@alexsemin Talks Ideal Dates, Alan May and #SashaCares

Posted May 12, 2012

The REAL Alex Semin (Photo by Alena Schwarz)

Today’s a big day, so to lighten the mood, I thought I would share my recent interview with @alexsemin.

For those who are just joining us, in one of my creepier moments I asked @alexsemin to go out with me if he scored a goal in game 3 or 4 of the Caps-Rangers series. We tweeted using the hashtag #mydatewithsemin. Ultimately, Semin didn’t score, but I still got an interview.

Q: So, I’d like to start with the elephants in the room – and there are a few. I can’t help noticing that neither of you is Alex Semin.

A: We get that all the time.

Q: Also, there are two of you, which makes me kind of wonder who I’ve been flirting with on the internet for a week. It also makes me glad the whole date thing didn’t work out. This could have gotten weird. More weird.

A: You know how there’s a Good Sasha and a Bad Sasha?  And both are somehow mercurial?  We’re a Jewish Sasha and an Asian Sasha, and both handsome.

Q: Well, it’s relatively nice to meet both of you. So what are you doing managing a parody account for Alex Semin? Why Sasha, and how did you get started?

A: We’re both longtime Caps fans, and we’re fascinated with Sasha because he’s an amazing player but lacks the swagger most need to get idiots like Mike Milbury to like them. And more than even most Russian players, he’s blindly labeled an “enigma.” But go read some of his interviews (see the recent one on RMNB for a case in point). He’s extremely smart and thoughtful, but he’s not a blustering personality like Ovi, and he doesn’t go on Lavar’s radio show to give sound bytes like Brooks Laich. Sasha’s a shy dude — a stranger in a strange land. And we thought he needed a voice. So we gave him one.

Q: @alexsemin has come a long way. What’s different now, as opposed to when you started? And what’s next?

A: When @alexsemin started tweeting, he struggled with English — an easy joke. Another easy one: since he’s kind of an introvert, we made him an overexcited guy who used a lot of exclamation points. Now we use him to give voice to many of our own feelings and to provide some solidarity and confidence to his many followers, and his subject matter is much broader than it used to be. He’s still the #filthiest sniper in the league, but he has his eye on everything, in hockey, current events, and pop culture. We and our followers like to pretend that Sasha’s one of us and knows what we’re going through as fans of this damn team. Actually, we’re sure he does. It works for Sasha because unlike for the other Caps, no one knows what he’s thinking, so we get to fill it in. What’s next? Probably Detroit or the KHL.

Q: You have over 13,000 followers. Aside from the moment a stranger asked you out over Twitter, which I realize must have been a thrill, how did you know when you had made it? Did you pick up a particular follower, or have a particularly successful Twitter campaign that made you realize how popular @alexsemin had become?

A: Our first big break was getting mentioned in one of Greg Wyshynski’s Puck Daddy articles. Our last big bump was when a bunch of news outlets quoted our tweet expressing outrage at racism toward Joel Ward, attributing it to Sasha himself. This was amazing because anyone who knows anything about Sasha knows that Sasha doesn’t issue statements even in Russian, let alone English. Recently, we almost fainted when Alan May retweeted us for #AlanMayDay, an idea we’re proud to say we came up with, and were happy to promote. So many Caps took part and toasted and roasted Alan on his special, Sasha-decreed day. For a while this season, we were giving it to Ovi for his lackluster defensive play, and #OccupyOvi sparked some fun tweets. When former teammate Matt Bradley claimed Sasha didn’t care, we set the record straight with #SashaCares. And with #TigerSemin, we followed up crudely on the Charlie Sheen phenomenon, and fans ran with it. Some fans even created a #TigerSemin T-shirt! Our next big goal is to get retweeted by @RGIII. Oh, and to win a Stanley Cup.

Q: I laugh out loud at your tweets at least once a day. Your #writeinsemin campaign included some of my favorites, but your guest tweets are also pretty great. Do you guys have a favorite @alexseminism? What about an all-time favorite tweet, or one that was especially popular among your followers?

A: Why would you make us choose among our babies like that? Every one is our favorite. So we’ll turn that one around – if you have a favorite, tweet us about it @alexsemin.

Q: In my mind, you’re one of the best examples of how the fan experience can be enhanced by social media. What difference do you think social media has made, to the Caps community and to sports fans in general?

A: Like any fans, Caps fans are a varied group, and they have a decent geographical spread. There’s @CapsAcrossPond, for example, in England, and Asian Sasha lives in California, while Jewish Sasha lives in Massachusetts, and obviously, many of the fans we’ve connected with are in D.C. We’ve gotten to interact with many of them, online and in person. Community makes the heartbreak a little easier to handle.

Q: I have a question for Sasha. You had a number of great shifts, and even a couple scoring opportunities, during the two games we ran #mydatewithsemin. I really thought it was going to happen for awhile there. So did my mom. So did my boss. No, really. And folks had a lot of ideas of what we would do on our date. What would a date with you actually have consisted of?

A: We talked with Sasha about this. He says his ideal date is an academic talk followed by a reception, then a poetry reading, then a Smiths concert (Morrissey and Marr would set aside their differences for one night if they knew one of their biggest fans would be in attendance), a political rally, a baseball card show, and finally, some pull-your-own frozen yogurt before retiring to watch Alexander Mogilny highlights with a nightcap of Pavel Bure’s Top 10 Goals while giggling over Patrick Kane’s latest indiscretions via Deadspin. But no kissing on the first date.

Q: Clearly. I think the question on everyone’s mind is what you guys plan to do if he doesn’t re-sign with the Caps. Do you have a game plan in case of that unfortunate eventuality?

A: We get scared every year, but Sasha is the longest-serving Capital, and so we prefer not to think about these things. But in the event that the unthinkable happens, is Kuznetsov on Twitter? He’s so enigmatic that he makes Sasha look as crystal clear as a Siberian mountain lake.

Q: This is my last question. I want to thank you guys for being such good sports (worst pun ever not intended) – it’s been exciting getting to know one (two?) of the more colorful personalities in the Caps community. Now, not that I’m the woman to do it, and not that I’m encouraging anyone to take on what you’ve done so beautifully, but who else on the team now do you think would make for a good parody Twitter account? What would it look like?

A: We’re lucky to have Sasha, because he’s an empty vessel. For others, we’d have to be more formulaic. Brooks Laich would run a AAA tow truck and tweet about it. Mike Knuble would tweet out Bingo numbers for his buds at the nursing home. Every tweet would be something like, “G37… BINGO!” Bingo ain’t #filthy. Sasha is.

Oh, and we love Alexander Semin.