Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Our New Home…

It is time to pack up the bags, kiss our families goodbye, and spread our wings in the web world. We are beginning the transition over to, which will be our new home for the future. We love everything the onmason website builder provided us, but its time to join the big bad sports blog world with our own website. You can also “Like” us on Facebook at   and don’t forget to follow us on twitter @firstpickblog. We will leave the onmason site up for a while, as we transition the materials over to the new site, so feel free to check it out now and again. Thank you all who have supported us in our endeavor and we hope to see all of your traffic at our new site. Have a great day and remember: Your First Pick for Sports News is First Pick Blog!

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Top 10 Players on The Hot Seat this NBA Season

10. Jeremy Lin, Houston Rockets: 14.6 PPG, 6.2 APG in 2011-12 (with Knicks)

What better way to kick off this list then with Mr. Lin-sanity himself.  Last season Jeremy Lin made a name for himself by winning six straight games as a starter for the  struggling Knicks and brought major excitement to New York.  Lin handled all the media madness and big-city fame like a true professional.  I guess a degree from Harvard has it’s perks in other aspects of life aside from the Hardwood.  There is no doubting this young man’s heart and passion for the game because he is truly a class act and an inspiration to young ball players all over the world, yes the world.  However, Jeremy Lin earned his way to the hot-seat because his new 4-year 28 million dollar contract is a tad hefty for a point guard who only started 25 games last year.   There’s no denying Lin’s skill set and potential but it also helps having Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, and Tyson Chandler in your lineup.  It seems that the expectations for Lin in Houston may be a little more than he can handle, but then again I’m sure this guy has been thriving off of Ney-sayers and doubters all his life.  You’re on the Hot Seat Jeremy Lin.  You either will, or won’t be worth the price tag.


9 .  Josh Smith, Atlanta Hawks: 18.8 PPG, 9.6 RPG in 2011-12

If you were to ask me eight years ago if I thought Josh Smith would emerge as an All-Star and franchise player for the Atlanta Hawks, there’s no way I would’ve taken that question seriously.  Luckily for Smith, he’s aged like fine wine.  He came into the league as an immature one-dimensional player who’s only ambition was to see how often he could make sportscenter’s top 10 plays.  Eight years and five straight playoff appearances later, Smith has evolved into an exceptional NBA star with career highs in points and rebounds per game last season.  In order for Josh Smith to prove that he belongs in the “elite” category, he has to prove he can still produce and lead his Hawks to the postseason without the help of long-time teammate Joe Johnson who signed with the Brooklyn Nets this summer.  Basically by default, Smith is now forced to take on the role of the Hawks primary go-to-guy, floor general, and defensive leader for his squad. It is Smith’s responsibility to be the man that his teammates can count on.  This means he’ll be the guy taking the last shot (previously held by Johnson) and making everyone around him better.  You’re on the Hot Seat Josh Smith.  You can either be the man, or Atlanta will quickly be missing your buddy Joe Johnson.


8.  Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers: 20.7 PPG, 10.9 RPG in 2011-12

Any names like Superman, Freak, Human-Highlight, or High-Riser would suite Blake Griffin for his style of play.  After sitting out his rookie year, Blake Griffin took the NBA by storm from the second he stepped on the floor.  He immediately amused fans with his dazzling dunks and in-human like athleticism.  Kendrick Perkins and Pau Gasol will forever be remembered in infamy as victims of Griffin’s earth-shattering dunks.  There’s no debate that Blake Griffin has already earned a respected name for himself as one of the top power forwards in the game but will this dunk show last forever?  It will only be a matter of time until teams start to figure out that the only way Griffin can put the ball in the basket is from inside 5 feet.  In only his second year, teams have already played the “Hack-a-Blake” game and who can blame them?  Griffin shot a miserable 52 percent from the line last year and 59 percent for his career.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that Blake’s future is doomed because there are plenty of guys like him who came into the league as high-flyers and have evolved into well-rounded players.  Such as previously listed Josh Smith, Rudy Gay, Dwayne Wade, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, and some guy named Jordan.  So Blake Griffin’s task isn’t impossible but a lot more fail than succeed.  You’re on the Hot Seat Blake Griffin.  Evolve or dissolve.


7.  John Wall, Washington Wizards: 16.3 PPG, 8.0 APG in 2011-12

Nobody ever second guessed Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld when he took John Wall number one overall in the 2010 NBA Draft.  Wall was the obvious choice, everyone in Washington and the NBA knew it.  The Wizards felt their future was in good hands with Wall running the show and expected him to help reverse their losing record.  After two seasons John Wall has racked up 2,207 points, 1,104 assists, and 216 steals.  Pretty impressive stat line huh?  What Washington probably didn’t expect was he also turned the ball over 516 times, hit only 37 threes, and won just 43 games in two seasons.  Fortunately for Wall at 22 years old, time is on his side.  Being a Washington sports fan myself, losing is nothing unusual so I think he’ll be forgiven for his first two seasons.  However, with the additions of Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, and 3rd overall pick Bradley Beal, I’m not so sure just how tolerant Wizards fans will be with another “rebuilding” season.  If in fact that is the case and the Wizards don’t win, fingers won’t be pointed at the coaching staff anymore, they’ll be pointed right at their so called “future” in John Wall.  You’re on the Hot Seat John Wall.  Either start racking up W’s, or start packing up your bags.


6.  LeBron James, Miami Heat: 27.1 PPG, 6.2 APG, 7.9 RPG in 2011-12

C’mon!  You really thought that after a championship, regular season/finals MVP, and Olympic gold medal I would exclude LeBron James from this list? Think again.  We all know Lebron overcame his playoffs/finals fears and finally took home the hardware but I think we’re forgetting the big picture.  This is the guy who’s drawing comparisons to not only the 5-ringed Kobe Bryant, but the 6-ringed Michael Jordan.  Lebron made this list at number six because that’s how many championships he has left to win until he can stand alone has the greatest of all time.  Not to mention that ridiculous championship rant during his Miami welcoming show, “Not one! Not two! Not three! Not four! Not five! Not Six!” but seven, yeah he went there.  LeBron pretty much shot himself in the foot by guaranteeing seven championships which coincidentally happens to be one more ring than his predecessor Michael Jordan.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people who enjoy ragging on LeBron James for little to no reason at all.  He’s without a doubt the best player, not just basketball player, but PLAYER I’ve seen play any sport in my lifetime.  I have no reason to say he won’t eventually fulfill his “guarantee” and be crowned the best to play the game when it’s all said and done but only time will tell.  You’re on the Hot Seat LeBron James, and will remain there until you live up to your own hype.  One down, six to go.


5.  Andrew Bynum, Philadelphia 76ers: 18.9 PPG, 11.8 RPG in 2011-12 (with Lakers)

Unfortunately for Andrew Bynum, instead of being rewarded for a long awaited breakout season with L.A. he was shipped to Philly because Dwight Howard finally decided to drop the diva act and leave Orlando.  While Howard is living it up and hanging out with movie stars in Los Angeles, Bynum is facing the bittersweet reality that he’s playing ball back home but knows another ring will probably have to wait another year…or ten.  Andrew Bynum was far and away the most improved post player in the NBA last year and showed that he can be relied on to get it done in the paint.  Achieving career highs in both scoring and rebounding, Bynum cashed in as he was named an All-Star Starter as well as earning 2nd team All-NBA honors.  With a new coach, team, and time-zone Bynum is expected to carry the load for Philadelphia and lead them back to the playoffs for years to come.  The only issue with that is Bynum came from a team anchored by Kobe Bryant with the help of Pau Gasol.  Therefore Bynum is unfamiliar with the franchise role that he’s expected to fill in Philadelphia.  You’re on the Hot Seat Andrew Bynum.  You win, you’re the hometown hero.  You lose, and Jerry West (Lakers owner) has just become a guru.


4.  Dwayne Wade, Miami Heat: 22.8 PPG, 4.6 APG, 4.8 RPG in 2011-12

Once upon a time Dwayne Wade was known as “Flash” and was thought to be in the conversation as one of the top 3 fastest players in the league.  Now fast forward to 2012, not so flashy anymore is he.  Six years and two knee surgeries since his 2006 NBA title run and finals MVP performance, D-Wade has certified himself as Lebron’s right hand man or side-kick if you will.  After averaging 25.5 points per game in his first season aside LeBron James, Wade’s totals dropped in every category as he battled numerous injuries all season. Once the knees gave out, so did that electric first step he once perfected.  I’m sure the Heat aren’t complaining about Wade’s performance in the NBA playoffs and the NBA finals of course, but I bet they’re well aware that all it takes is one little tweak in those knees of his to put him right back on the sideline.  Like all of D-Wade’s supporters I would love to see him overcome his health issues and renew his career as a top ten player again.  But if injuries keep “flash” on the sideline for too many games, Pat Riley may look at him more as a liability rather than an asset.  Riley is well aware that the sports industry is for business and not friendship, just ask Peyton Manning.  You’re on the Hot Seat Dwayne Wade.  The more you sit, the easier you’ll make it for Pat to make a “business” decision when your contract expires.


3.  Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks:  22.6 PPG, 6.3 RPG in 2011-12

After crying, begging, pleading, and tweeting, Carmelo Anthony’s wish was granted to be traded from Denver to New York.  Since Melo joined the Knicks, he’s averaged 24.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.5 turnovers, and has a winning percentage of 52.4%.  In Anthony’s seven and a half years with the Nuggets he averaged 24.9 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 3.0 turnovers with a winning percentage of 59.2%.  I’ll bet Melo feels pretty smart now for getting out of that apparently unbearable situation in Denver where he lead his Nuggets to eight playoff appearances in all of his eight seasons.  The truth is there’s no turning back now.  Carmelo Anthony dug himself into this hole and it’s up to him to dig himself out.  By the looks of the Knicks key pieces (Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, J.R. Smith) they seem to be built for playoff success.  After being swept by Boston in 2011 and steamrolled by Miami in 2012, Melo has to be on the brink of a breakout year or he will start to wonder why he ever left that “horrible” situation in Denver.  You’re on the Hot Seat Carmelo Anthony.  I know you aren’t laughing, but George Karl and the Nuggets organization might be.


2.  Dwight Howard, Los Angeles Lakers: 20.6 PPG, 14.5 RPG in 2011-12 (with Magic)

Superman has landed in Hollywood!  Shocker Right?  Not.  Why it took what seemed like a decade for Dwight Howard to pack his bags and sign with the Lakers was one of the most frustrating stories to follow.  The way he handled his departure from the Orlando Magic was downright childish and annoying.  Nobody knew for certain that Howard would end up in L.A. but I’ll bet even the Kardashians knew he wasn’t singing long term with Orlando.  Dwight is showing all sorts of signs that he’s destined to follow in the footsteps of all the great Lakers big men that played before him.  However I can guarantee you Shaquille O’Neal didn’t appreciate the way Howard disrespected his former Orlando team.   That very well may have provoked the statement Shaq made about Dwight being the “3rd best” Center in the league behind Brook Lopez and Andrew Bynum.  I don’t see any harm in Shaq attacking Howard because hopefully he’ll take it as motivation to stop acting like a diva and help Kobe win his 6th ring.  Deep down I’m sure Shaq knows that Dwight will eventually be the centerpiece for this historic Lakers franchise because let’s be honest, Howard is the most dominant big man in the game right now.  Dwight should slide right into stardom in Hollywood and reach the finals very quickly.  But if he doesn’t, it might be as big of a deal as LeBron losing to Dallas in the 2011 finals.  Yeah Dwight, you’re on the Hot Seat.  Shaq should be enough motivation.


1.  Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls:  21.8 PPG, 7.9 APG in 2011-12

Ever heard the expression, “You never truly appreciate something until it’s gone”?  Peyton Manning and Derrick Rose are two perfect examples of what the true definition of a “Most Valuable Player” is.  Rose proved just how much he means to his Bulls team by not even being on the court, which resulted in their early defeat to the eighth seeded Philadelphia 76ers in last years playoffs.  Although Chicago managed to earn the top seed in the eastern conference with Rose sitting out about half of the season, they were without their leader when he was needed most.  Losing four straight games to Miami in the 2011 eastern conference finals definitely left a bitter taste in Rose’s mouth.  Then watching his team helplessly from the sideline as they fell to the last seeded 76ers surely didn’t wash that taste out.  Rose knows his road to recovery will be long and agonizing, but I’m sure he feels as if he owes it to his hometown of Chicago that there is lost time to make up for.  So the question remains will Derrick Rose ever be the same MVP type player we all remember?  Or will his health continue to weigh on him throughout his career?  All we can do, and all his loyal hometown fans can do is wait.  As guilty as I feel for placing Rose at number one on this list, he’s got to be the biggest question mark in a lot of people’s minds heading into this upcoming season.  Sorry Derrick Rose, you’re on the Hot Seat.  Godspeed.


By: Matt Stevens

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

NBA Preview Spotlight: The Philadelphia 76ers

Two NBA preview posts in one afternoon? Must be a slow day for the FPB staff…time to fly to the city of Brotherly Love and look at what Philly brings to the table this year.

Where They Stand

Out with Iguadala, in with Bynum. Philly has their big man signed to a one-year deal. Will he stay longer? Or bail after one season? Can Philly live up to the hype? So many questions, only a few paragraphs to answer. I love the way this team has developed over the past few seasons. Doug Collins knows how to get the best out of his players, and Philly had a strong season last year. Going 35-31 and grabbing the 8th seed of the playoffs ended up being a gift due to the D-Rose injury as the 76ers were able to make it out of the first round before losing to Boston in the second in seven games. This is another team just making their way over the fence from “pretty good” to “pretty great” and the Bynum addition will either be fantastic or destructive.

Basketball is huge in Philly, and the 76ers haven’t had a whole lot to cheer about since the days AI was breaking ankles. The fans miss making the playoffs every year, they crave the national spotlight. In a loaded Eastern Conference, as well as a loaded Atlantic Division, Philly will need to put in the work to keep their head above the rest.

Roster Thoughts

Philly has some big names, but lets get into their roles a little bit. Starting with the point guard: Jrue Holliday. Holliday puts up solid numbers (13.5 ppg last season), never seems to get injured, and runs the floor brilliantly. He will be backed up by Royal Ivey and Maalik Wayns, though Turner will get time at point, one a veteran the other a rookie. Philly will be in good hands again if Holliday is at the point. J-Rich and Nick Young will be the tandem at shooting guard. Richardson brings experience playing alongside a great center, like he did with Dwight in Orlando, and gives them a viable scoring option to replace Iggy. Young is one of the streakiest shooters around, but once he gets hot he is pretty much unstoppable working for his shot off the dribble. After getting run out of Washington, playing a season under the lights in LA, Young might finally have a stable home in Philly.

The move of Iggy will move Turner to the 3, in front of Thaddeus Young and Dorrell Wright. Turner was drafted to one day be the face of the franchise once Iguadala left, and now is his chance. Could a breakout year be in the cards? Young is a very good option off the bench, able to play multiple positions and will probably see a lot of time at power forward as well. Wright has impressed throughout camp with his shooting. At power forward Spencer Hawes will be, as Bleacher Report’s preview stated, the “Pau Gasol of Philly.” A better outside shooter than Gasol, Hawes showed flashes last year of his ability. Working with Bynum underneath, Hawes can feel free to play the high post and work some pick and rolls with Holliday and Richardson. Lavoy Allen brings a defensive presence off the bench, a key piece in Collin’s plan. Last we get to Bynum, one of the most confusing and frustrating players to watch sometimes. So much potential, so many questions. If Bynum can get past the mind games, get past the immaturity, he can blossom into the next Dwight (a role  that was pushed onto him in LA). He can be great, but Philly won’t be lessening the pressure for him to perform. Behind him is Kwame Brown…enough said.


Time to unwrap the crystal ball and make some probably way off predictions about the Philadelphia 76ers this season!

Bynum Blossoms. Sounds like a weird song title, but Andrew could find his own this year and develop into the player LA always wanted him to be. I’ll predict his averages: 15 points 12 rebounds 3 blocks

Nick Young will still be hilarious. The guy goes by “Swaggy P” on twitter….

Philly makes the leap. This is the year folks. Give them a 4 or 5 seed in the playoffs and let them work their magic.

-Collins wins Coach of the Year. I’m a fan of Doug, liked him on the Olympics broadcasts. Seems like a good guy and a hell of a coach.

-Turner turns it on. Plenty of eyes in Philly will be watching this kid, he’ll shine this season.

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

NBA Preview Spotlight: The New York Knicks

Time to look at our next team to preview: The Knicks!

Where They Stand

The time for excuses are over in New York. With the arrival of the Nets in Brooklyn, the Knicks will have to fight to keep their fan-base and try to get Melo to the promised land. They lost one  media darling in Jeremy Lin, but brought in many intriguing names like the former-retiree Rasheed Wallace and the almost-retired Jason Kidd. The Knicks are one of those teams who just can’t quite get over the hump, losing to Miami last year in the playoffs, including the whole “Amare beat up a fire extinguisher” story.

For the Knicks to be great they need their two stars, Melo and Amare, to pull their weight. There is no Linsanity to take away the press from their lockers, Melo will have the spotlight completely on him; just the way he likes it. Can MSG host a NBA Finals game this year? Will the new faces in training camp be the surrounding cast capable of getting the job done? Lets get into it.

Roster Thoughts

Can we just take a second and recognize the fact that a 38-year-old Rasheed Wallace will be in New York this season? The trash-talking, technical-foul getting, ball of fury that is Wallace fits in perfectly in New York. Here’s a look at Sheed the past two summer, still has some ups as well 

Let’s go through this roster up and down, starting with the starting five. J-Kidd came to New York expecting to play mentor to Jeremy Lin, now he will backup Raymond Felton. Felton had a rough season with Portland last year, and will be glad to lead the ship for the Knicks, even without the Mike D’Antoni’s fast paced style. At shooting guard Ronnie Brewer will get the nod initially, with Shumpert injured, in a defensive specialist role. His 6’7 frame will cover most shooting guards to power forwards, and will bring a high-energy style of defense. We all know Melo is at Small Forward, who will have to prove to angry New Yorkers that he can get the job done. Same with Amare at Power Forward, who battled plenty of injuries last year. He looked slow at points, which i’m sure he worked on in the off-season. At center is the beast that is Tyson Chandler. The Defensive Player of the Year will shine again on this team, with no need to worry about his offense.

First guys off the bench include J.R. Smith, J-Kidd, Steve Novak, Kurt Thomas, and Marcus Camby. Smith proved himself to be a very capable sixth man last year, a pure-shooter who lights a fire off the bench. Kidd will be the steady hand off the bench, glad to rejoin his pal Tyson Chandler. The two had some of the sickest pick and rolls on the Mavs, and will look to rekindle that chemistry in New York. Novak is the 3-point specialist off the bench, with Thomas and Camby big bodies down low. Other notables rounding out the lineup include: Pablo Prigioni, James White, Chris Copeland, and the aforementioned Rasheed Wallace. These names in the 3rd spots in the depth charts are actually pretty talented. With Prigioni having a strong showing for Argentina in the Olympics and Wallace bringing smack talk back to NY.


Time to unwrap the crystal ball and make some probably way off predictions about the New York Knicks this season

Melo finishes top 3 in scoring. Right off the bat I know I’m probably going to be wrong, but what the hell. He will have to challenge Durant, Lebron, and Kobe but this might be the season for Melo to do it. He has the pass-first unselfish point guard in Felton (as well as his backup J-Kidd), he has pretty much free reign in the offense, and looks pretty healthy heading into the season. Why not?

Rasheed will get tons of technicals. For old times sake, when Rasheed played on Detroit during the 2004 title run he was one of the most entertaining players to watch. Not only did he bomb threes, but he loved to get in trouble with the officials. And boy did they love teeing him up. Here’s a hilarious ejection from his days on the Jail-Blazers

J.R. will get unhappy with his playing time. Smith is already saying he should be starting at the two, but the Knicks will most likely keep him coming off the bench. Which is exactly where he belongs. His game is too inconsistent for a starter, and they like what Shumpert will bring when he comes back.

-Knicks make Eastern Conference Finals…but lose to Heat. I’m sorry but as much as it pains me to say, Miami is definitely poised to make another run at this thing coming from the Eastern Conference. New York will have a great season, but I still don’t believe they can beat the evil empire (the other evil empire).

Tuesday, October 16th, 2012

New Helmets for Boise State

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Richard Sherman Trolls Tom Brady

Yahoo’s Doug Farrar wrote up a piece yesterday letting everybody know Tom Brady had some words with Seahawk’s cornerback Richard Sherman. After picking off Brady’s intended pass to Deion Branch in the 3rd quarter, Brady told Sherman to “see him after the game when they win.” Sherman clearly found Brady after the Seahawks won 24-23..

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

Surpassing Expectations

By Brian Skinnell

In possibly the most emotional night in D.C. sports history, the Washington Nationals playoff run ended in a dramatic 9-7 collapse to the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals.

The Nationals offense finally had the outburst that everyone was waiting for in the opening innings of the game.

Following a Jayson Werth leadoff double, Bryce Harper hit an RBI triple off the wall to score Werth. The face of the franchise, Ryan Zimmerman, then crushed a two-run homer to put the Nationals up 3-0 after one inning.

In the third inning, the Nationals had the heart of the order up and looking for more. Bryce Harper started the inning with a leadoff home run. After Ryan Zimmerman got a base hit, Michael Morse stepped up to the plate and put one in Cardinals bullpen and the Nationals were up 6-0 after three innings.

While the offense was rocking the Cardinal pitching, the Nationals starter, Gio Gonzalez, was fairing much better against the Cardinals offense. Gonzalez held them scoreless into the fourth inning when Matt Holiday doubled to score Carlos Beltran.

In the fifth inning, Gonzalez found himself in a bases loaded jam. With Holiday at the plate, a ball took a funny bounce off of the dirt just behind home plate and skipped off and away from catcher Kurt Suzuki’s shoulder pad. The wild pitch brought home David Descalso. Gonzalez then walked Holiday to load the bases. Allen Craig then drew a walk that scored Shane Robinson.

That would be the only damage done, however, as Gonzalez worked his out of it allowing just two runs to score and the Nationals lead was cut in half to 6-3 after five innings. Gonzalez’s final line: 5 innings pitched, 5 hits, 3 earned runs, 4 walks, and 5 strikeouts.

The Cardinals continued to chip away at the Nationals lead as the innings wore on. With Edwin Jackson on the mound for the seventh, Holiday grounded out to the shortstop, Ian Desmond, which scored Jon Jay. The Cardinals had cut the lead to 2, 6-4.

Reliever Tyler Clippard came on to pitch the eighth. After allowing a leadoff homer to David Descalso, Clippard recovered to get three outs and hold the lead for closer Drew Storen.

However, Kurt Suzuki capped off his productive night (3-4 with an RBI) with an RBI single that scored Adam LaRoche. Storen was given a much needed insurance run.

With the bases loaded, David Descalso hit a hard grounder up the middle that hit off the glove of short stop Ian Desmond and into center field. Two runs scored for the Cardinals and the game was tied. Pete Kozma then followed that with a 2-RBI single and the Cardinals were suddenly winning 9-7.

Those four runs came with two outs in the inning. Five times, the Nationals were one strike away from the National League Championship Series. Five times, however, the Cardinals hitters either fouled off a pitch or took it for ball four.

In the bottom of the ninth, the Nationals went down in order of Werth-Harper-Zimmerman.

As quickly as they had taken the lead, they lost it and their season was over. The Cardinals completed the six run comeback to defeat the Nationals 9-7 and advance to the NLCS to play the Giants. For the Nationals, who have a lot to be proud of this season, it’s game over.

As I stared at my television in disbelief last night, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride for (my) the Nationals. A team that lost 100 games just a few years ago made it all the way to game five of the NLDS. Not only did this team exceed expectations, they did it by being the best team in baseball.

They weren’t “supposed” to go to the playoffs until next year. They were just supposed to play a good season and leave us all with something to look forward to next year. The fact that we can sit here today and debate what went wrong last night in and of itself is a blessing given to us by an overachieving baseball team.

So what exactly did go wrong? Simply put, while the Nationals exceeded expectations and got to the playoffs, they weren’t ready. This team was not ready to go to the playoffs. Look at the teams in the AL/NLCS’s: Yankees vs Tigers, Cardinals vs Giants. All those teams have years of playoff experience. It doesn’t matter how great you play in the regular season, the best will rise in October.

The Rangers, Reds, Dodgers, and Nationals were all at the top of the baseball world at some point during the regular season. Now, however, they are all at the bottom and out of the postseason. The playoff experienced teams did what they always do: they got the playoffs and won.

The Nationals took a HUGE step forward this season. Next season, assuming a few offseason re-signings, this whole team will return. More importantly, they’ll return with postseason experience. (Don’t even get me started about whether or not Stephen Strasburg would have made a difference. His replacement, Ross Detwiler, won his game.)

The Nationals have a lot to be proud of. They simply were a season ahead of time. The last thing that Davey Johnson said to the press last night could sum up this entire season: “We proved our worth and we just need to let this be a lesson and … learn from it, have more resolve, come back, and carry it a lot farther.”

Thanks for the ride, Nationals. They’ll be back, folks….they’ll be back.

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

The End of a Season, the Beginning of an Era

By Ben Simpson

I’ve been staring at this screen for thirty minutes, writing and re-writing, typing and then erasing. I keep searching for an angle, some way to look at this loss differently. I check Facebook and all I see are angry and sad fans, even more on Twitter, summing up the season in 140 characters. What do I say? Do I try to be funny, be sad, be angry? Do I blame Drew Storen, do I blame Ian Desmond, do I blame Gio? Do I blame my parents for moving me here to live in the land of “Shoulda, woulda, coulda”? Do I blame myself for choosing to support the Nats no matter what when they arrived in DC? What do I do…I suck it up, take it on the chin, and I remember that this is the burden we carry, welcome to DC Sports everybody.

This one hurts a little more than the others, cuts a little deeper. I guess I realize what Boston fans felt like, what Cubs fans still feel. What Texas felt last year. One pitch and everything changes. One strike away…one foul pop-up, one swing and a miss, one tapper to 3rd, one blazing fastball on the inside corner…any one of those could have sent the Nats fans back into the night with a smile on their face. I don’t like to compare a loss in sports to a death in the family, one is just a silly game and the other a great tragedy but today I feel like my heart was ripped out of my body. Sure, its dramatic. Yes, its only a game. But that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t hurt like hell.

I look at what I wrote last night and they resemble the ramblings of a mad man. Today my head is a little clearer, my thoughts a little more coherent. There is still so much to celebrate about this team, the fact that they made it this far is cause enough for cheer. They accomplished the unthinkable this season, they stood up to the critics and the doubters and non-believers. Harper is too young and arrogant, Werth isn’t worth that kind of dough, LaRoche isn’t a prime time player, Strasburg is just going to get hurt…These are real things said at the beginning of the season. And they were wrong.

The future is bright in Washington. RGIII, the ever-growing potential of John Wall and his surrounding cast, the Caps (if hockey ever returns), and the team that gave DC a taste of playoff baseball. The rest of the fans in the world who have felt this heartache, maybe not only for years but for decades, welcome us in with open arms. Welcome to the club. Baseball is a funny game. The entire mood of a park can hinge on a single pitch. But that’s why we love it, why we respect it. It takes a lot out of you to watch your team play 162 games in the regular season. You watch the heroes emerge, the rookies rise. You see the ups and the downs. The team becomes your team. You know the players all by name, each little distinguishing characteristic or mannerism becomes common knowledge. This was a great group of guys.

I will wait patiently for Spring Training to roll around again, to see what Rizzo and the front office decide to do in the off-season. I hope it is not much, for this group knows how to win. This group is hungry to make it back to the postseason, this time with their ace on the hill. This group deserves another chance. The Nats are built for the future, and I am hopeful they will get their shot at a ring. I pine for the future, but today let’s remember these guys for what they accomplished and how they made us feel in Game 4 when Jayson Werth sent a baseball over the left field wall. Hold on to that memory, and wait.

Saturday, October 13th, 2012

fa·nat·ic [fuh-nat-ik] noun 1. a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal

As I am writing this post I am standing in a cramped metro train waiting to depart towards the East Falls Church station on the orange line. It is 1:04 AM, the car is reeking of urine and sweaty men and I’m not sure whether I’m dreaming or not but, something doesn’t feel quite right. I feel as if my one of my parents were severely injured in a car crash but, my father is next to me and my mother is waiting at home. I feel as if I’ve lost a dog but, I’ve never had one. I feel really hungover but, I haven’t drank an excess amount of alcohol.

There are few, if any, things in this world that compare to the loss of something that has value to you. You feel, at least for the short term, as if you will never recover and the world as you know it won’t ever be the same. In some cases loss is permanent but, from a day to day basis, loss usually doesn’t have affect you forever. You grow past whatever it was and move on. For people like me, however, loss is something that is forever permanent. You see, I’m what the field of athletic competition calls a “fanatic”, or “fan”, and my schema works much differently than the average being.

I’m the person who stands the entire game no matter the outcome. The person who wears his jersey to sleep and wears his team’s logo on every shirt he wears. The person who feels as if it’s his own personal fault for every negative outcome and that he could have done something to change it.

And when my hometown baseball team, who exceeded the expectations of everyone in baseball this year on their way to their first playoff appearance since 1933 and earned the best record in baseball, the Washington Nationals, gave up four runs in the top of the ninth to lose 9-7 in front of a rowdy hometown crowd (that I was a part of) in desperate need of positivity, I responded a lot worse than 95% of people.

Most people that follow sports teams, even remotely, would be sad and maybe even mad at an outcome such as the one I witnessed but, after several days, hours, and minutes they move on with their lives. It becomes something that happened in their lifespan and nothing more. It carries no weight other than that.

For people like me, it haunts them. It stares at them in the mirror and laughs whenever they fall. It follows them wherever they go and whatever they see. It teases them as soon as they think it’s gone.

And as I travel towards my destination I can already see that missed grounder by Ian Desmond that would have at least kept the lead at 7-6 in the train windows. I see the two walks given up by Drew Storen on questionable calls on the Jordan Zimmerman jersey worn by the guy in front of me. I see the absolutely terrifying solo home run that Tyler Clippard gave up to David Descalso to lead off the 8th in the reflection of the bar I’m holding on to.

No matter how many championships, division titles, MVP and Cy Young awards are won in my lifetime, I will be stalked by the memory of this loss. My kids will even see it in my eyes when it’s brought up in the future.

Does this mean I won’t revel in victory when the time comes? Of course not! My life will be completed when a Washington DC sports team finally irrigates the 21 year drought left by the 91 Redskins Super Bowl winning team (luckily enough I was born in 93). My job, until that happens, is to stay in good enough shape so that I don’t fall into cardiac arrest when the Nats, Caps, Wiz, or RG3s finally do so.

But until that day comes tonight’s loss will be as fresh in my mind as Dwayne Wade’s young Heat sweeping the Wizards in 05′, our first playoff appearance in a decade, or Gilbert Arenas missing the two free throws at home in Game 6 at home to allow Lebron James’ Cavs the first of three consecutive playoff series victories over Washington from 06′ to 08′, or every single Capitals’ season since Alex Ovechkin was drafted which ended in a ridiculously good record, with the exception of last year’s 7th seed, and heartbreak at the hands of a rival before reaching the Stanley Cup, or the abysmal Redskins-Seahawks playoff game in 07′, the only Redskins playoff game I have memory of, which featured a miraculous comeback by the Sons of Washington to start the fourth quarter followed by back to back pick sixes by Todd Collins after a missed Shawn Suisham field goal.

Those memories mock me every time I turn on ESPN and each time I open Sports Illustrated. And while the taunts of defeat, blown leads, and loss live on each day, I can’t help but think about why I do this to myself. Why do I set myself like this?

Because I’m a fan. And thats what fans do…

As negative as my feelings are and will be, I have to bring some positivity to the situation. Some light to the perennial darkness if you will.

On December 22, 2011, when Nats GM Mike Rizzo pulled off a trade that would send away four prospects in return for A’s left handed starter Gio Gonzalez I was ecstatic. Not only was he being added to young rotation that included two up-and-coming starters in phenom Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman, he was the final piece of the postseason puzzle. Through the draft and keen free agent signings the Nationals were on the cusp of contending in the playoffs throughout the 2010s and this trade finally made it realistic. My expectations around Christmas time were for ,at least, an 80 win season with maybe a wild-card spot given the change in playoff format. I would have been completely satisfied with 80 wins and no playoffs especially given the fact that we were going to shut down Strasburg early because of his Tommy-John surgery no matter what any pundits or fans had to say about it.

This team went on to win the National League East title with the best record in baseball and achieved the best road record simultaneously. Not only that but, they showed promise in every position they fielded including first time all-stars Bryce Harper, Desmond, and Strasburg who all were developed within the Nationals farm system. Their bullpen developed a strong set-up, closer combo in Clippard and Storen (minus tonight). They have three quality catchers on their roster with the young Wilson Ramos coming off his torn ACL injury which happened early in the season. Unless Strasburg’s arm falls off, Harper turns out to be 29 instead of 19, and Ryan Zimmerman is abducted by aliens this team will bring home a National League Pennant and World Series title before 2020. I guarantee it. I just pray the Mayans weren’t right.


by Matt Fehr

Friday, October 12th, 2012

The New Sports Fan Rule Book: Live Sporting Events Edition

This is not a new concept, but I feel that I can give some tweaks to the sports fan rule book. There are just certain unspoken things you can or cannot do when you choose to get involved in enjoying sports. This list will help those who don’t quite “get it” or are just dipping your toe into the pool of misery and distress that comes when watching sports. I am splitting these rules up into sections, because i’m organized like that. Good luck to you all and enjoy this week’s set of rules:

Live Sporting Events

Do not wear a jersey/t-shirt/hat for a team that is not even participating in the game. I understand fringe sports fans think that if they are going to a “baseball” game they can wear anything “baseball related”, but this is not true. It is better to just wear the same color as one of the teams, or just be that guy who looks out of place. You are however allowed to wear the gear for a team from the same city. (Ex. Wearing a Caps shirt to a Nats game)

Cowboys fans at Redskins vs. Falcons game this year

Don’t get up 20 times a game. I understand that when the time comes the bathroom is needed, and sometimes you just want to get a hot dog, but make sure you conserve your trips and only go when necessary or in the right situations. People are paying a lot of money to watch their teams, they don’t need you making them get up and have your butt smashing into their face every inning. Take advantage of the concessions people walking among the stands.

Acceptable times to leave your seat: 

-In between innings/periods/quarters

-Pitching changes/long substitutions



-Don’t be annoying. Cheer loud and proud, but understand that there is a fine line between cheering and drunken rants. Also, if you are not rooting for the home team that’s fine, just try to blend in a little bit. No need to piss of everybody in your row because you are standing and cheering after their best player strikes out. We get it…you’re from New York…you like the Yankees….no one cares…

-BE ON TIME. Listen, there will always be factors that keep you from getting places on time. Metro delays, traffic, etc. But do your best to not be those people who show up halfway through the game dressed to the nines. Miami Heat fans are notorious for this, apparently its not “cool” to be on time for them. Its a sports game, not a club.

-Don’t leave the stadium early. Again, there are definite exceptions to this rule: flights to catch, sickness, blah blah blah. Unless you have a good reason, don’t pack up and get out early. Doesn’t matter if the score is 10-9 or 30-5 crazy things can happen at the end of games, and you won’t want to ever say the phrase, “Damn, if only I had stayed…”

-Don’t take your shirt off…please. See picture below…

Don’t text the entire time. We get it, you hate basketball but your family dragged you along to an NBA game. Instead of watching you text your friends: “LOL Basketball is so dumb I hate this…” Please keep in mind your parents paid for your ticket, watch the f’ing game. Your opinion of the sports may change if you witness a Blake Griffin dunk or a game-winning three.


Boo loud and proud. There is nothing better then joining the rest of the home crowd as they boo a member of the opposition. That mob mentality. Also, don’t be afraid to sprinkle in some colorful language or insults.


If you have any other ideas feel free to let me know. Enjoy yourself at these games, live sports are awesome. Just remember its not all about you. More Rule Book entries are coming at ya next week: Team Fan Edition



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