City Desk

Cheap Seats Daily: Trouble at the Top of DC Schoolboy Sports, Nats Keep Hopelessness Alive, United Wins in Front of Nobody, Danny Ferry Wins GM Award

Troy Mathieu has quit as athletic director of DC Public Schools. He didn't last a year. Mathieu had replaced Allen Chin, who had the AD job for decades but was an early sweepee of Michelle Rhee's broom. Based on limited exposure — mainly the flip-flopping and bungling I witnessed from her office while she was trying to install a five-year eligibility rule in DCIAA — I've never got the sense that Rhee takes school sports very seriously.

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The streaking Nationals captured their seventh loss in a row. The long skein was in jeopardy until Joel Hanrahan's bases loaded wild pitch in the top of the ninth.

I'm no Casey Stengel, but does anybody get why Manny Acta keeps throwing Hanrahan out there as the closer? How many dead will it take 'til he knows that too many people have died?

I, for one, miss Charlie Slowes' "Curly W!" calls on the radio.

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DC United took a four-goal lead and didn't blow it all in beating HATED RIVAL the New York Red Bulls, 5-3, at RFK. The game was billed as a play-in for the U.S. Open Cup, a tournament that goes back to 1914, and which United won last year. I always thought the defending champion automatically qualifies in major soccer tournaments — World Cup, Champions League, etc. Only about 5,000 fans showed up for the game, so maybe United fans figured the same.

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DeMatha's own Danny Ferry has been named NBA Executive of the Year by the Sporting News. The Cleveland Cavaliers GM, Bob Ferry, won the same award twice during his days as general manager of the Washington Bullets, despite making these first round picks over his years here: Tom Hammonds, Mugsy Bogues,

Anthony Jones, Melvin Turpin (over John Stockton), Kenny Green (over Karl Malone), Randy Wittman, Wes Matthews,and Roger Phegley.

But, as Dad found out twice, if the team wins, the GM wins awards.

(But who would draft somebody named "Roger Phegley"?)

Danny Ferry was originally drafted out of Duke in 1989 by Spingarn's own Elgin Baylor, longtime GM of the L.A. Clippers. But Ferry opted to play in Italy rather than sign with Baylor's perennial doormat.

Baylor won the Executive of the Year Award in 2006, then the Clippers fired him at the beginning of this season. His replacement, Mike Dunleavy, had the foresight to win the 2009 NBA Lottery.

Baylor, the greatest player DC ever produced, surely earned his legend status. But, as the Clippers' draft lottery win hints, good things happen to teams when he leaves. Awesome trivia about Baylor: The game after he retired as a player in the middle of the 1971 season, the Baylor-less Los Angeles Lakers began their NBA-record 33-game winning streak. The Lakers then went on to win the NBA title that season. Baylor, for all his greatness, never won a championship.

Sorta Awesome Trivia about Baylor: The R&B singer Ginuwine, a local product who grew up in PG County and had several hits a decade ago, was born Elgin Baylor Lumpkin.

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Another local boy, Chantilly's own Brandon Snyder, might yet live up to the potential he showed in Little League .

Snyder is only 22, but folks around here have been watching him play ball for a long time. After his Little League exploits, he went on to be a superstar at Westfield High and then the Baltimore Orioles made him their first round pick in the 2005 MLB draft.

Snyder gave up scholarship offers from the best college programs in the land to sign a seven-figure deal with the pros. But things didn't go all that well for Snyder as a pro, as he went through several position changes and had serious shoulder problems.

After three years in the O's organization, he was still toiling in Single-A ball.

But just when he seemed destined for Bust-hood, Snyder is making folks take notice again. Back in the area and playing for the O's AA affiliate, the Bowie Baysox, he's currently leading the Eastern League in batting average (.373), RBIs and slugging. Having seen Snyder hit a last-inning homer to win a CYA Little League championship when he was a little kid, I'm rooting for him!

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Things are also looking up for swimming in the Potomac River: The river will be open for business for TWO days this year! DC has just been awarded the North American stop on the Dextro Energy Triathlon tour, an Olympic qualifying series. Organizers have just released the course for the event, to be held on Sunday, June 21, and it starts out with competitors diving into the Potomac River.

Folks used to dive in the river all the time — a century or so ago. But runoff from farms and factories early in the last century turned the Potomac in the DC area into one of the dirtiest water bodies in the land. When he signed the Water Quality Act of 1965, President Lyndon Johnson said: “I pledge that we are going to reopen the Potomac for swimming by 1975.”

Obviously, that never happened. Instead, in 1971, federal and local authorities made swimming in the river a crime punishable by a $300 fine. But with the advent of the Nation's Triathlon being held here each September in recent years, it became legal to jump in the Potomac on that race day only. Nation's Triathlon and Dextro Triathlon spokesperson Jennifer Devlin says all the permits have been obtained to open the river for swimming for the new race, too.

I love the idea of swimming in the Potomac. This is a good thing.

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