Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Ovechkin Visits Buffalo Tonight

And Sabre fan wants BLOOD.

If you don't know the back story, here's what happened when the Sabres came to Verizon Center on December 2:

Yeah, the hit looks bad on first watch, but A) it wasn't that late, B) Ovechkin didn't hit Briere that hard, C) it was made worse because Briere turned (I think to go to the bench) as soon as he got rid of the puck, D) it looked worse because Briere hit his head on the door and his helmet came off, E) despite laying on the ice for several minutes in such unbelievable excruciating pain, Briere DID NOT MISS A SHIFT.

All that being said ... if someone did the same thing to Ovechkin I'd probably be asking for the death penalty.

Ovechkin got a game misconduct for the hit and was fined $1,000.

To the credit of Buffalo fans, over at the popular Hockey's Future Boards, for every Buffalo fan who wants Ovechkin to be carried off on a stretcher there are two who say to get over it and that you can't fault an intense player for what was essentially a hustle play gone wrong.

As for Ovechkin, he's ready to go if someone wants to take a run at him.
"If it will be rough, I love play rough," he said. "I'm ready to fight if somebody want to fight me. I'm not afraid. I love make hits if somebody hit me. It's hockey. It's my game."
--The Washington Post
The game is tonight at 7 on Comcast Sportsnet.

Here is some pre-game reading:
Ovechkin Awaits Sabres' Reception by Tarik El-Bashir, The Washington Post

JP of Japer's Rink says that "these events are always over-blown by the media and the fans. Players and coaches move on - they have games to win. This is the NHL, not 'Youngblood.'"

The Washington Times didn't even mention the hit.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Gilbert Arenas Goes Off On Another Western Conference Opponent

WASHINGTON WIZARDS: Just five days after shoving 60 points in Kobe Bryant's face in an overtime win in Los Angeles, Gilbert Arenas a.k.a. Agent Zero a.k.a. HIBACHI! went for 54 points in an overtime win over Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns.

The win, by the way, snapped the Suns' 15-game winning streak. Take that you scrawny, round-bacon eating chump.

The 144-139 OT win was the Wizards' 10th in 13 games, bringing their record for the season to 14-12.

Caron Butler added 34 points of his own and Antawn Jamison scored 15, giving the "big three" a grand total of 103 points. That'll do.

The one thing I took away from the game, though, is that I REALLY want to see a seven-game series involving the Suns and the Wizards. Could you imaging a series where 250 points are scored every night? Don't blink, you might miss 20 points ... by one team.

Talk about entertaining basketball. I got tired just watching it.

The Wizards are off until the day after Christmas when they take on Memphis at Verizon Center at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Capitals Play 20 Minutes of a 60 Minute Game

The Tampa Bay Lightning, on the other hand, played the full 60. And guess who won?

Tampa had a 5-2 lead after two periods, through which the Caps only managed to lob 9 shots at Marc Denis, arguably the league's worst starting goaltender. The Caps stepped up their play and put 15 pucks on goal in the third period (two of them scoring), but it wasn't quite enough and the Caps took a 5-4 loss to a team that had only won one of its last nine games.

Last season I would have been positive about this loss because they battled back so well, and really if Dainius Zubrus didn't have some sort of aversion for the wide open net the game would have gone to overtime. (Zubrus had Denis down and out and a wide open goal with only a few minutes left in the game, but he rang his shot off the post.) But this year I'm disappointed. The team came out flat against an opponent that has struggled, then showed just how lopsided the game should have been once they started playing in the third period.

I guess that's a good indication of how far the team has come in a year, but it won't take too many of those "should have had" points to really cause the Capitals some damage in the playoff race.

I think just about every Caps fan has high hopes for this season given the team's play of late, but I can't help but watch a game like last night's and think that maybe they're still a year away.

It's a young team, though, and they can prove a lot by bouncing back against the Devils on Friday.

I'm going to that game as game four of my 11-game plan. And I'm taking my mom. And I'll be sitting next to my brother, who will be wearing a Devils jersey. So the Caps need to win.

Don't forget to vote in the poll: Who is the biggest star in the Beltway Sports world?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Arenas Scores 60 On Kobe ... Is He The Biggest Thing In Area Sports?

This area is dominated by Redskins coverage, so normally you'd think the most famous Redskin is instantly the biggest local sports star.

But a couple weeks ago, Washington Wizard Gilbert Arenas released his signature Adidas shoe. Then "Agent 0" shirts started popping up all over the place (I want one). And then last night he busted 60 points on Kobe Bryant in L.A.

Who is the biggest star in the Beltway Sports world?
Gilbert Arenas (Wizards)
Alexander Ovechkin (Capitals)
Ray Lewis (Ravens)
Steve McNair (Ravens)
Joe Gibbs (Redskins)
Clinton Portis (Redskins)
Sean Taylor (Redskins)
Miguel Tejada (Orioles)
Umm ... Nick Johnson? (Nationals)
Free polls from Pollhost.com

So that got me thinking: Who is the biggest star in the Beltway Sports world?

My first task was to narrow it down to one player per team. Much like Michigan coming in second in the Big Ten and still thinking they should have been in the national championship game, how can you be the biggest star in the area if you're not the biggest star on your own team?

I then decided that, since football is the king of American sports at the moment, the NFL teams could each have one defensive and one offensive representative in the poll.

So here's who I came up with:

*Gilbert Arenas (Wizards) - The shoes, the shirts, the scoring prowess ... Gil's even got the craziness that leads one to give an opposing coach the finger (times two) and get an elaborate system set up in one's house so that one can train and live in higher altitude conditions for better stamina. It seemed like Arenas spent the offseason making a name for himself as a personality, and now he's proving again that he's one of the best players in the NBA. Yet he wasn't going to be an all-star last year until Jermaine O'Neal got hurt, and Coach Rat Face Krzyzewski supposedly would have cut Arenas from Team USA had he not "suffered a groin injury" and taken himself out of contention.

*Alexander Ovechkin (Capitals) - One of the top two or three stars in the NHL right now ... but that's like saying "one of the top two or three comics on MADtv." It's hard to be the biggest star in the area when you're on the least talked-about team (in the "big four" sports, anyway), but he won the Calder Trophy last year for the NHL's top rookie and he is currently tied for the league lead in goals with Marian Hossa and Brendan Shanahan.

*Ray Lewis (Ravens) - The guy's got an MVP award, and the only other person on this list who can say that is his teammate, Steve McNair. Unlike McNair, Ray Ray brought a Super Bowl to this area. That's something no other player on the list can say. His off-the-field issues with the law seem to be far behind him, but I think it's always somewhat limited his superstar status.

*Steve McNair (Ravens) - If you're simply going by "whose every game is scrutinized and written about the most?," McNair is probably only behind Joe Gibbs in that category. Acquiring McNair gave the Ravens instant championship credibility, but the fact that his best years were all in Tennessee may hurt his chances in this poll.

*Joe Gibbs (Redskins) - Gibbs coached the Redskins to three Super Bowls in 12 years before retiring to do NASCAR stuff, then saying he could never work for Dan Snyder, then doing just that when Danny backed the cash truck up on his front lawn. Back when Gibbs was winning Super Bowls with Mark Rypien at quarterback this probably would have been a no-brainer -- or even when Gibbs first returned in 2004 -- but now he's in the midst of his second losing season in the three years since his return.

*Clinton Portis (Redskins) - The only local star who tries harder than Arenas to propel himself into the limelight is Portis, who has made a habit of putting on wacky outfits for press interviews. This season he also made a habit of getting hurt and now Ladell Betts is making 100-yard games look easy.

*Sean Taylor (Redskins) - Like Ray Lewis, Taylor is a ferocious hitter and a defensive leader. Also like Lewis, Taylor has some serious allegations on his rap sheet.

*Miguel Tejada (Orioles) - Tejada made headlines in the 2005-2006 offseason when he asked the Orioles to ship him out of town because he was tired of losing. He later backed off, then went out and posted monster numbers for a mediocre Orioles team despite trade rumors following him all season. Miggy batted .330, hit 24 home runs and knocked in 100, but many fans thought he lacked the enthusiasm and hustle that he showed when he first came to the O's in 2004.

*Nick Johnson (Nationals) - It was hard to pick a star from the Nationals now that Alfonso Soriano signed a megadeal with the Cubs, but while rookie Ryan Zimmerman got a lot of love last year, Nick Johnson is still the Nationals' best player. His .948 OPS in 2006 was good for eighth in the National League, better than New York golden boy David Wright, better than Braves slugger Andruw Jones and, get this, better than 2006-teammate Soriano. His injury history has been a problem, though, and 2006 was the first year he missed less than 30 games.

So who do you think the local sports world revolves around the most?

I'll post the results and some thoughts later.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Vote For Your NHL and NBA All-Stars

Well since the local teams are all taking the day off, you should take a few minutes tonight to vote your favorite Capitals and Wizards into their respective all-star games. And by favorite, I mean if your favorites are Alexander Ovechkin, Olie Kolzig, Gilbert Arenas or Antawn Jamison. If not ... well ... you get one write-in vote.

Go here to vote for the NHL All-Stars. The NHL's first all-star game since before the lockout will take place in Dallas on January 24 at 8 p.m. The game will only be televised on Versus.

You can vote as many times as you want before 11:59 p.m. EST on January 2.

If you'll remember, last time I was given the opportunity to vote for a local player an unlimited number of times I voted for Orioles catcher Razor Ramon Hernandez over 1,000 times in a single day. I expect similar dedication for Olie and Ovie.

Obviously I'm voting for Ovechkin and Kolzig, but I've also been writing in Dainius Zubrus because he's having a good year ... and the Easstern Conference is filled with too many Penguins, Sabres, Flyers and Jagrs that I just can't bring myself to vote for.

You can vote for the NBA All-Stars here. The NBA's first all-star game since last season's will be held in Las Vegas (where there is no NBA team) on February 18 at 8 p.m. It will be shown live on TNT (watch me explooooode).

For the NBA you can vote once per day until January 21, 2007.

My only request as you vote for the NBA All-Stars -- other than to vote for Arenas lest he take offense, come to your house, drop 45 points on you in your driveway and flip you the bird as he's leaving -- is to recognize that Shaquille O'Neal has only played in four games so far this year. Just because he may be the only center in the Eastern Conference whose name is even vaguely familiar does not mean you should vote for him.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wizards Face Nuggets Tonight, Caps Try To Find Support

The Wizards will take on the Denver Nuggets tonight at the Verizon Center at 7 p.m. The game is on NewsChannel 8 and "Comcast Sportsnet Plus," which for Comcast Howard County suckers ... err ... customers like me is channel 95, which comes in about as clear as George W. Bush's plan for Iraq. (See what I did there? Yeah. I could write for the Post.)

If the Nuggets wear their shiny powder blue uniforms and the Wizards wear their new shiny gold uniforms, it'll look like everyone's wearing their pajamas!

The Wiz are 9-11. The Nuggets are 12-7 and play in a much better conference.

In other Wizards news, on Monday Gilbert Arenas was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week. He averaged over 37 points a game in a stretch that saw the Wizards go 3-1, including their first two road wins of the season, AND he released his kickin' new shoes.

As the Capitals look for ways to pump up home attendance, they've turned to the loud and proud D.C. United fan group, the Barra Brava.

The group's first attempt to bring their raucous soccer-fan style of cheering to the Verizon Center was the December 8 game in which the Caps were spanked, 6-1, by the NHL-leading Anaheim Ducks, and the soccerheads were met with mixed feelings from Caps fans.

Despite the complaints, they've been invited back and will try again on Tuesday, Jan. 9 when the Caps play the hated Flyers. (Seems like I've been saying "hated" a lot recently when talking about Caps opponents. I HATE THEM ALL ARGHGHHGHGHHG!!!11one)

Tickets are a discounted $19 for the yet-to-be-named section.

I think it's a good idea, because it would be great if the Caps could cultivate a group of loud and crazy fans, assuming they can keep them centralized in a set location where they won't be too annoying to the fans who bought regular tickets not expecting to be stuck next to (or in the middle of) a group of drum-bangers who stand for the whole game. It may take a while before the Caps brass figures out how to set up these nights in a way that best limits the complaints.

My (not so good) name suggestions:
The House of Representatives
The Lobbyists

At the moment Army of the Potomac (a Civil War reference that I don't get and am too lazy to research) is getting a lot of run, but is trailing "5th Line" in the very unofficial message board poll. I like 5th Line just fine. I'd like it even better if they somehow incorporated Rod Langway's number five in the logo.

The Terrapins men's basketball team takes on University of Missouri - Kansas City tonight. Marquee match-up if there ever was one...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

What The Hell Happened Last Night?

It started with the Capitals debacle. But when your playoff history is littered with squandered 3-1 series leads to the Penguins you kind of have to expect things like 4-0 leads turning into 5-4 shootout losses. (But hey, at least Ovechkin converted a shootout opportunity and Crosby didn't ... sometimes it's the small victories ... aided by the fact that we're still ahead of them in the standings.)

Here's what the bloggers are saying about the loss:
"Painful" (Team Owner Ted Leonsis on Ted's Take)
"I am still amazed as to just how pathetic the Penguin Scum looked last night even as they were staging their comeback." (Caps Nut of Bleatings From a Caps Nut)
"I love Glen Hanlon, but why in the hell did he put Chris Clark on the shootout? ... How can you leave Matt Pettinger (our best breakaway guy) on the bench for Clarky? Bad move." (Gregg Kanner of Capital Punishment)
"Well, I’d write it off as the normal fluctuations of a young team, except it’s against Pittsburgh, and the Caps choked, hard-core, against relatively equal opposition. ... Worst loss of the season, and that includes the Anaheim game." (Empty Maybe of On Frozen Blog)

The bigger local story is that D.C. United traded 17-year-old Freddy Adu to Real Salt Lake.

United signed Adu three years ago when he was just 14, and it was pretty much the biggest event in the history of the MLS.

Adu wasn't the instant success that the media hype indicated he should have been, but that's why European leagues have developmental squads. With nothing of the sort in the District, Adu had to develop at the pro level.

In his time on the team, he squabbled with coach Peter Nowak about playing time and came off as a young prima donna, but it seemed like he was finally coming around. In United's playoff loss to the New England Revolution Adu looked like the most dangerous player on the squad until Nowak inexplicably yanked him from the game in the middle of the second half.

There's speculation that a European club will come calling for Adu once he turns 18 next year, which could mean that Real Salt Lake won't even have Adu for all of the 2007 season.

In the deal, United also shipped former starting goalie Nick Rimando to Salt Lake. The only live body D.C. got in the deal was reserve goalie Jay Nolly, but their big compensation is a "major player allocation," which allows D.C. to sign a fifth international player.

In MLS rules, a team is only allowed four "international" players who are 25-years-old or older, and three who are under 25. However, it does not consider a player to be international if they are a U.S. citizen or have a green card.

Since all the best players come from outside the U.S., the ability to add another international player is a big deal.

For Real Salt Lake, who has struggled in its first two years of existence, they now have Adu to go with 2006 MVP finalist Jeff Cunningham and MLS all-time leading scorer Jason Kreis.

Here's what the bloggers are saying about the Adu deal:

"I'm sad to see Rimando go ... As for Freddy, eh." (DCSportsChick of DCSportsChick)
"All six fans of the DC United are likely crying in their beers tonight. ... Adu's career in DC has been disappointing, primarily for Freddy who wanted more playing time, and for the United." (Tom Bridge of Metroblogging DC)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Capitals Take On The Penguins Tonight

Your nation's Capitals take on the hated Pittsburgh Penguins/Pengwhines/Pengweenies tonight at 7 at the Verizon Center and in front of a national audience on Versus.

It's round five of Alexander Ovechkin vs. Sidney Crosby, with the Penguins taking three of four of last year's meetings.

This year both teams have added another Russian stud to the mix. The Caps have Alexander Semin (12 goals, 12 assists), and the Pens have Evgeni Malkin (14 goals, 14 assists).

A few analysts ('sup, Barry Melrose?) have said that many GMs claim they would have taken Malkin over Ovechkin in the 2004 entry draft. I'm not going to claim that no GMs said that, but I'm going to call them out as the dirty liars that they are. Because before that 2004 draft, Ovechkin going number one was as much of a lock as Crosby going number one in 2005. And even in 2005 some scouts claimed that, had Phil Kessel been available, Crosby just might have been number two on their draft board.

A) Easy to say when it's not your pick.
B) Phil freaking Kessel? He's alright, but he was picked fifth last year. You're fired if you suggest Kessel over Crosby.
C) Sometimes when you have the number one pick, there's a pick you just HAVE TO make. Crosby in '05 was one. Ovechkin in '04 was another. LeBron James in the NBA in 2003. Reggie Bush in the NFL in 2006 ... whoops!

But enough about that crap, because the real talk is Ovechkin vs. Crosby.

And when I say "the real talk," I mean in USA Today, SI.com, ESPN.com, and on the Versus Web site (the network also ran banner ads on NHL.com and washingtonpost.com hyping the game).

So there's your pre-game reading.

Ovechkin's 18 goals lead a group of five Caps already in double-digits less than 30 games into the season. That group also includes Semin (12), Dainius Zubrus (12), Chris Clark (10) and Matt Pettinger (10).

Malkin and Crosby are the only Penguins with more than 10 goals thus far in the campaign.

In other news, is there any chance that Ryan Whitney gets introduced to Donald Brashear tonight? Please?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Wizards Win On The Road!

Gilbert Arenas dropped 37 points the day after his new shoe went on sale, Antawn Jamison played great and the Wizards beat the Knicks by 11 to get their first road win of the season.

And a whopping 75 percent of Beltway Sports Beat voters predicted correctly and/or voted after the result was clear!

Look at these robust statistics:

Take that, ESPN SportsNation.

The Wizards look to make it two on the road when they face Allen Iverson's 76ers in Philadelphia Friday night at 8.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"If he is not happy, I'll punch him."

The best quote of the MLB offseason is courtesy of Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora, in reference to Miguel Tejada. Here's the rest of the context from The Baltimore Sun article:
Mora said he spoke to Tejada about five days ago and the shortstop was "excited about every move the Baltimore Orioles made." ...

"He's fine," Mora said. "He says he is 215 pounds of muscle. That's what he tells me. He says that he is going to hit 40 home runs this year and drive in 200. I was like, 'You can drive in 200.' You know how many people we left on bases [last year]?

"If he is not happy, I'll punch him," Mora said. "He's happy. Sometimes, he says something because he wants [to win], but now he is relaxed and quiet. He knows the front office is making some moves. When we talked the other day, he said, 'Wow, did you see who we signed?'"
On an interesting side note, Mora said he'd be willing to move to left field if it was in the best interest of the team. The O's need a good hitter in left ... unfortunately Mora's 2006 isn't really what the team has in mind, I don't think. A .733 OPS isn't going to cut it, but Mora's 34 and I'd like to think he'll rebound.

If he's moving to left to make room for Aubrey Huff then we have all sorts of other problems to talk about, because Huff is terrible against lefties just like the rest of the Orioles and he can't field.

By the way, J.D. Drew has signed with the Red Sox, so I'm sure we'll be able to add him to the list of mediocre sluggers that torch the Orioles once they go to the Sox or Yankees.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wizards Snap Mavs' 12-Game Win Streak

The Wizards shot lights out last night and looked like a team that should be at the head of the pack in the weak Eastern Conference, not a 7-10 team in fourth place in their own division.

The Wiz made almost 50 percent of their shots from the floor, including over 40 percent of their three-pointers in a 106-97 win over the Mavericks last night. Washington took the lead early in the first quarter and led by 22 going into the fourth, so the game was never really as close as the 9-point difference indicates.

At times both Etan Thomas and Brendan Haywood looked like real NBA centers, combining for 21 rebounds.

The Mavericks came into the game having won 12 in a row dating back almost a month (and after starting the season 0-4).

When will the Wizards win their first road game this season?
In New York on Wednesday.
In Philadelphia on Friday.
Sometime on the four-game road trip from Dec. 17 - 22.
At Charlotte on the 27th or at Milwaukee on the 30th.
Free polls from Pollhost.com
Washington is now 7-2 at home and 0-8 on the road, which is an excellent opportunity to do the first ever poll in Beltway Sports Beat history!

So will they parlay that big win over the Mavs into the momentum to get back toward .500, or will they go in typical Wizards fashion and suffer a let-down loss just when you think they're getting back on track?

Personally, I have faith that the Wiz can beat the Knicks in Madison Square tomorrow.

For what it's worth, at the moment Gilbert Arenas is tied with Kobe Bryant for eighth in the league in scoring, averaging 26.1 per game.

Gil averages 33.7 points at home and just 17.6 on the road. Talk about a dropoff...

(By the way, the NBA has a great page for statheads here. If you ever need to know how players rank when it comes to free throw shooting on three days rest, that's the place to go.)

Wednesday night's game is at 7:30 on Comcast Sportsnet. How it's going to compete in the local ratings with that crucial University of Maryland men's basketball match-up against Fordham, I have no idea.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Maryland Is Going To Orlando For The Champs Sports Bowl

The Washington Times reported that the Terrapins football team has accepted a bid from the Champs Sports Bowl. The Terps will face Purdue in the game, which will be held in Orlando on Dec. 29.

Nothing screams cheap airfare like Orlando between Christmas and New Year's ...

Maryland finished the season 8-4 (5-3 in the ACC) and were just one win away from competing in the ACC Championship game. Purdue, 8-5 (5-3 in the Big Televen), managed to avoid Ohio State and Michigan this season but got smoked by every ranked team they played.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Huge Ravens Game Tonight

The Ravens can clinch the AFC North title with four weeks left in the regular season by beating the Bengals tonight.

The Ravens are 9-2 and the second place Bengals are 6-5. Baltimore won the previous meeting, so if the Ravens win the best the Bengals can do is finish with an equal record, in which case the Ravens would win the tiebreaker.

The Brian Billick-run offense is now 5-0 since Billick fired offensive coordinator Jim Fassel, and Baltimore hasn't been held under 24 points in any of those wins.

Each team is just four days removed from blowout wins over AFC North opponents: The Ravens crushed any thoughts the Steelers might have had about playoffs with a 27-0 embarrassment, and the Bengals stomped on the hapless browns, 30-0.

The Ravens will try to slow Chad Johnson, who has amassed 573 yards in the last three games after an unimpressive start to his season.

Despite Jamal Lewis scoring more as of late (five touchdowns in the last four games), he hasn't put up the kind of yards that you'd like to see from a feature back. He's averaging 66.8 on the year, and even despite the touchdowns in the last four games he's only at 68.5 yards a game in that span.

The game is at 8:00 on ABC 2 in Baltimore and the NFL Network everywhere else where premium cable packages are installed.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Terps 8-0, Caps and Wizards End Skids

I don't know what happened last night, but all the planets must have aligned just right because all three local teams playing won their games!

The Maryland Terrapins men's basketball team held off Illinois for a 72-66 win in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, despite being without surprise senior standout Ikene Ibekwe. The Terps led by as much as 15 in the first half but watched their lead dwindle while they couldn't get anything going for much of the latter three-fourths of the game on offense.

Freshman guard Greivis Vasquez provided the spark for the Terps, who are now 8-0 and will get another test when they face Notre Dame at the Verizon Center in the BB&T Classic on Sunday.

The Capitals snapped their six game slide with a 5-2 win over Tampa Bay. The Lightning chucked 50 shots on Olie Kolzig, but he stopped 48 of them and the Caps took the win.

Alexander Semin scored a goal and added an assist in his first game back after missing four games with a shoulder injury. Alex Ovechkin scored an empty netter for his 16th goal of the season.

The Caps host the Dallas Stars tomorrow in a game that will feature the return of native son and former Caps captain Jeff Halpern. Elliot of Elliot in the Morning says the fans should boo Halpern to acknowledge him, but I think the fans will give him a nice round of applause.

The Wizards managed to snap their four game skid with a 96-95 win over the Atlanta Hawks. The Wizards were tied with just over a minute left in the game, but they managed to pull out the victory despite Gilbert Arenas getting called for charging twice in the last 90 seconds.

Caron Butler went 15-for-15 from the free throw line, including the conversion of a three-point play to put the Wizards up 96-93, which was enough for the win.

The Wizards hope to build on the victory on Friday when they host Charlotte.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Orioles Get Serious About Fixing The Bullpen

If you're big starting pitching acquisition is going to be five-inning-Jaret Wright, you're bullpen needs to be better than the 5.25 ERA and 21 blown leads that the O's 'pen posted in 2006. Toward that end, the O's are apparently on the verge of signing their third and fourth veteran relievers of the offseason, Chad Bradford and Scott Williamson, according to ESPN.com.

While the Orioles front office has admitted a need to focus on the holes in left field and at first base/designated hitter, so far the offseason has brought nothing but pitching ... not to say that's a bad thing.

The O's bullpen ranked next to last in the majors last year, and adding Bradford (2.90 ERA, 1.16 WHIP in 62 innings with the Mets last year), Jamie Walker (2.81, 1.15 in 48 innings with Detroit in '06), Williamson (3.32 ERA in six big league seasons) and Danys Baez (2005 All-Star with the Devil Rays) should be an improvement over the retreads and call-ups that the Orioles cycled through the bullpen last year.

Before the Williamson/Bradford double-signing, The Baltimore Sun's Roch Kubatko, purely speculating, projected the 2007 Orioles bullpen to be:

Chris Ray
Jamie Walker
Danys Baez
"Another new guy (Dustin Hermanson? Joe Borowski? Chad Bradford?)"
John Parrish
Kurt Birkins
Hayden Penn

Well now it's clear that there are TWO new guys, which means Parrish, Birkins or Penn is likely out, barring a trade.

I'd like to see Aaron Rakers get a shot, but it would probably be better for him to start out in AAA Norfolk after missing all of last season with a torn labrum.

After the Baez signing, some -- and by some I mean one -- is speculating that the Orioles may now look to shop young stud closer Chris Ray for a power bat.

The good thing about adding a bunch of relievers, besides immediately helping the bullpen, is that relievers are relatively unheralded in the offseason but when the trade deadline rolls around contending teams suddenly find themselves in desperate need of the bullpen help that will nudge them into the postseason (see the Reds sending Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez to the Nationals this past season for Gary Majewski and Bill Bray). If the O's find themselves out of it in July, guys like Williamson could fetch a high price.

On the other hand, Bradford, Baez and Walker are all looking at three-year deals, which would make them more difficult to trade at the deadline to a team looking for a rental.

Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal says the O's are close to re-upping with Kevin Millahhhh and that he could find himself as part of a platoon with Aubrey Huff or some other lefty batter. I'd like that idea if Millar hit lefties (.244 AVG, .722 OPS last year) better than righties (.283 AVG, .845 OPS). But he doesn't. So that idea is stupid.

The Orioles were also linked to the Manny Ramirez conversation, but apparently those talks never really got anywhere.

The real question is can the Orioles pry a power hitter (of course I'd love Manny being Manny, but for the sake of sanity let's say Adam Dunn) away from someone without parting with Erik Bedard?

The bullpen help is nice and all, and will probably be worth a solid 5-10 wins next season, but the O's need a real power bat and Aubrey Huff is not the answer.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Long Weekend: Good For Pro Football, Bad For Everything Else


Wednesday night the Capitals got beat, 4-2, by the Atlanta Thrashers who I am gaining a solid hatred for. The Caps got into a couple fights with less than five minutes remaining and in the new NHL that means suspensions. Donald Brashear got three games and Brian Sutherby got one.

Later that night, the Wizards lost a decently close game in Houston, 86-82, their second loss in a row.

Thursday there was turkey and stuffing and Miami beating Boston College in football, meaning the Terps could win the ACC Atlantic Division with a win over Wake Forest at home on Saturday.

Friday the Maryland basketball team came out sloppy against High Point (isn't that a high school?), but won by 18 anyway. Then the Caps and Wizards played that night and it was bad.

I went to the Caps game and watched as they were completely dismantled by the Maple Leafs, 7-1. The Caps were without Brashear and Sutherby, but still, 7-1?

Meanwhile, the Wiz were in Memphis getting their asses handed to them by the Grizz, 95-80, and it wasn't even that close. It was the Wizards seventh straight loss on the road to open the season.

Saturday brought opportunities for redemption and celebration, but there would be none. The Caps went to Long Island and got beat, 4-1, by the Islanders. It was the Capitals' sixth straight loss, dropping them to 8-9-6.

The Wizards were at home against Detroit hoping to shake off the terrible road trip but it was not to be, and they lost 115-111 to fall to 4-9.

Maryland's football team couldn't stop the Fake Worest running game, and the Deacons ran for 296 yards in a 38-24 win that gets them into the ACC Championship. The Terps now get to sit and wait to see what bowl game they're headed to.

On Sunday the pro football teams managed to salvage some good in the weekend. The Redskins beat the Panthers, 17-13, with Jason Campbell earning his first NFL win. Chris Cooley showed why it's a tough game if you can't tackle, scoring the winning touchdown on a 66-yard passing play that saw Cooley break two tackles before heading in for the score. The 'Skins are now 4-7 and face struggling Atlanta at home on Sunday.

The Ravens absolutely crushed the hated Steelers, 27-0, embarrassing Ben Roethlisberger (I'm not looking up how to spell that so if it's wrong that's too bad) and the Steelers' O-line to the tune of nine sacks. The Burgh only managed 36 yards in the first half. It was so bad, Ravens coach Brian Billick actually replaced Steve McNair with Kyle Boller with more than 10 minutes left in the game. Take that, Steel town!

In other competitive and athletic sporting competition, I dominated my brother in Wii Sports bowling but we kept playing until my leg got tired and he beat me.

Question: Should I be embarrassed that I got tired playing a video game?

Answer: Not when it's Wii Sports.

Monday the Orioles signed former all-star but currently mediocre reliever Danys Baez to a 3-year, $19 million deal that could only possibly make sense to a team with a bullpen as bad as the Orioles.

The big news around the globe today, of course, is that Busted Tees, a site I visit semi-frequently, stole my brilliant shirt idea and is undoubtedly profiting from it an immeasurable number of times more than I could ever hope to.

In local sports tonight it's Ball State vs. No. 14 Georgetown at Verizon Center. The big story in this game is that G'Town coach John Thompson III will be taking on his brother, Ball State coach Ronny Thompson. The game starts at 7:30 and you can catch in on TV on MASN.

Busted Tees Blatantly Plagiarizes My T-Shirt

Since the start of this football season, I've had this beautiful shirt available in the Beltway Sports Beat store:

Well I went on Busted Tees today only to find that they are selling a ripoff version of my shirt ... except ... you know ... with an infinitely higher budget, professional graphic designers and a gigantic following on a hugely popular Web site. Oh, and don't forget the scruffy male T-shirt models. I don't have those either.


Anyone want to give me some pro bono legal advice about what my options are here (if any)?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

University of Maryland Basketball Rolling

Coming off of consecutive 19-win seasons that led to NIT trips, the Terps men's basketball team came into this season needing to shed their underachieving image to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

Six games into the season, the Terps are undefeated and looking strong. The Terps' 71-60 (it was never that close) win over Winthrop last night was another step toward a return to prominence for the program that won a national championship just five seasons ago.

The run has brought the Terps to rankings of 25 in the AP Poll and 24 in the Coaches.

Ikene Ibekwe, always one to throw down the ferocious dunk but also a horrible liability shooting in any sort of manner that required the ball to travel more than six inches between hand and basket, has worked to improve his shooting and was the catalyst in wins over St. John's and Winthrop.

Freshman Eric Hayes can't help but be compared to Steve Blake, which is a refreshing thought after a year without a natural point guard.

The Terps wins haven't come against cupcake opponents, either.

Maryland beat Vermont by 18 points in the second game of the season. Five days later the Catamounts walked all over No. 14-at-the-time Boston College, beating them by 14.

The Terps destroyed St. John's by 32 in the fourth game of the season and the next day the Johnnies took then-No. 18 Texas down to the wire, losing by a point.

In game five, the Terps handed Michigan State its only loss of the season thus far.

And then there was last night against Winthrop, one of those scary mid-major opponents that top-tier conference coaches hate to face in the regular season -- You beat them and it's "yeah you were supposed to beat them"; but if you lose everyone says, "See how good those mid-major teams are!?"

Winthrop, no stranger to big opponents, had already crushed fellow giant-killing mid-major Iona, upset Mississippi State and played a down-to-the-final-minutes contest against No. 2 North Carolina, but Maryland would have none of it.

Ibekwe made his presence felt with back-to-back rim-rattling dunks in the early minutes and by halftime the Terps led by 16.

The Terps led by as much as 26 in the second half and Ibekwe finished with 18 points and six rebounds.

One thing that seems to be true for the Terps thus far is that when they get on a roll they're hard to stop.

Gary Williams' team takes on High Point on Friday at 1:30 at the Comcast Center, then travels to Assembly Hall in Champaign, Ill. to take on the Fighting Illini in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Capitals + Shootouts = Bad Combination

The Caps earned a point in tonight's (I guess last night's, technically) shootout loss to the Boston Bruins. It's nice to get the point, but it was the fourth time that the Caps have gone to the shootout and the fourth time they've failed to come away with the extra point.

Not only that, but they haven't scored in the shootout yet this season. According to Joe Beninati on tonight's telecast, that's 11 shots without a goal.

These are breakaways, people!

This is one of those things that has to swing the other way over the course of the season, but at this point when the Caps are counting points in five-game segments it's hard not to get frustrated when these chances go wasted.

Anyways, that's all the complaining I can do about the Caps at this point in the season. They have 21 points through 18 games and they're in 7th place in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Caps play next on Friday at home against the Carolina Panthers.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Weekend Stuff

MARYLAND TERRAPINS FOOTBALL: After going to the game against Florida International that required a last-second defensive stop to preserve a win over an unknown opponent, I thought it would be tough for the Terps to get the six wins they'd need this season to go .500 and be bowl eligible. Six games later, the Terps are 8-2, ranked, and seriously contending for a spot in the ACC title game.

The Terps beat Miami yesterday, 14-13, for their fifth straight win. The team travels to Boston College next Saturday for a clash of 8-2, ranked teams before coming back to College Park to face currently 9-1 Wake Forest to close out the regular season.

MARYLAND TERRAPINS BASKETBALL: The Terps basketball team kicked off its season this week with a wins over Hampton and Vermont at the Comcast Center in the 2K Sports Hoops Classic benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer (formally just the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic). They take on Florida A&M tonight at 7 before heading to New York on Thursday to take on St. John's in the semi-finals of the 2K Sports Hoops Classic.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS: The Caps had their 15th game of the season this week, and even though it was a blowout loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Caps managed to take three wins in games 11 to 15, meaning they reached their goal of 6 points in that segment.

With a 3-1 win over the Rangers on Saturday, the Caps now have 18 points in 16 games, which is only good enough for 9th place in the Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile the Penguins, who started the season red hot, are mired in a five-game losing streak and have only managed to get two points in that span by sending games to overtime. The Pens are in 10th, right behind the Caps in the standings.

WASHINGTON WIZARDS: The Wiz have shown that they can score, but for another season it appears defense is going to be a struggle. The Wizards are now 3-2 and leading the NBA in offense, but they're 25th in defense.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

ESPN.com's Bill Simmons: Insufferable

Bill Simmons, ESPN.com's "The Sports Guy," used to be funny. Used to be.

But recently -- really ever since the Red Sox won the World Series -- he's just been insufferable.

It seems his sole purpose on this planet is to advance his ideals of how every New England sports hero trumps all others, while still lamenting how one can face no greater ordeal than cheering for professional sports teams from Boston.

At the same time, he mentions the Yankees in EVERY article, so much so that it makes the rest of us Yankee-haters look bad. Don't you think if Ahab had killed Moby Dick he'd be talking more about his triumph than about how much he still detests the whale? You can't have it both ways, Bill.

That, friends, is why Red Sox fans have become worse than Yankees fans. And it's not even close anymore.

In this decade alone, his teams have won three Super Bowls and a World Series, and he still whines more than all the democrats in his stupid state did after W. beat John Kerry (for the record, I'm a lousy bleeding heart myself).

This blog covers 6 major sports teams from two cities, and his three teams (he stopped following the Bruins in the '90s, according to his latest column) are leading our six in league titles this decade, 4-1.

His most recent whinefest/New England sports propaganda piece, I Really Hate the Colts, continues down this path.

Looking past the overall tone of bitterness, one thing that he says is, "Getting constantly bombarded by those insufferable Manning commercials makes me want to throw my remote against the wall."

Look, Bill. You're lying. I know you're lying. You laughed at the "CUT THAT MEAT!" commercial and chuckled to yourself when a faux-mustachioed Peyton referred to his "laser, rocket arm." How can I be so sure?

Because I'm a Baltimore football fan, and even I laughed at those commercials.

You want Colts hate? Come down here where it really means something.

So for now why don't you stay up there with your stupid rivalry with the Jets (come on ... this one is like Hulk Hogan in his steroid prime vs. Estelle Getty in her Golden Girls get-up ... The Jets? Really?), sit back and enjoy your championships rather than looking for new things to bitch about.

But then again, asking a Boston sports fan to kick himself out of his Sam Adams-enhanced, sports-related depression is like reasoning with a 2-year-old ... pointless.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Wizards Open Season Tonight

Last minute post!

Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers, tonight, 8 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet and ESPN.

The Wizards will be starting Etan Thomas at center instead of Brendan Haywood, which should be an improvement if Thomas can stay healthy.


(Get it? That's a big 'if'... Ha!)

The Wizards also look for improved defense with DeShawn Stevenson replacing departed Jared Jeffries, who may have been a decent player, was certainly funny looking, and definitely wasn't worth the 5-year, $30 million deal the Knicks gave him.

It's a rematch of last year's first round playoff match-up, which has been said over and over again, so enjoy that talk all night.

Go all in.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I Told You Zednik Would Bust Out

As I stated last Monday, it was only a matter of time before Richard Zednik started scoring goals for the Washington Capitals.

After 10 games of being a buzzsaw every time he stepped onto the ice, making strong plays in the offensive zone and hounding defenders on the backcheck, Zednik finally broke through with a pair of goals in last night's 4-2 win over the Calgary Flames.

Zed could have easily buried a third, deking Flames' goalie Miikka Kiprusoff out of his pants and finding himself with a wide open goal, but he couldn't quite pop home his third of the night.

Dainius Zubrus netted the other two tallies for the Caps, including an empty netter to secure the victory.

Despite failing to reach their "six points every five games" goal with the loss against Edmonton on Saturday, the Caps road trip was a huge success, taking 5 points in four games against difficult Western Conference opponents.

The Caps now have a few days off before playing back-to-back nights starting Friday with a home game against the Southeast Division-leading Atlanta Thrashers. On Saturday the Caps take on the struggling Flyers in Philadelphia, a city in which they haven't won since January of 1998. That's a span of 16 games, with the Caps only even managing to come away with a point once -- a 1-1 tie in October 2000.

With the state of the Flyers this season, there may be no better chance than Saturday to snap that skid.

If you're interested in getting a glimpse of what it's like to be the most accessible owner in professional sports, Ted Leonsis posted on his blog, Ted's Take, that fans were e-mailing him after a disastrous first period against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday basically telling him how to do his job. The Caps were outshot 16-1 in the period and were losing 2-0. They came back and tied it in the second period and eventually lost in the shootout, earning a point in the standings. Click here to read the post, Let's Chill Out.

(Funny note about Leonsis' blog: You can type in Ted's Take into Firefox and it will take you directly to his blog.)

There's been a lot of talk over the past few years about the Capitals going back to red, white and blue uniforms and some fans have even called for a return to the old jerseys.

My problem with that notion is that the old logo with the lowercase, backwards italics and stick for a 't' (I always thought it looked like an L) was too "'70s looking," so in a fit of boredom I whipped up a modernized version of that logo. It's not the sexiest thing ever, but here it is:

Happy Halloween

So uhh ... why is everyone wearing Orioles colors today?

Oriole Bird

Monday, October 30, 2006

Terps Bowl Eligible, United Moves On, Ravens Win, Caps Miss Goal

With a post title like that you hardly need to read on, right?

Let's get right to business:

The Maryland Terrapins blocked a last-minute field goal to hold a 27-24 lead over the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday night at Byrd Stadium.

The win is the Terps' sixth, making them bowl eligible for the first time since 2003.

I know some people disagree with me on this, but I really think the Terps will need one more win to make it to a bowl game. Sure, if the bowl invites were being handed out today the Terps would get an invite riding high off a win over FSU on national television, but if they tank it down the stretch and finish 6-6, bowl committees aren't going to be jumping at the chance to showcase a team that has lost its last four games.

The Terps remaining schedule is brutal (and I know I said that two weeks ago and all the Terps did was win the next two games). This weekend it's a road trip to Death Valley to face No. 19 Clemson, who's coming off a tough loss to Virginia Tech. Then it's back home to face a struggling Miami team, back on the road to No. 16 Boston College, then finishing the season at Byrd Stadium against No. 22 Wake Forest.

The Miami game on Nov. 11 is still the Terps' best shot to secure a bowl bid.

D.C. United played to a 1-1 tie in the second leg of its two-game, first-round playoff series against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, earning United a spot in the Eastern Conference Final.

The Red Bulls controlled the play for much of the game and 16-year-old Jozy Altidore put them ahead 1-0 in the 70th minute, which would have been enough to send the game to overtime if not for an amazing goal for D.C. United in the 86th minute.

Josh Gros booted a cross from the right side seemingly into the pack in the middle, but at the last second United's Bobby Boswell flopped out of the way and the ball made it through to Christian Gomez, who buried it and evened up the score.

Despite the win, ESPN 2 commentators stated early and often that a similar effort from United would not be enough to beat the New England Revolution in the Conference Final.

United won the first leg at New York, 1-0, and in Major League Soccer's crazy "aggregate goal" playoff system, that means a tie was good enough to advance and face the Revolution, who beat the Chicago Fire on penalty kicks.

The Eastern Conference Final is only one game, which will be at RFK Stadium this Sunday at 4 p.m. It will also be shown live on ESPN 2.

My concerns about the Ravens falling to 4-4 after starting 4-0 have been alleviated, as the Ravens beat the Saints in New Orleans on Sunday, 35-22.

In the first game since Head Coach Brian Billick fired Offensive Coordinator Jim Fassel and took over the playcalling himself, Baltimore's offense scored three touchdowns and Jamal Lewis had his first 100-yard rushing game of the season.

But the offense wasn't the only side putting points on the board for the Ravens.

When asked about his playcalling after the game, Brian Billick quipped, "I particularly like the play calls of the two interceptions for touchdowns."

The win kept Baltimore a game ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals for first place in the AFC North.

The Ravens and Bengals face off on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Baltimore to get to the halfway point of the season.

The Capitals started their first and only west coast swing of the season promisingly, beating the Avalanche and getting a point in an overtime loss to the Canucks, but on Sunday they were trounced by the defending Western Conference champions, 4-0.

The loss meant that the Caps only managed to get four standing points in the second "five game mini season" of the year and gives them 10 points after 10 games, a pace that would probably not be good enough to make the playoffs.

The Caps wrap up the road trip tonight at 9 p.m. against the Calgary Flames.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Alexander Ovechkin: A Picture And A Quote

Alexander Ovechkin provided plenty of highlights in the Capitals 5-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday, scoring a power play goal to put the Caps ahead 3-1, laying a hard shoulder check on Karlis Skrastins that destroyed a pane of glass, earning a penalty shot (although he shot high and wide of the goal), then ending the night by getting hit in the knee by a shot puck from his own teammate (I'm looking at you, Shaone Morrisonn).

To get everyone psyched for tonight's game against the Vancouver Canucks, here's a picture and a quote that sum up the Ovechkin experience:

Ovie DESTROYS Some Glass
(To be fair to Skrastins, despite what it looks like in this picture, he stood up through the check and was already skating back toward the play when the play was stopped for cleanup.)

In a scary moment, Ovechkin took a puck to the knee with just seconds remaining in the game and had to be helped off the rink. Fortunately he was walking fine after the game, and he had this to say to The Washington Post:

"I'm okay; Russian machine never breaks."

Damn straight.

Honestly I expect he meant it as a comment on the integrity of Russian engineering and craftsmanship rather than as a self-implemented nickname, but that's not nearly as awesome.

Tonight's game is at 10 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet, and I expect you all to stay up for it. I'll be calling your house at 1 a.m. with a quiz on the game results, so be prepared.

Alex Watch: (8 games in)

(SOG = Shots on Goal, ATOI = Average Time On Ice)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Weekend In Review

Apparently the sporting world has decided it's OK to cheat, as this weekend Detroit Tigers pitcher Kenny Rogers was found using some foreign substance on his hand, for which he received no penalty, and former Maryland Terrapin and current San Diego Charger Shawne Merriman was suspended four games for failing a steroid test.

What frustrates me more than anything in these stories is the relative lack of outrage. Is it too much to ask that professional athletes not cheat? Apparently not.

Now if you'll allow me to dismount this high horse I'll get on to the local stuff...

D.C. United won 1-0 in the first leg of its first-round playoff series against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday afternoon. The second and final game of the series is set for Sunday at 6 p.m. at RFK Stadium, and all United needs is a draw to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

MVP candidate Christian Gomez scored the only goal of the match on a sweet give-and-go from Jaime Moreno. Gomez got through the defense and chipped the ball over Red Bulls goalkeeper Jon Conway in the 77th minute.

When watching the game on TiVo I initially thought the shot missed and hit the outside of the net (which, thinking back, would have been almost impossible from where he was shooting). It was a fantastic shot.

The Maryland Terrapins avoided choking away a 20-point lead in their homecoming game on Saturday afternoon, holding on for a 26-20 victory over the N.C. State Wolfpack.

The Terps are now 5-2 (2-1 ACC) and are only one win away from bowl eligibility, although that may not be enough to actually get them into a bowl game.

N.C. State beat Florida State and Boston College at home earlier this season, which is a good sign because the Terps still have to face both of those teams (although BC will be in Boston).

The 'Noles come to College Park on Saturday for a 7 p.m. game.

Do I really need to comment on the Redskins? No? Good.

The Capitals lost, 6-4, to the Lightning on Saturday night despite two goals from Alexander Ovechkin (although you'll never convince me that the first shouldn't have been credited to Alexander Semin).

In the third period, coach Glen Hanlon played with the lines a little, moving center Jakub Klepis up to the second line to work with Semin and Richard Zednik, displacing Kris Beech who thought he was a good fit on that line.

Now it appears Hanlon will give Klepis a few games with Zednik and Semin to see if they can add some production.

Klepis has no points so far this season, compared to Beech's goal and four assists. Granted, Klepis has been playing on a line with Rico Fata and Donald Brashear.

The other concern, as JP on Japers' Rink pointed out, is that Beech is the fourth best faceoff man in the NHL, while Klepis has lost 60 percent of the faceoffs he's taken.

Ideally when you have two potential big-time scorers like Semin and Zednik on a line, you'd like to gain control of the puck as often as possible.

On a side note, how long can Zednik possibly go without a goal? It seems like he's constantly swarming around the puck, going hard into the corners, making plays and making strong moves to keep the puck in the face of tight pressure from opposing defensemen, yet he hasn't found the back of the net this season. It's only a matter of time.

The Caps start a four-game Western Conference road trip Wednesday when they take on the Avalanche at 9 p.m. Eastern.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Your Saturday Programming Schedule

A quick hit before I head off to the Maryland game:

It's a full day of sports today, starting at noon with Maryland vs. N.C. State in Terps' homecoming game.

(Also at noon is Fulham FC vs. Aston Villa on Fox Soccer Channel, for which I will be using the antiquated VCR for future viewing).

At 2:00 it's D.C. United vs. New York Red Bulls in the first game of the two-game playoff series (I'll be TiVoing that).

At 7:00 the Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Washington Capitals for some Southeast division action in the NHL (I may have to watch some of that from a bar in College Park ... assuming I can find a TV showing that instead of the World Series).

At 7:30 is game one of the World Series, Detroit Tigers vs. St. Louis Cardinals.

Happy sports watching!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Wizards Unveil Gold Alternate Jerseys

The Wizards tonight unveiled their new alternate jerseys in front of their season ticket and partial plan holders.

Did I miss something? I thought the Wizards colors were blue, black and bronze. Some all-bronze jerseys would have been pretty original (and butt ugly).

Photo from WashingtonWizards.com.

I think the jerseys are kind of cool and I don't even mind the idea of having different colored shorts, but what's with the fat, kind of fluffy white and gold trim on the bottom of the shorts? Looks like something that a Disney character or G-Wiz should be wearing.

Some fan feedback can be found here.

I'll Have a Couple More of Those Five Goal Periods, Please

The Capitals sure came out firing last night. They scored five goals in the first period on route to a 5-2 win over the Panthers and accomplishing the goal of six points in the first five games.

The goal scorers for your nation's Capitals were:
Alexander Semin (from Richard Zednik)
Chris Clark (from Brian Sutherby and Steve Eminger)
Jamie Heward (unassisted)
Kris Beech (from Semin and Zednik)
Matt Bradley (unassisted)

Semin scored his sixth goal of the year, so here goes...

Alex Watch: (5 games in)

(SOG = Shots on Goal, ATOI = Average Time On Ice)

It would be hard to figure out just how much time they've been on the ice together (mostly during power plays), but given that the Alexes are on separate lines you've got to figure the Caps have at least one of them on the ice for about half of every game. Caps fans have got to love that.

The Capitals travel to Atlanta to take on the Thrashers at 7:00 tonight.

Something I forgot to mention yesterday when talking about D.C. United was that Fulham Football Club Manager Chris "Cookie" Coleman (no one really knows about the nickname) was seen at RFK a couple weeks ago during the United match against the New England Revolution.

Fulham is an English Premier League team (my favorite, for that matter).

There's no telling who he was scouting, but there have been some rumors in the past that Fulham has had interest in Freddy Adu -- although that could just be meaningless fan speculation. New England's Clint Dempsey was the other name tossed about by Fulham fans, but can I throw the name Christian Gomez into the mix? He is a finalist for the MLS MVP award, but at almost 32 he's probably too old to attract much interest from a major UEFA club.

New England also has Taylor Twellman, the 2005 MLS MVP who has supposedly received some interest from a couple of other Premiership clubs despite being snubbed by Bruce Arena for the 2006 U.S. World Cup side.

Fulham already has two Americans, Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegra, both of whom play significant minutes.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Quick Hits: Capitals, Ravens, Redskins, Terps and United

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said on his blog that the Caps will be looking at this season as a series of five-game "mini-seasons," with the goal of earning six points in the standings for each five-game stretch. (For those who don't know the NHL's point system, you get two points for a win, one for an overtime or shootout loss, and zero for a regulation loss). Averaging six points every five games would give them about 98 points on the season, which would have been good enough for 7th place in the Eastern Conference last season.

Leonsis wrote that, in business, breaking down a large task into smaller tasks with shorter-term goals "makes it easier for all stakeholders to focus on the task at hand."

The Caps have 4 points after four games, and "mini-season one" ends tonight with a home game against the Florida Panthers. Washington needs a victory to reach their goal for the first five game stretch.

The Ravens fired Offensive Coordinator Jim Fassel yesterday. Head Coach Brian Billick will take over the play-calling on offense.

Apparently Billick decided he needed to be more involved in the offense, Fassel felt Billick already had too much input, and now Billick will have all the involvement he can handle.

Billick, who may be running out of chances in Baltimore, now puts himself in a "no one to blame but myself" situation.

After jumping out to a 4-0 start, the Ravens have lost two in a row. They are off this week before going to New Orleans to face the Saints.

The Ravens offense is ranked 28th in the NFL.

The Redskins suffered a devastating loss to the previously winless Titans, so I guess I was wrong (see number 4)... There will be no escape from the "Redskins suck, my life is over" attitude in the nation's capital in the foreseeable future.

The Maryland Terrapins came back from a 20-0 halftime defecit against Virginia on Saturday to take a 28-26 win. The victory brings them to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in the ACC.

The Terps need only two more wins in their last six games to be bowl eligible, but that's eaiser said than done.

Maryland does have four home games in the second half of the season, taking on N.C. State, Flordia State, Miami and No. 25 Wake Forest at "Chevy Chase Bank Field at Byrd Stadium" (excuse me while I roll my eyes). On the road they take on No. 12 Clemson and No. 22 Boston College, so realistically you can forget about road wins.

A win over N.C. State this Saturday during Maryland's homecoming would be huge because the last five games on the schedule are brutal.

I was thinking after the Miami-FIU brawl that the Terps would have a good chance against a Miami squad that would have to be missing numerous players because of suspension, but as it turns out of the 13 players suspended, the only guy who may not be on the field for the Terps game is Anthony Reddick, who was clearly visible on TV running up and whacking a player on the back with his helmet. The 12 other suspended players will only miss Miami's epic and much-anticipated match-up with winless Duke. Convenient, eh?

Even with those players back with the 'Canes, the Terps' best chance to snag an upset win might be that Nov. 11 meeting with Miami, who, like the Terps, struggled against FIU.

D.C. United fell to the Chicago Fire, 3-2, in the regular season finale Sunday. After dominating the league for much of the season, United has dropped three straight going into the playoffs and is 2-6-5 in its last 13 games.

United Coach Peter Nowak told The Washington Post, "We give up the goals like an under-12 team," adding, "In the playoffs it's going to cost us a game, it's going to cost us a series, and we'll all go fishing."


They're still in first place and, lucky for them, they face one of the two teams they beat in the last 13 games, the New York Red Bulls, in the first round of the playoffs.

The first "leg" of the two-game series is Saturday at 2 p.m. That will be followed by another match on Sunday, Oct. 29, at RFK.

In the oddity that is the MLS playoffs, series leading up to the MLS Cup are two games each, and the team that scores more goals over the course of the two games moves on. The league championship is still only one game.