Friday, January 16, 2009

Mr. President-Elect, with all due respect...

Howard Kurtz publishes a daily online column -- "Media Notes" -- in the Washington Post. In yesterday's column he reported on President-Elect Barack Obama's visit to the Washington Post newsroom, and this quote from Washington's newest sports fan left us troubled...
"Where are the sportswriters? I want to ask about the Redskins, Nationals and Wizards."
You do? Really? Teams that in their current or most recently completed seasons are a combined 74-141?

Mr. President-Elect, you won your election in the Electoral College by a 365-173 margin (.678 winning percentage). And you're inquiring about these teams? When right now, there is another team in Washington with a winning record comparable to your own?...The Capitals' record of 28-14-3 (.656) far exceeds that of the collective mediocrities that are the other Washington professional sports teams. Besides, hockey's better, and here are a few reasons why...

- Basketball has speed and quickness, football has strength, baseball has anticipation. Hockey has them all -- it is faster, requires strength while perched on the thinnest of platforms (a skate blade), and has the anticipation coming from plays unfolding dozens of times a game at a breakneck pace.

- Ten skaters, two goalies, four on-ice officials, and two goals in the area of play. Plus, walls that are in play. The geometry of the game should appeal to your cerebral bent.

- The crowds are big, loud, and proud. You haven't been to a Nats game yet. Lovely ball park, but we think it's a requirement that fans arrive dressed as empty seats. And have you tried to park at Fed-Ex Field? OK, bad example -- you have your own parking space, if you want it. But don't think The Danny isn't going to try to charge you for it.

- Inclusiveness. The NHL, according to its website, has had almost 900 players representing 35 countries dress for games this year. The Caps alone have had 34 players representing seven countries skate on the Verizon Center ice. And conflicts are settled efficiently -- sometimes players exchange unpleasantries, spend a couple of minutes alone to sort it all out, then get on with their business. Might be an example helpful to look at in these dangerous times.

- Transparency. You could go to a Nats game, see Ryan Zimmerman knock one into the seats, watch him circle the bases, and at the end of it, look at him fist bump the next player coming to the plate. Yawn. You could watch a Redskin score a touchdown and go through some rehearsed celebration in the end zone. Meh. Now, when Alex Ovechkin scores a goal, there isn't any doubt in the world about it -- he's thrilled! Every single time. A leap into the glass, hugs with his teammates, fist bumps all down the bench. And then...he wants more. The kind of transparent joy a child gets on Christmas morning and seeing the gift he wanted under the tree.

Mr. President-Elect, with all due respect, you really need to be asking about the Capitals. They're entertaining, play in front of better crowds (think "Denver acceptance speech," only all dressed in red), and they're winners. And even if they're just about sold out for the rest of the season, we're betting Ted can get you a good seat.