Category Archives: Guest Posts

Redskins Ticket Prices Hit New 5-Year Low

Here to talk about the falling price of Redskins tickets is TiqIQ.

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As tough as the 2012 playoff loss to the Seahawks was, it seemed that the Redskins might be on the verge of turning the ship around. They had a new, Heisman-winning quarterback, their first playoff appearance in five years and, even to the most pessimistic of Redskins fans, a dim and flickering light at the end of the futility tunnel.

As all DC sports fans now know, that flicker was not hope, but a train filled with losses. Skins fans had no choice but to get on for the ride, and over the last two years, that train has taken us to a dark place without any clearly marked exits. Not only is the Skins franchise quarterback shelved on account of injury, but the team has won a grand total of five games since that 2012 loss to the Seahawks. Despite their loss to the Cowboys and Rams the past two weeks, the Seahawks, on the other hand, have done pretty well since that fateful game.

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Is D.C. a Baseball Town Now?

The guest post parade marches on! Here with a look at which team owns D.C. is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.

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Is Washington, D.C. a baseball town now? No, not quite.

But D.C. is not nearly the football city it’s historically been. Fans aren’t necessarily shifting away from the Redskins; instead, it seems they’re paying more attention to the other teams.

The Wizards made the playoffs this past season, had a terrific offseason, have a young core to build around for years to come and are still salivating over the fantasy of Kevin Durant coming home to play in D.C. in just two years.

The Capitals missed the playoffs this past season, but they have a new coach and a new GM, they’ve had some degree of recent success (making it to the postseason counts) and they still have Alex Ovechkin.

D.C. United is back near the top of MLS after a terrible 2013, Ben Olsen just signed a contract extension, the team just posted the biggest increase in attendance in the league and America is gradually beginning to appreciate soccer as a whole in the wake of the World Cup.

The Mystics … well, the Mystics aren’t very good.

Then, of course, there are the Nationals.

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Musings of a Drunk Redskins Fan

Here with a guest post for correctly predicting that the Redskins would destroy Jacksonville (those were the days!) is Mr. Irrelevant reader SiPhi, who may have been overserved.

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As I sit here, drunk and finally committing to writing this blog post, there are 1:18 seconds remaining in the 3rd quarter [of last week's Thursday night loss to New York]. Kirk Cousins just threw his 3rd fucking interception, which is something I will return to later on.

First, background on myself (because I know you Mr. I readers give so many shits about some asshole that guessed somewhat close to the final score). I was born in 1990, so I am a later generation Skins fan. My parents probably thought they were bringing me into the best possible situation for football fandom when the Skins won the Superbowl after the ’91 season, but instead I have been subjected to the Maylaysian Airlines of football teams.

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A Perfect 14-Song Playlist For The 2014 O’s Playoff Experience

Mr. Irrelevant reader ODA won a guest post for accurately predicting the Redskins’ opening loss at Houston. Here it go.

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Mix in a few new ones between “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” and “Orioles Magic” this October.

1. My Morning Jacket – “Holdin On to Black Metal”

You may recognize it as the newest addition to Camden Yards’ mix of “O”-themed sound bites, a list which also includes snippets of “Icky Thump” and that creepy Wizard of Oz chant. Jim James, leader of the legendary Louisville band, also bears a pretty remarkable resemblance to Wild Bill Hagy.

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How Realistic Is KD-to-D.C.?

Here with a look at one of our favorite fantasies is Mr. Irrelevant contributing writer Bryan Frantz.

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Those of you watching the Redskins’ glorious 41-10 beatdown of the Jacksonville Jaguars last week may have seen Wizards point guard John Wall taking in the game at the same time as a very special guest.

Naturally, seeing reigning NBA MVP Kevin Durant at a Redskins game with the face of D.C. basketball, both decked out in Redskins gear, had some fans rather giddy. Perhaps excited enough to forget about the face of D.C. football getting hurt again? Continue reading

Fancy Stats Show That RGIII May Be Good Again

Here’s a guest post from Eric Fingerhut, published with love for the Washington Post, Neil Greenberg and statistical analysis.

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“Stats show that Redskins’ Robert Griffin III will never be as good as his rookie season,” screamed the headline on the Washington Post’s Fancy Stats blog Monday afternoon. The third sentence of the blog post was less emphatic but still pretty definitive: “We likely have seen the best RGIII will ever be.”

There are a number of reasons I could think of why RGIII may end up never flashing the form we saw in 2012: lingering effects of his knee injury, a failure to adjust to being a pocket passer, defenses simply figuring him out. But stats that show that RGIII will never be the same, even two, three or five years from now? I’d be interested in seeing those. But the author of the post, Neil Greenberg, actually shows no such thing.

Using a statistic called “adjusted yards per attempt” — basically dividing a QB’s passing yards by his attempts while also taking into account touchdowns and interceptions — he first shows that, other than Griffin, just three rookie quarterbacks since 1970 have achieved an AYPA of 20 percent above league average. Only one of those quarterbacks had a season as good as that again, which would give Griffin a 33-percent chance of returning to form, slightly better than never. (That one QB who did get back to that level? Dan Marino, who did it five more times.) Of course, as anyone who knows anything about statistics should know, drawing inferences from a sample size of three is pretty unreliable.

So Greenberg then links to a list of all QBs who ever had a season 20 percent above the league’s AYPA average. Conveniently, there are exactly 100 on the list, 47 of which had at least one more such season during their career (including such illustrious names as Chris Chandler, Elvis Grbac, Erik Kramer and Wade Wilson). Meanwhile, somewhat confusingly, the post also contains a graph which states that 49 percent of QBs who hit the 20 percent over AYPA average never repeat that achievement.

In other words, a post with a headline stating that RGIII will “never” be as good as 2012, and whose text claims that we’ve “likely” seen the best of RGIII, actually shows that RGIII has about a 50-percent chance of being as good as he was in his rookie season. Sure, 50 percent isn’t a guarantee, but it’s a very long way from never. And if someone tells me that something is “likely,” I usually think there’s a much better chance than 50 percent of it happening.

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Taking Stock of the Nats Coming Out of the Break

Following our first-half Winners & Losers, here’s Bryan Frantz with a look at this Nats’ season so far, and what lies ahead.

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Nats fans should be encouraged by the team’s showing, and Matt Williams has got to be pleased with the team’s 51-42 record. When you consider all of the factors — offensive stagnancy for stretches, so many impact players missing time with injury, Bryce Harper struggling with both of the aforementioned, Ian Desmond spending time atop the leaderboard for fielding errors, Ryan Zimmerman being unable to play the position he’s held for years, a consistent inability to beat the Braves (3-7 so far) — it’s easy to see how the Nationals could be sitting at 42-51 (or worse).

But thanks to a bounce-back year from Adam LaRoche, a breakout season from Anthony Rendon (who’s apparently not a baseball fan), Desmond regaining his fielding acumen and some flat-out dominant pitching, the Nats hold a slim lead for first in the NL East, third in the NL and seventh in MLB.

Let me throw some numbers at you to show how good this team’s pitching has been compared to the rest of MLB:

*lowest ERA
*fewest walks allowed
*second in HRs allowed
*best strikeout/walk ratio

The Nats don’t have any impressive stats to show off when it comes to team batting or fielding, though, unless they’re bragging about how good their record is despite those things.

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Gortat’s New Deal Is The Same Old Grunfeld

Here’s guest writer Bryan Frantz, back with another crack for Mr. Irrelevant.

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So, the Wiz re-signed Marcin Gortat, as you may have heard.

That’s fine, he was a huge part of the team last season, and he brings a toughness and interior presence that nobody else on the roster can offer. His 13.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game were vital to the Wizards’ regular-season run, as was his particularly stellar play in April and May, and there was little else available in free agency if they didn’t bring him back.

However, did you see those numbers? Five years and $60 million? For a 30-year-old big man? The wrath of Ernie Grunfeld strikes again.

A deal for $12 million annually is a bit much, but it wouldn’t be an issue if Washington was off the hook in 2017 or maybe 2018. Instead, the Gortat is on the books until 2019, when he’ll be 35.

This is a win-now move, but is Gortat really the player that they need to contend for a title? Does Grunfeld believe that this team, as currently assembled, is one role player away from a championship? Because it’s not.

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Nats Save The Day From Going Full D.C. Sports

Please welcome back guest contributor Bryan Frantz to Mr. Irrelevant.

This was not a good day for D.C. sports. The Wizards lost to the Bobcats and put a serious damper on their chances of playing anybody but the Pacers or Heat in the playoffs, and the Capitals were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. It was almost a truly, one-for-the-ages miserable day when the Nationals got very close to losing a heartbreaker to the Marlins, but the local baseball team managed to put together something close to a miracle and salvage hope for the city’s sports teams.

The Nats game was eerily similar to the Wiz game. Both teams were playing at home. Both opponents have recently been somewhat of a laughingstock. Both games saw the home team face a large deficit early — Wiz were down 20 in the first half, Nats were down five after two innings. Both teams mounted an improbable comeback to take the lead. Both teams then watched that lead disappear.

After that, the two took opposite paths. The basketball game went to overtime, where the Wizards put up, somewhat incredibly, one point. Home team loses 94-88. The Caps were on the brink of being eliminated from the playoffs, a reality that was solidified a few minutes later when the Red Wings and Blue Jackets both earned points in their games.

Meanwhile, in the baseball game, Bryce Harper pulled himself out of his season-opening slump with a three-run monster of a home run that capped off a 10-pitch AB. Shortly thereafter, the Nats picked up a few more runs that put them in the lead, 6-5. But, because this is D.C., the home team had to make the game as difficult on itself as possible. Newly designated RP Ross Detwiler came on in the seventh to give up a leadoff solo shot to bring the game back to a tie, then Tyler Clippard gave up two walks and a double in the eighth to put the Nats behind again.

After the Wiz had just watched their impressive rally end in disappointment, the Nats seemed destined for a similar fate. But they’re the Nats. They certainly have had their share of “D.C. moments,” but they’ve had some success over recent years. (You could argue the Caps had more, but I would counter that the Nats have compiled more talent and have more promise, while the Caps just have Alex Ovechkin.)

And so Jayson Werth, as he’s done before, came up huge for the Nats. Down 7-6 in the bottom of the eighth, they had the bases loaded with one out and Werth at the plate. You know what’s coming. He crushed a fastball into the left field dugout of Nats Park to put the Nats ahead for good.

Werth, Harper, Anthony Rendon and the rest of the Natss managed to salvage what was almost a heartbreaking day for D.C. sports with a thrilling victory, against a division rival, no less. Once again, they’re providing Washington sports fans hope and entertainment for the months leading up to football season. Now, about football season …

Three Reasons The Nats Will Be Better In 2014

Please welcome back guest contributor Bryan Frantz to Mr. Irrelevant. Here he is on your 2014 Washington Nationals.

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It says a lot about the Nats’ expectations that an 86-win 2013 season was considered a bitter disappointment. Going into this season, the song remains the same: They’re projected to go to the playoffs, Bryce Harper is an MVP candidate and the starting rotation is spoiled with Cy Young candidates.

The optimism is slightly different in 2014, though: bottom-of-the-roster holes have been filled, a new manager takes over the talented team and the glaring injury problems seem to be resolved (knock on wood).

Without further ado, here are three reasons the Nats are poised to win at least 90 games this season. Tomorrow, we’ll list why they won’t.

1. New Additions

One of the biggest problems last season was bench support. GM Mike Rizzo addressed that by adding outfielder Nate McLouth and catcher Jose Lobaton, both of whom provide depth at positions where the team had significant injury problems. McLouth will back up Harper and Jayson Werth, who missed a combined 77 games. Lobaton, a switch-hitter acquired from the Rays, will back up Wilson Ramos, who has only played in 80 or more games once in four seasons.

The most significant addition comes in the form of Doug Fister. Fister, acquired in an early winter deal with the Tigers, takes over the No. 4 spot, left vacant by the departure of the wildly inconsistent Dan Haren.

Fister brings playoff experience and reliability, as well as consistency. Last season, he finished with a 3.67 ERA and, in 32 starts, lasted at least six innings 27 times. Conversely, Haren finished last season with a 4.67 ERA and pitched six or more innings just 18 times.

Fister would be a No. 2 on most teams and has the potential to make the Nationals’ rotation the best in the MLB. He does start the season on the DL, though.

2. Pitching Changes

Rizzo and new manager Matt Williams have made a few other changes to the pitching staff, moving Ross Detwiler to the bullpen and adding lefty reliever Jerry Blevins. The Detwiler move leaves the No. 5 spot available, and righties Tanner Roark and Taylor Jordan are the frontrunners. The Blevins move gives the bullpen its only left-hander other than Detwiler.

Roark, 27, made his major league debut last year and put up a 7-1 record with a 1.51 ERA. Jordan, 25, also made his debut last season, going 1-3 with a 3.66 ERA. Both have looked solid this spring and could provide an upgrade to the back of the rotation, which was unreliable last season.

Blevins has been solid for Oakland the past two seasons, and he’s been sharp this spring. He should help upgrade a bullpen that was inconsistent last season after a strong 2012.

3. Improving Young Core

Strasburg, 25, and Harper, 21, are the present and the future of the Nats. Despite notable improvement last year, they still suffered hiccups.

Strasburg’s win-loss record was unimpressive, though that can be attributed to a lack of run support. Harper was on an absolute tear until he literally hit a wall, then his season fell back to normal human level.

Spring has brought Nats fans a Strasburg slider and bulkier Harper, showing the work they put in during their longer-than-expected offseasons. All indications are they’ll be better than ever in 2014.