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

Sep 06, 2012

This week, Tracee Hamilton discusses all the sports news.

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On Wednesday, I opened up to the Sports page and it said that the Nats game ended too late for that edition. The game was played here and ended around 10:30. When I opened to the standings, NONE of the scores from Tuesday night were shown; they all had an "X" next to the team name meaning the game was a late game. This has never happened to the edition I get. Was there something wrong Tuesday night at the Post? Will this become a more common occurance in the future.

Let's get this out of the way first. Dan posted an explanation on the Bog and then there was another on the front page of the paper this morning. Will it be more common? I would highly doubt it. It has rarely happened. I can't remember the last time it did.

And good morning, everyone. Let's get started.

Is the entire sports department going to bed at 8PM? Are they chowing down at the early bird special? On Wednesday, *ALL* the games were marked as "late game". What happened? Section 405

Now 405, last week I defended you from attack by a fellow poster, so this week, you go with the "does no one work there after 8 p.m. attack"? Really? You know better.

O goddess of the Plains and Knower of all things Great and small Given your now controlled temper , did you blow out your shoulders throwing phones or mutilating furniture ? Now with cell phones , would your your best pitch be a sinker or a cutter?

Never hurt myself. And I haven't thrown a phone in 20 years. So sadly, that can't be blamed for my current state of opening doors with my feet.

So, I'm helping The Best Wife in the World with her office's fantasy league. Never played roto before, because I don't care about the NFL, but she wants to play along with the kids at the office. I find out after picking Brees and a couple of running backs I may have heard of that we're also picking kickers and tight ends. I pick Van Der Jagt, because I've heard of him, only to find that he apparently retired. Then I pick my tight end, and the only one I've heard of is Kellen Winslow (I hear he's a soldier!). I'm doomed, right?

Yeah, probably. This long ago stopped being fun and started being serious business for a lot of people. Lot of studying and sometimes even a lot of money involved. But then again, what's the harm in your buy-in isn't the equivalent of a mortgage payment? Have some fun.

Tracee -- It seems to me that Nats batters take an unusual amount of first-pitch strikes. Most of those pitches seem quite hittable -- they are generally over the heart of the plate, but the batters don't swing. Is there any explanation for this? I can't think of one, but that doesn't mean there isn't one.

Somewhere -- probably on Stats Inc., which I no longer have access to -- there's probably a breakdown of that to see what the actual comparison is to other teams. One explanation would be a hitting coach who tells them, "Never swing at a first pitch," but I do not think that is happening. Anyone else have any theories?

What good is it? (Any reaction to the following?):

Well, that article is quite old and that debate is, too. Plus it's been written about a lot since then, including by me. I'm pretty ambivalent about college football, and we're discussed the general attitude here before. I don't know if others have changed their minds once the season has begun. I am still sort of "eh" although I did watch here and there last Saturday. What good is it? It makes money for all the other sports. It is a way to bring people back to campus and keep them connected to their alma maters. (That may not always be a good thing, of course.)

Tracee -- can I trademark Nats faNatitude? Describes my situation perfectly. Cheered myself hoarse for the first time at the Nats game on Saturday. So here's my thought -- keep Stras around as a pinch hitter? .271 batting average last time I looked. I have to trust in the Nats with respect to his pitching, but what about his batting? OUMom

You're not the first to suggest this but who would you leave off the roster to keep him as a PH? The problem is, Stras couldn't do anything else. He can't play in the outfield, the infield ... it just won't work.

The team with the best NL record will play the Wild Card winner, which will probably be a very good team. The 2nd place team will play the Division winner with the worst record (the SF Giants or the LA Dodgers). Would the Nats not be better off finishing 2nd in the NL? I know the wild card team will have likely spent their "Ace" in the wild card game, but especially if the Giants win the West, I'd rather face them than the Braves. Disagree?

I do not disagree, for your reasons and others. I think it's best to know who you're going to play, especially for a team that's never been there.

"The Best Academics & Cleanest Program in the SEC. WHOOP!" Well, to be fair, the Aggies haven't been in the $EC very long. They'll no doubt get dragged down to the point that you won't have to be able to spell "A&M" to play there. TBHitW

Sure to endear them to all their new friends in the SEC. :)

With all due respect to Michael Bourn, can you explain the "logic" of essentially allowing Adam LaRoche to walk in order to potentially obtain Bourn as a free agent? Factoring his defense and his offense, LaRoche is objectively one of the top five first basemen in MLB. In contrast, Bourn is a run of the mill, top of the fold outfielder. Weighing Bourn's offense and defense, it does not appear to me he would crack into any of the three, currently constituted outfield positions for Washington. (Even assuming you move Morse to first to fill the void left by an unsigned LaRoche, the remaining reserve outfielders, e.g., Bernadina, compare favorably to Bourn.) In sum, unless the price is astronomical, the Nats should re-sign LaRoche, and further develop the existing outfield corps -- with starters with proven All-Star caliber potential -- they already have.

I would keep LaRoche. I think he's earned that. I think he's the right fit here. I wouldn't make that move, so I can't explain the logic!

Between the success of the Nationals and the overwhelming interest in the Redskins, when do you think DC would notice that the hockey season had been canceled? January 1? After the Super Bowl?

I think sooner than that; the Capitals' DO have a loyal fan base. But it wouldn't have the widespread impact (the loss of the Caps, I mean) if the Nats are playing in the postseason. But for Caps fans, it would hurt.

This morning I went to the Washington Post sports page (online) to get a recap of the game last night. I had to scroll through several times to be sure... nothing, not a single story mentioned it. I finally found a "box score" on the front page that presented the score along with cold statistics. Why the complete lack of a story on the next day?!? Another NFL restriction?

Well, that one I CAN'T explain. No reason it shouldn't be there, and I assume since then you've found that it is now there. But that is puzzling. Sometimes stories are loaded up but someone forgets to put the key on the sports front. That might have happened. I just don't know. But not good...

The last couple of games with the Cubs have made the Nats look like gods. I like this--good teams should look like gods against teams like the Cubs. But in baseball, destiny begins in October. I'm very excited, but chances are we'll be saying "Wait 'til next year" by Columbus Day...and this time, that will actually mean something. Enjoy the ride, folks!

I don't think folks here will be jumping off the Wilson bridge if the Nats lose in October. They shouldn't. And yes, the Cubs reminded the Nats that they could actually hit. So ... fun for the fans. But I wouldn't already start looking for reasons they'll fold in the playoffs. I'd get them there, then see who they're playing. And in October, anything can happen. That's what makes it fun.

While the TV team is not bad, I love the radio team and, like the good old days in Balt when Jon Miller was on the radio, I, listen to them w/the TV on mute. And their post game show is the best in the country, at least east of the Mississippi. (My brother, an East Coast truck driver, confirms this.) All that detail! It takes a long time to replay 6 HR's a game. And their post-game scoreboard is so comprehensive. They really bring you up to date on everything happening n baseball. Ihope they remain for many years andkeep up the good work!

Here's some love for the radio team.

As an O's and Nats fan, I am in heaven! I always said I would cross the bridge of deciding for whom to root in the World Series when I came to it (probably the O's, since I've been an O's fan since 1958.) But I'm having so much fun! In the meantime, O's phenom Dylan Bundy is pitching in Bowie and fans of all teams should try to check him out. 19 years old (20 in Nov.), pitching in AA, and he routinely hits the high 90's. If he can avoid injuries he is going to be a good one.

So, Davey for NL manager of the year and Buck for AL? The O's performance is really something. Good for the Bird fans.

You say that you have no chat producer. Whether it is because WaPo doesn't feel they haver the money in the budget or what ever I am volunteering to be your producer. I am top notch and I do not come cheap. I expect, no demand that I be paid in smiles, atta boys and just something to drink every now and then like some water or sugar-free lemonade. That last one is negotiable. I can start next week if you like. So how about it ?

I can't imagine the hoops we'd ahve to jump through but I appreciate the offer! Besides, water? You'd want water? It's these kinds of demands that are crippling newspapers. :)

Before I forget, someone asked last week about Gene Wang's weekly chat and I told you that Gene doesn't have one. He IS on Mike Wise's radio show, however. I think it's Thursdays about 1:30. It's pretty speedy; people call in and give Geno scenarios and he tells them what to do. You can always find the show on a podcast if you're working. Just a thought...

Tracy: finally got to "Death Comes to Pemberly" and agree it was "meh" but if you have a sports free weekend in your future, or a rest your shoulder day on the sofa, try "The Art of Fielding" --a great novel and full of love for baseball. OK guys, you can start reading again now.

Glad it wasn't just me being grumpy. And thanks for the recommendation.

For those who like the genre, there is a novel called "Doc," aobut Doc Holliday, that I just finished. It's pre-Tombstone and it's based in fact with some embroidery and I loved it. Sorry, can't remember the author.

Okay, that's it for book club. Next up: paint chips.

You probably won't post this because your inbox will explode, but I don't get it. All the noise, pollution and great waste of gasoline. Not to mentionthe disruption to all of downtown Balt for many weeks. My sister who lives near Harborplace says the entire weekend is iterally hell on wheels. I personally would solve the energy crisis by abolishing auto racing, but obviously not everybody feels that way.

I lived in Detroit for many years during the Grand Prix and it is hell on wheels and disruptive and noisy and smelly. I'm not a huge fan of Grand Prix racing but I don't know that it should be abolished. The one positive that happens: streets get paved for the race, giving locals a better ride after the circus moves on. That's the best I can do.

For some reason Boz hasn't been answering any of my insightful and thoughtful questions in his chats like he used to. Meanwhile I usually get at least one - often more - questions answered by you. Am I in his dog house? How do I get out?

Yes, Boz told me he was mad at you but I'm not allowed to tell you why.

It's already been taken down, as A&M contacted the company and said "We didn't authorize that, so it's copyright infringement."

Oh, interesting. Some dopey alum.

When you move the mouse pointer over the Sports section, it lists all the DC area teams. It was clearly originally done in order of popularity - Skins, Caps, Wiz, Nats, etc. Shouldn't the Nats link be moved to just below the Skins now?

It probably was done that way and now no one wants to change it because people don't like change. But I'm posting this for the editors to see.

Can Gio win the Cy Young?

Nope. But he should get some votes.

Based on comments by Carpenter and Santangelo, greater emphasis has been placed on adopting and sticking with each hitter's approach - regardless of success from one at bat to another. So, if sitting on a pitch (i.e., taking a first strike) or jumping on it is the gameplan, they stick with it... Perhaps to avoid thinking too much. See "Crash" Davis, Bull Durham.

You know that is my all-time favorite baseball movie quote, so if the Nats are using it for hitting instruction, then good for them...

Play Strat-o-Matic baseball anymore?

I'll bet there's some niche somewhere.

Come on now. Maybe it wasn't whining when they were complaining about the Skins getting too much coverage. But come on. When these people saw the SNAFU in the paper, couldn't they just go online to get the scores? Did it really mess things up, or do some people just enjoy complaining?

I can understand why people who pay for the paper want to get news in said paper. When they saw nothing that happened that night in their paper, they were mad. I can totally understand that. Yes, they can find the news elsewhere, online or (gulp) from another newspaper. But the people who subscribe to the paper do PAY for the paper. They have a right to gripe when they don't get what they pay for. Not when a game is delayed six hours by rain and it ends after we go to press, but when we screw up (or our software stinks or whatever) they have a legitimate gripe. I had a doctor appt Wednesday at 7:30 and the first thing he asked me was why the game wasn't in his paper. I left the house so early I hadn't even gotten my paper, nor had I been to the office, so I had no idea. He wasn't whining, either; he was just curious.

It's the people who go right to "You hate the Democrats because you didn't cover Michelle Obama" or "You all go home at 6 pm because you didn't put the Nats in the paper" who are the problem. Because they don't use logic; they just look for the loopiest explanation and run with it -- and isn't that one of the problems in this country right now? (IMHO)

(I don't include 405 in that group; I give him the benefit of the doubt because he does know better. And I'm sure he'll feel bad once he sees the explanation.)

I've said it many times: No one goes into the business to work eight-hour days and to be off nights, weekends and holidays. And no one who works in newspapers is NOT interested in putting news in said newspapers. That's sort of the whole point. I'd just ask people not to go right to the conspiracy theory. Try to be reasonable and not fly completely off the handle.

Really naive question, I know. But why can Michigan & Alabama play a real game against a real opponent in their first game, but the NFL needs 4 preseason games to get up to speed?

Well, the NFL doesn't need four preseason games. It does need a preseason in order to pare down rosters, which is a bigger deal at that level because most college teams have biggest rosters than, say, the Redskins. And it involves money at the pro level so that makes it more important. Theoretically, it doesn't involve money at the college level.

The NFL has said it will cut the preseason to two games if it expands its schedule to 18 games, meaning it knows it doesn't need four preseason games. But the NFL can make money on those games so it isn't going to give any of them up without some income to replace it.

I get the sense that when Mel Kiper Jr and the like stroll back into ESPN each fall, they gives noogies to the baseball reporters and calls the hockey and NBA reporters adorable. They seem to think the NFL is the only sport that exists. But this is only my perception. How close is that to reality?

I can't say but this need ESPN has to set Kiper up with "enemies" to debate him and try to ruffle his feathers. They can't stop the personal insults long enough to actually say anything.

The NFL is king as far as TV ratings and while that may change someday, so far it seems to be holding strong. So they may well act that way in Bristol. Thankfully our guys do not.

Lemonade without sugar is lemon juice and water.


I know people in Cleveland would like to forget all he did before the move. But I think that Art Modell is reason #1 why a small media contingent should not select who gets into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A small minority can ensure their personal vendetta keeps a deserving candidate out. Modell did more for the NFL than just about any other owner who has been enshrined.

He certainly played an important part in the development of the league. And as for the media voting -- no arguments here.

Hey Tracee, Regarding keeping opposing players from stealing on them, I know the Nats have addressed the issue so it's obviously a concern, but I was wondering what can be done about it. Would tinkering with a pitcher's rythm be detrimental to his pitching to the point where it isn't worth it? I honestly don't know enough about it but I'm mildly worried come the postseason. Thanks!

This is a weakness. I'm not sure I'd tinker too much with a delivery; you can certainly work on pickoff moves. This is where we'll be reminded that this team lost Wilson Ramos. They've overcome so many injuries but that one may resonate in October.

The college ranking system is utter BS. So much depends on how you're ranked when the season starts - and it has nothing to do with the previous season's performance. Why should USC have been no. 1 to start the season? Who descended from the Heavens to determine that? Why do they need to rank teams at the start of the season. They should wait until it's halfway through. Ideally, they should wait til the season is over, but they'd never do that.

Agreed. If you'd ranked in the middle of the pack or lower, you have virtually no chance, from week 1, of moving into the top spot. There's a lot wrong with the ranking system; no argument here. And of all of it, preseason rankings are the stupidest. They're based on last year's performances plus the stars, then the next week they're based largely on teams beating up on much lesser opponents. In short, you are correct.

Doc was written by Mary Doria Russell. And, yes, I think you should have a producer. (Smile) Bill from Columbia

That's it, thanks, Bill! Very good book.

Hey, D.C. United outdraws the Wiz (per game, anyway). They ought to move up, too!

They do, that's true. Good point.

Why shouldn't they be the most popular team in town?

No reason. I think the poster was suggesting the Nats move ahead of the Caps and Wiz. The Caps fans might disagree; the Wiz fans really have no argument.

I'm a fan, as you might guess, but these first few weeks of good teams vs. patsies is completely worthless. I can't make myself pay attention - it's worse than watching the U.S. basketball team crush some developing country in the early rounds of the Olympics. I understand why coaches schedule these games, but that doesn't mean we have to watch them. -K-Stater

I shouldn't knock them; they are the games my alma mater can sometimes win. :) I guess they are sort of the NFL exhibition of college football.

Tracee, Is there going to be that Trash Talking Chat again this year?

Huh? Have I blocked that from my memory? What did we talk trash about? Did everyone talk trash to me? This doesn't sound fun.

What do you think are the chances of a Nats/O's world series? What impact do you think it would have on the area?

The chances: small. The potential impact: huge. This would finally be the rivalry it was intended to be. Fence straddlers would take sides. And it would ramp up these interleague series for years to come.

Exactly -- there was no buy-in, the company bought the drinks and food at the bar where we drafted, and she got a half-day off work. So far, I'm enjoying it and being glad I'm not the red-faced guy to my left who lost his mind when she vetoed my pick of Creepy Ben. Now to see if I can win without watching any games or making any changes other than injuries or bye weeks... TBHitW

Oh, then, why not? Sounds fun. When it controls your watching habits and ruins your enjoyment of the games, then you know it's not for you. Some people can handle it. Some people can't.

When I use my Iphone app for the WP, and go to the "more" tab, the sports section lists Skins, Caps and Sports and "More." Why no love for the Nats with their own tab?

I love the fact that everyone thinks I know these things, I, who have no producer and can barely sign on my computer. But i'm posting this  so my editors will see it and they can pass it on to whoever designs the apps. I'm sure you realize that that is not us.

Man, he's on fire lately. I read a WashPost article that said it seems to me because he's just being more patient at the plate, not chasing the out and away pitches, instead waiting for a good one and WHAM! So it appears now that he's figured out these big league pitchers' pitches, hopefully we'll get to see more of those insane hits the second deck while still going up hits like last night? That thing could have hit the Capitol if nothing had stopped it.

If he's truly figured things out at the plate, then look out. I will be eager to see him hit against non-Cubs, but I have every faith that this kid is a pretty quick study.

Remember those commercials for the Geo car? Those chirpy singers going "g-g-g-g-g-g-g Geo!" I think that's what they should play at Nats Park when Gio pitches. Recommend that to someone please. Thank you.

I think of that car and that commercial every time he pitches. However, that may have aired before Gio was born, and they get to pick their own music...

I submitted my comment Wednesday morning before I saw the explanation. It was meant to be a lighthearted tweak, kinda like what the Nats got after the "NATINALS" gaffe. It clearly didn't go over the way I'd intended. I should have realized how seriously you guys take putting out a quality product every day., and I do appreciate the paper I read every day. I'm sorry that my attempt at humor turned out so tone deaf. Section 405

I knew I'd hear from you -- I didn't take it seriously because it was you but it's the kind of thing we hear a lot. You know I would never get mad at you, 405. :)


The Official Beverage Chat of the Washington Post.

That's the other name of this chat, for reasons too long to explain.

Wilson Ramos might be hurt, but Suzuki is a great defensive catcher. I didn't know much about him but I've quickly come to really like him. The Nats have him under control next season so the Spring will be interesting to say the least.

He is; it's just a shame that Ramos has missed all this, especially after the offseason he had. Talk about a bad year.

Based on my quick research D.C. United (united what??) average 15,054 per game. The Wizards averaged 16,728 last year. Sorry, but soccer is a second tier sport in this country still.

Was that last year (for United)? They normally have averaged about 18,000 a year since coming here. They also are drawing fans to a building that drops chunks of concrete randomly. Maybe that number is from this year? Their attendance is definitely down from when they started here. I do think RFK has something to do with that.

On the other hand, it's impressive that the Wizards can draw that many fans.

If the Nats win the World Series, will the front office have enough self-esteem to have the team wear "Natinals" jerseys on throwback night? That would be a riot.

It would be hilarious and witty and "inside Washington" and I doubt it. But I like the way you think!

Will the blow out the budget on Nats playoff coverage? They should since it has been so long. Let's got all hands on deck with chats every day and post-game EXTRAs. This is huge for long time Washington sports fans. HUGE.

Lots of plans in the works. It's a real shame this came in an election/Olympic year but I would expect the paper/website to go fairly nuts. 

Okay, I'm running long and my producer is out of his lemon and water, hold the sugar, so I'm going to sign off now. Thanks, everyone, for joining me. 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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