October 30, 2015

Wizards 2015-2016 Over / Under

It's October 30. Game two of the 2015-2016 Wizards NBA season is tonight in Milwaukee and despite the lack of national media attention, I'm bullish on the Wizards. Most preseason predictions I have seen have the Miami Heat or Atlanta Hawks (but mostly Miami) winning the Southeast Division and the Wizards finishing with a win total anywhere from 41 to 47. I'm hoping for more.
This is not the first time I've felt this way. There have been years when the Wizards finished horribly and completely out of the playoff picture when I thought we had a shot at winning at least the Southeast. But I think this year is different and there are a ton of unknowns going into the season that the national media can't be all that smart on: new small ball offense, John Wall and Bradley Beal's development over the summer, a deeper bench and hopefully a fully awakened and ready to produce Otto Porter.
So in my glee and excitement at the new season, I've decided to take a stab at predicting some performance this year. If I'm right about all these, I'll be a happy man at the end of the season. If I'm wrong, I'll stop doing this forever.


Wins. Vegas opened the over / under betting for Wizards wins this year at 45.5, so that's the number I'm using. Two seasons ago the Wizards won 45 games, which tied the highest regular season total since the 1978-1979 season when the then Bullets won 54 games. Last year they bested their previous season by a single game and crept within one win of 47, a regular season win total achieved by every franchise in the league the last 15 years except the Wizards.

Last year the Wizards started the regular season 19-6 which would have put them on a 62 win projection. By the mid-point of the season, they had 28 victories under their belts for a 56 win pace. But just after the Martin Luther King holiday, the bottom fell out and they managed just a 4-13 record over their next 17 games. And they still managed to win more games than the franchise had enjoyed over the past 35 years. This year, I'm thinking there's no mid-season slump and this is finally the year the Wizards manage to get that elusive 47. Not going much higher than that and I'm not picking a number, but I think they beat it. I say OVER.


John Wall Assists per Game. 8.3, 8.0, 7.6, 8.8, 10.0. Those are John Wall's assist per game averages for the first five years of his NBA career. This year, the Wizards and head coach Randy Wittman have concocted a "pace and space" offense that pushes the speed of the offensive execution game plan in the hopes of outrunning every other team in the league. During the preseason that ended just last week, the Wizards had the league's best offense, averaging 112.3 points per contest. That's a lot higher than last year. More points equals more assists, right?
Maybe not. I mean, yes, the Wizards will likely have more assists if they score more points, but I'm not wholly convinced John Wall's assist average goes up. Other people can pass the ball, right? I may have no idea what I'm talking about here but I'm thinking that's what's going to happen and Wall's assist number will actually drop this year. I'm going UNDER here.


Bradley Beal Games Played. Why 64.0? Because that is the average number of games Brad has hit the floor in his first three seasons in the league. In his first two years in a Wizards uniform, it was leg issues which kept Bradley from playing a full schedule; last year it was a wrist injury. Despite how high everyone is on Beal, if he can't stay healthy for a full year at a time, then he's not going to have the impact everyone hopes he will have and he's not going to get that max deal he's looking for that will make him the second highest paid Wizard next year behind Kevin Durant. Hey, it's worth a shot...
So we're one game in and so far, so good. Bradley not only looks like he's operating in playoff mode as far as his production goes but he also looks way more serious. I'll throw out a bit of a non sequitur and offer the opinion that this change in demeanor is going to carry his season. He needs to be out on the court a lot more both for himself and for the team. His body has gone through three seasons and may have learned what it can do and what it can't do. I'm OVER on this one. Brad plays and the Wizards win. More than 45.5 games anyway.


Halftime Shows. Think you are getting Steve Max and Simon Sez this year? What about Drums of Thunder? Or University of Maryland Gymkhana? Or Quick Change? Those guys are fantastic.
I'm thinking no. Based on the last couple of years sitting in my seats at Verizon Center, I'm thinking no way! I know I've already written about this issue twice in this blog so I won't rant again. I'm prepared for a lot of kids playing basketball at halftime this year. I'm safely thinking I'm taking the UNDER on this one.


Division Titles. This is my sixteenth year as a Wizards season ticket holder. Know how many banners we've raised for winning anything in that time? Zero. None. Zip. Zilch. Squadoosh! No NBA Championships, no Conference Titles and no Division Titles. Every other team except Memphis (same division as San Antonio, Dallas and Houston) and the current version of the Charlotte Hornets has one for winning their division in that span.
I know most people don't care about a division winner, especially now that the NBA has changed the rules to deny division winners a guaranteed top four seed, but the Wizards winning the Southeast Division is my highest hope for this season. I get that it doesn't mean much but there are no Wizards banners hanging at Verizon Center. And if nothing else, it would mean a ton to me. So I'm going with the emotional decision on this one and picking the OVER. Please. Please. Please.
I've been historically terrible about predicting the future so I don't know why I'm even bothering but that's my take on the Wizards season at the beginning. Let's see how I feel about all this in mid-April when the regular season is over. Let's go Wizards! Win in Milwaukee tonight!!!

October 21, 2015

Free Stuff! 2015-2016 Edition

For the last couple of weeks now, I've been checking the Washington Wizards website for news of the in game giveaways for the upcoming 2015-2016 NBA season pretty much daily. OK, so maybe twice per day on some days. This is an essential milestone for us diehard Wizards fans as we get to the beginning of the new season. There have to be more games to circle other than those featuring top opponents. The promotional calendar fills in some of the gaps.

I can't find the Wizards promotional calendar on their website, nor did I manage to find one of the little fold out paper schedules at Verizon Center during one of our preseason contests (it's probably too early for that). But a Google search today yielded a webpage that gave me some insight into what to expect. It's about time. I imagine eventually, some more details will be added, but for now this is all we have.

So this year, there is some good news and some bad news.

First the bad news: once again, there are only four games on the schedule with giveaways. That's the same as last year, one fewer than two years ago, two fewer than three years ago and overall just pathetic. The NBA is rolling in cash and the Wizards list of corporate sponsors riveted to the outside of Verizon Center has grown over the summer and they can only come up with four games? The Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings have more bobblehead giveaway games than the Wizards have giveaway games. Those franchises get it.

Yes, there's an Otto Porter bobblehead this year but no, it ain't free. Check the price, folks. Still hoping for Randy Wittman as the free bobblehead.

Now the good news: there IS a bobblehead giveaway, although right now it's an unspecified person (almost wrote player there but I'm still holding out hope for a Randy Wittman bobblehead) and we have to wait almost the entire year to get it. The graphic above featuring the Otto Porter bobblehead is from the Wizards' Kids' Club page and is not (hopefully since I'll already have one) the freebie. The bobblehead is without question, hands down the primo in-arena giveaway and everyone knows it. I'm glad to see it return to Verizon Center after a one year absence. The Wizards and their sponsors didn't heed my advice despite the fact that I tweeted it three times, but they did put one on the docket.

Here's a look at the schedule in detail. Don't worry about having enough time to read this. It won't take long; there are only four dates, after all. As usual, I provide my exclusive swag-tastic rating for each item.

Schedule Magnet (Essential) and T-Shirt (Unless you actually wear XL shirts, it won't fit)
October 31 vs. New York
Yep, that's right, opening night this year is a double header of giveaways. Not only do you get the can't-go-through-a-Wizards-season-without-it schedule magnet for your fridge or other favorite metal surface, you also get a t-shirt. 

So I'm obviously excited about the magnet, which serves as my touchstone for dates and times of all Wizards contests throughout the year. I couldn't survive the fall, winter and early spring without this thing. I can't wait to put bring this home after killing the Knicks on halloween. 

I guess the t-shirt is nice but honestly, they come in one size (XL) and one size does not fit all here. I'll likely put mine on at the game, bring it home, maybe work out in it once and then have it sit in a drawer until I decided to either take it to Goodwill or throw it away. Make the shirts in more than one size, please.

Team Poster (Pass)
December 6 vs. Dallas
The team poster has been a staple of the Wizards not so imaginative giveaway schedule for the last few years. Yep, it's a nice graphic that looks professionally produced but I'm way beyond the age where I'm tacking free posters on my bedroom wall. I'll walk right past this one.

Snowglobe (Intriguing)
December 23 vs. Memphis
OK, so now you got my attention, Wizards. I have never ever seen a snowglobe giveaway in my life and I could very much like it. The details of the item have yet to be released but hopefully it's not G Wiz inside the dome with the fake snow. This could be cool. I'm very much looking forward to December 23, which is seasonally appropriate for this gift. If it actually ends up being a G Wiz dome, I'm hoping he's not sporting a Santa costume.

This has nothing to do with this post but I found the picture above online and knew I had to include it in this post. Who (other than Jason Baxter, of course) would buy a customized basketball snowglobe where the Jets are beating the Giants 27-21? Do the people who market these products even watch sports at all? On the other hand, any time the Jets are beating the Giants, I'm all over that. Go Jets! 4-1 start this year, baby!

Bobblehead (Essential)
April 10 vs. Charlotte
So it seems the Wizards saved the best for last, although since it's person TBD, I was forced to use the generic bearded white professional in the number 28 jersey graphic instead of something actually resembling the real product. Kudos to the Wizards for hearing the voice of the fan and putting a bobblehead back in the lineup.

I have just two wishes here. First, I'm hoping they are not double dipping on the Kids' Club and giving away two Otto Porter bobbleheads with different signs on their bases (this one is sponsored by Capital One). And second please please please give us a Randy Wittman bobblehead. I've been requesting this one for a couple of years now. Please make my wish come true. My head would explode if this actually happened by the way.

So that's it. That's the whole rundown. Circle the dates on your calendar but don't worry if your pen is almost out of ink, there's not a lot to circle. Can't wait until April 4!

October 10, 2015

What's New At Verizon Center?

October is a glorious month. It's the first full month of fall, the days are getting cooler and of course it means the start of the NBA season and that's probably the most important reason I love October so much. This week the Wizards play all of their three home preseason games before heading out on the road for the last four before the regular season begins down in Orlando on October 28.

I love the first preseason game each year. It's such a relief to get back to Verizon Center after a summer off and see some basketball once again. It's also interesting to see what kind of changes have happened to the streetscape in Penn Quarter. Maybe there are some new restaurants or stores or maybe construction has started on some block or other or a building's been torn down. I was a little surprised this year. This is the first time in years I can't remember something substantive changing on my walk from Metro Center to the arena.

But if there's nothing outside changed, there's plenty of new stuff inside. And I'm not talking about Bradley Beal's headband or the Wizards new three point heavy offense with everyone including Kris Humphries bombing from beyond the arc or Marcin Gortat's new number. Nope, I'm talking about all sorts of stuff that makes the fan experience at VC come together. There's no doubt some deliberate changes happened these past few months. Here's what I noticed in the first two preseason games.

Etihad Is Coming
Actually, Etihad is here. And it's pretty darned obvious. Towards the beginning of this year, Verizon Center brought on Etihad Airways as a pretty significant sponsor. Etihad is probably most famous in the major sporting world for sponsoring the Barclay's Premier League's Manchester City uniforms and to a lesser extent their stadium. This sort of sponsorship is likely the ideal vehicle to raise the profile of a middle eastern airline dying to get people from the west to come to the UAE and spend some dough.

But until they popped up at VC last season, their presence in the United States was relatively invisible. And this season they have popped up in a big way. You can't escape the permanent signs in the end zones of the building. Becoming a sponsor at the Wizards and Caps arena is probably the first step towards something bigger. My money is still on seeing Wizards games in the Etihad Center in a couple of years, assuming Verizon decides not to re-up their naming rights. Etihad can probably out bid them significantly if they really wanted to anyway.

The Bone
OK, so The Bone wasn't open for the first preseason game but I'm hoping it will for all 41 regular season home games. I've long been disappointed with Verizon Center's food offerings in my first 15 years of being a season ticket holder so getting a barbeque place set up by a local microbrewery (Heritage Brewing Company out of Manassas) seems promising. I've had Heritage's Freedom Ain't Free beer before which I think is pretty good so that might be a good omen.

Now, I've written in this blog before about how I've been disappointed in general with barbeque food so there's some hesitancy to my optimism. I also acknowledge that Verizon Center has made some strides in adding legitimate restaurants like Hard Times and Greene Turtle (go ahead and debate the "legitimate" part if you must and both are now gone from VC) and to me it hasn't worked. I honestly tried multiple times to like the Greene Turtle food and I just couldn't. Nonetheless I do have some hope and I'll give it a shot. Let's get this thing open.

I discovered Poutine for real when I visited Toronto last fall to watch the Wizards fall hard and quick to the home Toronto Raptors. It's the most simple and delicious of meals which is not particularly good for you at all. It's a heap of French fries with gravy and cheese curds. Sometimes there are other toppings or add ons on there but in its most basic form it's fries, gravy and curds. Yummy!!!

So imagine my excitement when I saw a sign advertising two different types of poutine at Verizon Center on my first visit there this past week. I had to try this. There are two types of poutine available at Verizon Center. I opted for the bacon ranch.

For sure there are fries and cheese curds in this dish and as advertised, there is bacon and ranch dressing. But I wondered how the gravy component would work in what was likely a cardboard container before ordering and my initial suspicion was that it wouldn't. I was sort of right. It was only at the end of me shoving fries into my mouth that I even found any gravy at all. When I did, it was OK for stadium food. But poutine it ain't. I'm still hopeful for The Bone. Not sure I'm trying the pulled port version of this dish.

Wizards History Display
The notion of incorporating displays of memorabilia or other items celebrating the history of Verizon Center's residents was clearly not an idea that was integrated into the initial design of the building. Over the past decade or so, displays have been shoehorned into whatever space could be made available to connect the building's concourse to the action happening on the court or ice. It started with the Bullets' 1977-1978 championship trophy on the F Street side of the arena and last season, the Caps added a hat trick display on the opposite side of the building.

I've been in other newer arenas on much larger sites in the past couple of years where these displays are much better. Orlando's arena has a large history of the Magic gallery and Philadelphia's arena on the south end of the city has a much more impressive hat trick exhibit. Verizon Center just doesn't have the space available so I guess we take what we can get. I'm glad Monumental Sports is doing this sort of thing.

Over the summer, a Wizards history display was added on the mall side of the building near last year's Caps display. It's a simple case showing off the team's multiple jerseys since 1961 when the team was founded as the Chicago Packers. There is some narrative describing the team's history as it moved from city to city to city and changed it's nickname four times in addition to a technically correct but perhaps a bit misleading (on the contribution to team history side) list of Hall of Famers who have played for the franchise.

I find two things especially interesting about this display. First, it's the only I've ever seen a Chicago Packers jersey. I had no idea they wore red, white and blue. Secondly, the franchise, especially under former owner Abe Pollin's tenure, seemed reluctant to acknowledge the first two years the team spent in Chicago as the Packers and Zephyrs. Many items of memorabilia for sale over the past dozen or so years at VC have had a 1963 founding date, which is the year Pollin's group first bought the club and moved it to Baltimore.

I like pretty much everything about this addition. It's a nice touch, I think, especially for newer fans. Oh and the jerseys…Walt Bellamy (8), Earl Monroe (10), Wes Unseld (41), Bernard King (30), John Wall (2), Antawn Jamsion (4). Elvin Hayes (11), Gus Johnson (25) and Terry Dischinger (43). I had to look up Dischinger. I don't get that one.

Beer Prices
I know what you are thinking...beer prices went UP? AGAIN? Yep, it's true. The biggest swindle in all sports arenas is still beer. And because so many people (myself included) can't help themselves from drinking beer at sporting events, the price keeps going up. Like every year. Or at least it seems like it's that way.

I think I can remember way back to 2000 when I first became a Wizards season ticket holder. At that time or shortly thereafter, a draft beer was $7 for a 24 oz. cup. Over the years, the cost of tap beer inched up a bit until the price stabilized when the arena reduced the cup size (sneaky...) and then it kept going up again.  Get used to it beer drinkers. It's going to continue to rise. This year's 25 oz. can of Budweiser (my preferred beer selection due to a combination of "savings" with the bulk buy in a way-easier-than-draft container) jumped from $11 last year to $11.50 this year.

Skycam in action. Just above the referee on walking up the court near the Verizon Center graphic.
This year, Comcast SportsNet and the Wizards have decided to install a mobile camera system which will bring angles of the game for the home viewer previously un-seen. Sounds great, right? I'd love to get as many different views of plays as I can when I'm at home sitting in my lounge chair watching the Wizards. So why isn't this great? Well, let me explain.

The camera runs along a series of cables hung from the structure of the arena on the north side of the main scoreboard. That makes sense. They can't hang it from the center of the building because of the scoreboard and the views taken from the north side would show the court as the correct way up (i.e. the court graphics would not be upside down on TV). The problem? When you are sitting in the 400 level on the north side of the building, especially in row C of 415, the camera flies over the court and obscures my view of what's going on every so often. Maybe it will become less obvious as I watch more and more from upstairs at VC, but for now, it's made my seats obstructed view at times. That's not good. I'm not a fan.

I think Verizon Center hit on some of these alterations and missed on others. Call me a complainer or resistant to change or whatever, but there are some things here that don't add to my experience at VC. Keep changing. It's the only way things will get better. One more preseason tilt tomorrow then I'm looking forward to getting back to the building October 31 for the home season opener.

List of Hall of Famers that played for the franchise in the Franchise History display. There maybe too many here.

October 5, 2015

Baltimore Pride

A couple of months ago, an official "2015-16 NBA Season Identity Updates" sheet got unofficially posted on Twitter to the delight of folks like me craving any sort of NBA news in mid-July. I suppose the same image was leaked through other media outlets as well but since I get at least 95% of my NBA and Washington Wizards news from Twitter, from my perspective it was leaked on on that site. Now this sort of unexpected preview of uniform adjustments league-wide for the upcoming season is nothing new. It happens pretty much every summer despite the information being clearly labeled "CONFIDENTIAL." Somehow, someway an anonymous source finds one of these things, snaps a quick pic and posts it on the internet.

So there we had it. Our first look at all the upcoming uniform re-brands from the much improved Milwaukee Bucks' kits to the garish neon green/yellow in the Atlanta Hawks' new duds to the horrendous please make it go away 2015-2016 Los Angeles Clippers unis. The sheet also included some alternate uniforms for the upcoming season plus a series of "Pride" jerseys, which is the Adidas name for the sleeved or t-shirt type uniforms introduced by the league's exclusive apparel provider some years ago. In the far right of the Pride Uniform section was exhibited the first ever Washington Wizards sleeved jersey. Ugh!

Since the sleeved jerseys were forced on the NBA by Adidas during the 2012-2013 NBA season, the Wizards have managed to steer mercifully clear of these abominations. Call me closed minded for not embracing progress but they look like they should be handed out at a rec league by a hardware store or pizza restaurant sponsoring a local after hours team. To me, they are unnatural, have no legitimate precedent in the league and are just a way of making more money for the Adidas and the league. I guess someone may argue that folks are more likely to wear these things in public and I suppose that's true. Of all the uniforms in the four major sports, the NBA jerseys are definitely the toughest for guys like me (read: non-cool middle aged white men) to pull off.

Despite my pretty much universal hatred of these things since they were introduced, there are one or two that I have to admit I actually like. Last season the Detroit Pistons played in sleeved jerseys bearing the name "Motor City" which I love; Detroit and the automobile industry in the United States will always be unmistakably tied together and honoring that connection in a basketball jersey is terrific.

I also like the Los Angeles Clippers' sleeved kit, which considering their recent atrocious re-brand (yes I do pan this look every chance I get even if I've already done it more than once in the same blog post) ought to just be retained as their primary uniform. Their baby blue jerseys and shorts harken back to a design used by the team in the 1970s. I like the jerseys but I really really like the shorts, which use nautical alphabet flags to spell out LAC on the sides. I love these shorts a lot.

I'd consider buying a Motor City shirt or some light blue Clips' shorts but if I were a Brooklyn Nets' fan, I'd for sure buy one of their sleeved jerseys, which I consider brilliant. Most teams' sleeved jerseys are manipulated versions of their primary uniforms or logo sets which stay true to the colors and imagery in their primary home and away unis. The Nets decided to do something subtly different. Sure, the design of the shirts is about as straightforward and simple as their standard jerseys but they introduced blue and gray colors for their t-shirt jerseys to evoke the old Brooklyn Dodgers, who left New York for Los Angeles in 1957. The Nets relocation to Brooklyn was the first time that the borough had a major professional sports franchise since the bums split town. I love this idea and these shirts. I'd have one in my closet without question if I were a Nets fan.

Former Wizards Shaun Livingston and Paul Pierce rocking the awesome Nets sleeved jerseys.
I thought that the Wizards' somewhat complicated uniform design would act as some insulation against the team ever being forced to wear a sleeved jersey. Clearly I found out earlier this summer that I was wrong. The design of these things that were revealed in what is likely a camera phone snap of something that wasn't supposed to be seen showed a design similar to the uniforms that the team wore over 40 years ago when they were in Baltimore as the Bullets. Last week, we got an official look at these things, which either the team or the NBA has dubbed the Baltimore Pride jerseys. Bradley Beal and John Wall are modeling them in the photograph below for us all to umm…admire.

This is worse than I thought it could be. Not only do the Wizards finally get sleeved jerseys but they are based upon some of the most awful (if not THE most awful) uniforms the franchise has ever had. Uniforms designed with sashes on them like our players are in some sort of antiquated pageant weren't a good idea in the 1970s and they certainly aren't now. Sure the Portland Trail Blazers seem to pull this sort of thing off every year successfully but they aren't using the radiused corners on the blue and white stripe that the Bullets used in the 1970s or the Wizards are using this year.

There's no question that the Baltimore Pride unis do an accurate job of replicating their inspiration. Just check out Wes Unseld in the picture below. But I don't get why we need them and I'm certainly not buying one. I applauded the concept of the alternate blue uniform last year when it was revealed, although I also decried is as a shadow of the awesome primary home and away jerseys we enjoy most nights when watching the Wizards play. I won't do that here. Two thumbs down for these jerseys.

Finally, do any NBA players actually like playing in these things? I remember when the microfiber composite basketballs were introduced in 2006 and the entirety of the NBA Players Association revolted (well...except Gilbert Arenas who seemed to love them and the numbers show it) forcing the NBA to rescind the rollout. During the 2013-2014 NBA season, LeBron James actually blamed the sleeved jerseys for an off night of shooting. Now, if you read this blog regularly you know how much stock I place in LeBron's statements about everything and I can and will easily dismiss this as more whining to deflect blame from himself. But I haven't heard one player actually praise sleeved unis. Maybe in 2017 when the Adidas contract with the NBA expires we'll see the end of these things. Can't come soon enough for me. I'll be cheering just as loud as ever for the Wizards in their Baltimore Pride shirts but I'll be wearing a real jersey when I do.

October 1, 2015

Paper Tickets Are Back!

Two years ago, I wrote a post in this blog lamenting the death of actual paper season tickets in favor of a swipe/scan card system adopted by the Wizards for home games at Verizon Center. I was upset at the time on a number of levels but first and foremost among those was the loss of a critical game day souvenir for those of us who tend to save such things. And I really really used to save basketball tickets.  Until the Wizards stop sending them to me that is.

I wrote that post in the fall of 2013 after the second consecutive year of receiving nothing in my Wizards season ticket package except an electronic card, a couple of advertisements from Verizon Center sponsors and some lanyards which used to be for holding tickets but now somehow were for the one electronic card delivered to me. Why I needed four lanyards for one card I still to this day don't understand. It's not like these things wear out quickly. At the time I thought it was the end of an era and that I'd never again hold a paper season ticket in my hand.

I remember the day I got my first delivery of printed, full-color, high quality graphic Wizards season tickets. After my first season using monochromatic Ticketmaster tickets (no real idea why it happened that way), I finally felt I'd arrived. At last, I'd be able to enjoy the cache that came with presenting a genuine season ticket to the folks guarding the doors at Verizon Center. No more would I be some scrub buying individual game tickets. The ticket taking staff would recognize my commitment to our local five instantly, even if it did take five seasons before we even made the playoffs.

One of the thrills of receiving my season ticket package used to be discovering which players made it onto the season tickets. Look, after two months being starved for basketball happenings, this is big news. The guys on the tickets were the guys that the franchise intended to build around, or at least we thought so. Jared Jeffries? Al Thornton? Andray Blatche? JaVale McGee? Steve Blake? Jarvis Hayes? Yep, all those guys made it onto season tickets in the past. OK, so maybe getting your mug put on the tickets was the Wizards' equivalent of the Madden NFL curse.

But two days ago, my world changed. My 2015-2016 season tickets arrived and THERE ARE PAPER TICKETS INSIDE!!! Yep, for some reason (and I assume it's not my blog post from 2013), the Wizards decided last spring during season ticket renewals to offer the option to fans of receiving actual tickets that you can hold for their loyal fans. And of course, I jumped at the opportunity. Yes, that likely means I'm killing trees by requesting these things and I really truly feel bad about that. I promise I'll re-think this every year. Promise.

Over my 15 prior years of Wizards season ticket holder membership, the Wizards have delivered some pretty OK packaging ideas. I don't think anything has topped the paint can delivered prior to the 2002-2003 season and sure some have been total duds (much like the on-court performance some years) but I look forward each early fall to what's going to show up at the concierge desk of my condo building from Monumental Sports and Entertainment. 

This year's package is a telescoping box featuring a panoramic photograph of Verizon Center during a Wizards game with the tickets, lanyards, a note from the Wizards and a couple of advertisements inside. The note promised at least one lapel pin which appeared to be missing from my box. I'm sure the Wizards can fix that omission pretty easily for me. The team's new primary logo (which I love and have already bought two shirts which feature it prominently) is front and center of the box when in the closed position and I guess the packaging is a pretty decent idea this year. It's not 2002-2003 but it's better than some other years.

But the big excitement of course is who's on the tickets???

Well, this year the Wizards opted to go with four players: Marcin Gortat, John Wall, Otto Porter and Bradley Beal. I think this is a pretty smart choice. The four players divide perfectly into the 41 regular season plus three pre-season game schedule although honestly I think Nenê is getting slighted here. I get that Wall and Beal are the stars of our team, Otto's poised for a breakout year and Marcin is here for another four years (in theory). But Nenê was the first man in to making this team credible and he's still a super important part of this squad. I would have put him on the tickets.

Actually, if it were up to me, I'd just have everyone on the team have their own individual ticket. I suppose that may present issues if someone got cut from the team but heck, we already put Chris Whitney on the 2002-2003 tickets and then let him go before the season started so it's not like we've had issues with that in the past. It's not up to me and so given that, I'm fairly pleased with these season tickets. I know they are not the best I've ever had but I can touch them and hold them and they will be so much faster than the card I've used the past three years. Thanks, Wizards! Can't wait for preseason game number one in five days. FIVE DAYS!!!! Are you kidding me? It's that time of year…

What I've waited for the last four years...