Gearing up for the Wizards Season

In just 2 days the Washington Wizards will open up the 2017 -2018 preseason. While it seems that the NBA offseason has been about the super teams becoming more super. Teams one upping each other by bringing in more super star talent, the Wizards offseason has can be summed up in one word. Continuity. The Wizards are bringing back the core of the team, with all 5 starters returning, the Wizards are building chemistry, continuity and stability. Here are a few things to catch you up on all you need to know before the Wizards preseason tips on October 2nd.

Markeiff Morris is out 6-8 weeks to start the season. On September 22nd Markieff Morris under went sports hernia surgery and the initial timetable for return is 6-8 weeks. That will put Morris out of the regular season anywhere between 2-4 weeks. That means he is going to be out for about 7-14 games. The Wizards have to find a way to get production out of players like Mike Scott or Jason Smith. Or that could mean that Kelly Oubre gets extended playing time if the Wizards decide to go smaller with Otto playing more in the stretch four role. This isn’t necessarily ideal as it puts the Wizards in a tough test right out of the gate.

Otto Porter has bulked up. Porter was one of the thinner players on the Wizards last year, and it looks like he has been hitting the weight room hard this offseason. Judge for yourself on the picture below. This is by all means going to help Porter. After getting signed to a max contract this offseason Porter is due for a big year. Porter has had all the talent needed to make him a star in the NBA and this season is his year to prove it to the rest of NBA. Otto has been a rising star for the past 3 years and this year I think he takes that big step forward and solidifies himself as the third all-star on the team.   OttoPorter

2016 media day on the left and 2017 media day on the right. Courtesy of Rob Carr/Getty Images and Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images and bulletsforever

Tim Frazier may be the backup point guard we have been looking for. The Wizards have had a revolving door at the back up point guard spot. The Andre Miller, Ramon Sessions, Trey Burke, Tomas Satoransky, Brandon Jennings door seems to have been resolved, for now, with the signing of Tim Frazier. Tim has already built chemistry with John Wall and Bradley Beal and seems like he is set up to succeed here in Washington D.C. The key for Tim is to stay healthy. (Tim has already suffered a mild groin injury and will at least miss time in preseason) His best ability has to be availability.

Ian Mahinmi has slimmed down. After missing 51 games last year due to knee and calf injuries, Mahinmi has slimmed down this offseason in hopes of improving his overall health. The slimmed down version of Mahinmi will help in in the pick and roll defense and his (hopeful) improved ability to guard the perimeter. Mahinmi’s defensive presence should help the team. Again as with Tim Frazier, Mahinmi’s best ability has to be availability.

The Cavs are getting more superstars, see D. Wade. The Celtics are also getting more superstars, Kyrie and Hayward. The Wizards are staying put and building from within. While on paper everyone is going to be picking one of the 2 super teams, while the Wizards are going to be contending in the east. There is something to be said about continuity and the way that Coach Brooks develops players. The Wizards backcourt combo is one of the best in the league, Gortat seems like he found a new energy, and this team is going to be exciting to watch! We are so excited to be covering the Wizards this season! Let’s get excited #dcFamily!


An American in England

In America, sports are life. Abroad sports are really expensive, and kinda weird too.


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Growing up in the United States, I was always surrounded by sports.  I grew up playing soccer from a very young age.  My dad was born and raised in Egypt which may have had a huge impact on him teaching both my brother and myself the skills and purpose of soccer while we were toddlers.  As we got older, he taught us not to use our hands to touch the soccer ball, he taught us to work as a team, he taught us how every player and position on a team is important no matter what.  These values were instilled in us since we were little and carried over into our youth, teenage, and adult sports lives.


It wasn’t just him though that taught us these values and lessons.  It was all the coaches, senior players, sports channels and competitions around us going on that pushed us to be better.  These skills we then took into our professional lives and incorporated into our jobs and friendships.  We learned how to help others that couldn’t help themselves.  We learned how to lead and take ownership when things didn’t go our way.  We learned never to give up because of how “big” or “tough” our opponent was.


So what is the point of all this?  It’s because I no longer live in America.  I no longer live in a country where sports are a massive part of my life.  I don’t work in a school that competes against other schools in several different sports like: basketball, American football, cross country, volleyball, baseball, and so many other sports.  Yes sports are played in schools and there are competitions, but they last only a few weeks and that is it.  The main sport is soccer, or football as it is called in the rest of the world including here in England.


This is the main sport that is really pushed for children to play.  There are other sports such as rugby, general athletics, tennis, cricket and netball that is played, but the attitude and competition is not as heavily focused on.  Hopefully this will give an understanding of why my worldview and opinion is what it is.


In America, I remember only having basic cable in one of my rooms from an old t.v.  But I also remember watching American Football games and basketball games in the evening before I went to bed.  On Sundays I remember watching hours of American Football after church with my friends at either someone’s house or at a sports bar.  I remember spending countless hours watching Baseball and American Football or Basketball, or overlaps of those sports come playoff time for some.  There was an endless selection to watch.


This was when we just had cable.  It started with ESPN, then ESPN2 then HTS, MASN, and so many other sports channels were added.  These were all included in our package.  I am aware that now there is NFL Pass and NBA and NHL passes to watch your favorite teams and more games.  But this is in addition to quite a few games already easily available and accessible.  At the time (about nine years ago now) the cost was about $60 a month just for cable without the additional passes.


Living in England now, it is completely opposite.  Yes there are sports and after the 2012 olympics there has been a push to get more clubs and different sports introduced to children, but it is not as televised.  In order to watch similar sports like in America, you have to purchase Sky Sports or BT Sports.  Depending on t.v. packages this can cost the equivalent to about $35 just for a few sports channels.  Understandable as well is that because of the five hour time difference between England and the East Coast of America, games start anywhere from 8pm here to midnight.  If a game lasts two hours, I would be awake until 2am and then have to wake up early for work.


For me the issue is the price paid for the amount of sports content provided.  If my t.v. package was £50 a month, and add another £25, I’m spending more money just for a few more sports.  There is an ESPN network here, but focused more on the British type sports as I mentioned above (with F1 and cycling included).


I guess I wanted more “free” sports to watch to push my children to be more competitive.  I want them to have more options and a variety of sports rather than be limited.  I want them to be pushed by coaches and teammates to better themselves.  I watch an EPL highlight show with them called Match of the Day and Match of the Day 2 with them.  This is just focused on football (soccer) and I watch and analyse what goes on with them.  These matches are aired on Sky Sports and BT Sports, and I am not paying the additional money just to watch matches on the weekend and occasionally during the week (unlike NBA, MLB and NFL games which are usually on daily from what I remember).


The push for sports is very different.  Where we have sports bars, they have pubs that televise soccer games (rugby as well is starting to grow in our area).  Where we have schools competing in numerous sports from a young age, they have the same, but on a smaller scale.  Where we had free sports daily, the only free sports we get are cup games (in soccer) or athletics.


It is not the fact that it is so different, it is just that it is not what I am used to.  I am not used to the sports that are aired, but it has taken me time to get into them and I will watch them, when they are aired for free at home.  I could go to the pubs to watch, but I’m used to watching sports from the comfort of my own home.


Overall I’m indifferent, now, to sports being aired here and which sports I consume.  I watch highlights on Match of the Day and Youtube channels for American sports.  What I miss is the constant sports news about what I am interested in.  If you’re just into soccer mainly and have the channels, great.  If you grew up in a culture where sports was so prevalent in almost every conversation from middle school to your professional career, then you will notice something is missing. And that something is very expensive if you want to have it back.


In short, my kids will view sports as a smaller part of their lives than I did. Sports outside of America just aren’t as important to the general public. Sports figures in America have real power because they are seen and heard my millions of people on a daily basis. I miss watching sports, I miss playing sports, but living abroad it just isn’t as important to me anymore and too expensive to keep up with. Don’t take your sports for granted America… and to the athletes that play them, you have a real platform and real power, be careful how you chose to use it.

Redskins Prepared with PERFECT Game Plan

On a day in the NFL marked by various forms of protest the Redskins pulled together and played a complete game. We typically don’t like to mix sports and politics but when the politicians comment on sports and the athletes comment on politics it is all in-bounds to some degree. For right now however, let’s focus on the Redskins on the field performance.

It has been a long long time since our Washington Redskins dominated a team from start to finish as they did last night in a prime time spot in the national spotlight. Well, it happened last year against the Packers but that was promptly followed by a stinker against the Panthers… so what will happen next week against Kansas City? The answer will define the rest of our season.

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On the DTC podcast most of the praise was heaped upon the coaching staff which hasn’t happened in as long as I can remember and which they completely deserved. Coach Gruden had an absolutely perfect game plan installed for the Raiders that was tailored to the Redskins strength and not to the perceived weakness of the the opponent. It worked. It worked really really well. The Redskins ran the ball often and ran it well and as fans is there anything more exciting than watching a parade of elephants, called the offensive line, 35 yards down the field blocking defensive backs at will. The offensive and defensive lines dominated the line of scrimmage from the first play to the last one.

If the Redskins play defense at 75% of the level they did last night they would beat the majority of teams [~80%] the majority of the time [80%] in the league. They didn’t beat the Rams twice, they beat the Rams once, and then silenced a very very good offense holding Crabtree and Cooper to a total of 2 catches for 13 yards! Yes! The defense also pressured Carr all night and sacked him on back to back plays for the first time in several seasons. But improvements are needed on the offensive side of the ball, primarily at the wide receiver position because can the running game be any better than it is right now? Pryor and company must find a way to generate more options for Kirk in addition to the TE’s and RB’s on the roster. Even with limited options, Kirk managed 350 yards and three touchdowns and outplayed the equally paid Carr soundly.

For now, let’s enjoy the win and get ready to face another good test on Monday night in another prime time spot against the equally dangerous KC Chiefs. Hail to the Redskins!

Get caught up on the podcast here! #HTTR

Redskins Dominate Raiders: Instant Reaction

Hail to the Redskins! What a complete performance from the Redskins tonight against a very good Raiders team! LP is singing, FP is smiling, Stevie is dancing in the streets of DC, and Joe is convinced we are Super Bowl-bound! The guys pass out their game balls to coaches and players highlighting the best plays of the night and talk X’s and O’s about what worked and what didn’t as the focus now changes to an equally good KC Chiefs team next Monday night in another primetime tilt! The fellas also discuss their reaction to Dan Snyder locking arms with the players during the national anthem tonight and share a few thoughts on what they saw around the league too. Don’t miss this episode on a Redskins Victory Sunday and make sure to join us next Monday night in person for a LIVE show! … more details to follow this week!

Nationals Game 149; Win Number 90

On a night when the Nationals acknowledged and celebrated the most dominant Air Force in all the World, the US Air Force, the Nats and Dodgers took the field in the third game of a three game series to claim their place as the most dominant team in the National League.  The Dodgers got much needed quality pitching performances from Alex Wood and Rich Hill, two starters slated to be a big part of the Dodgers playoff rotation plans. The Nationals on the other hand countered with Edwin Jackson and A.J. Cole, two pitchers who may not even make the playoff roster, depending on how things shake out.  

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You could say that this series doesn’t mean much considering the Nats wrapped up the NL East what seems like months ago, even though it’s only been a week. Since clinching, the Nats have lost 4 out of 5 games, you might call it a bit of a hangover. The Dodgers came into DC a bit of a wounded dog.  Yes, they were on a 2 game winning streak, but that was after losing 11 in a row and 16 of their last 17. To say the Dodgers were struggling would be quite the understatement. The Dodgers began this losing streak with a record of 91 -37, that’s 54 games over .500! Even after all that losing, they still held a 92 -52 record and a 10 game division lead over the 2nd place Arizona Diamondbacks.  Coming into this series the Nats were 5 games behind the Dodgers for the best record in the NL. A sweep, brings it down to 2 games, with 14 left to play…anything can happen.   Losing the first 2 games pushes the Nats to 7 back. A loss Sunday, and the Nats fall 8 back and all of sudden the once dormant Dodgers (if you can call a 95 win team dormant) are now on 5 game winning streak and feeling good about themselves.

Tonight, Stephen Strasburg, one of the heads of that Nationals dominant two headed pitching monster along with Max Scherzer, took the mound to face the Dodgers. Strasburg came in hot, having pitched 34 straight scoreless innings.  Observers will tell you he hasn’t been perfect during this streak but he has been getting himself out of trouble, if ever he found himself in it.  The Dodgers countered with Hyun-Jin Ryu, a  lefty pitcher with a nasty curve and an average fastball. Ryu is a good pitcher but isn’t likely to be part of the Dodgers rotation.  Also sitting for the Dodgers were Adrian Gonzalez and Again, tonight was a matchup between two teams that may look a bit different if they meet again in October.

Strasburg, for his part, had some slight control issues in the early innings, giving up 2 walks and hitting a batter in the first 3 innings. Hiis scoreless streak ended at 35 innings after conceding a double to Logan Forsythe that scored Yasiel Puig. That said  he still managed to strike out 7 batters through 5 innings and kept the Dodgers at bay. The Nats offense however seems to have collectively slumped. Ryu, initially seemed to continue the string of strong Dodger pitching performances in this series but got chased by after throwing 98 pitches in 4⅔ innings, not having allowed a run but walking Strasburg and lead off hitter Trea Turner.

In the most controversial moment of the evening, the next batter Jayson Werth lined an 0-2 pitch from reliever Ross Stripling down the left field line. The 3rd base ump immediately called the ball foul. Strasburg stopped half way between 3rd and home, with Turner on his heels. Nationals manager, Dusty Baker immediately called for a challenge and review by the league offices in NY. The crowd was certain the call would be overturned, only to be disappointed by the upholding of the call on the field.  Boos rained down on the umps and Werth flew out to centerfield to end the inning.

In the bottom of the sixth, the heart of the Nationals lineup made some noise. Following an Anthony Rendon walk, Daniel Murphy lined a sharp single to center for Ryan Zimmerman.  Zimmerman crushed a 3-1 90 mph slider over the right center field wall for a 3 run homer. Strasburg  was done after six very strong innings giving up 3 hits, 1 run, 3 walks 1 hbp and 8 strikeouts on 94 pitches.

It was then on to Baker’s trusty bullpen beginning with Brandon Kintzler who breezed through the top of the 7th on 10 pitches. Ryan Madson pitched the eighth, getting off to a shaky start giving up a hard single to right by Corey Seager. Seager advanced to second on an error in the field by Werth. Madson would then retire Justin Turner, Cody Berlinger and Yasiel Puig in order to end the threat.  Sean Doolittle came into the game in a non save situation and closed out the game getting the final three outs around a harmless single and walk.

The Nats added another run in the seventh on a Rendon double down the left field line that scored Werth who legged it home all the way from first. The Nats used the long ball to pad the score in the bottom of the eight with, Zimmerman hitting his 2nd homer of the night over the scoreboard in right center to make the score 5-1 and Adam Lind hitting a sharp 2 run homer to left Center into the visitor’s bullpen.

For one Sunday night in September, all was well again in Nats Park. Not much can really be made of this series. Dusty definitely wanted this win tonight, leaving nothing to chance. He got just what he needed from Strasburg and the law firm of Kintlzer, Madson and Doolittle. Zimmerman and Murphy went a combined 6 for 8 tonight reviving the slumping lineup.  There are still 13 games left in the season before meaningful baseball is played in Nats park again. Until then, expect Dusty to rest some of the regulars and to tinker with some lineups as he figures out his 25 man roster for the playoffs.