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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Because College Park’s filled with people who are not actually from Maryland, we see a lot of people in completely random–and awesome–jerseys. Each week (ish), we’ll be posting a little about the best we saw. Maybe there will even be pictures.

I again don’t have a picture, but if you expect me to snap pictures of girls I see riding elliptical machines at the gym, you’re overstating how much I care about this blog.

Let’s jump through the hoops here. Only about 25 percent of the university’s population is out-of-state. Let’s conservatively say about 99 percent of those people are from New York and New Jersey. How many people from Washington state can possibly go here? 10?

Based on the (very few) Mariners home games I’ve watched, Seattle cares about its baseball team, but not too much. So this university has, say, five Mariners fans? Five, though, is also the number of years Olerud played for Seattle. The Mariners haven’t made the World Series, but they’ve had some impressive baseballers over the last 20 years: Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez, Ichiro, and Felix Hernandez are all jerseys I’d more expect to see, Bret Boone, Jay Buhner, and even Michael Pineda (hey, I’ve seen Jake Arrieta T-shirt jerseys around here) have to be equally likely.

Not that I’m complaining. Olerud’s probably one of the more serially underrated players of his generation. His incredible .363/.473/.599 season in 1993 never received the recognition it deserved, like a first-place MVP vote or two, and his career WAR of 56.8 renders him warranting serious Hall of Fame consideration. In their only shared year on the ballot (2011), Jack Morris (career WAR below 40) received 311 votes to Olerud’s 4.

So whether you were also listening to a FanGraphs podcast, girl-on-the-ellipitcal, or you were just wearing a hand-me-down from an older brother, I salute you.

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Capitals fans haven’t been saying that for quite 2,000 years — the franchise has only existed since 1973 — but it’s sure beginning to feel that way.

“The Young Guns” are still relatively young. Alex Ovechkin is 26. Nicklas Backstrom is 24. Mike Green is 26. Alexander Semin is 28. But they’re no longer fresh.

The happy-go-lucky, Slapshot-extra coach is gone, replaced by a man I’m told is a Capitals legend but looks — to the extent he acknowledges a hockey game is unfolding before him — like he’d rather be in London, the Ontario one. The least impressive four-year streak of division titles in the history of sports (winning the NHL’s Southeast) is gone, lost to a team that plays in Sunrise, Fla. The fury was unleashed a long time ago, and it hasn’t come back yet.

But the Capitals are still here.

Not here in the sense that People Who Talk About Hockey are talking about them. They’re not Boston or New York or Philadelphia. They have Ovechkin, hockey writers’ favorite whipping boy, but without a superb regular-season performance, they’re just another Southeast team with two playoff series victories since 1998. Sure, two of their first-round games vs. Boston will receive NBC national coverage, but I suspect this is mostly so Mike Milbury can relive the Cold War and give Washington’s “Eurotrash” another scolding.

No, here in the sense that making the Stanley Cup playoffs is 99 percent of the battle. Here in the sense that Ovechkin, Backstrom, Green, and Semin will take the ice Thursday presumably somewhat healthy. Here in the sense that the New York Giants just won the Super Bowl.

The track record doesn’t look good. Washington’s had home-ice advantage in six of six playoff series since 2008. It’s lost four of those, each in a fashion more disheartening than the last.

This year, in yet another this-time-we’ve-got-it season, they’re starting Braden Holtby in Game 1.

It’s not what George McPhee drew up.

But why the hell not?

The Capitals still have the core of a team that won back-to-back Eastern Conference regular-season titles — a sample size of 164. Quality should, theoretically, shine through if given enough opportunities. Fortunately, Washington’s at least accomplished that.

And this isn’t basketball, but Washington has the best player in this series, a $124 million man who has carried this team in the playoffs before. Maybe I’m living in denial, but I like it there.

The obituaries for the Caps’ latest Stanley Cup efforts were already written, if not in spring 2010, in spring 2011, and if not in spring 2011, in the fall. To many, they’re already dead. And if they lose again, they’ll simply be buried again, with even more glee.

The Capitals are the renegades now, fighting the bluest of the blue bloods. They could face Boston and New York, two of the Original Six, and then Pittsburgh or Philadelphia, two teams that think they’re Original Six. Am I being presumptuous? Of course.

But why the hell not?