I’m adding the Atlanta Thrashers to the list of defunct teams I saw in person

The move of the Atlanta Thrashers to Winnipeg, Manitoba means I the defunct teams I have seen list. Over the years, I saw these now extinct teams:

NHL

Hartford Whalers
Quebec Nordiques
Atlanta Thrashers

MLB
Montréal Expos

I am pretty sure I saw the Winnipeg Jets, but my memory may be hazy. Of course, they *might* be reborn now, so it is a moot point.

I have also seen a few teams that changed their names in one way or another:

California Angels now Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (I saw the California Angels, but never the Anaheim Angels or the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim)
Washington Bullets now Washington Wizards (I saw them in both forms)

As for the Thrashers moving, the new Winnipeg team will stay in the Southeast division for a season which means 3 games in Manitoba for the Washington Capitals. I heard from someone claiming to be a Caps employee that they may be trying to have back-to-back games there to ease the travel burden.

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We won’t have Jim Tressel to kick around any more

Coach Jim Tressel out at Ohio StateColumbus Dispatch
Joe Paterno has outlasted another one! Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel is resigning because all the stuff David Jones of the Patriot-News has been hinting at for years is hitting the fan. My initial reaction is joy, because who doesn’t like to see a rival fall? Tressel was a phony and ran a program that was filled with problems that he was able to brush aside because he won a National Championship (with Maurice Clarett and after a very late pass interference flag) and beat Michigan. I’m glad to see it all caught up with him.

Of course, it only matters for Penn State fans if the Nittany Lions learn to stop throwing pick-sixes at the Horseshoe.

UPDATE: Here is the Sports Illustrated article that prompted Tressel’s resignation. My reaction, “meh.”

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Nats vs. Padres Q&A with Jason Woodmansee

Despite living in Southern California, Jason Woodmansee is a name familar to DC sports. The George Washington University grad has gained attention for his Stop Shuler web site which made the case that Heath Shuler shoudn’t be elected to Congress because of being a bad Redskins quarterback. He also had The Coach is Killing Me, a site about surviving the Norv Turner (current San Diego Chargers head coach who was in Washington for most of the 1990s in the same capacity) experience for a second time. It lives on, sort of, on flickr. Currently, Woodmansee can be found contributing to the Box Seats blog on The Post.

I don’t know any San Diego Padres fans, but Woodmansee lives there, so that is close enough. Oh and this is much more fun that trying to come up with something following the Washington Nationals dreadful 1-7 road trip that included sweeps by the Milwaukee Brewers and New York Mets and losing a series in Baltimore.

I’ve got to level with you, coming up with questions about the San Diego Padres isn’t easy — the strike me as just a run of the mill mid-market team. Even their greatest player, Tony Gwynn, was kind of a boring superstar. Other than the Swinging Friar mascot, there just isn’t much that is interesting about the Padres is there?

JW: First of all, Tony Gwynn (who I affectionately call “Fat Tony”) is awesome. He’s a quality person and one of the best hitters ever, so just because he never dated Madonna doesn’t make him boring. He’s kind of the West Coast Cal Ripken (WFY: Lots of GIDP?), which is the highest praise you can possibly give someone.

JW: That being said, it is true that the Padres haven’t been particularly flashy team over the years. The most unique experience that I can think of is when Trevor Hoffman used to come in to save games. Sure, Mo Rivera has “Enter Sandman,” but “Hells Bells” is the PERFECT closer entrance music. When the crowd hears that first bell ring, they go nuts. I would get goosebumps even as a non-Padre fan. Heck, I’m getting goosebumps now.

You have lived in San Diego for some time now, but have yet to adopt the Padres or the Chargers. What has kept you for transferring loyalties to the teams of city you are raising a family in? Do you ever find yourself cheering for the Padres? Have you adopted the Nats at all since you like other DC teams? We’re not going to talk about that AL team you follow.

JW: I believe strongly that you can’t switch teams unless that team moves away from you (and even then, you have the option to keep with them). You can’t erase years of passion & rooting interest just because you have a different zip code. As you reference, I grew up an Orioles fan, but was super-psyched when the Nationals cam to DC. Even though I was living 3000 miles away, I knew I had a NL team. That first year, I wondered how my loyalty would work – would I start drifting towards the Nationals? Would I like the O’s & Nats equally? But as soon as the season started, it was obvious – the Orioles will always be my team. There’s too much history (and pain) for it to go away.

Editor’s note: I’m giving him a slight pass because if memory serves, this dude is from York, Pa. which has more legitimacy as O’s territory than DC ever did. I still get to point out that Peter Angelos is a coward though. I also believe you can switch teams if you move and if you are raising kids in that place, you probably should

JW: Now, do I find myself rooting for the Padres? Of course. I’ve never really had strong opinions for teams in the National League, so when I go to games, I’ll always root for the home team (unless they’re playing the Nationals or Orioles, of course). I’d love to see them get in the playoffs and do well every year – I may not have adopted the Padres, but I have adopted San Diego as my new home town, and it’s always better to have a winner in town. My kids have already started the transition, however. San Diego is all they’ve known, and they want to root for the local teams they can watch. You’ll be proud to know that last weekend, when the Orioles & Nationals were playing, my son asked who I was rooting for. I told him Orioles, but he said that he was going with the Nats, after all “they’re from Washington, like the Redskins.” Still, they’ll still probably wear Padres hats when we go to the Nationals game next month just to taunt me.

Editor’s note: Smart kid

I remember in the Boys of Summer, then GM Buzzie Bavasi lamented that Padres played in a place that had the ocean on one side, mountains on another, Los Angeles on top of it and Mexico below it. Looking at attendance though, it looks like the Padres have done okay over the last 10 years. What kind of buzz do the Padres have in San Diego?

JW: This is true of Southern California sports in general. It’s one of the reasons there’s not an NFL team in LA, and why you don’t come across a lot of die-hard Padres fans. It’s hard to properly communicate how nice it his to live here – how the weather & geography allow for a relaxing lifestyle, even when you’re working hard. There are many days that I just walk around and can’t believe that I live here. People just don’t take sports as seriously here – and I don’t mean that as an insult. I mean, if you live in an hell hole like Philadelphia, the Phillies & Eagles are IMPORTANT. I mean, what else do you have to look forward to? If the Padres lose, hey – you’re still in San Diego.

Do you see a lot of Padres hats or other merchandise being worn around town? How do you like the Padres uniforms? Do people actually like the camoflauge ones that are supposed to honor the military?

JW: I mostly see Padres stuff on cars on the freeways. I don’t personally know many Padres fans, believe it or not. As transplant towns go, take DC and multiply it by 10 times. In my last office, we had fans of the Phillies, Red Sox, Yankees, White Sox, Cubs, and Dodgers. And that’s the ones I can think of just off the top of my head. There were 2-3 people who I would call serious Padres fans who actually owned items of clothing. My friends who are season ticket holders are Twins, Yankees, or Cubs fans – they root for the Padres unless their team is in town.

The Padres uniforms are uninteresting. I liked the old interlocking SD hat, but otherwise, the uniform history is not a good one. I do see the camouflage stuff sometimes – the military presence is significant here. I’ve been to several games where the upper deck in right field is filled up with a company of Marine recruits from the local Recruit Depot (where Marines west of the Mississippi go instead of Parris Island). In the 8th inning, they all file out and march to their buses. I always figure that for those guys, it is the most enjoyable ballgame they’ll ever go to, considering what they’re in the middle of.

One aside – I do see a fair amount of Nationals gear – but out here the curly W stands for “Westside” or “West Coast.” I wrote about it for the Post – even Ice Cube wears Nationals gear. It’s weird to see – I initially said “Go Nats” to people I saw, but people had no idea what I was talking about. Kind of a weird thing.

What is the Petco Park experience like? Will you be attending any of the series? Are the Fish Tacos really that great?

JW: Petco is one of the relatively generic new old-style ballparks, which is a lot better than the generic multi-purpose stadiums of the 70’s. There are a bunch of nice things there, but nothing that would make it a place you HAVE to see. AT&T Park & Dodger Stadium are definitely on that list. The sitelines are good, it’s easy to get to, and there are tons of things to do before and after the game. It’s a million times better than when they played at Qualcomm Stadium with the Chargers.

The fish tacos aren’t any better at Petco than anywhere else in San Diego, but that still means they’re great. It took me a couple of years to get into fish tacos when I moved here – it seemed too weird for me. But I was wrong. They’re fantastic. And now I’m hungry.

How is our buddy Norv doing?

JW: Better than one would have reason to expect. The ownership doesn’t meddle (please send this note directly to Dan Snyder) and GM A.J. Smith is too stubborn to say Norv was a mistake. People get upset with Norv every year, and then summer comes and everyone chills out and forgives him. Norv may have found the one place in the country we’re he can work indefinitely.

What’s the reaction in SoCal to FIVE GUYS coming into In-N-Out territory?

JW: You know, not one person has mentioned it to me. In-N-Out is so ingrained in Southern California culture, I don’t think they’ll lose any business. This area has the best fast food options in the country – the drive through was invented here. And Five Guys makes those choices even better.

Since this is called the “guest prognosticator” series, I guess I should have asked for a prediction on this upcoming series and the season series.

JW: My prediction: very few runs. Other than that, who knows?

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How to make a proper gin and tonic

Gin, tonic, squeeze of lime
There is no cocktail in this world more refreshing than a cold gin and tonic on a summer evening. With Memorial Day coming, the peak of gin and tonic season is here and will last into September. in order to truly enjoy it, I’m going to share with your how to make a proper gin and tonic, refined over many years of practice.

INGREDIENTS

Fresh Ice (empty your icemaker before you leave for work or make a fresh tray in the morning)
Fresh Lime
Cold, unopened Schweppes tonic water in 10 oz. glass bottles
Gin, ideally from the freezer. My go-to these days is Beefeater, but that brand is a personal preference and not the most critical part of the cocktail
16 oz. glass, though plastic cups are okay if you are drinking them outside

DIRECTIONS

Cut fresh lime into quarters (limes cost no more than 70¢ so don’t be skimpy)
Squeeze lime juice into the bottom of the cup
Rub the rim of the cup with lime
Place lime in the bottom of but, rind down
Remove gin from freezer and pour directly into lime at the bottom of the cup. Gin should reach the top of the lime.
Add ice, I use 6 cubes from a icemaker or 4 from an ice tray
Pour entire contents of Schweppes tonic water over ice
Stir the drink
Enjoy

COMMENTARY

The secret of a proper gin and tonic is not the gin. in fact, it might be the fourth most important part of the beverage. The most important factor is to have cold fresh Schweppes tonic water from a glass bottle. The glass bottle is better at keeping in the carbonation. Having fresh ice also makes a tremendous difference, it gets stale after a few days in the freezer, so cycle it often, maybe every 3 days at least. The lime should also be fresh, if it isn’t at peak anymore, get another one. No point in spoiling $2 worth of product to save a quarter with an old lime. As for the gin, pick whatever you like. I used to use Gordon’s since it was cheaper, but have since bit the bullet and gone to Beefeater all the time. It might cost a quarter more per serving. Also, contrary to what you get in a bar, the tonic to gin ratio is at least 5 to 1. Having it closer to 50% is silly because it lacks the effervescence of the tonic and you wind up with watered-down gin. If you want a lot of gin, just have a martini or drink it straight.

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Ed DeChellis leaves Penn State for Navy

Ed DeChellis, just months removed from his first NCAA tournament berth as head coach of his alma mater left the Penn State Nittany Lions to become head coach at the Naval Academy. The story, which was broken by David Jones of the Patriot-News: Ed DeChellis to take head coach job at Navy, was shocking to the Penn State fanbase this afternoon and welcomed by much of it which is unfortunate.

Ultimately, blaming DeChellis for Penn State’s basketball woes is like buying a minivan and complaining it doesn’t handle corners well and and has an uninspired 0-60 time. It is reasonable to conclude that the reasons DeChellis was hired in the first place were (in no specific order):

  1. He was part of the Penn State family and thus found the job more appealing than others did
  2. He would not command a high salary
  3. He would maintain the off-court academic values of university

Those are Intercollegiate Athletics’ values. Those values have worked pretty well (though there is certainly some discontent) for the football program under Joe Paterno and in non-revenue sports. However, in the very competitive world of men’s college basketball, it has fallen flat. The basketball team plays in an arena that cares more about selling concert tickets. They got bumped from their practice court for Bon Jovi rehearsals! The make-shift practice court had a crooked hoop. Yet, DeChellis has been scapegoated so viciously for the state of Penn State men’s basketball. The bottom line is the university did not care about the program or DeChellis. If they cared about the latter, they wouldn’t have strung DeChellis along for so many years.

I believe that athletic director Tim Curley figured DeChellis was a coach the could hire on the cheap because he would just be so happy to be coaching at his alma mater. Curley and co. could just let the guaranteed revenue come in and if the team started winning great. If they were a non-factor, well at least they weren’t spending a lot of money. That seems to have changed as DeChellis teams improved which is the opposite of what one would expect, right? Curley comes off as so disingenuous about the whole matter and now he’s stuck trying to find a coach in late May after chasing away somebody who thought it was going to be a dream job and just had his most successful season. Guess what, nobody else is going to feel that way and seeing how DeChellis was treated will surely raises concerns for prospective replacements. Curley is stuck with a limited applicant pool — a scenario he deserves, but Penn State fans don’t.

The irony of all of this, is that following DeChellis greatest achievement as head coach, an NCAA tournament berth, he realized it was never going to get better. His contract was not extended, so the writing was on the wall. He maxed out his potential at Penn State this past season and intercollegiate athletics did not seem to mind letting him know he felt that way. The perception was that DeChellis would be fired if Penn State regressed this upcoming season, a likely scenario given the number of seniors who departed. DeChellis had to get out while he could do it on his own terms, more or less. DeChellis is taking a pay cut for a 5 year contract, but DeChellis rightly felt he needed to cut his losses and make a move. Navy is probably a very good fit for him, one where the expectations will be grounded in the reality of the situation, rather than what they should be and are not. He won’t have indignity of Bon Jovi taking his practice space either. DeChellis also gets to live in a lovely town near the Chesapeake Bay and two major cities where the sun actually shines more than 40% of the time. I am happy for him.

For Penn State, DeChellis was not the problem, but he wasn’t the solution either. I do not believe that a coach of similar stature can come in and make Intercollegiate Athletics care about basketball. Until an alumnus/alumni is willing to specifically commit to the program, I believe that the status quo will remain at Penn State. I could be wrong and I have a bit of a track record of being wrong about Nittany Lions hoops, but I think they will be hard pressed to get somebody with “Penn State values” who is a value.

PRESS CONFERENCE VIDEO FROM BLUE WHITE ILLUSTRATED

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I should probably be tired of this gag now

Yup, the Washington Nationals are head to Milwaukee for 3 games against the Brewers, starting at 8:10 p.m. tonight. Then again at the same time on Tuesday and joy of joys, a day game on Wednesday at 1:10 p.m.

In fairness, I think I have to start posting the “What’s Happening” theme whenever the Nats visit the Los Angeles Dodgers, “Ironsides” when they visit the San Francisco Giants and “Three’s Company” when they go to play the San Diego Padres. Maybe, Mr. Belvedere for those Pittsburgh trips.

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Cowardly, subsidized Orioles overtake Nats for series win

Simply put, the last two games of this weekend’s Washington Nationals at Baltimore Orioles series comes down to “evil will always triumph, because good is dumb.”

That and the Nats anemic offense and the inability to hit a baseball 3 to 6 feet farther then they did a few times.

A series that began so promising on Friday night with 17 DC runs scored ended sour. I said on Saturday morning, basking in the brief afterglow, that those 17 runs would not help them win any more games. I thought of that as a warning, not a prophecy.

The Saturday game showed that John Lannan is probably on the decline in the sense that his guile and overachievement is no longer compensating for his physical tools. I hope that’s not the case, because he is an American Hero, but I have a bad feeling that is the case. I hope to be wrong because I’m sentimental about such things.

Sunday’s game was much more frustrating as the Nats left what seemed like a baker’s dozen runners on base. That may be a slight exageration, but the main point is they really let Jordan Zimmermann down. Zimmermann, who turns 25 today in his native state of Wisconsin (the Nats are visiting the Milwaukee Brewers for two games), was splendid through 6 innings, allowing only one hit. He only had 1 run of support behind him though. Nick Markakis singled and then half-player Vlad Guerrero hit a line-drive into the left field seats to win the game. Yes, I hate losing because of a DH.

So, the Nats drop 2 of 3 to the worst franchise in sports, meaning they’ll need to sweep in D.C. next month to take the season series. There were two highlights from Saturday and Sunday though: I had the radio synched up with Charlie Slowes and Dave Jageler so that I did not have to listen to the Orioles announcers on MASN or the commercials. The second highlight is that the our city’s signature annual event of the year does not involve drunken 25 years old running across the tops of porta-potties.

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Nats: What we would have never seen if Peter Angelos got his way

Let’s see, if Peter Angelos and the Baltimore had their way, the following would have never happened:

    Nationals debut in 2005 at the Philadelphia Phillies

    Brad Wilkerson hitting for the cylce in the team’s second game

    The President throwing out the first pitch at the first home opener at RFK Stadium.

    The 3rd base stands boucing during a Nats rally

    Booing Lance Cormier for plunking Vinny Castilla when he was a single away from hitting for the cycle

    ¡LIVAN!

    Tonight’s the Night

    Chad Cordero’s 128 saves (seemingly all of them facing more than 3 batters)

    Frank Robinson getting a Brian Jordan homer overturned on Memorial Day

    Robinson vs. Sciosa

    June 2005

    Distinguished Senators

    Bang! Zoom! Go the fireworks, a curly W is in the book!

    Yuda Gameday

    Barry Svrluga

    Ryan Zimmerman’s debut

    Alfonso Soriano 40-40 season

    Zimmerman’s Father’s Day walk-off home run against the New York Yankees

    Zimmerman’s July 4 walk-off home run

    MissChatter’s Lot 8 tailgates

    MissChatter’s Baseball on the Barn!

    Bicycling to RFK

    Capital Punishment

    Taking the 2006 series from the Phillies (I won a cheesesteak)

    Dmitri Young All-Star (try not to remember, Dmitri Young, overpaid benchsitter that came after)

    Manny Acta somehow getting the Nats to win 73 games

    Racing Presidents

    A more beautiful Farragut Square

    American hero, John Lannan

    Overcoming Mike Bacsik, Barry Bonds to beat the Giants on * night

    Charlie Sloews, Dave Jageler and the Jack of All Things

    JDLand.com: Near Southeast DC Redevelopment

    Opening Night 2008

    Zimmerman becomes Mr. Walk-Off on Opening Night

    Ben’s Chili Bowl Half-Smokes at the ball game

    Killing the Mets 2008 season

    Willie Harris killing the Mets

    Adam Dunn’s homers

    Jordan Zimmermann dominating the Red Sox

    2009 Tony Plush

    ¡LIVAN! returns

    Bicycling to Nationals Park

    Olney, Md. native Justin Maxwell’s season-ending walk-off Grand Slam

    Zimmerman’s Gold Glove and Silver Slugger

    Deciding on a whim to go to a ball game

    Nationals Enquirer

    Josh Willingham beating the Orioles with a walk-off

    Stephen Strasburg

    Miss Iowa

    Dunn’s walk-off to beat the Phillies the penultimate home game of 2010

    The future: Bryce Harper, Strasburg and Zimmerman return

Again, if Peter Angelos and the Baltimore Orioles had their way, none of this would have happened. As it was, we couldn’t watch the Nats for almost 2 whole seasons because Angelos kept them off most area cable systems. Do you want to reward that by going up there and buying tickets?

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