Sports: Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Handley Product Named DII All-American, Caps Drop High Scoring Affair, NIT Scores

Listen to Alex Ovechkin’s goal in last night’s loss to Columbus. John Walton’s call has Dylan Strome with the tally, but the goal was later credited to “The Great 8.” Courtesy of The Capitals Radio Network…

 

Goodbye RFK

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Greetings From The Booth!

Well, the NFL Super Wild Card Weekend is history, and now we move to the Divisional Round, with 4 games this weekend. Believe it or not, kids, the Washington football franchise used to be a big part of things this time of year. Under the legendary Joe Gibbs, the playoffs for the then-‘Skins was an annual expectation, not a “hope and a prayer.”

This week, demolition began on RFK Stadium in DC, the former home of the Redskins, who were 5-0 in NFC Championship games that were played there. It was an intimidating place for opponents to play, especially in big regular season games and in the playoffs. Unlike Fed-Ex Field, the stands at RFK were filled with raucous home fans who gave the ‘Skins a decided home field advantage.  In fact, the stands actually moved as the fans stomped and yelled for the Burgundy and Gold.

I have some personal memories of RFK Stadium, mostly fond ones. My first memory of RFK is my dad taking me to my first major league game to see my beloved Senators. I still remember the feeling of climbing that ramp in the upper deck and thinking I was going to tumble onto the green outfield grass below. And what a thrill it was to see my favorite player, Frank Howard, one-hand a home run off the Longines sign in left field.

When the Senators left, and the Nationals later came to town, I hosted a listener trip to RFK on July 4, 2006, and saw a young Ryan Zimmerman (who would become the face of the franchise) hit a game winning homer, one of many game winning blasts he would hit in his career. We went home happy that day!

My favorite football memory of RFK is the famous “seat cushion” playoff game against Atlanta in the 1991 Super Bowl season. The upstart falcons, led by Deion Sanders, strutted into RFK with MC Hammer and Evander Holyfield in tow, only to see the ‘Skins slop their way to victory. When a late, deciding TD was scored by Washington, fans en masse threw their souvenir seat cushions on the field. I was there that day, but for some reason, I held on to my seat cushion, but have no idea where it is today.

Being a fan of pro wrestling, I also had a chance to see an NWA “Great American Bash” card at RFK back in the day. Not the greatest view, but it was very cool seeing the likes of Dusty Rhodes and The Road Warriors in person.

And, of course, there were the many other concerts and events that were held at RFK over the years, but for me it will always be the home of the Senators and ‘Skins. And if you go down to the demolition site along the Anacostia River and listen closely, you may still hear the faint sounds of “WE WANT DALLAS…WE WANT DALLAS!”

Until next time from The Booth…RIP RFK!

RW

My Dad and Sports

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Greetings from The Booth!

Happy New Year! It’s nice to be back in the booth after being away due to the loss of my Dad, James, over the Holidays. He was 85, and for several years battled various health issues. It sounds like a cliche, but I take comfort in knowing he’s in a better place and is no longer suffering. In past blog posts I’ve written about sports being the common thread between fathers and sons, and I think that was the case with me and my Dad. In my recent visits to the nursing home and the hospital, we filled the gaps in our conversations with Washington Nationals baseball, Martinsburg High or Shepherd football, or the trials and tribulations of the Burgundy and Gold.

In recent years, whenever a batch of Nationals bobblehead figures came to the radio station, I always tried to take him one, and he ended up with a pretty nice collection. In a recent birthday card he sent to me, there is the handwritten note “the bobbleheads remind me of you,” so the next time I see his collection it will really hit me that he’s gone. My love of baseball comes from my Dad, who took me to my first major league game to see the Washington Senators at RFK Stadium. I’ve never had anything take my breath away like walking up the ramp and looking out over that green outfield grass from the upper deck. I was hooked for life.

He didn’t miss many of my Little League or Senior League baseball games and was always willing to throw the baseball or football around in the yard , even after a long day at the Schmidt Baking Company, where he worked for most of his life. And although he was my harshest critic when it came to sports, my Dad was my most vocal defender. I remember a time right after the last game of a Midget League football season, when he let the coach have it for playing me a whopping 26 seconds (and for mispronouncing our last name). That being said, my father wasn’t quick to dish out praise, so when you did get a compliment for something you did in a game, it meant something.

So, in closing, thanks Dad, for showing me how to figure earned-run and batting averages, for the endless high pop-ups that never seemed to come down, for teaching me how to run pass patterns, keep a scorebook, and the occasional “way to go.”

Enjoy that great seat in the upper deck…

RW

 

Palookaville

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Greetings from The Booth!

I want to start this week’s blog by sending thoughts and prayers to the people of Florida, who endured incredible devastation from Hurricane Ian last week. Many of us have some connection to the Sunshine State, whether it’s a family trip to Disneyworld, having relatives who live there, or just living vicariously in Florida through Jimmy Buffett’s songs. I’ve been to Key West three times, and once you’ve been there, it becomes a part of you. The rain we experienced this past weekend in the Shenandoah Valley was merely an annoyance, as compared to those who have lost everything. In some cases, entire barrier islands have been wiped away. The recovery effort will take years. Here’s to better Floridays ahead…

Changing gears, I came across one of the great movies of all time the other night, 1954’s “On The Waterfront,” starring Marlon Brando. The film won eight Oscars, including a Best Actor Academy Award for Brando. His character, a washed-up prizefighter, utters the line late in the movie, “what did I  get? A one way ticket to Palookaville.” I looked up Palookaville in the dictionary, and it’s defined as a state or situation of obscurity or failure. I immediately thought of Washington, DC, as it relates to sports.

How did Washington become Palookaville? In 2019 the Washington Nationals won the World Series. Just a few short years later they are finishing a 107-loss season. Let that sink in. It’s said that in a 162-game season a major league baseball team will win 54, lose 54, and how good they are will depend on the other  54 games. Using that equation, the Nats are 1-53 in those games. Ouch. In two short seasons, GM Mike Rizzo gutted the team of it’s championship core and committed to a rebuild. How patient the fans are remains to be seen, but it’s easy to get to a Nationals game now–just park at the Vienna Metro stop and take the Orange line to Palookaville station.

Then, there are the Commanders, formerly the Washington Football Team, formerly the Redskins. Their ineptitude under owner Dan Snyder is well documented. There have been brief periods of success like the NFC East titles in 2012 and 2020, only to be followed by immediate returns to failure. The 20-plus years of the Snyder era have been filled with bad draft choices, free agents past their prime, numerous coaches and quarterbacks, terrible on and off-the-field decisions, one of the worst game day experiences in the NFL, Fed-Ex Field filled with opposing-team fans, and a toxic workplace culture. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

The Washington Wizards are just perennially mediocre. Their last NBA title was 1977-78. Enough said.

And we come to the Washington Capitals, who won the Stanley Cup in 2018. Since then, they’ve been ousted in the first round of the playoffs every year, despite having one of the best players to ever lace up the skates in Alex Ovechkin. The Caps tease us each year with lots of regular season wins, only to make their tee times in early April.

And there you have it. But take heart, Washington sports fans. There’s always next year in Palookaville.

Until the next visit from the Booth…GO FLORIDA!

RW