This week we separate the Naughty from the Nice. Which D.C. sports figures were Naughty in 2010?
It's been a rough year in D.C. sports, so it would be easy to put 250 names on this list. The Redskins have their issues, the Capitals got upset in the first round, the Wizards had their problems and the Nationals still aren't good. There are a lot of people who have been naughty this year.
So I guess we should set some ground rules to weed out a few of the more obvious names. For example, Albert Haynesworth would be an obvious No. 1, but I am sick of writing his name and blasting his game. Dan Snyder has been a force in recent years on Naughty lists, but I am going to give him a pass in 2010 in the hopes he sticks with his anti-Vinny Cerrato ways. I also have no intention of simply throwing a list of names together based on crimes and misdemeanors. Just know that I consider DUI's and domestic violence charges as "Naughty."
No. 1: Andray Blatche
Will someone tell this guy he is 7 feet tall? Good lord ... the guy plays like he is Mugsy Bogues. You remember a week or so ago when Lamar Odom brought the ball down the court, and went straight to the bucket for a one-handed dunk that included a chance to make it a three-point play from the foul line? Andray Blatche would have tried at least two crossover dribbles, a 360 spin and a teardrop finger roll over his shorter defender. Take it to the hole with some power, son!
His laziness knows no end it seems. He hates playing with his back to the basket, instead choosing to put up as many 15- to 20-footers as he can find. If he posts up early in the game and takes a shot to the back or to the head, you can bet you won't find him on the blocks again for the remainder of the night.
I won't pretend to fully understand the intricacies of the NBA and the system Flip Saunders employs, but it would seem that if Blatche was a brute force night in and night out, the added dimension would show up in the in the Win/Loss column. For his refusal to be a dominant, physical presence despite his size and ability, Blatche leads off the Naughty list.
No. 2: Chad Speck, Albert Haynesworth's agent
I tried very, very hard to keep Haynesworth off of this list and almost succeeded, but the way things went down in early 2010 continues to really grind my gears. How do you cash a $21 million check one day, and then turn around and say you no longer wish to play for the guy who just stroked you that check? I understand that an agent works for the player first and foremost. With regard to the job Chad Speck did getting Haynesworth paid, one could argue he is among the greatest agents of all time.
But I think Chad Speck was very naughty indeed with the way he handled this particular situation. The story goes that Speck called the NFLPA to find out what the ramifications would be if Haynesworth took the bonus money and then went down the "demanding a trade/not reporting for work" route. He was reportedly told that the Redskins were extremely limited in their options on this one. From my talks with folks over at the NFLPA, they were not ecstatic to field this call to begin with, but the way Chad Speck spun it to the press really pissed them off. Speck told people that it was the NFLPA that advised them to take the actions they did, making it seem like the NFLPA had provided him a "How To Be a Jerk" playbook. In actuality, it was Speck who initiated the contact and it was Speck who did most of the talking in that conversation.
To add to the Naughtiness for these two, their actions will certainly have on the CBA negotiations in 2011. It would seem their actions have negatively impacted the players, and that can't sit well in locker rooms around the NFL.
No. 3: Mark Kessler, PA announcer at FedEx Field
I used to listen to 94.7 religiously, back when it was straight classic rock and Mark Kessler was diming hits from any number of my favorite 70's bands (granted, this music was before my time, but great music is great music). For a while, he doubled down as both a DJ and the FedEx Field stadium announcer before becoming the full-time announcer.
(Let's back up a step ... how is a 10-day-a-year job (regular and pre-season) a full-time gig? Jeez ... maybe he does weddings on the side. I digress).
Kessler was more than tolerable in the beginning. His run as the voice of FedEx Field really coincided with my run as a season ticket holder. His delivery of the Popeye's advertisement during games was great. But then little things he did started really bothering me ... like calling Lavar Arrington "L.A." and playing that awful Randy Newman song, "I Love L.A." every time Lavar made a play, which for a while there was frequent. Seriously?!?! The voice of every romantic comedy and Pixar movie soundtrack being used to accentuate the play of one of the most physical linebackers we have seen in the last decade? That's when I became down on Mark Kessler.
The final straw and what has landed Mark Kessler on this list in 2010 is his inability to recognize that we are not idiots anymore. When LaRon Landry makes a touchdown saving tackle after yet another huge run by the opposing offense, I think it is in somewhat poor taste to hear, "On the stop ... LaRRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNN LAAAAAAAAAANDREEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!" Come on, man ...
No. 4 Carlos Rogers
It is one thing to not be able to catch a ball. Millions of one-armed individuals have difficulty catching footballs. It is another thing entirely to be a multi-million dollar athlete (with two arms) at a position where hands would seemingly be an important part of your game, and not be able to catch a ball. But Carlos can cover, making him a valuable member of the secondary in spite of his failings in the ball-catching department. So far ... not enough to land on the Naughty list.
But wait ... then you call out the fans for booing? Let me be clear: I do not boo my team. It does nothing for me and the practice of booing by my fellow fans bothers me. But I respect the right of a fanbase to express themselves. And when a team does nothing for you for ten years on a week-in/week-out basis, guess what Carlos: you are going to hear about it in the form of booing. Pardon me for not caring that the issue of hearing fans boo you gets "discussed in the locker room." I'm sure lots of things get discussed in the locker room that should not be mentioned in press conferences. Add this to the list. Starting a player vs. fans battle when the team can't buy a win is just stupid ... and naughty.
No. 5 Stan Kasten/Ted Lerner
When trying to determine who should top my 2010 Naughty List, I did not have to think too hard. Andray Blatche has been killing me for a long time. But there has been something bothering me for a while and even though it did not necessarily go down in 2010, I could not ignore it.
I know Stan Kasten took the brunt of the beating for encouraging Phillies fans to make the drive down to D.C. for Phillies games at Nationals Park in 2009, but I can't let Ted Lerner skate on this one. We know Philly fans are going to come down and support their teams. We see them at Redskins games, 76ers games and of course we see them when the Phillies come to town. It sucks. I can't stand Philly fans. I applaud their support for their teams. I really do. But they still irk the hell out of me.
When I heard that the Nats front office was forming a welcoming committee for Philadelphia fans a little over a year ago, it was all I could do to keep from driving off the road. They packed so much Naughty into that one move, it keeps them on the list in 2010. You know how much "nice" these guys are going to need to work their way out of this spot? I don't know either.