Friday, September 30, 2005

Weekend Football Preview: October 1 - 2, 2005

Here it is! My first Weekend Football Preview. Enjoy it.

Starting with NCAA, the Maryland Terps take on the No. 19 Virginia Cavaliers/Musketeers/Wahoos/a-holes/whatever you want to call them at Byrd Stadium at noon. This has become a pretty intense rivalry since Ralph Friedgen took over at Maryland, mainly because the Terps don’t lose every game against UVA like they used to. It’s also Maryland’s homecoming game.

The Terps are 2-2 (1-1 ACC), and the Hoos are (3-0. 1-0), with all their games coming against joke teams. (Don’t believe me? Their ACC win is against Duke, and their non-conference wins are Western Michigan and Syracuse. That’s a suckfest.)

The Terps have lost a couple of tough games against Clemson and West Virginia, with the defense taking most of the blame. The offense has been solid behind quarterback Sam Hollenbach, thanks in large part to Vernon “Duke” Davis being the most unstoppable force in the history of athletic competition.

Maryland’s running game hasn’t really been sorted out, but it’s becoming clear that Mario Merrills, who was slated as the team’s starter going into the season, has lost the job and is not the answer. Keon Lattimore rushed for 76 yards and a score against Wake Forest last week, so he seems to be the favorite, but Lance Ball should get some carries, also. The Terps NEED to establish a rushing game this week. They haven’t done that yet this season, and that has been the recipe for success during the Fridge era. Bruce Perry, Chris Downs, and Josh Allen were all good backs, but no one has emerged as the star on this year’s team.

The Terps D toughened up last weekend, holding a potent Wake Forest rushing attack in check and scoring a touchdown on a fumble recovery to aid in the 10-point victory.

On the Virginia side, they have a mobile quarterback in Marques Hagans, which is a complete change of pace from what they saw in Wake’s Benjamin Mauk last Saturday. This means the Terps will have a tougher time getting pressure on the QB, which could in turn mean that the weak secondary will be exposed. We keep hearing about Maryland’s defensive speed, and they’re going to need to use every bit of it to keep the reins on Hagans.

On the ground, the Hoos will probably start senior Wali Lundy, who’s battling a foot injury but always seems to torch the Terps. Maryland couldn’t stop the run at all in the first three games, but had some success against Wake. They’ll need that to continue.

(Homer) Prediction: Terps 27, Cavaliers 17.

Maryland has home field advantage, Virginia hasn’t been tested, and I’ll give the Terps the benefit of a few more points because it’s homecoming.

On to the NFL, where the Redskins (2-0) play host to the Seattle Seahawks (2-1) on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.

The Redskins are riding real high after a win over Dallas two weeks ago, but everyone keeps saying not to get too amped over Mark Brunell’s two passes. The ‘Hawks are riding a pair of victories after an season-opening loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, but they have to come to FedEx Field, where you KNOW the fans are going to be completely bonkers to congratulate their team on a rare win in Dallas.

The Seahawks combine solid defense with solid offense (ranked second and eighth, respectively), whereas the ‘Skins have only been bringing it on the defensive side of the ball so far. In the loss to Jacksonville, though, the Seahawks let Jimmy Smith run loose for 130 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Redskins don’t have Jimmy Smith or Byron Leftwich, but they do have Santana Moss, and you can bet he’s looking to continue what he started in the fourth quarter against Dallas.

Clinton Portis hasn’t scored yet this season, and I’m not sure Seattle’s rushing defense is going to allow that to happen this week, either.

Seattle has some serious offensive weapons on their side, with Matt Hasselbeck under center and Shaun Alexander running the ball, but the Redskins are as strong as anyone on defense.

I may look bad for doing this, and it’s not really like me at all, but I think Brunell’s got a good season left in him (and I’m not even a big ‘Skins fan), and I think he may lead the ‘Skins to the playoffs. The Redskins are favored by 1.5 points, which I’m not quite sure about.

If Brunell can come out early and prove that two amazing passes in Dallas weren’t a fluke, it will really keep the Seattle defense from teeing off on Portis, which should mean nothing but good things for the Redskins. So unlike last week, I think we’ll know after the first quarter how this game is going to go.

I don’t think this is the Redskins’ week, though. A snap back to reality may be in order, and it will be a crushing one coming off such a big win.

Prediction: Seahawks 21, Redskins 20.

Seattle is far better on both sides of the ball than the Cowboys, and despite improvement from the Washington offense, I think Seattle’s got this one.

To the north, it’s the Ravens (0-2) at home to take on the New York Jets (1-2) at 4:05 p.m.
This is not a pair of teams headed in the right direction. Both teams are without their starting quarterbacks (which, in Baltimore’s case, may be a good thing), so don’t look for an high-scoring game.

The Jets lost Chad Pennington and backup Jay Fiedler for the year in last week’s loss to Jacksonville. Now they turn to rookie Brooks Bollinger, and look for the Ravens defense to foam at the mouth when they see him under center.

The Ravens are favored by seven points, and I’m not sure they make the spread, but I think they do take the win if only because of what should be a complete inability on the Jets’ part to move the ball.

On defense, the Jets have had trouble stopping tight ends, and Todd Heap should be able to take complete advantage of that. The Ravens play-calling has been disastrous, though, and I don’t even trust them to jump on such an obvious flaw by calling Heap’s number. At the very least, I think he’s good for a touchdown, but they should be looking to him all day long.

Jamal Lewis has been silent for the Ravens this season, but maybe the week off did him some good. The Ravens will hope that is the case, at least.

Both defenses have been mediocre to this point, but for the Ravens a lot of that has to do with constantly being on the field. Also, neither defense will need to bring their A-game to shut down these hapless offenses.

This one could be ugly. REAL ugly. But I think the Ravens will get touchdowns from Heap and Lewis, which should be enough to win if they don’t give up points on offense.

Prediction: Ravens 14, Jets 10.

That would have the Ravens winning without covering the spread. I just don’t trust their offense to drop more than 14 on anyone ... ever.

The Day in Sports: September 29, 2005

The Orioles got spanked by the Yankees again, and that was it for the local sports scene last night. Real exciting. Hooray. Tejada didn’t get an RBI, but Jay Gibbons did hit his 101st career home run.

In national baseball news, the big series starts tonight with the Yanks and “Sawx” (Mike Wilbon redux), and the Red Sox are a game back in the American League East standings. Get ready for hours of Peter Gammons analysis on ESPN!!!

In other sports, if you don’t have any plans tonight, I highly urge you to head over to the MCI Center and check out the Capitals preseason game against the Penguins. It will be televised on Comcast Sportsnet, but they have a great deal where for $25 you can get lower level tickets to tonight’s game (and there’s an FBI vs. Canadian Embassy game after), AND you get a voucher for free upper level tickets to the regular season game of your choice. That is a DAMN good deal. Plus you’ll be making your mama proud because the proceeds go to the Katrina Relief Fund. Or, if you're a cheapass and hate the Hurricane Katrina victims, there are $9 Eagle's Nest tickets available, also.

Also tonight, the Nationals take on the Phillies at RFK to begin their final series of the year. The Phillies still have (slim) playoff hopes that the Nats will look to crush, but the more interesting story is that Jimmy Rollins is looking to end the season with a 30-plus game hitting streak in tact. Right now he’s at 33, and tonight he’ll hit off of Livan Hernandez (15-9, 3.95 ERA, RHP), who’s been terrible lately. The Phillies counter with Eude Brito (1-2, 3.68 ERA, LHP).

Now here’s your recap. I’ll be back with some weekend football previews (they’re new, they’re shiny, and they’re guaranteed to impress ... OK I make no such guarantee) later.

MLB: New York Yankees 8, Orioles 4

Erik Bedard (6-8) did not end his season on a high note, the Orioles couldn’t hand Aaron Small (10-0) his first loss of the year, and the Yankees maintained their one game lead over the Red Sox. Get the hell out of town.

After eight games in less than two weeks against the Yankees, and Camden Yards being the Bronx, Md., for the last four, it’s time for them to leave. Finally. Now the Orioles finish off the year with a meaningless series against the Devil Rays.

But first, the details. The Yankees scored four times in the first inning, once in the second, once more in the fifth, and twice in the seventh to go up 8-0 before the Orioles even plated a runner. Jason Giambi and Hideki Matsui both homered for the Yanks.

The O’s made a mini-rally late, scoring twice in the seventh and eighth innings to make it 8-4, but the game was over. Javy Lopez hit his third homer in three games, and Jay Gibbons homered again, also.

Bedard only went two innings, giving up five runs on five walks to up his once-sub-3.00 ERA to 4.00. Disappointing.

Tonight, John Maine (2-3, 5.54 ERA, RHP) faces Doug Waechter (5-11, 5.41 ERA, RHP) at 7:15 in Tampa Bay to kick off the three-game series that no one is talking about.

Is the season over yet?

Don’t forget to check back for the football previews. AND GET YOUR TICKETS TO THE CAPITALS GAME to benefit the Hurricane Relief ... and to get free tickets to a regular season game! Here, I’ll even link you straight to the ticket interface. Now you have no excuse.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Day in Sports: September 28, 2005

Baseball. Lots and lots of baseball. It’s been a slow week.

I think that was a haiku.

Anyways, the Nats won, and that guarantees that they won’t finish below .500. Combined with the Mets loss, it also put them in sole possession of third place in the National League East.

As for the O’s, the misery is almost over. Tonight is the last home game of the season, so if you haven’t been to many/any games this year, hit up Camden Yards lest you go five months without Boog’s Barbecue and Uncle Teddy’s Pretzels. I am planning on going, so you might even see me! (Gasp.)

In non-area baseball news, Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies (who the Nationals will start a series with on Friday) got a hit in last night’s 16-6 rout of the Mets to extend his hitting streak to 33 games. That puts him 23 games away from Joe DiMaggio’s record of 56 set in 1941. Rollins’ streak would have to extend 20 games into the 2006 season to reach 56, and breaking the record with a split-season streak would be crappy. The thing is, we don’t have to worry about this because 23 games is still a loooong hitting streak. It would be an interesting cliffhanger for the offseason, though. The Rollins streak is the longest since Luis Castillo compiled a 35-game hitting streak for the Marlins in 2002.

Caps and Recaps were in a boat. Caps fell out. Who was left? RECAPS!

MLB: Nationals 11, Florida Marlins 7

The Nationals completed a sweep of the Marlins last night and scored 11 runs for the second game in a row. The win puts the Nats three games over .500 (81-78) with three games left (all against Philadelphia).

Last night’s game was a slugfest, with Esteban Loaiza (12-10) benefiting from Preston Wilson’s 3-for-5, five RBI game. Loaiza gave up six runs on 10 hits in six innings, but got the win thanks to the offense.

Wilson and Nick Johnson both homered, and they combined for nine of the teams 11 RBIs.

Marlins pitcher Brian Moehler only lasted 3.1 innings, giving up seven runs on six hits.

Washington has the day off today before taking on the Phillies at RFK Stadium for a weekend series. The first game is Friday at 7:05 p.m., with Livan Hernandez (15-9, 3.95 ERA, RHP) slated to face Eude Brito (1-2, 3.68 ERA, LHP), with the Phillies still clinging to wild card hopes.

MLB: New York Yankees 2, Orioles 1

How do you play a 17-9 barnburner one night, then turn around and play a 2-1 pitchers duel the next? I have no idea.

Daniel Cabrera (10-13) and Shawn Chacon (7-3) kept the bats quiet for the most part last night. Cabrera worked into the seventh inning, giving up two runs on six hits, while Chacon worked 6.2 innings, giving up one run on four hits.

The Orioles only run came on a second-inning solo homer from Javy Lopez, his 14th of the year and second in as many games. Alex Rodriguez hit a solo shot also, his 47th homer of the season, which tied the game at one.

Derek Jeter broke the tie in the seventh, hitting an RBI single off of Todd Williams (not literally) that scored Jorge Posada.

Mariano Rivera worked the ninth inning for his 43rd save.

The Red Sox got thumped by the Blue Jays last night, so the Yankees now have a one game lead in the American League East with four games remaining. After tonight’s game with the Orioles, the Yankees head to Fenway Park for a division-deciding, season-ending, three-game set with the Sox.

But first things first, tonight is the last game of the season at Camden Yards, with Aaron Small (9-0, 3.25 ERA, RHP), who has been the subject of a couple of my recent rants, facing Erik Bedard (6-7, 3.74 ERA, LHP). I would love to see the Orioles hand Small his only loss of the season.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Day in Sports: September 27, 2005

Well then. That was a lot of runs. The Nats and O’s combined for 28 runs in their games last night, and both teams won!

Jay Gibbons hit his 100th career homer last night in the fourth inning off of Al Leiter. It was a two-run shot that put the O’s up 8-7. Congratulations are due to Gibby.

In hockey news, the Capitals sent five more players to the AHL, including Chris Bourque (Ray Bourque’s kid), who was an interesting training camp story because he’s only 5-foot-7 and plays possessed. None of the moves are surprising, though.

Time for recaps!

MLB: Orioles 17, New York Yankees 9

YES!!!!!! The Orioles have clinched fourth place in the American League East!!!!

With a 17-9 win over the Yankees last night, the Orioles accomplished a number of things. They ended a nine-game losing streak, they kept the Yankees and Red Sox tied for the division lead, they guaranteed that they can’t fall behind Tampa Bay in the standings, Jay Gibbons hit his 100th career home run, Miguel Tejada knocked in his 96th, 97th, and 98th runs of the year, and the O’s beat the Yankees on a day when Gary Sheffield homered twice (including another grand slam) and knocked in six runs.

Take that.

The O’s offense exploded early on Mike Mussina, scoring five runs in the first two innings and knocking him out of the game after just 1.2 innings. The Yankees came back on Bruce Chen, though, scoring twice in the third inning and then getting the grand slam in the fourth to make it 7-5, Yankees. But the Orioles rallied with three runs in the bottom half of the inning to go up 8-7, then added five more in the fifth, thanks in large part to two bases-loaded walks.

Gibbons went 3-for-4 with four RBIs, Tejada had three RBIs, and Melvin Mora added five RBIs.

Mora hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning, his 24th. Gibbons also now has 24 homers on the year.

Aaron Rakers (1-0) worked 2.1 scoreless innings to get the win.

Since this is the “Go Gibbons” blog now, here’s some more about the O’s player rep. Jay is now batting .278 with 24 homers, 74 RBIs and a very solid .826 OPS. Ideally he would walk more and get his on-base percentage up, but any questions about whether or not he’ll have a regular spot in the 2006 Orioles outfield should be answered.

Game three of the four-game set is tonight at 7:05 at Camden Yards, with Daniel Cabrera (10-12, 4.58 ERA, RHP) facing Shawn Chacon (6-3, 2.89 ERA, RHP).

Nationals 11, Florida Marlins 1

The Nationals are also trying to keep from finishing in last place, and they helped their cause last night by shellacking the Marlins, 11-1. The Marlins and Nationals are now tied in the cellar of the National League East at 80-78. The Mets are 80-77.

The Nats scored four runs in the second inning, two in the third, three in the fifth, and one each in the sixth and seventh to go up 11-0 before the Marlins scored in the bottom of the seventh inning.

The Nats got to 22-game-winner Dontrelle Willis (22-10) early, scoring nine runs (five earned) on nine hits in four innings to knock him out of the game. Reliever Jon Rauch started for the Nationals but only pitched three innings, so Mike Stanton (2-1) got the win for his two scoreless innings.

Marlon Byrd went 4-for-6 with a homer and two RBIs for Washington, and Cristian Guzman continued to raise his batting average now that the season is over, going 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. Guzman is now batting .217.

The series finale is tonight at 7:05 in Florida, with Esteban Loaiza (11-10, 3.63 ERA, RHP) set to face Josh Beckett (15-8, 3.38 ERA, RHP).

Tonight’s game will determine who is in last place in the NL East heading into the final series of the season.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

NHL News: Capitals acquire LW Jeff Friesen

In a surprising move (surprising because no one thought the Capitals were in the market for anyone), the Capitals have obtained speedy left wing Jeff Friesen from the cap-strapped New Jersey Devils for a 2006 conditional draft pick. This with just over a week before the beginning of regular season play.

Friesen, who has been in the league for 10 years but is only 29, is currently the team's second highest-paid player, making $2.28 million this year. Olie Kolzig is the only guy making more, and he's slated to bring in a shade under $5 million.

Check out the Washington Post article here.

See Friesen's stats from ESPN here.

The move comes while the Caps are having a hell of a time trying to extract another left wing, Alexander Semin, from Russia. Current predictions seem to be that he will be playing in Russia this season. Semin figured to be a big factor in the Capitals offense this season.

In the 2003-2004 season, Friesen scored 17 goals and totaled 37 points in 81 games for the Devils, but that was a down year. His best season was in '97-'98 with San Jose, when he scored 31 goals and accumulated 63 points. He is also widely considered one of the fastest skaters in the league, which means the new rules may suit his style very well.

The Caps are still hurting for defensemen, but this move does show that maybe owner Ted Leonsis will be willing to loosen the purse strings a little bit if he can nab someone for a good deal. Also, it was a heady move from general manager George McPhee to see a bargain from a team that has used up most of its cap room and take it.

Maybe this is a one-and-done thing, or maybe McPhee will seek out more steals prior to the season-opener against Columbus on October 5.

I certainly don't know, but you can read about 20 pages of speculation over at the Caps message board.

The Day in Sports: September 26, 2005

No intro. Here we go...

MLB: Nationals 4, Florida Marlins 0

The Nats kept from falling under .500 thanks to another strong pitching performance by Hector Carrasco (5-3), who had been a reliever all season until September 13, when he made a spot start and ended up with a place in the rotation. Now, the Nationals are probably thinking that they could still be in playoff spot if Carrasco had been in the rotation all year instead of, oh, say ... Rangers reject Ryan Drese.

Last night, Hector went six innings, giving up just two hits and striking out six Fish. Carrasco has now pitched 17.2 scoreless innings in his last three starts, lowering his ERA on the year to 1.73.

This is a good story for the Nats (yes, better than Cristian Guzman going 3-for-5 with three RBIs to lift his batting average to .215 ... he’s still the worst offensive player in the Majors). Carrasco is a guy that’s been around for over 10 years and has never been dominant, posting pretty consistent ERAs in the mid-4’s. Then he had rotator cuff surgery, missed all of 2002, and couldn’t find a team. He played most of 2003 in the Orioles farm system, then headed to Japan for 2004 after failing to land a bullpen spot with the Cubs. Finally, the benevolent Washington Nationals picked him up and sent him to New Orleans to be a Zephyr. Less than a month into the year, he was called up to the big club, and he’s been pretty much dominant ever since. Good job, Hector.

Plus (for any of you from the College Park area), he kind of looks like “Wildness,” the (Hispanic? I don’t know ... Wildness is unclassifiable!) guy with the dyed blond hair who always wore sunglasses at the TCBY, and now does so at the Tasti D-Lite. (Sorry folks. I couldn’t find a picture. Just know that he’s a legend among drunk/high college students in need of frosty treats around the University of Maryland.)

Thusly, I fully support, from now on, referring to Mr. Carrasco as “Wildness.” Make it so.

Anywho. Game two of the series is tonight at 7:05 in Florida, with Esteban Loaiza (11-10, 3.63 ERA, RHP) facing D-Train, Dontrelle Willis (22-9, 2.44 ERA, LHP), who is very talented. (Dare I say, almost as good as Hector “Wildness” Carrasco.)

I’m on a (parentheses) kick today. (Awesome.) (It’s because I use them with style.) But enough stalling...

MLB: New York Yankees 11, Orioles 3

The Yankees scored a lot of runs, the Orioles didn’t. Tejada didn’t get any RBIs and Gibbons didn’t homer. Rodrigo Lopez (14-12) took the loss.

The Red Sox were rained out, so the Yankees win put them in sole possession of first place in the American League East by half a game.

O’s late-inning replacement shortstop Ed Rogers hit a two-run homer in the ninth inning for his first Major League hit.

The current nine-game losing streak is the Orioles’ longest of the season.

That’s all you need to know, and probably more.

Tonight is Bruce Chen (12-10, 3.60 ERA, LHP) against Mike Mussina (13-8, 4.20 ERA, RHP) at Camden Yards at 7:05.

P.S. I hate Gary Sheffield.

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Weekend in Sports: September 23 – September 25, 2005

There’s no real news to report, except that the Nationals are now in last place in the National League East and the “big announcement” at the Capitals fan fest, as I predicted, was naming Jeff Halpern captain.

The Ravens, Redskins and D.C. United all had the weekend off, so it was just college football, Major League Baseball and preseason hockey this weekend.

NCAA Football: Maryland won at Wake Forest, 22-12, to show that they plan to be in the hunt for a bowl bid this season. The defense asserted itself after many questions about its ability to handle the run heading into the game. Wake Forest went into the game with the eighth-ranked rushing attack in the country, and the Terps held them 111 rushing yards, less than half their average of 270. The defense also added a touchdown when Josh Wilson returned a fumble 20 yards for a score.

Ray Lewis’ half-brother, Keon Lattimore, ran for 76 yards and a touchdown to lead the Terps offense.

Maryland is now 2-2 (1-1 in the ACC).

The Terps face rival Virginia on Saturday, October 1 at Byrd Stadium in College Park. Game time is noon.

MLB: The Nationals were swept by the (previously last place) Mets to fall to 78-78 and last place in the National League East, just where everyone expected them to be going into the season. Wow. Who would have thought two months ago that we would be talking about the “last-place Nationals”?

The Nats lost 5-2, 5-2 and 6-5 in the three-game set with the Mets. The last game included two-homers from has-been Mike Piazza.

The Nationals now head to Florida for a three-game series beginning tonight at 7:05. Hector Carrasco (4-3, 1.86 ERA, RHP) will look to build on a great start in his last outing when he faces Jason Vargas (5-4, 4.39 ERA, LHP).

MLB: The Orioles were swept by Boston over the weekend. Big freaking surprise. The O’s lost games by scores of 6-3, 4-3 and 9-3 to fall to 70-85. Last year’s team finished 78-84.

The Orioles have now lost what feels like 65 games in a row. OK, so it’s only eight, but when the last seven of those come to the Yankees and Red Sox, it feels like more.

Miguel Tejada added a pair of RBIs in the series, so he is now at 95 with seven games left. Jay Gibbons didn’t homer, so he’s still sitting on 99 for his career.

The misery continues tonight at 7:05 as the O’s begin yet another four-game set with the Yankees, this time at Camden Yards. Rodrigo Lopez (14-11, 4.79 ERA, RHP) will face still-undefeated and still-undeserving-of-all-the-praise-he’s-received Aaron Small (9-0, 3.25 ERA, RHP).

NHL Preseason: The Capitals won a game! And against Pittsburgh no less! After losing, 5-2, to Philadelphia on Saturday night, the Capitals headed to Hershey for an exhibition game where the team’s AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears, play their home games. Maybe it was meant as a message to the young players on the Capitals roster: “This is where you’ll be in two weeks.” Who knows?

What I do know is that Brian Willsie scored a pair of power-play goals and newly-named captain Jeff Halpern scored the game-winner in a 3-2 victory over the hated Penguins. The Capitals are now 1-3-1 in preseason action ... not that anyone cares.

Mario Lemieux and Sidney Crosby didn’t play for the Pens.

The Caps and Penguins play again on Friday night at 7:00 at the MCI Center, and the game will be televised on Comcast Sportsnet.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The Day in Sports: September 22, 2005


In cased you missed it or haven’t heard, it came out yesterday that, during his suspension appeal hearing, Rafael Palmeiro indicated that a supplement that an Orioles teammate gave him was a possible cause for his failed test, and while he named that teammate during the hearing, it was not being made public. After literally minutes of speculation, it turned out that Raffy named Miguel Tejada as the guy who gave him the potentially tarnished substance, a shot of vitamin B-12 (not on the MLB list of banned substances). Basically, it seems to be pretty much agreed that the possibility that the B-12 shot caused Palmeiro’s positive test is nonexistent. Major League Baseball has already come out to clear Tejada’s name.

The article is here.

I posted some comments at Camden Chat that you can check out here.

Also of interesting note is that Tejada said that he’s been tested three times and come back clean each time.

Basically, I’m not still sitting here waiting for Palmeiro to give us “the other side of the story,” because I don’t think it exists. As for this incident, I am really hoping that it wasn’t an attempt to take a teammate down with him (and a very poor attempt, at that). I’m going to give Raffy the benefit of the doubt and say that he was just frantically searching for a possible explanation and didn’t mean to indict anyone.

After the news initially came out that Palmeiro had mentioned a teammate, interim manager Sam Perlozzo told the Associated Press that maybe it would be best if Palmeiro didn’t return to the team. Previously, it was thought Raffy might return for the final home stand of the season, which begins tonight against Boston.

In other news, 32-year-old career minor leaguer Rick Short is batting .462 with two homers, four RBIs, four runs scored and a (get this) 1.610 OPS in 10 games with the Nationals. That includes a 2-for-3 night last night in which he smacked a pair of doubles and knocked in a run against the Giants. Go Rick Short!

Now on to those evil, evil recaps.

MLB: Nationals 2, San Francisco Giants 0

They did it! The Nationals played a game against the Giants and didn’t allow Barry Bonds to homer! What’s that you say? He didn’t play? Well ... at least he didn’t homer!

The Nationals got 5.2 scoreless innings from fill-in starter (normal reliever) Hector Carrasco and seventh-inning RBIs from Rick Short and Deivi Cruz to take a 2-0 win over the Giants.

Brett Tomko (7-15) gave up the runs and took the loss, Jon Rauch (2-4) pitched a scoreless inning and got the win, and Chad Cordero shut the Giants down in the ninth for his 47th save.

Tonight at RFK at 7:05, the Nats take on the New York Mets to open a three-game, bottom-of-the-NL-East series. The pitching match-up is Esteban Loaiza (11-10, 3.66 ERA, RHP) against Steve Trachsel (1-3, 3.42 ERA, RHP).

MLB: New York Yankees 7, Orioles 6

The Yankees got their extra-long brooms out on the Orioles, completing a four-game sweep with a 7-6 win last night.

Jorge Posada did the damage last night for the Yanks. After 5.1 stellar innings from Bruce Chen (12-10), having only given up a homer to Posada in the fifth inning, Chen got beat by Posada again in the sixth. With two men on, Posada launched a home run into the left field seats to make it 5-1. Chen was then pulled.

New York added two more in the seventh to make it 7-1, but the Orioles put up four in the top of the eighth to make it 7-5, then Melvin Mora hit a two-out, two-strike homer in the ninth to make it 7-6, but Miguel Tejada grounded out to end the game.

Tejada knocked in his 93rd run of the year in the eighth inning.

Boston was idle, so the Yanks are now a full game ahead of the Red Sox in the American League East.

The loss was the Orioles’ 82nd, so they can no longer finish at .500.

After giving the Yankees the AL East lead, they now get to give it back to the Red Sox in a three game set at Camden Yards starting tonight at 7:35. Daniel Cabrera (10-11, 4.68 ERA, RHP) will face Bronson Arroyo (13-9, 4.31 ERA, RHP). Both have done well in their last three starts.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Day in Sports: September 21, 2005

Oh, the dreaded recaps. And boy are they bad. Thank goodness baseball’s almost over, because it’s been rough to be a Nationals or Orioles fan over the past few months. Let downs are the worst.

First, some news: Brian Roberts will undergo surgery on his injured elbow and is expected to need six months to recover. Six months from now is late March, so that’s near the end of spring training. It is possible that he will miss the start of next season, but there is no telling right now. Six months is a long way away. Get better, Brian!

MLB: New York Yankees 2, Orioles 1

Rodrigo Lopez (14-11) threw a quality start, but Randy Johnson (15-8) threw an even more quality start, and Matt Lawton’s two-run homer in the second inning was enough for the Yankees to beat the Orioles for the fifth straight time. With the BoSox losing to Tampa Bay last night, the Yankees (sigh) are now in first place in the American League East. I hate it that the Orioles are the ones handing them another title.

The Orioles only run came on a Melvin Mora RBI double in the sixth inning.

Mariano Rivera almost choked it away in the ninth, but he got B.J. Surhoff to fly out weakly to end the game.

On a bright note, Gary Sheffield went 0-for-4.

The loss was the Orioles 81st, meaning they would have to finish out 11-0 to reach .500.

Mercifully, the series ends tonight with Bruce Chen (12-9, 3.51 ERA, LHP) facing former-Oriole Mike Mussina (12-8, 4.34 ERA, RHP). Despite some fans telling me that they still like Mussina for what he did with the O’s, I don’t like him anymore. I would even say I dislike him. Yankees are Yankees, and they are to be hated.

Game time is 7:05 p.m.

MLB: San Francisco Giants 5, Nationals 1

John Patterson (9-6) had a rare rough outing, giving up five runs on 10 hits in seven innings in the Nationals 5-1 loss to the Giants. Brad Hennessey (5-8) got the win and provided some offense in the game, going 2-for-3 with a homerun.

Barry Bonds hit a 2-run homer in the first inning to make it 2-0, and that’s all the Giants would need. I hate Barry Bonds.

Armando Benitez came in with two men on and one out in the ninth and got the final two outs for his 18th save.

Tonight the Nationals will send reliever Hector Carrasco (4-3, 2.01 ERA, RHP) to throw against Brett Tomko (7-14, 4.54 ERA, RHP). Let’s see if the Nats can go one game without giving up a Barry Bonds homer. Please.

Game time is 4:35 p.m. Dip out of work early, stop at the CVS/Walgreens/Rite Aid on the way to the Metro, grab the big bottle of fake Excedrin, and start pegging them at Barry's fat, steroid-pumped head. I command it! (I think people on steroids end up with huge faces because just the act of chewing pumps up their jaw muscles so much ... but I'm not a doctor.)

In other news, the Capitals lost to Buffalo, 4-0, at MCI Center to fall to 0-3-0 in preseason play. Apparently Alexander Ovechkin didn’t do much in his Capitals preseason debut. Darn. That last 0 in the record, by the way, is overtime losses, the stupidest and wussiest rule in the history of sports. I’m sorry, but giving the losing team a point no matter what kind of negates the excitement of a shootout. That’s the same kind of sissy thinking that leads to the plus-minus grading scale and parents who give a bunch of presents to their child on his/her birthday, then also give one present to each non-birthday sibling. It’s my birthday. I get the Sock’em Boppers.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Day in Sports: September 20, 2005

Yesterday was awful. Having two of the three athletes I despise the most in all of sports come up HUGE against both of the local teams is not fun. But it’s a new day, and it’s time to let the bean fest begin -- if only Daniel Cabrera was pitching for the O’s.

Also, the Orioles feel-good story of the year, Brian Roberts, is done for the year after dislocating his elbow last night. On a bunt up the first-base line from Bubba Crosby, Roberts covered first and stretched to reach B.J. Surhoff’s throw, and Crosby ran into his arm, bending it backwards. Roberts was batting .314 with 18 homers, 73 RBIs, 27 stolen bases, a .387 on-base percentage and a .903 OPS. A career year in all respects. Congrats on the season B-Rob. It sucks that it ended this way.

Enough sadness and bitterness. On to the recaps...

MLB: New York Yankees 12, Orioles 9

Just kidding. More bitterness!

Allow me to repeat myself: YOUR LITTLE SISTER COULD WIN 20 GAMES WITH THAT KIND OF RUN SUPPORT! Aaron Small (9-0) is not good. I’m tired of the constant praise on him. He’s given up 13 runs in the last 18 innings. Don’t get out your calculator; I did the work. That’s a 6.50 ERA. But, of course, he’s 3-0 in that span because the Yankees have averaged a shade under 10 runs a game in those three starts. Someone give me a Yankees uniform; it’s time to collect my 9-0 record and a big league paycheck. I think I’m fourth in the rotation – behind your little sister.

So the Yankees won, 12-9, in a game that was never as close as that score indicates. John Maine (2-2) gave up four runs in the first inning, and every Orioles run after that was just for show. The O’s bats managed to produce three runs in the top of the second to make it 4-3, only to watch a grand slam by Gary “my season is when I get paid/if I’m unhappy you don’t want me on your team/you should get a full-season suspension for using steroids even though I, myself, used steroids” Sheffield. (OK, so that last one isn’t a direct quote.) That made it 9-3.

The O’s cut it to 10-7 by scoring in the sixth, seventh and eight innings, but the Yanks extended the lead to 12-7 in the eighth by beating up on who else but Jorge Julio. The O’s added a couple of meaningless runs in the ninth to make it 12-9, but the game was long since over, despite not seeming like it on the scoreboard. We’ll call it a “moral blowout.”

On a (small) bright note, Jay Gibbons hit a two-run homer in the seventh, so he now has 99 career home runs. Miguel Tejada was one of three O’s in the starting lineup to not get an RBI, so he’s still stuck on 92 for the year.

Also, Sam Perlozzo was ejected after flipping out at an umpire for not calling Crosby out on the play that ended Roberts’ season. Perlozzo argued that Crosby should have been called out for running inside the baseline on the bunt.

Tonight at 7:05 it’s Rodrigo Lopez (14-10, 4.86 ERA, RHP) going for his 15th win against Randy Johnson (14-8, 4.01 ERA, LHP), also going for his 15th win.

Johnson only lasted 1.2 innings in his last outing, when he gave up three runs on three hits, two walks and a homer to Toronto.

MLB: San Francisco Giants 4, Nationals 3

Good job, Nats fans. You booed loudly and brought signs. Some had paper asterisks, one sign said “Barry BALCO,” another said, “It’s ‘Clear’ Barry Can’t ‘Cream’ The Nats.” One clever group even covered a 10 seat, three row area with a sign declaring it the “Roid Rage Blast Zone.” Hilarious. Good job Nats fans.

Too bad Barry and his 40-pound head (literally and figuratively) still won.

Bonds’ solo homer in the fourth inning tied the game at one, but it was Moises Alou’s three-run bomb in the top of the ninth after a semi-intentional walk to Bonds that really made the difference. The Nats were up, 2-1, and the Giants had men on first and second when Alou launched Livan Hernandez’ (15-8) pitch over the left field fence. 4-2 Giants.

With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, the Nats had scored a run and threatened for more, but a Brad Wilkerson liner was caught on a very nice play by Bonds’ replacement, Todd Linden, in left field.

Jack Taschner (2-0) worked the eighth and took the win, and Yankee-puncher Armando Benitez (barely) earned his 17th save.

The Post’s Thomas Boswell wrote an interesting column on the drama, although I don’t really agree with his take that “this was perhaps the best game of the entire season.” How can a loss be the best game of the season? I remember going to play hockey and people would tell me to “have fun.” I would invariably tell them, “I’ll have fun if I win.” I don’t know; maybe that’s not the best way to look at sports. But I’m hyper-competitive, and that’s part of the fun.

The Nats are now five games behind Houston in the Wild Card Standings with just 11 games left. It’s insurmountable. So what’s the point in telling you that tonight will be John Patterson (9-5, 2.65 ERA, RHP) against Barry Bonds and Brad Hennessey (4-8, 5.25 ERA, RHP)? Oh well. I just did.

If you’ve got tickets, go boo Barry some more. In the meantime, I’ll try to think of some clever/outrageous signs. How about this one:

Does your roid rage lead you to beat your wife and kids? And by “wife and kids,” I mean boyfriend.

Actually, how about everyone go out and by a bunch of cheap, CVS brand Tylenol knock-off pills, then shower Barry with them as he goes to the batters box. It would look freakin’ sweet.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Day in Sports: September 19, 2005

Well, unfortunately for Baltimore sports fans, the Redskins and Cowboys weren’t the only rivals going at it last night. The Orioles were visiting Yankee Stadium, so here’s the downer. There had been too much jubilation around here, anyway.

MLB: New York Yankees 3, Orioles 2

AAAAARRRRGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!!! That’s all I can say. That one hurt.

The Orioles were up 2-0 after three innings, but the Yankees tied it in the fifth after Erik Bedard loaded the bases with nobody out. The game remained tied until the bottom of the ninth. Eric DuBose was pitching, as he had been since the seventh inning, and with no outs, Bubba I-raised-my-batting-average-28-points-tonight Crosby hit one into the right field stands for the walk-off home run. Cue Sinatra’s “New York, New York.”


Crosby was batting .250 coming into the game, and went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .278.

To make matters worse, the Red Sox lost to the Devil Rays, 8-7, so the Yanks are now just half of a game out of first place in the American League East. Argh.

The Orioles get three more games to try to keep New York from taking over that top spot, then they play Boston for three games, then they get the Yankees for another four games. This is the Orioles’ chance to play spoiler, and it’s not starting out well.

Miguel Tejada did get his 92nd RBI of the season last night, so he now has 13 games to get eight more to reach 100.

Tonight, the O’s send John Maine (2-1, 3.27 ERA, RHP) to face 33-year-old journey man/career minor leaguer/new Yankees savior Aaron Small (8-0, 3.28 ERA, RHP). Despite winning his last two games, Small has given up nine runs in 13 innings (a 6.23 ERA), but has gotten wins in both because the Yanks scored eight runs in the first game and nine in the second. Your little sister could be a 20 game winner with that kind of run support.

Game time is 7:05.

Also tonight, Barry Bonds makes his first road trip of the season as the Nationals face the San Francisco Giants at RFK Stadium at 7:05.

Booooooooooo. Booooooooooooooo. BOOOOOOOOOOO!

In the past few weeks, everyone has been saying, “Say what you want about Barry Bonds as a person, but he is one of the most/THE most talented player in the history of baseball.” I’m tired of it. Here is my reply: “Say what you want about Barry Bonds as a player, but he is a cheater and an asshole.” (That’s me quoting myself ... because I’m so hardcore.)

I. Do. Not. Like. Barry Bonds. In my mind, he is currently competing with Terrell Owens and Gary Sheffield for the biggest jerk in all of sports. I’m not sure who’s winning.

Livan Hernandez (15-7, 3.93 ERA, RHP) will pitch to Barry Bonds tonight, and pitching on Barry Bonds’ side is 20-year-old Matt Cain (2-1, 2.00 ERA, RHP). Cain has pitched well in four appearances for the Giants this season (all starts). His last three games have all been quality starts.

For the Nats, Livo can get kind of ornery, so he might just throw at Barry Bonds. I wouldn’t complain.

I fully urge all of you to go and boo Barry Bonds. It’ll be fun.

And now, back to the Redskins beating the Cowboys!!! (You didn’t think that one post was it, did you?)

Michael Wilbon wrote in The Washington Post that he didn’t think Brunell looked that good until the last few minutes, and that he was outshined by “one of his mid-thirties peers, Drew Bledsoe of the Cowboys.” I don’t really agree. Brunell, at the very least, looked like he was confident in the pocket. Bledsoe was under-throwing receivers also, but everyone seemed ready to heap praise on him. Besides the interception, I thought Brunell looked like a guy who could drive the offense. But then again, maybe I’m just so used to watching the Ravens offensive ineptitudes that any offense that managed more than one first down would look good to me.

At the very least, Santana Moss was impressed. The Washington Times quoted Moss as saying, “If he gets blocking, that man can do anything with his arm.” I guess Patrick Ramsey’s not headed back under center any time soon.

Also check out Thomas Boswell’s column in The Post, where he says that this gives the younger ‘Skins fans “one nearly unbelievable national-TV Gibbs-over-Parcells, Redskins-over-Cowboys miracle victory on which to hang [their hats].”

NFL: Redskins beat Cowboys, 14-13!

Normally this would go in The Day in Sports (TDiS for the super-hip Beltway Sports Beat readers), but it is clearly not just any other game recap, so I figured it deserved its own post.

For the first time since 2002 and just the second time in the last 16 meetings, the Washington Redskins have defeated the Dallas Cowboys. It was the first time the 'Skins have won at Texas Stadium since 1995.

Dallas was up 3-0 at the half, barely capitalizing on an interception and a lost fumble from the Redskins. But the Cowboys scored a touchdown on their first drive of the second half, then engineered a six minute 27 second drive that resulted in a field goal to go up by 13 with under six minutes remaining. It certainly had the makings of another demoralizing Redskins loss to the Cowboys.

But a funny thing happened on the way to sulking to the locker room.

Mark Brunell, who had played with poise for much of the game, put together a 10 play, 76 yard drive, culminating in a 39-yard touchdown pass to Santana Moss that cut the lead to 13-7 with 3:46 remaining.

Then the defense stepped it up, forcing a Dallas punt after just 54 seconds with the ball, leaving the Brunell and the 'Skins with the ball on their own 20 and 2:52 to manufacture another touchdown.

They would need all of 17 seconds. On the second play of the drive, Brunell found Moss again, this time for a 70-yard touchdown that gave the Redskins their first lead of the game.

In two last-gasp Dallas possessions, they turned the ball over on downs and then ran out of time.

Frankly, I'm amazed that the city of Washington is still standing.

I hate to say it after just two games, but the Redskins look like a playoff team. Brunell was 20 for 34 passing for 291 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, good enough for a 94.1 QB Rating. He looked poised in the pocket, and numerous times he was flushed out only to find a wide open man at the last second for a first down. Washington, I think you have a quarterback.

The Redskins have a bye next week before taking on the Seahawks at FedEx Field on October 2 a 1:00 p.m.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Feature: Monday’s (lopsided) Rivalry Preview. ‘Skins vs. Cowboys, O’s vs. Yanks.

This is it. What you’ve been gnawing on your refresh button for. My deep, insightful, and overly-pessimistic look at tonight’s pair of hate-filled rivalry games. On the gridiron, the Redskins take on the hated Cowboys, and on the diamond, the Orioles start a four-game series against the hated Yankees. Hated. Hated hated hated.

Well, hatred, while fun, has not translated into recent success for the good guys in these battles.

At 9 p.m., Joe Gibbs’ Redskins will take on Bill Parcells’ Dallas Cowboys on ABC’s Monday Night Football (which will include a telethon for the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund). But enough about caring and giving! We’re here for hate!

Redskins fan or not, if you are from around this area, you do NOT like the Cowboys. I think it’s in the water.

If you’re a Redskins fan, the recent history of this once-epic rivalry has not been kind to you. The Cowboys have won the last four straight, and 14 of the last 15. To make matters worse, the ‘Skins haven’t won at Texas Stadium in 10 years. Even in the Cowboys’ most dismal seasons, they always seem to save a couple of winning efforts for the games against the Redskins.

Tonight’s match-up in Dallas pits a pair of 1-0 teams against each other, with the Cowboys coming off a 28-24 Week 1 win over the Chargers, who are now 0-2 after a loss to the Broncos. The Redskins are coming off a 9-7 win over the Bears, who then went and ran up 38 points on the Lions.

The ‘Skins will be starting Mark Brunell, who’s old (turned 35 on Saturday). Ramsey replaced Brunell midway through last season and had some solid starts, but this is the here and now, and Ramsey posted a Kyle Boller-esque 49.4 passer rating in the first half against the Bears last week before taking a hard hit and leaving. Brunell filled in for the second half -- and stayed in after Ramsey was cleared to return. Some might say that was a message. Or at least a foreshadowing.

Brunell led all three of the ‘Skins scoring drives. And by “scoring” I mean “field goal.”

The Redskins are six-point underdogs, and despite the line, the doom-and-gloom intro and the recent history, I really do think the ‘Skins have the talent and ability to win this game, and I think there should be some optimism in D.C. But if I’m putting money on it, I’m taking the Cowboys and the points.

In New York at 7:05 p.m., the Orioles will face the Yankees in the first of a four-game set. For the Yankees, now 1.5 games back in both the American League East and the wild card standings, this is a crucial series that could determine the Yanks’ playoff fate. For the Orioles, now 16.5 games out of any playoff spot with 14 games to go (read: mathematically eliminated), this is a chance to play spoiler to a team you despise.

One can only hope that the Orioles will head to the plate with visions of Jeffrey Maier grabbing phantom homeruns in their heads (still bitter ... and sorry for mentioning his name ... not cool).

But there is some reason for optimism here. While the Yankees have won the last two games against the Orioles, the O’s have taken six of ten so far in the season series (granted, at one point they had won five of six). But if the O’s can somehow take three of four in this series, they will guarantee at least a split season series with the Yankees. Obviously, though, I’d much rather see a 14-4 season series with the O’s on the winning end.

Tonight’s pitching match-up is Erik Bedard (6-7, 3.82 ERA, LHP) against Chien-Ming Wang (7-4, 4.18 ERA, RHP), who is 1-1 since coming off the disabled list on September 8, but has given up eight runs in 11.1 innings in that time.

Bedard has struggled also, going 0-3 and posting a 5.91 ERA in his last seven starts. The Orioles have lost all seven of those games.

John Maine (2-1, 3.27 ERA, RHP) will face Aaron Small (8-0, 3.28 ERA, RHP) on Tuesday, Rodrigo Lopez (14-10, 4.86 ERA, RHP) will face Randy Johnson (14-8, 4.01 ERA, LHP) on Wednesday, and Bruce Chen (12-9, 3.51 ERA, LHP) will face Shawn Chacon (6-10, 3.70 ERA, RHP) on Thursday. All of the games start at 7:05 p.m.

With 14 games to go, the Orioles have eight remaining against New York, three against Boston, and three against Tampa Bay.

The Day(s) in Sports: September 16 - September 18, 2005

It was a looong weekend (and not in the good way) for area sports fans, and haven’t we been through a lot already? The Baltimore and Washington area teams notched a total of three wins in nine games (11 if you count preseason hockey ... but at this point who would even count regular season hockey?). But today is a new day, and tonight brings new games and (completely unwarranted) new hope in a pair of lopsided rivalries.

But first, recaps, recaps, RECAPS!!! (I have to make it exciting ... the players sure didn’t.)

NFL: The Ravens lost to the Tennessee Titans, 25-10, showing that all that playoff hope before the season started was completely undeserved. The Titans (1-1) owned the Ravens (0-2) for the entire game, jumping out to a 13-0 lead in the first half. The Ravens never cut the deficit to less than 10 points after that, and that was only when they kicked a field goal (yes, Matt Stover actually made a field goal) to make it 13-3.

Ravens QB Anthony Wright completed 25 of 40 passes for 212 yards, but he was sacked six times and threw a touchdown to the Titans before throwing one to his own receivers. A Brad Kassell pick returned for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter made it 23-3. On the ensuing drive, Wright found Derrick Mason for a 12-yard touchdown that counted for his own team, but it was too little, too late.

Jamal Lewis had a career game for the Ravens, rushing the ball 10 times for -- get this -- nine yards. He also lost a fumble. Backup running back Chester Taylor ran three times for a robust five yards, and he managed to hold on to the football.

But that’s enough sarcasm for one game. The Ravens have stunk through two weeks, and it’s a short season.

NCAA Football: The Terps got beat up by the West Virginia Mountaineers, losing 31-19 to fall to 1-2 on the season and 0-2 on their home turf. After three quarters, Maryland was only down 7-6, but the Mountaineers exploded in the fourth for 24 points.

After a pair of WVU rushing touchdowns made it 21-6, Maryland QB Sam Hollenbach led a pair of scoring drives to make it 21-19. The first was a 73-yard touchdown pass to junior Vernon Davis, who was probably running all the way down the field thinking about how big his NFL signing bonus will be in the offseason. The second touchdown was a 12 yard pass to Jo Jo Walker, which was followed by a failed two-point conversion.

The Terps didn’t have any more offense in them, but the Mountaineers scored 10 more points to lead to the lopsided score. On a bright note, Hollenbach had his best start, completing 20 of 31 passes for 291 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Maryland plays at Wake Forest at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 24.

MLB: The Nationals lost two of three in San Diego to fall 4.5 games behind wild-card-leading Houston. After winning the series opener on Friday to extend their winning streak to four games, the Nationals dropped the last two games. Meanwhile, the Astros have won five games in a row and seem to be destined for the playoffs.

Sunday’s loss was particularly heartbreaking for a couple of reasons. First, Esteban Loaiza pitched seven scoreless innings and left the game with a 1-0 lead, only to watch the bullpen choke it away in the eight and ninth. Second, it allowed the Padres to return to .500 (74-74), forcing them to only go 7-7 for the remainder of the season to avoid being the first sub-.500 team to make the playoffs in a year not shortened by a strike. (The Royals made the playoffs with a 50-53 record in 1981 ... now they’d kill for a .485 winning percentage.) C’mon now! Everyone wants to see the Pads win the division without even winning half their games! Ugh.

MLB: The Orioles lost two of three to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Camden Yards, dropping them to 70-78 on the year. But then again, if the Orioles play the Devil Rays in a forest and no one is there to hear it ... or something like that. You get the picture. No one cared.

Miguel Tejada didn’t get a single RBI in the series, leaving him with just 14 more games to get the nine he needs to reach 100. Jay Gibbons didn’t hit any dingers either, leaving him stuck on 98 career homers.

MLS: D.C. United beat the Colorado Rapids, 2-0, on Saturday to win their second in a row after losing to Colorado two weeks ago. D.C. (14-9-5) remains in second place in the East.

The game was scoreless into the second half before Christian Gomez scored on a free kick in the 65th minute to make it 1-0. Jaime Moreno then scored his 13th goal of the season in the 80th minute to make it 2-0.

Goalie Nick Rimando notched his 11th shutout of the season by making three saves.

D.C. United plays again on Saturday, September 24 in Chicago at 8:30 p.m., where they will face the Fire (haha “face the Fire” ... that just came to me ...).

And from the “in case anyone cares” department, the Capitals dropped their first two preseason games, giving us a preview of what to expect this season.

Actually, the team showed some promise in Saturday’s game, a 3-2 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres. Goalie Olie Kolzig stopped all 22 shots he faced before being replaced in the third period, and the Caps managed to play to a regulation tie without forwards Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Dainius Zubrus, Petr Sykora, and Andrew Cassels (which name doesn’t fit in that list, eh?), all of whom figure to be big factors in the team’s offense this season.

On Friday, the Hurricanes pounded the Caps, 6-0, while the Caps were missing all of the above-mentioned players, plus Kolzig. Also, for that game, the Capitals charter plane didn’t show up, and they ended up arriving at the rink only 40 minutes before game time. (As a goalie, let me tell you, it takes like 25 minutes just to put all that crap on.)

The Caps get a (meaningless) rematch against Buffalo at the MCI Center on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. Also, this Friday night at the Ballston Common Mall in Arlington, Va., from 7:00 to 9:00, the Capitals will host a free FanFest. From the Capitals site: “At 8:30 p.m., Joe Beninati, the Capitals - Comcast SportsNet play-by-play broadcaster, will introduce the team in the atrium of the mall followed by the special announcement.” While there is some speculation on the Caps message board that the announcement will be new uniforms, I’m guessing it will be the announcement of the captains and alternates, with Jeff Halpern getting the “C” and Zubrus and maybe Cassels getting the alternates. But that’s all speculation. We’ll see.

OK, this post is freaking ridiculously long, so I’m going to cut it off here and come back with tonight’s previews later (boooo ... tease!). Yeah, that means Redskins-Cowboys and Orioles-Yankees previews.

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Day in Sports: September 15, 2005

Hey folks. The recap portion of this is going to be a quick one. We focus on the future, people, not the past! (At least when there's only one game the night before.) Plus, tonight is an interesting sports night.

Recaps first, previews follow.

Nationals 6, New York Mets 5 (10 innings)

Yesterday the Nats made a statement. It’s not over. By sweeping the Mets (coupled with losses by the Phillies and Marlins) the Nationals have snuck back within 2.5 games of the now-wild-card-leading Astros.

Despite Thomas Boswell’s assertion in today’s Post that the Nationals are still in the race, apparently thinks it’s over, as (unless I’m missing something) they removed their “Nationals Wild Card Race” graphic sometime between yesterday morning and this morning.

Yesterday afternoon, Washington needed a late comeback to send the game to extra innings before earning the win in the tenth. After jumping out to a 4-1 lead early (which included a Cristian Guzman home run ... I’m not kidding ... really), the Mets erased everything and jumped on top thanks to Cliff Floyd’s fifth-inning grand slam off of Livan Hernandez. 5-4 Mets.

With one out in the ninth inning and men on first and third, a Kaz Matsui fielding error allowed Brad Wilkerson to reach first and pushed home the tying run. Then, with two outs in the tenth inning and Nick Johnson on third, Vinny Castilla singled to right field off of Roberto Hernandez (6-6) to score the game-winning run. Gary Majewski worked the bottom half to earn his first save.

Jay Bergmann (2-0) worked the bottom of the ninth and got the win.

The Nats head to the west coast to face San Diego, the sub-.500 team leading the National League West, starting tonight at 10:05. John Patterson (8-5, 2.74 ERA, RHP) will face Jake Peavy (12-6, 2.93 ERA, RHP) in a match-up of young studs. This is a three-game series.

Now on to what’s on tap for tonight.

First and foremost, the Nats play the Padres in San Diego on ridiculous west coast time, which means 10:05 p.m. on the good side of the country (the side that doesn’t have to wake up at 9 a.m. on Sunday to watch football). Meanwhile, Philadelphia and Florida play each other in Miami, which is good if the Nats can sweep the Padres and neither the Phillies or Marlins sweep, because they will gain on both teams. It’s really bad, though, if the Nats don’t sweep and either the Phils or Fish do. Meanwhile, Houston starts up a three game set at home against Milwaukee. Go Brewers.

From the “they’re still playing?” side of town, the Orioles take on the Devil Rays (marquee match-up if there ever was one) at Camden Yards tonight to start a three-game set. Tonight’s game pits drunken college students’ stomachs against cheap hot dogs, as it’s $5 College Night AND $1 hot dogs and Cokes for Fan Appreciation Weekend. (Hot dogs and Cokes will be a buck for all three games.) The pitching match-up is the Orioles leader in wins, Rodrigo Lopez (14-9, 4.82 ERA, RHP) facing young, talented, and stuck-in-Tampa Scott Kazmir (8-9, 3.85 ERA, LHP). The game is set for 7:35 p.m., but the forecast is saying it might rain.

Also tonight is the Washington Capitals preseason opener in Carolina where they will take on the (bad name at the moment) Hurricanes. As much as I’ve tried to claim indifference and say that hockey is dead to me, especially with the Caps sure to suck for years to come, I’m pretty excited for hockey’s return and am optimistic (probably unrealistically) that the rule changes will make the game fun to watch again. I’m also psyched to see Alexander (they call him Sasha in Russia) Ovechkin don a Caps uniform for the first time, because I really do think he will be better than Sidney Crosby -- for the next couple years at the very least. The game is at 7:00 p.m. I can’t find anything about it, but in ’03-’04, preseason games were streamed on the Caps Web site.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The Day in Sports: September 14, 2005

MLB: Texas Rangers 7, Orioles 6 (10 innings)

Well, I said pretty much everything that needed to be said about this game in my post yesterday afternoon. The Orioles were one out away from sweeping the Rangers and taking their fifth straight victory, when Jorge Julio struck. Julio let a 6-3 lead with two outs in the ninth become a 6-6 tie, then was replaced by Jason Grimsley, who got the final out of the ninth. Grimsley, of course, then gave up a run while getting no outs in the bottom of the tenth. Game over.

Grimsley (1-2) took the loss, and Joaquin Benoit (4-4) got the final two outs in the top of the tenth and took the win.

Miguel Tejada got his 91st RBI of the season, leaving him needing nine RBIs in the last 17 games to reach the 100 mark.

The Orioles, now 69-76, have an off day today before taking on the Devil Rays for a weekend set at Camden Yards.

Nationals 6, New York Mets 3
The Nats just won’t go away in the playoff race, as they took it to Kris Benson and the Mets yesterday, 6-3, to get back within three games of Philadelphia and Florida for the lead in the wild card standings.

Nick Johnson, Preston Wilson and Vinny Castilla provided the offensive fireworks, but Jose Guillen provided the entertainment. After striking out looking leading off the fifth inning with the game tied 3-3, Guillen tossed his helmet, some bats and a shin guard onto the field. Naturally, he was ejected, and could face a fine and a suspension.

The Nationals responded by knocking back to back dingers in the inning, the first by Wilson and the second by Castilla, to put Washington up 5-3.

Johnson added some offense, also, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs.

Esteban Loaiza (11-10) worked seven innings, giving up three runs, to get the win. Benson (9-8) took the loss. Chad Cordero, again, worked the ninth to get the save, his 46th.

The Nats and Mets close out this series this afternoon at 1:10 at Shea Stadium, with Livan Hernandez (15-7, 3.83 ERA, RHP) facing Jae Seo (7-2, 1.98 ERA, RHP).

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Opinion: Jorge Julio and Jason Grimsley combine suckiness to create super-suckiness.

OK, in case you missed it, the Orioles were up 6-3 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against Texas this afternoon. Jorge Julio, presumably in the game because B.J. Ryan had pitched in four straight games, got the first two outs but walked a batter. Then he gave up a Hank Blalock double to make it 6-4, then a David Dellucci homer to make it 6-6. He gets replaced by Tim Byrdak, who gives up a single, then Grimsley comes in and gets an out to end the ninth.

Then, the Orioles send up Newhan, Surhoff and Eric Byrnes in the 10th, so you know it's going to be a short inning. Newhan magically singles, then Surhoff sac bunts him over, then Byrnes pops out and Luis Matos grounds out. Inning over. We get to see Jason Grimsley face Mark Teixeira, Alfonso Soriano and Kevin Mench.

And that's all he saw because he didn't get any of them out. A short inning for a different reason. Teixeria doubled, they intentionally walked Soriano, then Mench singled to knock in Teixeira. Game freaking over.

How hard is this? One out before three runs = win. One is less than three. This should be easy.

This is how I'm sure it went:

Sam Perlozzo: "Hey Jorge, you've got two outs. Don't give up three runs to choke on the lead."
Jorge: "Que?"
Sammy P: "Crap."

Really I can't blame Grimsley SO much, because he was facing the heart of a tough order, but I would have liked him to make it take more than three batters, thank you very much. Not a chance. Grimsley is a model of efficiency. As are most sinker-ballers -- just in a different way.

So the question that begs to be asked here is, can you believe teams actually WANTED Jorge Julio at the trade deadline? I can't. But I sure can believe he's stuck in an Orioles uniform.

The Day in Sports: September 13, 2005

Hello again my two remaining readers! Two posts in two days, it's a Festivus miracle!

Anyways, I'm switching up the format again. I'm just going to throw all of the recaps into one post every day. These posts will be labeled "The Day in Sports," and if I'm feeling really saucy, it may someday get changed to TDiS, because acronyms are the coolest. The idea behind this (and I say that as if you care) is to streamline the process of posting a little bit so that I can A) add more posts, especially posts with my worthless-but-riveting opinions, and B) be more funny and less journalismy (yeah, I made that up ... that's how cutting edge I am) with my recap posts. So here goes.

MLB: Nationals 4, New York Mets 2

The Nationals opened a three-game set against the last place Mets last night with a 4-2 victory. Reliever Hector Carrasco got the spot start for the Nats, as Frank Robinson continues to search for someone who resembles a Major League pitcher to take that fifth spot in the rotation with Ryan Drese (who barely resembled a Major League pitcher, himself) out for the year. Carrasco went four innings, giving up two runs on three hits.

Washington used a three-run third inning against Tom Glavine (10-13) to get a lead they wouldn't give up, and, somehow, Cristian Guzman went 2-for-3 to bring his robust batting average up to .204. Guzman has now been batting over .200 for five straight games, the longest such stint for him since the end of June. Ouch.

Gary Majewski (4-3) got the win in relief and Chad Cordero notched his 45th save.

The Nats had lost five of six before last night's win, and they have fallen to four games out in the Wild Card standings with 17 games remaining.

Esteban Loaiza (10-10, 3.79 ERA, RHP) goes against Kris Benson (9-7, 4.00 ERA, RHP) tonight at 7:10 at Shea Stadium.

MLB: Orioles 4, Texas Rangers 3

After an exciting first half that had the Orioles as much as 14 games over .500 and the subsequent disastrous stretch that saw the team fall all the way to 10 games below the break-even mark, a four-game winning streak has put the team in a position where going 9-9 to finish out the season would leave them with an identical record to last year.

John Maine had the best start of his Major League career, going 6.1 innings and giving up two runs on just two hits (both solo homers) to record his first ever quality start (for those that aren’t sabermetrically inclined, a quality start is when a pitcher throws six innings or more and gives up three earned runs or less). Maine’s ERA now sits at 3.27.

He didn’t get the win, though, as Chris Ray (1-3) came in for a third of an inning and gave up a double that scored the game-tying run, which was charged to Todd Williams. Ray got the win because Luis Matos came through with a game-winning RBI double in the top of the ninth inning.

Walter Young, the big (and that’s an understatement ... he’s officially listed at 6’5”, 322 lbs., but looks closer to 350) designated hitter, hit his first Major League home run in the seventh inning. Young went 2-for-4 and is now batting .400 since being called up (4-for-10 with three walks).

C.J. Wilson (1-7) gave up the Matos RBI double in the ninth inning and took the loss for the Rangers. B.J. Ryan worked the ninth inning for the O’s to record his 33rd save, and his fourth in as many days.

This afternoon it's Erik Bedard (6-7, 3.75 ERA, LHP) pitching for the Orioles against another Rangers pitcher you've never heard of and was meant to be a reliever until every Rangers starter ever sucked big time, Juan Dominguez (3-4, 4.20 ERA, RHP).

Bedard has struggled a bit recently, going from 5-1 to 6-7 and only recording four quality starts in his last 10 outings, which still makes him light years ahead of any Rangers pitcher in the past five years. Yes, that includes you, Chan Ho.

The O's look to complete the sweep at this afternoon in Texas at 2:05.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

All Sports: I'm back!

Sorry for the long delay, but I am back. Work has been b-a-n-a-n-a-s bananas (if you get that, you like bad music). I think things should slow down enough for me to get things going here, though, hopefully. And that means, yes, NFL coverage! (and NHL coverage ... yay).

So here's what's happened, if you've been in a coma.

The Nats playoff hopes are all but gone, as they've been in a tailspin.

The Orioles are toast, but they are still playing to keep Sam Perlozzo's job, and they've won three in a row (yay!) against Seattle and Texas (oh...). I've been searching for reasons to watch the remaining games, and here are a few:

1. Will the Orioles do well enough for Perlozzo to keep his job?
2. Sitting at 68-75, can they beat last year's record (78-84)?
3. Can Jay Gibbons get the two homers he needs to reach 100 career dingers?
4. Can Miguel Tejada get 10 RBIs in the last 19 games to reach 100 on the year?
5. Football is only on Saturdays and Sundays.

The Mystics missed the playoffs, and all the buildup for the final game was wasted because Detroit won their next to last game, so it was over before the final matchup.

D.C. United keeps winning, and they have moved all the way up to second place in the East with five games left.

Maryland football squeaked a win past Navy in their opener, then choked on a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter to #25 Clemson on Saturday. This Saturday they take on West Virginia in College Park.

The Redskins beat the Bears in week one, 9-7, but Patrick Ramsey showed that he sucked, so Mark Brunell is now the starting quarterback in D.C.

The Ravens shut down Peyton Manning and the Colts for a full half, but the offense showed why they are the team's liability, as receivers dropped passes (especially bad when into the hands of defenders) and the team ended up losing 24-7. Kyle Boller strained a toe, and now it appears that Anthony Wright will be starting for the time being.

Hockey starts in less than a month, and the Capitals are looking more and more like they are going to send an AHL team to the MCI Center to face the rest of the NHL. Olie Kolzig is back to face 75 shots a game, and superstar 2004 draft pick Alexander Ovechkin will be on the team, but other than that there is not much to be excited about. The team seemed deep in the Peter Bondra sweepstakes (if you can call it that), but it turned out his agent was using our bid to drive up the price elsewhere. Thanks, ass. Bondra will be an Atlanta Thrasher.

Meanwhile, I named my fantasy hockey team the Fig Puckers (teehee).

That's all for now. Don't give up on me and the Beltway Sports Beat yet!!