The Clouds Have Parted

views from the booth header v2

Greetings From The Booth!

Let the new era of Washington Football begin (whatever you choose to call the team)! This past Friday, the Josh Harris ownership of the Washington football franchise began with a 17-15 preseason victory against the Cleveland Browns. The score doesn’t matter, really. The numbers on the scoreboard don’t tell the true tale of the optimism that now surrounds the organization following the 23-year train wreck of Dan Snyder.

No, I’m talking about the “vibe” emanating from Ashburn and beyond. It’s as if a 2-decade storm has moved out of the area and the sun is shining bright. Of course, there is optimism with every NFL team this time of year, because everyone is undefeated. But this is different. An apathetic fan base is re-energized and ready to return to a stadium that in recent years has been occupied by fans of the opposing team. An organization who usually only wins “off the field” seems ready now to win on it.

The difference between the previous and current owner is like night and day. Although both Snyder and Harris grew up as fans of the burgundy and gold in the glory days, Snyder was not a “man of the people.” Harris, meanwhile, endeared himself immediately to the fan base by buying over 1000 of them a beer at a recent DC radio station event at The Bullpen on Half Street near Nationals Park. Harris was seen sitting in the rain among the fans Friday night in Cleveland, as opposed to being enclosed in an owner’s box out of the elements.

These aforementioned things from Harris seem genuine, while everything Snyder did seemed contrived and thrown together. Who could forget the botched Sean Taylor tribute, with an inaccurately-detailed uniform hung on a wire mannequin? How about the last-minute hiring of head coach Jim Zorn, who referred to the team’s colors as “the old Maroon and Black?” Or the many “homecoming” events that attempted to tie the team’s glory days with the present?

Now, in earnest, many past greats are returning to the team. One of them is Darrell Green, who helped the then-Redskins to numerous Super Bowls, and played 20 years with the team. Green is someone you never saw anywhere near the organization under the Snyder regime. And the list goes on, including Joe Gibbs, who brought the organization 3 Lombardi trophies, and in “Gibbs 2.0,” took Washington to 2 playoff appearances under Snyder.

Speaking of the team name, the list of signatures is now over 70,000 to change it back to “Redskins.” I don’t think that will happen, but the name “Commanders” will soon be gone, as Harris tries to tie the present with the past. It’s interesting that Harris has rarely used the name “Commanders” in his public appearances, and preseason play-by-play man Chick Hernandez almost exclusively referred to the team as “the burgundy and gold” in Friday’s game. (Friday night, I played the “burgundy and gold” drinking game, and was three sheets by the second quarter).

On the field, the pieces seem to be in place. Training camp has been spirited, if not chippy, and new OC (and possibly future HC) Eric Bieniemy is whipping a new offense in shape to compliment what should be a top-five defense. New QB1 Sam Howell looked decisive on Friday, and has some exciting weapons around him. Howell will certainly experience growing pains, but his body language shows he’s ready to be “the man.”

No one knows what the 2023 season will bring, but the clouds seem to have parted in the DMV, and now it’s time to bask in the long-awaited sunshine.

Until the next visit from The Booth, HTT?

RW

 

 

Sports: Friday, July 21, 2023

NFL Owners unanimously voted to approve the sale of the Washington Commanders to Josh Harris for $6.05 billion, the most money ever spent on a North American sports franchise. After the vote, the NFL also announced they will fine former owner Dan Snyder $60 million after the results of the Mary Jo White investigation discovered he sexually harassed an employee and withheld revenue from the other teams. Valley League updates as well as Nationals and Orioles. 

Sports Dogs Podcast: Bye Dan!

In the latest Sports Dogs Podcast, The R-Dog (Randy) and The Duke (Ryan) put the cap on a mostly-awful 23-year era of Washington professional football under Dan Snyder. Plus, a look at the Nationals’ recent first round draft choice, and a nod to the Front Royal Little League All-Stars. Hail to The Sports Dogs!

Sports: Friday, April 14, 2023

Nats Return Home,  Nats End Season With OT Loss, Commanders Sale Near

 

Craig Smith’s 200th career goal gives Caps a 3-0 lead against NJ. John Walton on the call, courtesy of the Capitals Radio Network…

Commanders & Caps: Closing The Chapter

views from the booth header v2

Greetings from The Booth!

My sports broadcasting & Sports Dogs Podcast partner Ryan (The Duke) Rutherford texted me this afternoon to say “The Witch Is Dead.” He was referring to what looks like the imminent sale of The Washington Football Commanderskins to the Josh Harris-led group (which includes basketball great Magic Johnson) for a record $6.05 billion.  I simply texted back that I’ll believe it when I see the puddle of water and Dan Snyder saying “I’m melting!” It certainly looks like the finish line is near for a 23-year dumpster fire of an organization that has provided DC football fans few moments of joy.

I could rehash all the failed football moves, the revolving door of head coaches, the toxic work environment, the investigations, lawsuits, and the scrap heap of starting quarterbacks, but we have beaten that horse to death. As the saying goes, when one door closes, another one opens. As I’ve written before, the new owners, in my humble opinion, must do three things:

Change the name of the team (again). Immediately. The name Commanders has no connection to a proud franchise that has 3 Lombardi trophies in the case. The recent name change was a half-baked effort that alienated many former players (John Riggins comes to mind) and has reduced a storied past to a faint whisper.

Build a new stadium. Whatever it takes, get this done. Fed-Ex Field is a dump and provides one of the worst game day experiences in the NFL. And build it anywhere but Landover, Md.

Finally, find a way to fill this new venue with your own fans. For too long, Fed-Ex has been filled with mostly opposing fans , and that is an embarrassment. It wouldn’t take a marketing genius to figure out how to do this. A winning football team would go along way to getting the home fans back in the seats.

It looks like a new chapter is about to begin for the Burgundy and Gold. It’s time to load up the clown car and get the circus out of town.

Changing gears, the Washington Capitals now look like the Nationals on skates. For the first time since 2014, the Caps are making tee times after this week’s regular season finale. There will be no Stanley Cup Playoffs this year, as it looks like a full scale rebuild is in order. As the team faded down the stretch, it sold off many of it’s core players who were part of the 2018 Stanley Cup Championship. It seems like only yesterday that the team was hoisting the Cup for thousands of fans on The Mall.

Like the Nats, the window has closed for the Capitals. You’ll be asked to be patient while you search your program for someone you recognize. Unlike the Nats, the Caps still have a superstar on their roster (Stephen Strasburg doesn’t count). Alex Ovechkin, who is zeroing in on Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal scoring record, will certainly keep the fans coming to Cap-One Arena, but without a supporting cast, wins will be hard to come by.

As bleak as it may look right now, hold on to this: at least the Capitals won’t be knocked out in the first round this season.

Until the next visit from The Booth…GO SKINS! GO CAPS!

RW

 

 

 

 

 

Sports Dogs Podcast: R-Dog And The Duke Talk Commanders

It’s pretty simple for the Washington Commanders: Beat Cleveland and Dallas in the final 2 regular season games, and they are in the NFC playoffs as a Wild-Card team. The R-Dog and The Duke break it down, and also talk about the QB switch to Carson Wentz and look back at the legendary Hogs, as the team honors the iconic O-line before Sunday’s game against the Browns…HTTC!

ryan rutherford

 

Welcome To Hell

views from the booth header v2

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