18-18 and other sporting thoughts

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader feels it is time for him to do a sports post. He’ll start off with the best news in his sporting fandom. Namely that his beloved Washington Nationals are playing better than he expected.

The Nats, with an impressive win last night in Atlanta, are now sitting on a .500 record. Your Maximum Leader was not exactly expecting the Nats to be at .500 at this point in the season. Why were his expectations low? Mainly due to the fact that Ryan Zimmerman is out, and will continue to be out for a while while he recovers from abdominal surgery. Jim Riggleman, the Nats skipper, has been moving utility men in and out of different positions and messing with the lineup regularly. In years past that type of movement would not have the intended result, namely of keeping the Nats on a good and upward path. This year all appears to be working better.

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t believe that getting Zimmerman back later in the season will result in a sudden win streak and make the Nats contenders. It should enable the Nats to keep playing well and not be an embarassment to their fans and the game. Your Maximum Leader isn’t quite ready to revise is earlier prediction of the Nats winning 76 or more games this year, but right now - very early in a very long season - it is looking good for the Nats.

So, your Maximum Leader is pleased with his baseball team. He is not as pleased with his Washington Capitals. The Caps were eliminated from the playoffs and your Maximum Leader is only now able to write about it. Your Maximum Leader, now that the Caps are out, will inattentively follow the playoffs until the Stanley Cup finals at which time he will half-heartedly root for the Western Conference champion to defeat the Eastern Conference champion. If your Maximum Leader were pushed he’d declare himself for the Vancouver Canucks. He would like a Canadian team to win it. But we’ll see how it plays out.

And what of the Capitals? Well… This playoff loss was hair-wrenchingly bad. It was made worse because your Maximum Leader really isn’t sure what could have been done to improve the Caps chances of going the distance. Player moves during the regular season worked out. The defensive scheme that Coach Bruce Boudreau implemented was one that worked. Basically, the Caps were outplayed by the Tampa Bay Lightning (a division rival - ack!) in the series. Your Maximum Leader thinks that the only thing that could have been done differently would have been to keep Braden Holtby (a rookie goalie in our farm system) playing for the team into the playoffs. But even that path is fraught with danger as rookie goalies rarely win it all.

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t know what could be done to make the Caps winners. They are already contenders. They will continue to be contenders… But they aren’t getting over the hump and your Maximum Leader doesn’t see a clear path to improvement.

And then there is football…

Your Maximum Leader is nearly gleeful at all the issues surrounding football right now. He hopes that it goes badly all around and both the owners and players are taken down a notch for hubris. All in all, if you forced your Maximum Leader to take a side, he’d come down on the side of the players. He is all for lower rookie salaries, keeping the 16 game schedule and providing more retirement money for players. But all the same he feels like both sides are being petulent and childish in risking their status as the premier sport in America by fighting the way they are. Frankly, your Maximum Leader would be pleased if football were supplanted by baseball as the premier sport in America, but it isn’t likely to happen - sort of a major regular season work stoppage. (A stoppage your Maximum Leader doesn’t see happening.)

It is particularly funny to live in the DC area during all this turmoil in football. DC is, afterall, a football down. It is the Redskins all the time. Redskins fans are on sports radio breaking down the draft. They are speculating on the QB situation. They are talking in a way that completely ignores the real (if remote) fact that there might not be a 2011-2012 season. If there are missed games (or a missed season) your Maximum Leader doesn’t know what Redskins fan would do. He wonders how they would make it through the winter…


The long summer is still all ahead of us and we’ve got more baseball coming than we imagine. Your Maximum Leader hopes the Nats continue to play strong and stay near .500. If they are able to it will be a turning point for the organization and a cause for rejoycing among fans.

Carry on.

Robbo said:

Go, Nats!

What think you of new MASN color guy F.P.? I recently found out he’s married to a playboy playmate.

Yay Nats! I have been debating how long I should put off going to the ballpark to catch a game. I fear that attending might result in bad ju ju being passed on to the team… That said, I might pick up a weekend game pretty soon…

I am not sure what I think of F.P. I remember the guy when he was a player. I also seem to recall him being fingered as a juicer. Sadly, being a juicer is hardly an indictment given the times. I didn’t know he was married to a Playmate. Good for him - I suppose. (Did you know Ray Knight is married to Nancy Lopez the golfer? Really… I didn’t know that until recently.)

Anyhow… Back to F.P.. He is no Rob Dibble. Dibble amused me greatly and I enjoyed his wild homerism and his bombastic nature. I was not offended by the comments that got him canned. It was Dibbs being Dibbs. F.P. provides reasonable analysis, but he lacks a charisma. I happen to like charisma in the color guy, so I am not as satisfied as I could be. F.P. seems to not be sure when he should speak. I feel as though Carpenter has to give some signal to him in the booth as a sign to talk.

F.P. will surely grow into the role and I’ll be happier with him. But right now he only rates a “meh” from me.

Robbo said:

Wow. Nancy Lopez and the Silver Fox? Small world.

Yeah, F.P. is a bit hesitant, but I will give him this: He seems to know his stuff. In fact, I’m increasingly of the opinion that he knows more about playing than does Carpenter, and several times I’ve caught him gently correcting Bob on some point of strategy.

Speaking of the Nats, it turns out that LaRoche’s kid plays little league with a friend of the gels, who are now feverishly working out plots whereby they can “accidentally” run into him at his kid’s games and get autographs.

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