Category Archives: The Pros

Content about professional sports here and around the world.

Media Release: WRGW To Broadcast DC United “College Night” Game Against New York

WASHINGTON, D.C. – WRGW Sports – Colonials Radio Central, the George Washington University campus sports radio outlet, will team up with Major League Soccer club D.C. United to provide a live English broadcast of its “College Night” Game against the New York Red Bulls.  It will be the first time in department history that the station will carry an MLS game. Purchase discounted tickets for $20 here.

“D.C. United is excited to provide this unique opportunity to WRGW in connection with our College Night this Saturday against the New York Red Bulls,” said D.C. United Chief Operating Officer Michael Williamson.

WRGW Sports’ Assistant Director Jeff Pawling (Sophomore – Marina, CA) will take on the play-by-play role while Assistant Director Mike Martenak (Sophomore – Lacey, NJ) and Max Blackman (Sophomore – Arlington, VA) join him in the booth as analysts. Executive Director Nkwa Asonye (Senior – Baldwin, NY) will roam the sidelines as a reporter and host the broadcast’s halftime show.

“We want to thank D.C. United and its staff for making this broadcast opportunity possible,” said Asonye. “In the past we as a station have done games for the Bowie Baysox and worked with the Washington Mystics, so it’s a real privilege to have yet another chance to work with a professional sports franchise.”

The Black-and-Red and New York face off for the second time this season after the bitter MLS rivals battled to a scoreless draw at Red Bull Arena on March 16th. Both squads enter the game within a point of each other in the Eastern Conference standings in the early part of the 2013 campaign. Going into Saturday, United goalkeeper and Annandale, VA native Bill Hamid is currently tied for second in the League with shutouts and is also second in the League in terms of saves.

Coverage will start Saturday night at 6:50 PM from RFK Stadium. Listeners can tune into the broadcast from WRGW’s main frequency found on gwradio.com and wrgwsports.com. Those away from a computer can also listen using the TuneIn Radio app by searching for “WRGW” and selecting “District Radio”.

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Contacts:
WRGW Sports: Nkwa Asonye – 516-698-5089 (sports@gwradio.com)
D.C. United: Sarah Lerner – 202-587-5440 (slerner@dcunited.com)

Stain on the Game – The Empty Baseball HOF Class of 2013

Nkwa Asonye
Executive Director

For only the eighth time ever and the first time since 1996, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America elected no one to the Baseball Hall of Fame. And it’s a travesty.

As the baseball writers submitted ballots last month, Jon Alba, one of my campus media colleagues from Quinnipiac made a thought-provoking statement. As people debated on his Twitter feed – myself included – he stated that the game itself is “built on lies.”

For instance, when you ask most people who invented the game of baseball, even reputed scholars will say that it was mythical figure Abner Doubleday. In fact, it was Alexander Cartwright back in 1848 who first thought of the concept of having nine men on the diamond.  Tactics that involved pitchers altering the baseball using spit, Vaseline, and even thumbtacks is simply noted as a rough period in the live ball era.  Anyone in that era who didn’t know about such actions simply wasn’t paying attention.

With this empty class vote, writers who didn’t care to ask questions, former players who watched their teammates juice up day in and day out, and front offices that looked the other way want to invent a morality clause to be inducted to Cooperstown for this era.

Seriously?

Even with the BALCO scandal unfolding in the early 2000′s, baseball as a whole was content to have muscularly bloated superstars smack majestic 450 foot bombs so long as nobody asked any questions.  Pitchers who couldn’t scratch 85 miles an hour with a nail on a clay wall could suddenly throw 96 miles an hour with movement and the players’ association sold it to the public as the product of early development and intense lifting programs.  Yet to protect the “integrity” and “sanctity” of Cooperstown, even a hint of suspicion keeps out players like Mike Piazza, a 12-time All-Star catcher, and Jeff Bagwell, a .297 career hitter, both of which could very well be clean.

The same Hall of Fame that is too good for those in the Steroid Era houses a KKK member (Tris Speaker), a commissioner who fought the hardest against integration in the game (Kenesaw Mountain Landis), and one of the most notoriously dirty pitchers in history (Gaylord Perry). That doesn’t make sense to me either.

I don’t know how to fix it, but I do know this: it just isn’t right.

The game should be ashamed.

Lance’s Statement? Not Buying It.

Nkwa Asonye
Executive Director

With Lance Armstrong’s white flag of surrender coming late Thursday night against what his statement called US Anti-Doping Agency’s “unconstitutional witch hunt”, the world of sports as we knew it is officially dead.

Gone are the days of human bodies doing supernatural things and the public soaking them in with blind, jubilant amazement. That amazement has now turned into a combination of wonder and sneering skepticism.

Some may argue that the perceived invincibility of athletes died around 2005 when Congress called past heroes Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Rafael Palmeiro to the Hill to account for use of performance-enhancing drugs. Consider this, though: Armstrong was the last relevant retired athlete contending innocence of using them. Yet now through his statement he essentially says, “Forget this system; say what you want about me because I’m getting a raw deal anyway. I know I’m a winner and so do you.”

Come on, Lance…I’m young, not stupid.

I understand that the USADA is significantly overreaching its bounds especially since all other international cycling bodies have steered clear of the issue entirely. But when the federal government took Roger Clemens to court for perjury charges, he beat them. Mind you, it took FOUR YEARS. Yet a seven-time Tour de France champ fighting for his legacy couldn’t stand a two-month fight?

The only reason for dropping the fight that makes sense is that he’s only trying to protect himself from any more damning information being released. You’d never quit a competitive game, so if there’s a chance to win and put this thing to rest why not go for it? For Armstrong, there’s no point in justifying his retreat unless he feels he’s protecting something. What exactly he’s protecting, I have no idea. What he’s paying, however, is an extremely high cost.

Understand this: the man defined an international sport for over a decade. When he recovered from late-stage cancer to set the Tour’s win record, his star power skyrocketed even more. Even fans who knew nothing about him would flip to Versus just to watch him race before flipping back to SportsCenter…only to see his highlights minutes later.

But he’s willing to let it all go. He can live with being banned from the sport for life and putting “an end to this pointless distraction.” What’s pointless about the nation’s Olympic drug tester contending that you cheated during your whole career? In this day and age, using the word “steroids” to talk about an athlete is like pulling a fire alarm in a crowded mall. “Cheater” is even worse.

I guess the fight isn’t worth it. “Enough is enough.”

Lance Armstrong is not the tragic hero he wants you to believe he is. He would just rather commit legacy suicide than let the USADA pull the trigger. For his sake, I hope it’s worth it.

Strasburg Decision an Unfortunate Irony for Rizzo

Bryan Albin
Associate Sports Director

Allow me to preface this article with one nugget of information; I am a diehard fan of the Washington Nationals. In 2001, as a 10-year-old aspiring socialist (please don’t tell Glenn Beck), I switched my baseball allegiance from the storied, financially-endowed New York Yankees to the ownerless Montreal Expos. The same franchise that was playing several home series a year in Puerto Rico. The same franchise that played its other home games in an Olympic Stadium with a retractable roof that didn’t always retract. The same franchise that has only had one legitimate shot at the postseason since 1994 (when its first place run was ended by the strike), leading them to trade away Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Grady Sizemore for a two-month rental of Bartolo Colon. Therefore, before thinking I’m just another journalist writing about the impending shutdown of Stephen Strasburg, let me warn you, I’m a completely biased fan. I’m a fan being told that my team’s ace isn’t going to pitch in what appears to be an inevitable trip to the postseason, its first trip to the postseason since 1981, out of fear of potential injury, not an actual injury.

Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo’s decision to shut Strasburg down will be unprecedented. Just about every Washington baseball fan will likely be headed to the first playoff games of their lifetimes in October (the district hasn’t had a playoff team since 1933), yet the team’s most important player will be involuntarily sitting them out and (knock on wood) he will be healthy at the time. It will be the most talked about, critiqued and even ridiculed decision that a baseball GM has made. Instead of going for the championship now, Rizzo will shut Strasburg down with the hope it might help him avoid injury in the future. There’s no way to know if this strategy will keep him healthy in the future. There is only the knowledge that the Nationals playoff rotation without Strasburg will not be as good as one with him.

This innings limit has been tough to accept. It will be even harder to stomach the first time John Lannan pitches in September in Strasburg’s spot in the rotation. It’s a blow to know I’ve waited for 11 dreadful seasons to see the Nationals make the postseason, and now Rizzo will sit one of the best pitchers in baseball throughout the playoffs as a precaution.

Yet, the person I feel worst for is not myself. It’s not fellow Nationals fans. It’s not Strasburg, even though his dream of pitching in the postseason is going to be postponed at least one more year. It’s not the Mark DeRosa’s and Adam LaRoche’s who are probably in their last year with the Nats, making this perhaps their best chance at getting a ring. It’s Rizzo, the man sitting Strasburg, the man who claims this decision as his and his alone.

While baseball experts and fans bicker back and forth about whether or not shutting Strasburg down is smart, or if Rizzo at least could have managed the innings limit better, it seems people are taking for granted the astonishing fact that the Nationals are sitting at 73-45 entering Friday’s game against the Mets. Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, Michael Morse, Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos and Drew Storen have all seen the DL for extended periods of time. The Nats have had injuries to four catchers and they sit at 73-45. Does anyone even remember the fact that the franchise has averaged 70 wins a year since moving to Washington? Sure, most people thought Washington would improve from last year’s 80-81 mark, but did anyone expect them to have baseball’s best record on August 17th? I think not.

How did the Nationals get from a 59-103 team in 2009 to where they are right now? Behind the shrewd decision making of Mike Rizzo. Rizzo became interim GM in DC after Jim Bowden resigned in March of 2009. It was Rizzo who drafted Stephen Strasburg , which was a no-brainer. However, he was able to get him signed, which many thought would be difficult due to the money being commanded by Scott Boras. It was Rizzo who traded journeyman outfielder Ryan Langerhans to Seattle for a minor league infielder by the name of Michael Morse. Morse hit 31 home runs filling in for Adam LaRoche last season and continues to be a .300 power hitter. LaRoche was brought in to replace Adam Dunn when Rizzo refused to give Dunn a four year deal. LaRoche and Dunn have had similar two year stretches with LaRoche coming at a much more affordable price. It was Rizzo who drafted Bryce Harper in 2010, again getting him signed before the deadline. In 2010, Rizzo called for minor league shortstop Danny Espinoza to get ample playing time at second base in a September callup, putting him next to young shortstop Ian Desmond, getting the present double-play combination an early start. When Desmond struggled in 2011, Nationals fans called for Rizzo to trade him, with B.J. Upton’s name being rumored as a possible prize in a trade. Rizzo held on to Desmond who was an All-Star this year. His signing of Jayson Werth to a seven year, $126 million deal was laughed at, yet it never appeared he expected Werth’s numbers to live up to the contract. Instead, it appeared to serve the purpose of warning baseball that Washington was coming, and they were willing to pay for talent willing to jump on the bandwagon.

Yet the deal that probably put the Nats over the top this year was the offseason trade Rizzo orchestrated to score Gio Gonzalez from Oakland. Rizzo had to give away four strong prospects, including Tommy Milone, to get Gio, but it was a luxury afforded to Rizzo after several successful drafts. Rizzo immediately inked Gonzalez to a five-year extension before he threw a pitch for the Nats. Gonzalez has responded with 15 wins and an that’s hovered around 3.00. Rizzo also brought in Edwin Jackson to add depth to baseball’s best rotation.

Instead of panicking at this year’s trade deadline and trading away the farm system for a rental impact player, Rizzo sat tight. He then found a way to make a trade through waivers for Oakland catcher Kurt Suzuki for essentially nothing. Suzuki is now the Nats starting catcher over Jesus Flores and will likely platoon with Ramos when he returns from injury in 2013.

Therefore, the situation Rizzo has put himself is an irony not quite of Shakesperean proportions, but pretty darn close. He probably made the decision that Strasburg would pitch 160 or so innings in 2011, around the same time Jordan Zimmermann was pitching his limit-shortened season with great success. Like most people in baseball, Rizzo probably targeted 2013 as the year the Nats would ascend to the top tier of baseball. Yet, his masterful job of reconstructing a failing ballclub has them contending earlier than expected. Now, an innings limit that likely wasn’t expected to keep Strasburg out of a postseason run will. Instead of being recognized for his incredible accomplishment, Rizzo will go down as the bald guy who shut down his best pitcher in the midst of a pennant race.

It’s really quite a shame that it is the Strasburg decision that likely will define Rizzo’s career. Instead of appreciating that Rizzo is about to bring playoff baseball back to the district for the first time in 80 years, people are yelling about the innings limit. It appears that unless the Nats win the World Series this year without Strasburg, there is no vindication in sight for Rizzo. Even with a title in 2013, the knowledge that 2012 could have happened too will linger.

But I’m ok with it. In fact I admire Rizzo for what he is doing. In a “me-first” business often mistaken as a “team-first” business, Rizzo is making a decision with the sole intention of protecting the health of one of his players. Does Rizzo reap the benefits if Strasburg is healthy for the next 10 years? Yes. But if he overworked Strasburg to a World Series title this year would he be immortalized? Absolutely. Therefore, I can’t fault Rizzo for being protective of Strasburg. Furthermore, when I came to GW, I hoped that I’d get to go to a playoff game in Nationals Park before I graduated. Rizzo’s work is about to make that hope a reality. He’s been right an extraordinary amount of time over the last four years. So right that he’s earned the right to be wrong, if he even is wrong.

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