Top 11 D.C. Sports Moments of 2008
Author's note: This is the third straight year I've done this, but the first time I've remembered to do it during the actual year. For past years, see 2007 and 2006. Also, I will be chatting on this subject Monday at 11 a.m.; submit your questions here.
Second author's note: I did this pretty quickly. In retrospect, three things noted in comments--Joe Gibbs retiring, Monk and Green getting into the Hall, and Ryan Zimmerman's opening night walk-off--should all have found a place here somewhere. Oh well, I'll do better in '09.
So: the top 11 D.C. Sports Bog moments of 2008. This year's criteria: It has to be locally based. It has to have attracted some national attention. It has to pass the "will we remember it 10 years from now? test. It has to have been bloggable. And, since I now see my traffic numbers every day, it has to have registered on the click counter. From worst to first.
11. The Redskins launch a new media blitz. To some extent, this is inside baseball, or inside football, but our little online D.C. sports world was captivated by Chris Cooley's new blog, Vinny Cerrato's new radio show and the Redskins's new blogger. For better or worse, all three developments provided hundreds of thousands of clicks this fall, bestowing their clickable bounty even on non-Skins employees. The highlight, of course, was the public unveiling of Cooley's most intimate bits. So, if you want to be short about it, call this one CC(C)P.
10. George Mason, American and UMBC all win their conference tournaments, putting Patriots, Eagles and Retrievers in the Dance. Sure, none of them won, but the result confirmed this area as one of the nation's absolute basketball hotbeds. In the past six seasons, three D.C.-area teams have made it to the Final Four, and something like six more teams within a 90-minute drive have earned tourney berths.
9. Despite his injuries, Gilbert remains relevant. On the one hand, this is a far cry from hitting game-winners, and could rightly be called cheap blog gimmickry on my part. On the other hand, my item about Gilbert's new swimming pool was the most-read blog item I've ever composed by a factor of about four. Nearly anyone who follows the NBA has seen photos of Gilbert's grotto. And he repeatedly made headlines, from his engagement story to his wax sculpture to his Obama tattoo, even while sitting and watching. If he's on the court, he's still D.C.'s most bloggable athlete. On the bench, he'll have to settle for being one keystroke away from zero.
8. No one watches the Nats on television. Amazingly, my item about the lack of interest in D.C.'s baseballers--stolen from Sports Business Journal--was the most-read thing I've ever done on the Nats. There's interest in a lack of interest, clicks in a lack of clicks, eyeballs in their absence. Weird. And Bud Selig even got to talking about this. But sometimes, you have to go backward before you can go forward (see: Capitals, Washington), and I'm already pricing flights to Spring Training. Honestly, for as much as I make fun, I also am convinced that the next time the Nats creep above .500 in July, this place will be baseball mad. For now, it's fun to think of jokes.
7. Fight! Fight! Redskins Media Fight! The Redskins attack The Post! Clinton Portis attacks Brian Mitchell! Clinton Portis attacks Jim Zorn! Some weird video of Jason La Ca as a Nixon puppet shows up on the Internet! And everyone's pockets get straighter!
6. Jim Zorn is hired, coming to D.C. with a promise to revive the Maroon and Black. That, as it turned out, was just a hint of what we had in store, from Stay Medium to coyote skinning, from publicly calling out his players to making faces never before seen at NFL lecterns. By this point, I fully understand that the Ways of Zorn are a lot more pleasing to media members than fans; the media members love the different, the funny, the candid and the original, while the fans love the wins. But wherever you fall on that spectrum, 2008 was the Year of Zorn.
5. But it was also the Year of DeShawn. That's easy to forget now, with both he and his team completely unrecognizable, but DeShawn Stevenson had an incredible few months in 2008, both for his own national Q rating and for my traffic. Among the highlights: the crescendo of his well-covered beard-growing contest, an amazing back tattoo, personalized bathrobes, the best birthday party I've ever attended, a full-on Michael Vick outfit, and a fairly remarkable music video performance. He also had a career year on the court, but man, was he a star off of it.
4. The Caps break through the media dead space. Call it Rock the Red, Part II, because it was at least theoretically possible that last year's (fairly brief) Caps madness could have died off this fall. Judging from all available data--TV ratings, our Web traffic, random shirt sightings--quite the opposite happened. Add in the bizarre but endearing commercial spots filmed by their two biggest stars--Ovechkin and Boudreau--and it all has the feeling of something more permanent than the 1998 Cup run, which had already receded by the time I moved to D.C. that July. I mean, when you go out with friends, in December, they say "as long as we pick a place that will have the Caps game on." That pretty much says it all.
3. We laughed, we cried, we Hip Hip Hoorayed. Much like DeShawn's legendary few months, it's hard to remember the mirthful, hilarity-filled optimism of those few weeks in late September and early October, when we were literally trying to figure out how likely a Super Bowl berth was for the Redskins. In retrospect, you throw out the wins over the Lions and Browns, gloss over the games against the mediocre Saints and Cardinals, and are left with two big wins: at Dallas, at Philly. Both were followed with exclamations from an excited owner, and both were followed with Hip Hip Hooray. It was the high water mark, sure, but what a stain it left.
2. For the first time since the Verizon Center opened, its two main pro inhabitants made the playoffs in the same year. It's particularly nostalgic this week, with the Cavs returning to the VC on Sunday and the Flyers on Sunday. Anyhow, we'll start with Rock the Red, Part I, which had more than its share of highlights: Mike Wise on the big screen, rampant mohawks, bottle throwing, fan banter, drunk guys from Canada. That was fun.
1. But for me, the absolute unbeatable D.C. Sports Moment of 2008 came on April 24, in that same building. That's right, the Soulja Boy Game. Gilbert was waving towels on the scorer's table, LeBron was snickering, Jay Z was recording diss tracks, the Wizards were blowing the Cavaliers off the court, Caron Butler had "Tough Juice" shaved into his head, teammates went Mohawk, and, above all else, Soulja Boy was sitting in the front row, waving his damn hand in front of his face. If 2009 offers me one-tenth the enjoyment of that night, I'll consider it a success.
Also receiving votes: Monk and Green enter the Hall (while I'm in China)....The Nats open a new stadium in storybook fashion....Georgetown establishes utter local hoops dominance....Maryland sees two visiting players in two sports vomit on the field of play....Kornheiser takes the buyout....goodbye to Gunston....Dmitri Young's would like an extra large please....Jim Fassel is stiffed again....Alexander Semin is quotable....so is Craig Sager....and so are golf fans in the year of No Tiger....DCU had a weird season.
Ok, what'd I miss? And how is the order wrong? And in what ways have I slighted Georgetown and/or the Nats?
December 31, 2008; 3:14 PM ET
Categories: Atlantic 11 , Caps , College Basketball , D.C. United , Nats , Redskins , Wizards
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