Jan 03, 2011

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

T: YOU RATE! Of all the chat-masters, you were the only one who had the message posted last week "Tracee will be back Monday!" You must have some kinda clout there in the WaPo!

Oh, yes, my power is mighty! Good way to start the chat. We'll focus on the most important story of the day: the introduction of KU's new AD.

Kidding. There is a lot to talk about and we need to talk fast. I'm writing a review of the "24/7" series before heading to College Park to meet Mr. Edsall, and I don't think I have a helper this morning, so let's get started.

Hate is a strong word for my fellow Skins fans, but in last night's chat, someone actually suggested picking up Reggie Bush this offseason. In fairness, that may have been a question submitted by Dan Snyder. It's like people don't even bother paying attention to reality - Reggie Bush is, yes, explosive, but he's not a reliable every-down back and running back certainly is not our most pressing need. But he won the Heisman! Everyone wants Shanahan fired NOW or to go back to the 4-3 defense NOW and winwinwin NOW NOW NOW. But blowing it all up this offseason isn't going to fix anything, and even if Shanahan ends up failing, I'd like to give him the opportunity to actually fail, rather than impulsively get him fired because he didn't immediately fix 18 YEARS of institutional failure. I feel good about this 6-10; it is more than just 2 games better than last year's 4-12, even if people now think that Zorn being in the playoffs with the Ravens somehow invalidates Snyder firing him.

This season should have taught Skins fans that there are good things to be found in small packages. Unknown packages. Packages other teams may have overlooked. (I'm suddenly channeling Clinton Portis here.)

I'm with you on Shanahan in this regard: You can't expect him to fix all these problems in one season. The mistake the Redskins made -- one of them -- was not stressing rebuilding at the start of the year. They avoided using the word and that gave folks the idea that they thought they could win right away. If they really thought that, then they were nuts.

In looking back over the season - it looks like McNabb was just the second coming of Haynesworth ... a high priced free agent who came to town saying all the right things, but someone who REFUSED to play within the system of the team. The only difference between the two was Haynesworth told you to your face he wasn't going to play 3-4, while McNabb did it in his typical passive-aggressive manner. Can't wait for both these losers to be off the team next year.

I'm not sure I agree with this, but it's an interesting point. Never thought of those two guys in the same sentence before. Hmmmm.


Look at all those lovely EEEEEEEs. Thanks!

While Shanny's diplomatic skills leave a lot to be desired, I can now see where he is coming from. When you start a new job, you get a 90 day probationary period to see if things work out. If not, you move on. The same with McNabb - he apparently doesn't fit into the scheme of things on so many levels, so that's the end of this experiment. To me, the bigger sin is that it's been 10 years now under the "leadership" of Snyder and the Redskins are STILL "rebuilding.'

I don't think Rex Grossman is the second coming, but he runs the offense fairly crisply, though I thought for sure he'd lead them to victory yesterday because he had less than two minutes to do it.

Rather nervous for Virginia Tech tonight. Stanford looks awfully good. Can my Hokies keep up with the Cardinal?

I believe the Hokies can keep up with the Cardinal, yes. Although it depends on which Hokies show up.

He won an NFL Championship with the Colts, and a Super Bowl with the Jets. Is Joe Namath still available?

One of the great names in sports, Weeb Ewbank. Or even just Weeb.

So, Mike Leach is left out in the cold after the Maryland AD finds someone better. Will Mike Leach end up at Pitt, or is he too radioactive?

I'm guessing after Pitt's little misstep this weekend they'll be looking for someone with absolutely no baggage whatsoever.

Tracey: First of all, happy new year! How was the Winter Classic? It looked great on TV. I know there were a lot of Caps fans there, and it sounded like they did the "RED" thing during the National Anthem, but also shouted "O." Was that right? I wish people would leave "O" to Camden Yards.

I hate hate hate the "O" shout during the anthem, but I'm told that Caps fans do it for Ovechkin. I still hate it, but that makes some more sense to me. I just don't like messing with the anthem in any way. That's why Caleb Greene (sp?) is my favorite DC anthem singer. Sing it the way it was written and get outta there.

Ms. H: Glad you have returned, and, big shock, the Skins lost their last game. Good to see KU keep cruising along in b-ball, but I suffered through the Holiday Bowl, as NU laid an egg so big all of Nebraska and Kansas could have shared in the omelette. Also locally, what happened to Mike Leach? AHG

I knew I'd hear from you this morning, and I knew you'd be unhappy about the Holiday Bowl. Surprising. What happened to Mike Leach? Excellent question. Either Edsall gives the greatest job interview of all time or someone got crazy cold feet.

...my first reaction was to wonder why Maryland wanted Thomas B. Edsall, the Post's retired (great) national reporter, to coach its football team.

Tom would be very good, very solid. And he'd always talk to the Post, which would be tremendous.

Watching the Skins this year is like watching your favorite fighter get pummeled by a better opponent. Every so often they come off the rope-a-dope and win a round.

Good metaphor. Say, is everyone planning to watch this new FX series about boxing, the name of which just flew out of my head? It looks pretty darn good from the previews.

what are the chances he is on the team next season, he is so damn bad.

Shanny seems to like him, but given the way this team likes auditions -- it's like "A Chorus Line" in pads out there -- I'm guessing they'll at least try for an upgrade. That was pathetic.

Ms. Hamilton- love your work, love your chats, really do. I very much appreciate having a daily sports chat. But I wanted to comment on your Winter Classic article. I just don't get your point- you talk about how the NHL missed a chance to bring new fans into the fold. But the point is that, except for the Canadian teams and maybe Buffalo, weather anywhere is going to be unpredictable on Jan. 1st. It could be 15 degrees, it could be 60. And the Canadian teams don't bring the opportunity to bring new fans into the fold the way holding the Winter Classic elsewhere does - you spread the game by bringing it to other locales. I also don't like the "But if you're going to stage an outdoor hockey game you'd better hold it somewhere with some guaranteed ice and snow, like Manhattan, or the Metrodome" line - you can't make a joke with the line that is supposed to seal your argument. What else did do you want the NHL to do? Reserve a stadium for one month in the hopes that they'll get freezing weather for the Winter Classic? The NHL and Pittsburgh did the best they could do under the circumstances. Anybody expecting more is not being realistic. Again, love your work, and glad to see you back. thanks

Fair points, although the Manhattan and Metrodome line was just a joke. Of course, there are no guarantees in weather anywhere, and yes, maybe the Oilers wouldn't be a huge draw for NBC, but if you always sent an American team up north to play it might work. I just wish the non-hockey folks could have seen a game like the 3-2 shootout at Verizon Center. That's how you draw in fans. The first period was just pretty boring, really, despite some of the great names on the ice. I did praise the NHL for its efforts -- they really did the best they could in those conditions and good for them. Loved the event, despite a lot of mishaps that day. Hope to cover it again. Just wish the ice would have been better. Privately, so did the players.

Hope you're rested because eventhough football season is over for the locals there is still lots going on out there. Yea Caps for winning the Winter Classic in less than ideal weather and yea Pats for winning the AFC. The road to the superbowl goes through Foxborough in the AFC!!! We'll need your prognosticating skills in a couple of weeks. Local Pat's Fan (formerly Other Pat's fan but apparently I'm the only local of the three regular Pats fans).

LPF, I'm happy to use my prognosticating skills in order to guarantee victory for whatever team I don't pick. I'm wicked good at that.

Interesting article yesterday. I have a question, though. Do you really think that improved ice conditions would have boosted long-term viewership? Speaking as a total Caps bandwagon fan, I absolutely loved that game! Watching the players deal with less than ideal circumstances, and yet still play hard, was half the fun. I thing that, if anything, the perseverance on display on Saturday will do more to make new fans than almost anything else.

I think a faster game and a better game from Ovie and Crosby would have drawn in some non-fans. Then again, there are a lot of non-fans who won't be drawn in no matter what, which is a shame. My mom told me she likes hockey, which stunned me. She has the world's smallest TV. She'd like the see the game in person. And of course, that's the best way.

Hi there, T-Ham! And let me join the throngs in welcoming you back. You were missed. Okay, 2 of our babysitters, namely B-Svrl and A-Kil, described you as an editor, thusly (and I'll try to distill their sentiments): you were tough, fair, would not hesitate to scratch the eyes out of a tiger to protect your writers, and, when the situation warrented it, were not averse to a well-placed tirade. Is this accurate? Thanks!

Yes. Yes it is. I read the chats in Kansas and had no trouble with anything anyone said. Especially when Kilgore said he was afraid of me. I'm coming to Viera, kid, and you won't know it till I'm right there, breathing down your neck.

HI Tracee. Welcome back. Hope you had a great time! Only one other thing I want to say. Thank God the season is over for the Skins!!!!

I was unable to see the two games (Dallas and Jax) when I was home, which I regret. But yes, for everyone's sake, it's good it's over. Now begins the offseason, and the fun really gets started.

Hi Tracee - Happy New Year! Well, the biggest sports news while you were gone has to be .... that insane celebration call at the end of the K-State-Syracuse game!!! Even a Jayhawk has to agree that was crazy. Ah well - now we can concentrate on basketball. Welcome back! -K-Stater

K-Stater, that was one of the worst calls ever. And you know how that pains me to say. But it was ridiculous.

I saw more K-State basketball when I was home than KU, for some reason. Still not sure what to make of that team. Dreading playing in Manhattan, though.

So how long will he last after screwing up the Fridge firing and the new hire?

Anyone missing Debbie Yow? It's not a great start, certainly.

Do I have a right to feel positive that the defense put together a few solid performances down the stretch? That with a few new faces (not splashy) they could be pretty good? That without injuries to Landry, etc. things would have been better? Also - how different does the end of this season feel with no angst over changing systems, questions about the Head Coach's job and seemingly no looming cap crisis? That has to be a positive looking forward, right?

Yes, I agree about the defense. They were calling some unknown names yesterday. Going into the offseason with a system and coaching staff in place should be a positive thing, and I'd look at it that way if you can. The draft is the next big hurdle.

I only ask because when I owed a cat, and I went away for more than a few days, my cat, "Piggy," would snub me for as many days as I was gone for. It was amazing. Or maybe she was just always mad at me for naming her "Piggy"?

She was mad because you "owned" her. Cats are never owned. They allow you to live in their homes. Mine have a good sitter so they were thrilled to death to have me home. They were angry, though, when I left again on Saturday. That was a bad morning.

Wont be any better than ten 2009 or 2010. same owner and same soap opera. What FAs want to play for Shanie and Son? And haslett needs to be given his outright termination. Only real solution for Skins fans is Danny selling the team.

That might be the only solution, but it's a completely unrealistic one. You may be right about all of it, but Snyder seems to be giving Allen and Shanny free rein, and that's what Redskins fans have been demanding for some time.

So I watched the game Saturday night and caught 2/3rds of the replay on NHL Network yesterday which used the CBC feed instead of NBC. I know that Caps fans are very touchy about the coverage of the team by the national (or I guess international) media. I guess I had never paid too much attention, but it was fairly glaring during those broadcasts. I am a bit baffled as to why the hockey media hates Ovechkin and the Caps so much. It was obvious that all of the Canadian guys want to marry Crosby which I guess is somewhat understandable given the big goal he scored for Canada last year and perhaps his dull as dishwater personality suits some sort of Canadian psyche thing. Do you think the Organ-I-zation cares about the negative view of the franchise among the hockey punditry?

I thought it was a Canadian thing, re Ovechkin, but they don't hate all Russian players (except for Don Cherry; he does). Sidney is almost too good to be true. I don't think anyone in the Caps organization minds if they are hated elsewhere. I don't get that sense.

Lets see ... if we're guaranteed 1/2 as many more wins every year under Shannyhans, 4-12 -> 6-10 -> 9-7 -> 13-3! Woo hoo!

Oh, if you want to use MATH ...

Tracee, I enjoyed your column on the NHL's Winter Classic but I have to disagree with you that "if you're going to stage an outdoor hockey game you'd better hold it somewhere with some guaranteed ice and snow,." The historical record shows that the first outdoor NHL game was a September 1991 exhibition between the NY Rangers and LA Kings. It was played on a rink built atop a parking lot at the Caesars Palace casino in Las Vegas. The outside air temperature when the puck dropped to start that game was 85 degrees F. so for a Winter Classic in Nationals Park precipitation would be a far bigger concern than the temperature in D.C. in January. Indeed, according to the contemporary New York Times coverage of that Las Vegas game two decades ago, "the main technical problem uncovered before the game was that the giant refrigeration system made the ice too cold." Now, please tell us about the beverages you enjoyed in Kansas! And, how much chocolate bark did you bring back?

Then let's hold it in Vegas. I have no problem with that. In fact ...

I have no good beverage tales from Kansas. Well, one. My niece's fiance brews his own beer and he gave me a bottle. He even drew his own label and it's pretty sweet. I can't drink it until I find out if I can be free of the gluten free routine. But I'm eager for it.

Forgetting wins and looses this year, didn't the fans have a right to expect a better season considering all that they were "Shanahanned" repeatedly, about how great, etc. It seems like anyone could have improved the Redskins this year compared to last year, especially when the head coach...sorry, the executive vice president, picked his own quarterback and brought in his own coaching staff, and had complete, unfettered, decision making.

As I said before, their mistake was not doing what the Caps did and declaring a rebuilding project. Why they didn't, I don't know. I give them another offseason and season to get this thing on track.

Regardless of what I think of Mr. Haynesworth, and I think for the most part he's been selfish, egotistical, and unprofessional, I would have give Mr. Shanahan the benefit of most doubts until I read the following: ""I usually don't meet with anybody, except for a few guys, for one reason or another," Shanahan said. "Maybe he'll stop by and say, 'Hello.' . . . I have not gotten a Christmas present yet. I'm waiting for it, though." How do you not meet with the players on their departure at the end of the season? How do you not meet with leading members of the team - regardless of what you think of Mr. Haynesworth, by virtue of the way he arrived, and his conduct, he's a leading member of the team, for good or bad. The last part, the Christmas present comments, are entirely uncalled for from a supposedly professional, not forgetting that Mr. Shanahan is both the head coach of the team as well as an Executive Vice President of the team, with final decision making authority for everything Redskins related. Mr. Shanahan, just as much as Mr. Haynesworth, comes across, boorish, egotistical, selfish, and, despite expecting the players to be professional, he comes across as unprofessional. The difference is is that Mr. Haynesworth is a leader in a limited way; Mr. Shanahan is the supposed leader of everything Redskins.

A lot of pro coaches keep a distance from the players so that's not that unusual. I don't agree with it, but if you're going to make personnel decisions, it's a natural reaction. Harder to cut a guy you haven't become fond of, I'd think. I'm guessing the Christmas present remark was a joke. Although it's hard to imagine Ol' Laser Eyes making a joke, isn't it? I'm with you on blaming Haynesworth for most of that dysfunctional relationship, but seeing his handling of McNabb makes you wonder. He's not very good at the one-on-one, apparently.

He certainly gave it his all this season despite some fumbling issues. Do we sign him to his last big contract or do we let him go as an FA and go younger cheaper or younger expensive?

I'd let him go, personally, and try to get a big-play guy with some heighth.

Doesn't Anthony Armstrong remind you of a young Antonio 'Huggy Bear' Fargas from the original Starsky and Hutch series?

I wasn't a big fan of S&H, but someone out there will be.

Why did NHL allow O Canada to song at the Caps Vs Pens game? Game took place in Pittsburgh which is in the good ole USA. Not Canada which is 5th world socialist failed country.

Now, now. It's customary to play "O Canada" for NHL games against Canadian teams and the all-star game and such and I have no problem with it being played at the Classic, which is honoring the game's roots, and those roots, let's face it, are in Canada. It's a great anthem, for one thing.

Hi, Tracee, & welcome back. We missed you a lot (although I enjoyed the chat with Dave because I, too, enjoy opera!). As I sit wearing my black & gold, I remember saying at the end of week 4, when the Steelers were 3-1 without Roethlisberger, that they had a good chance to go to the Super Bowl and you agreed it was a possibility. What do you think now (remembering that they beat the Browns twice & the Browns beat the Patriots)?

I'm so glad Dave got opera questions, and so was he. I think the Steelers will have to get through the Patriots and that won't be easy. Not saying they can't do it, but the Pats are pretty hot right now.

No question really, just jubilation. What a great time in Pittsburgh this weekend! And what a compelling story for the ending of 24/7.

Yes, HBO has to be thrilled.

From the time Doubleday (or Cartwright) created baseball, a critical flaw or issue has been bad ball and strike calls by plate Umpires. Since balls and strikes now can be verified instantaneously (i.e., via QuesTech as often seen during TV broadcasts), why not embed this technology into hand-held counters plate Umps use (maybe with a single red or green light)? With proper planning and safeguards, arguments over calls, game delays and strike zone variances between Umps could be eliminated. Also, plate Umps would only have to use this approach for close/questionable calls (maybe less than 15% of calls) and ball and strike calls would be correct 100% of the time. While traditionalists might object because this would change the game too much, or Umps might feel their integrity and/or competence is being questioned (which has been the case for years), keep in mind that many folks likely but wrongly thought the horseless carriage had no impactful future when it first appeared on the American scene.

I still miss the buggy, personally. I'm for replay in baseball but I'm still against using technology for balls and strikes. At least not yet. I'd have to really see it in action for a long period to change my mind.

Hi Tracee-- welcome back to you! I was shocked to learn that Barry S referrs to himself as someone who, at his core, doesn't like people. My apologies to Cheese Boy. I always thought this described him. So, is "B-Svrl" a "down with people" guy? Is he the "Debbie Downer" of Wapo?

He's not a downer, but as a rule, he doesn't like people, this is true. It's weird in such a good reporter and writer, but that's who he is. And when he doesn't like you, he really doesn't like you.

Interesting that there seems to be something of a growing trend toward blaming McNabb more than the Shannys for their failed relationship (and, really, isn't that what it is?). It seems to stem from his agent's comments and the fact that McNabb then supported them, and a little bit from Grossman's play in the last three games. But it startled me to realize the Skins lost seven of their last nine games. That's, um, bad. And not exactly a sign that the system was falling into place. Also, consider this question: how many players did the Skins add this year that will help them become a playoff team in two years? In my opinion, not many. This was a wasted season. I'll be curious to see how Shanahan spins it to make it look otherwise.

The Skins added two players this year that I think can go the distance: AA and BB. Two doesn't seem like many, but considering how far they had to go to find them, it's not bad. I've noticed the sentiment on McNabb changing as well. The system isn't falling into place with current personnel, this is true.

Uh, Canada didn't actually have a financial crisis, unlike the U.S....

Yes, but I was ignoring the political portion, as is my wont.

Speaking of the Shanahans, I was watching Sunday NFL Countdown last week (week 16), and was shocked to see every single one of the analysts trashing the Shanahans and saying no free agent will want to go to play for them, based on how they treated McNabb. I've never seen a current coach get so little respect from the panel, who I feel are always willing to defend coaches. Regardless of whether McNabb remains the player he was in Philly, I think the Shanahans are just disgusting for the way they've repeatedly tried to humiliate and belittle him to the press. Why should any player trust them now, after such a display? (They could have benched him with much less fanfare, if they wanted to).

They handled it very poorly, and learned no lessons from the previous debacle after the Lions game. That's the real shocker -- they blew that and didn't get it right the next time. Talk about having a tin ear when dealing with the media. And yes, McNabb is a popular player and it may hurt them with free agents. That's where the size of the checkbook comes in.

It's inevitable: that time in any adult's life when visiting one's folks. You know, that time when one says quietly, "I love them and all, but THIS is why I don't live with them anymore."

Oh, let's see, the first 20 minutes, when I had to talk my mom to the worst mall in North America. Yes, they get on my nerves, and I get on theirs, I'm sure, but we made it through two weeks without any major dustups so I consider it a job well done. Lots of tongue-biting, though.

By the way, on Christmas Eve my mom asked by brother-in-law to open a jar of nacho cheese and I said, "Feats of strength!" No one got it. So I missed you guys!

I've already bought my season tickets for spring training in Viera. I'll be right behind home plate so could you let me know when I should turn around and watch the press box for Kilgore's version of Hamiltime, instead of the game on the field? Or which tiki bar you guys hang out at post-filing? I like the beverages at the Conch Key on Rt. 1 in Rockledge but will happily relocate to eavesdrop on good Postie gossip. (Although I think the Conch Key has wi-fi so you can commit tiki and commit journalism simultaneously.)

I will be sure and post the dates I'll be down there. Looking forward to it already. I will wait for Boz to declare his intentions because he's Boz, then I'll go a different time. I know I will go to Panera so I can see the Barry Svrluga Memorial Table.

You've been in the midwest for a couple weeks, huh?


I know it started during the 2nd half of the Skins game, but did you catch any of the KU game on ESPNU? This squad distributes the ball better, and is more athletic than the '08 squad. Thoughts?

This team is so talented and deep it's scary. Their passing is unreal. And yes, they are more athletic. And that's as far as I'll go. :)

"The first period was just pretty boring, really, despite some of the great names on the ice." Are you serious? Did you miss the Erskine fight? Did you miss the hits? Just because no goals were scored doesn't mean the period was "boring." I think NBC's decision to continously switch to the aerial and boom cameras hurt the viewing enjoyment, but that game was FAR from boring, even for a non-hockey fan.

I thought it was slow. The Erskine fight was nice, though.

I agree wth you 100% on the national anthem. If you are not Robert Merle, Whitney Houston or Marvin Gaye, don't try to put your own spin on the national anthem. I really enjoyed the Winter Classic. I thought tha Caps played really physical (except for the shot on Crosby that was unnecessary), but the announcing team was just terrible. Not one significant insight and no period highlights. Give me Beninati and Laughlin.

We couldn't hear the announcing in the box, but I did keep looking around for Joe and Craig. NBC's delay was about 18 seconds, which meant we couldn't easily watch replays and such, either. I've never seen such a long delay.

Just shows what a five-game winning streak is worth: an extra mil a year. A couple months ago, he was almost sent packing after the loss to Temple. In football. Thanks for what he did in building the program, but he clearly maxed out in CT. Hard to see him doing anything at MD that the Fridge didn't do.

That seems to be the view of Terps Nation as well.

After the Huskies and whoever's playing Duke, obvs.

Of course.

Speaking of the Oilers, NBC neglected to mention that it was the Oilers who got this going, playing an outdoor game against the Canadiens in November 2003. Air temp was zero Fahrenheit, and the wind chill dropped it down a few degrees more. They played the legends game immediately beforehand (now those were two great lineups: Gretzky, Messier, Lafleur, etc, etc, etc). They had over 60,000 in the stands. Calgary is hosting an outdoor game next month. As for the next US team to host it: I'm voting for Detroit.

I'd love it if it was in Detroit, and Detroit could use it.

HOW did they miss that?! Oh, Tracee, welcome home. :)

No Seinfeld watchers. Very distressing. I said, "Now it's time for the airing of the grievances" and they took me seriously.

I'm going to have to sign off now and finish this piece for Style. Thanks for all the welcome home posts and sorry I didn't get to more of everything! Come back tomorrow if you can!


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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