Thursday, October 20, 2005

MLB News: Orioles hire Jim Duquette to assist Flanagan

And then, just to make sure O's fans don't get too excited in any one day, the O's drop this bomb on us.

The Sun is reporting that the Orioles have named former-Mets General Manager Jim Duquette vice president of baseball operations.

From The Sun:
"Duquette will assist Executive Vice President for Baseball Operations Mike Flanagan in the day-to-day operations of the department, including contract negotiations, assisting in salary arbitration and player personnel decisions at the major league level."

Flanny's quote in The Sun:
"Jim brings a wealth of experience in the daily operation of a Major League Baseball team, from bottom to top," Flanagan said. "He has been involved in every aspect of the baseball front office from scouting and the minors to contract negotiations and running a department. We're thrilled that he sees the direction in which we are going and wants to be a part of it."

I know I'm psyched... OK, no I'm not. This guy is not exciting. He traded one of the top lefty pitching prospects in the game (Scott Kazmir) to Tampa Bay for Victor Zambrano, who can't throw strikes to save his life. I'm not sure exactly what his capacity is, but it seems like he will be Mike Flanagan to Mike Flanagan's Jim Beattie...if that makes sense (he'll be taking on the same role as Flanagan had last year). I guess that means we're back to the two-headed GM system, which so far has not exactly passed with flying colors.

I guess I'll reserve judgment for when the free agent signings start, but I'm not optimistic at the moment.

MLB News: Orioles hire Leo Mazzone as pitching coach

Tired of waiting for the change that may spark the Orioles to a winning season? Thought all hope was lost when they re-hired Mike Flanagan and Sam Perlozzo, then started talking to Jim Duquette about him joining on to continue the two-headed general manager system? Well, it's been a while for O's fans, but there is now reason for optimism.

The Orioles have reached an agreement on a three-year deal that would bring Leo Mazzone from the Braves to the Orioles. (AP article.)

Leo Mazzone, who had said a couple years ago that he wanted to be Sam Perlozzo's pitching coach (and that was before Sam Perlozzo ever got a managing job), brings years of success and the "Mazzone Effect" to a team that hasn't had a winning season since 1997. conducted an analysis of every pitcher that pitched at least one year under Mazzone, and compared their stats with him as their pitching coach to their stats without him. "The verdict: having Leo Mazzone as a pitching coach lowered a pitcher's ERA by a little more than half a run." Now that's a nice testimonial.

And it is much-needed on a team with a wealth of young, talented pitchers (Erik Bedard, Daniel Cabrera, Bruce Chen) that may be in the running for a big time starter in the offseason. This "big time" starter, though, would also likely be someone with a ton of potential that as of yet has not been completely realized. A.J. Burnett and Jeff Weaver are the names that top that list. However, Kevin Millwood had a lot of success when with the Braves, and this hire may make Baltimore an attractive place for him.

"It would probably make anyplace more attractive to a pitcher," an agent of a member of this year's free agent pitching crop told The Washington Post.

This is exciting news heading into an offseason during which Peter Angelos has vowed to spend money to bring the Orioles back into contention.

Monday, October 17, 2005

NHL Fun: Petr Sykoras send media into disarray

If you’re a Caps fan, you should know by now (especially after last night’s shootout) that there is a center in Washington named Petr Sykora (he wears number 20, so if you were watching a game and wondering when the Caps got Michal Pivonka back, now you know the truth). Meanwhile, there is another Petr Sykora (also a center) who rose to fame with the New Jersey Devils playing on a line with Patrik Elias, which leads to the question: What’s with these guys and missing letters from their first names? Now the “real” Sykora plays for the Ducks.

Anyways, the pair of Petr Sykoras have apparently destroyed the feeble minds of every print and Web sports agate (an agate is the poor guy that types in box scores every night for $8.50 an hour), much to the delight of the masses at the message board.

These Sykoras have come to be known as the “real” Petr Sykora (on the Ducks), and the “other” Petr Sykora (on the Caps).

The follies have been plentiful.

The most unforgivable so far has to go to a pre-season article in The Washington Post about the “other” Sykora coming to Washington, accompanied by the press photo of the “real” Sykora. Two reasons why that should not have happened:
1) That’s a Washington paper. Please have someone who knows Washington sports edit the Washington sports section.
2) In the article, an inch from the erroneous picture, the text reads that Washington’s Sykora “SHARES THE SAME NAME AS ANAHEIM’S STAR PLAYER.” (OK, I added the capitalization.) They took the picture off the Web site late in the day it was published, but it is forever available for public ridicule in any copy of October 4’s Post.

Yahoo! Sports has apparently decided to combine the two Sykoras into one super-Sykora, as anytime you click the hyperlinked name of either Petr in a game recap, such as the recap of the Caps’ shootout win over Tampa Bay last night (check the fifth paragraph), it takes you to a hybrid Sykora profile. The stats are of the Duck, the picture is of the Duck, but the “recent news” includes Capitals recaps and Ducks recaps. To make matters more confusing, if you click the Petr Sykora link in the “Game Winning Goal” box in the Caps-Lightning recap linked above, it takes you to a profile of Sykora the Cap with his stats, but no photo and no “recent news.”

CBS Sportsline and both make the same mistake, which is using a new picture of Sykora the Duck in Sykora the Cap’s profile, while using an old picture of Sykora the Duck in Sykora the Duck’s profile. Confused yet? To make matters worse, check out the picture CBS Sportsline is using for Sykora the Cap’s profile:

OK, wait just a damn minute. You mean to tell me that some brilliant young journalistic mind (the intern they have doing this crap), saw this and said, "OK, allow me to find the press photos of the Petr Sykoras. Looking, looking, looking... OH! Here's one with big hair in a purple jersey. That's the Ducks' Sykora, clearly. Ah! And here's one in a jersey with a big Duck on it ... hmmmmmm ... that must be the Capitals' Sykora." At least cuts the HUGE MIGHTY DUCKS LOGO out of the picture!

For comparison, here’s the picture CBS Sportsline is using in Sykora the Duck’s profile:

As you can clearly see, the “real” Sykora has gotten a haircut and become much less pixilated since that first picture.

I’m sure that’s not all of the Sykora-Sykora confusion, so if you find anything else, post the hilarity. In the meantime, we’ll see if the media can get this all sorted out while we sit back and laugh at them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

MLB News: Orioles keep Flanagan and Perlozzo.

Well, if you were hoping for a huge overhaul in the Orioles system, it doesn't appear to be coming. The Orioles have gotten rid of Jim Beattie, promoting Mike Flanagan to the sole general manager position, and they have removed the interim tag from Sam Perlozzo's title.

There is an article with a lot of (mostly very angry) feedback on The Baltimore Sun's Web site. That's eight years of frustration coming out at once, I guess. (Scroll down and look on the left for the user comments.)

I'm not psyched about this news, but I don't think it's a guarantee that Orioles baseball is dead for years to come, either. Peter Angelos keeps claiming that he's ready to open the purse strings, and we'll see if that comes true and they go after some free agents. I urge O's fans to realize, though, that immediate help is NOT on the way. The free agent pitching market just isn't that strong. PLEASE, Flanny, DON'T OVERPAY FOR A.J. BURNETT, or worse, Kevin Millwood, Jeff Weaver or Jason Schmidt. The pitching is NOT available. Get some bats and worry about pitching next year (or trade for it, if you can).

Perlozzo is great friends with Leo Mazzone (of the Braves ... hardly arguable as the best pitching coach in all of baseball), who claimed a while back that his career won't be complete until he was Sammy P's pitching coach. Well, time to make that happen, Leo!

As for Beattie, it was pointed out by one disgruntled fan on The Sun's site that Beattie's one job was to sign Vladimir Guerrero. I had never thought of it that way, but I think that may be a difficult assessment to dismiss. He had signed him in Montreal, and everyone, EVERYONE, knew that it was Tejada and Guerrero that the O's wanted in that 2003 offseason. They got half of it done hoping it would lead to the other half, but there was no such luck. I contend that we may (not WOULD, but MAY) have made the playoffs this year with Guerrero. (Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, replace Sammy Sosa's numbers with Vlad's.)

The outlook for this offseason is intriguing. No more Sosa, Ponson, Palmeiro or Surhoff, and Byrnes is probably gone, too. There is also some talk that super-talented but under-motivated Luis Matos may be non-tendered (if it's any consolation to you Luis, my mom still thinks your cute). That's a LOT of loose change the O's are collecting that can then be spent on other players. Plus, trades aren't out of the question.

Down on the farm, the O's have several hot prospects, especially in the outfield. Nick Markakis should not be ignored as a possible Major Leaguer next year, especially if the O's can add a powerful outfielder to take some of the pressure off of him.

Right now, this is what the Orioles are looking at:

C: Javy Lopez
1B: None
2B: Brian Roberts
3B: Melvin Mora
SS: Miguel Tejada
LF: None
CF: None
RF: Jay Gibbons
DH: None

ACE: None
SP2: Erik Bedard
SP3: Bruce Chen
SP4: Rodrigo Lopez
SP5: Daniel Cabrera

I'll leave off the bullpen, but O's fans are spending WAY too much time harping on the possible loss of B.J. Ryan. Would he be great to have back? Yes. Is it the end of our future hopes if the O's don't have him back? No. Is there any chance he'll actually sign with Baltimore? Realistically? Probably not. Chris Ray, Tim Byrdak, Todd Williams, Aaron Rakers ... the nature of relief pitching is that your unheralded guys end up doing just as well, if not better, than your high-paid signings (Steve Kline, Steve Reed).

So who's available? Brian Giles in LF/RF, Paul Konerko at 1B, Olmedo Saenz at DH (and cheap!). But I'm not the GM. Hey Flanny, dig deep, find us some gems, sign us some people. Let's play competitive baseball!!!

Let the joy that is offseason speculation begin.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

NHL Fun: Why I should be head of Capitals merchandise.

After hearing that hat sales were booming at the MCI Center after Alexander Ovechkin's two-goal second period, with fans clamoring to have something in tow to toss on the rink in the event of a third goal by the rookie, I have decided that someone needs to create a cheap Alexander Ovechkin "Hat Trick Toss" hat. Here is what I whipped up in five minutes with PhotoShop.

Someone market this bad boy.

The Day in Sports: October 5, 2005


It was opening night in the NHL last night after a 16-month layoff, and the game looked completely different. There are no more two-line passes, the offensive zones are bigger, the goalie can’t play every puck within 30 feet of him, all the cheap hooking and holding gets called and the game just moves a lot faster. Plus, the anticipation of a potential shootout always looms.

And believe it or not, the Washington Capitals have won a game. 1-0. First place. It has been so hard for me to curb my enthusiasm on this one, because I know they aren’t supposed to be any good and there’s no reason to think they will be, but damnit that was exciting!

Michael Wilbon at The Washington Post agrees, and gave the Caps some “dap,” as he would say, for winning their opener.

If you missed it, you may have missed history. Alex Ovechkin scored his first two NHL goals! He looks amazing. It’s only a matter of time before teams start putting two guys on him at all times. It’ll be interesting to see how the Caps react to that.

The rule changes make the game far more back and forth, and it’s WAY faster than it was before. It’s extremely exciting to watch, which surprised me, because I was bored to tears by the NHL of the past few years. I guess kudos go to the owners and the players association for hammering out some rule changes that, I think, will save the sport in the long run. Now they just need to make the penalties for fighting a lot stiffer (automatic two-game suspension, a la high school rules?).

Also last night, D.C. United extended their winning streak to four games, and with two games remaining are now only two points behind New England for the East’s top spot.

Re - C - A - P - S reCAPS reCAPS reCAPS!

NHL: YOUR NATION’S CAPITALS! 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 2

For the Caps, the top draft pick in 2004, Alex Ovechkin, was making his debut after having to wait a full extra year from when that was supposed to happen.

Just seconds into the game, Ovechkin threw a check on a Columbus player behind the Capitals net that was so hard it knocked the metal support beam out from between two panes of glass. Then, in the second period, he showed what made him widely regarded as the best prospect in a decade before Sidney Crosbey came along and was considered the best prospect in two decades.

In the second period, 20-year-old Ovechkin scored a pair of goals, both very pretty, both on passes from Jeff Halpern and both to tie the score shortly after Columbus took leads.

The first goal came with 12:29 remaining in the second period, just 28 seconds after Dan Fritsche scored to put the Blue Jackets up 1-0. Jeff Halpern flicked a pass back to a wide open Ovechkin, who rifled a shot past goalie Pascal Leclaire to tie the game up.

But just over three minutes later, Fritsche buried another one to put the Blue Jackets back on top. Ohhh but Ovechkin was not done, either. 89 seconds later, the Caps were swarming in front of Leclaire on the power play, and the puck came to Halpern at point blank range. While the Columbus defenders (and goaltender) played the close-in shot, Halpern saw Ovechkin sliding onto the doorstep with the entire net open in front of him. Halpern shot him a quick pass, and before anyone could move the puck was in the net.

Halpern, though, was not done either. Exactly five minutes after that goal, guess what, the Caps were on the man advantage again. This time “Helper” Halpern set up Dainius Zubrus for the goal that would prove to be the game-winner. (I just made up the “Helper” nickname. I’m so smart.)

The third period went without a score, and the Caps held on to win, 3-2. There’s one -- about 10 percent of the wins that anyone thought they’d manage all year. (Yes, some analysts thought it was possible for the Caps to break their own record for the worst season in NHL history, 8-67-5, which they managed in their inaugural season, 1974-1975.)

Goalie Olie Kolzig looked good for the Caps, stopping 35 of 37 shots and making some terrific saves.

The Cappies play again tomorrow (Friday) night at 7 p.m. against Atlanta at the MCI Center. They will be taking on former star Peter Bondra, who they tried to get back in the off-season but who spurned the Caps for the Thrashers. Atlanta is one of the teams that is supposed to have benefited the most from the slew of available free agents, gaining stars like Bondra, Marian Hossa and Bobby Holik.

The Thrashers were shut out by the Panthers last night.

MLS: D.C. United 3, Real Salt Lake 1

Freddy Adu scored the game-winning goal and United notched its fourth straight victory in Salt Lake City last night, pulling to within just two points of first-place New England with two games to play.

Adu scored in the 50th minute to put D.C. up 2-0, then assisted on Christian Gomez’s goal two minutes later to make it 3-0.

Bobby Boswell scored the first goal of the game in the 30th minute.

D.C. is now 16-9-5.

With two games remaining before the playoffs, D.C. is on a roll. They could still take first place in the East, but the New England Revolution would have to lose one of its last two games, in which they play fourth-place Kansas City and third-place Chicago.

The United has an easier schedule, facing the bottom two teams in the East, the MetroStars and the Columbus Crew.

If New England loses one game, D.C. will take first by winning both of theirs. If New England loses both, D.C. only needs to split its last two games.

United plays next on Saturday night at 7:30, when they will take on the MetroStars at RFK Stadium. Last Saturday, D.C. beat the MetroStars, 4-1, in New Jersey.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

NHL: Washington Capitals Season Preview

As you all should know, the hockey season starts tonight.
That’s the sport with the big things sliding on ice right?
Uhh...sounds like it.
Where the guys have the brooms and you aim at a big red and blue target?
No, that’s curling.

But anyways, for the first time in almost a year and a half, the NHL will be in action tonight, and in this area, that doesn’t mean a whole lot to a whole lot of people.

The Capitals finished the 2003-2004 season with a ridiculous record of 23-46-10-3. The most ridiculous thing, of course, being that there are four numbers in a team’s record. Thankfully, there are no more ties in hockey, but there are still wimpy overtime losses, which I strongly disagree with.

Anyways, the Capitals are widely regarded as one of the worst, if not THE worst team in the NHL this year. Everyone from USA Today to ESPN to Canada’s TSN to our own Washington Post is picking the Caps to finish at or near the bottom of the league standings. (By the way, if you had any doubt about the Post’s lack of dedication to hockey, they place the Capitals section on their site’s sports nav bar between the (Baltimore) Orioles and the WNBA’s Mystics. And on top of that, the beat writer for the Caps is a guy who was a high school sports reporter until this year... Honestly, Dave Fay and the Washington Times are usually light years ahead of the Post with Caps coverage.)

Despite the doom and gloom predictions, Caps like newly-named captain and Potomac, Md., boy Jeff Halpern, long-time netminder Olie Kolzig and General Manager George McPhee (they love to call him GMGM on the Caps message board) have come out to say that the team won’t be as bad as people think.

Well guys, the team could win more games than people think and STILL come in dead last.

The Capitals are building for the future, and that usually means that the “now” sucks. Basically, the Capitals strategy is to throw a bunch of former first round picks onto the ice to see who proves they can play. They have a few veteran anchors like Halpern, Kolzig, defenseman Brendan Witt (who has asked for a trade), and a couple of new acquisitions -- speedster Jeff Friesen and assist-specialist Andrew Cassels.

There is some talent on offense, with 2004 top draft pick Alex Ovechkin seemingly poised to be one of the league’s best. Also, Dainius Zubrus is super-talented and people keep wondering when his breakout year is going to be, Friesen is a proven scorer who is one of the league’s fastest players, and Petr Sykora was one of the top scorers in the Czech league before being extracted from Eastern Europe just a few days ago. But on defense, it’s all up to the youngsters.

Witt anchors the defense, but is overrated as a “physical player” because of his propensity for the cheap shot. When it comes to battling in front of the net and playing sound defensive positioning, he’s nowhere to be found. Ivan Majesky was supposed to be one of the team’s top defensive signings, but then he failed the team physical. Steve Eminger is very talented, but he’s only 21, as is Shaone Morrisonn. Jamie Heward and Bryan Muir are both over 30, but both have mostly been minor league journeymen.

All that boils down to Olie the Goalie needing to stand on his head, which he’s certainly capable of doing, and he’s said all the right things to make us think he’s willing to take on that challenge and won’t get frustrated with the lack of defense, despite some temper tantrums in previous years. If you’re a Caps fan, though, you’ve got to love Olie. (Although I know at least a few question whether or not he is still an elite NHL keeper.)

You can check out the opening night roster here.

The line combinations appear to be up for grabs and will probably be tinkered with as the season goes on, but it certainly looks like Ovechkin will play opposite Halpern on a line centered by Zubrus.

Likely line combinations for opening night are (And I’ve included numbers so you’ll know who people are when you watch. Thank me later.):
Alex Ovechkin #8, Dainius Zubrus #9, Jeff Halpern #11
Jeff Freisen #12, Andrew Cassels #25, Petr Sykora #20
Ben Clymer #27, Brian Sutherby #16, Brian Willsie #24
Matt Bradley #10, Boyd Gordon #15, Matt Pettinger #18

(Notice the Caps’ two-Matt line and two-Brian line. Why not move Friesen and Halpern to the same line and have a two-Jeff line? And when Chris Clark is healthy, you can bring up Chris Bourque and have a two-Chris line. Incredible!)

And on defense:
Brendan Witt #19, Steve Eminger #44
Jamie Heward #6, Bryan Muir #47
Shaone Morrisonn #26, Nolan Yonkman #40

With, of course, Kolzig (#37) in net.

For now, Chris Clark is on the injured reserve with some banged up ribs, but he is listed as day-to-day and would likely bump Pettinger from a regular playing spot.

Those offensive lines are talented, and they can score goals in a big hurry. If the defense can even be serviceable, the Caps should at least be in a lot of games. I do believe, perhaps unreasonably, that this team will be better, sooner, than anyone expects (even themselves, probably). The “new NHL” rewards speed, and there is a lot of that on this team. There is a good mix of young talent and veteran experience, especially on the top two lines.

Ovechkin looked fantastic in the preseason, scoring a hat trick last Friday and adding a goal and two assists on Saturday. Caps fans are going to love him, not just for his talent, but for his team-oriented, humble attitude. There is a great article about him today from the Washington Post by William Gildea, which you can check out here.

There are a lot of good quotes in there from Ovechkin, who has only been learning english for about a year. Here is my favorite, which came after he scored three goals and notched an assist on Friday (from the article):

"Reporters surrounded him afterward, one asking if four points made this a time to celebrate.

He looked puzzled.

'We have next game tomorrow,' he said"

Awesome. Sign me up for a black #8 Ovechkin jersey RIGHT NOW.

On to a quick prediction...

I don’t think the Caps are making the playoffs, but I do think they’ll win more than they did in 2003-2004. I’ll go out on a limb and predict 35 wins and narrowly missing a playoff spot (the eighth place team in both leagues in ’03-’04 had 38 wins). We’ll know in about a month if that’s absolutely crazy or not.

So there it is. Your Nation’s Capitals, 2005-2006 edition.

Tonight’s game is at 7 p.m. at the MCI Center, and the Caps will be taking on the Columbus (that’s in Ohio) Blue Jackets. You can watch it from home on Comcast Sportsnet.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Weekend in “Other” Sports: September 30 - October 2

Last one! Let’s wrap this weekend up. Sorry if anyone’s offended that I am grouping soccer and hockey in as “other” sports, but I didn’t feel like they deserved their own posts ... and, on second thought, I don’t really give a crap if you’re offended by that. Toughen up.

Alex Ovechkin had a breakout (if you can call something occurring in the preseason “breakout”) weekend, scoring four goals and adding three helpers, including a hat trick on Friday night in a win over the Penguins. Go out and buy your No. 8 Ovechkin jersey now.

MLS: D.C. United 4, MetroStars 1

With a win over the MetroStars, D.C. United bumped their winning streak to three games and clinched a spot in the playoffs with three games remaining. Chicago is only two points behind second-place United, but it is also still possible for D.C. to jump to first place in the East.

On Saturday, United fell behind the MetroStars, who play in New Jersey and were once the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, 1-0, in the nineteenth minute before showing their offensive power and scoring four times in the second half to win, 4-1.

Ben Olsen had two goals, and Jeff Agoos and Jaime Moreno added the others.

It was just a 2-1 game until the 86th minute. Then, Olsen and Moreno each scored in under 90 seconds to make it a three-goal lead.

D.C.’s next game is on Wednesday at Real (that’s pronounced re-AL) Salt Lake at 9:30 p.m. Salt Lake is a dismal 5-20-4 on the season.

NHL: Capitals win one, lose two over the weekend.

The Capitals beat the Penguins, 4-3, on Friday, lost to Flyers, 7-6, on Saturday, and then lost to Penguins, 7-1, on Sunday.

In the Friday game, 2004 No. 1 draft pick Alex Ovechkin went buck wild, scoring a hat trick and adding an assist on a Jeff Halpern goal. He simultaneously gave hope to the Capitals that maybe this season won’t be so bad, after all.

On Saturday, the Caps held leads of 4-0 and 5-1 before collapsing in the third period and losing in overtime to the Flyers. Ovechkin added another goal and two more assists, but the defense got lax in the third period and the Caps lost. Lesson learned, I hope.

Then, on Sunday, with the Penguins playing all their stars (Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, Ziggy Palffy, etc.) and the Caps playing just about nobody, Pittsburgh rolled, 7-1. A blowout, yes, but not really one to be worried about.

That wraps up the preseason, and now there are just two more days until the Caps open their season on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the MCI Center. They will take on the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Weekend in Football: October 1 - 2, 2005

What is this? Every local football team won? Amazing.

The Terps won in a barnburner in College Park, the Redskins squeaked out an overtime win at FedEx Field and the Ravens beat the Jets at M&T Bank Stadium.

For the record, I was 0-2 in picking against the spread in the NFL games this weekend. Sorry. But then again, if you’re basing your gambling picks on this site, you deserved to lose your money.

NCAA Football: Terrapins 45, Virginia Cavaliers 33

Well, I don’t think anyone really saw this kind of shootout coming. Maryland’s offense came up big time, with Lance Ball rushing for 163 yards and two touchdowns and Sam Hollenbach going 25-for-33 for 320 yards and a pair of passing scores as the Terps knocked of No. 19 Virginia.

The Terps offense was Friedgen-esque, putting up 570 yards. This after over a season of complete inability to mount an offense that led to some people questioning if Friedgen’s convoluted schemes had become too much for the players to handle. Ralph, consider yourself vindicated.

The Terps are now 3-2 (2-1 ACC), and the Cavaliers now have a blemish on their record, at 3-1 (1-1).

Go figure, Vernon Davis caught one of the receiving touchdowns for the Terps, who wore new black Under Armour jerseys for homecoming.

The Terps didn’t do a great job of containing UVA QB Marques Hagans on the ground, which I thought was going to be the key factor in the game, but Maryland won despite allowing him to run for 55 yards and two touchdowns.

Virginia took a 26-24 lead into the fourth quarter, but Maryland turned up the offense for three touchdowns in the final frame to get the win. The loss knocked Virginia out of the AP Top 25 and down to No. 25 in the USA Today Poll.

My prediction: Terps win 27-17.
Actual score: Terps win 45-33.

The Terps travel to Philadelphia to take on Temple on Saturday, October 8.

NFL: Redskins 20, Seattle Seahawks 17 (OT)

After a late-fourth-quarter Seahawks interception in Redskins territory, it looked like the ‘Skins were destined to lose a heartbreaker. But when Josh Brown’s 47-yard field goal attempt doinked off the left upright, the Redskins still had life.

In overtime, Mark Brunell converted three third-and-longs in a drive that culminated in a 39-yard Nick “The Kick” Novak field goal to win it.

The Redskins had leads of 14-3 and 17-10 before a Matt Hasselbeck pass to Darrell Jackson tied it at 17 with two minutes left in the fourth quarter. Brunell and the Redskins had enough time to drive for a game-winning score, but on the second play of the drive, Brunell threw a pass a little too far out in front of Clinton Portis, who deflected the ball straight up in the air for an easy Seahawks pick on the Redskin 26.

With one second remaining, the Seahawks called a timeout and sent Brown out to win it with a 47-yard field goal, but it bounced over halfway up the upright and back into the end zone. No good.

Brunell finished 20-for-36 passing with two touchdowns and an interception, Santana Moss caught six passes for 87 yards, and Clinton Portis ran for 90 yards in the win.

My prediction: Seahawks win 21-20
Actual score: Redskins win 20-17

The Redskins are now 3-0, which means everyone in the area gets to hear bold presumptions of a Redskins Super Bowl ... at least until the ‘Skins head to Denver on Sunday to play the 3-1 Broncos.

NFL: Ravens 13, New York Jets 3

Man, are the Jets bad. That’s all that needs to be said.

The Ravens (1-2) still couldn’t put together a legitimate offense, but Jamal Lewis did break through for his first touchdown of the season and the Ravens won for the first time this year.

The Jets started rookie Brooks Bollinger, and he was harassed from the beginning. He was sacked five times by the Ravens, and only managed to go 14-for-28 for 149 yards passing.

Anthony Wright only managed 144 yards passing for the Ravens, but he did it on a respectable 15-for-21. He did throw an interception, but the Ravens pounded away on the ground, running the ball 45 times for 115 yards. Those numbers aren’t good, but they were enough to beat the Jets.

Baltimore took the lead in the first quarter on a Matt Stover field goal and never gave it up, leading 6-0 before the Jets field goal in the third quarter that was their only score of the game.

In the third quarter, Jamal Lewis ran the ball in for a one-yard touchdown to put the ravens up by 10, and the defense made it stick.

My prediction: Ravens win 14-10
Actual Score: Ravens win 13-3

Let it be known that I did say the Jets wouldn’t score an offensive touchdown, and that they’d get a field goal and score on an interception return. I was right, except that the interception wasn’t returned for a touchdown.

The Ravens take on the 1-2 Lions in Detroit on Sunday.

The Weekend in Baseball: September 30 - October 2, 2005

There is an absolute crapload of sports to review from the past weekend, so I’m going to split it up into three sections: baseball, football, and “other” sports. Sorry Capitals and D.C. United.

Here’s your baseball fix for the last weekend of the season. I’ll come back with Nationals and Orioles season reviews sometime (probably not today, because I feel no need to post five times in one day).

News now, recaps later.

The Orioles and Nationals both finished their seasons with sweeps, but the O’s were doing the sweeping and the Nats were getting swept. The Nats finished the season even at 81-81, while the O’s finished at 74-88. Coincidentally, the most the Orioles were over .500 at any point in the season was 14 games, and then they tanked and finished 14 games under .500. Terrible.

Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies kept his hitting streak alive, so we’ll have to wait until next year to see him put his 36-game streak on the line. The streak is the ninth longest hitting streak in Major League Baseball history, and it’s the longest since Paul Molitor got to 39 in 1987.

Also, the Padres managed to finish 82-80 and avoid falling bass-ackwards into the playoffs.

The playoff match-ups are set, with the American League pitting the White Sox against the Red Sox and the Angels against the Yankees. In the National League, it’s the Cardinals against the Padres and the Braves against the Astros. The games begin tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon and will air on Fox and ESPN.

And in funny news, the Yankees are mad at their former manager (and current Rangers manager) Buck Showalter for pulling his top players when Texas was beating the Angels, 4-1, in the third inning. The Angels went on to win, 7-4, and it cost the Yankees home field advantage in the division series. Way to go, Buck! Read all about it.


The Nationals were swept at home in three games by the Phillies, losing 4-3, 8-4 and 9-3. While the Phillies clung to playoff hopes until just a few minutes after their regular season ended, an Astros win over the Cubs ended that.

There’s not a whole lot to say about the series, really.

Hector “Wildness” Carrasco took the loss in the last game to fall to 5-4 and bump his ERA over two, Cristian Guzman somehow ended with a .219 batting average after hovering below .200 for most of the year, and 32-year-old Rick Short finished his debut season in the Majors with a .400 average (6-for-15) and a 1.404 OPS. Can he please have a full season in the Majors now? Anyone?

By the way, 81-81 was good enough for dead last in the National League East, if anyone’s counting. While the record is a success for a team that was, well, the Expos for the previous 35 years, it sucks that they could only muster the place in the standings befitting of the Expos.

The Orioles swept the Devil Rays in Tampa Bay, 7-6, 4-3 and 6-2, and the Orioles kept from having their fourth 90-loss season in five years. I guess that’s something to be proud of.

Unfortunately, Miguel Tejada couldn’t get the last two RBIs he needed to get to 100, so his streak of five straight 100-plus RBI seasons has ended.

Jay Gibbons and Melvin Mora both finished on high notes, though, with Gibbons hitting his 26th homer of the year on Sunday and Mora hitting his 27th. Gibbons finished the year with an .833 OPS, which should be good enough to earn him a permanent spot in the Orioles 2006 outfield.

Bruce Chen, who was arguably the best pitcher on the O’s staff this season, finished out 2005 with his 13th win. He was 13-10 on the year with a 3.83 ERA.

Chris Ray, who may take over the closer job if B.J. Ryan bolts (and Ryan’s been very open about his desires to play home games at a place like Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium, even if it means becoming a setup man), pitched a third of an inning to finish his solid rookie season with a 2.66 ERA.

Tonight’s match-up is no one against no one, at nowhere. Turn out the lights when you leave.