Holden Kushner's Nationals Minute


Holden Kushner's Nationals Minute

Thursday May 6, 2010 12:51 PMUpdated: 10:07 PM

By Holden Kushner

A Day In The Life of Making Nats Minute

3:40 PM: Walk into Nationals Park in new sneakers, nice shorts and my favorite Tommy Bahama shirt.

3:41 PM: Head to the Braves locker room to find Bobby Cox to get a tutorial on how to get ejected from a baseball game. Cox has been ejected more than any other man in the history of the game.

3:45 PM: Cant find Bobby Cox. Want him to give me a video tutorial on how to get ejected, but I know he doesnt like to talk about it. So I give a head nod to Chipper Jones and keep walking out of the locker room.

3:45:23 PM: I have no idea if Jones even acknowledges my presence. Obviously I care.

4:01 PM: After a 15 minute cat nap in the bullpen, I track down General Manager Mike Rizzo. Yours truly asks him about John Heymans report that the Nats are going to hire uber-phenom Bryce Harpers coach so they can assure themselves that Harper is comfortable when he is taken first overall in the June draft.

4:02 PM: Rizzo tells me the report is explicative. Lets just say false. I concur. By the way, this is the same reporter that reported Jerry DiPoto was going to be the next General Manager of the Nationals days before Rizzo got the job.

4:03 PM: Time to stop B-S-ing and get to work. I have a video to shoot.

4:06 PM Talk to Bobby Cox in the Braves dugout for about 10 minutes. We talk about how D.C. can be a baseball town if the Nationals get to the postseason a couple of years in a row. He also asks me how Im doing.

4:06:21 PM: Im doing well.

4:15 PM: Cant ask Bobby Cox to do the video tutorial. I know it will upset him because he doesnt like to talk about it. He reminds me of my Grandfather. I wuss out on asking the question.

4:16 PM: I say adios and head to the Nats dugout.

4:23 PM: Danny Rouhier and I do our stand-ups as we get ready to shoot this:

4:37 PM: Out of nowhere a security guard tells us he doesnt have a tazer and nobody in the Park has one. He has no idea we arent talking about moronic Philly fans.

4:38 PM: The same security guy jokes that hes tazed his wife for making a bad dinner. Not exactly PC, but really funny. I get the sense its a good thing he doesnt have a tazer and has never had one.

4:40 PM: John Lannan agrees to star in our video. He asks a good question: Holden, who let you on the field?"

4:41 PM: I ponder who actually did allow me on the field and why they agreed to do so.

5:21 PM: Grab Adam Dunn out of the dugout after batting practice. He thinks we are doing a boring interview on defense.

5:23 PM: Dunn learns were doing a spoof and decides to tell us about the pee test he needs to take immediately. Hes accommodating, gives us a sound bite and leaves with a smile.

5:27 PM: Ian Desmond agrees to be a part of our endeavor. We talk about how he learned to use his glove by putting it on his left hand and not on the right. Brilliant!

5:28 PM: Desmond tells me, This better not jinx me on defense.

5:30 PM: I tell Danny goodbye and walk up to the press box with camera manproducer Brian Jackson.

5:40 PM: Stuff my face with the media buffet.

7:00-End of the game: Watch the Nats lose in extra innings. Zero errors by Desmond. Whew!

11:45 PM: Watch the video, pass out and sleep.

Quick Links

It's time to start regarding Quinton Dunbar as a top cornerback in the NFL

It's time to start regarding Quinton Dunbar as a top cornerback in the NFL

Many features of the Redskins' defense has disappointed in 2019. Quinton Dunbar's performance isn't one of them, though.

The 27-year-old's effort on Sunday against the Dolphins included an interception and ended with him receiving the second-best single-game grade of his career, according to Pro Football Focus.

Any idea which contest was the only one to top his afternoon in Miami? Oh, it came just a few weeks ago versus the Giants, where he picked off two Daniel Jones passes and shut down whatever pass-catcher lined up across from him.

Overall, Pro Football Focus rates Dunbar as the NFL's third most effective cornerback this year. He's missed two matchups due to injuries, but when he's active, he's active in the secondary.

"He was tremendous in so many areas," interim coach Bill Callahan said on Monday when looking back at what Dunbar did in Week 6. "He was relentless versus their screens — he came up, he supported, he filled the alley, really impressive — and the play he made on the slant on the pick, really great anticipation, awareness, instinct, intuitiveness."

Those four qualities that Callahan mentioned are what really stand out from the former-receiver-turned-corner (whenever writing about No. 23, it's necessary to point out he didn't even play on defense until 2015, illustrating just how incredible his development at DB has been). His pick of Josh Rosen happened thanks to his ability to read and then react to the route:

Dunny's other two thefts this season were much like that one: he shadowed the opponent step-for-step then ran through his body to force a turnover. He's not nabbing overthrows or getting lucky off deflections; he's stealing balls from the offense.

As mentioned, leg issues have kept Dunbar on the sidelines this campaign as well as the last one for some extended periods. He's also lining up on a unit that's been nothing more than mediocre for a while, which is another factor preventing him from getting the recognition he deserves. 

But with the way he's stepping up as of late, his name should stop popping up more when running down the list of the sport's best at his position.

Redskins fans have long lamented what Josh Norman has done and how the team doesn't have a special CB. It's beginning to look like they do, however — it's just the guy on the other side of the field.


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Holtby's early exit leaves Caps pondering their goalie situation

Holtby's early exit leaves Caps pondering their goalie situation

Capitals goalie Braden Holtby faced three shots in Monday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. All three went in.

That’s no way to start a game. Before the contest was eight minutes old Washington was down 3-0. Holtby knew what was coming. His day was done before it really even started. The frustration was evident as he skated off the ice to be replaced by rookie Ilya Samsonov. 
“You need to fight harder to find that first one and find a way to make a save on either of the second ones,” Holtby said. “It's unacceptable on my half and the last few games here, I feel like I've put a lot of that weight on my shoulders and it's something I really need to get better at. Because we fought hard and I just need to be better."
Holtby took the blame. Hard to make him shoulder all of it given that his teammates started slowly against a very good team. Colorado is now 5-0-0 after its 6-3 win at Capital One Arena.
Holtby probably could have stopped Erik Johnson’s slap shot from just inside the blueline 3:42 into the game. A nice screen in front by former Capitals teammate Andre Burakovsky made the puck hard to see. Still, it’s one Holtby would like back. 
At 6:00 of the first period Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen beat Capitals defenseman John Carlson to a clearing attempt and found defenseman Nikita Zadorov in front of the goal with a nice pass. Jonas Siegenthaler was nowhere to be found to cover for Carlson. Holtby was left out to dry. 
Just 1:54 later, Washington defenseman Tyler Lewington failed to read a cross-ice pass on a rush up ice by Jonas Donskoi. He hit Nazem Kadri in stride entering the offensive zone. Lewington was already beat by the time he realized what had happened. So was Holtby, who was faced with an oncoming skater on the left wing with no one in front to stop him
"I just gotta find a way. Sometimes it comes easy, sometimes it doesn't,” Holtby said. “You just gotta find a way to help the team win. Tonight I didn't do that and it's on me to make sure I improve that. It's frustrating. You just gotta go back to work, work even harder and find a way back into that mindset that success comes from."
No one is suggesting Holtby’s job status is in jeopardy. He is 14 months removed from a brilliant two months that helped Washington win the Stanley Cup in 2018 and he’s been a mainstay in net since 2012. But the numbers are rough through five games. Holtby has an .846 save percentage, 45thin the NHL. He has stopped 99 of 117 shots. 
“It's a team. We're a team. Our players are accountable to themselves, to one another,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. “That's good that Braden said that and I'm sure there are some things that he would like to have done different. But there are some things that a lot of us will like to have done different. We're in this together and that's something that hasn't been a problem to start and it was tonight.”
Reirden did acknowledge, though, that Samsonov was playing well enough to give the coaching staff something to think about. He’s been solid. Expect Holtby to start Wednesday against the talented, skilled Toronto Maple Leafs as Washington looks for its first home win. But it’s a situation to monitor with Holtby in the final year of his contract and Samsonov the organization’s top prospect.  
Samsonov has 68 saves on 72 shots (.951 save percentage). But he is a rookie and that number is unsustainable for any goalie. He also showed his youth in the third period with a bad giveaway behind the net that Colorado easily converted into a goal. It didn’t seem to matter much at the time. The Avalanche took a 5-2 lead. It mattered a lot when Washington scored a late goal to cut the deficit to 5-3 and had another wiped away on video review. 
“Sometimes it comes easy, sometimes it doesn't,” Holtby said. “You just gotta find a way to help the team win. Tonight I didn't do that and it's on me to make sure I improve that. It's frustrating. You just gotta go back to work, work even harder and find a way back into that mindset that success comes from."