Dan Steinberg in front of the Washington Post
Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post’s DC Sports Bog didn’t follow the typical path to becoming a sportswriter. In late 2000, he helped open the Whole Foods on P Street, Northwest, and worked there as a cheese buyer. A year later, he got a part-time job at the Post, answering phones, photocopying proofs, and compiling box scores for baseball games. He eventually snagged the glamorous (ha!) high-school volleyball beat and covered local matches. Then, he says, “one thing led to another.”
Inspired by a blog he wrote during the 2006 Winter Olympics—which he says was mainly about cheese and curling—Dan started writing the DC Sports Bog to thrust the Post into “the murky quagmire of the Internet sports world.” He covers anything and everything sports-related—and some things non-sports-related like gourmet cheese and craft beer.
Dan lives in DC’s Petworth neighborhood with his wife, Annys Shin, who also writes for the Post, and their 18-month old daughter, Ida. He celebrated his 32nd birthday while covering the Olympics last month in Beijing.
We checked in with the sports blogger—or should we say bogger?—and got the lowdown on his bests and worsts in Washington sports. We couldn’t get him to pick a favorite hometown team—though we tried!—but he did tell us who’s got the best uniforms, which athlete has the best game face, and whether he prefers coach Zorn or Gibbs.
Stadium with the best food and drink options:
“If you were stranded on a desert island and had eaten sand for 17 years, those Johnny Rockets stands at FedEx Field would be pretty cool. Otherwise, the Nats park blows everything way—especially if, like me, you’re a vegetarian; the veggie dogs might be small and shriveled and burned on occasion, but they exist, which is the most important thing. For good beer, Camden Yards.”
Favorite hometown team:
“I took an oath upon starting for the Post not to root for any sports teams. Frankly, I don’t understand why the Post forbids us from giving even five cents to a political campaign but doesn’t mind staffers who are blatant cheerleaders for various pro sports teams. But whatever—I don’t make the rules; I just keep my own mind pure. The Wizards provide the best material for me, by several hundred yards.
Favorite local college team:
“Let me see . . . nope, I still don’t root for any sports teams. Howard has by far the best marching band of DC’s teams, though.”
MLS or MLB?
“Because I’m under the age of 65, I find baseball has all the action-packed excitement of a four-day convention on 21st-century municipal infrastructure challenges in Topeka. Also, unlike some of my older colleagues, I do not necessarily find jokes about the lack of scoring in soccer to be the height of sports-based comedic achievement. So MLS, in a rout.”
Zorn or Gibbs?
“At his press conferences, Joe Gibbs did nothing but talk about guts, heart, the expending of guts, the display of heart, and the core values of the Washington Redskins. Jim Zorn talks about magic dust and how he used to take ice-dancing lessons. So Zorn, in a rout.”
Clinton Portis or Alex Ovechkin?
“Portis provides sublime humor, from his costumes to his birthday parties to his insistence that one of his teammates had a vasectomy last year. But Ovechkin is also pretty funny, has done amazing work on Russian language sketch shows, gets his hair done at the Hair Cuttery, and happens to be the best hockey player in the world. So Ovechkin, narrowly.”
Gilbert Arenas or Ben Olsen?
“Ben Olsen is a lot smarter than I am, has been the emotional leader of DC United for something like a decade, bought a rowhouse in Shaw (unlike the vast majority of suburb-dwelling DC athletes), and grows so much hair that teammates claim he shaves twice a day. Plus, he’s a great quote. It’s impossible to dislike him or to vote against him. Gilbert Arenas, though, is acknowledged as the single most bizarre pro athlete in any of our pro-sports leagues, even if some people have lately decided his act is growing stale. But this is still an unfair question, like asking, ‘Montgomery’s Cheddar or Parmigiano-Reggiano?’ I refuse to choose.”
Chris Cooley or Ryan Zimmerman?
“I mean, no offense to the dude, but read Zim’s blog sometime. Here’s a recent sample: ‘Football is upon us. This is my favorite time of the year. Football is easily my favorite sport.’ That’s an A-plus, Ryan. Your next assignment is to tell us what you want to be when you grow up. Then we’ll work on genealogy, and then it’s playground time. Cooley, on the other hand, posts pictures of his cheerleading wife in lingerie on his blog, provides the most detailed description of an NFL drug test you could ever want, and wrote a guest post for the legendary sports blog Kissing Suzy Kolber in which he described the NFL training camp as ‘F—k Town.’ I’m insulted that this would even be posed as a legitimate question.”
Last local sporting event you attended:
“For work? Having missed all of August for the Olympics, at this writing it would be some sort of DC United game from July. For fun? Honestly, it’s been more than a year since I went to a local sporting event for fun. Once it’s your job, sports lose a bit of their off-day appeal. Although I still love things like minor-league baseball, high-school football, community badminton, lawn-mower racing, etc.”
Finish this sentence: “If I re-named a DC sports team, it would be called . . .”
“Wow, that’s a loaded question. As a sop to any real DC sports fan, I guess I’ll go with the standby answer of changing the Washington Wizards back to the Washington Bullets. Actually, I sympathize with the desire not to celebrate gun violence in a town that has too much of that, but we’ve all probably seen enough of the furry blue Wizards mascot guy, and until someone comes up with something better, Bullets’ll do.”
Local team with the best uniforms:
“The Wizards’ colors are appalling, the Redskins are classy but the Indian guy kind of creeps me out, the Caps’ new uniforms are a huge improvement but still not as awesome as their old-school sweaters, and choosing the Nats for anything seems kind of dumb nowadays, so I guess DC United. We live in a pretty bad uniform town, though.”
Favorite game-time beer:
“I usually choose either High Life or Victory’s HopDevil IPA. Actually, it’s sad, but local venues mostly offer a choice between domestic swill and higher-priced imported swill. It’s pretty impossible to argue with those who think you’re better off skipping all live events and spending the ticket cost on extra alcohol at a local tavern. Paying $8 for a Budweiser is an affront to my soul.”
Favorite postgame or pregame haunt:
“Uh, the press-room soda machine at the Verizon Center? It’s hard to ever leave an event you’re working early enough to haunt any place except your car. On the extremely rare recent cases when I’ve gone to an event for fun, it’s usually involved a pre- or postgame trip to RFD on Seventh Street, Northwest.”
Favorite sports bar:
“Since RFD has hosted something like four straight fantasy football drafts for my Post league, I’ll go ahead and say that, even though it’s not really a sports bar. As a proud former western New York resident, I’ll also send a friendly hello to Grevey’s Restaurant & Sports Bar in Falls Church, which caters to people who would never again live in Buffalo but still have fond memories of Loganberry and Super Bowl agony.”
Best place to get away from sports:
“The Takoma Park Folk Festival? I think they shoot sports fans there.”
Local athlete with the best game face:
“When Redskins fullback Mike Sellers has the bleached goatee, I’ll give it to him. If he scowled at me under his helmet on top of that blonde goatee, I’d probably just retire and go straight to the golf course.”
Pro sport you most wish would come to DC:
“Major League Baseball. (I love you too, Nats fans.)”
Sport you most wish you could do professionally:
“Table tennis. Those dudes get all the girls—although the long-term physical toll on your body would be daunting.”
Favorite tailgate food:
“A tie between Tofurky beer brats and fried dough. A friend of mine makes fried dough every week before Redskins games; I’ve decided that it’s a lot more gratifying than the football, plus you can eat it in about as long as it takes for the announcer to run down all the official sponsors.”
Sports team with the best fans:
“This is another impossible question, because each fan base has their attributes. DC United’s fans are best at taking off their shirts, banging drums, and throwing beer in the air. Redskins fans are best at irrationally predicting success despite all evidence to the contrary. Maryland and Georgetown fans are best at deciding that the local media is biased in favor of Georgetown and Maryland, respectively. Caps fans are best at blogging, and that’s not close. Wizards fans are best at making more noise for the burrito giveaway than for the game. Nats fans are best at pretending to be chairs.”
Favorite sports-related item of clothing in your wardrobe:
“I’m not sure I own any, besides a few giveaway baseball caps that I wear to mow the lawn. Actually, I go out of my way to buy baseball hats that don’t have sports logos. Skateboarding stores are great for this. Snowboarding, too. I just figure if there are fans massing out there ready to accuse my employer of bias—and there are—we shouldn’t do anything to make it easier for them. So that leaves me with identifying my golf cleats as my favorite sports-related item, I guess.”
Top three picks of your fantasy football team:
“I was in China for both of my drafts, and I left the keys with my partners. For one league, it was Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, and Willie Parker. For the other, it was Adrian Peterson, Marques Colston, and Laurence Maroney. This is the first time I haven’t drafted a team from scratch since 1993 or so.”
Headline to summarize your Olympics experience in Beijing:
“Local Blogger Dubbed ‘President’ of Iceland by Nation’s First Lady. Subhead: Man spends rest of time eating bad pizza, losing technological items in Beijing taxis, writing about team handball and mustaches.”
Favorite Eastern Motors commercial star:
“Brendan Haywood hasn’t been part of the Eastern commercial family for a few years, but his head bob is still unprecedented. Of the active stars, I’d say Clinton Portis dances most outlandishly.”
Favorite local sports blog besides your own:
“Mister Irrelevant—the joint creation of Yahoo Sports blogging czar Jamie Mottram and the Sporting News’s blogging czar, Chris Mottram—is clearly one of the best city-specific all-sports blogs in the country. Those guys are a huge reason why DC is considered a mecca of sports blogging. Although I hear the real Mecca has some crazy cricket blogs.”
Next week in the Blogger Beat, we gossip with local media blogger Patrick Gavin of Fishbowl DC. He tells us the best bar for media schmoozing, his picks for the best and worst local reporters, and whom he would nominate for his blog’s annual Hottest Media Types contest. Check back Wednesday for the interview!
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