First Things First -- Tracee Hamilton on the latest sports

Jun 28, 2010

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

So, the Parkway Series -- I refuse to call it the Beltway Series -- is over, and the Nats are swept by the Orioles. I repeat, the Nats are swept by the Orioles. That seems like something we should discuss. Monday morning. 9:30. Be there.

So this means the Nationals have now wrested the moniker "lowly" from the Orioles?

Well, it appears that way. A bad team can beat a decent team. But a bad team shouldn't be able to sweep a decent team. But when the decent team blows means a painful weekend for the Nats' faithful.

Good morning, all. Hope everyone had a nice weekend.

Don't you think a major part of the Nats' treatment of Stephen Strasburg is due to his personality? (tho I do think not letting anyone know where he lives is taking it a bit far). If brash, outspoken Bryce Harper lives up to comparable expectations, I have a feeling his arrival will be treated very differently.

This question is in response to my Sunday column, I think. And yes, that has something to do with it. Although I have to say I don't think John Wall is exactly Dennis Rodman.

But he's closer to Rodman than is Strasburg, certainly. Strasburg is amazingly private, and the team is trying to accommodate him as much as possible. I think the Nats would do him more of a favor by trying to break down those walls a bit than giving in to all his demands. The attention is never going to wane, and the sooner he learns to handle it, the better. But clearly they don't agree.

Tracee, following the U.S./Ghana World Cup game, I've been disappointed not to read any updates as to the health of those brave Ghana players who were so devastatingly injured. I mean, two players were taken off on stretchers! Surely those gentlemen had serious injuries requiring immediate medical attention, but there's been nary a word on their condition. Do you have an update for us?

Both are on life support as we speak. Neither are expected to make it. They gave their lives for the beautiful game...

The first time I watched a player carried off the field, er, pitch on a stretcher, only to hop up once he got to the sideline ... I knew soccer was probably not going to be my favorite sport.

...the worst team in baseball can beat the best. So am I surprised when the worst team in baseball sweeps the eighth-worst team in baseball? I am not. What's more troubling is that, since interleague play began, the Nats are 3-12. Either they can't figure out how to play with a DH, or they are turning into the team we all thought they'd be. (Well, except Boz, of course.) We have miles to go before we sleep.

I'm more surprised than you. However, we agree on the salient point: We have miles to go before we sleep.

Hi, I am a soccer fan. I will now gracefully, yet with a sense of bitterness, receded into the shadows of American sports for another 4 years. My time online will be with Steve Goff discussing the finer aspects of the beautiful game in America and drinking Capri Sun. Hi, I am a soccer fan.

Run out of orange slices, did we?

I'm an O's fan, but want the Nats to also do well, so this weekend's series at OPACY was very painful. They literally threw away all 3 games. What gives? Now that they're done playing the O's, I 'll go back to rooting for them wholeheartedly, and hope that I bring them better luck.

I don't know. The bats woke up and the defense and bullpen came off the rails. Jim Riggleman must be going nuts, privately. They have not put together all aspects of the game consistently since, what, mid-May?

Following the bloodbath in Baltimore the Nats' fan base is clamoring for Rizzo to make drastic changes. I know that sports writers are as a rule calmer and more dispassionate than the ticket buying public, but at what point do you say that the status quo cannot continue another day? Last year we saw a purge of the coaching staff. This year I'd like to see them blow up the roster and start over.

Hmmm. Well, I fall somewhere between doing nothing and blowing up the roster, I guess. I am hoping they'll be active at the trade deadline and maybe pick up another piece but who would you dump?


Something has to change with the Nats. I hate to say it but I think Riggleman may need to go. What's his obsession with Willie Harris anyway? Willie has made a couple of good plays but his contributions are FAR outweighed by his down sides. The talent seems to be there but even our solid players are playing poorly. What do you think needs to change? Roster? Manager? SOMETHING!

I'd like for the Nats NOT to get into the habit of dumping managers just to wake up the roster. I'm not sure the sweep can be laid at Riggleman's door. I stand by what I said at the beginning of the season; I wish they could come up with an everyday right fielder with some power. Not easy. I wish Bernardina was that guy and maybe he is but I'm not convinced yet.

Then they need some stronger starting pitching, which as we know, is coming. It's always coming, isn't it? It would be nice if it would get here already.

Riggleman does love Willie Harris. No question about that.

I agree about not calling it the "Battle of the Beltways." To the extent that anyone outside the national capital region knows and understands the term "beltway" it is EXCLUSIVELY used to describe DC. Lots of cities have circumfrencial ring roads and may even refer to them as their "beltway" as in Baltimore, but none claim the moniker beyond local usage except THE Beltway!

Agreed. I think if you're going to name something, be correct. The Royals and Cards have an I-70 Series and I-70 actually goes through both cities. So it makes sense. Beltway ... does not.

It's possible that with Orioles' bats slumping just about the entire season except for a couple batters (Markakis, Tejada) that finally the Orioles usually reliable bats are finally coming alive. Could it be that all the blame can't be placed on the Nats' shoulders?

Nats fans would love it if that were true. And for the  sake of the O's fans I hope it is.

This weekend was the lowest point in Nationals history - and that's quite a feat. To be swept by these Orioles in the way they were is unforgivable. And to make matters worse, Riggleman's starting to sound painfully like Manny Acta. No, they're not playing good, clean baseball (what the hell is he watching?). No, it's not a matter of breaks, etc. etc. At least Rizzo has it right. Sounds like he may borrow the broom that the O's used to sweep the Nats.

A manager is in a tough spot because he can't just throw the players under the bus. I'm sure he'd like to at times. Easier for Rizzo to do it. Also makes more of an impact on said players. Rizzo can actually alter their futures more than Rigs.

It finally dawned on my why Americans just don't take to soccer. In our favorite sports, football, baseball, basketball and hocky, when one team scores it is very likely. . .almost certain, that the other team will also score and make a contest of it. In soccer, on the other hand, when one team scores it is quite possible that the other team won't score at all. So when your team concedes a goal early, there is every reason to believe the game is over. Now we know that teams can and do comeback and in American sports there are shutouts, but it's a different level of anxiety to know you may have to watch that shutout develop over 80 or so minutes without the reasonable prospect of a comeback. Thus. . .soccer will remain a fourth tier sport in the US. . .unless they make the goal bigger perhaps!

This is the classic soccer argument -- non-fans argue that there isn't enough scoring for Americans. I'm afraid to say that's probably right. While you will get 1-0 ball games in baseball, or 3-0 games in football, it won't happen often, and Americans are simply folk. We like to score. 

I also hate the over-the-top acting, and the poor officiating. Lots of players in lots of sports flop on occasion; Paul Pierce is a favorite of mine and he's becoming an Olivier at it. But he draws the foul, gets up and moves on; he doesn't turn it into a three-act melodrama.

The officiating gets me more than anything. Surely these are supposed to be the best officials in the world. And yet... they're not good.

Why is it that the beginning of the Nats collapse coincided with your absence? What are you up to here Hamilton? Whatever you did to make the Nats play so poorly, please take another vacation and put things back the way they were before!

Yes, they went quickly downhill when I left. However, it's not like my return cured them.

However, to please YOU, I will have shoulder surgery Thursday and take some time off. That's how much I care about my chatters. Would Svrluga do that? Would Steinberg?

Agreed. I hate the contrived Battle of the Beltways, as well...but what is a suitable replacement? My husband likes Clash of the Chesapeake. I might have to file for divorce.

I like Battle of the Parkway. Clash of the Chesapeake ... yeah, let me know if you need a good lawyer.

I think it's time for Riggleman to throw a bunch of bats into the showers and start yelling about lollygagging.

God yes. "What does that make you? Lollygaggers." What a great movie.

You do not blame Riggleman, but the past few weeks Riggleman leaves his starting pitcher in way too long. The Nats get a good lead and he leaves the starter in until the lead is gone. The pitcher has to give up 4-8 runs and the lead before he is pulled. Lannan especially was giving up huge number of runs and I wonder why he was never kept on a short leash. He stayed on the mound until the game was lost. It makes no sense.

It's particularly odd since he finally has some bullpen weapons in his arsenal. Last year I could understand letting the starters go and go and go.

And the one starter who could probably throw nine great innings isn't allowed. Oh, the irony...

I hate to say it but FIFA and their officials are a disgrace to the the World Cup. How do you not institute instant replay. That was a clear goal yet was not allowed. I hope something like this happens in the World Cup final. This will put more pressure on those damn officials to go to instant replay.

I have to say, I completely agree with you. So much so, I'm going to have to write about this for tomorrow.

Love you, Tracee. But that is so generic. Hell, I am from a small town in Indiana...and we have a parkway. That said better than Beltways and Chesapeake. Yikes.

Well, let's keep working on it.

If George McPhee doesn't make the moves he needs to this year -- do you think the Caps should let him go? This is not an offseason (or season if you give him til the trade deadline) to sit on one's hands. A few moves need to be made...

The Caps need to make some moves, absolutely. There is time. Then they need to advance past the first round. If they don't do both those things, then yes, I think McPhee's days are numbered. But I think he has another season.

Why don't we just find something we can play for (a la the brown jug in college football)?

Hmmm. Something that's NOT those ridiculous political bets. This could occupy an entire chat. Rename the series, find a "trophy"... so much to do, so little time.

The Red Sox are in desperate need of a second baseman. For the Nats, Guzman is nearing the end of the line. How about a swap of Guzman to the Red Sox for a good major league pitcher or two good minor league pitchers?

I'm guessing the Red Sox wouldn't bite, but if I were Rizzo, I'd explore just about anything. Maybe we should have an "untouchable" day, when we discuss which Nats cannot possibly be dealt under any circumstances. Hmmm.

The reason that FIFA will NEVER use replay is because of the character of the people who run the show. Just like with Olympics, FIFA tends to be populated by anti-democratic aristocrat types who only laugh when people suggest they do something. . .anything.

So true. The IOC and FIFA have a LOT in common, and that's not a compliment.

I admit it, I screamed at Riggelman yesterday when I saw him pull back Desmond and send Harris out. However, I'm pretty sure that Desmond would not have taken a walk in that situation. Based on his recent batting, more likely a K. So, Harris was the right choice in this case. I guess sometimes you do hit the target.

Desmond is still a work in progress. He has some bad at-bats and he occasionally makes a poor play in the field. However, as experiments go, I think overall he's been a pretty big success. But yes, Harris is more wily at the plate.

So have you renamed the chat yet?

No, I'm not sure what happened to that movement. Paul?

You know, I'm a big fan of the World Cup, but with all the blown calls over the weekend, I just don't know how to respond to my friends' taunts of it being a 3rd rate sport. MAYBE they're right. You can't just tell England and Mexico that the bad calls will even out in the end when there are so few goals.

More officiating angst.

Tracee, allow me to wish you a bearable Monday. Okay, let me preface this by saying I'm a happily married father of a toddler. I'm marginally secure in my manhood, but I declare the following: I kind of have a mancrush on Donavan McNabb. I mean, he's a very good player, he's so charismatic, he will help the Redskins be a better team, and he has that intangible "X" factor, if you will. It's important to note, it's NOT an attraction, merely a mancrush. Do you have a girlcrush you would like to share with your readership? Thanks!

I can see this. He's pretty charismatic. There isn't a male sports writer I know who hasn't had a man crush on one athlete or another. Not one. I think it's healthy that you have man crushes and admit them.

However, I don't think I've ever had a girlcrush on an athlete, which speaks more to the dearth of female athletes than anything else. I'll have to think about it, though.

Good gravy, I've run long. I'd better scoot. Sorry I didn't get to all of your questions and comments; I'll do better tomorrow. If I had to guess, I'd say the topic will be Strasburg. Later!

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 was 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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