Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Allow Me To Introduce Myself

Not that any of you care and most anyone that reads this probably already know me but if you're happening upon this for some other reason I'm am the least interesting man in the world. If you've read this far I feel bad for you but if you want to learn some stuff and be midly entertained then I encourage you to continue on, but it will be a long read, and you'll probably learn to know more about me than I already do.

What can be said that hasn't already been said about me? Probably not much because I've been called every name in the book.

My name is David, I will turn 30 years old this year, and a die-hard homer for all the teams in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia area for you outsiders).  Growing up I was big in to sports, photography, and girls...years later and nothing has changed. I played Little League for two years and played a lot of pick-up basketball and football during my middle and high school days.

Over the years I've bounced from one sport to another as my favorite. From age 6 until about 13 I was mainly about baseball and the Orioles with the Caps, Redskins, and Bullets thrown in. College wise I was a Georgetown man because their games were always on TV. In the mid-90s I started getting more into basketball, collecting sports cards as more of a hobby, and started paying more attention to the Terps. By 2001 I was full blown on all sports, especially once I got DirecTV and internet..I know I lived a primitive life growing up...and football started to be my favorite with the Redskins just ahead of the Ravens but me predicting the Ravens winning the 2001 Super Bowl. In the past 5 years I've turned almost strictly puckhead and refuse to miss any Capitals game, no matter how bad the team may be playing at times and I've jumped on the Nats bandwagon in late 2009.

As a homer I always hold out optimism that the team will be better than most may think but I also know that our pro teams let down their fans year in and year out and the higher the expectations the worse they tend to do. I stick by them through and through though.

As mentioned I am in to collecting sports cards and other memorabilia and while I keep what I get from boxes, because I'm too stupid to sell and make a little cash..at the moment, I also collect certain players I am a fan of. I am a HUGE Juan Dixon fan...I mean its kinda insane really and was lucky enough to meet him at the DC Auto show when he was in his first tenure with the Wizards. In baseball Mike Mussina is far and away my favorite player in the modern era and I try to forget that he left for the Yankees. With him out I don't focus on any particular player but I do like Rick Ankiel, Michael Morse, and Danny Espinosa of the Nationals. In basketball I've always been a fan of the underdog that could get the most out of his limited talent or exceed expectations which is why Dixon, Jerome Williams and Trevor Booker are among my current favorites. In football Chris Cooley is my main guy, love him and had the pleasure of meeting him two years ago at the Collector's Showcase of America show in Chantilly, Virginia. I also have lots of love for my former Springbrook Blue Devil Shawn Springs. In hockey Peter Bondra will always be Mr. Capitals for me and man did I love that team growing up, always going to player signings as a kid and meeting so many great players. Now I'm more about Chris Bourque, David Steckel and Brooks Laich. I'm also a wrestling mark and am a fan of John Cena, met him and such a great guy, Mick Foley, met him too and also awesome, Shawm Michaels, met him but he didn't seem overly excited to be there, Trish Stratus and the Rock, which should make for an intersting Wrestelmania next weekend. So as you can tell I have some really shitty taste in players to like, support and follow.

Despite being a total homer I have had my moments of stupidity and at a short lived sinful couple years I actually rooted for the New York Yankees, now I just respect their history, the Duke Blue Devils, and Dallas Cowboys. That is totally out of my system, I am 18 years sober and have seen the light. THE TRUTH SHALL SET ME FREE!!!

Getting away from sports I'm like any other typical male outside of I'm not overly impressed by cars, in fact I don't have a license to drive and really have no desire to though I know I should. Probably a result from so many of my family members having been involved in accidents over the years.

Sorry got off track....I'm not a big movie buff but I do like comedies and I don't mean Will Ferrell and Steve Carell I mean movies that are actually funny and not stupid. Give me Rat Race over Old School or 40 Year Old Virgin any day...which is surprising given the type of humor and language I have been known to use. My favorite movie is Interestate 60..you probably haven't seen it let alone heard of it but its pretty sweet. I can watch pretty much any genre though I'm not a fan of horror, I can do thriller.

In music my taste is...well its bad...or so I'm told. You will hear just about anything on my iPod from Country to Hip-Hop, Rock to Celtic, and Top 40 to Swing. You won't however find Classical music anywhere. Give me some Lady Antebellum, Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney, Uncle Kracker, Nelly, Boyz II Men, Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry, Theory of a Deadman, Brantley Gilbert, Ludacris and a few others and I'm good to go.

My TV habits range across the board from some reality shows to sitcoms to dramas but usually I'm plugged in to ESPN (Around the Horn, PTI, games). I will watch the news occassionaly but mainly only for the local ports report and I will only get that from one person, Britt McHenry. I'm a huge fan of hers and more info about the young reporter that will soon be taking San Diego by storm will be up in the coming days/week.

Okay thats enough about what I like and if you've made it this far you may want to seek psychriatric help. As you can tell I like to have some fun and crack jokes, even if they're at my own expense. My sense of humor definitely gets me by because my looks won't get me out of much except for being a contestant on The Bachelorette...and no I'm not being hard on myself nor do I take myself seriously with the jokes. You just have to be willing to poke fun at yourself every once in a while. My humor is dry, witty and tends to be filled with sarcasm, which may not translate over the blog.

By day I work for the Recreation & Welfare Association at NIH where I am Mr. Do-It-All because if someone can't do something or figure it out they come to me...lucky me. *Disclaimer* This would be a good time to state that my postings, beliefs, etc etc that will appear in this blog in no way, shape or form should be associated with my place of work nor do they reflect their views...that should cover my ass right?* What I do though is I am the editor of our monthly Newsletter, co-organizer of our events for which we do over 30 per year, am responsible for selling tickets to local events and attracations around the DC area at a discount to the NIH community and a few smaller things. We also are responsible for assisting in the fundraising for the NIH Charities which consists of Special Love/Camp Fantastic, The Friends of the Clinical Center, and The Children's Inn at NIH. All three are very near and dear to me and I make it a mission to do give my all when I do one of our fundraising events which include a night at the circus every March and Film Festival in the Bethesda/Rockville area every August. We have a great group of people with these charities and our volunteers.

I firmly believe I am nothing without my family and close friends. My cousin Pam is one of my favorite people to hang out and joke around with. My best friend Julie is my heart and I care more about her and her kids than I do my own self. I'm loyal, opinionated, controversial at times, but I do anything for my family and those friends who I consider family. I tend to bend over backwards for others so much that I get walked all over and my kindness can be taken advantage of but I'll get my due some day.

So yeah if you're not in a coma you now know some stuff about me. Probably more than I should have told you but at least I didn't give up my mother's maiden name, the street I grew up on, my first pet's name or my social security number so I should have password security.

Oh right about the blog. Originally this was intended to be a blog about the Capitals since a few friends enjoyed hearing my comments regarding the team the past few seasons. Trying to be creative with some word play I chose to use (Brooks) Laich (pronounced Like) and how I planned to give my views Like It Is...as in telling it like it is..so no this isn't a blog regarding a disease called Laichitis...unless you get Brooksie fever. I plan to touch mainly on sports and the collecting hobby but I may venture into other things such as movies, music, TV shows, and charity awareness but will probably stay away from touchy subjects like politics, current events and religion.

I do thank you for reading my blog, hope you enjoy what you see, am open to replies (good and bad) as I can only improve with criticism. Anything hateful, derogatory, etc will be deleted.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

What Should The Fans Expect of the Washington Nationals This Season?

When it comes to my local sports teams I am admittedly a total homer. Ever the pessimist regarding how they'll perform based on the history here in the DMV I try to stay optimistic as a team is assembled.

I have not paid much attention to the Nats in Spring Training but from what I gathered watching Britt McHenry do her 6pm sports cast on ABC 7 the team has not performed well of late and the manager and players are tired of losing. While currently sitting at 5-13 this spring fans have to hope this isn't a sign of things to expect from the team this season. Expectations are high, the stadium is usually bare and a slow start could lead to low attendance in a city that is looking to support a winning team, beyond the struggling Capitals and the Nats are expected to be that team.

Entering Spring Training all eyes were on one person, a kid named Bryce Harper. Harper has been branded as the next "Big Thing," a man-child, who is developed far beyond his years but still a little dense between the ears (being a fan of the Cowboys, Yankees, Lakers and I believe Blue Devils). The biggest question regarding him was would he make the team to start the season or be called up later on in the year. A calf injury, followed by slow production upon his return helped make the decision to send Bryce down to AAA-ball a bit easier. It also helps that he wasn't lights out against AA pitching and also by waiting to bring him up in June or later it allows the team to have him under contract for one extra year. One good sign this spring is that teammates say that he was soaking up the knowledge, listening to the vets, not being egotistical, and even said to the media its not about him, that there are many components than one man to the team. There is little doubt that Bryce will make an appearance later this year, barring injury, and when he does I expect the Nats to not only sell out every game the rest of the season but also have fans show up to the games so that their announced attendance of 30,000+ doesn't actually have 4,000 people sitting there watching the games with ghost seat fillers sitting next to them.

As for all things not Bryce Harper this team is in a perfect position to take the next step going forward. I for one believe the team overachieved last year by not finishing 10 games under .500. Despite not having the phenom Stephen Strasburg for most of the year because of Tommy John surgery, the pitching staff came along nicely, especially Jordan Zimmerman who was limited by an innings limit due to coming off of surgery. This year the team has Strasburg, on an innings limit, and Zimmerman, returning to the rotation, while adding young hurler Gio Gonzalez who could be a Cy Young candidate potential, and Edwin Jackson, a player that has been a bit of a nomad that was thought to be a top of the rotation talent that will be the team's number 4 starter. He can be effective but I'm not fully sold on him and he's having the worst spring training, statistically of his career. Hopefully it has more to do with the park, line-up or defense and not a prelude. The 5th starter is up for grabs between John Lannan, Chien-Ming Wang, and my personal choice, Ross Detwiler. Looking at the stats I'd say Detwiler has the edge but I think they'll look to make him more of a long reliever.

That brings me to the team's bullpen. Drew Storen, the closer, is expected to start the season on the disabled list, which is better than the "available to be traded" list that he was on at the trade deadline last year. I really like this kid's pitching and hope we sign him long term. The other main guy in the bullpen is Tyler Clippard, the Nats All-Star last season. Clipp has his moments where he's dominant out of the pen and then gets lit up for stretches but he's been the most consistent and most used reliever on the team and will be an important cog. With Storen out the closer's role is expected to be filled by Henry Rodriguez, who possess a fastball that can clock 100MPH, and Brad Lidge, he of the "I give up home runs to Albert Pujols and then get all messed up psychologically" ilk. I'm not a fan of the Lidge signing but he's a vet and hopefully a change of scenery will help him. Sean Burnett, Tom Gorzelanny, Cole Kimball, and Craig Stammen will all be looking at time in the bullpen throughout the year.

The Nationals every day line-up is possibly the best its ever been, and that's before the addition of Harper. The problem is that every the team goes through long stretches of strong pitching and little to no offense and then once they do start hitting the pitching lacks, the defense has been suspect during that time too. For now, Adam LaRoche and his bum shoulder will be the man at first. I say for now because I don't see him staying healthy or being productive enough to keep in the line-up. Not that we need an $8 million guy to sit on the bench but I'd rather have Chris Marrero. At second base is one of my favorite players on the team in Danny Espinosa. I fell in love with this guy when he hit two home runs in one game after he was called up in September of 2010. He's still young and has some pop and I expect this to be a career year for him, possibly even with an All-Star appearance.  At shortstop is everyone's favorite punching bag on the team, Ian Desmond. He's not a great hitter, has a little pop, and can steal bases. There is one thing he does better than steal bases though and that's commit errors. He's committed 57 errors in the last two seasons though he did have 49 more chances he had 11 less errors. A lot of that improvement came from Desmond learning to not try and make a play/throw when he should just pocket the ball. This will continue to be an area the team looks to upgrade including in their minor leagues with Steve Lombardozzi. At third base is the team leader, Ryan Zimmerman. The team extended Zimmerman with the hopes that he'll be this team's Cal Ripken Jr but without the consecutive games streak. An injury of Zimmerman should be expected every year and every year I expect him to be a little better than the previous year. I expect that again this year with Jayson Werth hopefully having a better season. Behind the plate will be Wilson Ramos and Jesus Flores. They don't strike fear into many but they're good young catchers that will be pivotal for the improvement of the pitchers and they got to learn under future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez the past two years.

In the outfield the team will have Jayson Werth in right. Werth got paid and then forgot how to hit last year. For the Nationals to reach their peak this year they can not have a repeat season and the fans, those who do show up, will have no trouble booing him like he were Kwame Brown or Andray Blatche. Left field belongs to Michael Morse, currently hampered by a back injury. I'm really hoping this isn't a long term thing for Beast Mode because last year he had the career year I was expecting and I hope he can continue with those numbers. He provides perfect protection in the line-up for Zimmerman and Werth. My fear is that this injury will last all season and depending on if he can play through it he may take over first base like last season, where I felt he did an above average job. In center will most likely be the platoon of Rick Ankiel and Roger Bernadina. Its a shame we can't combine these two guys. I have loved Ankiel's game since he burst onto the scene in St. Louis and took baseball by storm before having one of the craziest declines I've ever seen and it amazes me that now he can't hit the catcher from the pitcher's mound but he can do it perfectly without a hop from over 300 feet away. Besides Ankiel's rocket for an arm he also provides some power but he strikes out a bunch too. Bernadina gives you speed so again combine the two and you have a five tool prospect.

The bench looks sparse and I really only know of Mark DeRosa and he'll be spelling a lot of guys as a utility player/suber-sub.

What the season holds for the Nationals depends on which team shows up, the team that ended last season or the team that showed up in Spring Training. Expectations being high puts a lot of pressure on these guys. Strasburg was nearly untouchable when the games matter so here's hoping spring numbers mean very little, which most people believe that they do. The NL East is stronger this year than last year with Miami upgrading thanks to a winter shopping spree, the Mets have some players but I'm hoping they'll continue to implode, the Phillies are as lethal as ever with an amazing starting rotation, and probably the only one better than the Nationals in the East. The Braves seem to always a contender for at least the Wild Card and I wouldn't be surprised to see them be a pest again this season.

As for the Nats, if they click on all cylinders I say they go 92-70 and set themselves up for a shot at the Wild Card. If they don't get their act together but stay healthy this team should still be able to hang around the .500 mark. I have always felt that 2013 would be the season to expect them to make their move but the upgrades in pitching shows they want to do it now. History tells us that DC teams with high expectations never live up to them but last year's team, despite the lower expectations and the quitting of their manager maintained a light hearted atmosphere and went out there and just had fun. If they can continue to play that way and not press they should be just fine. A winning locker room is a happy locker room.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

This Blog Will Be Restructured

After some long consideration, some frustrations with writing..and the Capitals...I've decided I'm going to do my best to run this blog with updates more often but also Telling it Laich It Is about all sports while focusing mainly on sports in the DC area.

I would love for this to eventually lead to some sort of opportunities for me in the sports market but we'll see. I can hate writing after a while and obviously get off track many times over...I'd be so much better in radio, though it would also expose a lot of knowledge that I lack HA.

So here's to more thought, new opportunities and new chapters.

I won't deny that seeing Britt McHenry leaving the DC market for San Diego has lead me to think about the changes and confronting the challenges. She's more than just a pretty face, she's hard worker who is dedicated to her craft. Maybe I can get an interview to start off the change :)