Wednesday, September 26, 2012


As the team that finished with the worst record in the WNBA this season, the Mystics had a 44.20% chance of winning the first pick in the draft lottery held today, a 31.55% chance of getting the second pick, an 18.10% chance of the third, and only a 6.15% chance of coming out on the bottom with the fourth overall pick.  And so when WNBA President Laurel Richie this evening, live on ESPN's SportsCenter, revealed the Mystics' logo as she announced the team that drew the fourth pick, the only printable word the BCs could say was "un[blanking]believable."  What a sad moment for the Mystics fans and players.

And just to top off the heartbreak of today's lottery, the Phoenix Mercury  -- you know, the team with Diana Taurasi, Penny Taylor, DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree, the team that spent most of the season as the object of tanking accusations from many irate WNBA fans (the BCs among them) -- was the BIG winner of the number one overall pick, as in 6'8" super-talented BIG.  In other words, the winner of the BG-I sweepstakes.

Unbelievable. (Anything else we have to say is simply unprintable.)

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Thursday morning follow-up: a must-read post-lottery piece about the Mystics by ESPN's Graham Hays, here, as well as Mechelle Voepel's overall take on things, here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hoping It's A Lucky Number

To no one’s great surprise, the Washington Mystics announced today that they will not be renewing the contract of General Manager/Head Coach Trudi Lacey, who in two seasons at the helm of the team compiled a franchise worst record of 11-57.

Today’s move means that the Mystics will start their 16th season with their 13th Head Coach. The BCs think most fans would agree that it takes far greater stability in the coaching ranks than that in order for a franchise to become a consistent winner, a championship caliber team. Let’s hope that, for sake of the players and fans, Number 13 turns out to be a very lucky number.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

At last. It’s over. The Mystics' 2012 season came to an end last night with a loss in Chicago. So this one is history; it’s in the books. Washington finished the season with a record of 5-29, the worst in the WNBA. Dead last out of 12 teams. Just a single road win (in 17 tries). Not a single win “streak” (in other words, no back-to-back wins) in the last two seasons. The BCs confess that, when this season began, we didn’t think the Mystics were going to be a really good team, but with Mo back and a full roster of relatively healthy players, we never thought it would turn out this badly.  Were we ever wrong! 

After experiencing the team’s best season ever in 2010, Mystics fans have now had to endure the worst two-year stretch in Mystics franchise history. In 2010, the Mystics celebrated 22 wins, plummeting to a total of only 11 wins in the next two seasons combined (while losing 57 games).

But none of this is news to our readers. This season is over. And that, in the BCs’ opinion, is good news.

And the other “good” news is that -- thanks to the unwarranted dismantling of a successful Mystics team over the past two years by the owners and top management -- the Mystics are in an excellent position to gain back some ground next season by virtue of next spring’s college draft. (That is assuming, between now and then, they deal with their “leadership” issue, if you know what we mean.)

Finishing dead last in 2012 doesn’t guarantee the Mystics the first pick in the 2013 draft, but it does guarantee them the most ping pong balls. The Mystics’ actual draft position will, in fact, be determined this Wednesday, so fans don’t have long to wait for some possible “good” news. During ESPN’s 6 PM SportsCenter on Yom Kippur (the most solemn, holiest day of the year for Jews . . . pretty bad scheduling, WNBA!), the draft lottery results will be announced for the four teams that finished out of the playoffs.

If the ping pong ball gods smile on the Mystics, they will have the chance next spring to select at number 1, 2 or 3, meaning that Brittney Griner, Elena Delle Donne, or Skylar Diggins could be wearing Washington red next summer. Three outstanding young players; at least one possible “game-changer.” The owners and managers of the Mystics franchise don’t deserve this, but the players and fans surely do. And that makes us happy.

You know what also makes the BCs happy? All the money we’ve saved these last two seasons not buying playoff tickets means we have a little extra to spend on other sports . . . like jousting.

Did you know that jousting is the first official sport of Maryland? (Lacrosse is the second.) Well, it is. And yesterday, we got to see some very exciting jousting competition at the St. Mary’s County Fair. Only $5 admission! Pigs, goats, Clydesdales, 4-H, perfectly grown vegetables . . . and jousting. What a deal!

We think basketball fans who have never seen jousting would enjoy watching it. There are definite similarities between the two sports. The object of each is to use your skill to get something cleanly through a round metal ring. Except that in jousting, you’re galloping at full speed (or in the case of the kiddie division, trotting slowly) on the back of a horse, the “thing” you’re trying to get through the ring is a long pointy lance (not a ball), and the metal ring is as small, in some competitions, as a Life Saver. Other than those differences, the games are very similar.

One difference between the sports . . . but something the BCs particularly enjoyed, was that in the kiddie division, each competitor was dubbed with an appropriate jousting name. Like Maid of Cove Point Woods or Knight of Pax River Walmart. And when a “Maid” was cleared for action, the announcer would say, “Charge, fair lady!” Very cool. You’d like it. Now that you have some free time and money to spare, go catch a jousting match, we highly recommend it.

Enjoy the playoffs. Go out and have some fun, Mystics fans. You deserve it. And remember . . . the college season is almost here. Oh yea!

Photo Credit: DC BasketCases

Monday, September 10, 2012

When ESPN The Magazine dropped through the BCs’ mail slot the other day, we didn’t think we’d find much in this latest issue to interest us. After all, it’s the annual “Franchise Issue” containing rankings of what the magazine calls “every major sports franchise” -- which, to ESPN, means the teams that make up the four major men’s sports leagues -- the NBA, the NFL, MLB, and the NHL. In truth, the BCs don’t spend a great deal of time following most of those teams. (Though we did watch one helluva performance by RGIII yesterday!)

However, as we flipped through this particular ESPN Mag issue, one thing definitely caught our eye. Out of the total of 122 franchises in those four men’s major leagues, the Washington Wizards were ranked 118th overall. Ouch!! These overall rankings took into consideration such factors as “stadium experience,” “players,” “affordability,” “fan relations,” etc.

Here’s the thing, though:  as bad as the 118th overall ranking was for the Wizards, their ranking for the individual factor called “fan relations” was even worse. The Wizards finished 122 . . . out of the 122 franchises. DEAD. LAST. Yes, their “fan relations” were judged worst of all the men’s sports teams in four professional major leagues. 122 Ouches!  

Which got us to thinking. It doesn’t take an ESPN survey to know that the Mystics’ “relationship” with their fans is pretty strained right now. (Don’t take the BCs’ word for it . . . just check the comments on the Mystics' Facebook page after any Mystics game.)  If ESPN did a survey of the WNBA, we figure the Mystics would probably finish about 14th in “fan relations” (in a 12-team league).

So, that begs the question: what do the Wizards and the Mystics have in common? Well, besides the fact that they’re both pro basketball teams, there are two things for sure: 1) they have the same owners (Ted, Sheila, and the other partners at Monumental Sports), and 2) they share top management (Greg Bibb, Chief Operating Officer of the Mystics, who also serves as Executive Vice President of Business Operations for the Wizards.)

Hmmm . . . something to think about.   

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Something to Look Forward To

It’s been five months since the NCAA season ended; five long months punctuated by some pretty dismal professional basketball in our nation’s capital. Through it all, the BCs reminded ourselves that we have the Terps’ 2012-13 season to look forward to. But amidst storms, fallen trees, humidity, and triple-digit heat, that seemed like the distant future. But now, that future seems much more real, as today, Maryland released its new 2012-13 schedule . . . finally.

So now we have some real dates and some real games to look forward to, starting with exhibition games at the end of next month. Not that long to wait at all.

The big news this season, of course, is the expanded ACC schedule, with teams playing 18 Conference games, up from 16. This means the Terps will start ACC play in early December with a game at Comcast Center against UVA, while still in the midst of their non-Conference schedule. Fans already know the other “big” news, of course – a road game against UConn in Hartford on December 3rd, plus the back end of a home-and-home against the Blue Hens at Delaware on December 20th. That game will be another chance to see Elena Delle Donne play college ball before she graduates and turns pro . . . perhaps playing for the Mystics. (And who knows, maybe Vice President Biden will stop by to catch all the action.)

All that is still in the future (though not so distant). In the “now,” the BCs have tomorrow (Friday) night to look forward to. In fact, we’ve had one Mystics game circled on our calendars since the WNBA schedule came out . . . the LA Sparks’ only appearance at the Phone Booth this summer. The Sparks are an exciting team packed with many players the BCs look forward to seeing play in person. (WNBA Live Access is great, but just not the same as truly live action.)

First among them, of course, is Kristi Toliver, who just happens to be the reigning WNBA Player of the Month! Kristi has been shooting the lights out this season (hardly a surprise to Maryland fans). Three other Sparks should also be familiar to fans in the Phone Booth: Marissa Coleman, Alana Beard, and DeLisha Milton-Jones. All three will square off against their former team tomorrow night.

We’re really looking forward to seeing all of them play, but we’re particularly looking forward to Alana’s return . . . we haven’t seen her in anything but street clothes on the bench -- sidelined by injuries -- for two full years. Alana may be a Dukie, but she’s still a warrior and we’re so happy that she’s finally able to play again (and that she’s been playing so well lately). (In case you missed it, Mechelle Voepel posted a great story about AB earlier this week, here.) Of course, the Sparks’ roster also includes Olympic Gold Medalist Candace Parker, and the likely WNBA Rookie of the Year, Nneka Ogwumike. In other words, quite a lot to look forward to at tomorrow’s Mystics game.

But if that’s not enough, it was announced that tomorrow the Mystics will be honoring the 2012 ACC Champions . . . the Maryland Terrapins! So Coach B & Co. will be in the house . . . and probably on the court at halftime.

The Mystics may be lottery-bound (poor Lang, we feel for her). And the Sparks have already locked up a playoff spot. But the game should still be lots of fun. There will be plenty of Terps in the house, past and present (and who knows, maybe future).

We’re really looking forward to that!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Too High A Cost

The Mystics returned from the WNBA’s month-long Olympic break and picked up pretty much where they left off. Whatever the team worked on during the hiatus (swimming, for example) hasn’t translated into success on the basketball court.

With Thursday night’s 23-point loss to the short-handed, soap-opera-enveloped Atlanta Dream, the Mystics are now 1-6 since the Olympics, and, at 5-20 overall, the first team in the league to notch 20 losses this season (hardly an enviable achievement). Dating back to the start of the 2011 season, under the “leadership” of GM/Head Coach Trudi Lacey, the team is 11-48. Moreover, they have yet to record consecutive victories. Astounding, actually. In a span of 59 games, the Mystics have not had a single winning “streak.” Every one of their 11 wins was followed by a loss. Even the relocated, dismantled, reconstructed, under[wo]manned Tulsa Shock don’t have that distinction. Only the Mystics.

So what do the Mystics’ owners make of this trainwreck? Well, mostly, they aren’t talking. Majority owner Ted Leonsis blogs regularly about the Wizards and the Caps, win or lose. There’s a good bit of openness and transparency from Ted on his blog about those teams. But the Mystics? You’d be hard pressed to find any words about them on Ted’s blog this summer, except, perhaps, when John Wall was spotted at a Mystics game. But then on August 27th (3 months into the season), Ted broke his radio blog silence, posting that the Mystics had signed free agent Iziane Castro Marques.  In announcing the signing, Ted wrote that “We simply need more talent on our roster and adding a piece via free agency will help us . . .”

He also wrote: “We will most likely qualify for a high draft pick this coming off season and gratefully this is a very deep draft.” In other words, the owners, who retained (and even praised) Lacey after last season’s 6-28 showing, have chosen to publicly ignore her dismal record again this season. Instead of addressing the “leadership” problem, it appears they have written off this season and are looking ahead to what everyone who follows the sport knows will likely be a game-changing draft for several lucky teams next spring. In other words, this season’s players and fans be damned; if the ping pong ball gods smile on the Mystics . . . Washington might get Brittney!

Well, you know what? We don’t think that getting a Brittney Griner or an Elena Delle Donne or a Skylar Diggins on the Mystics is any excuse for the utterly abysmal and embarrassing basketball the players and fans have had to suffer through these last two seasons. The Mystics were on their way up in 2010. (Among other things, 20 [plus!] wins for the first time in team history.)  Since then, thanks to their savvy business moves, Mystics management have plunged the team into the basketball cellar, turning the franchise into the laughingstock of the league.

Yes, the BCs would enjoy watching Brittney (or EDD or Skylar) play. But No, we don’t think getting a high lottery pick, even in next year’s draft, justifies these past two seasons of misery. Ownership has failed the players and the fans. Some things just come at too high a cost.