so it may have to change times a bit. Need to see what the schedule will be. Thanks for the reminder, 405.

And thanks, everyone, for joining me. Have a nice weekend and a nice Memorial Day -- do people decorate graves anymore, or is that just a small-town Kansas thing? -- and we'll talk when I get back!

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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