The SemiColumn: Late Spring 2016 Notes and Thoughts

By | May 27, 2016
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As a cautionary tale to anyone who might be considering making the same mistake I did: if you’re deciding wedding dates with your fiancée, and you happen to love sports, do NOT choose a wedding date in May or June.

I spent most of the past April and May trying to find any possible pocket of time to watch the NBA Playoffs, the NHL Playoffs, the NFL Draft, and maybe a Nationals game here and there, all while avoiding getting the death glare from the woman who would’ve preferred I used my time to help her with mind-numbing decisions like whether we should print things on 65lb ivory card stock or 90lb pearl ivory card stock (in other words: every normal guy’s definition of Hell). Given that, there was a whole bunch of material that i’ve been meaning to get to, but could never do so because of the succubus that is wedding planning destroyed all my free time.

Now that the aforementioned wedding planning succubus is dead and things are (FINALLY) somewhat back to normal, here’s a bit of a late-spring brain dump on random things floating around in my head:

1. The Redskins and the 2016 Draft — After openly talking, before the draft, about hoping to procure 12 picks when it was all over, it was a little surprising to watch Redskins General Manager Scot McCloughan finish with only seven selections when the 2016 NFL Draft weekend concluded (four of those seven picks were taken in the fifth round or later). But then you take a look at the fact that he’s already set up the Redskins with nine draft picks for the 2017 draft — picking up an extra fourth, fifth, and sixth for next year in trades made on draft day — and realize that we’re watching the work of the best personnel executive this team has had since Charley Casserly.

The Redskins will have a VERY busy offseason next year, when a bunch of players might end up walking because they can only afford to pay so many players. If they don’t sign Kirk Cousins to a long-term extension, they might have to kick that can to next offseason. Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson will be free agents. So will Junior Galette, Will Compton, and Chris Baker. A whole bunch of role players like Duke Ihenacho, Nick Sundberg, Logan Paulsen, Josh LeRibeus, Chris Thompson, Kedric Golston, Ty Nseke, Greg Toler (recently signed to a one year deal) will be free agents as well. Plus, they might have to start thinking about extensions for Morgan Moses and Spencer Long (set to be free agents after 2017). Sure, they’ll have a bunch of money they can use after dumping the contracts of Perry Riley, Shaun Lauvao, and maybe Kory Lichtensteiger (god I hope so), Stephen Paea, or possibly even DeAngelo Hall or Colt McCoy. But they’re still going to need to find a bunch of (cheap) bodies to replace some of those outgoing bodies, so those extra draft picks are going to come in handy.

2. Redskins cornerback Kendall Fuller on the mend — Loved hearing that Redskins cornerback Kendall Fuller, the team’s third round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft (out of Virginia Tech), was fully participating in team drills during the Redskins’ recent voluntary team activities. Fuller missed most of the 2015 season after having the often-dreaded microfracture surgery on his knee — although it was performed by orthopedic shaman Dr. James Andrews (who also happens to be a medical consultant for the Redskins) — which likely was a big reason he was still available in the third round of the draft. But just over a week ago, Fuller told reporters that his knee was “near 100%,” and it’s great to see that his personal prognosis wasn’t just empty rhetoric.

When healthy, Fuller is an intriguing prospect. For those familiar with Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s defensive modus operandi, Fuller is right out of that mold: a tough-minded and competitive cornerback who uses instincts and anticipation to make plays on the football, and is more than willing to hit anyone with the ball in their hands. Fuller, like his many of his fellow Hokie defensive backs, are best utilized in zone or off-man coverage, because they tend to gamble a bit, and thus can get beat by double-moves. Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry played one the most generic and vanilla Cover 3 schemes on defense for much of the 2015 season, which Fuller would actually be a good fit in. Assuming he’s fully ready to go for training camp, he’ll be in the mix with Quinton Dunbar and Greg Toler as backups and sub-package players behind Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland.

3. The Wizards losing lottery ticket — For a brief few hours, I (foolishly) had visions of the Wizards somehow beating the 3%-ish odds and somehow securing a top three pick in last week’s NBA Draft lottery.

They didn’t even have to win the lottery outright; getting the second or third overall pick would’ve been delightful. If they got the second pick, I could’ve convinced myself to get excited about someone like Brandon Ingram (assuming Ben Simmons goes #1 overall), even though 1) Ingram’s body looks like a six-foot-ten version of Steve Rogers before he was injected with the super solider serum, and 2) Ingram went to Duke, meaning every instinct I have says I have to strongly and vehemently dislike him.

With the third pick (assuming Simmons and Ingram would go #1 and #2), they could’ve potentially Dragan Bender from Croatia. Think about it: his name is Dragan. Yes, pronounced like “Dragon.” The headlines would’ve written themselves. Remember when the “Dragons” was one of the finalists when the team was changing their name from the Bullets? Wouldn’t you have been in favor of the team changing their name to the Dragons, if Dragan Bender became the next Kristaps Porzingis? As an aside, personally think they should’ve gone with the “Sea Dogs” all along, but that’s just me. Plus, what about the raging boner Ernie Grunfeld would’ve had, if given the opportunity to take a European player like Bender? My god, you’d have to literally pry the KY lubricant and Kleenex tissues out of Grunfeld’s hands, while he watched Bender work out.

But, all of that was for naught, because the lottery basically unfolded as chalked, with the Wizards getting the 13th pick and being forced to ship it off to Phoenix, per the terms of the trade in which the Wizards acquired Markieff Morris. And, of course, to tie a bow on all of this, Morris was detained yesterday at Philadelphia International Airport after he had marijana in his possession. Just great. The moral of the story? I’m a DC sports fan, which means I/we can’t have nice things.

4. Four Random Parting Thoughts:

A. As a self-professed former comic book nerd, I watched the newly released “X-Men: Apocalypse” with guarded expectations amidst the less-than-stellar reviews coming out in recent days… and still walked away from the movie underwhelmed and disappointed. The guys over at 20th Century Fox — who just came off a total smash hit in Deadpool, which was hilariously brilliant — tried to take a page from The Avengers franchise by stuffing a whole lot of interesting comic book characters in one film. But, whereas the The Avengers franchise does such a great job in giving equal time and effort to develop each character’s story, the extended cast in X-Men: Apocalypse just felt haphazard and wasteful.

En Sabah Nur (better known as Apocalypse) is one of the most powerful villains in all of Marvel, and the film did a good job of showing off some of his bad-assery early on. But otherwise? They totally wasted the talent of Oscar Isaac (who plays Apocalypse) on a character who felt more like a grumpy cult-leader than the omniscient and omnipotent harbinger of death. Same for Michael Fassbender and his performance as Magneto; Xavier’s iconic foil was basically relegated to a brooding underling to Apocalypse. Scott Summers (Cyclops), who was already a hard-to-like goody-two-shoes in the comics, was an unconvincing, Justin Bieber-esque, pointlessly-rebellious and unlikable douche. Storm and Angel were totally forgettable. Olivia Munn (as Psylocke) was basically 60 seconds of irrelevant eye candy; it’s a god damned travesty that she got so little screen time, given that she wore the already-jaw-dropping Psylocke costume so well. For a film with such a “loaded” cast, the final fight against Apocalypse — presumably the part of the movie where you want to give people their money’s worth, considering Apocalypse is basically invincible and immortal — felt brief, rushed, and rather anti-climactic.

I know Bryan Singer opened the door for the next X-Men villain (and film) in the post-credits scene, but i’m really curious to see if they’ll move forward with such a project, after this film was easily the biggest dud in this rebooted trilogy. On an academic-style A through F grading scale, I’d give the movie a C-/D+.

B. If Jeff Fisher — head coach of the Los Angeles Rams (saying “Los Angeles” part still feels strange), finishes the season with nine or more losses, he’ll have more losses than any coach in NFL history. Let the record show that: 1) he hasn’t led a team to a winning season for seven-straight years, and 2) he’s proven that the key to coaching longevity in the NFL apparently isn’t about wins and losses, but how much you’re liked by key members of the NFL main office and national media.

C. Speaking of mediocre head coaches who just won’t go away: we could/should rightfully crush the Houston Rockets hiring of the (rightfully) much-maligned Mike D’Antoni. Talk about an unimaginative and uninspiring hire, especially for a team whose main superstar (James Harden) already plays the laziest defense i’ve ever seen. But I get the feeling that this decision wasn’t made by Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey. From reading the tea leaves, it looks like Rockets owner Leslie Alexander was a significant factor in hiring D’Antoni, as Alexander wanted the team to move to more of the oft-discussed “pace and space”-style of play. That’s all well and good, but did a team whose superstar already plays the laziest defense you’ll ever see, need a coach known for a poor defensive track record? Ask the Wizards what happens when you play pace-and-space on offense, with no defense behind it. But, things like this happen when the owner hijacks the process, taking away the power from the people he hired to run the organization.

D. After the Washington, D.C.-area recorded one of the coldest months of May in my lifetime — I read a stat somewhere that said something to the effect of the average daily temperature this past May in the DC area was colder than that of the Anchorage, Alaska area — i’m dumbfounded and appalled by the amount of people complaining how “hot” it is, just because the temperature (finally) broke 85 degrees. For one, it’s about damn time. Two, would you rather go back to the “didn’t see the sun for more than 10 straight days”-type weather we previously had? Three, it’s almost summertime; what the hell else were you expecting? People who are complaining about the fact that it’s warm and sunny outside — again, it’s May — should be flogged.

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