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More Lists: Top 11 Local Sports Moments From 2006

So the fine folks at asked if I wanted to maybe list my top sports moments of the year, and then we could have a LiveOnline chat about all this at noon tomorrow, during which I can only pray that nobody asks any serious questions, and that Bog regulars like the Thigh Master (here's his In and Out list) and Duke Frankencow and Chest Rockwell show up. But seriously, go submit some questions.

Anyhow, I don't know why everyone publishes their token "Year-End List" stuff in late December. You need the benefit of time, of leisurely, studied contemplation and analysis for a true year-end list. That's why I did mine during my lunch break on Jan. 3.

We also needed a peg of some sort. The natural peg was provided by Post columnist George Solomon. I love George like a younger brother, but a famous local blogger pointed out that George's year-end column, in which he wrote of all the things he liked and didn't like in 2006, made no mention of a certain basketball team from Fairfax. No, not this one.

I just talked to George about this, and I wasn't the only one to complain. In his defense, he points out that it wasn't really a year-end column, and that he wrote about Mason (two words) during his "Christmas spin around the Beltway" column, which I missed, leading him to accuse me of negligence, which is fair.

But regardless, I'm gonna do a list of my Top 11 Local Sports Moments from 2006. Bear in mind, to qualify, a moment had to have been fun. My original cover letter to The Post, which led to my not getting hired, started with a description of how happy I was to watch a meaningless extra-inninged baseball game in the year 2000, during which catcher Brent Mayne was forced to pitch an inning and his teammates couldn't stop laughing. I liked this moment because it was fun. That's why there's not many football moments on my list. Besides underdog running backs who score two-point conversions on statue-of-liberty plays and then propose to their girlfriends in the cheerleading section, and besides bloggers trying to figure out the identity of certain poorly covered cheerleaders, football doesn't seem to be all that much fun.

Also, major bonus points are given to events that I covered.

1. George Mason beats Connecticut in the phone booth. Impossible not to smile. Mike Wise sat next to me during the game. He spent much of the second half singing "Livin' on a Prayer," which is one of his karaoke specialties. We spent the last few moments of overtime trying to figure out if we would get crushed by fans rushing the court.

Also, I saved the messages I got after the game ended.

Text message from California: "Dude. Unreal."

Text message from Bog friend and Local Poll voter Steve Argeris in parts-unknown: "Book deal?"

IM from Bog friend Barry Svrluga: "have a blast with this. you might never cover a better story."

E-mail from a Bog friend at the Chronicle of Higher Education: "i've never seen a more exciting sporting event - ever - than yesterday's game. i almost lost my voice watching that game alone at home. absolutely unreal."

E-mail from a Boston reader: "...I sit here still in utter disbelief and mutter the magic words 'George...Mason? George...MASON?!'."

2. Ovechkin scores The Goal. In terms of moments of long-term significance to the North American sporting universe that contain a local hook, Ovie's emergence is a clear No. 2. And The Goal was the one moment that best signified that emergence. Moreso even than my discovery of his magic iPod. Once Ovie scored that goal, it was immediately apparent that no longer would the Caps play before crowds of 10,000 or 11,000. Right?

3. Gil scores 60 points. Seriously. It's hard for me to judge exactly how big he is nationally, excluding bloggers, but he said yesterday that he's signing far, far, far more jerseys at away games than he ever has before. And now he's bringing P. Diddy, Lil' Wayne, Busta, T.I., The Game and possibly Nelly and Brian McKnight to D.C. for his birthday party, plus some other people who haven't yet been disclosed, like Jamie Foxx and Bernard Hopkins and various Redskins. By the way, the party's date and time and celebrity guest list were supposed to be secret, until Gil decided to tell the AP, the New York Times, the Washington Post and Yahoo!!!!!!! Sports about it at the same time. Nicely played, Gil.

Anyhow, when Bog Friend Mr. Irrelevant asked bloggers for our Top 11 subjects of 2006 (in early December, what gives?), I voted Arenas Nos. 1 and 2.

4. Clinton Portis gains eight yards during his first carry against the Bengals. The football season's high-water mark came on Aug. 13. (None of this is probably much fun to Redskins fans, I realize, but for non-Redskins fans there's nothing much more fun than giggling at this franchise. Not sure why that is, but from dozens and dozens of conversations and e-mails from non-Redskins fans I'm pretty sure it's true. Daniel Snyder has cornered the market on Schadenfreude, or being Schadenfreuded, or whatever.)

5. D.C. United hangs with Real Madrid. Maybe DCU fans would disagree, but it's hard for me to pick out a moment from this season that was more purely fun than that, even if it meant nothing and was in Seattle and RM didn't care, and even if DCU would later crash out of the playoffs and dismantle the team and trade all its best pumpkin-chuckers.

6. Maryland plays coy with the NIT. To quote from The Post's story at the time:

Terps Coach Gary Williams initially announced that Maryland would decline a spot in the National Invitation Tournament. No more than 30 minutes later, however, Williams said that Maryland would accept the invitation. The Terps (19-12) will play Saturday at Comcast Center against the winner of the game between Manhattan and Fairleigh Dickinson.

"Unbelievable," was how Williams summed up the night.


7. The Nats debut the Giant Racing Presidents. Future readers may wonder how this did not top my list. This was one of the truly great moments in the history of D.C. pro sports. And I would pay at least the price of a Nats upper-deck ticket to watch a day-long double-elimination series of races between all 43 presidents, including two versions of Grover Cleveland (22 and 24), plus a Giant FDR on wheels. I'd bet on Eisenhower. Not much wind resistance on that dome.

8. The Wizards are all witnesses, watching LeBron convert like 14 layups to win like 14 consecutive playoff games by one point each. Meanwhile, during the playoff series, Mike Wise and I are jogging along Lake Erie in Cleveland when he gets a phone call, telling him that his bid to buy a house has been accepted, and we then celebrate with other joggers. Mike Wise thus qualifies for a second mention in the Top 11 Local Sports Moment list, two more than Joe Gibbs. Well, one more, I guess. Who jogs with a cell phone, by the way?

9. Michael Gruner and Whitman somehow beat a loaded Eleanor Roosevelt team in the Maryland 4A boys' basketball championship game. Dan Shanoff smiles. Somehow, the world never took to my idea of calling George Mason the Whitman of College Basketball. Which would have made Boise State the Whitman of College Basketball of College Football.

10. The Nats play a free home game in front of a few hundred people that starts after 11:30 p.m. and goes until 2:25 in the morning, during which Giant Jefferson gets toppled. Eight hours of general weirdness. I will regret not being there for the rest of my life.

11. The GW men have their best season ever, capped by a total miracle win against Charlotte to cap an undefeated A-10 season. But the joy is dampened by a series of articles in some newspaper calling into question Karl Hobbs's recruiting tactics. A lot of newspaper people take pride in such things. Regardless of the merits of this particular case, I don't take pride in any part of my involvement. We took something that was a lot of fun and made it a lot less fun. Some people would argue that that's our job, but, well, it's not exactly Brent Mayne cracking up as he tries to throw a changeup, lemme put it that way. Still, that Charlotte game was fun.

By Dan Steinberg  |  January 3, 2007; 5:01 PM ET
Categories:  Poetry  
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Next: Gil's Party: Super Duper Fly


Can't argue with No. 1, but not having Georgetown beating then-No. 1 Duke on Jan. 21, 2006 is embarassing. More than any other game, that game put the Hoyas back on the map and really gave the District another relevant college team and another sports team worth watching. The Post's Camille Powell called it the team's most important victory in twenty years. How Maryland falling so far that they only made the NIT is more notable than Georgetown's rise is beyond me. AT THE VERY LEAST, Georgetown's accomplishments should be above Maryland's lackthereof, and probably higher. And HS basketball/GW winning a lot of games against crappy opponents? Come on, you are better than this.

Posted by: bwh5 | January 3, 2007 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Giant FDR on wheels should be on a Segway. Yeah, that would be cool.

Posted by: Otto Graham | January 3, 2007 6:08 PM | Report abuse

Since he is from DC (not to mention the Post), the one-two punch of TK getting the MNF job and giving up his radio show (again) for the time being.

I don't wish failure on Satchmo, but MNF is still mostly unwatchable and the two hours of TK on the radio daily is more important to me than a football game.

Posted by: midxpress | January 3, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Ok, bwh5, fair point. Like I said, I did this on pretty short notice during my lunch break. Was trying to hint that this might not be the most well-thought-out list of all time. The Maryland women really should have been on there, too.

But I did say that it would be biased in favor of events I saw in person. I was in Charlotte during Georgetown's win over Duke for a GW game. All the media people waited until seconds before tipoff so we could watch the end of the Georgetown-Duke game on a tiny TV in the media room. Then we sprinted out to courtside. If that makes you feel any better.

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | January 3, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Georgetown doesn't deserve a spot on any local top 10 list until it stops being a coward and plays GW. Until then, no Georgetown fan should be talking junk about GW playing "crappy opponents," because the Hoyas have had every opportunity to schedule a game with GW, only has been too chicken to do so.

Posted by: Bob | January 3, 2007 9:30 PM | Report abuse

Why are GW fans so hung up about playing Georgetown? Would you just give it a rest? A) it has nothing to do with the matter at hand, and B) you almost certainly don't know all the facts and probably haven't spoken with the Hoyas' basketball office, so don't act like you know exactly what has gone on.

Posted by: bwh5 | January 3, 2007 11:55 PM | Report abuse

For the record Dan, I always run with a cell phone. Of course, I'm usually running in the 15 mile or so range, and if I get dehydrated, or cramp up, or hit by a car (it's happened), and I'm 7 or 8 miles from home, I'm gonna have to call someone for a ride.

Posted by: FS | January 4, 2007 1:05 AM | Report abuse

whoa to that midnight game were supposed to be free?? tickets I got were $3 bucks a piece

still all worth it to see a 50-year-old phillies fan glare at me when i yelled "put in mitch williams" and getting every non-phillies fan to chant "your no pujols" after every ryan howard K

Posted by: midnight baseball fan | January 4, 2007 1:14 AM | Report abuse

HELLO!!! The tortilla chip should be on this list!!!

Wise-cell phone-to dial 911 if necessary!!!

Posted by: WGDC- | January 4, 2007 2:43 AM | Report abuse

Um, the MD women winning the basketball championship?

Posted by: TG | January 4, 2007 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Nice to see you on ThighMaster's In list (bouncing out Mr. MNF himself, Tony Kornheiser) between "Thin Crust" and "Pig Blankets", 2 up from "The Fantasy of Your Mom Playing With My Balls", and 3 up from "'Want Some Fumunda Cheese?'". Hey, I'm just posting from one of your links.

Posted by: jhorstma | January 4, 2007 8:36 AM | Report abuse

midnightbaseballfan - you could turn in the tickets you paid for to watch that game the next couple days for free tickets to a different game.

That game was absolutely awesome! Since no one was there, it was the closest I ever sat to the dugout. I just wish my hair hadn't frizzed out due to the rain and made me self-conscious the whole time.

Posted by: misschatter | January 4, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Mason's run to the Final Four may be one of the best DC sports stories we will ever see. That team had no NBA talent and their center, listed as 6'7", was really only 6'5". Easily the #1 story.

Posted by: DC Sports Fan | January 4, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I heard first-hand tales of that Nats/Phillies game after the next night's Caps game. I also regret not being there, and have a vague recollection of having the opportunity to and declining, making the regret even stronger.

Posted by: Goat | January 4, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

I like No. 11, but wish the tone would have been a little less attrition and a little more skewer. On a related note I saw that rube Schlab-a-lot-of-ding-dong on ESPN this morning. It must feel bad to be an "SEC expert" knowing full well the beat writers in every SEC town think you are a clown. Keep up the good work Scoop.

Posted by: Dootie Bubble | January 4, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Wow, Dan. Interesting comments on #11. Kind of makes me feel better about some reporters in the sports department.

Posted by: aka | January 4, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Zimmerman's walk off against the Yankees should be here.

Posted by: Falls Church | January 4, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

My favorite moment from that midnight Nats game:

A fan in a Phillies jersey had a pop-up coming right to him, with no one within ten rows of him. He lines up for the catch and completely botches it, losing the ball in the seats. A guy to our left, one of the few Nats fans actually in the stadium, shouts, "He heard Sean Taylor's footsteps." Even the Philly fans got a laugh out of that.

Posted by: bryc3 | January 4, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Dan: Re:#11... thanks! You are the classiest writer at the WPost. They are lucky to have you on staff.

Posted by: Boggy Fottom | January 4, 2007 11:26 AM | Report abuse

How could you leave out the Maryland Women's Basketball National Championship?

And the Nats back-to-back come from behind wins over the Yankees deserves to be up there too.

Posted by: Caps Nut | January 4, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Top 11 moments (the Good, the Bad & the Ugly)
11. Red Auerbach's passing
10. Sean Taylor spitting
9. Nats over Yanks (Zim walk off)
8. GW winning A-10
7. UMd rally over UVA down by 20 pts
6. GU beating Duke
5. Frank Robinson's last game as Nats mgr
4. GM run in March Madness
3. Gil Arenas in December
2. The Goal
1. Brenda Freese & UMd women's NCAA Championship (most underappreciated local sporting event)

Posted by: Glen Brenner rules!!! | January 4, 2007 3:34 PM | Report abuse

#6: For the record, after much whining and crying about Mason and the NIT from Gary, his terps went on to lose their home game against Manhattan in the first round of the Not In the Tournament.

Posted by: G&G | January 4, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

What about Redskins 22, Cowboys 19?!

Posted by: Paul | January 4, 2007 11:16 PM | Report abuse

No Maryland women? No reference to "the shot" by Kristi Toliver? No "overtime is our time"?

Dan, shame on you.

Not only should the Terp women be on the list, you could make an argument that they were at least #2, and perhaps #1. (Had George Mason won it all, it would've been #1 for sure.)

Posted by: Vincent | January 5, 2007 2:54 AM | Report abuse

Cowboys game actually should have been on there. Plus, if I'm not mistaken, it was the same day as the Ambassadors Cup rugby event. Big local sports day.

Maryland women too. I think I officially apologized on my chat, but I'll say here, that was a mistake. I'm in the middle of reading "Overtime is Our Time," by Bog friend Chris King and Brenda Frese. Like I said on my chat, the Tolliver shot was Arenas-esque. Straight swag.

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | January 5, 2007 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for #11.

Posted by: Ross | January 5, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

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