July 28, 2010
Sports Insider Board
Washington Capital fans have savored the sweet taste of season domination during the glorious reign of Alex the Great. Now, Redskins, Wizards, and Nationals’ fans may finally be served the same plate of sweet victory. The magic ingredients have come in the form of Donovan Mcnabb, Stephen Strasburg, and John Wall. True, the names don’t roll off your tongue as easily as Obama-Biden, but the hopes of a city and the entire metro region are riding higher than ever with the thought of real change from sports as usual in the nation’s Capital.
McNabb was brought in from the NFL East Division rival, the Philadelphia Eagles, to oust perennial season scapegoat Jason Campbell, who was later traded to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for a 4th round, 2012 NFL Draft pick. McNabb brings Pro Bowl caliber talent, regular season successes and a desire to solidify his career with a championship ring. He has his work cut out for him with a team that includes young, unproven wide receivers, over-the-hill running backs and a revolving door on the offensive line. Yet, he has the experience to guide this team to a wild card spot at the end of a season. The icing on the cake is Mike Shanahan — the NFL coach with two Super Bowl victories under his belt — who brings the ability to guide a wily veteran quarterback through the rigors of the playoffs to finally achieve the highest level of NFL glory.
Mike Rizzo, who became the Nationals’ General Manager in 2009, has been the man behind “The Plan” — a term originally coined by team owner Ted Lerner in 2006 in reference to rebuilding the team from the ground up. He is responsible for acquiring Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, left-handed relief pitcher Sean Burnett and is intent on getting the Nationals to a competitive level. The most relevant addition to the Nationals’ roster has not been a trade, but rather No. 1 draft pick Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg brings a once in a generation talent that consists of a Herculean strength to hurl a baseball. He has an eagle eye vision for precision placement and maturity beyond his age. However, Strasburg is just part of the plan for the Nationals. “Ticket sales have increased since Stephen Strasburg’s debut, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle,” said Chris Gargani, Nationals VP and Managing Director for Sales and Client Services. “Washingtonians and Nationals fans are excited about the entire team; Ryan Zimmerman is having another great year, Adam Dunn is getting hot with the bat and relievers Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Matt Capps make up a solid back-end of the bullpen. The national attention certainly doesn’t hurt, but it’s really just an avenue for us to tell the bigger story about our young and up-and-coming team and the return of baseball to the Nation’s Capital.” While the Nationals are still a work in progress, they are making strides to become a competitive ball club. With time, they will solidify their place as a Major League mainstay and show the nation that baseball should have never left DC in the first place.
In terms of hoop dreams, Wall brings athleticism on par with the best of any current “King” in the NBA. Wall has size and power, but his greatest asset is speed. He is capable of leading an NBA franchise with a fast break offense similar to what Steve Nash has accomplished in Phoenix. Just like Nash, Wall can make average players better with his court vision and floor leadership. He’ll put players in a position to succeed. However, unlike Nash, Wall can play smothering defense. His ability to effectively play both ends of the court will make the Wizards magical this season. Wizards’ head coach Flip Saunders, who has had high levels of success during the regular season with past teams, has struggled in the post-season and been unable to budge the Wizards from their place at the bottom of the NBA rung. He started his second season with the franchise with Wall and newest Wizards addition, shooting guard Kirk Hinrich (the all-time leader in three point field goals for the Chicago Bulls). He may finally have the tools and talent to complete his quest for post-season success.
DC has been known for being a hubbub of political debates, scandals and intrigue. When it comes to sports, in recent years the city has been known for little more than disappointment and blown opportunities. But deep in its depths, DC is a sports town, and the owners and general managers have stepped up to the plate. They have provided us with new hope for our struggling sports teams. And that’s something to make you stand up and cheer!
Around the League…
MLB: New York Yankee owner George Steinbrenner died of a heart attack on July 11th at age 80. His death occurred on the same day as the 81st All Star Game, which the National League won 3-1, ending their 14-year losing streak. Nationals’ pitcher Matt Capps was named the winning pitcher and Atlanta’s Brian McCann the MVP. Steinbrenner was honored with a moment of silence before the game and later in the week at Yankee Stadium.
NBA: After an eight day, free agency frenzy, LeBron James ended speculation on his whereabouts for next season on July 9th (and many seasons to come) during an ESPN special entitled “The Decision”. During the special, he candidly explained his tough decision to leave his hometown of Cleveland and “take my talents to South Beach”, where he will join forces with Miami Heat superstar Dwayne Wade and newly signed free agent Chris Bosh. His decision has created uproar in Cleveland and around the nation. This commotion was highlighted by an open letter from Cavalier’s owner Dan Gilbert publicly dismissing James and the subsequent controversy.
NFL: Fans and teams alike are gearing up for the beginning of football season. While top draft picks have already inked deals, the St. Louis Rams and No. 1 Draft Pick Sam Bradford (QB, Oklahoma), are in negotiations for the highest contract in NFL history with $45 to $50 million in guaranteed money.
Golf: South African golfer Louis Oosthuizen won the British Open by an impressive seven shots on July 18th at St. Andrew’s fairway in Scotland. The standing record is 8 shots over 72 holes, which was last achieved by Tiger Woods a decade ago. Woods finished 12-shots behind Oosthuizen, tied for 18th place.