Category Archives: Pittsburgh Is for Whores

Caps-Pens Series Preview: Is There Any Hope?

Mr. Irrelevant Caps correspondent Brad Parker returns (!) to preview this Caps-Pens death match. He’s joined by Ian Brinksman, a Pittsburgh native and devoted Penguins fan who had the misfortune of working with Brad once. Brad asks the questions and Ian answers. Enjoy …

1. Is there any reason to think this year will be different?

Oh, god yeah. These are essentially the same two teams that met last year, only the Capitals blue line is better and the Penguins are without Letang. The Pens/Caps split their series this season, with each team winning at home. Given that 4 games are going to be played at the Verizon Center, I think they have an excellent shot. The only weakness I gleamed (from watching exactly five Capitals games this year, including three in the playoffs) is they struggle a bit against speed. With Carl Hagelin sidelined the Penguins are considerably less spry.

Finally — and maybe I’m putting way too much into this — but I think the fact the Capitals have so many impending free agents there will be a real psychic push to get them over the hump.

2. Why will this year be the same?

Even without Letang, the Penguins are still deep, fast, and dangerous. These are obviously the two best teams in the NHL. As such, the winner of this series will probably be down to a coin flip. I was also surprised at how stiff the Caps seemed to be against the Leafs. Obviously, they found their footing, but I don’t think they can play like that against the Penguins and expect to win. Also, Hagelin should be back at some point this series. He gave the Capitals fits last year, and would be a huge boon for the Penguins.

Speaking of psychic stuff, I do think the Penguins have it over the Capitals. I’m not sure how that translates onto the ice, but if this series is a coin flip, well, that could be the edge.

3. What do you hate most about Caps fans?

I’m the prissiest priss that ever came out of priss town. When I go to the Verizon Center I’m not loud, I’m not aggressive, I simply sit in my seat and (quietly) cheer on the team that I grew up watching. Even still, I get lumped in with the goons who stand on the Portrait Gallery steps. If an alien came down and witnessed my time in that venue, they’d assume my name rhymed with “bunt.”

To be a bit more serious, I do think it’s pretty bad that “your city is a shithole” is such a common refrain. I find it pompous, ignorant, and conforms to the worst stereotypes of East Coast elitism. I love D.C., I’ve obviously put my roots here, so I think the denizens of this city are better than that. Obviously, not every Caps fan does this –- just as you’ll never find me waving a terrible towel (for some reason) on the portrait gallery steps -– but it is a thing.

4. Last year the Caps moved the schedule to accommodate a Bieber concert at Verizon, this year we kept our schedule and cancelled a Chris Brown show. We deserve to win just for that, right?

Hmmm, this is a tough one. At best, this is a wash for D.C. reducing his assault charge to a simple misdemeanor. But if I can get some sort of assurance that he’ll get all his food spat in on his next visit to this fair city, yes, that’s worth like seven Caps championship parades.

5. What’s your prediction?

My brain says Caps in 7. Like I said, I think it’s a coin toss and the home ice advantage is just as good a reason as any. My heart secretly says Pens in 7, but under no circumstances will I put money on that. Considering every prediction I made in this space last year came true, get ready to exorcise those playoff demons Caps fans! (Until you get steamrolled in the Eastern Conference Finals because you don’t get to have nice things).

6. If the Caps don’t beat the Pens this year, with this lineup and Letang and Murray hurt, is there any hope of ever defeating Pittsburgh?

I mean, on a long enough timeline… sure. I do think this is your best chance over the next several years. But even if Oshie and company depart, your core is still strong (and young) enough that I doubt it’ll take that long to reload. Look at that: optimism!

Redskins-Steelers Winners & Losers

Handing out labels following Skins games, this time a season-opening 38-16 loss to Pittsburgh at home on Monday Night Football …

Winners

Matthew McCounaghey — The burgundy-and-gold suit was a nice touch.

Jordan Reed — Impressive on the first drive, at least.

DeSean Jackson — Six catches for 102 yards. Reinforced the opinion that he’s in for a big year.

Chris Thompson — Scored a TD on the day his brother got out of prison.

Sean McDonough — Liked him in his MNF debut, especially when he asked Jon Gruden, “Do you want to blast your brother?” for punting on 4th-and-1 from the Pittsburgh 40.

Arthur Moats — Started at LB for Pittsburgh. Go Dukes!

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Losers

Kirk Cousins — So that was terrible. Inaccurate out of the gate, he had one bad INT dropped and another bad INT caught. Rushed throws and failed to scramble — or even move, really — all night. Clear regression from the second half of last year. Showed why you don’t hand out a huge contract based on a 10-game stretch.

Jay Gruden — Chose to kick and punt on two 4th-and-short situations in Pittsburgh territory in the first half. Resulted in three points. Mike Tomlin went for it twice on 4th-and-1 in Washington territory. Resulted in 14 points.

Bashaud Breeland — Had the near-impossible assignment of matching up with Antonio Brown most of the night, one-on-one in many cases, and was burnt for two TDs. Better gear up for more WR1s down the line.

Matt Jones — Seven carries for 24 yards. (Didn’t fumble or get hurt, though.)

Jamison Crowder — Fair caught with no one in his area code. Fumbled after making a first down (Pierre Garcon recovered).

Trent Williams — Penalized twice. That should be his season total.

Greg Toler — Looked real bad in coverage on a 42-yard catch by Sammie Coates.

The defense in general — No pass rush. Couldn’t stop the run. Couldn’t get off the field. May be a long season.

D.C.-area Dancing With the Stars fansSorry, y’all.

Medium

Antonio Brown — Penalized for twerking. Is so, so good.

Josh NormanGot into a shouting match with a teammate, and it was downhill from there. Didn’t play bad, and nearly made a couple big plays, but he was on the other side of the field from Brown most of the night. Bummer.

Ryan Kerrigan — Strip-sacked Big Ben and then got stripped himself. Better luck next time.

A Caps Fans And A Pens Fan Walk Into A Bar …

Mr. Irrelevant Caps correspondent Brad Parker returns (!) to preview the Caps-Pens series. He’s joined by Ian Brinksman, a Pittsburgh native and devoted Penguins fan who had the misfortune of working with Brad once. Brad asked the questions and Ian answered. Enjoy watching them go snark-for-snark.

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1. Didn’t you guys suck a few months ago? What the hell happened? (Figured I’d lob you one first so you can tell us how amazing your coach is and explain how Sid saved Pittsburgh.)

The Pens didn’t suck as such, but they definitely plodded along in mediocrity. I don’t think there was much strategic difference between Mike Johnston and Mike Sullivan, but the team certainly responded after the former’s firing. Part of that transformation has to do with the coach, but it also coincided with call-ups, the trade for Carl Hagelin, and yes, Sidney Crosby waking up from his early-season doldrums and tearing the league apart.

With all due respect to Sullivan, I think the main difference in watching this team now and from the beginning of the season (and frankly from much of the last half dozen years) is its speed. How Washington deals with it will be an interesting match-up.

2. Do Pens fans hate the Caps as much as we used to hate you?

Used to? Almost as soon as the Caps finished up with the Flyers, my social media was flooded with the familiar frothy-mouthed anti-Crosby vitriol. I mean, your twitter handle is dedicated to mocking him. But in answer to your question, no, not quite.

The Caps are certainly a rival, but they pale in comparison to our cross-state friends from Philadelphia. And as you would probably guess, that’s because the Flyers actually beat us from time to time in the playoffs. So yeah, the relationship is a bit condescending, which I imagine is part of why Caps fans hate the Penguins so much. Maybe this is the series that changes that, but until the Caps actually beat the Pens in April/May that relationship isn’t going to change.

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3. It’s obvious that we hate Sidney Crosby because he’s a whiner that dives and yet is treated as infallible by the incredibly biased Canadian media. Why do you guys hate Alex Ovechkin, who is the greatest goal scorer of his generation and plays the game with unbridled enthusiasm and infectious joy?

I’m glad to see your journalistic objectivity is intact. I’ll ignore the Crosby baiting, other than to say I wish the league protected him as much as is claimed. Maybe then he wouldn’t have lost a year of his career to concussions.

Anyway, I love how Ovechkin’s description has been updated over the years from “best player in the world” to “best goal scorer!” And I think that gets at the heart of the antipathy. Penguins fans view him as a threat and a massive talent, but (rightly) view Crosby as the superior player. So as the NHL rammed their “rivalry” down our throats, our tribal instincts took over and the need to defend Crosby translated into attacking Ovi.

Personally, I like Ovechkin. I have an affinity for all Russian players; I find them endlessly amusing. I don’t like a lot of his hits as some of them can be quite reckless, but I don’t have any burning hatred for the man.

4. Which Penguin, who we aren’t talking about now, will Caps fans hate in a week?

This might be a bit obvious, but I think it’ll be Phil Kessel. If you look at his stats alone, he had a solid season. But in typical Kessel fashion, he disappeared for large swaths of the year and started to hear some of the same complaints that marred his time in Toronto. After an especially ghastly game in March, Kessel was able to muster some consistency that carried over into the playoffs in a big way.

From my very unscientific eyes, he was the best player on either team during the first round. His speed and shot created havoc for the Rangers. And apparently this shouldn’t be all that surprising, as his performance in past playoff games and the Olympics shows a man who ups his game when the stakes are high. I don’t think it’ll be long before I hear Caps fans mocking our fat, balding winger.

5. Um, that goalie you have is pretty awesome, right?

Matt Murray is one of the most highly regarded goalie prospects and he’s absolutely playing like it. Even when Fleury is finally healthy enough to play, I’d rather keep rolling Murray out unless he starts to stumble. I like Fleury a lot, but this kid has been everything we could possibly ask for and I don’t want to upset that.

6. The schedule was clearly altered because Justin Bieber is playing at Verizon Center on Friday. What’s your favorite song by the Beebs? (I know you’re kind of a hipster and will try to pretend you don’t like him, but seriously.)

My favorite moment was when Bieber thought he was sufficiently street to rap “Lose Yourself” in Detroit.

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7. Will any games in Pittsburgh be moved because of a Foghat/Blue Oyster Cult double bill?

Scheduling a Penguins playoff game on the same day as the Steelers draft is yinzerpocalypse.

8. Would fans in Pittsburgh rather see the Pens win another Cup, the Steelers win another Super Bowl, or the Pirates win another World Series?

Ooof. As much as it pains me to admit it, probably another Super Bowl.

9. You guys always beat us in the playoffs, even when we’re up by two games. Do you have any fear playing the Caps this year?

It’s funny. If someone were to show me the Capital’s record, statistics, and a breakdown of their team’s makeup — but hid the name of the team/players — I’d be incredibly nervous. But as soon as the Capitals name was revealed, I’d relax immediately. I don’t think I’m alone either. As soon as the Flyers began to make a series of it, I watched as Capitals nation began to have a collective freak-out.

Look, I should be incredibly nervous. But the Capitals remain the Bengals of hockey. Incredibly good during the regular season, hilariously inept in the playoffs. Bungles are going to Bungle, and until they change it, Caps are going to Cap.

10. Does Sidney Crosby still live with Mario Lemieux?

Ha, no. Does Alexander Ovechkin still have a tramp stamp?

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11. In your opinion, exactly how many hats should be thrown on the ice after a player records a hat trick?

In the year 1389, the Kingdom of Serbia was overrun by Ottoman forces in the “Battle of Kosovo.” Despite an obvious military defeat, the Serbs spent the next 700 years viewing this battle as the ultimate victory as Prince Lazar’s sacrifice stopped the Ottoman advance (note: it didn’t).

I bring this up only because it’s the closest parallel to your insistence on always bringing up the 2009 playoffs, where Crosby made an ill-advised statement during the Capitals’ Game 2 victory. To follow Brad on twitter (@stopthehats) is to see this event mentioned in constant, triumphant joy!

But of course the Penguins would go on to win the series and embarrass the Capitals in game 7. Why this series would be remembered fondly by a Capitals fan can only be explained by some deep, horrifying psychosis.

12. The Penguins will win this series if …

The Penguins will win this series if they continue their season-long mitigation of Ovi (zero points), and not allow the Capitals’ lethal powerplay too many opportunities.

13. The Capitals will win this series if …

The Capitals will win the series if they find a way to slow the Penguins aforementioned speed, force them to make stupid penalties, and rattle the rookie goaltender.

14. Your prediction?

I don’t think any team will dominate. I’ll say Pens in 6, but I could just as easily imagine a scenario where it goes the other way.

15. If your prediction comes through which of the following will you enjoy more: the victory or my Twitter meltdown?

Your Twitter is a master class in trolling. The only thing that makes it bearable for me is when the Caps do lose, you seem to have a complete psychotic break. I especially enjoyed the series of cryptic Prince (RIP) lyrics during the game 5 loss. I’ll enjoy the victory more, but it’s really closer than it ought to be.

Nats PR Says America’s Most Beautiful City Is … Pittsburgh

As tweeted by @NationalsPR, which is “the official Twitter page of the Washington Nationals Baseball Media Relations Department,” during last night’s Nats-Pirates game at PNC Park (via D.C. Sports Bog):

Now, PNC Park is a beautiful ballpark, and I don’t find Pittsburgh itself to be particularly ugly, but really? You’re the PR arm of the Nationals and you’re hailing Pittsburgh as “America’s most beautiful city”? Seems “off-message,” which is a thing PR people say.

We tweeted this from @MrIrrelevantDC and are having some fun with it over there, but it seems right for the website too, so kick it around a little. Can’t wait to see what the Nats tweet when visiting Philly.

DMV: Ovie Slapped For Hitting Pen Who Elbowed Hendricks

Ovie suspended 3 games for leaving his feet to hit a Penguin. [Puck Daddy]

The same Pen wasn’t suspended for elbowing Matt Hendricks. [Puck Daddy]

If the Caps go .500 on the road from here that’d be nice. [Japers’ Rink]

Column: The Caps’ window of opportunity has closed. [Homer McFanboy]

The Wizards got their asses kicked by Philly yet again. [Bullets Forever]

Buckhantz and Chenier dropped Mandarin into Sunday’s broadcast. [Bog]

Hey, check out the Redskins’ new practice bubble out in Ashburn. [Bog]

LaRon hasn’t decided about surgery to repair his Achilles. [Hogs Haven]

Sources: Nats and Zim are “in reach” of a long-term deal. [Ken Rosenthal]

A good summary of the Nats’ depth on the margins. [Nats Journal]

Catching up with the Chief, who’s been through a lot. [Nats Enquirer]

The Orioles + Prince Fielder sounds like it’s not gonna happen. [O’s Insider]

O’s sign Wilson Betemit for two years. No, I don’t know why either. [Krem’s]

George Mason wins ninth out of 10, this time over UNCW. [WaPo]

5 Reasons We Hate the Penguins

Capitals Correspondent Brad Parker returns with a vengeance.

The Capitals and Penguins faceoff for the first time this season tonight at 7 p.m. We all know it’s the best rivalry in the sport right now, and we despise those guys from Pittsburgh. But it’s early and we just want to make sure that our vitriol is in midseason form. So here, in no particular order, are five of the many reasons our hatred is justified.

1. Matt Cooke

Without a doubt he is the dirtiest cheap-shot artist in the National Hockey League. And yes, he’s a former Capital. Look him up on YouTube and you’ll find an endless series of flying elbows to the head and dangerous knee-to-knee collisions that are clearly intentional and meant to injure. He’s a felon on par with Oggie Oglethorpe.

Last February, as the Penguins owner was complaining to the league about Sidney Crosby being injured by “dirty” hits, he was actually signing Matt Cooke’s paychecks with a straight face. Then Cookie reminded us all what a true goon looks like.

Continue reading 5 Reasons We Hate the Penguins

DMV: Matt Wieters Will Block That Plate

Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen has a silly beef with Wieters for blocking the plate and applying a hard tag in spring training. [BSR, O’s Insider]

Losing B-Rob would hurt, esp. if Izturis bats leadoff. [Dempsey’s Army]

M. Johansson scores twice, Caps beat Habs for 9th straight. [Japers’ Rink]

Bruce Boudreau steps in it a bit with the Canadian hockey media. [Bog]

The Redskins don’t want the Washington Post using “Redskins”. [City Desk]

Having fun with Mike Wise’s Vinny Cerrato column. [Kissing Suzy Kolber]

A photo-heavy telling of Cooley’s road trip to Wyoming. [The Cooley Zone]

Crawford scores 27 and JaVale blocks 12 in Wizards loss. [Wiz Insider]

JaVale actually recorded a kinda rare triple double. [SB Nation D.C.]

JMU bounced by Davidson in the first round of the CBI. [JMU Sports Blog]

A G’town blog interviews Bill Clinton about G’town hoops. [Casual Hoya]

A brief bit about what Maryland’s uniform changes mean. [Testudo Times]

DMV: Matt Bradley ‘Punished Matt Cooke’

The Caps beat Pittsburgh 1-0 on a blistering slapshot from Alex Ovechkin and a sterling performance from Michael Neuvirth. [Japers’ Rink]

Matt Bradley leveled the coward Matt Cooke, who kneecapped Ovechkin two weeks ago, and then won a fight with Ryan Craig to boot. [OFB]

The sequence was so popular Bradley trended online. [@MrIrrelevantDC]

Bryce Harper arrives at spring training, does baseball things. [Nats Journal]

No one knows what to expect from Danny Espinosa. [Nats Baseball]

The list of 12 NBA players worth trading John Wall for. [Bullets Forever]

Terrell Stoglin wins ACC Player of the Week, has arrived. [Testudo Times]

Words and pics from the Avett Brothers at Constitution Hall. [We Love DC]

DMV: The Root of the Caps-Pens Rivalry

This image explains so much. [NHL Offseason]

Caps come back from down 3-0 to lose in OT at Florida. [Japers’ Rink]

Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green are going to the NHL All-Star Game. [Caps Insider]

Japers’ Rink names John Carlson the Caps’ first-half MVP. [Puck Daddy]

More love for top prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov. [THN]

Wiz beat Kings in OT, Nick Young goes off for a career-high 43. [Wiz Insider]

Wiz allowed 7 points in the final 13 seconds of regulation. [Krem’s Sports]

Video: Nick Young and Andray Blatche making fun of the others hair. [TAI]

Gilbert Arenas wears really sparkly shoes. (Miss you, Gil.) [@ZachMcCann]

A look at the QBs the Redskins will consider drafting. [The Examiner]

Dan Snyder says the Skins wouldn’t be up for doing “Hard Knocks”. [Bog]

Snyder on FedEx Field: “We’re halfway through [its] life cycle.” [Bog]

Snyder shall leave his worst acquisition ever unnamed. [Redskins Blog]

Maryland finishes in the AP top 25 for the first time since ’03 … [D1scourse]

… and they should be ranked to start next season too. [Testudo Times]

I’ve enjoyed The Pietasters at 9:30 Club many times. [We Love DC]