Monday, June 24, 2013

Meeting the Team

This has been a tough season as a United supporter.  There is no shortage of things about which to complain.  Despite a league win last night and a decent run in the U.S. Open Cup that continues Wednesday, there is little hope for any meaningful turnaround.  And the long term prospects for the franchise are weak.

Still, there is nothing better in the professional sports world than being a D.C. United supporter and season ticket holder.  Today was the club's "Meet the Team Day."  In the midst of a historically bad season, players mingled easily with fans and the club made nearly everyone involved with the operational management of the team available to the public.  Coach Olsen didn't man an autograph table, but he did conduct a question and answer session with fans in the visitor's clubhouse.

The "Meet the Team Day" is a specially-calendered event with my daughter, the only absolute must-do of the season.  Every year it seems to get better.  More access, more activities, more opportunities for interactions.  The club may not be able to sell a stadium experience or an on field product that merits significant investment of time and treasure, but it can sell its people.

For professional athletes, the bulk of United's roster are ridiculously nice people.  Beyond their enthusiasm for making connections with supporters, the stories that staff tell about individual players paint a portrait of down-to-earth athletes who value camaraderie more highly than their own glorification.

This is the first year that my eldest has wanted to stay until the very end of the event.  That is almost entirely due to the players (face painting and dipping dots also played a role) and their families.    

Thank you, D.C. United, for another very nice afternoon.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


How quickly can a flailing, comically incompetent franchise turns its fortunes around?

It turns out that with capable management, pretty fast.

Attending Mystics games the past two seasons has been more of a political act than a chance to catch a sporting event.  I want my daughters to see women's professional basketball at Verizon because women's professional basketball should exist.  But its been a drag.  The coaching and management have been so horrid that you walk away feeling bad for the players and happy for the ones that were able to escape.  And with DC BasketCases bringing to a close their terrific blog, if the Mystics were terrible again this season, it is a tree falling in the middle of the forest.

So no pomp and circumstance for the game against the Lynx tonight.  I justified the trip downtown with reference to the homecoming of Georgetown's Sugar Rodgers and Rebekkah Brunson.

Now it bugs me that Washington opted for Ohio State's Tayler Hill over Tianna Hawkins in this year's draft.  But, with Hill getting significant minutes on the floor and Monique Currie and Crystal Langhorne at the 3 and 4, the 2013 iteration of the Mystics' is well-balanced inside and outside.

Yes, Washington fell apart in the fourth quarter.  But after scoring only eight points in the first nine minutes of the quarter, Washington notched ten in the last fifty-one seconds, including making eight of eight free throws and a back breaking nothing but net turnaround fadeaway jumper from Kia Vaughn.

Three wins in four games.  For a team that won five all of last year and six the year before that.  It has been a long time -- a long time -- since we have paid attention to the end of a Mystics game.  That was fun. 

Now if the team can convince enough people to show up to justify re-opening the Dunkin Donuts on game nights, we will be back in business.