Where I’ve been and what I’ve missed over the last two weeks:
⦁ Took a long-desired trip to Italy and met family in Grumo Appula, a small town just outside of Bari — the first American family member to return since my paternal grandfather and grandmother left 109 years ago. Ate lots of pasta, drank lots of wine and saw the sights, including a tour of the Vatican and the Sistine Chapel.
By the way, it’s harder to get into Nationals Park than it is to get into Italy.
⦁ I swear while I was looking up at the Sistine Chapel ceiling, I saw the face of Washington Redskins president Bruce Allen in one of the panels. I asked the tour guide about it, and he got a look of horror. He just kept muttering, “Principe Delle Tenebre. Principe Delle Tenebre.” (use your Google translate, kiddies).
⦁ Turns out that according to TMZ, Redskins owner Dan Snyder was in Italy at the same time, reportedly on his new $180 million yacht. We didn’t run into each other. But I took a lot of pictures of the Colosseum, if he is looking for a model for his new stadium.
⦁ I didn’t see much of an American sports presence in Italy. Here is the count on American sports merchandise walking around there: Seven New York Yankees hats, one Yankees jacket, a Don Mattingly Yankees T-shirt, three San Francisco Giants hats, a Chicago Bulls hat, a Brooklyn Nets sweatshirt, a Troy Polamalu Steelers jersey, a Steelers shirt, an Oakland Athletics shirt, a Boston Celtics shirt and a Jacksonville Jaguars shirt. I didn’t see any Dwayne Haskins No. 7 Redskins jerseys, though.
⦁ I missed all the pageantry over the handing down of Joe Theismann’s No. 7 jersey to Haskins and Haskins, the entertainment company that also employs quarterback Dwayne Haskins. It was quite the orgy while I was gone for a player who had yet to step into the Redskins’ locker room, let alone take a snap for this team — but nobody did this young man any favors here as a football player with the special dispensation allowing him to wear Theismann’s jersey. Then again, it isn’t about football.
This kid is going to walk into that veteran Redskins locker room with more power and influence than any other player in there. He has a special relationship with the owner, despite claims otherwise. He was the only player the owner met in combine interviews, and reportedly was it was the owner who called Haskins and Haskins to give them the news he was the Redskins’ No. 1 pick in the draft. And now he has a jersey that for 33 years, no one had been allowed to wear.
Yes, Theismann gave his blessing after Haskins had publicly let Redskins fans know he would love a chance to wear the jersey.
What was Theismann going to say? No?
It’s not a position any Redskins veteran whose number has been unofficially retired should ever be put in position to have to make. It should be a team call, and the best thing for the rookie would have been for the Redskins to tell him to pick another jersey and make it special in your own way — not grant him special privileges before he ever takes the field.
⦁ While I was gone, the Nationals continued to struggle, and no one has any real answers. The bullpen has been a disaster, but let’s remember many national baseball pundits said Washington had the best offseason of any team in baseball. People have criticized the owners, the Lerner family, for being cheap, and they have a long list of transgressions. But the Nationals are sixth in all of baseball in payroll spending, and that should be enough to field a competitive team.
Of course, the manager is always the target of fan wrath when things go bad. But after watching this team in spring training, I came away thinking Dave Martinez deserved credit for getting 82 wins out of last year’s team that had two starters each on one leg and a defense up the middle that included Matt Wieters and an out-of-place Bryce Harper in center, among other issues.
I can’t really tell you whose fault it is for this bad start, except like general manager Mike Rizzo said, it’s everyone’s fault. But I can tell you this — there’s no reason anyone should be paying attention to former Nationals’ franchise gravedigger Jim Bowden, who recently called Martinez “one of the worst managers I’ve seen in the big leagues in a long time, to be honest with you.”
One reason I know that’s garbage is Bowden is incapable of being honest with you, with me, with anyone.
He’s lucky he managed to escape consequences other than losing his job in the Smiley Gonzalez Dominican baseball scandal. He better hope some of his past dealings with the Nationals don’t catch up to him someday.
⦁ Finally, I never felt so good about missing a chance to bet on the Kentucky Derby than this year, when Maximum Security was disqualified for interfering with War of Will and several other horses runs.
Given how the Derby, with so many horses, is as much demolition derby as it is a race, I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often.
It was the right call, though, a call that would have likely been made the same at most other tracks in the country on their daily racing schedule.
Of course, if I had Maximum Security on a ticket, I might feel differently. Instead, I was in the arena where they used to bet on gladiators, Christians and lions.
See, we have come a long way.
⦁ Hear Thom Loverro on 106.7 The Fan Wednesday afternoons and Saturday and Sunday mornings and on the Kevin Sheehan Show podcast every Tuesday and Thursday.
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