ESPN hockey analyst Bill Clement says the Washington Capitals could be "America's Anonymous Team," just as the Dallas Cowboys are "America's Team." Back when Clement played for the Capitals, he probably wished to have been anonymous.
After two Stanley Cup championship years with the Philadelphia Flyers, Clement was dealt to Washington for the 1975-76 campaign, a season in which the second-year Caps could muster only 11 wins and 10 ties in 80 games, one of many, shall we say, lean seasons for the franchise.
"That's a euphemism," Clement said jokingly yesterday during a conference call. "I've always felt that the pleasure one derives from something is relative to the pain one had to endure to get there. In this case, we're talking about year after year, 24 years of pain for the Washington Caps."
But the cloud that has seemingly hovered over the Capitals franchise for nearly a quarter-century has blown away with its first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, and Clement, who received the first of two All-Star nods in his lone Washington season, says that it's karma that has brought the Caps to the doorstep of a title.
"It's almost as if it was fate that it happened this year," Clement said. "The team moved from no-man's land where we could never develop a fan base in Landover to the MCI Center, and all of the positives came at one time. The man that I'm happiest for is [owner] Abe Pollin, who stuck with this thing and never wavered and has tried to put a winner out there, based on what his own fiscal philosophy is, and here they are."
Clement, who will settle in for games 2, 3 and 4 of the Washington-Detroit series, says he was surprised by the Capitals' rather timid showing in Tuesday's series opener.
"I was disappointed in Washington. I didn't expect them to be that nervous. When that happens, you get brain-lock and you don't get revved up as much as you need to," Clement said.
Gary Thorne and Clement will call the action beginning at 8 p.m., with Darren Pang and Brian Engblom serving as ice-level reporters. Former Channel 2 anchor John Saunders is host of the pre-game show at 7: 30 p.m., with Barry Melrose as his studio sidekick.
By the way, Tuesday's Game 1 got a 2.6 rating and 4 share of the local audience on Channel 45.
So, did you happen to catch this new rating system that ABC has signed on for when it carries the new college football Bowl Championship Series starting next fall? You get the feeling that deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics will be simpler than figuring out who's No. 1.
Rather than contort and convolute the process of getting a national champion, let's just simplify it all with one word:
For those who believe that Magic Johnson is the greatest hoopster of all time (this writer included), it must be painful to see the first few episodes of his new chat show, "The Magic Hour," airing each weeknight at 10 o'clock on Channel 54.
So far, however, Johnson, who possessed myriad basketball skills, has only shown the ability to fawn over his guests, who have, in turn, fawned over him. It's almost like watching ESPN's Stuart Scott or NBC's Ahmad Rashad suck up to Michael Jordan for an hour, only Johnson has a band and a sidekick.
Johnson is capable of better, and one can only hope that he tones down the gush before he gets bounced on his tush.
You have Bulgaria in the office World Cup pool, but you'll be away from a TV set all day? Fear not, for during the tournament, there's a web site, www.kgoal.net, that will provide an e-mail for every goal that is scored.
Of course, we are talking about soccer, so you'll probably not be disturbed more than, oh, once or twice a day.
Our man on the hardwood
It has been accurately said, mostly by athletes, that those who can't participate write about those who can, but every once in a while, a member of the Fourth Estate is recognized for an ability beyond that of banging out copy on deadline.
The Sun's NBA beat writer, Jerry Bembry, has been named to an informal first team of basketball-playing writers compiled by Chicago Sun-Times columnist Rick Telander, who describes our man as "an undersized power forward like Dennis Rodman without tattoos, weird hair, attitude or entourage," also noting that Bembry "camps out like a fire hydrant underneath."
Who are we to argue?
The ratings for the top 10 most-watched sporting events on broadcast television in Baltimore last weekend:
Event .. .. .. .. .. ..Day .. ..Ch. .. .. ..R/S
Jazz-Bulls .. .. .. .. Wed. .. .11 .. . 14.6/26
Jazz-Bulls .. .. .. .. Sun. .. .11 .. . 13.1/20
O's-Braves .. .. .. .. Fri. .. .13 .. . 12.5/22
Jazz-Bulls .. .. .. .. Fri. .. .11 .. . 11.6/21
Belmont .. .. .. .. .. Sat. .. . 2 .. . 10.0/24
O's-Red Sox .. .. .. . Thu. .. .13 .. .. 9.8/17
O's-Braves .. .. .. .. Sat. .. .45 .. .. 5.3/16
NBA Special .. .. .. ..Sun. .. .11 .. .. 4.3/10
French Open .. .. .. ..Sat. .. .11 .. .. 4.0/11
Hoop-It-Up .. .. ... ..Sun. .. .11 .. .. 3.7/9
Pub Date: 6/11/98