Nats 6th, Yankees 5th most hated teams

Nats, Yanks fight for my love
Are the Yankees Truly the Most-Despised Ballclub? Wall Street Journal
A Nielsen Co. algorithm has determined my two favorite baseball teams, the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees are the sixth and fifth most hated, respectively.

By the way, the Yankees took a series (The Times) from the most-hated team*, the Orioles, in Baltimore with a 4-0 shutout.

*The Nielsen algorithm is clearly flawed, it says the cowardly, subsidized Orioles are 8th most hated. Then again, it says the Boston Red Sox are #2.

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The unanswered question — why does Livan Hernandez love D.C. so much?

Livan Hernandez’s renaissance is key component in success of Nationals’ pitching staffThe Post
Another great ¡LIVAN! article that talks about how slow he pitches, how fat he is and how much he loves D.C. The questions I wonder though are why ¡LIVAN! loves D.C. so much and is so happy to be on the Washington Nationals? I am eager to get the specifics.

Well, there is the “what is he telling guys about playing hurt?” question too.

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Do the Washington Capitals need a broomball mentality?

Remember how Washington Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said they needed someone with a “hockey mentality” and then brought in former hockey player Nyjer Morgan the next day? That got me thinking about the Washington Capitals woes that cost them the Eastern Conference quarterfinals this year. They weren’t going to the net to get dirty goals. Outside of Mike Knuble and Brooks Laich (who in addition to scoring a goal Wednesday night, changed a Caps fan’s tire on the Roosevelt Bridge – DC Sports Bog, The Post), the Caps are finesse guys who score from afar with beautiful goals that are youtube hits.

I’ve got several suggestions on moving forward.

1.) I think I’ve figured out how they get the pretty boys to get dirty, let’s call it the “broomball mentality.”

Broomball, played on a hockey rink, is pretty much just like it sounds like — using a broom (or broom like tools) to get the ball in the net. It is a sloppy game completely lacking in finesse and all about working hard for lucky bounces and close range shots. Traditionally, it is played with an open net, but for these guys, they’ll need a goalie. Let’s get Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom playing a little broomball every week — they’ve got the broomball equipment at Kettler Capitals Iceplex after all.

2.) get another Mike Knuble type (because there are sooooo many available)

3.) a big time defenseman (because there are sooooo many available) and maybe shop around Semin and Mike Green, trading one of them if there is a good deal. Dumping Thomas Fleischman is the easy way out and that won’t really shake things up too much, though it probably wouldn’t hurt to do.

4.) Lastly, get Morgan involved! When he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he hung around with the Penguins and that seemed to work out well for them. Where was he this year? I want to see him wearing a Tony Plush Caps sweater next season.

I’m not sure if I’m serious about #1 or not. #4 obviously, is a silver bullet.

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Nats up to 12-10 after taking Cubs series

Dan Steinberg of DC Sports Bog made an interesting observation yesterday — the fans of the Washington Nationals are currently the happiest D.C. fanbase. That is especially true after last night’s Capitals loss. Nevertheless, it is an odd and rare place for those like me who like that Nats most.

Day baseball returned to the Nats schedule yesterday with the rubber game of the annual Wrigley Field series. The Chicago Cubs had taken game 1, but the Nats won the night before.

The second batter of the game, Adam Kennedy hit his first home run in a Nats uniform to put the Nats ahead 1-0. The Cubs responded with a run in the first off of Luis Atilano. Wil Nieves knocked in a run in the 2nd inning and the Cubs responded, but after that Atilano and Clip n’ Save — Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps kept the home team scoreless.

The winning run was an opposite field homer by Adam Dunn the fourth inning. That was it for the Nats, they did not get another hit for the rest of the day off of Ryan Dempster or the Chicago bullpen. Atilano did not give any up either, claiming hte silver Elvis wig for post-game interviews.

A quick, getaway day win, not even 2½ hours long. The Nats clinched a winning month for the first time since September 2007. They are 12-10.

Washington Nationals defeat Chicago Cubs, 3-2, behind rookie Luis AtilanoThe Post

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THUD! Capitals eliminated by Canadiens

Top-seeded Washington Capitals knocked out of Stanley Cup playoffs by eighth-seeded Montreal CanadiensThe Post
I stayed up for that?! The Washington Capitals season came to an end in game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, 2-1. The Montréal Canadiens outworked the Caps throughout the series and earned the victory. Am I happy with some of the calls, no, but as the Habs proved to the Caps, you have to make your own luck.

This is a crushing end to a season that had been so much fun. As Ted Leonsis has said, “we have miles to go before we sleep.” There probably needs to be a roster change or two to be made to shake things up a little, but overall the core is strong.

As for the Habs, if I were them I would have been wearing Expos hats in the locker room. It has been suggested that this was the revenge of Youppi. Perhaps. My rebuttal:


September 5, 2004

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Nats and Cubs at 2:20; Strasburg update

Day baseball!

The Washington Nationals put their 11-10 record on the line against the Chicago Cubs (10-11) at 2:20 p.m. Luis Atilano (1-0) makes his second big league start for the Nats while Ryan Dempster is on the hill for the Cubbies. WGN is carrying the game, so you might be able to watch it even if you don’t have MASN.


Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Stephen Strasburg continues to be followed and continunes to impress, allowing only one baserunner (on a passed ball after a strikeout) in 5 innings for the Harrisburg Senators against the Reading Phillies.

Strasburg pitches five no-hit innings in Harrisburg winThe Post

Fleeting Glimpses of a Rising Star and His FastballThe Times

Continued dominance: Strasburg might make one more start for SenatorsPatriot-News

Strasburg shuts down R-PhilliesReading Eagle

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Deliverables for Ted Leonsis as he takes over Wizards, Verizon Center

Congratulations go out to Ted Leonsis for completing an agreement with the family of the late Abe Pollin to buy the Verizon Center and Washington Wizards. His brand of management will help the NBA franchise and his control of the building should help the NHL Washington Capitals.

UPDATED 06.19.2010 — I’ve added a new one — a Manute Bol & Muggsy Bogues statue at Verizon Center.

There are several things I would like to see from Leonsis:

1. Better ice conditions at Verizon Center

Turn down the thermostat for hockey games! The Capitals are a young, fast team and sloppy ice negates that advantage, not too mention is dangerous. Remember all of those groin injuries a few years back? Soft ice was likely a factor. There have not been as many complaints as of late though, but let’s never have them again.

2. Red, white and blue Wizards uniforms

First off, Leonsis is not changing the name to back to Bullets and he wasn’t ever going to because of the respect he had for Pollin. You may recall that Pollin no longer felt comfortable with the name after so many shootings, including Yhitzak Rabin.

The colors changing back to the original Washington Bullets red, white and blue is a forgone conclusion, the only question is when? Does Leonsis do it immediately or wait until the team is close to turning the corner like he did with the Capitals? I think the Wizards have bottomed out so much that they will do it as soon as possible, the team really needs a reboot. I have a prototype in mind too

The Mystics should be red, white and blue too.

UPDATED 05.11.2011: Yup, new red, white and blue uniforms delivered.

3. Improved food stands in Verizon Center

The one thing that Nationals Park has over every other sports venue in D.C. is the selection of food vendors. Yes, Ben’s Chili Bowl needs to be there, but places like Hard Times Cafe ought to be as well and not just for the club seats.

4. NHL All-Star game and/or NHL Draft

When I interviewed Leonsis back in 2006, he said that they had not pushed for the NHL All-Star game because they “did not own the building.” Well, he owns it now, get those events in D.C.

5. Take down the Mystics attendance champions banners

Really, those things are embarrassing. There is probably nothing stopping him from doing it now since he owns the Mystics.

UPDATE: Leonsis announced he was having the attendance banners removed on May 7.

6. Appropriately colored seats

I’ve never understood why Verizon Center has purple seats since there has never been a purple team to play there. When the seats get redone, they ought to make them blue or red or both. Maybe put a Caps logo on one side, Wizards on another, Mystics and Georgetown on the ends. Signage around the arena should reflect the teams colors as well.

What deliverables do you have for Leonsis, besides game 7 tonight and championships sooner than later?


Also, here is Ted’s take of the deal on his Ted’s Take blog.

Also, another Post profile and a Tracee Hamilton column on what awaits him with the Wizards.

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Rejuvenated Livan leads Nats, beats Cubs 3-1

Determined to prove them wrongNats Insider
Livan helps Nats even series with Cubsnationals.com
Liván Hernández is on a roll that exceeds the dreams of even the most optimistic fan or Thomas Boswell. This month we are seeing the best ¡LIVAN! has ever performed for the Washington Nationals. The only comparable slice of his career was his run to the 1997 World Series with the Florida Marlins he was 22. Right now, ¡LIVAN! is 3-1, averaging almost 8 innings a game with an ERA at 0.87. Last night he pitched a mere 7 innings, giving up one run. He threw 99 pitches to get there. The Nats beat the Chicago Cubs 3-1 to go back over .500 at 11-10.

After the game ¡LIVAN! got emotional in his post-game remarks, claiming he had been playing hurt since a knee injury during the Nats inaugural 2005 season. The spring training cliche “he’s in the best shape of his life” seems applicable to ¡LIVAN! now doesn’t it? Previous reports credit his new found racquetball hobby as a factor in his improved conditioning. He also credits catcher Ivan Rodriguez with the recent success.

As much as I am enjoying having ¡LIVAN! around again I can’t help but mention that he reveals something about toughness and consistency. He mentioned he has never missed a start due to injury in 13 seasons, yet he pitched on a bad knee for four years. Clearly, he hurt his career by playing hurt all of these years. Since he’s back here and pitching well, I guess it worked out really well for the Nats, but I do have a concern. His role on the 2010 Nats is not just to be a starting pitcher, but a mentor to a young pitching staff. What is he telling them about playing hurt? Is he suggesting they follow his example or learn from it? If I had a chance to talk to him, that would be what I ask him.

Hernandez continues career renaissance as Nationals subdue CubsThe Post
Rookie SS Ian Desmond, batting in the 2 spot, had RBI singles in the 1st an 8th innings.

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Pollin family, Leonsis make deal for Wizards, Verizon Center

Ted Leonsis, Pollin family reach deal to buy WizardsThe Post
Pollins’ Statement On Agreement With Leonsiswashingtonwizards.com
Great news for D.C. sports fans broke earlier today — the family of the late Abe Pollin has agreed to sell the Washington Wizards, Verizon Center and the D.C. Ticketmaster franchise to Ted Leonsis and his Lincoln Holdings partners. Leonsis already owns the Washington Capitals and has made them one of the top tier NHL franchises (though they need to win tomorrow night) over the last few years.

I’m more excited about Leonsis having control of the Verizon Center than I am the Wizards, though I am more inclined to follow them now.

More tomorrow morning.

PREVIOUSLY

Report: Ted Leonsis, Pollins come to agreement on Wizards, Verizon Center value 03.25.2010

Ted Leonsis says he will buy Wizards, Verizon Center; chats at 12:30 02.25.2010

Ted Leonsis blogs about Wizards, Verizon Center sale01.29.2010

Wizards & Verizon Center sale: No deal yet between Pollins and Leonsis 01.20.2010

Ted Leonsis has right of first refusal to buy Wizards, Verizon Center 11.25.2009

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