In this President's Day edition of Chain Reactions, we check the panic level threat with the Washington Capitals, look back at the Washington Wizards' highlights of All-Star weekend, check the NCAA resumes of a pair of local college hoops teams, start the NIT watch for the other and the Washington Nationals' "Natural" continues to get rave reviews. All I want for President's Day, if anyone asks, is for Teddy Roosevelt to win a race this season.
Caps Panic Not at Code Red Yet
Watching Capitals games can take years off your life, especially on the current five-game road trip (2-2 so far) that will end on Monday night against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins. Following the comments on Twitter during games is highly entertaining and also speaks to the anxiety fans have about this season. Since the TSA is phasing out the color-coded terror threat levels maybe we should use it for to measure the Caps panic level.
After Sunday's hard fought 2-1 win at Buffalo, I would say keep it is on orange for now. It was a tough win that put them at 72 points on the season and firmly in 5th place in the Eastern Conference. I have said it from the start of the season: the Caps will be and should be measured on the post season. The regular season is just a necessary evil. So my advice to Caps Fans is to save the panic attacks for the playoffs.
"We talked about it going into the third that we had to have the will to persevere and the confidence that we could do it," Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Up until about five games ago we were one of the best third-period clubs in the league in giving up goals and we started giving them up and consequently we lost four out of five. But I thought they dug deep and they blocked shots and they did what they had to do tonight, and it was a hard-earned two points."
A Pair of Wizards Shine at All-Star Weekend
John Wall was the best rookie in the glorified pick-up game known as the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge at NBA All-Star weekend in LA. He even set a game record for assists with 22, looking at ease on the league's big stage. The hope for the Wizards is that these weekends will not be the only time he ever plays with All-Stars in his career.
Meanwhile JaVale McGee had to play the role of the Washington Generals in the Sprite Slam Dunk competition that already had a predetermined winner, Blake Griffin. Sure, Griffin earned it by dunking the best with use of props and expert product placement. The JaValevator had some great dunks and can't be knocked for much, except saving his most ordinary dunk for the finals. Maybe next time, he can jump of the Washington Monument while holding an NBA-endorsed energy drink.
"I knew Blake Griffin was the crowd favorite," McGee said. "I just wanted to make sure I came out hard and the most creative I could be. Definitely come out with something nobody had ever seen before. I felt like I had to hold it down for the whole city of D.C."
George Mason and Georgetown Keeping Rolling
The George Mason Patriots continue to be the hottest team in college basketball with a streak of 13 in a row after wins at Virginia Commonwealth and in the Bracket Buster over Northern Iowa. The Patriots should finally be in the Top 25 this week, and now are playing for a seed, not a spot, in the NCAA Tournament.
Georgetown, meanwhile, responded with a road win at South Florida after having their winning streak snapped at Connecticut earlier in the week. The Hoyas too are just playing for the highest possible seed at this point. A Big East Tournament win could secure them a two-seed, but right now a three- or four-seed is looking for likely.
Maryland's NIT Watch Gets Going
The fact that Maryland will almost certainly not make the NCAA tournament is not the most disappointing thing about this season. It is the fact that tickets continue to be available for games. There has been nothing more shocking to see than the commercials telling fans tickets are still available to Terps games. Apparently, football is not the only sport that needs to reinvigorate the fan base.
On the day Greivis Vasquez had his jersey raised to the rafters, there were plenty of good seats available, and you can't blame N.C. State's presence for the lack of fans in seats (although it didn't help).
"This is one of the best days of my life," Greivis said at halftime before he and his family scooted out. "Coach Williams. My guys from last season here. The crowd. I really loved it here."
Bryce Harper Already Swinging for Fences
No disrespect to Jayson Werth, Ryan Zimmerman or even the rehabbing Stephen Strasburg, but the guy who I continue to be most fascinated with in the Nationals organization is Bryce Harper. The 18-year old, whose skill set sounds like something out of a baseball movie, has already stated he hopes to get a September call up this year. Recently Hall of Famer Al Kaline, who did play in the Major's at 18, weighed in on Harper.
"I've watched him, and he looks like a phenomenal athlete and player. He is well advanced for his age," Kaline said. "He looks like he is going to be a great player. I love his swing. I love his approach. He has power, but he uses the whole field."