Archives for posts with tag: Capitals

Say what you will about the Washington Nationals breaking out the brooms against everybody not wearing an A on their cap– they’re simply tenants in the subdivision currently run by the landlords known as the Atlanta Braves.  The Nats may very well be the team to beat for the second straight season… but the Braves are the team that’s beating them.  The pounding over the first two weekends of the 2014 season (losing 5 of 6 by the composite score of 32-16) reminds the DC faithful that they remain the bug and Atlanta remains the windshield of the NL East.

The preseason favorites were outscored (allowing 6+ runs in four of the six games), shut down (held to 1 or 2 runs in four of the six games), squeaked by (a 7-6  extra inning loss Friday) or blown out (a 10-2 thumping Sunday).  Leadoff hitter Denard Span went 1 for 15 against Braves pitching before missing two games with a concussion…and staff ace Stephen Strasburg posted a 6.23 ERA against Atlanta’s lineup that currently ranks 16th in hitting and 22nd in runs scored.  These games have been lost thanks in part to butchered base running (on multiple counts)…instant replay (Ian Desmond’s inside the park home run that became a double)…and faulty fielding (3 errors the first weekend…7 more in the second).  They’ve had one starter get to the seventh inning (Taylor Jordan) in six games…and have hit .164 with runners in scoring position (stranding 7.5 runners a game) against their nemesis to the south.  Tough to find any silver lining in these hurricane clouds.

The good news is they won’t see the Braves for over two months (June 19-22 they host the NL East leaders)…while the bad news is that this bunch will be banged up for some time.  Ryan Zimmerman (broken thumb, 4-6 weeks) joins Wilson Ramos on the disabled list while Denard Span (concussion) and Scott Hairston (sore knee) missed time this past weekend.  So let them get fat against the Marlins…and good luck when St Louis comes to town.  Because even though there are only 19 games against the Braves this year, the Nationals will be chasing Atlanta even if they pass them.

 

Capitals Close Shop– for the first time since 2007… there will be no postseason hockey in the district.  Now this isn’t like most six-year playoff runs:  the Caps never were able to get past the second round/conference semifinal round–twice losing in seven games and the other time getting swept.  Last May’s first round stumble to the NY Rangers (in one of the worst game seven efforts ever-next to the collapse against Pittsburgh in 2009) was the team’s fourth game seven loss at home during the current “run”.  Or should I say stagger.  Alex Ovechkin’s chase of 50 goals while boasting the worst plus-minus in the league was mind-boggling.  Hands-down the the most hollow DC-area stat since Bruce Smith notched the career sack record (at least the Caps didn’t sell Ovie coins).  Will GM George McPhee and/or coach Adam Oates survive the April evaluations?  This team doesn’t need new leadership as much as it needs quality defensemen.  The blue line was a sore spot the entire season…and for a team that has a preponderance of potential line combinations the fact that the goaltender du jour didn’t have consistent quality in front of him can’t be ignored.

 

Masters remains a “tradition unlike any other”.  Especially with Jim Nantz’s “overused catchphrase unlike any other”.  Was anyone else hoping for Jimmy Walker to make a run at the green jacket just to see if Nantz would be tempted to say “Dy-no-mite”?  As if he would.  Veteran Bubba Watson outdueled 20-year old Jordan Spieth (who shined for the first two rounds last June at the AT&T National) for his second green jacket in three years.  What next?  We often project the run a major champion will have (Mark O’Meara in 1998, Padraig Harrington in 2007-08).  But often they end up like Jim Furyk…still searching for their second major almost to the point that we forget their first.  Watson’s won just four PGA tournaments in his pro career.  Same as José María Olazábal when he won at Augusta National in 1994 and ’99.  Including his run at the Masters, Bubba has just four top ten finishes in Majors (Masters wins in 2012 & 14, 2nd PGA 2010, T5 US Open 2007).  Just like Sandy Lyle.  Will Spieth become the next great thing?  Sergio Garcia finished second in a major at 19–and we’re still waiting on the now 34-year old.  Unfortunately the mixed cocktail of no Tiger, Phil missing the cut and sunny skies on the east coast resulted in the lowest TV ratings in a decade.  Just like the NBA never really got ready for the post-Jordan boom…golf doesn’t have that next big magnet that brings in non-golf fans.  But on the bright side…Bubba celebrated his Masters win by eating at Waffle House and tweeted a picture with the hashtag “hashbrowns”.  Now those are traditions unlike any other.

 

What a crazy couple of weeks in Washington.  A perennial doormat punches its playoff ticket…while a perennial contender plays its way towards extra golf.  A baseball sweep reminds us that the first week is meaningless-except when it is– and a football signing reminds us that while a certain football team tries to move beyond the big offseason splash, they’re only a few days away from shouting “CANNONBALL!”.  Brackets are burned before a local team blazes its way to the Final Four.  And in the middle of it all, the Mother we’ve been waiting to meet meets her maker.  Where to begin?

 

When I left you last, I was focusing on my “Bold, Fold, and Gold” (patent pending) picks.  Bold Picks Providence, NC State, Nebraska and Ohio State failed to get to the weekend.  Fold Picks VCU, Oklahoma and Villanova underperformed their seed while Michigan lost in the regional finals.  And Gold Selections Kansas & Duke didn’t survive the first weekend…while Michigan State came up short and Wisconsin advanced.  Alma Mater Update– I was bummed to see Syracuse come up short in the round of 32…but after seeing them play the way they had since early February I wasn’t surprised in the least.  So now we have the pre-tournament favorite (Florida), a team that finally got its act together after underachieving for far too long (Kentucky), and two hardscrabble teams that flew in under the radar (Wisconsin by the vanilla-ness of their image as a buzz-cut wearing boring bunch and UConn by scraping together three consecutive upsets).  My fear is Kentucky wins and the press goes back to kissing the feet of John Calipari…because talent trumps all the frills and winners write history.  I’m hoping for Florida-Wisconsin…and the usual “spontaneous cliched final call”.

Speaking of Final Fours…how did this Maryland team get there?  Wasn’t this the bunch that struggled with just one alpha dog in Alyssa Thomas carrying too much of the burden?  Wasn’t this the team that lost their ACC Quarterfinal game and came undone on the road repeatedly?  Wasn’t this a team directed by a freshman point guard that would most assuredly be hitting the wall given the minutes she’s had to play this winter?  Au contraire– do not underestimate coach Brenda Frese when she has two weeks to get her team back in gear after a rough couple of months.  Don’t underestimate the power of Alyssa Thomas–a swiss army-knife of a player that allows her team to go big and small often on the same possession.  And don’t think that just like Kentucky can jell down the stretch after five months playing together, the freshman three-pack of Lexie Brown, Brionna Jones and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough won’t start playing like upperclassmen.  The win over top seed Tennessee was impressive, but beating Louisville on their home court was absolutely huge.  THAT JUST DOES NOT HAPPEN.  Credit quick starts in both games…and with unbeaten Notre Dame on the horizon the Terps know that a slow start against the Fighting Irish in the regular season cost them in the long run that night.

The Maryland women are in the Final Four for the first time since 2006… while the Washington Wizards are in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.  Break out the banners!  This for a franchise that hadn’t even been over .500 after November since…well, quite some time.  Coach Randy Wittman’s meshed together a hungry group that at its best does the little things–and with the necessary intensity.  And they’re doing this with minimal contributions from their first round pick from last June–although once Otto Porter gets healthy, he should be a factor in the future.  Two moves that made the season–sending Emeka Okafor to Phoenix for Marcin Gortat (who would have thought his game and beard would have held up in DC?);  and signing Drew Gooden off the scrap heap (providing quality minutes once Nene got hurt).  Can they dream of a #6 seed and a first round upset?

While the Wizards are on the upswing, the Capitals are collapsing.  Four straight losses aren’t helping…and Alex Ovechkin going point-less in even-strength situations during the month of March was deadly.  Years of getting fat late in the season against Southleast Division competition may be coming back to haunt the team this April.  For years I’ve compared the Caps to the Cherry Blossoms– they spring to life in late March and early April before becoming an afterthought in May.  Evidently the winter weather in DC took a different tone on the ice.

Deja Vu may be in play for the Nationals:  the team swept its opening series with the New York Mets– just like last year when they broomed Miami.  Unfortunately 2013 season did not adopt the “most impressive first series gets a bye into October” rule…and a rude awakening was just around the corner:  beginning with a rough weekend in Cincinnati and a home sweep by Atlanta.  The first-place Nats play the Braves a little earlier this year– as in the home opener.  Will new manager Matt Williams make the right lineup and relief decisions?  Tanner Roark was the right move in a spot-start today…but it’s a long season.  159 more…

Redskinsanity– Desean Jackson is a Redskin.  The team adds another major weapon for coach Jay Gruden–and in theory this is not a bad move.  It’s only a three year deal.  Jackson’s 27…and has more than a few productive years left.  Gruden and RGIII will find ways to get him the ball in the right spot…and if he isn’t racking up big catches it’s because he’s drawing extra coverage that’s not on Pierre Garcon.  This will be the move that puts a team just one year removed from the playoffs back into the postseason.  The defense and special teams will need all the bailing out this fall-and this lightning rod is exactly what you need.  But they’ve taken Eagle castoffs before…and Jeremiah Trotter and Donovan McNabb weren’t difference-makers here.  There’s the gang thing.  And the uneasiness that now accompanies every free agent move made by the Redskins.  Call it Albert Haynesworth’s shadow…

How I Met Your Mother wrapped up a nine-year run on CBS with a divisive series finale that had many long-time viewers up in arms.  In reality, it was a show that had probably been on the air two or three years too long…and I’m glad to have closure.  Did we need to spend an entire season on one wedding weekend when the marriage would come undone 15 minutes into the season finale?  Did we need to send a character on a roadtrip that went nowhere quickly because the actor playing him was busy shooting a movie?  Did we need to kill off the very mother we were searching for the entire time?  Did viewers need to edit together a “new ending” that wrapped up on the train platform or start an online petition?  It’s tough to stick a landing in a series finale.  M*A*S*H broke the mold in the manner that there was finality…but not every show is about a war (or conflict…or even a police action).  I thought the last season was a little bit uneven from multiple Billy Zabka sightings to further Fonzification of Barney (I won’t even mention how they turned him back into the heel he once was only to redeem him with a daughter all in ten minutes of screen time).  I heard they had to trim the final episode by 18 minutes…I’m sure the jumpiness of the timeline was made worse because of that.  It’s too bad they couldn’t have fleshed out the whole story…because for whatever strengths and weaknesses HIMYM had, it was about storytelling.  And the ending felt rushed.  But it was a fun place to visit on Mondays…and a decent group of characters to enjoy watching from the next booth at MacClaren’s.

 

 

Did it have to end this way? Couldn’t the Caps have not turned things on with an 11-1-1 April? Couldn’t they have dropped one of the two overtime games that they wound up winning-only masking a team that didn’t lead in regulation after the 12:50 mark of the first period of game three? Meaning after game one the Caps led for exactly 8:44 of the final 377 minutes and 24 seconds. The summer of discontent begins with questions, comments and concerns in Caps Nation.

Seventh Hell?– the Caps fall to 3-9 lifetime in Game Sevens…and 1-8 at home (the only win coming in 2009 over the New York Rangers). Their history of misery began on the night before Easter in April 1987 when they lost in four overtimes to Pat LaFontaine and the New York Islanders– I had to get up at 6am the following day to go to church to play handbells. Let’s just say Eggs Benedict on 4 hours sleep does not work wonders-especially with bells clanging repeatedly.

Southeast Mirage– while the Capitals made their run, they were loading up (15-3) on a weak Southeast Division–the only division to send just one team to the playoffs and one that boasted three of the four worst records in the league. Next winter they’ll be realigned into something similar to the old Patrick Division-making their path the postseason much more difficult but perphaps will better prepare them for when they get there.

Penalties Posing Problems– 14 more penalty minutes brought the Caps’ 7 game total to 76. Every try to sprint after laying back on your heels for an extended period of time? When you spend one out of every six minutes trying to hold off a power play…it’s tough to generate offensive flow and momentum. There were a few mystifying penalties. And there were some stupid ones. Cleaning them up in the future when games matter most will be a priority.

Lundqvist Lays Down the Lumber– It’s tough to consistently outshoot your opponent yet consistently come up empty. The Caps were stonewalled again by Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist– 62 saves over the last two games…the Rangers in their duck and dive defensive style were able to limit quality chances. While there’s no shame in losing to a hot goaltender, Caps fans have to wonder when they have the standing on his head goalie again. Is Braden Holtby that guy? He had played superbly until Monday’s defeat…and in looking at the longview is the best netminder this current Caps generation of players has had behind them.

Mister May?– with apologies to baseball HOF Dave Winfield and the late George Steinbrenner, it’s actually a good thing to be sort of a Mister May in the NHL Playoffs. After scoring a league-high 32 goals in the lockout-shortened regular season, Alex Ovechkin tallied 1 goal and 1 assist in the series with the Rangers. Usually a producer in the postseason (first four years averaging more than 1 point a game, with a high of 10 goals and 11 assists in 14 games in 2009), the Caps captain posted 9 points over 14 games last sping…and saw that production decrease this May. He’s got to go home and have a summer like Larry Bird did in 1984 when the Celtics got swept by Milwaukee…the legend came back focused and on fire en route to the three best years of his career. Does Ovie have the aptitude and attitude to maximize his altitude?

It takes a Village– now while we acknowledge the importance of having your best players play their best…hockey is the one sport where the dominant stars have the least overall influence. A quarterback handles the ball on every play. A pitcher determines every pitch. And a great basketball player can touch the ball every time up the floor. Ovechkin is only on the ice for 35 to 45 seconds at a time… and relies on his teammates as much as if not more than other sports’ elite players. Martin Erat’s injury midway through the series undercut the second line… and Brooks Laich’s season long struggles hurt the team as well. What moves will need to be made to maintain the nucleus that coach Adam Oates desires yet improve the overall talent so next May there’s a second or even third series to think about?

Cruel Summer– this season began in late January due to the lockout, many marveled at how long the offseason was. Truth is, after experiencing just enough playoff success to think of it as a probability instead of simply a possibility–every offseason you’re not playing for a Cup (let alone playing for playing for a Cup)-is a long, cruel summer.

April showers us with beginnings and endings… with college hoops and the Wizards in our rear-view mirror…the Caps making their annual April surge before their annual May backslide…Nats and O’s starting to get in gear and the NFL Schedule Announcement and Draft marking the league’s territory on our sports couch.

The NFL Draft has grown with the league and ESPN over the years…transforming from a Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday morning 12-round marathon to the current Thursday-Friday-Saturday showcase. I preferred the first three rounds on Saturday…last four on Sunday, but that’s just me. I don’t know when all the talking heads and analysts and experts became white noise…but sometimes less is more. It’s easy to fall into overanalysis…especially with the draft being an inexact guessing game where franchise histories turn on a dime.

What if Chicago wins the coin flip with Pittsburgh in 1970 and takes Terry Bradshaw?  Or if the Steelers pick Robert Newhouse instead of Franco Harris two years later?  Dallas picked tight end Doug Cosbie in 1979 when Joe Montana was the highest remaining player on their board–one of the few times they deviated from “the board”.  And San Francisco traded its first rounder in 1985 to move one spot ahead of the Cowboys in 1985 to take Jerry Rice.

The Redskins don’t have a first rounder– and given the production and franchise-changing mojo Robert Griffin III provided last fall, it appears worth it.  They do own seven picks… the first being a second rounder (51st overall).  Now pick #51 isn’t completely foreign to the Skins or Mike Shanahan.  They’ve had that choice as recently as 2008…as Oklahoma WR Malcolm Kelly was the “hurt one” in the famed receiver triumvirate. (Devin Thomas was the untalented one, Fred Davis the sleepy one).  Linebacker Greg Jones (1997) didn’t stay long in burgundy and gold but did start 15 games for the 1999 NFC East champs.  Mike Shanahan had the 51st selection three years in a row (2001-03)…and while RB Clinton Portis produced LB Terry Pierce played just 18 NFL games and DE Paul Toviessi didn’t play a regular season down in the league.

Interesting #51’s include one Hall of Famer:  New Orleans linebacker Rickey Jackson (1981).  Three other linebackers of note:  NY Giants Pepper Johnson (1986), Minnesota’s Matt Blair (1974)–a special teams dynamo as a kick-blocker, and current Redskins Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett (1979, Buffalo).  My favorite #51?  Green Bay’s Max McGee (1954), the guy who skipped bedcheck the night before Super Bowl I and caught 7 passes for 138 yards and 2 TD’s against Kansas City.

 

 

I grew up an hour north of Boston.  I’ve covered the Marathon.  My sister was on the same block as the explosions yesterday…and my cousin’s wife was at the finish line with her 1 and 3 year old until a half hour before the blasts.  One reason why I fell into sports journalism is that it’s fun…aka the toy department… and I can try to be mildly amusing when talking about Toronto playing Tampa Bay by saying “You can call them Rays, you can call them Jays”.  Again, the focus is more on mild than amusing.  But one can’t be sarcastic about train accidents, trials or war.  I’m the comedic relief.  It’s tough when the nasty world invades my own…I was covering Otto Porter Jr’s announcement he was headed to the NBA when the Marathon went from sporting spectacle to a day of disaster.  I scrambled to reach my sister and although she was safe she was understandably shaken.  I’ve heard her happy and sad over the years–but never in terror…and as a big brother that shook the hell out of me.  I feel for the victims.  I’m happy friends and family are safe.  And I hope justice comes in finding who’s responsible for this.  Now it’s time for another press conference (Maryland’s Alex Len going pro)…and afternoon drive updates on WTOP, where I try to be mildly amusing.  To paraphrase Lorne Michaels and Rudy Guiliani, “Can I be funny?”–“Why start now?”.

Miami makes everything go down better– Seems as thought all the Nationals needed was a trip to South Beach to cure their recent ills…getting swept by Atlanta. It’s a long season, but it’s never good to be broomed at home by one of your division rivals.  Bullpen issues (13th in the National League in OBP, 14th SLG, 3rd in blown saves) catching injuries (Ramos on the shelf in a strange sense of deja vu) and the inability to beat playoff teams (1-5 against teams that made the 2013 postseason) have to temper whatever Nattitude was as full steam after the opening series sweep of the AAA Miami Marlins.  I almost want to downgrade the Marlins to a minor league city like “Dade County Dipsy Doodles” until they get their act together.  And with another three-spot against this mess of a franchise, the Marlins may be the worst thing for this club right now–giving the Nats false confidence when they still have a ways to go to get back to last year’s level.  If you win, so what– these are the Marlins.  And when you can’t beat the worst team in the league like Tuesday night, what are you to do?  A key early stretch is on the horizon–from April 22nd to May 2nd the Nats play 11 games against St. Louis, Cincinnati and Atlanta.  Brace yourselves.

Capital Blossoms– last week I compared the Capitals to the Cherry Blossoms in DC… blooming in early April before becoming an afterthought by mid-May.  Now they have been on a tear as of late… but how much of that is a byproduct of being in the softest division of the NHL (let the record show they are 14-3 against the Southeast Division)? Can this team compete effectively over a seven game series against a legitimately good team?  Tuesday’s 5-1 thumping of Toronto was the 10th out of division win for the team this season (10-14-2) in 26 games…how tired were the Maple Leafs after last night’s 2-0 win over New Jersey?  In a season that’s given us plenty of schedule quirks (like consecutive nights in Winnipeg)… the Caps have started a five game stretch against teams from Canada.  But more importantly they play their final three games at home–including a duel with second place Winnipeg Tuesday April 23rd (Jets trail the Caps by 4 points with 5 games remaining).  Eight straight wins… is there any room left on the bandwagon?

Moving Days– Sophomores Otto Porter, Jr. and Alex Len declare for the NBA one day apart while Georgetown and Maryland wish them well.  Coach John Thompson III wasn’t shocked:  “We weren’t caught off guard…we expected Otto to move on after this year.”  Coach Mark Turgeon knew it was time:  “Alex has been a pro since he set foot on campus…the way the practices, the way he takes care of himself”.  While the Hoyas and Terps would be much better next winter with Porter and Len, the lure of first round guaranteed money was too good to pass up.  Even if the 7-foot-1 Len turns out to be a project.  Even if Porter has trouble finding minutes or an ideal position for his skill set.  Each coach heralds their respective sophomore’s work ethic…which is a huge key in making the transition from college to pro basketball.  One hopes they find their way to solid organizations with non-cancerous locker rooms where they can learn, grow and thrive.

Masters– Ah, yes. Tiger’s drop and a 14 year old’s tardiness overshadowed the best weekend for an Australian since George Lazenby landed the role of James Bond.  Tiger tailed off after being in the hunt for most of the first two rounds. Was there golf karma in taking the longer drop? The US Open will be the fifth anniversary of Tiger’s most recent Major championship. Jack Nicklaus’ longest gap during his run?  He had two “droughts”– just under three years (1967-70) and just over five years (1980 PGA-1986 Masters).  One feels it’s only a matter of time before Woods wins another and with conditioning what it is now there appears to be a larger window for him to win 4 or 5 more– but for every Lee Trevino that wins a PGA at 45, there’s a Tom Watson who stops winning majors at 33.  Oh– and congratulations to Adam Scott for winning the tournament.

Standing Pat–  Broadcast legend Pat Summerall passes away at 82.  The voice of the NFL on CBS and FOX called 16 Super Bowls for the two networks over four decades.  His booming voice dominated game opens (check them out on youtube)… and his economy of words made him the perfect complement to John Madden.  In 1981, Summerall and Vin Scully were competing for the #1 play-by-play job at CBS and while Scully painted better word pictures, Summerall didn’t bring the easel as much as set the stage for Madden’s “BOOM’s” and the telestrator.  He said more in five words than most said in fifteen.  I fell for the NFL of Summerall/Madden.  And he made announcing something a 13 year old want to dream about doing.

To be honest, after the NFL Draft I kind of go into autopilot mode.  I’m removed enough from the college hoops and college football seasons to recharge my batteries– and although OTA’s will demand immediate attention, the Burgundy and Gold News service drops to “Maroon and Black” alert.  But what a weekend to begin the month of May…

Gone in six seconds– much like the end of The Usual Suspects defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory… as a high stick leads to a 3-2 deficit with the Capitals trying to avoid elimination instead of trying to clinch on home ice.  While the Ward penalty cost the Caps in the final minute of regulation and in overtime… the fact that they managed just 4 shots on goal in the first period can’t be ignored.  The fact that they missed a few chances to open up a two goal advantage in the third period but didn’t connect can’t be looked over.  And the fact that the Rangers entered the postseason as the second best team in the league has to make you realize that any mistake will be pounced on.  Can they rally at home?  The Caps are 2-3 at Verizon during the playoffs… but if there’s one trend to follow in the NHL Playoffs- it’s that often there are no trends.

Purpose Pitch– Thanks, Cole Hamels, for showing what a fearsome pitcher you are by hitting a 19 year old rookie and then bragging about it.  So much more street cred headed up I-95 now.  I’m fine with any pitcher hitting a batter (especially in the back as opposed to the head)– but the true masters of the mound state it was intentional without saying it was intentional (“Hey– I threw an inside pitch and it got away– he should know this isn’t AA Harrisburg.  We protect the plate here.  This isn’t some Junior College out west– this is Major League Baseball.”).  That would have sent the message.  Instead, Hamels pats himself on the back… as MLB pats him on the wallet. 

Meanwhile, the Nats get two big bats back in to the lineup (Zimmerman and LaRoche) while their bullpen burns a little bit.  Henry Rodriguez’s blown save at Pittsburgh the latest stomach punch.

Captain Obvious flies over Ashburn– to the surprise of very few people, the Redskins have named Robert Griffin III the team’s #1 quarterback.  Was this necessary now?  I think everybody figured RGIII would eventually lock down the starting job… now he’ll get the vast majority of the snaps immediately.  Will Rex Grossman be around in August or will the Skins find a better veteran to mentor.

Congratulations to “I’ll Have Another” for winning the Kentucky Derby– now we move on to the Preakness in less than two weeks.  I wish horse racing would enter the 21st century and gap the races better… in the 1890’s it wasn’t uncommon for 3 year olds to race two or even three times a month.  Now– a four or five week gap between starts is the norm for many.  Thus, the horses aren’t accustomed to 3 high stake races in 5 weeks… and the best case is Big Brown not having its best race in the 2008 Belmont.  The worst case is Barbaro shattering its leg at the 2006 Preakness.  So move the Preakness back a week or two… and do the same with the Belmont.  You’d have better rested horses and better racing.  I know it flies in the face of tradition… but the sports that are chained by yesteryear dwindle tomorrow.

 

 

 

Welcome to the new forum for “Preston’s Perspective”… a critically ignored tour de force that talks sports, “Dallas” and Girl Scout Cookies in force… where to begin?

RGIII or RG3?  I prefer the arabic form… although what creeps me out is that Rex Grossman is an “RG III” as well.  And I’m thinking of other “thirds” of note… George III and Thurston Howell III.  There was a kid who grew up two streets over in Bedford, New Hampshire named “Tyler Charlesworth” that I threw a “III” on just because it seemed to fit.  Griffin gave a nice press conference at Fed Ex Field where he said all of the right things… and the area is back drinking  the Burgundy and Gold Kool-Aid in a way they haven’t since Joe Gibbs returned to the team in 2004. 

Skins Draft Offensive– with 6 of 9 picks playing on that side of the ball (and two of the defensive picks coming in the 7th round)… the Redskins attempt to bolster their 26th in the league scoring offense.  I like taking three linemen– RG3 can’t complete passes lying down and we’ve seen previous first rounders melt under poor pass protection (Patrick Ramsey, Jason Campbell).

Quarterback Collection– ESPN is sending thank-you notes to Ashburn for giving them a hot-button topic on the lazy Saturday (rounds 4-7 are strictly for die-hards).  By taking Kirk Cousins, the Skins became the first team since 1989 to take two QB’s in the first four rounds.  For those scoring at home:  Green Bay took Anthony Dilweg #2 and Jeff Graham #2 (not the Ohio State Jeff Graham… but the Long Beach State Jeff Graham).  While many look at this as a replay of 1994 when Heath Shuler wasn’t as good as Gus Frerotte… others reference 1983 when Denver traded for #1 overall pick John Elway after drafting Gary Kubiak in the 8th round– and Kubiak became Elway’s understudy for the better part of nine seasons.  And as we learned with John Beck’s release, the drafting of Cousins was more a reflection of Rex-Beck than RG3.

Dynamic Debut Doomed by a Bad Bullpen– I thought there were curfew laws in LA… but the Nationals needed every bit of Bryce Harper’s bat to carve out a 3-1 ninth inning lead.  The 19-year old’s sac fly RBI seemingly gave the Nats the go-ahead run… but Henry Rodriguez throws three wild pitches and coughs up two runs- setting up a Matt Kemp walkoff home run in the 10th.  And there’s the best and worst about the Nats in a nutshell:  incredible promise but tempered by a relief corp that has been somewhat shaky in 2012.

That’s spelled HOTby– What a run for the Capitals… the month-long tango with 8th place results in the 7th seed and a first round upset of the defending champs.  Contributing factors to this roll include the team finally adjusting to coach Dale Hunter’s style of play… the intense focus that exists when every game is must-win… and goalie Braden Holtby having an incredible spring.  Is this something that will continue this fall or is the rookie a one-hit wonder?  Right now next year means nothing– and all that matters is a bounce back on Monday night.