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Czaban on the Caps, D.C. and Sports Talk Radio


(By Gene J. Puskar - AP)

Caps fans, I think it's fair to say, aren't quite sure what to think about the growing love they're receiving from the traditional D.C. sports media. On the one hand, they enjoy this confirmation of their legitimacy. On the other hand, they recognize that the coverage is coming because of the wins and resent the fair-weather implication.

So on the one hand, they want to sit back and revel in this increased media buzz. And on the other hand, they see hiccups of inaccuracy or clumsy phrasing or unfamiliarity, and lash out, telling us they don't need us and are just fine without the spotlight.

I've long argued that Steve Czaban is one of the two or three opinion leaders in the D.C. sports marketplace, even more so as The Post's star columnists have strayed. And with the possible exception of a certain bald co-worker of mine, no local media outlet has been more discussed by Caps fans than ESPN 980, and especially Czaban's Sports Reporters afternoon-drive show. (For example.) And so I sent him a few questions about the Caps, their fans and the media.

There's a sense from some Caps fans that the traditional media in D.C. still doesn't care about hockey, or is being dragged kicking and screaming into hockey coverage. Do you think the local media would prefer not to cover hockey?

It's not that we don't care about hockey. It's that hockey requires a tremendous amount of man-hours spent watching the team, and a decent base of knowledge about the sport, to have a credible idea of what is going on at a more than superficial level.

I have a decent amount of hockey knowledge from playing C league and floor hockey, but I never knew the team better than when I was in high school and went to about 30 of the 40 home games a year. Then you really know who is willing to hit in the corners, who can move the puck effectively on the power play, and stuff like that. Sadly, as a general talk-show host, there's not much time to fully invest in the Caps/hockey that would make me on par with even a mid-level season ticket holder. A point of fact, is that they know more about the team than I do, so I'm not sure why they want me to talk about the team more.

For better or worse, The Sports Reporters and 980 have been one of the primary targets of those fans. You've been encouraging more hockey talk recently. Any particular reason?

Of course Andy and I have been Public Enemy No. 1, but I'm blaming much of that on Andy, who doesn't really care for hockey and has made that fact well known. Of course we're talking more about the Caps now; they have a chance to do something and are very exciting. The same thing happens with every team, the one notable exception being the Redskins. We also haven't talked squat about the Wiz this season, because it was essentially flushed when Gil got hurt and Eddie got canned.


(1996 photo by Mark Wilson - AP)

Both in The Post, on my blog and, I think it's fair to say, on 980, the Caps have ranked below the Wizards for years, despite the fact that the Wizards have as long a tradition of mediocrity. Why is that?

See above. The Wiz have run well behind the Caps in chatter this year, and I've even mocked Andy at times for actually trying to discuss them in a meaningful way.

Fans also insist that in cities like Philly, sports talk radio does considerably more with hockey. Is that true, and if so, why?

Philly, Boston, Detroit are huge hockey towns. They are unique. What's the difference? How about a longer tradition of hockey, and some clearly dominant teams during some decades. We've never had that. Plus, D.C. lacks the Caucasian blue-collar fan base those cities have. Our blue-collar sports fan base is largely African American. Which is fine, but hockey has always been a tough sell to that demographic. We even had a black guy call in the show to laugh about how much he's getting razzed by some of the guys in the office for being so into the Caps. I'd love to see more diversity, but it has miles and miles to go.

Is there a way to rank the juiciest teams for local sports yak, I guess from among the Redskins, Wizards, Nats, Caps, Terps and Hoyas?

Redskins are number one. Most passion, most love, most hate. Terps and Hoyas next level, Wizards, then Caps, then Nats. Sorry Stan Kasten. You guys are the new kid on the block. Show us something first.

Is it possible to imagine a time when the Caps are a primary topic on D.C. sports talk radio? How many years of them being good and everyone else being stinky would this take?

Define "primary topic." You see, the problem with Caps fans, is that its seemingly NEVER enough. We spent almost the entire 4 p.m. hour talking Caps, with your favorite studs and stiff in Caps history. It was great fun. Then at 6 p.m., some guy complains we should be talking more Caps. Okay, whatever. Should the Caps make a deep run into the Cup playoffs this spring, trust me, the town will be abuzz, and they'll get more than their share of love.

Caps fans obviously complain a lot about their coverage. Do they complain more or less than other teams' fans, and does this help or hurt their case?

The only fan base that complains more is D.C. United. But they are actually fun to torment by purposely not discussing them.

It doesn't really hurt their case, because I wouldn't NOT talk about Ovechkin and the Caps now as any kind of "payback" for past griping. But it doesn't help. The ardent Caps fans don't know anything about how to program a sports radio station. Plus, they are really only looking for "affirmation" of their dear love, the Caps, by us talking about them. If you want real analysis, and knowledge, you should watch the post-game show on Comcast, listen on the radio, and read all the boards and blogs. That's where the good, high-level analysis is happening.

It's like me with golf. That's my first love. But golf only gets into the sports-radio bloodstream two or three times a year. Masters, U.S. Open, and maybe one other major or the Ryder Cup. That's it. But I'm not mad. I get my high-level golf junkie fix from the Golf Channel, Golf Magazine and other places. I don't need a marginally knowledgeable radio host talking golf to affirm my sport.

All that said...."Let's Go Caps!"

PS: I am actively seeking a good clean copy of "Ice Breakers, Goal Shakers, The Caps!" that they played in my high school days at the ol' Cap Centre. Haven't found it anywhere. We'd like to use it on the show, and would make a nice kitschy bookend piece to "Bullets Fever."

By Dan Steinberg  |  January 15, 2009; 3:29 PM ET
Categories:  Caps , Media  
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Comments

"It's not that we don't care about hockey. It's that hockey requires a tremendous amount of man-hours spent watching the team, and a decent base of knowledge about the sport, to have a credible idea of what is going on at a more than superficial level. "

So watch the games then. Is he saying he doesn't watch Redskins games, or basketball games, and can still talk about them knowledgeably? What is this answer? A stupid one.

I think that's the #1 frustration with mainstream coverage: no on in the mainstream DC media actually likes hockey. And it's obvious. How can you be a reporter of sports in the US and simply not know or like one of the major professional sports? Who hires these people? Answer: other people who don't like hockey.

At least we're past the stage where guys like Czaban wear their hockey ignorance like a badge of honor.

Posted by: ThisGuy | January 15, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

The United Czabe, always call them The United.

Posted by: PowerBoater69 | January 15, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Czaban is right in one sense--I find myself wishing that 980 would talk more about hockey, and then when they do, it becomes quickly apparent that Czaban and Pollin really don't have much to say.

But there's no reason they couldn't acquire that knowledge by, um, watching the games and following the team. Isn't that their job as sports-talk hosts?

And this idea that hockey takes more time to follow than other sports? Give me a break. That seems like a really good excuse for not watching any games at all.

I listened to those guys for two hours last night (4-6 p.m.) before a game with so many intersting storylines that every national sports outlet and major blog had coverage of it, and they didn't mention the Caps once other than during the updates. They could have talked about Semin, Crosby, Malkin and Ovechkin and wouldn't have even needed to know that much about the intricacies and strategy of hockey. But all they really talked about was the NFL.

Posted by: TheFingerman | January 15, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

don't want czabe and his clown friend andy polin on board. Those clowns (polin mostly) have done more to belittle and belittle the Caps more than they ever have done to help them. The garbage they spew (since it must mean ratings to bash hockey I guess. But I don't know since I don't run a radio show) is a detriment to even capturing the casual fans. But whatever. We don't need them, but sooner rather than later, they're going to want to capture some of the Caps fans who are getting on board (and they have considering they've taken the time to broadcast from Verizon at games a time or two).

Either way, He can talk redskins 24/7 on the redskins radio for all I care.

XM/sirius > that signal, those shows, and most everything else on radio in town.

Posted by: mbhowa | January 15, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Here's an interesting idea: They could have guests on that know about hockey. Nah, that would never work.

Posted by: disgruntledfan | January 15, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Hockey is undoubtedly one of the LEAST complicated sports in terms of rules/understanding, so I've never really bought that as an excuse for not talking about it. Familiarity with the various players and teams is another story entirely.

I appreciate that Al Koken is on 980, but what I'd like to hear are intelligent debates about the Caps between the sports radio hosts in this town. I want to hear one person arguing why Nylander sucks and should be traded, and someone else stating that with Feds age and health concerns and not much depth at center it would be foolish to deal him now. Those are the types of discussions I'd like to hear, but with Koken as the only knowledgeable personality, all we get are one-sided explanations that have to be dumbed down into a basketball analogy.

Posted by: chombie13 | January 15, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I'm still shocked that Czaban gets this kind of coverage. If there's one thing we could here less about, it's Steve Czaban. I think he's proven year in and year out that he simply is unknowledgeable on a lot of fronts, particularly when it comes to the Redskins.

Posted by: CDon | January 15, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

So he thinks that the Sports Reporters ARE offering up "high level analysis" when it comes to the Redskins? Pfft.

They're two guys shooting the breeze, which is cool. If they want to hold themselves to some sort of standard when it comes to the quality of analysis then bring in someone who knows what they're talking about. They're not going to hire a full-time beat writer like they do for the Skins but they bring in Paul White, Thom Loverro, Kevin Blackistone and Co. Why not ask Al Koken to stick around, or Tarik, or the beat writer from the Times, or anyone from Comcast.

I'd just like some variety in the discussion. I fully understand that the Redskins are #1 and everyone else is #42 or so - I just don't care. It's boring.

And Caps fans aren't doing themselves any favors nitpicking when they do get a little love.

Posted by: tha_prophet | January 15, 2009 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Dan,
Why don't you just arrange a friendly pick up game between all the media people in town. anyone can throw a football and anyone can dribble/shoot a basketball. but i'd just like to see them try to skate and stickhandle at the same time, try to shoot or throw a check.

Posted by: mnmnt_snow | January 15, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

How stupid is this? I NEVER turn on 980! Truth is until they get rid of "We had a pretty good year" Campbell, they Skins are not worth listening about and certainly not worth talking about. Czaban is an idiot and Polin is his butt boy. Get an XM radio and listen to NHL Home Ice every day all day and turn off 980! The signal sucks anyway!

Posted by: majiksea | January 15, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

One more thought.

I think the "we're trying to appeal to our demographics" is pretty ignorant. While I do think that DC has a healthy section of non-Caucasian people listening to the radio, I don't particularly think that's the end all in the area for getting ratings. There are plenty of middle class white guys who listen to the radio, who might have a casual interest in hockey. Plus, some of the commercials on the station aren't exactly targeted to that demographic.

Though then again, maybe 980's awful signal doesn't reach the suburbs.

Posted by: mbhowa | January 15, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

I second Czabe's call for an online copy of "Ice Breakers, Goal Shakers". That'd make my year.

Well, that and being a guest on Sports Reporters.

Posted by: jamesmottram | January 15, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

The problem with ESPN 980 is that even when the Redskins are obviously terrible, they talk about them for seven and a half of the eight hour workday. What's worse is that because they devote so much of their time to the Redskins the analysis becomes derivative of derivative.

Yes, I get it. The station is owned by Snyder, the Redskins are the Redskins, and this is D.C. But let's be honest.

The truth is that it is insulting to listen to 980 on a regular basis because simply by listening to the station, the average joe could do as good of a job as anyone they have on air. The coverage is that hackneyed. By the time you've listened to Doc Walker, Kevin Sheehan, John Thompson, Brian Mitchell, and Al Koken all give essentially the same analysis of the Skins, we might as well host the Sports Reporters because they don't offer anything we haven't already heard.

Now, I am certainly no programming genius but one sure way to alleviate the problem would be to talk about the Caps or the Nats...occasionally. Especially when they are the best team in town.

Capitals fans feel particularly slighted because with the exception of the last five years, the Capitals have far and away been the most succesful team in Washington - in terms of playoff appearances.

While Norv Turner was toiling his way through the 1990's making it to the playoffs once (?) the Capitals were a mortal lock to be playing well into the Spring. It has been legitimate playoff heartbreak that has prevented the Capitals from winning at least one or two cups.

If the Capitals had a least a modicum of media coverage, such heartbreak could have sown the seeds for a rich fanbase and a public well versed in the profound playoff devastation that the Capitals have endured. Such coverage leads to greater interest in the team, and in turn to greater interest in the coverage. The sports media in any city should realize this.

We don't care if Czaban talks about hockey on a superficial level, as long as he talks about it. I think most people would agree, they aren't doing anything special with the Redskins.

The sad truth is that the Redskins under Daniel Snyder have become an embarrassment, but because they can live off the legend of the George Allen and Joe Gibbs eras, anyone who wants to listen to sports talk radio in the D.C. area is force fed a never ending diet of meaningless Redskins dribble. It's clogging up the airwaves.

Posted by: benz9 | January 15, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

You guys wish you had a real hockey theme/fight song. You ain't heard a thing if you ain't got that, um, Brass Bonanza.

http://www.brassbonanza.com/Sound/brassbonanza-2.mp3

Posted by: WorstSeat | January 15, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

You Caps fans are just like the chick who doesn't understand why the guy didn't call you: He's just not into you.

To put it another way: nobody gives a
sh!t about hockey!!!

Posted by: Peaux_Sucent | January 15, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

In an episode of Family Guy, Lois runs for office. Her campaign is faltering until someone suggest that she should answer questions with generalities terms like "9/11", "Jesus", and "terrorist"; she does, and she wins.
Radio is asking morons to drop generalities like "Redskins", "do and die", "superbowl" on their radio talk show, it will bring lots of money. They do, and they are becoming rich.
You want better and more informative radio shows? Stop listening to that Cr@p.

Posted by: opita | January 15, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

I hate Sportstalk 980 because they consistently ignore the thriving tiddlywinks community. There are literally dozens of tiddlywinks fans in the Washington Metro area, and do you hear a word on 980? NO! Would it kill them to update us on the Greater D.C. Tiddlywinks Open next week? Have on the coach, Stan "The Winker" Blattman for a short interview? I don't think Czabe and Andy know ANYTHING about tiddlywinks, and that's a darned shame, because I think if they gave tiddlywinks a chance, they'd grow to love it.

[Feel free to re-write to substitute soccer or women's hoops or hockey or YOUR favorite sport.]

Does 980 suck? Sure. Do they make money? Yes. Do they know what lights up the phones? Absolutely. Czabe's not a rocket scientist, but he's right about that -- they just whisper "Redskins" by the mike, and the lemmings start calling. You hockey guys can whine until the cows come home, but hockey is a third-tier sport in this town when the Caps are winning, and fourth-tier when they're not.

Posted by: mdean3 | January 16, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

All the media outlets need to do is remind fans of the teams success, promote TV times, and home games, and have players on for interviews.

If you can get callers in too, then great. Thats all that needs to be done. No one wants your opinion on the left wing lock.

Posted by: SA-Town | January 16, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse


Okay so Czaban mentions how they talked about the Caps at 4 o'clock the other day. Well, I don't know about everyone else, but as for myself (and probably the vast majority of their listeners) I'm still at work at 4 PM, and generally dont get in the car and flip on the radio until sometime after 5. Is it too much to ask for a little 'prime time' coverage for the best and most exciting team in town?

As for the jackass Peaux_Sucent who was bashing hockey.... go watch your loser Wizards and see if they can actually make it to 15 wins this year... ain't looking too promising right now.

Posted by: chombie13 | January 16, 2009 9:40 AM | Report abuse

First off...I couldn't tell you the last time I listened to sports talk radio. In effect, what this guy is saying is that his medium has zero clue what's going on in the local market and trying to justify this incompetence. In effect, he's written his own obituary.

Meanwhile, hockey fans have adapted and gone on to other media.

Others smarter than I would look at the demographic that goes to hockey games (white, middle class) and try to reach out to them. Or, keep insulting them with this drivel.

They "could" have a regular segment with the Capitals beat writers, or a player or two. Or they'll just be obscure for 8 months out of the year. Either way, most people don't give two scoots.

Posted by: jcurrin | January 16, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse

"Okay so Czaban mentions how they talked about the Caps at 4 o'clock the other day. Well, I don't know about everyone else, but as for myself (and probably the vast majority of their listeners) I'm still at work at 4 PM, and generally dont get in the car and flip on the radio until sometime after 5. Is it too much to ask for a little 'prime time' coverage for the best and most exciting team in town?"

Hey, that's exactly what I was going to post!

Posted by: RedBirdie | January 16, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

There are 2 things I'd say to Czaban's comments.
1. It is clear he believes that the fan exists to hear him, versus him existing to talk about what the listeners want. Perhaps that means he thinks too much, cares too much, etc... to be on the radio? Steve, don't let the door hit you...

2. The whole "I don't watch enough to be informed" bit is a total cop-out. If you're on the radio, and there's a sport in your town that is getting attention throughout North America, you probably ought to start watching it more. He simply doesn't care.

And for the record Steve, Golf isn't a team sport, and so subsequently it's participants aren't identified with a city. Apples...Oranges...

Posted by: matucker | January 16, 2009 10:37 AM | Report abuse

I am SO happy I have XM Radio and I can choose what I want to listen to! Turn off 980 Caps fans, we don't need them.

Posted by: majiksea | January 16, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

OK. I'll display my ignorance to the world. Just WHO is Czaban anyway and why should I care?

In the US hockey is a "northern thing" played on ponds and rivers in winter, or rinks. There's a greater chance of getting hockey intelligently discussed up there than down here. Frankly, I'd rather have an intelligent discussion than an idiotic one so I'm OK with no radio or local TV coverage.

In discussing markets, though, 18,000 fannies in seats should provide more coverage than it does. If you don't have the expertise to discuss the sport, get someone that does.

The demographics of this guy's radio station doesn't mesh with the demographic of hockey fans. Hockey fans are generally more affluent than basketball or football fans.

Ted Leonsis was right. In this market the web provides the best opportunity for coverage. Just look at the numbers on Tarik's blog. Look at the number of bloggers chatting about hockey in this area. It's far superior to anything a local sports "expert" could hope to achieve.

Posted by: Greg S. | January 16, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

He both has a point and doesn't have a point. If he talked more about the Caps, in other words, got Boudreau or some of the players to call in and answer vague questions ("tell me why you think this system works/doesn't work"), he would glean as much knowledge as anyone else and, assuming that he's an intelligent being, be able to comment about that.

As a Sports Reporter's sometime-listener, though, I do think that Andy is the main reason, as he goes to great lengths to mention exactly how much he doesn't follow hockey.

He's also exactly right, though, that he isn't the person that I'd want analysis from. But I don't listen to him for Redskins analysis and I wouldn't listen to him for Capitals analysis. I can analyze for myself. I listen to him for various opinions and comments and NEWS. He can do all of those things about the Caps with his limited knowledge.

Oh, and @ ThisGuy, you said how they could hire someone who honestly doesn't like one of the four major sports for a thing like that. I can absolutely understand that, that's just why there's more than 1 guy doing the show.

I, for example, cannot stand Professional Basketball (College is more tolerable mostly in the sense that I rooted for my school). I like to play Basketball with friends, but I hate watching it.

I don't know what Andy's deal with hockey is, but it could be along those lines.

Posted by: DrinkingPartner | January 16, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

"You Caps fans are just like the chick who doesn't understand why the guy didn't call you: He's just not into you.

To put it another way: nobody gives a
sh!t about hockey!!!"

you're dumb. look at the caps attendance records (98.1% capacity for the season) and then we'll talk.

Posted by: tengoalyrunr30 | January 16, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Oh man, I have been looking for the "Goal Shakers" Caps song forever!!! Someones gotta have it!!!!

Posted by: alagarts | January 16, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Saying nobody cares about hockey is dumb.

Saying, "Look at the attendance" is also semi-dumb.

Hockey has a strong, but limited, following -- that's what the attendance numbers and the t.v. numbers tell us. I don't know why that is -- hockey doesn't translate well on t.v., and it's a GREAT game live, but that will always limit its reach.

While the Caps are good, they'll get a bit more play from the sports yakkers. But they'll remain third-tier.

Posted by: mdean3 | January 16, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

I think Fingerman put it the best. Czaban says that we don't think it's ever enough. Putting the 'Caps' on from 4-5 and then not really even talking about the current Caps team is NOT coverage. I do know a little something about what it takes to program a sports show as I've done it in the past, and I can tell you that not having a single comment or segment on the Caps/Pens game either before or after the game is incredibly weak and short sighted on their part.

Posted by: bigalgreek | January 16, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

As I diehard Caps fan for my entire 20 years of existence, I honestly couldn't care less about the level of local Caps media coverage.

One thing I know about Washington fans, beyond the Skins, each team seems to have a core group of loyals and everyone else jumps on the bandwagon when they get good. The media is no exception. Especially when you are dealing with cocky and arrogant know-nothings like Czaban.

I would rather not listen to a guy who clearly knows nothing about hockey nor cares to know anything by admitting he doesn't watch the games.

For hockey fans, there are plenty of other media outlets to get their fix without having to subject themselves to clowns like Czaban.

Posted by: zloss126 | January 16, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

980 needs to hire talent that at a minimum understands the in's/out's of all the local teams. That is part of your job people... you get paid to discuss sports for a living and are complaining there isn't enough time to watch any NHL games... yet can discuss all the NFL/NBA teams ad naseum??? Lame excuse.

Cap's fans need to understand that they are never going to be the #1 sports story in DC... and it's OK. Actually, it's a good thing. Personally I like the fact that not everyone understands hockey. It's a bit like knowing an amazing underground band and being able to get into all their shows. Well, sorta. When I look around at all the dumbed-down Redskins bandwagon fans around here... it just reminds me that the Skins are simply the lowest common denominator around here. Personally I don't get it anymore... They have a terribly inept owner and havne't been good in 18+ years! There is a strong sense of almost peer pressure to love the Redskins in this town. Beyond that Czaban is right that hockey just doesn't fit the DC demographic like it does in the Northeast.

I get my good hockey analysis from Tarik's blog, and other non-traditional media. Could care less about 980 (stopped listening), Mr. Tony, et al.

Posted by: bonzaidrew | January 16, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

I like Czaban. At least he thinks these things through. It is Pollin and his snide anti-hockey remarks that I despise.

Posted by: poguesmahone | January 16, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

It's not too hard what WTEM needs to do, they just do not realize it. They have a man on their current show who is a huge hockey fan. Scott Linn, who does the updates, is a die-hard hockey fan. For those of us who remember, he used to do the pre and post game analysis of the Caps on the radio. They should bring Linn in for the 4-5 or 5-6 hour and discuss the Caps. Now, I have known Andy for a while, and I have told him on many occasions that he should become more familiar with the sport, and cover it more. We don't want to hear about the Redskins in January, February, March etc. Cover the only winning professional team in this area, and that is your Washington Capitals. Mend your differences with Ted, and have him on the air once a week. Go out and get Bruce or one of the assistant coaches on the air to talk about the Caps. And how about getting Ovie in studio to talk about the team. No more Redskins and Wizard talk!! Talk about the Caps!!

Posted by: rozey57 | January 16, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Rozey:

I know that's what YOU want, but do you really think that's what the greater listening audience of Sportsyak 980 wants? I completely understand that hockey fans want more hockey talk. But 980's in the business of selling ads and getting listeners. Do you REALLY think 980's ratings will rise if they make a conscious effort to increase the hockey talk?

Posted by: mdean3 | January 16, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Caps fans sure are a bunch of whiny babies.

Is it not enough for you that the Caps are in contention for the Stanley Cup? They have to be the number one passion for EVERYONE in the city? Too bad. Not gonna happen.

The caps will always be fourth/fifth fiddle in this city behind the Skins, Hoyas, Terps, and Wiz. And if the Nats ever get their act together they'll leapfrog the Caps as well. The Caps will have blips like this on the DC sports radar, but nothing sustained. Not unless they are perinnially dominant champions in the NHL for a good 3 to 5 years. Sorry, that's just the way it is.

In my opinion the issue with hockey is that not very many people play it recreationally. All the other sports require a ball and an open field. Hockey requires a lot more, so people don't just play pick-up games on a Saturday.

About Czaben: he's the best sports personality this town has produced in a long time. I don't always agree with him, but he's always entertaining.

Posted by: davekempson | January 16, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

And goodness knows, don't get me started on their total lack of area boxing coverage. Three guys will be on national tv from our area in the next four weeks!

Posted by: digital_fightnews1 | January 16, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

Unbelievable. They don't like or want the Caps, that's obvioius. Fine, mock the only pro team in this area that's played in a championship final in the past 15 years.

And mock DC United even more... they're the only pro team in this city to actually WIN a championship in the last 15 years, and they've won FOUR of them...

Any fan of the Caps who listens to 980 is out of their mind. The yo-yos who run the station are just that, yo-yos, and they managed to talk themselves out of having the Caps games on their station (meaning a 3 hours/game of revenue, hockey broadcasts on the radio are literally 3 hour infomercials for the team...)

Just stupid...

Posted by: MikeL-Caps91 | January 16, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

For all those who keep saying the Caps have always been "fourth-tier" or whatever in Washington, behind the Wizards, etc.....that isn't actually true. I think most people who lived here in the 1980s would tell you that there was more--or at least similar amounts of--interest in the Caps than the Bullets at that time. The Caps regularly outdrew the Bullets in attendance by significant margins back then. (I will concede that you could probably argue that the Terps were bigger than both of them at the time.)

As for the argument that the Caps will always be fifth-tier, that's just dumb--since right now there's more interest in them than any other team in town besides the Redskins. If you need proof, the Post actually sent Barry Svrulga to a regular season road game of the Caps to write a sidebar. That must mean that the Caps are getting tons of clicks on the Internet site.

In fact, listening to Pollin and Czaban last night (during which they didn't do a Caps segment, but opened the phones to talk about any of the games the previous night), there were a number of people who called up to talk Caps--including the guy who said he'd been a diehard Terps fan but didn't turn on their game Wed. night until after the hockey game was over, and a guy who identified himself as African-American but said something like "even I'm watching some hockey."

Hockey is a great sport to watch, and when you get to watch it played by elite players like Ovechkin and Semin, lots of people can become fans.

Posted by: TheFingerman | January 16, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

davekempson, did you really just say the Caps will always fall behind the Hoyas? Really? Remember the Craig Esherick era? You could walk by Verizon Center 15 minutes after a Hoyas game and you'd never know something had just let out. Georgetown may have THE most volatile support in the area.

Posted by: cstoneno37 | January 16, 2009 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Cut me some slack, cstoneno37. I said the Caps would be 4th or 5th. During the Esherick era they'd have been 4th. I'd probably even be willing to give them permanent 4th place status since I can't stand the Hoyas.

TheFingerman, I'll take your word for it about the 80's. I wasn't much of a sports fan until '87 and then it was primarily as a Skins fan. However, I do remember when the Caps went to the Stanley Cup a few years back, and I remember the town being all abuzz about it. I also remember that 5 minutes before the Caps got hot and 5 minutes after they got swept in the finals nobody cared. Unless the Caps can either sustain their success for a bunch of seasons or actually win the cup this current fervor will be the same way.

Posted by: davekempson | January 16, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, I couldn't care less if 980 talks about the Caps. Those two guys (especially Polley) are trained circus chimps with mics with an average chimp's requisite knowledge of hockey.

Wishing those two would talk more Caps is like wishing Paris Hilton would talk about brain surgery. Not only is it beyond her, it cheapens brain surgery itself.

Posted by: playahatah | January 16, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

If Czaban and pollin talk sports in the forest, and no one is there to hear them, do they make a sound? AM radio.....beta and vhs......so passe.

Posted by: juststeveok | January 16, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

"In my opinion the issue with hockey is that not very many people play it recreationally. All the other sports require a ball and an open field. Hockey requires a lot more, so people don't just play pick-up games on a Saturday."

I love this comment above. I agree to a point that if someone played a sport as a child or in school they are more familiar with it and more likely to watch it. (As an aside, I have been a serious Caps and hockey fan since I was a kid, and I never laced them up until taking rudimentary ice skating lessons as an adult just to see what it was like).

But the reason this statement amuses me is that it suggests that a great deal of adults in the area are big fans of pro football, basketball or baseball because they grab the ball and play the game on Saturdays. I attend quite a few football, baseball and hockey games, and get together with friends semi-regularly at sports bars, and the average sports fan I see - no make that the majority of the pro sports fans I see - do not appear to have played any sport in a number of years, unless playing fetch with your dog or racing from the easy chair to the frig for a beer and back before the TV timeout ends count as sports. This is not meant to be critical of any pro sports fans - whatever their current health condition, its just a response to the suggestion that the average pro sports fans are out there on Saturdays playing the game - football, basketball or baseball - they love, and that accounts for their interest in watching pro games of those sports.

Posted by: Monty2 | January 16, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Love sports radio but, unfortunately, we've got only one choice in this town and it ain't called Redskins 980 for nothing. I would think even ardent Redskins fans are a little tired of it all.

Beyond that and its ESPN drudge, it's all about the lame Ric Baller Walker mid day (boy do I love those stories of his glory days, his glory days, his glory days ..), then John Thompson and friends (it's basketball and John getting upset show .. same drivel for years) and then Czaban .. and Prophet has it right, it's a variety show.

So .. baseball, hockey, soccer, locals (yes even the Terps) and even what's happening now all get moved to the back of the Redskins bus.

Tell you what, put a non Snyder sports radio show on FM and they'll come. Give us something local to wake up with (folks love sitting in traffic and jawing with hosts), followed by some FOX radio, followed by a predictable schedule of blocked hours (by sport) and finish with a drive time show that actually talks about sports. As long as you don't get any of the same old over used talent .. you've got a shot.

Posted by: tslats | January 16, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

The only thing keeping more Caps talk off the airwaves, in print, or on TV is the decision makers (producers, writers, on-air talent).

If the amount of coverage in these "traditional" outlets was directly proportional to the amount of current support in the area (attendance, web traffic, merchandise sales, what have you), it would be 1.) Redskins, 2.) Caps, tied for 7.) everyone else.

That's the mind-boggling part for me. It's just bad business. The only possible explanation is complete ignorance and dislike on the part of local media. Even SI, ESPN, national media outlets know what's up, while local outlets are bumbling around like amateurs.

Posted by: ThisGuy | January 16, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

CZaban is ok and I think he is right. He and Andy simply cannot discuss hockey on a meaningful manner.

tslats (above) makes some good points though. ESPN radio is awful. AWFUL. It is corporate sanitized garbage. M&M is horrifying.

Doc, eh. Wears on me at times. Kevin is actually a talented radio guy.

JT, just too much Bball for my taste and Im tired of hearing his stories about Nike or the famous people he hangs with.

Sports reporters are very good when they have good guests (Weisman, KNoche, Thom L are excellent). Some of the others, not so much.

They ought to have someone like Koken (he cant obviously since he is on CSN TV) do a Caps pregame radio show. Like the postgame show on 1500, except umm, good instead of lame.

FoxSports radio, which carries Czabans morning show, is much better. 1370 in Baltimore has it though it cannot be heard after dark or before sunrise.

Posted by: jp142 | January 16, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

The Caps are outdrawing the Boston Bruins (who play in a "huge hockey town" according to Czaban and have the league's best record) by 1,300 fans per game.

But I assume that were they hosting sports talk radio up there, Pollin and Czaban would be doing in-depth discussions and fielding dozens of calls on the Bruins every day - because clearly there's vastly more hockey interest up there than down here.


Posted by: Mike_In_Fairfax | January 16, 2009 9:13 PM | Report abuse

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