Tracee Hamilton returns from vacation to discuss local and national sports and whatever else you want to talk about.

Jun 07, 2012

This week, Tracee Hamilton discusses all the sports news.

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natsfan1a hopes to attend (but won't be around to rvsp on June 7)

Hope you can attend as well! Meanwhile, hope you are at the ballpark today, where everyone not hard at work should be. Me, I'm home, waiting for my dad to get in from the airport, so if there is a lull in question-answering, that'll be me going to let him in the house.

Good to be back. I thought Barry, Dave and Michael were great in my absence. Sally's scheduled next week and June 21 is now in doubt -- surgery's been ppd. till Monday, at least. Long story. Fingers crossed it goes off Monday or my dad will come unhinged. As will I. Anyway, good vacation, ran around a lot, drove 2,320 miles. Since my 11-year-old car only hsa 37,000 on it, you can guess that's a lot for me. Here is part of what I did, if you're interested. Wish I had the photos online but I don't, yet. Just haven't had time with all the preparing for the surgery tomorrow that now isn't happening. :)

Get-together still on for July 16 at the Crystal City Sports Pub, 6 p.m.

Doc the cat just brought me a tennis ball. Perhaps he'd like to watch the French Open? Beats me. Everyone else seems to want to talk Nats so let's get started.

Sorry for the late start, my dad just blew in so I had to get him started on his unpacking.

Are they still playing the US Open next week? Didn't I read in your column that Tiger has already been awarded the title? The same article that said "Bay Hill didn't mean he was back, and neither does this". Right, because nobody has won more tournaments than he has this year (despite only playing in 9 events). And winning two tournaments with very deep fields is just a fluke. I'm so confused.

Winning tournaments before majors doesn't mean he's going to win the following major. At least Bay Hill didn't, did it? That's not a knock on Tiger. That's a knock on the media, the fans, even the other golfers. It's ridiculous to prognosticate golf tournaments. Ridiculous. That said, I'll be rooting for him with one arm. I'd like to think it does mean something. But his highs are high and his lows are low. We'll see. I say let's just watch the tournament. That's all.

I saw on your newspapers website a video of some bloviators debating whether or not Harper should get an All-Star nod. I mean, really? No, c'mon, seriously? An All-Star slot? Wow. Talk about overhyped. I dunno who's over-hyped more, Tim Tebow by ESPN or Bryce Harper by The Washington Post. I mean I get why WaPo would want to over-hype this kid, considering the newspaper and the Nationals are business partners and all. But c'mon, you can't be serious in thinking that Harper deserves to be an All-Star. Stop the over-hyping.

Okay, I didn't see this because among the things you can't get on my dad's computer in Kansas is video. Or the home page of the Post. (You can get the sports front.) So I don't know who was doing the hyping. Should he get an all-star bid? No, I don't think so. Should he get serious rookie of the year consideration? Yes, absolutely, if he keeps this up.

I'm not sure how we're business partners. They run ads in the paper. Is that what you mean? I'm not seeing any of that scratch. Damn. Anyway, don't lump us all in one bundle, please.

Welcome back, Trac! How are you doing? How's the recovery? How often does your dad get to hold the remote? Also, kudos to the chatter whose eight-year-old daughter picked the Kings over the Devils in the final; while the Devils are still alive, she's looking very smart right now. Can we find out what she thinks about the stock market, the Euro crisis, and the presidential election? -- Rico

Hey, Rico! No surgery, no recovery. My as for the remote, I won't see it for 10 days. Ah, well. You are right; where is the chatter with the psychic daughter. We need to talk to her, stat.

Welcome back. I hope your vacation was restful and you're ready to get back to it. I have to write this early because by the time the chat starts I'll be on the way to the ballpark -- I love the businessman's specials! Day baseball and playing hooky from work -- what could be better? As for the Nats, I couldn't be happier and imagine only Boz is giddier than I about the team's future. I still can't believe they're this good this fast. I have a question about Bryce Harper (who appears to have worn a minor league uniform for the last time save a future rehab assignment) -- did Rizzo bring him up literally a couple of days early enough to cost the team control over him for a year? And when he becomes a free agent, do you think there's any chance he DOESN'T end up in pinstripes? I know Boz counsels us not to think about that and enjoy him now, but I can't help but think about it because I'm in this for the long haul. Thanks

PS I'm trying to think of a better handle...

Hey, I was just wondering about you! Please tell us you can make it on the 16th!

I do wish they'd come up with a better name that "businesman's special." That's so 1960s. To me, anyway.

As I recall, they did bring him up earlier than anticipated and that will cost them a year. And I imagine he will end up in pinstripes, yes. Now, that's based on things he's said right now and the state of the teams right now etc etc. He's a kid. Think of how much you changed between 19 and 25. So there 's a chance for some change. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

Hope to see you in Crystal City.

On pace to win at least 95 games this season? Got some decent pitching and some good defense along with hits and home runs. Am I getting psyched too soon?

Well, I don't think you're getting psyched too soon, necessarily. Depends on what you mean by psyched. If you're psyched because they play every night like a real team, that they have a lot of talent, that they win despite some pretty key injuries, then go right ahead. If you're planning to take October off to take in the Series, then maybe take a deep break. We need to at least hit the all-star break. Lotta ground to cover yet. But there is no reason not to get excited about this team. This is the first time I've been in Kansas when people have asked me about the Nationals. The first. When word reached there by Pony Express, then they really are creating waves.

(And oh, how excited KC is to be hosting the all-star game. It's like a small town in some ways and people are pumped.)

The hazards of reporting a 12 inning game were highlighted in our edition Wednesday. The above appeared in paragraph 7. Code letters on section D are K EZ SU.

Not surprised. On those games, the writer hits the button, the desk gets the story, puts a headline, hits a button, and they hope the press room is able to make a few papers with the game. It's not pretty, how the sausage is made sometimes. But everyone is trying hard to get that story in ASAP so people get a story in their papers.

Just wanted to say how much fun it is to watch the Nats when they're doing well (I watch them even when they're not, but this is MUCH better). Now if only we weren't in such a ridiculously tight division - how can we have the 2nd best record in baseball and yet be only 2 or 2.5 games ahead of our division teams? Sheesh.

I was just looked at that. The East divisions are tight, the Nats would be crushing just about everywhere else ... who'd a thunk it? Besides Boz, that is. They have become a pleasure to watch every night, win or lose, because they play good baseball. To me, as a non-fan but interested party, that is the big difference. For a fan, it must just be a ball.

I am 48, old enough to be Bryce's mother. I think I have a crush on him instead - he has more than enough attitude/cojones, LOL. Anyone who steals home is all right in my book.

Love the steal of home. I've found that I can't have crushes on players young enough to be my children. But maybe that's because I have to interview them. Maybe from a distance I could.

Tracee: Welcome back. Rested, tanned and healthy, I trust. It's been fun around here. Nats and O's winning often enough, great weather, good eats and beverages. Given your affinity for all things Kansan, can you suggest a good wheat-based beer to go with corned beef? Deli Man

Well, I just heard the Boulevard Beer is soon going to be distributed in our area. That's a KC-based microbrew company. (Thanks for the tipCreg.) Here is the website:

Wish I could have brought back some beer from the Free State brewery -- they have an excellent wheat beer. I got a great shirt there featuring John Brown -- perhaps I'll wear it to our shindig. I believe you're coming, Deli Man, right?

We missed you (although I enjoyed Dave "Opera Man" a lot). So how about the local teams--the Nationals & Orioles? If it's a dream, I hope I don't wake up.

I love that this chat can turn to opera on a dime. You are a smart bunch of folks and I know Dave enjoys the heck out of it.

I thought the Nats could contend for the wild card. The Orioles? No, I did not see that coming and I'm not going to lie and say I did! But it's tremendous, two upstarts in the two toughest divisions. Both teams will pick up some fans as the summer wanes because they ARE upstarts and underdogs and their opponents, some of them, are not well-liked. So that will be fun.

The question, for those who don't remember May 10 chat, was whether a team loses its ability to employ a DH if the player who is DHing becomes the pitcher. Rule 6.10(b)(10) says that if the pitcher bats for the DH, the right to use the DH is forfeit. Rule 6.10(b)(12) provides that if a DH takes any defensive position, the right to DH is forfeit, and rule 6.10(b)(14) says, "If a player on defense goes to the mound (i.e. replaces the pitcher)," the right to DH is forfeit. The logical interpretation is that if the DH starts pitching, the right to DH is forfeit, because pitcher is a position that is part of the defense.

Thank you!

has Boz spiked the water supply in DC with Nats koolaid? Seriously, good crowds, good press for the Nats AND they are in First Place!! I feel like we are going to have a really great summer!!! (and hopefully an amazing Fall!!!!)

It's pretty amazing! I'm looking forward to being couch bound and watching some games with my dad. Saw just enough Royals while I was home to be sad, although they give it their all. We will, of course, be watching the NBA with great interest. Thunder/Celtics fans. Could be a problem.

I would argue that the pro sports with the highest degree of subjectivity in applying rules, thus games most influenced by officials/refs/umpires, are the least enjoyable to watch as a fan because the outcome is so influenced by forces outside of the players' control. Do you agree with this premise and do you agree or disagree that pro basketball rules are the most subjective to apply by officials, that outcomes are the most heavily influenced by subjective calls of individual refs and that, as a result, the NBA is the least enjoyable to watch as a fan?

Interesting. I'm trying to think of numbers. I would say NBA officials make MORE calls than officials in the other pro sports, right? Seems that way. They certainly are subjective and they certainly can influence the outcome of games. All true. I guess it hasn't diminished my enjoyment, however. But I'm guessing not everyone would say the same.

Hi Tracee, Who do you like in tonight's match up between Celtics and Heat?

Well, you know I won't pick, but I'm a Celtics fan, so I'm hoping hoping hoping.

Tracee- welcome back! How are you doing? I seem to have come down with a serious case of the Natitude while you were gone; it's gotten so bad that I actually went to my first Nats game (which was awesome and I loved every second of it) and bought one of those $5 hats and now am wearing it everywhere except to bed. I've even been blowing off social engagements to stay in and watch the night games. I haven't had this much sports fun in the summer since, well, never - is there any hope for me? Or should I just enjoy the ride and plot my next return to the Southeast waterfront accordingly?

Enjoy it! What's not to like? This was the idea all along -- they get good enough players and win enough games and fans like you will start coming to the games. If you are having fun, what's not to like?

I am really sorry to see Knuble go. Not all contributions can be measured in goals. That said, do you sense a master plan from GMGM to use Knub's salary and what he will have in the till from not re-signing Sasha Minor to buy someone huge like Rick Nash?

I saw Katie Tuesday and didn't quiz her on this and I'm sorry to tell you I don't know the answer. If I can't chat on the 21st maybe I can finally get Katie to come on! I'm sure GMGM has a master plan but what that is remains a closely guarded secret. It's tough to get anything out of him in the summer. (When I first read this question I thought you said "buy someone hugs," which seemed odd but everyone needs hugs now and then.)

Of course golf tournaments are next to impossible to predict. But you keep saying things like "Tiger Woods is the U.S. Open champion. Tear up your tickets." and "Like earlier this year, when he was installed as Masters champion after winning at Bay Hill" when nobody is doing that. Some people predict he will win -- so what? People aren't allowed to make predictions? Baseless discussion is the whole point of ESPN and sports talk radio. When will you consider him "back"? It seems even if he wins the US Open I'll open my paper Monday morning to your column saying "Well it's only ONE major...he got lucky that so-and-so double-bogeyed's his first major in 4 years..." and so on.

I think the imporant record TO HIM is the majors record. I'm not sure I think it's important when he's "back" or not  (and yes, it's ESPN and newspaper columnists and others in the business doing the talking. I realize that. I think they're fair game. The athletes and the leagues aren't always to blame for everything). If he wins the U.S. Open, you will read no such thing because a) I will be one week out from surgery, if they are able to operate at all and b) that is not how I feel. How many ways do I have to say I hope Tiger wins the damn thing? I just don't want to hear all the blather about how he's a lock for it. And that IS what everyone was saying before the Masters. And that turned out poorly for him. I admit in the column I have a bone to pick with this particular aspect of the industry, if you want to call it that. I'm not sure how that turns me into Tiger's biggest critic. I'm not. I'm really not.

Tracee - Folks like the Boz-inator seem to put a lot of faith in the run differential as a predictor of final performance. But, with a third of the season in the rear view, the O's remain in 1st place with just a +3. The Nats are +29 as are the Braves, but both the Mets and Marlins are negative (-10, -7) with nearly the same record. Meanwhile, the Phils are slightly under .500 while slightly in the positive (+4). So, of these 6 teams, only half of them seem to be where they ought for W-L. Oh, and I forgot to mention Boston, who are +19 but struggling to stay at .500. So, can we conclude then that Run Dif is very limited as a predictor of the standings? Or does it simply mean that we can look forward to Mets and Marlins tumbling and that O's fans should brace themselves for a fall?

I think run differential is an interesting stat but like all stats, it can be predictive or meaningless. Also, there is always a "hot" stat that everyone likes and then we move on. I'm old school -- I like wins and losses and games back.

Just look at all who did not even make the cut last week. And poor Rory S. Now he is the one I have empathy for.

Golf is a crazy game. It's so mental and that's one reason that trying to predict winners is crazy. But that's the ESPN/Golf Channel/talk radio culture we're in.

Sorry I said you were a grump over Tiger Woods. Did I miss something?

I didn't mean to come off like a grump over Tiger Woods -- just the prediction crap. I like Tiger Woods the golfer.

OK, I am old enough to be his grandma (and a Senators fan from way back); I just can't have a crush on anyone with that hairdo. Otherwise, no problem.


Strasburg vs. the Red Sox in Fenway Park. That could be good. I hope he's on. I'd like Red Sox Nation to "enjoy" Strasmas.

That will be fun! Give us something to watch.

It may seem ridiculous to speculate on putting him in the All-Star Game, but consider this (from your favorite colleague, Mr. Kilgore): if Harper had played enough to qualify in the league leader categories, his current numbers, as of about two days ago, would have ranked 11th in on-base percentage, slugging and OPS. I would think a guy who could be seen as one of the best 11 hitters in the league might be worthy of the All-Star Game. Just sayin'.

The other side of the argument...

Is the training camp move to Richmond all about money? They haven't even picked a site in Richmond, but know the deal involves $6.4 million of Virginia taxpayer money. Is this a Snyder move to save on costs at the Ashburn facility?

I think he's spending a bunch to upgrade the Ashburn facility, which desperately needs it. That doesn't explain the length of the Richmond deal, though. I am sure it involves making money because that's what the Skins are good at -- revenue streams. Maybe they feel they need to grow the fan base in that part of Virginia.

AHG here. I managed to solve my "missing Tracee" problem by vacationing with my wife in Italy for the last three weeks. Now that we're both back, my obligatory Skins question is: What's with spending the summer in Richmond? The climate is better, the bars or better, or just more $$ come in to you know who's coffers?

It's got to be money or growing fan base? I can't explain it otherwise. Italy -- that sounds nice!

By bringing him up in late April, they retained his rights through 2018 (it would have been 2017 had he been on the opening day roster); however, he will be eligible for arbitration a year earlier than if he had been brought up in June. Also, I bet you received more questions about Harper out in Kansas than RGIII (who faced KU and KSU in the Big 12), and I think when people from outside the area discover that here it's reversed, we'll probably again get the sad tag of being a one-dimensional sports town.

Thank you; I knew there was something about bringing him up before June. I am so flustered with this surgery thing I just can't think straight today. And my dad is talking to me and the hospital is on the phone wanting my details, since they moved my surgery. Oy.

I did get some RGIII remarks, but more along the lines of "are people excited to get him" because of course folks there are familiar with his work.

I play approx 6-8 times a year for business usually. I took lessons back 30 years ago and spent some time on the driving range etc. I just dont understand what is soooo difficult. Skeet and Sporting clays is tougher. I am scratch golfer. It all come down to muscle memory and control. Its not like coming to end of the Mulsanne straight at Le MansPre chicane days) in the rain at night at over 200pmh in Porsche 935 and hitting your marks. I havent purchase new clubs in 25 years. Tracee you really should go to 24 Hours of Le Mans. Its one of the classic sporting event son the planet. Remember what Hemmingway say there are only two sports auto raicng and bull fighting.

And yet he killed himself anyway. :) I can't imagine what it would take to get me to sit through bull fighting. I do like auto racing. I just don't take those kinds of statements too seriously no matter who says them. To each his own, I say.

I am an African American Nats fan and have been a season ticket holder since they got here. My son (11 years old) and I enjoy going to the games especially now that they are good, but there seems to be very few folks that look like us at the games. Actually, even with the bigger crowds there seems to be even fewer black fans. Then to make matters worse the Nats start their summer concert series with a country music act, which chased away the few other black fans at the park Saturday. They Nats don't need to have a Go Go concert (although it is DC's only native musical genre), but the music should be more inclusive or stick to fireworks. The Nats are really missing an opportunity by not reaching out to the diverse and (deep pocketed) minority community. Big & Rich won't get it done.

I have noticed this as well. The Skins crowd at RFK was so diverse. But then, baseball has fewer black players than ever before. I think that plays a part. But in a city like DC, with the location of the park, you are right -- there should be more black faces at the park than the folks who work there. I'm not sure what the answer is to that.

Ah - I may have found a kindred sports fan spirit... I agree on subjective fouls, but have learned to live with that. The absolute worst, however, is a sport where judges award a subjective score based on [insert technical description and nuance that never quite adds up]. Think figure skating, diving, etc. Those sports (and individual performances) can be ruined by a single judge, which is the antithesis of athletic competition.

Ah yes, we're heading toward the Olympics, and this will rear its ugly head in gymnastics, diving, etc. Drives me nuts because I love those sports.

"you can't be serious in thinking that Harper deserves to be an All-Star" Tracee - I did view this video. And, yes, LaVar, Stein, & co. did entertain the question as a conversation starter. But, no, no one thought him deserving at this stage -- they quickly said "no" and moved to discussing the players more clearly deserving at this point: Gio and Stras. Some will recall similar conversations being played out about Stras in his rookie year. Strasburg: yet another player obviously and hopelessly over hyped. Oh the shame of it, WaPo! AZ... it's not just a desert in the ... um... desert.

Thank you. It helps to have seen it and I'm sorry I hadn't. Gio has to be a lock. Stras too. I do remember the Stras talk. I do think that would have been a mistake in his case.

Hi Tracee! Sorry to have been out of touch lately, but I've been doing quite a bit of traveling. Just got back from the Sunflower State myself, as a matter of fact (flew directly into Manhattan from Chicago; try THAT in Lawrence!). Met the great Bill James while I was there (friend of a friend.) Why did the Royals never hire him? That's never made sense to me. Anyway, no question really - but nice to have you back! - K-Stater

I always wondered that too -- the man lived -- or used to -- in Lawrence. I flew into Salina this time. Not sure I can do that again. Baggage restrictions! :) But glad to hear from you again, K-Stater. I was able to drive on Fambrough Drive and Fambrough Way but unable to visit his grave, which was blocked by construction. Not happy about that. Hope you had a nice visit. Hot, dry, windy -- home!

And I have got to sign off and get my dad to lunch. He doesn't know yet about this surgery snafu and he's likely to take the news poorly. I think I'm going to need a margarita for this. Sorry to chat and run again, but I'll talk to you all either June 21 (very slowly) or June 28. Meanwhile, enjoy the next few weeks and Happy Father's Day (early) to the dads out there!

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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