City Desk

Cheap Seats Daily: Michael Vick Is the New Justin Timberlake?

kenny royI wrote a column this week about one of the bizarrest happenings in local prep ball history, and a game I'd been hearing about for years: The 1970 summer league matchup between John Thompson's St. Anthony's squad and the Morgan Wootten-coached DeMatha.

They were the two best teams in the city back then, and played before a huge crowd on a little outdoor court at Jelleff.

Well, they sort of played. Thompson made the evening memorable, though for wholly unsporting reasons. He kept his star-stocked lineup, full of future NCAA Division 1 players, on the bench, and instead sent in a ringer squad of non-basketball players to face DeMatha. The Stags took no pity on the replacements, crushing the kids in St. Anthony's uniforms, 108-26.

DeMatha players and the hoop-crazy fans who believed the hype and took the trouble that hot summer night to get to Jelleff, a boys club off Wisconsin Avenue, are still peeved at Thompson for making a mockery of the matchup.

But at the time the future Georgetown legend was anything but contrite.

(AFTER THE JUMP: Thompson ducked Wootten for Ducking Thompson? Nats win a video replay battle, lose the war? Larry Weisman practices the real new journalism? Michael Vick is the new Justin Timberlake? Greyhounds have friends?)

Thompson said his prank was to get back at Wootten for ducking his team in a year earlier in a postseason tournament: "I hope everyone who was there the other night and everyone who was interested was disappointed," Thompson told the Washington Post. "Then they'll know how my kids felt last year."

They don't have high school rivalries like that anymore. Or, if there are, they don't get written up on the front page of the sports section. Also, how many times do you have a high school matchup that can boast three future Hall of Famers — Thompson, Wootten, and DeMatha's Adrian Dantley? Basketball was indeed king around here back then.

The whole thing would make a good documentary.

***

Nats lose, 7-5. Starting pitching doesn't hold up, bullpen doesn't hold up, and immediately after a video replay turned a homer from Brewers Ryan Braun into a triple, Garrett Mock wild pitches the dude home from third. Few hints of Thunderation, is all I'm sayin'...

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Training camp opens today. I get more excited about the start of football season every year. I don't know if it's me or the NFL publicity machine.

Speaking of: Larry Weisman practices the real new journalism. The longtime USA Today writer and football savant left the newspaper biz a couple months ago to work for Dan Snyder's PR staff.

Weisman's duties will include writing faux news stories for the Redskins website, such as today's piece on Jim Zorn's status. (Weisman's real stories are still appearing in real newspapers.)

It's a good thing Zorn wasn't fired after his team sunk to 8-8 last season, Weisman's hired hands type: "Lessons were learned last year, Zorn said. Hard lessons, some of them. Now more teaching commences, more building takes place and, executed properly, sets the stage for further development. That’s the hope. That’s the plan."

Readers could mistake Weisman's work for a newspaper story. And, I'm sure Snyder would admit: That's the hope. That's the plan.

I'm surprised Snyder hasn't given Weisman a faux radio show yet, too.

***

The Great Dan Steinberg showcases a pack of fans who came to Redskins Park to lobby for the signing of Michael Vick. When asked how he'd feel if Vick were actually brought to DC, one says: "Have you ever seen a girl at an 'N Sync concert?" I sorta get it, but would have been more convinced if the answer was something like: "Have you ever seen Michael Vick when his brown pit bull rips the throat off another guy's pit bull wide open, and collects on his $40 bet?"

Now THAT's excitement!

***

Not everybody is mean to dogs. This weekend, folks who care about the conditions of the greyhound breed are holding a convention in Massachusetts. The worries come from the decline of greyhound racing in this country, and the lack of concern the rest of the world has about the welfare of the racing dogs. A huge greyhound adoption network has sprung up in the U.S. in recent years with the help of animal rights groups and the racing industry, but apparently the dogs have a less rosy post-racing future elsewhere.

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Story tips? Wanna Play the Feud? Tube amps for sale? Send to: cheapseats@washingtoncitypaper.com

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