Nationals

Owner Leonsis tempers expectations for Wizards

Owner Leonsis tempers expectations for Wizards

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) September wasn't kind to Ted Leonsis.

His successful NHL team, the Capitals, is locked out in a labor dispute. His WNBA Mystics ended the season with a 13-game losing streak and then finished last in the draft lottery. Even Madonna let him down, showing up so late for her concerts at the Verizon Center that he had to pay for the subway system to stay open for fans to get home.

And then came the news, just days before the opening of training camp, that marquee player John Wall would miss the first month or so of the Wizards' NBA season because of a knee injury.

Fortunately for his morale, this is a man who wrote a book called ``The Business of Happiness.''

``I kind of play the ball where it lies,'' the former AOL executive said Thursday night during a Wizards training camp practice. ``In what other business do pingpong balls drive a lot of your success and make your investment worth more or less? Health? I never once said at AOL or Groupon in a board meeting: `That JavaScript coder blew his elbow out - that app that we need is never going to happen.'

``It's why when you overcome all those things and you win, life's so exhilarating.''

Because of the NHL lockout, Leonsis limited his thoughts to the Wizards, who have been a test of his patience since he bought the team in the spring of 2010 following the death of longtime owner Abe Pollin. Washington is 43-105 under Leonsis' stewardship, and he said at the draft in June that another appearance in the lottery would be ``unacceptable.''

Now that camp is under way - with former No. 1 overall pick Wall on the sidelines nursing the early stages of a stress injury to his left knee cap - the expectations are a bit tempered.

``We would all find it unacceptable if we finished with the second- or third-worst record in the NBA this year,'' Leonsis said. ``That would be a failure, and the failure would start with me.''

The Wizards haven't won even one-third of their games in any season since their last playoff appearance in 2008, although Leonsis is optimistic the club will upgrade from the NBA's group of have-nots to the ``haves.'' He's just not sure how long it will take.

For one thing, there's been a lot of turnover to digest. Only Cartier Martin, who played in eight games at the end of the 2009-10 season, remains from the roster that Leonsis inherited less than 2 1/2 years ago.

``It's very sobering to have to enter a new season basically where John Wall is your most tenured player,'' Leonsis said. ``That was by design. We knew we'd have to rebuild the team and we did it fast, so I'm pleased that we are able to pull the Band-Aid off quickly. Now we have to see how this team jells and what we need on an ongoing basis to keep improving the team.''

Leonsis repeatedly referenced the Capitals and baseball's Washington Nationals, teams that went through agonizing building processes to go from bottom to top.

``I know the fan base, and frankly the media, would like the magic wand waved and the team with three superstars here overnight,'' Leonsis said. ``But I lost the magic wand. We're having to do it the old-fashioned authentic way, which is I think the way you're built to last.''

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Follow Joseph White on Twitter:http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP

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A quick recap of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, including how your Nats did

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USA TODAY Sports

A quick recap of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, including how your Nats did

Tuesday evening's All-Star game was fairly uneventful until its later innings. The American League triumphed over the National League, 8 - 6, for their sixth straight All-Star game victory.

Despite fears of potential rain and inclement weather delaying the game, there were no unexpected stops in play. 

The AL started very strong offensively, with runs from Aaron Judge and Mike Trout in the top of the second and third innings, respectively. Jean Segura's three-run homer in the top of the eighth made victory look inevitable for the AL by the fifth. 

Max Scherzer, unsurprisingly, was well received among fans at Nationals Park. The Nats starter pitched the first two innings, giving up four hits. One was Judge's second-inning homer, but Scherzer remained unfazed and lighthearted. Four strikeouts made his performance commendable.

Bryce Harper did not get on as well, striking out in both of his at-bats. After Harper's Home Run Derby Win last night, there was chatter of him going for the MVP title as well. 

It didn't work out, but given Harper's consistent presence at the All-Star game, there's always another chance.

Elsewhere in the dugout for the NL, who rallied back from the three-run deficit, the kids were all right. Willson Contreras of the Cubs had a solo homer at the bottom of the third, the Rockies' Trevor Story had one in the seventh, and Christian Yelich added another in the eighth. A two-run homer by Scooter Gennett in the bottom of the ninth brought the game back to a 5-5 tie.

Jesus Aguilar struck out for the NL, and extra innings began.

In the top of the tenth, Alex Bregman and George Springer, both of the Astros, hit home runs almost immediately off of Dodgers pitcher Ross Stipling. Stop us if you've heard that one before.

With no outs, Michael Brantley took a sacrifice flyout to right field, and Jean Segura got in one more run to put the score at 8-5.

Though Joey Votto (Reds) hit one last home run in the bottom of the tenth, the NL couldn't quite make up the deficit.

After a late night, the American League will be going home happy.

MORE ALL-STAR GAME NEWS:

Elena Delle Donne, Kristi Toliver named 2018 WNBA All-Stars

Elena Delle Donne, Kristi Toliver named 2018 WNBA All-Stars

On Tuesday, the WNBA revealed the list of 22 players selected by fans, WNBA players and head coaches and media for Verizon WNBA All-Star 2018. 

Two Washington Mystics will be featured in the July 28 showcase at Target Center in Minneapolis.

Elena Delle Donne is making her fifth All-Star appearance and serving as one of two team captains, while Kristi Toliver earns the honor for her second time, and first since 2013. 

Delle Donne recorded her 3,000th career point Sunday night becoming the fastest player in WNBA history to reach the milestone with a 23-point performance in a loss to the Atlanta Dream. It was just the 148th game of her career. 

The 28-year-old is averaging 20.6 points, good for fourth in the league. 

Toliver is averaging 14 points and 4.2 assists. The former Maryland Terrapin is also just a week removed from making her debut as part of the Wizards coaching staff during Las Vegas Summer League. 

The Mystics are 13-9 and atop the eastern conference by 0.5 games. The last time the team had two all-stars was in 2015, when Stefanie Dolson and Emma Meesseman played together.

For ticket information about Verizon WNBA All-Star 2018, fans may visit lynx.wnba.com/allstar/.