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

Jul 03, 2013

This week, Tracee Hamilton discusses all the sports news.

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Hi, Tracee. How was the wedding? Coincidentally, I attended my 25-year-old nephew's wedding in the Midwest on Saturday. I didn't have to get involved with the planning process, however.

The wedding itself was lovely, as was the reception. If you name an aspect of the wedding, I can tell you what went wrong and how Aunt Trac had to try to fix it, but from the outside, it was a perfect wedding and the bride was very happy. That was the goal, because we love her. So mission accomplished.


There is one chatter who frequently mentions "Say Yes to the Dress," which I know nothing about. But I will say this: Farah's dress came from that store. There, I finally have something to say about the show. And I will never mention it again.


And hello and welcome to the early edition. This may not work; too many people are off work today, or wringing themselves out, so if it's quiet, I'll say goodbye and slip off onto the Metro. What is everyone doing for the Fourth? Nats for me.

We have known for the better part of the last two years the Nats could care less about holding a runner on base. Yesterday however was an embarrassment. Storen refused to even glance at the runners, who easy would have stole two bases if they were not hit and run plays. It's such a basic concept to hold runners on, why don't the Nats try to do it.

I am not sure they aren't trying. I don't think they aren't trying to field the ball, or hit the ball, or throw the ball to the proper place. They just aren't doing any of those things very well. Why is that? I can't answer that. I'm not sure Davey J. and Mike R. can answer that. This is a head-scratching team.

Rock beats Jayhawk, Jayhawk eats Chalk, Chalk marks Rock?

That sounds about right. I was trying to work it into "Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock." (If you don't watch "Big Bang Theory" that will elude you, but it's pretty funny.)

Where will you be sitting? We could have an imprompu chatters' get together tomorrow!

I'll be in the press box, busily writing so I can get home before the trains become impossible. Not looking forward to Metro tomorrow.

He's really been throwing a lot better of late but boy did he have a stinker last night.

Yes, he really did.

It looks like Matt Hendricks will be suiting up somewhere else next season. Who is going to replace him in the shootout?

I don't know. I concern myself with who will replace him in the locker room. He was just That Guy. I will miss him if he goes.

Do you see GM GM making any moves prior to Friday (free agency opens)? Now that Vinny LeCavalier signed with Philadelphia, isn't Mike Ribeiro the next best option? If Ribeiro walks, how do the Caps get better than they were last year?

I think they need to re-sign Ribeiro but I wouldn't be opposed to some moves. We seem to be a "stand pat" town these days. Someone needs to shake things up.

So what should the Caps do not that Vinnie is off the table. Sign Ribeiro for more than they want? Briere? Hope their rostered players step up?

See above. I think that's the best option among some fairly average options.

Do we have any relief pitchers that we can count on? Storen is an automatic loss unless we are up by 5 runs when he comes in. How does this get better? We need to catch Atlanta, because it is unlikely that second place will get the wildcard.

I agree about catching Atlanta. This can still happen but if it doesn't happen in July I think it's over.

T-Bone, what the heck is wrong with Drew Storen? He's awful at holding baserunners, and he seems to let any sort of trouble get to him. Is this a severe case of the nerves after blowing game 5 last year? Can he be salvaged?

He had none of these "mental toughness" issues before. In fact, he had a great reliever's attitude. Still does. He just isn't following through on the mound. It's hard for me to comment because -- as I've stated on this chat before -- I LIKE Drew. He is the only athlete I have trouble saying something negative about. I should have listened to Mr. Tony -- never meet them! He's a great kid and I hate to see him struggle like this. He swears it's not Game 5 but I begin to wonder...

Last year Zimmermann couldn't buy a run and this year he's the NL's first 12-game winner. This year Stras' ERA is 2.24 and falling but he only has 4 wins. The fact that Zimmerman seems to have a lot of throwing errors behind Strasburg doesn't exactly help. Why do some pitchers seem to get more support than others?

I'm not sure there's a quantifiable answer. Wasn't it a year or so ago that Zimmermann was getting NO run support? Maybe he's due. As to the Zimmerman-Strasburg corollary, I can't explain that. I wrote a column before vacation about the lack of run support and the number of errors behind Stras. I see nothing has changed since vacation. I do not believe there is nothing wrong with his arm. (Zim's, not Stras's) and I still wonder if he came back too soon from surgery.

Tracee, Apologies for the alliteration... I love Danny Espinosa and think there's no better defensive second baseman in the majors, er, uh, who was in the majors this year, but I'm afraid we've seen the last of him in a Nats uni, at least starting. Rendon is great with the bat and getting better at second all the time.

Yes, I believe you are correct. And while I feel sorry for Espinosa, in a way you feel sorry for anyone who loses a job, he had a lot of opportunities and just couldn't get his bat going. Defensively, he's terrific. But Rendon is the real deal, and a guy everyone has had his eye on a long time. Rendon, Desmond, Harper, Strasburg, Zimmermann ... that's a good young foundation there.

Tracee, when I'm overseas I use the Tube, U-Bahn, Metro, etc a lot and I have to say the DC Metro is really not, shall we say, world class. One of my biggest complaints (besides the dearth of information on the trains themselves) is the lack of facilities at the stations, particularly bathrooms. Why is that, do you think? It's hard to get your drink on at the game and then have nowhere to go once you get trapped within the Metro system.

I don't get that, but I guess if you beg, they will let you in. It depends on the station and the stationmaster. But you shouldn't have to beg. They didn't design bathrooms into the original plans and now, if they didn't put them within the gated area, they'd be pretty skeevy, I'm guessing, and a bitch to keep clean. So I'm not sure what the answer is. Of course, I've seen people pee on the trains, so some people aren't bothered by this.

Have you talked to Sally about Lance's appearance in Corsica over the weekend and his interview with Le Monde? Is he speaking the truth now, that no one could have won the Tour during those years without doping? Or do you think that he is just trying to justify his own actions and rehabilitate his image?

I haven't talked to Sally in ages, so I don't know what she thinks. Interesting that he gave an interview to Le Monde, which I thought he hated (and he thought hated him). I think it's an unanswerable question. We'll never know if no one could have won those Tours without doping because apparently so many were. He needs to stop trying to make excuses. I thought he was smarter than that. There is forgiveness to be had but you've got to ask for it.

hmm, must come up with a question, for the few of us who are on, and very grateful you're here to educate us. ok, try this: what, in your humble opinion, is the most useless baseball stat, and the most useful one? I'll suggest wins/losses aren't very useful, and most useful, especially considering its relative newness, is OPS.

Oooooo, that's a good question. I think I agree with you on OPS. Most useless? Hmmmm, wins are misleading, because they reflect a team effort but they are attached to an individual (if you mean win/loss b pitcher). I have never cared about "caught stealing."

Hi Trac! My plans for the Fourth are simple: I am currently obsessed with The Wire, so I will be binge-watching. But the Fourth also makes me think about the Founders and the principles of this great nation: equality before the law, representative government, compromise, and the value of the community. And to honor this momentous occasion, we'll be havin' ribs. Enjoy your day! Rico

Rico: Sounds delish! And someday I've got to binge-watch "The Wire." Saw EW just named it the No. 1 show of all time. I didn't get into it when it first aired and now I feel very out of it. Enjoy the day. It's nice that you think of the founding of the country on the 4th and not all the great mattress sales!

Ribeiro's wife is apparently making angry comments on social media about how the Caps are refusing to sign him. She seems to think that they have told him they won't sign him. So I guess we need another option.

Ah, that's never a good thing. I know Ribeiro really wanted to get his family settled, but maybe they told him they weren't signing him, and maybe she's just ranting and trying to pressure them into signing him. Always good when spouses of athletes stay off social media. Remember Mrs. Tom Brady's "pray for my husband" tweet?

Is it really smart to "go all in" for the playoffs in 2014, considering everyone knows the 2014 draft is really good - including Andrew Wiggins - and the Wizards don't really have a true real can win a championship star....

I think the Wizards just can't miss another postseason. They can't afford to keep waiting one more year. Although yes, next year's draft should be good.

I appreciate the Nats scheduling their game so early, so Metro is likely to be merely bad instead of terrible. Our strategy will be to take Metro to the ballpark and after the game get a taxi from the park to Union Station to get on Metro for the trip to Shady Grove, thus missing the ballpark Metro crunch and transfer at Gallery Place. Do you or any of the chatters have a better plan?

If I can find a cab, I'll take it directly to an Orange Line station, but I don't like my odds (because I can't leave as early as you can). That's where my worry comes in. But yes, if you can get right onto your line, that avoids at least some of those horrible platform scrums.

It's total randomness. What, do you think the entire team got together and chose to gang up on J-Zim in 2012 and chose to gang up on Stras in 2013? As Nate Silver put it, baseball stats reflect luck in the short term and skill in the long term; the shorter the term, the greater role of luck.

Right. There is no intent behind it. It is odd when it constantly affects one pitcher, but it's random odd, not deliberate odd.

Metro designers visited rail systems in other cities and reported the most common advice they got was not to include public rest rooms. A big headache for management.

I can readily understand it. The maintenance and cleaning and water bills -- think how far over budget Metro is already. Of course, Metro rides have gotten longer, it seems, with all the new lines and transferring and delays. You really have to plan.

Appreciated your column on the bag bans at NFL stadia. I have friends (like me, female) who regularly attended games but are reconsidering. I just pray the NHL does not follow suit. I regularly go from work directly to da Phone Booth for Caps game. I do not want to have to go back to work to get my regular bag because I can only take a large baggie to the game. Thanks.

I really feel that if crazy people want to do something crazy, they will find a way. And a baggie rule won't stop them. I hope I'm wrong. I also think a lot of women will suck it up and just do it. (Idea for Nike to make even more money: Sell plastic bag with a swoosh on side and "Just Do It" written under it.)

Since someone brougth up stats, one of the many reasons I think baseball is better than football is the way credit and blame are assigned. I love that errors are assessed. In particular, I'm thinking about pitchers v. quarterbacks. Pitchers are credited with earned runs, as opposed to just runs. Compare this to a QB's completion percentage. If a receiver flat-out drops a pass it stills counts against the QB but when a fielder makes an error the pitcher doesn't get dinged.

That is true.

I will be at tomorrow morning's Nats game, too. Afterwards I would normally sprint home to binge watch JOHN ADAMS on HBO but I just bought the DVD set. So I can still binge, but on my schedule. BTW, the music that accompanies the Nats' opening video is the main theme from JOHN ADAMS.

Did not know that. And another thing I didn't see the first time around. I need to be writing these down.

The salient fact is that your family got new member. The rest (ceremony, reception) was just icing on the (wedding) cake.

Exactly, and we are crazy about her. Let's face it, that's not always the case.

Everyone I was rooting for (Serena, Federer, Nadal, Li Na) all lost way too early... :(

Strange Wimbledon this year. I don't necessarily need to see Americans but I do like to watch people I've heard of. And I don't like grunters and yelpers. That has pretty much ruined the women's game for me.

T - you could cab to Potomac Ave (14th and Penna SE) and get on Orange from there.

Yup, good idea. I may do that.  Worth it. What exit do they make the fireworks fiends take? I know they can't get off at Smithsonian. Or wait, is that for the inauguration? You can tell how long it's been since I went to the fireworks. Last time I could walk there. And did.

On the bright side, at least you're not covering the Giants or As, where BART went out on strike this week.

There is always a bright side! That's gotta be rough, a BART strike. I could drive to the park, of course, but that just seems like an exercise in frustration. The day I left town, my tire went flat. Now I have four new tires but the battery conked. I need a new car but I so love my car because 1) it's paid for and 2) I have 40,900 miles on it (and it's a 2001). So a new car seems kind of wasteful.

Curious why Caught Stealing is your choice. Useless as a standalone stat, but when combined with Stolen Bases, gives a good idea about the value of that player's attempts. The stat geeks say a player has to be succesful about 75-80% of the time just to break even. Re: stolen bases, I wish there was a way to correctly attribute them towards pitchers' slow moves to the plate rather than catchers' slowness is getting the ball to second. Also, another thing always bothering me: pitchers' errors should count against their ERA - it's entirely their own fault, not something to blame on their team's defense.

I see your point, but a steal depends on the opposing catcher's accuracy, the quickness of the ball to the plate ... the runner is only a part of the equation, I guess. I don't know, I don't ever pay attention to that one. Of course all stats to some degree depend on more than just the person credited with the stat.


Now quality starts, there's  a stat! :)

Why can't the Wizards afford another non-postseason season? They haven't even been more than 3 games over .500 in 30 years - what's the rush? PS I care more about winning as a franchise, not saving a GM or coaches job...

Not sure what the last statement means but that's not why I say they can't afford another season out of the playoffs. I don't care about the coach's job or the GM's job either. I think they need to do what they can to avoid being an almost complete afterthought on the local landscape. They need to sell tickets to make money to sign free agents. They need to be attractive enough for free agents to want to sign. etc. etc.

I don't understand why the team should bear a penalty for a player's criminal actions in terms of the salary cap. It's not the fans' fault, but they have a lesser team. And, it would be better for the players if the replacement got a big fat payday for replacing someone who has been removed due to personal criminal behavior. It gives the crook undue sway over the team in the long run. I mean, these crimes happen so far off the field, it's not appropriate to link it to the team's business activity. I say cut the player, clean out their locker, and hand their paycheck to the new guy. It would be good for people to know they are replaceable.

I get your point. But if the league decided you could release a player who commits a crime without repercussions, where do you draw the line? Convicted of murder? Accused of murder? Wife beating? Teams would find a way to take advantage of it, because that's what savvy teams do. Is it fair? No. But the Pats at least minimized the hit they will take. As far as giving the check to the guy's replacement, that is frought with difficulty as well. Let's just say that the players' union would be the first of many to object to that. I get your ire over the situation, however.

Yes, bathrooms require mainenance and so on but so what? When you're traveling around on public transport you can have long stretches without acces to a bathroom. They could do like some in Europe and charge. I'd pay a buck to pee.

That might be Metro's answer to the budget crisis. I still think they'd have to be available only after you swipe your card; otherwise, they would be anything from unseemly to downright dangerous. But inside the gates, a buck would seem fair.

If you were in charge of the promotions at the Nats park, what promotion would you do? Rock band after game? Bonfire of objectionable records? A new president in the race? Hey, by the way, do you think the Nats poor performance has anything to do with Teddy winning a race?

Free admission to anyone who could recite anything from the Bill of Rights? But no advance warning -- pop quiz. Make knowledge of our country profitable for one afternoon. Phones make this nearly impossible to do, of course. Just dreamin'. Kind of a Jeopardy like thing without that dope Trebek.


No, I don't think the Nats' poor performance has to do with Teddy winning. But ... is it Taft?


Okay, we've killed an hour of Fourth of July Eve, as it is not known anywhere, by anyone. I hope you all have a lovely holiday and if lucky, a long weekend as well. Let's talk next week!

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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