From Kent Barnes. Follow him on Twitter @KentBarnes, email him at kent[AT]borderstan.com.
District sports fans rejoice! After a dreary end to 2012, the Verizon Center is finally back to being the hub of the local sports scene.
Buoyed by the return of star player John Wall, the Wizards have reeled off seven wins in January after only mustering four in October, November and December combined. The awful start to their season all but guarantees the team will miss the playoffs for the fifth straight year, but the recent improvements should bring more fans to the area, much to the delight of local bar and restaurant owners.
Perhaps more importantly to the majority of District residents, the Capitals finally took the ice on January 22 after a lengthy lockout delayed the start of the season. The lockout did nothing to cool the local fans’ enthusiasm as the team continues to sell out their games and dominate local sports coverage (along with William Howard Taft). And thanks to the compressed schedule, those fans can catch Capitals games about twice a week between now and the end of March.
As always, if you can’t make it out to the Verizon Center to see the Wizards or Capitals in person, head to your favorite Borderstan bar for a beer and the big screen.
From Kent Barnes. Follow him on Twitter @KentBarnes, email him at kent[AT]borderstan.com.
For the fourth time in the last 20 years, the National Hockey League (NHL) is in the midst of a work stoppage. Each year, Alexander Ovechkin, Niklas Backstrom, and the rest of your favorite Capitals take the ice under a contract called a “collective bargaining agreement” between the players and the owners. This agreement covers things like salary structure, revenue sharing and player health and safety standards.
These agreements run for a set period of time and must be renegotiated before they expire in order to avoid a work stoppage. Unfortunately, the latest deal expired on September 15th and the players and owners have yet to agree on a new one. The result? A lockout.
So what does this mean for the District? Most obviously it means hundreds of thousands of disappointed hockey fans. The Capitals are consistently among the NHL’s elite, and have made the playoffs each of the last five seasons.
More problematic is the potential impact on local businesses. The Capitals play one or two games at the Verizon Center almost every week between mid-October and mid-April. As long as the lockout continues that’s 18,000 to 35,000 fewer potential customers spending money in restaurants, bars and other local shops — and that’s thousands of dollars of revenue District business owners can’t get back.
While the Verizon Center may seem like it’s a far reach from Borderstan, the economic impact is one that affects our neighborhood. Not only is the Verizon Center just south of Shaw, an area that is under constant development, but imagine how many fans venture up to the 14th and U Street areas before and after a game for a bite to eat or a post-game celebration.
Owners and players are tentatively scheduled to meet at the negotiating table this week, but experts are not optimistic that a deal is close. For now local sports fans are to rally around the Wizards, who are off to a league-worst 0-8 start to the season.
If things keep-up as they are, it won’t be such a wonderful time of year for District sports fans or the city’s budget.
Borderstan columnist Scott Leibowitz, aka Lebodome, previewed the Wednesday-night game (a heartbreaker, for sure) between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers. In cased you missed, you have a chance to win a $40 bar tab, compliments of Borderstan.com.
All you have to do is answer this question correctly: Who will win this series and in how many games? Game 4 in the Best of 7 series in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs is tomorrow at the Verizon Center, 12:30 pm.
As Lebodome noted in his column: If you are the first person to answer correctly in the comments section, you will win a $40 bar tab at your favorite Borderstan-area watering hole, courtesy of Borderstan.com — with or without me, Lebodome. Naturally, we will have to wait until the end of the series to find out who wins!”
UPDATE: We have added a tiebreaker question — and if you have already answered, go in leave a new comment. The tiebreaker question: Please also guess how many goals Alex Ovechkin will have by the end of the series, in addition to the series outcome. Good luck everyone!
That’s all there is to it. Check out his Wednesday column, Lebodome: Time to Jump on the Capitals Bandwagon! and leave your prediction in the comments section. Remember: You have to use a real email address so we can contact you if you win.
As for the $40 bar tab? It’s your choice of a favorite local watering hole. We’ll either send you a gift certificate or arrange a tab with the establishment.
From Scott Leibowitz. Find Scott on Twitter @Lebodome. Email him at scott[AT]borderstan.com.
Urban Dictionary defines a bandwagon fan as “Anyone who claims they are a “fan” of a particular sports team, even though they had no prior support for/interest in the team until that team started winning. These types of fans only show playoff interest, have probably never watched a regular season game, don’t own any type of team merchandise, nor would they buy any.”
This definition is spot on and is exactly what being a D.C. transplant is all about when it comes to the local teams. Yes, there are plenty of locals who can root for the Wizard/Skins/Nats/Caps, but come playoff time, the extra boost that this city can get from people jumping on the bandwagon can be the difference maker.
Tonight, I will be attending game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoff quaterfinals between the #1 NY Rangers vs #7 Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center in Chinatown. The series is tied 1-1 and it’s a best of 7 series, so everything is even, and you need 3 more games to move on to the conference finals. For a team that barely made the playoffs and have a very rookie goalie, the Caps are hitting a stride. Teams that get hot at the end of the season can make serious championship runs on momentum alone.
I will be live tweeting from the game so follow me @Lebodome) and feel free to chat me there. If you are the first person to answer the first question correctly in the comments section (see below), you will win a $40 bar tab at your favorite Borderstan-area watering hole, courtesy of Borderstan.com — with or without me, Lebodome. Naturally, we will have to wait until the end of the series to find out who wins!
Now, I should be honest here. I am not going as a Caps fan. I grew up in the shadows of NYC in Jersey, and I will be there wearing my Rangers jersey and cheering quite aggressively against Alex Ovechkin (insert booing noise). But that doesn’t mean the rest of the town can’t “Rock the Red.”
I don’t see any better time than now to start cheering for the Caps. If they win this series, they will face another “Acela Line” team in the next round (Philly or N.J.). If they make the Stanley Cup finals… well, lets cross that bridge when they get there.
Questions for You
So tonight. Tune in, go out to your local bar, wear red. I am not a hockey expert so I won’t write anything about the actual teams or how they are playing. Here are my questions to you:
- Who will win this series and in how many games?
- Where are you watching these games? Whats the best Capitals bar in Borderstan, aka Dupont-Logan-U Street?
- How many fights will break out?
I will be live tweeting from the game so follow me @Lebodome) and feel free to chat me there. If you are the first person to answer the first question correctly in the comments section, you will win a $40 bar tab at your favorite Borderstan-area watering hole, courtesy of Borderstan.com — with or without me, Lebodome. Naturally, we will have to wait until the end of the series to find out who wins!
Enjoy the game, everyone!
Thoughts I Can’t Ignore Anymore
The Washington Nationals are leading the division. If you were thinking about more bandwagon jumping, this probably isn’t a bad move either. I will reserve my judgement until mid-season… make sure this isn’t a flash in the pan.
Links! Links! Ice Cold Links!
- Another reason why Hillary Clinton is awesome.
- Athletes who make millions shouldn’t punch fire extinguishers, ever.
- The next face of Washington baseball has a weird haircut.
It is quite an honor for Washington to be one of the dozen U.S. cities to host a team from all four major professional sports leagues. (Yes, it’s five if you count fútbol.) One might think that it would make the District a non-stop flow of great games, huge personalities and quality contests. However, as I have mentioned before in previous posts, this is not the case — and actually, in some instances, the professional team situation is downright ugly.
Last week I saw the face of this backward trend and its name is the Washington Wizards. But even though the team has yet to win a game, there are reasons to head down to the Verizon Center — bear with me, I’ll lead you there.
The Wizards of Chinatown
The Wizards of Chinatown (they play in the Verizon Center, along with the Capitals) are currently winless in this lockout-shortened season — and their prospects of winning aren’t great. It’s really a shame, too, because back in the day, the Washington Bullets were a respectable team that competed hard and didn’t fly with the trends.
Then a massive crime wave hit DC in the ’80s and ’90s — coupled with some losing seasons — and the Bullets hit the restart button by having a fan contest to rename the team. Due to the increasing wizard population in Chinatown, it was an obvious choice. The last decade saw some decent teams and some quality scandals — but not much overall progress in winning games.
Because I am just a coach’s son and not the general manager of an NBA team, I will keep my player/personal thoughts to myself. (But, frankly, any team that did this deserves a kick in the pants).
Last Friday my girlfriend and I went to see for ourselves (Thanks Levines!). The Wizards played the high-scoring New York Knicks and, frankly, just gave the W away. Here is what I saw.
Basketball is about players, not cheerleaders. It is common for pro, and even college teams, to have elaborate lineup introductions that are sometimes accompanied by a video of the team’s and franchise’s highlights. It is meant to pump up the home crowd and get everyone in a frenzy.
The Wizards are young and don’t exactly have many highlights or big name superstars (except last year’s No. 1 draft pick, John Wall) so they look for motivation elsewhere. By elsewhere I mean that their intro video consists of mostly clips of practice footage, offseason free agent signings and their cheerleaders. I was chuckling more than I was excited for Wizards hoops.
Stand until we score. The Wizards encourage this of their fans when the game starts. I love fan interaction, especially in college hoops when stadiums are buzzing before tipoff — but this was just annoying. I sat and fans in front of me blocked my view. I just don’t see the point here.
Halftime, finally. Hands down, the most entertaining halftime show I have ever seen. Why? Well, her name is Krystal Liu and she is part of the Red Panda Arcrobats and until I see another woman on a unicycle flip bowls onto her head from her foot, this act will have the title. I only wish they performed at every Wizards game.
So, Why Go?
Besides Red Panda, why should you spend money to see a Wizards game? First, it’s easy to get there: the arena is right on the Metro Red, Green and Yellow Lines. Second, teams with better players come often. Third, the fans who show up are are obviously well aware of the team’s mediocrity, so the atmosphere is laid back.
Unless the Wizards are playing the Heat, Mavs, Lakers, Thunder or Celtics, it may not be worth the hefty price for an upper deck seat. But basketball is basketball. Who knows? Maybe this short season will bring me back to the NBA fold. Until then, we are just three short months from college hoops’ March Madness.
Thought of the Day
Where does the money go that DC saved for snow removal this year if we don’t use it?
Links! Links! Ice Cold Links!
Hello, Borderstan! How ya been? Sorry I’ve been gone for a bit, but in the last month my travels have taken me to New York City, Kiev, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Newark and St. Louis for a wedding, business and plenty of fun along the way. I can only imagine you have been lost in the sports world (as there has been plenty of nonsense) but I am back and ready to get back in District activities.
Lets just do a very quick run down of where we are in mid-November in the never-ending cycle of pro and college athletics. Forget the NBA, it ain’t happening. College football got upended by the neglect of human decency in Pennsylvania and still won’t have playoffs, so forget that.
College hoops started on an aircraft carrier and will get competitive post-Thanksgiving (articles to come on local teams). NFL at midseason and yes, as I predicted, the ‘Skins are just plain bad. For the hardcore, tennis is at the end with its Top 8, but Novak has #1 locked up so nothing much brewing there. So where does that leave us? Yes you guessed it… hockey!
As it turns out, DC happens to have a well-established and pretty good professional hockey team, the Washington Capitals. Not a grand history of winning — in the last decade or so the Caps have had some great seasons, but fallen short in the playoffs. The team is loaded with talent including one of the best personalities in sports, Alex Ovechkin.
The Caps play at the Verizon Center in Chinatown and last weekend my girlfriend took me to see the Caps play my home town team NJ Devils (I happen to be a NY Rangers fan) and we had a great time. So here are a few of my thoughts on the game and why we all need to become hockey fans soon, if we are going to make it without NBA this winter.
Let’s Go Caps! Now I only have 3/4 teams to judge (never been to Redskins game) but this is easily the most passionate fan base in D.C. I have seen. Not only did around 60 to 70% of attending fans have on hockey jerseys (not cheap), but they all they knew the cheers and as they say “Rock the Red.” Wizards fan are happy when their players don’t bring firearms to the arena and don’t even get me started on Nats fans (the ones that at least stay for the whole game). Caps fans were in every play from start to finish. Impressive.
The View. The nice part of basketball/hockey arenas is that if you are in the upper deck, you can still clearly see the action. I was about 5 rows from the ceiling but I saw every shot and lots of great hits. Sadly no fights.
Game Soundtrack. Say what you want about the links between the nationality and backgrounds of pro athletes, but hockey games are all about heavy rock music. Sure there are some Top 40 thrown in there, but these games revolve around rock and heavy doses of guitar. In my book, this leads to excitement and head bobbing.
Overall, I had a pretty great Saturday night watching the Caps lose a tight one in a shootout. The food was pricey, as was the beer ($8) but what pro stadium isn’t. The NHL missed a whole season a few years back and the sport is much stronger for it. Let’s hope the NBA gets the picture, but until then, we should be like our neighbors to the north and wish we could ride a Zamboni around (I know I do).
Also, just want to welcome the many new and great new writers added to Borderstan in the last few weeks. This is a step in the right direction and will mean better coverage of this small slice of DC we call NW.
Thought of the Week
I have an iPhone now. My life is only sorta better…
Links! Links! Ice Cold Links!
HR-57 is located at 1610 14th Street NW. A favorite of mine, it is not really a place to eat, but a wonderful place to fill the spirit with great live jazz music. You can bring your own liquor or allow them to serve you. There are some finger foods available.
Nellie’s Sport Bar, 900 U Street NW. This is a mix of gay bar, sports bar and neighborhood restaurant. Nellie’s has TV screens everywhere so you can follow your favorite teams. During the weekends the rooftop terrace is the place to be: crowed, noisy and fun.
“Zero Hour” at the Jewish Community Center, 1529 16th Street NW: “Channeling Zero Mostel’s wild moods, crazy humor and righteous anger, Jim Brochu reintroduces us to this funny, fantastically contrary man whose penchant for truth-telling has been sorely missed.”
“Dublin Carol” at the H Street Playhouse, 1365 H St. NE: “Set in present-day Dublin on Christmas Eve, Dublin Carol relates the story of John Plunkett, a funeral parlor worker. John recounts memories of the drinking and womanizing of his youth with his younger assistant Mark. However, when his estranged daughter Mary arrives with sobering news, he is forced to face the more disastrous side of his past. Dublin Carol is a dark Irish comedy that follows John as he takes stock of his choices and their consequences–leaving us all more aware of our own lives and mortality.” – H Street Playhouse