Welcome To Hell

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Greetings From The Booth!

We’re now in the so-called “second season,” as it’s now playoff time in the high school football season, and as of this writing, the first round is almost done (only Handley has yet to play, with most games having been moved to Thursday of this week). With the leaves almost gone from the trees and thoughts turning toward Thanksgiving and the upcoming Holidays, there is a much different feel to the playoffs. But, more about that after a few quick thoughts about the possible sale of the Washington Commanders, which has been called for by a lot of the fan base…

Dan Snyder is under fire again this week after being sued by the DC Attorney General for deceiving residents about the NFL investigation into the team’s toxic workplace culture. The team is also being slammed for propping up running back and recent shooting victim Brian Robinson, Jr. as a distraction into all the above. I firmly believe that this recent mess will now fast-track Snyder into an imminent sale of the team. One of the groups rumored to be interested in buying is headed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, one of the richest men in the world.

This would solve a number of things. First, the 20-plus year dumpster fire of the Snyder era would be over. Second, we can finally give the team the name it deserves: The Amazons. Yes, a name that at least has hints of it’s past moniker, although I’m not sure how I feel about the Amazon “smile” logo on the side of the helmet.

Ok, back to high school football. Playoff time is special. Each week of the “second season” brings a sense of finality with the late Fall chill. Lose and you are done. For many seniors it’s the last organized football they will ever play. And for a select few teams who win a state championship, their legacy will live forever in the school trophy case.

One of those teams was the 1994 Handley Judges, who I had the pleasure of following that season as a play-by-play broadcaster all the way to Gate City, Virginia on a muddy December day. That 14-0 Judges team was known for it’s high-powered offense, and led by the Partlow twins, Brian and Michael. On paper, the homestanding Devils had no chance. But the weather (and maybe some home-cooking by the grounds crew) would be the great equalizer. After a 6-hour ride from Winchester that required one to actually leave Virginia, go into Kentucky, then back into Virginia, The Judges fans and players were met with “Welcome To Hell” signs as they entered Gate City.

Then, under somewhat suspect circumstances, the Judges awoke on Game Day Saturday to find a field that was an absolute quagmire. The word quickly spread that a groundskeeper had “accidentally” left a sprinkler system on. Folks, I was there–the field was unplayable for a state title game, but the contest went on as scheduled. Despite all the adversity, Handley took an early 12-0 lead, but that would be all the scoring for the good guys as field conditions worsened. The Judges would have to hold an the end on with a game-saving tackle, a generous clock operator, and several batted-down Gate City passes for a 12-7 win and the state championship.

A mud bath never felt so good.

Until the next visit from the Booth…good luck to our remaining playoff teams…and remember, be true to your school!

RW

 

If I Owned The Team…

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Greetings from The Booth!

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!” That was the classic line delivered by the great Al Pacino in Godfather: Part 3, But it also applies to my love-hate relationship with the Washington, DC football franchise. 2 weeks ago, I didn’t watch a second of the Commanders’ loss to Tennessee. Last Thursday, the WVU game overlapped with Washington’s game with Chicago, and my Mounties won out, for the most part, as the Commanders-Bears game set football back about 100 years.

However, the Commanders continue to pull me back in because of the soap-opera nature of the organization. Every week there is new drama, mostly off-the-field stuff. This week, the drama, as usual, swirls around team owner Dan Snyder (surprise!). There now seems to be a groundswell among other NFL owners to force Snyder to sell the team, something fans have wanted for a long time. Continuing investigations into the team culture and constant bumbling on and off the field have made a once-proud franchise the NFL’s laughingstock.

To stave off a vote of league owners–24 are needed to force Snyder to sell–The Dan has allegedly compiled “dirt” on some of the team owners, by hiring a private investigator, a claim Snyder denies. Things have gotten so bad that Snyder has alienated the one friend he had in Cowboy’s owner Jerry Jones, who served as a mentor to Snyder when he first bought the Washington franchise. To be continued…

Anyway, with the ouster of Snyder a real possibility, I started to think about what I would do if I owned the Washington Commanders, and what it would take to return the team to respectability, so here goes:

Change The Name (again): Yes, I would immediately re-brand the team. The Commanders name seems half-baked, and no one I know likes it. Yes, the new uniforms are kinda cool, but there is no real tie to the team’s glorious past. I know the costs will be great to do this, but I’m working under the assumption that if I’m an NFL owner, I can afford to do this. I’d probably stop short of the original name, but something that ties the present to names like Riggins, Gibbs, Sonny, etc.

Get A Stadium Deal Done: No mincing words here. Fed-Ex Field is a urinal. It’s also home to one of the worst game-day experiences in the NFL. New digs in DC is preferable, but Northern Virginia works for me. This item is a must.

Get The Fans Back: Every game for the Commanders is basically a road game, because Fed-Ex is filled with the opposing teams’ fans. This is inexcusable. Yes, winning is the best solution to get fans back, but beyond that, I’d hire the best marketing people I could find, and figure out how to fill the seats again with Burgundy and Gold.

Stop The QB & Head Coach Merry-Go-Round: The number of Quarterbacks and Head Coaches under Dan Snyder would fill the Greater DC Area phone book. While I would not meddle in day-to-day football operations, I would choose a bright, young coaching prospect and tell my football people to get a franchise QB, and let him go through his growing pins on the field. I would be transparent with the fans and tell them that a few painful years will result in good things down the road. Let’s stop with the re-treads and has-beens and build something that is our own.

So, there you have it. Now all I need is about $300 billion.

Until the next visit from The Booth…HTTR!

RW

 

Commander Carson

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Greetings from The Booth!

As I start the new week, I’m a little burned out on football after a weekend full of it, but that will change as the week wears on. After calling the Strasburg-Warren County game on Friday night, I spent most of Saturday morning trying to figure out how to watch the WVU-Kansas game that night (I finally figured it out and had to spend $9.99 to get ESPN+ on my Fire Stick). I shouldn’t have bothered, as my Mounties were shocked by the Jayhawks in OT, 55-42. The last Kansas team to score that many points was probably their basketball team, so the seat is now pretty warm for Neal Brown, whose team is now 0-2 for the first time since 1979. He’s gotta go, but the buyout is $20 million, so don’t hold your breath if you’re a WVU fan.

That loss ruined an otherwise good weekend of football, as the Marshall Thundering Herd took down number-8 Notre Dame (whose own Head Coach is the first in Irish history to start 0-3 in his first 3 games. I’m no big Marshall fan, but they may be the best team in West Virginia right now.

On Sunday, the Carson Wentz era began in Washington as the NFL took center stage. I was a day of roller-coaster emotions, as the franchise quarterback de jour started fast, leading the Commanders to a 14-3 lead. Then, the offense bogged down as Wentz threw 2 really bad interceptions and the Jaguars took a 22-14 lead. “Commander Carson” then turned things around and threw 2 TD passes, including the game-winner to rookie Jahan Dotson with under two minutes to go in the 28-22 victory.

I think the game was a microcosm of what we’re going to get from Wentz–the highest of highs, like his 49-yard strike to Terry McLaurin in the fourth quarter, and mind-boggling lows, like the interception of a screen pass that almost cost Washington the game.

All that being said, I like the weapons that Wentz has at his disposal, and this could be a fun offense to watch as the season goes on. One game does not a season make, but Dotson looks like the real deal. His game-winning catch in the corner of the end zone was breathtaking. Commanders’ Offensive Coordinator Scott Turner found creative ways to get playmaker Curtis Samuel the ball on Sunday, and it was great seeing TE Logan Thomas in the lineup. RB Antonio Gibson had a solid day, and when the game mattered, McLaurin made the big play.

As a footnote, in what has become typical of this bumbling, stumbling embarrassment of an organization under Dan Snyder, an official Commanders truck outside Fed-Ex Field on Sunday was selling mugs with the team “W” over top of an outline of Washington state. The mugs quickly became unavailable, but it’s not clear whether they sold out or were pulled.

Good thing the Commanders were better at football than geography on Sunday.

Until the next visit from The Booth…HTTC!

RW

 

 

A Calming Influence

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Greetings from The Booth!

It just got real this week. The annual “Meet The Fall Coaches” event was held Monday night in the Buzzy Plaza between The Wilkins Center and Shentel Stadium at Shenandoah University. Burgers on the grill, beverages, and mingling with fans, athletes, and coaches…what’s not to like about that? And despite a very hot and humid evening, there was that certain something in the air that hinted of the coming Fall football season.

Speaking of football, have you noticed that there has been very little drama coming out of the Washington Football Team training camp this Summer? With owner Dan Snyder’s wife in charge, it looks like the football people are actually being left to do football things. We saw that for the most part last season, and what happened? The WFT went 7-9, but it was good enough to win the NFC East in Head Coach Ron Rivera’s first season with the team.

Rivera has been the calming influence in the middle of a stormy franchise. As talk of the toxic team culture under Snyder and his minions and the name change swirled around the team, all Rivera did was coach the burgundy and gold to a division title, even as he was battling cancer. Unlike the other rare division titles in the last 20-plus seasons, there is even talk by many pro football “experts” of a repeat in 2021. It seems a solid foundation has been laid.

The other calming influence on the field seems to be the (assumed) starting quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick, who brought his talents, veteran leadership, and trademark beard to DC in the offseason. Fitzpatrick has been there and done that, having played for just about every other NFL franchise in his career. The WFT could have done a lot worse. Fitzpatrick is a solid NFL quarterback who has numerous 4th quarter comebacks on his resume.

Word is that Fitzpatrick has slowly learned the Washington offense, and is developing chemistry with the much-improved talent that was added in the offseason. With a projected top-5 defense filled with stars like Chase Young, things certainly look bright. We will find out soon.

Former team executive Bruce Allen once infamously said “we’re winning off the field.” It finally looks like the Football Team can win on the field.

Until the next visit from The Booth…HTTR and GO HORNETS!

RW

Sports: Friday, July 2, 2021

VBL Washouts, Dodgers Cool Off Nats, WFT Hit With Record Fine

Two local contests were rained out in the Valley League last night, as Strasburg at Purcellville and Woodstock at winchester were rescheduled. Waynesboro and Staunton were able to post wins.

Tonight in the VBL, games include Woodstock at Front Royal, Purcellville at Strasburg, and Winchester at New Market.

In a rain-shortened contest last night, the LA Dodgers cooled off the Washington Nationals 6-2. Max Muncy’s grand slam highlighted a 5-run Dodger 5th inning, as LA posted it’s 50th win of the season. Juan Soto and Starlin Castro had RBI singles for the Nats, who take on the Dodgers again tonight, starting at 6:35 on Sports Radio 1450.

The Orioles are back in action tonight out west against the Angels at 10:10.

The Washington Football team was fined a record $10 million by the NFL after an investigation revealed an “unprofessional” workplace, in particular for women. Owner Dan Snyder is stepping away from day-to-day operations for several months, turning things over to his wife Tanya.

Other tidbits:

Roger Federer and top-seeded woman Ash Barty advanced at Wimbledon…Davis Thompson leads after one round of the PGA Tour’s Rocket Mortgage Classic in Detroit, and the NASCAR Cup Series will rin the Road America course Sunday in Wisconsin.

Sports: Thursday, March 25, 2021

Hornet Scoreboard, Caps Back On The Ice Tonight, Snyder Wants Buyout

On the Shenandoah University scoreboard from yesterday, Mary Washington outscored Women’s Lacrosse 14-8. Junior Alyson Bittinger had four goals for the 1-4 Hornets.

On today’s SU schedule, Women’s Soccer hosts W&L at 7.

Shenandoah University Football heads to Bridgewater tomorrow night for the Spring regular season finale. The Hornets will try to avenge a 27-21 loss to the Eagles in February. Kickoff is at 7 from Jopson Field.

The Washington Capitals return to the ice tonight when they host the New Jersey Devils. The Caps are currently in second place, 2 points behind the New York islanders in the NHL’s Eastern Division. Air time tonight is 6:45 on The River 95-3.

And, Dan Snyder is set to buy out the minority owners of the Washington Football Team to become the sole owner. Snyder, who bought the team in 1999, had his application for a debt waiver of $450 million approved by the NFL’s finance committee, according to the league. All that remains now is approval of three-quarters of the NFL’s 32 team owners.

A Beginning

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Greetings from The Booth!

Well, almost.

It was “one and done” for The Washington Football Team on Super Wild Card Weekend, as the burgundy and gold lost to the ageless Tom Brady and the Bucs , as expected, 31-23. But the 7-9 WFT didn’t go down without a fight, and earned the respect of Tampa and a lot of the NFL who thought they didn’t earn a seat at the post-season table.

(At this point, I need to veer off-track with a few random thoughts. Why is the much-heralded Washington front four nicknamed “Maroon-4”? I get the reference to the musical group, but maroon isn’t one of the team colors. I’m reminded of former Redskins coach Jim Zorn, who in his opening press conference upon being hired, asked for “3 cheers for the old maroon and black.”

And, did you see the comparison-photos of 43 year-old Brady and 43 year-old George Blanda from back in the day? Blanda looked 70, while Brady looked 25. I’m pretty sure the reason is that in the late 60s, Blanda had no access to dieticians, massage therapists, and yoga pants. But the difference was striking.)

Anyway, on Saturday night, the WFT acquitted itself nicely, thanks to the efforts of instant folk hero Taylor Heinicke, who in his first start as Washington QB, almost single handedly willed his team to victory. The former ODU signal caller even came back out of the locker room late in the game after a shoulder injury, and in a “Willis Reed” moment, got the WFT within a TD at 28-23.

As disappointing as the loss was, it felt like more of a beginning than an end. In the last 20-plus years of the Dan Snyder regime, the playoff appearances have been few and far between, the post-season wins even more rare. And the playoff exits always felt like the end, rather than something to build on the following year. Even “Joe Gibbs 2.0″seemed like like a magic act performed with smoke and mirrors.

Saturday night’s loss felt different. Much has been written about the exciting young defensive line, led by rookie captain Chase Young. But there are some exciting young stars on the offensive side of the ball, and while this year might be the final chapter of the feel-good story of Alex Smith, and the end of Ryan Kerrigan’s time in DC, there is a lot to be hopeful about in 2021.

In a tumultuous year for the organization on many fronts, head coach Ron Rivera navigated his team through the rough waters of 2020 to a division title and playoff appearance, despite his own personal challenges. For that, he should at least be considered for Coach Of The Year honors.

We all know too well that ownership could mess things up without even trying, but Saturday night felt like the start of something big.

Until the next visit, so long from The Booth. GO WFT, GO HORNETS!

RW