Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Why is the DC Sports-sphere So Friggin Soft?

When compared to cities that are generally of similar size, location and population (Boston, Philly and to a lesser extent New York), can anyone explain to me why DC sportsfans and local media "personalities" are such pansies?

Over the last 15 years, you can make an argument that DC has one of the five most impressive records of sports futility of any large multi-sport town. The Redskins have spent the majority of that time firmly entrenched in the "laughingstock" column, save for three brief playoff appearances since 1992. The Capitals have, in that time, transformed from perennial playoff contender (actually making it to the Stanley Cup Finals (briefly) in '98) into one of the leagues worst franchises...though they seem to be on the way back to respectability. The Bullets/Wizards went something along the lines of 20 years without winning a playoff series, and while they've made it to the postseason three years running, they've failed to truly scare anyone of consequence. And the Nats...well, they get a pass...but the recent confluence of Elijah Dukes, Blastings Thrilledge and Dimitri Young doesn't exactly have the rest of the NL East looking for an answer...though the local constabulary took note.

Skipping ahead to my point--where's the outrage? Abe Pollin, up until he hired Ernie Grunfeld, ran the Wizlets about as poorly as can be done. Remember the two season period where the Bullets crunch time go to guy was Ladell Eackles?

For reasons that escape understanding, Ted Leonsis is generally beloved in DC...yet its hard to argue that his impact on this team (until recently) hasn't been somewhere between "negative" and "criminally negligent."

Then there's Daniel Fucking Snyder. That case has been made here repeatedly, with extreme prejudice, salty language and, let's be honest...a few tears. Yet, the hiring of Jim Zorn failed to take the severe beating it so richly deserved. You're telling me you took weeks and weeks to drag out a scattershot, rudderless coaching search and the wheel ended up on the Seahawks QB coach who had never been so much as a coordinator? The result is borderline indefensible, but the process was worse. Yet, save for Sally Jenkins (who is now uniformly dismissed as a "Snyder-hater") the local media reaction was (annoyingly) measured and could almost be classified as "positive." What the hell is that? The idea was to hire the best head coaching prospect in the league...and this numbnuts couldn't even get the best coaching prospect in Seattle...though he tried and failed in his pursuit of Jim Mora: Reloaded...who also was a bad choice, by the way.

If something of this nature happened in Philly there'd be sweatshirted angry mobs with torches, bags of feces and extremely contagious STDs storming the Link. New York would have already made Zorn cry three times and Snyder's face would have been on the back of the NY Post every day with the 32 point fonted "EXCREMENT!!!!" headline under it. In Boston, Shaughnessy and Ryan would have already demanded Zorn be fired and the entire town would have already gone back to not caring about the Patriots again. But in DC, people not only failed to express the appropriate outrage...they defended the choice. Sally Jenkins goes after Snyder and people have the audacity to accuse her of having an agenda. What agenda? A nefarious underhanded mission to call a spade a spade? Daniel Snyder is incompetent. That's not an accusation or opinion. It's a fact. Steve Czaban goes on the radio and mocks Snyder's regime, Cerrato's impossibly dumb promotion and the Zorn hire...and he gets a hundred calls telling him he's a bad fan.

I don't get it. How is this town, supposedly known for ruthlessly self-serving narcissists and a "win at all costs" political mentality so content to sit blithely by and watch a duplicitous, mistrustful Napoleon feed them a series of (increasingly expensive) turd sandwiches.

With respect to the Redskins, the "kid gloves" from the local media could be attributed to Snyder's choke-hold on the flow of all Redskins related news. I mean, when you own the fan message board and the radio station that broadcasts your games...and you threaten the local cable sports outfit with decreased (or the total elimination of) access if the coverage is not this your liking...that certainly can and will impact your take on the news of the day. But this same treatment is applied to the Wiz and Caps. Sure, maybe you'll get the occasional rip job on Abe Pollin or Ted Leonsis...but I bet I can count every occurrence of such over the last 5 years on one hand.

What am I missing? Where's the fan and/or media outrage? Where's the journalistic desire to be a self-aggrandizing prick?

52 Comments:

At 10:46 AM, Blogger Carter said...

Leonsis is a fan friendly owner. He walks around during the games glad handing fans and generally tries to put the best product on the ice. He went the Dan Snyder route of buying high priced talent back in the Jagr days and it didnt work out. Plus the team loses money every year. The fan support isnt there, so thats DC to blame.

After the lockout he ditched basically everyone of note and started over gathering talent around Ovetchkin which is starting to pay dividends. He also fired the head coach this year which shook things up in a good way. I dont think we can blame Leonsis in the same way we can bash reclusive, meddling owners such as Snyder.

 
At 10:50 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

There's no arguing with the assertion that Leonsis is imminently more likable than Snyder...but then again, so was Stalin. Leonsis has a mild case of the "he just wants to win" disease. Lots of people just want to win. Lots of people are fucking morons.

That said, what you said about the fan support is true. It's a thankless job pushing hockey on this fanbase. And some of the bitterness coming from Leonsis recently is understandable.

 
At 10:53 AM, Blogger Greg said...

Snyder has been working on a theory since before he bought the Redskins. It's that Skins fans are hopelessly loyal, will pay top dollar to see whatever I have out on the field and will love me for it.

 
At 11:08 AM, Blogger mayhugh said...

There's something to the "hopelessly loyal" thing. Skins followers as a fan base are in the lower part of the bell curve (the first low part) in terms of actual sports knowledge and team management. Thanks to both Snyder and the local media, the Redskins are always either making visible moves/big splashes or perceived to be doing so. Fans with little knowledge of the actual workings of the sport (including how other teams are run) see this and assume things are going great and their team is the best.

 
At 11:14 AM, Blogger Carter said...

I dont think Leonsis gets by on simply the "he just wants to win" basis. There is more substance to him then that.

That argument usually occurs when an owner spends tons of money in asinine personnel moves. "Yeah it was a terrible move but he just wants to win!" We see this annually as the Redskins win the off-season super bowl.

Leonsis tried to go the high priced talent route. It didnt work, so he changed his approach. Thats the key - he altered his strategy. He dumped all the overpaid talent and went after cheap developmental players. Look at the Caps now they are battling for 1st in the division.

This is something that Snyder has not done. He will keep making the same stubborn mistakes over and over simply due to arrogance, and I agree with you 100% on this, contempt for the fan base.

 
At 11:20 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

I'm not saying Leonsis is Snyder--far from it. And I think he deserves credit for changing his approach. I'm just saying he's not guiltless and in many other towns could have experienced significantly more critical media coverage.

 
At 11:46 AM, Blogger Carter said...

Yeah, towns that actually care about hockey.

I am not saying he is perfect but I dont think he should be used as an example of coddling by local media or fans.

It comes down to the fact that this is a football town. People are obsessed with the Redskins. All other teams are of less importance and as such avoid a significant amount of due criticism because people just dont care enough.

Meanwhile, the team that people care the most about gets a free pass generally because the fans are so blindly supportive that they cant see any fault with their beloved Skins and the media is held hostage for access by the owner. Its the perfect storm...

 
At 11:49 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

I struggle to accept that the fans dictate the tone of the media coverage. I'm far more likely to accept the converse. The fans are blindly loyal--there's no arguing with that.

 
At 12:04 PM, Blogger Carter said...

I dont think the media coverage has to do with the fans. Although I can see why you thought that after rereading my post. Its 2 separate groups acting independently, blowing the Skins. The fans are blind - so they support Dan Snyder no mater what. The media is threatened by the team so by and large the coverage is favorable.

 
At 12:32 PM, Blogger Greg said...

I think the best medicine for the Worshippers would be a complete failure of a season. Something with less than 5 wins. Maybe two bad seasons back to back. Stir up a little anger.

 
At 12:34 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

Greg, I hope you're right...because that certainly feels like what's about to happen. Implementing the west coast offense with these receivers and a QB who has a long wind up and a tendency to overthrow short passes? Sounds like 3 wins to me.

 
At 5:39 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

The Redskins did the unthinkable this afternoon, and made the excruciatingly tough decision to part ways with Brandon Lloyd after a storied two year relationship. Not many dry eyes in Ashburn this evening as news makes it was around Redskins Park.

 
At 6:02 PM, Blogger Chimpanzee Rage said...

After reading this and the many generalities you've given as examples i wonder if you actually know any Redskins fans.

I am one and I dont know any redskin fans that actually like Snyder. I even know some that have given up their season tix b/c of his practices. So...yea, don't confuse the entire fan base with the media's coverage of a fan base or the 5% that are crazed fanboys on the internet (if you can make generalizations so can I).

As far as what I can tell from talking to many people in DC right after the hire (i frequent bars a lot you see) no one was happy we got Zorn, we're just glad it wasn't Fassel and we as fans are trying to make the best of a bad situation. At this point, it'd be worse to fire the guy before he coached a game and hire someone else, so you really have no choice now but to see if the guy can coach. Boo him when he starts losing like we did Norv and Spurrier and, yes, even Joe.

As for Mayhugh's first comment, you really can say the same thing for every team in the league. Not understanding the intracies of team and sport is not exclusive of the Redskins. Have you met a cowboys or eagles fan recently?

 
At 6:19 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Hey Chimp Rage....we're mostly talking about the media's kid-gloved treatment of the Dirt Worshippers.

 
At 6:33 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

You don't know any Redskins fan that likes Snyder? Go to any of the Skins message boards and you'll find at least 50% of them defend him, or offers some sort of concession along the lines of "he just wants to win" or "he's getting better." Go to extremeskins.com, the largest of them, and that climbs to 75%...and yes, there's a reason for that distinction. I'm a Redskins fan...so maybe this is just all about me fancying myself as a cut above the rest of you douchebags. Wouldn't be the first time.

I've been a Redskins fan since 1982 and I can say with confidence that there are a ton of fans out there that blindly root for the team without regard for the ineptitude of the owner or the Groundhog Day nature of every season. "We've REALLY got it figured out this time." Part of that can be attributed to the Skins being the only show in town...or at least the only one any one gives a shit about.

But, my post was more about the kid gloves the media uses when addressing the DC sports landscape.

 
At 7:28 PM, Blogger Chimpanzee Rage said...

Yea, i think if you look at the numbers though, those guys in the message boards really only represent a small number of redskins fans. If there are around 10,000 of them that message constantly on the board, that's still just around a tenth of the people that can fit in the stadium, let alone that are fans who just watch it on tv.

Those people are fanboy freaks, I understand that, go to most online forums out there and they'll be pro team, why else would you join a forum in the first place? If you start hating on the team, they'll say you really root for the rival team and they flame you out. Most people away from the computer, in my experience, wish nothing but harm towards Dan Snyder.

I'd say Czaban, as over the top as he is, is far more representative of the skins fan's mindset than you give them credit for.

As for the media, i agree, there are too many members of the media that treat the team with kid gloves here. Czaban, Polin, LaCanfora, Wise (sometimes) and Weinstein (sometimes, he is limited by his boss) are some of the exceptions in my mind.

 
At 9:25 PM, Blogger Zack said...

As a Redskins fan, and i know other skins fans feel the same way, we truly believed that daniel snyder had turned the corner with how he handled the sean taylor tragedy with class and grace, like a human being. We believed him for just one minute that he was a compassionate, genuine human being. then he had to go and screw it all up by being a fanboy idiot. the biggest gaffe was his decision to make up negative rumors about gregg williams insulting joe gibbs only to get the fans on his side.

also, lets not forget that not 100% of the blame falls on snyder. a good bit of it falls on vinny "yes man" cerrato, who's about as useful as an a-hole on my elbow.

 
At 8:40 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

No, I disagree. 100% falls on Snyder. Vinny is undoubtedly an incompetent douche, but Snyder's the sole reason he's still around and has the power that he does.

As to the other negative reaction to this--the folks who wave their arms and say "Hey, look at me--I hate Dan Snyder."

Yes, yes, I know. I hate him too. And there's a lot of us out there. But the fact that their are people out there that don't share our rage...well, that makes me nuts. As to anyone who says the media has done a sufficient job -- you've got to me kidding me. Last I was in NY (and I'm there about every other month or more), the reaction to the Yankees electing to keep Joba Chamberlain in the bullpen was ten times was the Zorn reaction was here. The DC media, compared to their brethren on the east coast, is soft as Charmin.

 
At 9:09 AM, Blogger TJ said...

For the record, Joba should start the year in the pen. Yankee fans can only hope we have our own Papelbon now.

 
At 9:30 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

If you do a google search for "midget sex", this is the 74th website listed. Not showing off...not falling behind...

 
At 10:29 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

http://wheelhousepickles.com/

 
At 10:33 AM, Blogger Greg said...

Something tells me not to go to that site on my work computer.

 
At 10:38 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

Yeah genius...it's a site housing up close pics of all the wheelhouse regulars' wangs.

 
At 10:44 AM, Blogger Greg said...

Really? I'm there.

 
At 11:08 AM, Blogger chip said...

Geoff's post is insulting most of all to Napoleon Bonaparte. How perhaps the most succesfull asskicker of all time became a byword for a small impotent joke of a man is a testament to the efficacy of British propaganda.

 
At 11:21 AM, Blogger rob said...

as i suspected, my member is the largest of all the wheelhouse regulars. proportionally, of course.

 
At 11:31 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

That's a good point...Napoleon gets a bad name. We need another insecure and inept short man of historic significance to name this phenomenon after. Suggestions?

 
At 11:31 AM, Blogger Greg said...

Whoa...William F. Buckley is no longer among us.

 
At 11:32 AM, Blogger rob said...

dude. it's right there. snyder has made it his own. snyder is napoleon is snyder.

 
At 11:37 AM, Blogger TJ said...

For those that don't know, Rob is actually a symbiotic organism that lives in Whitney's body...just like Kuato in Total Recall.

 
At 11:41 AM, Blogger rob said...

i suspect that there are very few organisms, symbiotic or otherwise, that could sustain life in that cesspool.

 
At 11:42 AM, Blogger rob said...

william f. buckley and myron cope on the same day. coincidence?

 
At 11:44 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

Cope...Buckley...who fills out that death-triangle? I'm thinking Mickey Rooney...

 
At 11:49 AM, Blogger TJ said...

You know you're thinking it...

Ms. Spears.

 
At 11:53 AM, Blogger rob said...

merril hoge.

 
At 1:44 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

The Caps traded for Sergei Federov yesterday...which leads me to believe that they have stumbled upon an old copy of NHL '94 and are basing all personnel moves on that. Be on the look out for a Steve Larmer signing or a big move to go after Mike Richter soon.

 
At 1:57 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

William F. Buckley was eaten by wolves last night. He was delicious...and Tom Brokaw's gay.

 
At 2:26 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

Quick...without looking it up...name the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons...

 
At 2:29 PM, Blogger rob said...

mike smith? jones? johnson?

 
At 2:32 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

Mike Smith--bingo. I was stumped.

 
At 3:02 PM, Blogger Geoff said...

Random fact: The list of people who parlayed a gig as the QB of Eastern Illinois University into NFL success at some level is impressive--Tony Romo, Sean Payton and Mike Shanahan all had that gig at one time.

 
At 4:21 PM, Blogger Greg said...

Other notable Eastern Illinois Alumni include Brad Childress, Burl Ives and John Malkovich

 
At 5:53 PM, Blogger Carter said...

Caps also picked up a great goalie in Huet. They traded a 2nd round pick for him and a defensive prospect for Federov. Pretty cheap if you ask me. Both of them are free agents at the end of the year though.

Is anyone else amazed at the amount of hype Chris Long is getting for the upcoming draft? He played highschool football for one of the rivals of many wheelhouse contributors: St. Anne's Belfield.

My younger brother played against him once and I went up to Howie Long and chatted really quickly. He was enjoying one of the biggest lippers I have ever seen...

 
At 12:03 AM, Blogger Greg said...

Check out these hilariously terrible science fair projects.

http://www.photobasement.com/41-hilarious-science-fair-experiments/#more-117

 
At 5:05 PM, Blogger Caps Dreamer said...

Couldn't have said it better about Danny Boy Snyder and Vinny "what the hell does he know about football" Cerrato. I thought Sally Jenkins column was spot on. I was a Redskins fan for many, many years with an emphasis on "was" because of Snyder. Today, you'd have to pay me to attend a game that puts money in his pocket.

Now, Ted Leonsis on the other hand, is a different story. He did do the Jagr deal and has since admitted it was his biggest mistake so he no longer picks players. Danny Boy isn't capable of recognizing, much less admitting to, the colossal mistakes he continues to make.

I do understand your point about the media letting everyone off the hook in this town though. DC sports teams haven't done anything worth talking about in a very long time and it's rare to see anyone in the media calling the owners/managers on it.

Great column.

 
At 5:48 PM, Blogger CUPin2009 said...

Leonsis bigger problem was he surrounded his high price players with a coach with NO EXPERIENCE and expected the high price players to listen to a guy with NO EXPERIENCE. I mean the guy wrote plays down on bar napkins. What, did he have a brain storm in between martinis. Jeeze. That was the mistake.

 
At 7:55 PM, Blogger Ogre said...

So we aren't all dicks. <_< Maybe that's the reason we don't live in New York, Philly, or Boston.
Seriously, sports fans don't have to all be mindless neanderthals. The Redskins suck, and I go through love/hate relationships with them. The Wizards suck, and I hate basketball. The Nats have been here for what, three years, and Elitist jerk you are has to rip on them. Seriously. Have fun making fun of other teams - some of us don't need to do that.

 
At 1:04 PM, Blogger DMG said...

I think there are two reasons D.C. fans don't have the same outrage as people in other cities:

One if that so many people are transplants so they aren't as many people who have grown up as die hard fans. The number of die hards is further reduced by the fact that the Capitals were originally a terrible team with a terrible owner, introduced into a market that needed better and that the Nationals have only been around a few years. But the high number of transplants has something to do with it; you see the same thing in cities like Atlanta and Miami.

The other is that there's so much literally world-changing stuff going on in D.C. every day that a lot of people in the region are involved in some way or another, so I don't think sports comes to the forefront of the news in D.C. like it does in other places.

 
At 4:54 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

Andy Reid in Philly was never a coordinator before he became the head coach of the Eagles

 
At 7:26 PM, Blogger FS said...

If you want to write a blog post about how much a town sucks, you should probably get a fact checker. I stopped counting around 11 mistakes.

 
At 9:39 AM, Blogger Geoff said...

Eleven, eh? List three factual errors for me.

As to writing about how much a town sucks--I've lived in DC for 26 years and have suffered through all this sports related futility, which in my estimation gives me the right to bitch about all of it.

 
At 11:29 AM, Blogger CL said...

"Eleven, eh? List three factual errors for me."

The Philly fans' STDs are moderately contagious, not "extremely" contagious.

 

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