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Why You Should Go Watch the Kastles

The food. Some of it, anyhow.

Am I writing this because of lingering guilt issues over contributing to Justin Gimelstob's international incident? Possibly. More likely, it's because I went to one and only one Washington Kastles World Team Tennis match, where I actually enjoyed myself, which, if you know me at all, is really saying something. I pay to go to sporting events maybe twice a year, but I would actually pay to go watch the Kastles. Well, on half-priced night, at least. Here's why.

1) The Food. Ok, granted, I don't eat flank steak or shrimp tacos, but it just feels good to be around only marginally overpriced stadium food, and food that at least holds the possibility of culinary worthiness. This menu pictured above is from Glover Park's Surfside. There's also a Red Bull and Ciroc Vodka tent, and, of course, Blueberry Mojitos. Plus they have weird drink specials. Last Friday it was $2 Coors Lights all night. Tomorrow night it's $3 wine all night, supplied by Barefoot Wines, with a wine tasting before the matches begin. I mean, when was the last time the Redskins had a wine special? And they're called the Burgundy and Gold!

The franchise player, during her only D.C. appearance of the season.

2) The Celebs. I was at the home opener, which featured Serena Williams, who's famous famous. But the crowd was filled with the D.C. Famous, which is always depressing as a D.C. resident but at least shows that the Kastles have arrived, as it were. Among the sell-out crowd of 2,200 were Mayor Adrian Fenty, Fenty's two sons, former mayor Anthony Williams, former Sen. John Breaux (D-LA) with his mother, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Cali), AOL co-founder Jim Kimsey, Rep. Anthony D. Weiner (D-NY), Steve Case, Dave Feldman, George Solomon, Russ Thaler, and Wahsington Post Live producer Andy Siegel.

I'm telling you, this was an absolutely classic D.C. sporting event crowd, missing only Jack Evans, the Secretary of State, Jason Campbell and Ted Leonsis, who actually showed up to last night's match. Oh, plus Caron Butler and his wife Andrea were there. Which brings us to

Kastles and Wiz dancers. Observe Anthony Williams in the background.

3) The Wizards. First Caron shows up on media day for the AT&T National, and then for the Kastles' home opener? "Where's Waldo?" said Butler, describing his new role in D.C.. Truth be told, he was mostly there because of Serena; his only previous pro tennis viewing experience involved watching Venus in L.A.

I would have conducted a fabulous interview with him after the match, but suddenly he was being mobbed in a downtown tennis stadium parking lot, almost exclusively by women. This was adulation. I have a four-minute audio recording of what was mostly various women handing me their cameras to snap photos of them with Caron. All of them were self-identified as Caron's "biggest fan."

"She's your biggest fan, seriously....Thank you so much....I love the way you speak....I'm doing better now that I met you....Excuse me, I'm one of your biggest fans," is basically what my tape sounds like.

Caron, with some of his female fans.

"I can do one more, one more," Caron said to the crowd, before posing for probably five more. "He's personable, that's his biggest asset," Andrea told me, while some youth organizer told Caron how inspiring his story was and tried to get him to come speak to her group.

And, so, briefly:

Caron on local sports: "I haven't been to the Nationals game yet. Going back out there to throw the pitch pretty soon. As far as just getting out to events and stuff, I'm trying to do something different. I'm relaxing a lot, so I decided to do golf, see tennis, try to just do different things man. I'm getting g a little older, so I'm trying to explore other options, you know what I'm saying? Different stuff, that's all."

Caron on Gilbert:
"I'm happy. Happy for him. Obviously happy for us, but REALLY happy for him. He's a franchise player, he definitely deserves it. It's definitely a reward for him, and it's great."

Caron on winning a title: "That's the plan. Try to stay healthy, knock on wood, and get this thing done."

Caron on how often he's played tennis:
"Never. I'm gonna try to do this tennis thing, you know what I'm saying? You know I'm an actor now, so you gotta put basketball player-slash-franchise Burger King owner-slash-actor-slash-golfer now, you know what I'm saying? C'mon now. Don't leave that out now next time."

And if that's enough, the Kastles Dance Team, or whatever they're called, feature many members of the Wizards Dance Team, wearing tennis-inspired outfits. Which brings us to

Top Spin and The Knight.

4) The Mascots. Ok, maybe they're not G-Wiz, but they're close. There's this metal clad knight, whose name is, remarkably, The Knight. Then there's a giant tennis ball. When I met him, he was still nameless. He's since been dubbed Top Spin. Or possibly TopSpin. I'm 90 percent sure the knight is going to sword him before this season ends. And let's not forget

The challenge flag. It appears to have a sponsor.

5) The tennis. There are inscrutable rules, an inscrutable overtime situation, yellow challenge flags, hecklers and lots of shouting. Also, at the match I attended, one of the Kastles' PR staffers was on the court attempting to rile up the fans. And the fans were, occasionally, going bonkers. I never, ever thought I'd be saying this without irony, but it was one of the better D.C. sports crowds I've seen. And it was certainly closer to my house than any other D.C. pro sports team plays. (11th and H, roughly.)

Anyhow, here's the schedule. There are still four more home dates, including "Guys Night Out" when Anna Kournikova comes to town.

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 16, 2008; 2:48 PM ET
Categories:  Tennis  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Ovie's Take on the Beijing Games
Next: An Interview With Jerry Coleman


But more importantly, what was their Nielsen share?

Posted by: NTPNate | July 16, 2008 3:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm doing better now that I've read this post.

Posted by: | July 16, 2008 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Dan, to assuage some of your guilt over the international fury that followed Justin Gimelstob's comments maybe someone could follow up on the display put on by John McEnroe and his berating of Mashona Washington which included several profanities. How can the USTA consider using this guy in promoting the U.S. Open after he verbally attacked a young lady in front of thousands of tennis fans? Justin may have been all talk but McEnroe went way over the line.

Posted by: J Moore | July 16, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

A still photo of Anna Kournikova on MASN2 for 3 hours would get better ratings than the Nats.

Posted by: Kev | July 16, 2008 3:37 PM | Report abuse

I approve of exposing Gimelstob as a first rate boob. Can't the Kastles trade this fool?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

How many of those celebs did you yourself actually recognize? I'm not sure I could pick the mother of John Breaux (D-LA) out of lineup.

Posted by: dcsween | July 16, 2008 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Jane Harman is John Breaux's mother?

Posted by: Confused without semicolons | July 16, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

The Legg Mason Classic is shivering in its sweatbands.

Posted by: Max Wass | July 16, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

"I'm doing better now that I've read this post." - - -

Yeah, me too, you know, with being a Milwaukee resident and all. I wasn't born here, but I was raised here; it's not like I go around yelling "yeah, Mil-town!" Who doesn't know that it's not the best place in the world? To know what was put out there kinda hurts, and with Caronimo being, not a Milwaukee, WI native but a Racine, WI native, I hope that he's a Wizard that stays true to his roots.

Posted by: Bridge | July 16, 2008 5:02 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: Mustachio | July 16, 2008 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Free Justin! Who made the rule that lighthearted banter (and extremely entertaining radio) had to result in a somber two-hour sitdown with Billie Jean King to discuss the superiority of corporate blandness over wit? Gimelstob might have been a middling pro on the circuit, but he's an absolute original as a commentator and has seemingly done the impossible--created huge interest in World Team Tennis. Hope to see a huge pro-Justin crowd for next Wed's match v. evil ice queen Kournikova.

Posted by: Hyperborean | July 16, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Since the Kastles seem to have such a loyal, strong, vibrant following they seem well on thier way to challenging United as DC's #2 sports team. Who knows, maybe on day Justin Gimelstob can be the new Ben Olson.

Posted by: AreUKidding | July 17, 2008 8:27 AM | Report abuse

It's not a true collection of DC celebrities until Pat Sajak shows up.

Posted by: FS | July 17, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Jane Harman is John Breaux's mother?

Posted by: Confused without semicolons | July 16, 2008 4:37 PM

The funny thing is that I would've walked away thinking that Jane Harman is John Breaux's mother had I not read your comment.

Posted by: amalg | July 17, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I am an open-mineded single girl who love sports. I want to end my single life by meeting a guy who likes sports too. Let's mingle at the club ==== Black white meet . com====where love is color blind.

Posted by: Maggie | July 17, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

this reads like a kastles press release. so you recognized "AOL co-founder Jim Kimsey" from the stands? nice report on a celebrity sighting. "good job" steins.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 17, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse

In that picture of the cheerleaders it looks like Billy Jean King was there to?

Posted by: Skinz | July 17, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Yes, BJK was there, but she founded the dang league, so that doesn't count.

Yes, this reads like a Kastles press release, which is why I felt bad posting it. But that doesn't mean it wasn't true. A lot of time I leave sports events thinking, "meh." This was legitimately fun. And cheap. Sorry.

Posted by: Dan Steinberg | July 17, 2008 2:47 PM | Report abuse

"Guys Night Out"?

Didn't they see Chappelle's Show? This will end much worse than anyone thought.

Posted by: Chest Rockwell | July 19, 2008 12:09 AM | Report abuse

I agree with JMoore. McEnroe's berating of Mashona Washington was way over the line. He threw some F-bombs at her. The league was willing to suspend Gimelstob, but they would never suspend someone like McEnroe, even though he is a prick.

BTW, more than a few kids heard his cursing tirade.

Posted by: jn | July 19, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

"Guys Night Out"? Haha! Say hello to heternormativity. fyi:

I hope that you and the Kastles realize that there's probably a good portion of their fan base that is not straight. I'd venture to say a large portion of any co-ed or womens' sports fan base is female and/or queer.

...and that we like things that are a bit more affordable than $40 plus fees. ;-)

Too bad I missed the MetroWeekly deal. Thanks for that, at least.

Posted by: anon | July 21, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

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