Chris Young: Caps Fan, Hoyas Fan
When my good friend Pete Wilk, the head coach of Georgetown's baseball team, asked me to publicize his team's upcoming fundraising dinner (Saturday night, 7 pm, headlined by Johnny Bench, $150 per person, all proceeds benefit G'town baseball), I was initially leery. Free publicity, and all that.
But then he said he could put me on the phone with one of the guest speakers, the Padres' budding superstar right-hander Chris Young. It wasn't immediately obvious to me what connection Chris Young might have to the D.C. Sports Bog, but I said sure, figuring every pro athlete in the world must have sort of undiscovered connection to the Sports Bog.
Well, right. I'm an idiot. Chris Young might be the most Bog-friendly professional athlete in the world. For one thing, his wife is Georgetown law student Liz, who happens to be the daughter of Dick Patrick, who happens to be the Caps team president and minority owner. That's a pretty strong Bog connection. Plus, Chris played hoops at Princeton while John Thompson III was an assistant there, and is thus an ardent Georgetown fan. (And he regularly trains with the Hoyas' baseball team.) Not a bad connection, either. Plus, Chris has a blog. And he posts funny pictures of Nats catcher Brian Schneider on his blog. Plus, he was a politics major who visited the White House.
Anyhow, that gave me a few things to work with. So I chatted with Chris last night. He grew up a very very mild Dallas Stars fan, after the team moved to Texas when he was in middle school. He went to some games, and followed the '99 Stanley Cup stuff (Buffalo was robbed!!!!), but he was never that engaged by the sport. He met Liz as a freshman at Princeton, but they didn't start dating until his senior year, and he didn't know that "Liz Patrick" meant that Patrick.
"Obviously I'd heard of the Patrick Division," he said. "When she told me she had a long line of hockey heritage in her family, it kind of rang a bell."
So he read up on her family history before meeting the prospective family members, and he's continued to learn about the game since then. His favorite team? "The Capitals, by far, absolutely," which is a very wise thing for a son-in-law to say.
Anyhow, he said he reads the game recaps and looks at the box scores and standings every day, and he's met several Caps players and been to a bunch of Caps games, including the Sabres game this year when Ovechkin hit Briere.
"You know, it was just one of those things," Chris said of the hit. "I don't think Ovechkin meant to hurt him, he was just trying to send a little message. Obviously it looked a lot worse than probably what his intentions were. More than anything, I appreciate his energy and his effort. It seems like he's going 100 percent all the time. He's got one speed and that's full speed; he's obviously not afraid of contact, he's not afraid to hit and check or to be checked. He's awesome; one of those players that when he's on the ice, your eyes automatically follow him. "
(Speaking of modesty, I asked Chris if he's ever showed up on the 'Tron when he attends Caps homes games. "Not that I know of," he said. "I don't think Washington fans who know who I am." I suggested that many sports fans have probably heard of him at this point of his career, but he wasn't buying it.)
In another wise son-in-law move, Chris said he thinks the Caps are following a prudent plan.
"I think they were extremely smart the year before the lockout," he said. "It's going to take a couple years to reap the rewards of that, but I think they're on the right path. Financially they seem pretty responsible, and obviously they've got one of the best young stars of the game in Ovechkin, so I think the future's pretty bright for them....I'm hoping they'll sneak in [the playoffs], and once you're in there anything could happen, but if not this year I think there's great things to come in the future. I think they're just a couple pieces away from being a big force in the Eastern Conference."
Continuing his unprecedented attempt to appease my readership, he also said that his favorite Eastern Conference NBA team is the Wizards--because he spends so much time here, and because of the Princeton offense thing--and that he's "a huge Georgetown hoops fan" because of the Thompson connection, that he loves watching Roy Hibbert and that he has high hopes for this season.
"They're my sleeper team in the tournament," he said. "They're going to get hot at the right time and make a run. Like I always say, you want to peak at the right time. Take the St. Louis Cardinals; you get hot at the right time and you can win a championship."
"I don't see why not," he said. "You get in the tournament, anything can happen. Georgetown made a push last year; they actually gave Florida the best game in the tournament. I don't see any reason they can't."
Plus, just to make sure he covered virtually every team in this market, he told me that he recently met Mark Lerner at a Caps game, and that it sounds like that Nats' new stadium will be tremendous, and he compared the Nats' rebuilding plan to the Caps' rebuilding plan.
Anyhow, he's not going to go into politics after baseball--he studied politics "for lack of a better major" and that "there's enough politics in professional sports [to] satisfy me." But he said he might want to move to the front office at some point, and that spending time around the Caps ownership group has given him a "completely different perspective" on sports.
"And I try to keep that in mind when it comes to baseball," he said. "I definitely see both sides of things right now, and understand a little bit where ownership is coming from. It's interesting, to say the least."
So back to the free publicity. A limited number of seats are still available for Georgetown baseball's upcoming fundraising dinner (Saturday night, 7 pm, headlined by Johnny Bench, $150 per person, all proceeds benefit G'town baseball).
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