Father’s Day

Sunday, of course, is Father’s Day. That admittedly silly holiday that falls so close to my birthday it feels to me like a seamless 10-day celebration of self. No complaints.

Every day I become more and more aware of the fact that I am becoming my own dad. This used to scare me, but I’m now completely comfortable with it.

On a recent trip to my hometown of Binghamton, New York, seeing some friends I hadn’t seen in a while, I came to an even more startling (or perhaps not so startling) discovery…

We are all becoming our dads.

Yup. Every guy I know in 2018 is basically the picture I have of his dad in 1989.

And I’m fine with it.

Last day?

‘Round these parts today is the last day of school before summer vacation.

Summer vacation. Ha! What a silly, 20th-century notion.

Summer camp starts tomorrow, and as I’ve noted before, what with cellphones, travel sports teams, and organized “play dates,” there’s really not much to summer vacation any more. Remember when you’d go three months without seeing people from school? Nobody under 27 does.

Well, here’s to the next phase anyway, and maybe to unplugging a bit on our phones.

I think there’s an app for that.

Seven years in the making…

Still riding high off the Capitals’ Stanley Cup-winning victory last Thursday I give, as a gift to anyone who cares, the 319th episode of Politics After Dark. Why do I announce this one? It’s the first in nearly seven years.

For those of you who perhaps do not know the backstory, I hosted a weekly program on public access television in Binghamton, New York, from 2004-2011. The name of the show was Politics After Dark, and there were actually two separate stints, Version 1.0 and Version 2.0. In all I aired 318 episodes during those years, and in December 2011 vowed never to do another.

Well…

Not on public access but available to all via the magic of YouTube (I was doing YouTube before there was a YouTube), I give you Politics After Dark Version 3.0.

This is Episode #319: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFCgdC0wCYE.

C-A-P-S Caps Caps Caps

Forty-four years in the making. And now it is here. The Washington Capitals are Stanley Cup champions.

It’s Mardi Gras, the Fourth of July, and New Year’s Eve all rolled into one in D.C. right now and I’m happy to be a part of it. Yeah, I’ve only lived here since 2011, but I did watch playoff heartbreak for six years in a row before this one. The “almost” Capitals of the Ovechkin/Rock the Red era are “almost” no more. Cross them off the list of greatest teams never to win a championship. This one can’t be taken away.

As a personal aside, I should mention that yesterday was also my birthday. Number 36 if you’re keeping track. Pretty good birthday present, eh? Interesting that it was June 7, 2011, that my then-hometown hockey team, the Binghamton Senators, won the Calder Cup on the road in Houston. It was Binghamton’s first championship after 30-plus years of hockey struggles.

June 7 is just my lucky day for hockey I suppose.

You know I’ve never put on a pair of ice skates in my life?

Maybe Birthday 37.

“Greatest” is not a word I use lightly

Hard to think about baseball during times like these, what with NBA and NHL finals in play, but the following piece has been due for some time.

I’ve said before, on this blog and elsewhere, that Ken Griffey Jr. is the greatest position player I ever saw. No question. Hasn’t changed in 20 years.

Pitchers, however, are a different story. I don’t really have a definitive answer for who’s the greatest pitcher you ever saw?

The “Mount Rushmore” of ’80s/’90s/’00s pitchers is generally considered to be Maddux, Clemens, Pedro, and Randy Johnson. No arguments there. But would I place any one of these pitchers unequivocally above the others? The race is too subjective and too close to call.

It would take a lot for someone to surpass Griffey in my mind, but I could see a pitcher eclipsing the aforementioned quartet. The most obvious possibility is Clayton Kershaw, barely 30 and three Cy Youngs in. But Kershaw hasn’t been as effective thus far this season, and it’s not as though he could hang it up at 30 and be in the conversation. He ain’t Koufax.

Enter Max Scherzer. Also three Cy Youngs, including one in each league. He’s 10-1 this year (NL pitcher of the month in both April and May), and barring injury is likely to win his third straight Cy Young this season. He’s 33, has pitched about the same number of games as Kershaw, with the same number of wins. Amazingly they’ve pitched almost the exact same number of innings in their careers, and it’s actually Scherzer who’s got more strikeouts. Yes, Kershaw’s got a better ERA, but let’s face it… they’re both pretty unhittable.

Max Scherzer’s performance last night, though not as historic as one of his no-hitters or 100+ game score gems, was pretty damn good. Over eight innings he gave up only two runs on five hits with no walks and 13 strikeouts. He faced 28 batters and threw 99 pitches. Eighty-one for strikes. Eighty-one! That’s less than one a batter. The average batter last night saw 0.64 balls out of the strike zone. That’s unheard of. Batting practice pitchers don’t have that kind of control.

Every time Max Scherzer steps on the mound I think he can throw a perfect game. That’s the bottom line. It’s been true since the day he signed a fat contract to play here in D.C. Know how much money the guy makes? About a million dollars a start. And he’s worth every penny.

No question Scherzer’s a leader and a team player. (A great D.C. guy too; he was in house and in full Capitals regalia for their win Monday night.) In last Saturday’s (baseball) game he entered as an emergency pinch hitter in the 14th inning of a tie game. Got a hit… and scored the go-ahead run on the next batter’s triple. Wasn’t running the bases with a jacket on… he was just running the bases.

Will I one day refer to Max Scherzer as the greatest pitcher I ever saw?

A World Series ring would really help his chances.

Halfway home

Remember those old PGA Tour commercials?

“These guys are good.”

That’s the Golden State Warriors.

These guys are good. And they’re halfway home to a championship.

The Washington Capitals? My hometown team? They’re pretty good too. And also halfway home to a championship. Tonight it could move to three-quarters, in what will no doubt be a scene similar to that seen Saturday night in D.C., one of the most wild happenings I’ve observed in 30 years of watching sports.

It’s spread out into the suburbs too.

Gettin’ a little wild in Loudoun County tonight.

Two for two

Two for two.

I’m calling my predictions two for two.

Yeah, it took a miracle save for the Caps and a bizarre play for the Warriors, but those two teams prevailed, no?

Because no one watched TV on Friday nights there is no game, hockey or basketball, tonight. Games aren’t played in arenas, remember; they are played on television.

And tomorrow night…

it’s on.

Game Two tonight

The Washington Capitals and the Houston Rockets each discovered the same lesson Monday night…

their opponents are really good.

I never doubted Golden State would come back to win its Game Seven; they’re just too good to lose. Vegas, though? They can be beat. Even if the Capitals lose tonight I can still see it happening.

Local bias? Preferential bias? Wishful thinking?

Probably all of the above.

Still gonna be a great game.

Championship Season

I usually think October is the best part of the sports year. Football’s in full gear, winter sports are starting up, and of course there is the World Series.

There are other spots on the calendar when fate smiles upon us as well, and the end of May happens to be one of them.

In case you’ve been on Mars (or outside Vegas or the D.C. area) you know the Stanley Cup Finals begin tonight. For better or worse hey’re up against Game Seven of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals, but this is why God invented picture in picture. (Or this thing called the “last” button.) Yesterday, of course, we were treated to the Cleveland LeBrons’ victory over the Boston Celtics in yet another Game Seven (first time since the ’70s that happened), and the Indianapolis 500 to boot. Enlightened readers will note the most popular sport in the world also had its “championship” match over the weekend, with the UEFA Champions League soccer final between Real Madrid and Liverpool. Real Madrid won its third consecutive Champions League crown. Didn’t see it? You know more people watch that thing than watch the Super Bowl? Like way more.

This afternoon, of course, is also the NCAA championship lacrosse match between Duke and Yale (yes, that Yale) from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. (I was there for it 10 years ago… how time flies.) Oh, that it could have been Albany, mere semifinalists in the tournament this year.

As they say in Albany… wait ’til next year… we’ll have steamed hams.

Mmmm… steamed hams.

Stanley Cup Finals here we come!

Many, many happy people going around Northern Virginia today. People who could care less about hockey 99% of the time are rocking the red and putting up #ALLCAPS messages on Twitter.

The last time a sport engulfed a town like this was 2012. It was the fall of 2012, specifically, and my first football season as a resident of the DMV. Remember this one? RG3’s rookie season? Seven wins in a row to close out the regular season and win the NFC East? That was the new bandwagon and I jumped on it.

Let’s hope this one turns out a little better.