Category Archives: Guest Posts

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.

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 3.47.58 PM

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.

John Wall Is Shooting The Wizards To The Playoffs

Please welcome guest contributor Bryan Frantz to Mr. Irrelevant. Here he is on John Wall and your Washington Wizards.

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 12.02.41 PM

The Wizards are having their best season in years. They stand at 33-31, sixth place in the East and 3.5 games away from third. The five seasons before this Washington went 19-63, 26-56, 23-59, 20-46 (lockout-shortened season) and 29-53.

The collective misery of the Eastern conference, arrival of Marcin Gortat, improved health of Bradley Beal and improved play of Trevor Ariza are obvious contributors to the success. One topic that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, though, is John Wall’s jumper.

His shooting has never been something to brag about; his career shooting percentage sits at a modest 42.5 percent, and his three-point percentage hovers around 29.5 percent. Wall is making 33.9 percent of threes this season, though, and he’s shooting 3.7 per game (two more than his previous career high). Take a look at the shot charts:

John Wall’s 2012-13 Shot Chart

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 9.39.27 PM

John Wall’s 2013-14 Shot Chart

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 9.39.39 PM

His three-point shooting has become a legitimate weapon, to the point that defenses have to respect his jumper. This spreads the floor and opens up Ariza and Beal in ways that simply didn’t exist last season, which leads to more quality shots all around. The Wizards, as a team, are shooting 38.6 percent from three this season, up from 36.5 percent last season.

But it’s not just open threes the Wizards are getting. Washington is shooting 45.6 percent overall from the floor, tied for 11th in the league. That’s a huge increase from 43.5 percent of last season, when they were tied for 27th.

Shockingly enough, making more shots leads to more points. Washington is scoring a respectable 100.5 points per game this season, which is astounding considering they tied for last a year ago with 93.2 points per contest.

Again, this is not entirely attributed to Wall improving his shot. But a point guard needs to have an outside shot to become elite. Derrick Rose, injuries aside, makes for a great case study. In his rookie season, Rose averaged 0.9 three-point attempts per game and made just 22.2 percent. He improved mildly in his second season, and by his third season he had turned his three-point shot into a weapon. That year Rose shot 4.8 threes per game, knocking them down at a rate of 33.2 percent.

So while Wall has always been able to get his points — he’s never dropped below 16 per game — he now gets them from all over the floor. Defenses have a new element to defend, and his teammates benefit from it. The Wizards win.

Hire Danny Smith (GUEST POST)

Michael McElroy (@mikeyvanilli) won our Predictions contest yet again, so he gets another guest post. We don’t endorse this whatsoever!

This post may be the most un-Mr.Irrelevant post ever submitted. Actually, scratch that, some dude was just writing about how much he loved the Cowboys, so I think I’m safe.

Either way, the Skins should hire Danny Smith, and this is why: The Skins have tried just about every type of head coaching hire in the Dan Snyder era. Let’s recap:

1. The “Interim Coach”

Poor Terry Robiskie wasn’t HC long enough for me to write a full sentence abo

2. The “Old School Coach”

Marty Schottenheimer was a mean man who made his players run extra laps at the end of practice and scary stuff like that. He was like Tom Coughlin before Tom Coughlin became the fun-grandpa that he is today. But Marty picked on the greatest Redskin of the past 20 years and for that most of us will hate him forever.

3. The “College Legend”

Steve Spurrier brought us the Fun & Gun, which seemed like it was gonna be really awesome, until we realized that Spurrier’s “gun” was kind of like wielding a dollar-store water pistol when all of your friends have super-soakers.

4. The “Return to Glory”

Two moments will always stick with me as a young D.C. sports fan. I will always remember where I was when I found out that Michael Jordan was hired to help run the Wizards, and when I heard that Gibbs would be returning to coach the Redskins. And they both worked out … kind of … if you consider playoff-type situations to be working out. Either way, we can’t go this route again because none of our other great coaches are alive anymore.

5. The “Guru Coordinator”

Ok, so “coordinator” may be a bit of a misnomer here, but I think Jim Zorn was technically the team’s OC for a few weeks. Unfortunately, all of the slip ‘n’ slides in the world couldn’t keep Jason Campbell from looking like an octopus falling out of a tree when he slid, and no bingo-callers could help Zorny choose the right plays on Sunday, so, nice guy that he was, he was a failure.

6. The “Veteran Head Coach”

In Denver, Mike Shanahan was a solid coach who won Super Bowls and collected 1,000-yard running backs like Pogs. With us, well, he found a pretty great Slammer in Alfred Morris, but not quite as many Super Bowl wins. Oh, and he broke RGIII. Go fishing with your son, motherf***er!

So that brings us to lucky No. 7. In my opinion, we’ve tried nearly type of head coach, every type except …

The Special Teams Expert!

Danny Smith:

A) Seems like a nice guy. (Shanny seemed like a D-bag.)

B) Is good at clock management. (Reports always said that he was in charge of clock management for Zorn and Shanny.)

C) Actually wants to be here, which is crazy, because why would anyone want to coach this franchise?

So that’s why I, a random Skins fan whose opinion is probably in no way reflected by the editors of Mr. Irrelevant, am endorsing Danny Smith for Head Coach ’14.

Oh wait, it has just come to my attention that Danny Smith drew up this play. I take it all back.

A Dallas Cowboys Fan Introduces The Concept Of Romotanking

Here with a different point of view is Mr. Irrelevant Caps and Terps correspondent Brad Parker, who — *gasp* — doubles as a Cowboys fan.

I’m not that guy you hate. You know, the one that can’t find Dallas on a map but still roots for the Cowboys. You’ll probably still hate me but at least I was born in Fort Worth and have been to many a Thanksgiving game in person. So yes, I live in the D.C. area, and I love the Dallas Cowboys.

I also love Tony Romo. As soon as I heard the news Monday the Kubler-Ross stages of grief hit the ground running. Depression took a little more time than the rest, but I still got to acceptance in record speed.

Then something came out of nowhere. Looking forward to another winner-take-all Week 17 game it dawned on me: Dallas fans need the Cowboys to lose. I’m not talking about fantanking, actively rooting against my favorite team hoping for a better draft pick. (No matter which pick we end up with Jerry Jones will make the selection; the guy he takes at 20 could be the exact same guy he’d take at 11.)

Dallas fans need the Cowboys to lose for one simple reason: If Kyle Orton wins where Romo has lost before, I can’t even begin to imagine what would happen to the narrative.

Continue reading

Redskins-Chargers Winners & Losers

Guest writer and longtime Skins fan Kevin Stroop fills in to hand out labels following Washington’s 30-24 victory over San Diego.

Winners

Pierre Garcon –- A week after criticizing the offense, he delivered. Along with seven catches for 172 yards, he had highlight reel one-handed catches and caught a critical pass in OT on a 1st-and-20. More of that this week, please.

Alfred Morris –- Ho, hum FroMo with 25 carries, 121 yards and a TD. Ran hard all day. More of that this week too, please.

Darrel Young -– I think it’s a rule that if you score touchdowns on 60% of your carries, you are a winner.

Defense (goal line-stand edition) –- Maybe the Chargers playcalling had more to do with what happened at the end of the fourth, but nevertheless the defense saved the day. Granted, the defense vanished the second half of the quarter, but they somehow prevented a team from scoring a TD from the six-inch line on three downs.

Losers

Kai Forbath –- Having two FGs blocked by a franchise that had not blocked a FG in 175 games is not good. Four misses this year is worst in the league and also not good. Kickoffs still do not result in touchbacks. He did have a clutch 47-yarder. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some kickers show up at Redskins Park soon.

Josh Morgan –- As a kick returner, it’s not working. He can’t get past the 20 on kickoffs and doesn’t seem to know when to field a punt vs. let it go.

Defensive line – -I don’t understand how a guy as immobile as Rivers eluded the Redskins pass rush so easily. I thought the D-line would be a strength, but it didn’t show on Sunday.

Fred Davis -– The Redskins ran packages with 3 TEs. All three of them caught a pass on Sunday. Sleepy wasn’t one of them.

Medium

RGIII –- After a terrible showing vs. Denver, he came back with a solid game. He didn’t have gaudy stats but did guide the offense to 500 yards and 12-17 on third downs. Made a dangerous/exciting run late in the third quarter and seemed to make smart decisions throughout. Four batted balls including one in his own end zone resulting in a zero-yard pick-six was weird, though.

David Amerson –- Pros: another interception; was critical in keeping Woodhead out of the end zone leading to that goal line stand. Cons: still gets lost on the field it seems; burned on a number of occasions.

DeAngelo Hall –- I’m told by Deion Sanders he’s playing CB as well as anyone in the league. Fair enough, but he still collected a ridiculous unnecessary roughness penalty after E.J. Biggers’ interception.

George Wallace, Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond On ‘Redskins’ (GUEST POST)

Here with a not-at-all incendiary guest post for winning our Redskins-Lions Prediction contest is Jon.

First off, I’d like to thank Jamie for giving me the opportunity to write a little something about our beloved Washington Football Team. I have to apologize, though. I couldn’t come up with a #hottake on the state of the team. All I have is this transcript of George Wallace, Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond talking about the name change down in Hell (way to drop the ball, Steinz).

Take it away, boys!

Governor Wallace: What’s this bullshit about the liberal media trying to change the name from the Redskins to some stupid name like the Griffins or Warriors?

Senator Helms: I don’t know, George. This country is going straight to hell. There’s not enough troops in the Army to force true Redskins fans to change the name and allow shitty names like the Warriors, Griffins or Renegades into our stadium, into our practice facility, into our Joe Gibbs Memorial Bubble, into our fancy new training facility in the capitol of our Confederacy or into our homes!

Senator Thurmond: HOOWEE, I’m with you on that one, Jesse! You know, I think the Redskins Name Guardians are the greatest minority in this nation! They deserve consideration and understanding instead of the persecution of twisted Costasian propaganda.

Governor Wallace: Amen, Strom. Amen. If I was the owner, I’d resist any calls for changing the name, even to the point of standing at the stadium gates in person, if necessary.

Senator Thurmond: I’d do exactly the same, George. It’s not that I’m prejudiced against Native Americans. When I was governor, I did more to help the Native Americans in our state than any previous governor, and I think you can find Native Americans in the state who will attest to this fact.

Senator Helms: Like that Indian chief Mister Snyder found in Alaska, right??? I love that guy!

Continue reading

‘My Kids Aren’t Growing Up In A House Divided’ (Guest Post)

Here with a guest post for nailing his Redskins-Eagles prediction is Mr. Irrelevant reader Kevin Stroop.

One of my first, if not the first, conscious decisions I made was to become a fan of the Washington Redskins.

When I was 4 I realized I lived in a house divided. My mom and her side of the family rooted for the Baltimore Colts, a team that once existed. My dad rooted for the Skins.

Every time my family got together, I noticed my dad was on an island –- constant ribbing, including my older brother. I decided I will support my old man. I, too, will root for the Redskins.

I remember telling him this with great pride that I had made this life choice, although I’m sure at the time he figured my devotion to his football team was as fleeting as whatever T-shirt my mom put on me.

Being a fan of the Skins in the ’80s was not difficult. They won the Super Bowl the first year I rooted for them; I was a good luck charm. The next year they were back, but we all know what happened there. By then the die was cast.

Continue reading

The 5 Best D.C.-Related Fantasy Football Teams Names

Today’s guest post is from Ronnie and Mike, who have a new blog, Just The Worst Things, that “covers sports (mostly D.C. sports), music, geeky shit, and whatever else we want.” We hope you find it useful.

D.C. is a city well known for its “colorful” athletes. Not only did we have one of the most interesting NFL players of all time (CRANK UP DAT DIESEL), but most of the other sports in town have contributed to the crazy train that is “Chocolate City” sports. While this is definitely not an all-time list, I think this captures the breadth of lunacy we are lucky enough to experience.

1. The Southeast Jeromes

We could probably do a list solely based on Clinton Portis’ mad ravings. His colorful cast of characters almost made up for the Dark Ages of Vinny Cerrato. Actually, “The Kindergarten Ninjas” would make a good name, although only hardcore Redskins fans would get that. And then puke all over their keyboards in pure hatred.

2. Colt Brennan All-Stars

Okay, so this one is a little high concept. First off, I was one of the dedicated “Cult of Colt” guys. His jersey still hangs in my closet, ready to dust off when he rides back into the NFL scene on a surfboard and takes some team to the Super Bowl, calling audibles in Samoan. This team would have to consist of backup players everyone clamors for. Tim Tebow would be a perfect fit, if some team was stupid enough to pick up that weirdo.

3. Mark Moseley’s Hair Dryers

I mean, look at the dude. Can you IMAGINE what the Internet would do to good ol’ Moseley?

4. The Joe Beni-naughtys (taken with love from RMNB)

That is one silver-tongued midget devil huh? I can’t tell you how excited I get when I hear Joe B calling a lacrosse game on ESPN43 in the offseason. Then I realize it is lacrosse, and try not to laugh at the HARDCORE BROS WITH THEIR SWEET FLO!!!1!!!

Sidebar: Did you know Joe B still holds the records for saves by a goalie at Bowdoin College? Someone get me a Bowdoin “Beninati” jersey ASAP.

5. Okra Patch Runners

Because Fred Smoot is just the best. I wish someone would put him on the FOX pregame show. If you don’t know what this reference is, I can’t tell you; this is a family(-ish) blog.

Runners up: Smack Em Yack Em’s, Tanahan’s Bronzers™, Fat Rex Grossmans, Steinberg’s Cheeseheads (That’s a thinker!), Ole Whiskeys

The Caps’ Short Season in Five Awesome Pictures

Here with a quick season recap is Caps correspondent Brad Parker.

1. Shouldn’t a Man of His Advanced Age Know Better?

Caps fans loved Mike Knuble when he was in town. So when he returned to Verizon this year CSN quickly pointed out why GMGM let him go: He’s old. Also, he picks his nose all the time, even when he’s on TV.

2. Why Would You Date Someone Like Her?

No need to check the score, just look at CSN’s Sport Fan of the Game. I respect you for rocking the red in Pittsburgh, but you sir will suffer. Not because we lost. Not because the fans will taunt you. No, you sir, will suffer because you have chosen to be with someone that has a blatant character flaw. Godspeed melancholy Caps fan.

3. This Is How It Starts

Being a real fan is torture. It’s years and years of suffering through blowing 3-1 series leads, through giving up goals in the fourth overtime, through injuries to key guys like Langway, or Green, or Backstrom. But every once in a while something amazing happens. Joe Juneau, or Joel Ward, or Ovi on his ass, or Mike Ribeiro in OT and those moments make it all worthwhile. Next October I’ll be all in again. And the next time the Caps are in the playoffs a part of me will think “this is the year!” It’s all because of the look on the faces of those two kids and the fact that decades from now a bunch of guys they’ve never met will still have the power to make them feel that way.

4. Way Too Many Men on the Ice

The theme throughout this series for Caps fans was the officiating. It was like seven straight games against Duke at Cameron. This one image captures it perfectly. You clearly see five Caps on the ice. And just as clearly you see EIGHT Rangers on the ice. Each team had one more player out of view so yes, Washington had six skaters and NY had NINE. You could see what happened next coming straight down Broadway. Washington was penalized for too many men on the ice, New York was not. Did that one call change the series? Probably not. Did the calls consistently going that way change the series? Probably.

5. Sad Ovi Is Sad

Say what you want about his production in the series or the lack of success in the postseason over his career, but Ovi worked his ass off in Game 7. And when the clock was winding down he felt like we did, only infinitely worse. You can get pissed off that they’re out early yet again. You can be depressed for a couple of days (I know I am). But you’ll have a very hard time convincing me that you care more than the guys on the ice. I know when Semin was in town we wondered if Sasha cares, but you can’t doubt if Ovi does.