'Old school' is a good thing to be

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I have a new favorite player on the Washington Nationals: pitcher Ross Ohlendorf.

I like the 30-year-old hurler not because he has pitched some good games for the struggling Nats. I like Ohlendorf because he is old school.

What's "old school"? In sports, it describes an athlete who looks like and plays like athletes from years ago. Watch Ohlendorf the next time he pitches. Unlike most pitchers today, who keep their hands close to their chest, Ohlendorf swings his arms high above his head before he fires his fastball. His windup looks like something out of the 1950s or a black-and-white film clip.

What else in sports is old school? In basketball, the real old-school players are ones who prefer solid fundamentals instead of showy play. They're players who would rather make a layup or a jump shot than a slam dunk. Think of the San Antonio Spurs' Tim Duncan or the Miami Heat's Ray Allen.

The Redskins' veteran linebacker London Fletcher is old school. Fletcher tackles ball carriers by wrapping his arms around their legs. Nowadays, lots of defenders don't wrap up the ball carrier. They smash into him.

Old-school football players don't celebrate after every play. Barry Sanders scored 109 touchdowns during his 10-year career as a running back for the Detroit Lions. How did Sanders celebrate? He handed the ball to the referee.

And offensive linemen who play in short sleeves no matter how cold the weather is are definitely old school.

In hockey, a winger who flicks a wrist shot instead of taking a slap shot every time is old school. Two-way hockey players -- those are players who skate hard on defense as well as offense -- are old school, too.

The 2013 women's Wimbledon champ, Marion Bartoli, with her all-court game and variety of shots, echoes great players from the past. Too many of today's tennis players just stand on the baseline and smash the ball as hard as they can every time.

No matter what the game, old school can be cool.



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