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Best of the decade: you like Olie

It's not a surprise to see users like you voting for Alex Ovechkin as the D.C. area's top athlete of the 2000s. A bit more suprirsing: as of 2 p.m. today, Olie Kolzig was slightly ahead of Gilbert Arenas for second place.

Lower down the results are athletes such as Sean Taylor, Chris Cooley and Juan Dixon. Interesting.

Perhaps this has to do with Caps fans' well-known internet savvy. Or maybe we have a lot of users like Mia Lueth-Galilei of Jarrettsville, Md. Read her explanation -- and some other choice comments on the jump.

And if you have a case you'd like to make, state your case in the comments or email us. We'll publish more user takes this week as long as you include your full name and city and state in the comment/email.

Also, please check out World Wide Wilbon's choices for best of the decade in national/international sports.

As a 25-plus-year fan of NHL hockey and a particularly rabid fan of the Washington Capitals, I simply could not resist the chance to put Olie "the Goalie" Kolzig in the No. 1 spot.
While it appears Alexander Ovechkin is leading the charge by leaps and bounds, I would like to remind those with short memories that it wasn't until later in the decade that the "Great 8" become an established, household name in the world of D.C. sports, as well as recognized on a national level.
Don't get me wrong, I am thrilled and excited by the fact that the Washington Capitals have Ovechkin as a long-time D.C. staple, but Olie Kolzig deserves this decade as far as I am concerned. He started his career with the Washington Capitals and stayed with the Capitals through almost the entirety of his career. His ability to lead and inspire his teammates is well documented, and his off-ice contributions to the D.C. area and local charities were beyond phenomenal.
He stayed loyal to the Washington Capitals through many tumultuous years prior to the NHL lockout and continued his steady and reliable tenure through the difficult years of a complete team rebuild. Yes, it's true "Godzilla" was no Martin Brodeur, and it's also true that Alexander Ovechkin is a recognizable hockey force to be reckoned with these days - but considering the extent of Kolzig's loyalty and charitable nature - I vote we give this decade to Olie "The Goalie."
Mia Lueth-Galilei
Jarrettsville, MD

Here's a take on the top stories list by Julie Schejbal of Dunkirk, Md.:

Regardless of what any poll says, there is no conceivable way that the Terps winning the 2002 NCAA title can be anything other than the No. 1 sports story of the decade. George Mason was a great story and probably should be No. 2 but they didn't win the whole thing so they shouldn't be No. 1.
Sports is about titles and getting to the championship game. For this reason, the Terps' women's title and the Georgetown Final Four should also be much higher on the list.

And while we're talking Terps, Ian Gleason of Greenbelt had something to say about athlete of the decade nominee Kristi Toliver:

If Kristi Toliver is included on the list, then Marissa Coleman, Laura Harper, and Crystal Langhorne should all be considered as well. I understand it is hard to include everyone on a list with so many great athletes, but you must consider the fact that Toliver never would have accomplished what she did without so many great players around her.
Furthermore, it isn't fair to put her on the list simply because she is the most marketable player who happened to hit the biggest shot in Maryland women's basketball history. She is certainly worthy of being on the list but her teammates should not be overlooked.
Similarly, Steve Blake should be considered for the list as much as Juan Dixon and Lonny Baxter; he played just as big of a role on the great Terps teams of the early 2000s.

Thanks for the feedback, and keep those cards and letters coming ...

By Jon DeNunzio  |  December 14, 2009; 3:03 PM ET
Categories:  Decade's Best  
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I agree that Alexander Ovechkin deserves the number one spot on this list. But I would strongly argue that the number two position should belong to Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals. The Z-man, depending on whether he stays in D.C. or departs via trade or free agency, is an early favorite for the top athlete list of the next decade as well.

Why? I'll start with a quote from former Nationals manager Frank Robinson comparing Zimmerman to F-Robbie's former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson after Zimmerman made a spectacular fielding play: "I don't think even Brooksie could have made that catch."

His bat? Well, how about the 30 game hitting streak in 2009, along with the 100+ RBIs and 30+ homers.

This year Ryan Zimmerman was awarded both the Silver Slugger trophy as the National League's top offensive player at his position and the Gold Glove award as the league's outstanding defensive third baseman. Seems safe to conclude that if a player is named both the best offensive and best defensive player in the same year, then that player can be called the best in the league at that position. And he's been among the leaders -- both with the bat and with the glove -- at one of the toughest positions in baseball since he joined D.C.'s big league club less than a year after playing in C'ville for U-Va.

It's way too early to predict (but I will anyway) that there could be a lot of voters writing the name or Ryan Zimmerman on their Hall of Fame ballots somewhere around the year 2030.

Posted by: greggwiggins | December 14, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Sorry -- typo in the last paragraph. That should be "writing the name of Ryan Zimmerman."

Posted by: greggwiggins | December 14, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

That Olie comment is ridiculous. How many playoff series did Olie win this decade? Zero. What was his record in playoff games in this decade? 5-12. Let's not even get into his regular season stats.

Olie's success has always been over valued because of the 1998 run...which was the only year in which he backstopped the franchise to a victory in a playoff series.

During that same time frame Martin Brodeur won 2 Stanley Cups and appeared in a third and won playoff series in two other years. Heck, Caps goaltending coach Arturs Irbe had more playoff success in the nets than Olie did this decade, he made it to the Finals in 2002.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | December 14, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

I dont think that dixon gets full credit for what he meant to maryland basketball, because he only played a few seasons in this decade. There is no way that zimmerman should be ahead of him. Dixon was 1st team all american (meaning he was one of the top 5 players in the country), most outstanding player in the tournament and most importantly led his team to a championship. Zimmerman is a nice player, but is not yet on dixons level.

Posted by: 1dixon | December 14, 2009 10:27 PM | Report abuse

1dixon, I hope we both know this whole list is ultimately a pile of ... subjective judgments with no objective final answer.

So while your opinion is well argued I want to explain why I disagree with you.

I do agree with you that Ryan Zimmerman is not on Juan Dixon's level. However, when I say that it's because I think Ryan Zimmerman should be ranked appreciably above Juan Dixon's level.

All the successes you described about Dixon were accomplished on an amateur level. How would the University of Maryland's NCAA championship team have fared against that year's NBA champion? Dixon, playing one-on-one against that year's NBA MVP?

Zimmerman has set his marks and will make his future accomplishments in baseball against the best professional competition in the sport. I can make a strong argument that Zimmerman was recognized as the best third baseman in the National League in 2009. Isn't that a reasonable description after winning each of the awards given to the top defensive player and top offensive player at the position in the same season?

His September 1, 2005 callup from the minor leagues means Zimmerman has been here since the first season of baseball's return to D.C. Counting Zimmerman's NCAA regular season and post-season experience at the sorta-local University of Virginia (If you don't follow collegiate baseball, I'll point out that the ACC is one of the powerhouse conferences of that sport at the NCAA level just as it traditionally has been in basketball.) I can make a case that Zimmerman has been playing at a very high level of his sport in this area for most of this decade. You yourself noted in your post that Dixon "only played a few seasons in this decade."

Juan Dixon should be included in any top ten of athletes in D.C. over the past ten years.

But Number Two? No.

In my opinion Dixon is not that good. In my opinion Ryan Zimmerman is.

Posted by: greggwiggins | December 15, 2009 7:05 AM | Report abuse

I agree that juan dixon has not accomplished much in the nba, but when he was at maryland he accomplished everything he could have. Championship, all american, ACC player of the year, all time scoring leader at maryland. No matter how good Ryan Zimmerman will be, Cal Ripken will still be better.

Posted by: 1dixon | December 15, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

1dixon: So? Ripken played in Baltimore, and he retired in 2001. For the first reason of geography he's not relevant and for the second reason of chronology he's barely relevant to a discussion of D.C. athletes between 2000 and 2010.

I agree that Cal Ripken would be highly ranked on any discussion of Maryland's top athletes of the 20th Century -- but that's not the list being debated.

Posted by: greggwiggins | December 15, 2009 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Oh -- to clarify; if I did draw up a list of Maryland's greatest athletes of the 20th Century my first thought is that I think I'd give Aberdeen's Cal Ripken second place on it. Behind another baseball player from Baltimore named George Herman Ruth (but most people called him "Babe").

Posted by: greggwiggins | December 15, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

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