Saturday, December 22, 2007

Caps Can't Afford More Losses Like Thursday's

I woke up Friday still mad about Thursday night's Caps loss to the Habs, so I wrote a column about it for DC Sports Box. Here's the first few paragraphs. You'll have to click through for the rest:

Thursday night's Capitals vs. Canadiens game at Verizon Center was a chilling reminder of a script we've seen before: The Caps dominate a game in terms of shots but take too many penalties, give up a couple power play goals and lose.

Or, more accurately, they dominate the first period but go into the locker room tied or losing, then come out flat in the second period as they revert to a "scoring chances be damned, shoot from anywhere – even if it's right into the goalie's chest" strategy. Meanwhile they take bad penalties at inopportune times and give up power play goals, and despite seemingly dominating the game because of a lopsided shot total, they end up on the receiving end of a whooping. Then after the game we get fed stories about the bounces not going their way and running into the dreaded "hot goaltending."

It was an all-too-common scenario for the Caps before Glen Hanlon was fired on Thanksgiving Day, and it seemed like they had kicked that habit under interim coach Bruce Boudreau. But it's a rut the Caps cannot afford to fall into again.

Read the rest at DC Sports Box.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Blogging the Mitchell Report: Part 4 ... I'm DONE.

I'm done reading the Mitchell Report. I didn't finish it and I never will, and I'm not going to post the rest of the info here. Why? Because it's all a huge waste of time.

For one, exactly what I said would happen ended up happening. ESPN ran a full list of "named names" on their ticker, with no explanations, grouping in Brian Roberts with guys like Paul Lo Duca and David Segui, which is absolutely ridiculous. Roberts is only in there because Larry Bigbie said that Roberts told him he did it. Not quite the same as having scans of signed checks or sworn testimony to federal investigators. Meanwhile, it seems Segui and Lo Duca were the "hook up" everywhere they went.

But more than anything, at some point while reading the report I stopped feeling angry or even disappointed in the players whose names I was seeing. I just felt bad for them.

At first I couldn't really figure out why, but then it hit me. Out of THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of players who played during the "steroid era," all of 62 names were listed.

What portion of one percent of the players who are or were actually juicing do you suppose that represents?

I used to really hate the thought that guys I liked and rooted for might be on performance enhancers. But if the report did anything, it was make me realize once and for all that this is not just a few players. It's not a couple guys, or a couple teams, or a couple guys on each team. And it sure as hell is not just 62 players over the last 15 to 20 years.

The biggest thing I took away from the report is that, as much as the media plays up the outrage, it's not like these guys were running around in their little steroid cliques, shooting up in dark alleys so no one would see. It was out in the open. It was joked about in the clubhouse.

If I were named in the report, I'd be the first one demanding the best testing available. I'd be screaming for the implementation of daily piss tests for everyone in the league, because there's no way I'd let people go on assuming that I'm part of some tiny portion of the baseball playing world that is so unscrupulous as to take steroids. I'd be saying, "You've got 60 names? Great. Now let's get 1,000 so you can really start to see."

I'm done being outraged about specific players. I'm done listening to other people's outrage about Mr. ABC and Mr. XYZ and how "now there's proof!" Because the names in the Mitchell Report are meaningless.

The fans will relish this opportunity to shun the players that have been named.

You'll say, "Miguel Tejada's a dirty cheater! I KNEW Roger Clemens was a jerk! Brian Roberts and his squeaky clean image are DONE FOR," and then boo them and make signs and yell "CHEATER" every time they visit your team's ballpark.

But it's stupid.

Because the names listed are nothing more than a few fish hooked in an ocean of performance enhancing drug users, and you're blind if you think there aren't at least four or five on your favorite team. Even if none of the names made it into the Report or onto ESPN's ticker. That's the real lesson from the Mitchell Report.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Blogging the Mitchell Report: Part 3 ... Including Brian Roberts and Miguel Tejada

You can get to a collection of all the posts in this series by clicking here.

Download a PDF of the full report here -- 6.5 MB, 409 pages.

I'm just now getting into the beefier part of the report, with some names you might not have heard (although you've probably read them on other sites by now). The report includes substantial evidence on these names provided by former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski, including scans of signed checks from players.

Here's the list:

Lenny Dykstra:
Report page 149, PDF page 197
"After the Phillies lost the 1993 World Series, Dykstra called Radomski and asked whether Radomski could get Dykstra steroids. Although Radomski does not remember the exact time frame, he recalled providing Dykstra with Deca-Durabolin, Dianabol, and testosterone.
In order to provide Dykstra with information about these allegations and to give him an opportunity to respond, I asked him to meet with me; he never agreed to an interview."

David Segui again. With a scanned check.

Larry Bigbie (another former Oriole, and all incidents reported here are from his time with the O's):
Report page 152, PDF page 200:
"Radomski’s first contact with Bigbie was in 2003. Thereafter, Radomski sold a variety of performance enhancing substances to Bigbie on a number of occasions. Bigbie consistently paid by check. Because Bigbie was young and “not making that much money,” Radomski said he charged Bigbie no more than his cost for the substances.

Radomski retrieved from his banks three checks written by Bigbie.


Bigbie’s account of his use and interaction with Radomski was consistent with Radomski’s account."

I was fearing this one, and it's disappointing but not shocking. Also, in comparison to others listed in the Radomski section it's not too bad. There's no hard evidence, just Larry Bigbie's word, and even he wasn't very hard on B-Rob. Read on...

Brian Roberts (the first CURRENT Oriole to be named):
Report page 158, PDF page 206:
"Roberts and Larry Bigbie were both rookies in 2001. According to Bigbie, both he and Roberts lived in Segui’s house in the Baltimore area during the latter part of that season. When Bigbie and Segui used steroids in the house, Roberts did not participate.

According to Bigbie, however, in 2004 Roberts admitted to him that he had injected himself once or twice with steroids in 2003. Until this admission, Bigbie had never suspected Roberts of using steroids."

More from Radomski before I run out of time... These people are all included with pretty hard evidence in the report. I'll try to include more if I get the time later:

Jack Cust (former Oriole)
Tim Laker (former Oriole)
Josias Manzanillo
Todd Hundley
Mike Carreon
Hall Morris
Matt Franco
Rondell White
Roger Clemens
Andy Pettitte
Chuck Knoblauch
Jason Grimsley (again)
Gregg Zaun (former Oriole)
David Justice
F.P. Santangelo
Glenallen Hill
Mo Vaughn
Denny Neagle
Ron Villone
Ryan Franklin
Chris Donnels
Todd Williams (former Oriole)
Phil Hiatt
Todd Pratt
Kevin Young
Mike Lansing
Cody McKay
Kent Mercker (former Oriole)
Adam Piatt
MIGUEL TEJADA (for real this time ... with evidence)
Jason Christiansen
Mike Stanton (former National)
Stephen Randolph
Jerry Hairston Jr. (former Oriole)
Paul Lo Duca (brand new National)
Adam Riggs
Bart Miadich
Fernado Vina
Kevin Brown (former Oriole)
Eric Gagne
Mike Bell
Matt Herges
Gary Bennett Jr. (former National)
Jim Parque
Brendan Donnelly
Chad Allen
Jeff Williams
Howie Clark (former Oriole)
Nook Logan (current National)


Blogging the Mitchell Report: Part 2

You can get to a collection of all the posts in this series by clicking here.

Download a PDF of the full report here -- 6.5 MB, 409 pages.

What you've all been waiting for, but not as juicy as people thought it'd be...

Miguel Tejada (an Oriole until yesterday, this incident IS from when he was with the Orioles, stemming from the Palmeiro suspension): Report page 105, PDF page 153.
"Tejada told investigators that he generally brought injectable vitamin B12 with him to the United States when he returned each season from the Dominican Republic.
Larry Bigbie, a former Orioles player who we interviewed in our investigation, confirmed that he observed Tejada injecting himself with vitamin B12 in the clubhouse restroom. The report that four players on a major league team were self-administering an injectable substance should have been a cause of concern, even if the players said that the substance they were injecting into themselves was vitamin B12."
So not a whole lot on Tejada we didn't already know, and no clear evidence. Maybe there's more later in the report.

More real shockers...

Ken Caminiti and David Segui (another former Oriole) are in the report. They both admitted their steroid and HGH use, and the report acknowledges that.

Paxton Crawford (no-name Red Sox pitcher who made all of 15 appearances from 2000 to 2001): Report page 111, PDF page 159.
"Crawford admitted to using steroids and human growth hormone while with the Red Sox. He described an incident in which syringes he had wrapped in a towel were spilled onto the floor of the Red Sox clubhouse, which he said caused laughter among his teammates."
(Emphasis added.)

Outed of the raid of Balco:

Barry Bonds
Jason Giambi
Jeremy Giambi
Armando Rios
Garry Sheffield
Benito Santiago
Marvin Benard
Randy Velarde
Bobby Estalella:

Report page 113, PDF page 161.
"Among those baseball players brought to Balco by [Bonds trainer Greg] Anderson was Barry Bonds. Bonds has received 'the clear' and 'the cream' from Balco on a 'couple of occasions'. According to Valente, Bonds does not like how 'the clear' makes him feel.

Other players that Anderson has obtained 'the clear' and “the cream” for from Balco are Benito Santiago, Gary Sheffield, Marvin Benard, Jason Giambi and Randy Velarde. Sometime [sic] the substances are given to Anderson to give to the athletes and sometimes the athletes are given the substances directly. . . .
The Giambi brothers came to Balco and informed them that they had taken a steroid some time ago and wanted to see if it was still detectable in their systems. Valente recalled that the particular steroid they took can stay in a person’s system for up to 18 months. The urine that Balco collected and sent out for testing came back positive for steroids."
Those quotes are from federal investigator interviews of Balco Vice President Jim Valente. He has since denied saying what was attributed to him in the federal investigation reports.
"Anderson eventually admitted that he had supplied performance enhancing substances to Benard, Estalella, Rios, and Santiago. Anderson also stated that 'Barry Bonds never took any of the clear or the cream from Balco.' Anderson said that he provided Santiago with human growth hormone a few months before the interview and had sent that substance by FedEx 'in the past' to both Estalella and Rios. During their search of Anderson's home, agents found documentary evidence 'corroborating these admissions.'"

More to come...

Blogging the Mitchell Report: Part 1

So I'm reading through the Mitchell Report on steroid use in baseball, available to download in its entirety as a PDF on (download here -- 6.5 MB, 409 pages). And as I'm reading through the report and writing down the names, I realized I should be blogging as I'm reading. Not because I'm going to beat the media outlets, but more because I think the media outlets are just going to post a list of names named with no context. And from reading the first few pages, this is not a black-and-white "he clearly did it, he clearly did not" report.

I may have to break this up into multiple posts, but you can get to a collection of all the posts by clicking here.

So here's what I've come up with so far, with page citations from the report if you want to go check it out for yourself (note, the page numbers at the bottom of each page are not even close to the page numbers for the PDF, so I'm including both.):

Manny Alexander (former Oriole, the incident cited in the report was from when he was with Boston in 2000): Report page 91, PDF page 139.
"On June 30, 2000, a clubhouse employee of the Boston Red Sox, Carlos Cowart, and a friend of his were sitting in Manny Alexander’s parked sports utility vehicle when they were approached by Massachusetts state police officers. Alexander, then a utility infielder with the Red Sox, was away with the team. The officers suspected that the car had been stolen, but, in fact, Alexander had loaned it to Cowart while the team was away.
During a search of the vehicle, police discovered two hypodermic needles and a bottle of anabolic steroids in the glove compartment. At least one news report stated that the steroids were in an envelope addressed to Alexander, although we were not able to confirm that assertion. The police applied for two criminal complaints against Alexander, for possession of Class E anabolic steroids and for possession of hypodermic needles. Neither Cowart nor the friend who was with him was charged with any offense. On February 28, 2001, the charges against Alexander were dismissed for 'insufficient evidence having been presented after hearing.'"

Ricky Bones (another former Oriole, albeit only for a year, the incident cited in the report was from when he was with Florida in 2000): Report page 92, PDF page 140.
"In late June 2000, a clubhouse attendant with the Florida Marlins brought a paper bag to the club’s athletic trainers that had been found in the locker of Marlins pitcher Ricky Bones. The bag contained over two dozen syringes, six vials of injectable medications – stanozolol and nandrolone decanoate, two anabolic steroids that are sold under the names Winstrol and Deca-Durabolin, respectively – and a page of handwritten instructions on how to administer the drugs. Soon thereafter, the athletic trainers returned the bag and its contents to Bones at his request."

Alex Cabrera (from when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2000): Report page 94, PDF page 142.
"Sometime in mid-September 2000, a clubhouse employee with the Arizona
Diamondbacks discovered a bottle of anabolic steroids and several hundred pills in a package that had been mailed to the Diamondbacks’ ballpark in Phoenix. Clubhouse attendants knew that the package had been intended for Alex Cabrera, then a player on Arizona’s major league roster, who had been searching for the package for several days."

Juan Gonzalez (the first big name on the list, the incident was from when he was with the Cleveland Indians in 2001): Report page 95, PDF page 143.
"On the evening of October 4, 2001, Canadian Border Service officers working at Toronto’s international airport discovered steroids, syringes, and clenbuterol in an unmarked duffel bag during an airport search of luggage that had been unloaded from the Cleveland Indians flight from Kansas City. Ted Walsh, the Indians equipment and clubhouse manager who was present during the search, recognized the bag as one that had been sent down to be included with the luggage by Cleveland outfielder Juan Gonzalez when the Indians left Kansas City. On prior trips, Gonzalez had included bags for members of his entourage with his own bags, and Walsh had the impression that this was the case with some of the bags he sent down to be packed for the Toronto flight.
Thereafter, Davidson, Haynes, and other officials watched the luggage as Joshue Perez, a member of Juan Gonzalez’s entourage, claimed the duffel bag."

Rafael Palmeiro and Jason Grimsley for incidents you already knew about. I won't even bother to cite them because they were actually suspended by MLB, so it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that they showed up in the report, but there's another couple former Orioles.

More to come...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Not all Sabres fans hate Ovechkin

A Buffalo-transplant in D.C. went on the Hockey's Future Boards (extremely popular hockey message boards) and posted a personal story about an encounter with Mr. Ovechkin after Monday night's Caps-Sabres tilt at Verizon Center. If you didn't have enough reasons to like #8 already, here's another:

Thank you Ovechkin...from a Sabres fan.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sean Taylor's Tragic Death & The Media Coverage

I was going to come here and post something about how tired I am of reading columns and hearing sports talk commentary referring to Sean Taylor's "thuggish," "ghetto" past, and how I think it's pretty absurd for people who didn't really know him at all to make those kinds of assumptions, then connect that past to this incident and almost go as far to say he had it coming. As if to imply the end result is less tragic because of what the victim did long before this incident, and even less so if you're willing to assume he did anything to contribute to the circumstances leading up to it (which, obviously, plenty of people are).

But then my fellow DC Sports Box writer Anthony Amobi wrote a very good column on the subject so I figured I'd just link to his piece instead:

Sean Taylor's Tragic Death & The Media Coverage

Check it out. It's definitely worth a read.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ref in NC State - Maryland game: My hero

If you're a Terps fan, you sure enjoyed a hell of a game on Saturday afternoon. You also probably thought, "damn if they played like that against UVA/UNC/Wake they'd be 9-3," but that's another issue.

But if you were only half paying attention or had long since changed the channel to a competitive football game when the Terps were up 37-0, you may have missed the best penalty of all time. Listen for the ref's call:

That's right. 15 yards for "giving him the business."

Friday, October 26, 2007

World Series crap: Red Sox Nation, Beckett RULES, Dustin Pedroia is small, pink Varitek jerseys, Papelbon's Riverdance, YOUUUUK!

That, my friends, is what we "in the business" call SEO (Search Engine Optimization). I'm not really sure what "the business" is, but I'm pretty sure that post title will get me four cents on Google AdSense. Count it.

I really don't like the Red Sox, in case that's not already clear, and it's making me realize what a spiteful, hateful little man I truly am.

But at least I have company. Homertuck, who guest blogged here a while back, has started up his own operation called I Probably Hate Your Team.

If there's anyone who that rings more true for than me, it's him.

So sticking with that theme, back to the World Series.

I said before the thing started that the best result would be the BoSox going up 3-0 in the series and then losing the next four just to shut Red Sox Nation up (I wasn't lying when I said I'm a spiteful person).

So even though it's killing me right now that the Rockies aren't putting up much of a fight, it's giving me hope for the ultimate Schadenfreude scenario, just like I asked for.

But let's be realistic. The Rockies are going to be swept (did I mention I'm also a pessimist? ... at least when it comes to sports) and we'll have to hear about how the Sox haven't lost a World Series game in 89 years or some such stupid crap that will undoubtedly go on a t-shirt that I'll then have to see 45,000 of at Camden Yards next year.

Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I've moved to Redskins country

And just by putting Redskins in the post title I've tripled my search engine hits.

That's right, after two years in the football limbo known as Columbia, where you might see a Washington Redskins bumper sticker next to a Columbia Ravens youth football logo and where the Champs in the mall proudly hangs Portis jerseys right next to McNair jerseys, I've moved to "North Bethesda" (shhhhhRockvilleshhhhh) -- decidedly Redskins country.

I've come to terms with that. My only real beef with the 'Skins -- besides the blatantly racist team name -- is that in the past I had to deal with several super annoying 'Skins apologists quite often.

Now the only 'Skins fans I regularly deal with are fairly subdued and prefer hockey to football, so if the Redskins ever do come up I can quickly redirect the conversation by kvetching about the Capitals power play or Glen Hanlon's line combinations.

I may even root for the Skins a little bit, but only in the reserved way I semi-root for the Nationals. You probably know this feeling: "It'd be nice if not ALL the area teams sucked horribly, so go team! ... just as long as you're not better than my actual favorite team."

So on that note, I'm off to hop on my newly-adopted Red Line to the Verizon Center.

I'll miss you Green Line. The Metro ride just won't feel right as I'm going by the Zoo and Dupont Circle instead of PG Plaza and West Hyattsville... :*(

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Why do I find myself cheering for the Yankees tonight?

So after enjoying a weekend that included a Terps win (barely), a pair of GREAT Caps wins and a Ravens win (OK, and the Redskins demolished the Lions, which I would have lost a lot of money on if I was gambling), I find myself conflicted in a game that has nothing to do with local teams.

Here I am watching TBS (not in HD because I suck and don't have an HDTV ... seriously ... I wasn't lying when I said I suck), finding myself HAPPY that the Yanks have blown the game wide open in game three of the ALDS against the Indians.

I'm sure part of that is my hatred of the Red Sox, but the majority of it is because of my hatred of the five-game series.

I was rooting for the Cubs (disappointed) and Phillies (disappointed) yesterday, and here I am again rooting for a team in a 2-0 hole in a five-game series.

And it's all because I can't stand the thought of a team playing a 162-game regular season, getting into the playoffs, then finding themselves on the golf course four or five days later.

I'm also critical of the NHL's 45-year playoff setup where every team is guaranteed to play at least 12 playoff games as long as they meet the salary floor (that's all fake), but baseball's playoff system is one of the most hypocritical things in sports.

Why do you play a grueling, marathon, other-words-that-mean-really-long 162-game season with the intent of really weeding out the BEST teams in the league only to let the combatants in the League Championship Series (plural) get decided by a five-game crapshoot?

I'd love to see Major League Baseball go back to a setup where the AL's regular season winner plays the NL's regular season winner in a nine-game World Series -- or at least dump the third division and the Wild Card and jump straight from regular season to the LCSes (that's gramatically poor) -- but TBS and Fox have money and damnit, the MLB's going to get more than nine games worth.

But, please, at the very least, can we dump this five-game crap and have seven-game divisional series?

Basketball made the change, and how dare you question David Stern? You don't dare, that's how.

It's not like the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Indians, Cubs or Phillies are going to have trouble filling their stadiums for that ONE WHOLE EXTRA HOME PLAYOFF GAME that they stand to gain in a seven-game series (yeah I can't speak for the Rockies or the University of Maryland Student Newspapers).

And besides, if you're going for the cash dollas with an extra playoff round, why not go the whole nine and add another game or two or three or four in each of those series?

That's right. Logic. I use it.

Make it happen.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Capitals Season Preview (Just in time)

I'll be covering the Caps from the press box this year for DC Sports Box, and in the eleventh hour I got my Capitals preview in to the site. So here's the first few paragraphs from that, and you'll have to actually go there to read the rest (it's long). I'm also told there's a site redesign coming soon to and I'm really excited to see what the Web guru over there has cooking.

As the Capitals get ready to kick off the 2007-2008 regular season, it's anyone's guess as to where they'll end up.

Last season the Caps jumped out quick and looked like a real competitor for the first two and a half months - on pace for 95 points with 50 games remaining after beating Philadelphia on December 16. But injuries exposed the team's lack of depth – especially on defense and in goal – and the Caps went 13-30-7 to close out the year.

Majority owner Ted Leonsis said repeatedly this offseason that the rebuild is over, and backed that up by putting up the money to bring in veterans that should address what I'll call "areas of concern."

And when you're coming off back-to-back 70-point seasons – finishing in the bottom five in the NHL both times – there are plenty areas of concern.

Read the rest at DC Sports Box.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

New in the shop: Updated hat trick hats!

Just in time for the '07-'08 Washington Capitals season, I've updated the Beltway Sports Shop's highest-selling item (registering a whopping three sales last season), the Hat Trick Hat!

(And don't worry, that ugly "" tag isn't on the actual hat.)

That's right, now it's got it all! Not only does it have the new colors and kinda-similar-like number styles, it also includes a whole new player! Because I'm sure I wasn't the only person standing there during Alexander Semin's home-opener hat trick wondering, "Is it not right to throw an A.O. Hat Trick hat for a hat trick scored by someone other than A.O.?"

Problem solved.

The new version has #8 AND #28, and instead of being an "A.O. Hat Trick Hat," is now an "Alexanders" hat trick hat. Smart!

A bargain for just $14.99! Buy yours today! Exclamation points!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Little kid learns what it truly means to be a Red Sox fan ...


The Boston Herald ran an article yesterday about something so horrible, so awful, so ... INSENSITIVE that it just had to get a few inches in print.

Get this: A 10-year-old autograph-hound went to Fenway Park on Friday night decked out in bright red BoSox gear and obtained the signature of Yankee rookie Shelley Duncan. Hurray, the kid thought! I got an autograph from a real major league ballplayer! But then he read the signature... "RED SOX SUCK! Shelley Duncan." Depression set in. The child immediately cried to his mother. How could a supposed role-model do such a thing to a poor child who came to the ballpark carrying with him only a $100 ticket, a pen, and a dream!?

"It didn’t make me feel happy when he wrote that," the budding Masshole said.

"This is someone who wears the Yankee uniform and is on the payroll and should be setting an example for 10-year-olds," his mother sniveled.

The world felt this family's pain and outrage.

And then reality set in.

So a kid decked out in Red Sox gear asks for an autograph from a Yankee and gets told that the Red Sox suck. I'm pretty sure that's said about 40,000 times at any Red Sox vs. Yankees game. So what do he and his mom do? Take a cue from Navy and cry to the media.

When this kid is old enough to appreciate it -- and I'd wager it'll take all of a seven day auction on ebay -- he will understand what a true collectible Mr. Duncan bestowed upon him. Remember when Chris Simms signed a fan's University of Texas helmet with, "OU SUCKS! Chris Simms"? That thing sold on ebay for thousands of dollars. So count your blessings, you little brat.

And I've got news for you, kid: The Red Sox suck. Signed, C. Stone.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Navy cries about "classless" Rutgers fans. Boo f---ing hoo.

Sorry, do I need to issue an apology for that headline?

If you haven't heard yet, while Rutgers was drubbing Navy last Friday night, Scarlet Knights fans showered Navy players with boos and taunts, and yes, the occasional F word. *Gasp!*

Now Navy personnel and the national media are calling Rutgers fans classless, and Rutgers has issued a formal apology.

"It was the most classless thing I've ever seen," cried Navy academic recruiter Bill Squires in a Star-Ledger article by Mark Di Ionno.

Excuse me if I don't share the outrage. I did go to Maryland after all.

Yes, the Midshipmen are "true student athletes" and aren't fighting for NFL dollars, but they're playing college ball in Division 1. And if the ads I hear on the radio 10 times a day are correct, they've made four straight bowl appearances, so clearly they are able to be competitive despite the picture Di Ionno attempts to paint of grown men picking on kids.

(On Navy's Reggie Campbell, Di Ionno wrote, "This gutsy kid, a slotback who already spent three quarters being chased and tackled by gangs of defensive linemen and linebackers, all weighing at least 100 pounds more than him ..." Give. Me. A. Break. I'm sure Campbell loves being described as an underweight puss who has no business on a field with the REAL football players, too, Mark. Because that's sure how it sounds the way it's written.)

My question is, where has Navy been traveling all these years that they haven't heard similar crap a million times before this? I'm all for a little respect for the Mids, but do opposing fans -- especially college students -- really shut it down just because the visiting section is dressed in white uniforms and funny hats?

Clearly they don't make the trip to Morgantown, West Virginia, very often.

This is college sports, where college-aged kids play against other college-aged kids in front of a slew of drunken college-aged kids who get seats 20 feet from the field. Some profanities are going to fly. (And if this were Morgantown some D batteries would fly, too.)

I'm not saying I'm all for yelling F this and F that at sporting events -- despite what this post and my last post might lead you to believe. I'm just saying I don't get the outrage. Especially not over this particular "incident."

I guess you can't be too surprised about Navy's reaction. Is there a more thin-skinned athletic program? You'd think a bunch of guys that spend all day getting yelled at while doing push ups and calling people "sir" would be able to take some lip.

But this is the same school that put a rivalry with Maryland on hold for FORTY years because a Terp linebacker gave the Navy student section the finger. (Nevermind that the Terp, Jerry Fishman, was retaliating to anti-Semitic remarks from the Mids. Although maybe that was seen as acceptable in 1965.)

This is also the school that may AGAIN put that rivalry on hold because they'd rather cry about how Maryland "spurned" them by turning down an invite to play Navy in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte, N.C., to instead go to the Champs Sports Bowl ... a higher ranked bowl game ... against a Big Ten team ... in Orlando ... in December.

Get over it, Navy. The bitching is getting old.

So a bunch of 18-22 year olds had to hear the F word aimed in their general direction. I think they'll live. I'd even venture to guess that a few of them had heard the word before, had it said to them before, and *shudder* even USED it before. Get right out of town!

Someone pass me some D batteries.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Why do Camden Yards ushers treat opposing fans better than O's fans?

I know I've heard similar complaints before so this is probably beating a dead horse, but I need to vent.

Five of my friends and I have a 13 game plan in section 85 at Camden Yards, and that plan included last night's Orioles vs. Red Sox game.

So we were surrounded by BoSox fans (not surprising) and decided pretty early on that we needed to be vocal. So we were booing when the Red Sox fans cheered and all that crap ... nothing offensive. We took some good-natured ribbing from a few Sox fans around us, but by the 9th inning we were running out of steam and not really saying much.

So when Jason Varitek singled in the go-ahead run the stadium went wild and a friend of mine yelled something innocuous like "Go back to Boston" or "Sit down." And a few alleged Sox fans in the section in front of us turned around to rub it in a little. Again, not too surprising given the general "we run this joint" attitude that visiting Red Sox fans always seem to bring.

The one dude who really wanted to get some shots in is decked out in red and blue -- but not for the Red Sox. For the Phillies. This clown was wearing a Phillies jersey and Phillies hat and for some reason was there rooting on the Red Sox like he grew up trolling Yawkey Way. He yelled something to the effect of "What now!?" at us, so my friends and I can't resist.


It really is amazing how much sports trivia you can randomly access from the recesses of your brain when you're pissed off.

Profanities were exchanged but honestly I doubt too many people heard us over the Sox fans' jubilation.

The stupid trash talk was dying down when the usher for our section came to us -- not the Sox/Phillies fans -- and said to sit down and keep our mouths shut, and if she heard anything else she was going to kick us out. Not a word to the Sox fans. So we told her to go give them the same warning, and she said, "They're not the problem. It's you" (paraphrasing).

Of course the Sox fans had a field day with this.

I'm fine that she told us to shut up, but don't act like it's a one-sided affair. Especially when they were at our yard looking for an argument.

Were we being obnoxious? Sure. But it wasn't any worse from our end than theirs, and for some reason the usher acted like we were a bunch of grown men punching babies, going so far as to sit next to the PhilSox fans and assure them the "situation" had been taken care of. She even hung out for the remainder of the game and shared a few laughs.

This isn't the first time I've heard of OUR ushers bending over backwards to please the visiting team's fans in spite of Orioles fans. Why in the world would ushers treat opposing fans, who come to one or two games a year when their team is in town, better than partial plan holders?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Guest Blog by homertuck: Maryland gets no respect from coaches in first poll

In a first for Beltway Sports Beat, today I have a guest blogger. Tuck is a friend of mine who loves to rant about sports and used to have a blog of his own. Today he GChat messaged me, angry over something sports-related (this is not rare) and said he was going to revive his blog just to talk about it. So I convinced him that instead he should write a guest blog post for Beltway Sports Beat. Another potential rival blogger nipped in the bud. --C. Stone

Today, in what is the start of the college football season, the USA Today Top 25 coaches' poll was released. Toping the list is USC, followed by LSU, Florida, Texas and Michigan. I don't really have a beef with the top 5 teams. You can honestly make a justification for why any of the top 5 teams could start the season at #1. I really wish USC didn't start at #1 for the simple reason that I don't want to hear John David Booty's 20 times a day. Why is it that he gets his full name mentioned every time we talk about USC? When people talk about Cal Ripken, they don't say "Calvin Edwin Ripken Jr." But I digress...

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The rest of the top 25, in my opinion, isn't really that exciting. I was, however, shocked by one thing, which in my opinion helps prove how stupid the coaches' poll is and why it should have no role in deciding the national championship. First, my beloved Terps, coming off a 9-4 season in which they won the Champs Sports Bowl, didn't receive a single vote. Not one. Zippy. Granted, UMD is still deciding who their quarterback is going to be, but how can we receive NOTHING? Maryland has maybe the best receiver corps in the ACC, with the speedy Darrius Heyward-Bey (voted preseason All-ACC selection at WR and had 45 receptions, 694 yards, and 5 TDs as a freshman) and the great hands of tight end Joey Haynos (37 receptions, 369 yards, and 3 TDs last season).

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They also possess what has to be the best rushing attack in the ACC and one of the nation's best this year in the two headed monster of Lance Ball (855 rushing yards and 8 TDs last year) and Keon Lattimore (784 rushing yards and 3 TDs last year).

Also, Maryland isn't starting off the year with a walk on quarterback. Jordan Steffy and Josh Portis were both highly recruited out of high school. I'm sure either will do a great job as the Terps starting QB. And both are very capable of tucking the ball and running with it. I expect to see the return of the option play, something that has been lacking in the Friedgen offense that last several years, specifically since Scotty McBrien left.

Steffy and Portis will also get to tune up against Villanova and Florida International before going up against a real threat, which will be a Thursday night showdown against West Virginia.

Just remember folks ... these "expert" sports writers thought Maryland would be a bad team in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2006 because we had a quarterback issue. What happened during those seasons? How about a 41-12 record, 4 bowl games, 3 straight bowl wins, an ACC championship and a trip to the Orange Bowl. Not to shabby.

On a side note, Duke's record last year was 0-12 and they are an annual staple on's "Bottom 10" rankings of worst football programs in the nation. CLEARLY they should be ranked above 80+ other D-1 football schools. I guess the person who voted for Duke thought this was the basketball poll...


Monday, July 30, 2007

Congrats Cal!

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I took a few minutes from watching the Yanks run up the score on Daniel Cabrera in the early innings yesterday afternoon to watch Cal Ripken's Hall of Fame induction speech (you can watch it from the Baltimore Sun site by clicking here), and I'd be lying if I said I didn't get a little choked up.

Basically from the time I was born to the time I was almost 18 years old, Cal was a constant with the Orioles. There were some pretty rough years in there and a couple playoff runs. Jim Traber, Larry Sheets and Lenn Sakata gave way to Craig Worthington, Joe Orsulak and Randy Milligan, who then gave way to Jeff Manto, Jeff Huson and Leo Gomez. But Cal was always there. Now there's no one like that.

Melvin Mora and Jay Gibbons are the only players on the Orioles who were with the team when Cal finished the final game of his career standing in the on-deck circle with fans chanting "we want Cal" as Brady Anderson struck out to complete the 98th loss of the 2001 season. And no offense to them, but I don't think too many people are going to look back 10 years from now and say, "Gibbons and Mora ... they were Orioles baseball." At least not with the fondness and reverence that goes to Cal.

So here is my congratulations to Cal on his Hall of Fame induction. For 21 years, he was Orioles baseball.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Personal Quest: Keep Dmitri Young and Kevin Millar in the area!

First of all, let me just say for the record (and for your convenience) that there are a couple places I go for trade rumors, and no, is not one of them:

Ben Maller's MLB Rumors page on Fox Sports.

Yahoo! Sports MLB Rumors.

That should be enough to keep you occupied for 20 minutes at work. On to the good stuff...

The Washington Post passively mentioned that Dmitri Young could be traded to a contender if the price is right.

Meanwhile, The Sun says what we already know, that Kevin Millar is "one of the Orioles most marketable players" (that they might be willing to part with, at least).

These trades simply cannot happen.

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Young has to stick around, if only because he has the best screen name in The Dugout: SteakGrowsOnDmitri. That and If_Anything_I_Could_ Say_That_This_Cabrera are the only two on the site that I actually replace the player's real name with in my mind.

Also, when resident crazy man Jose Guillen was not re-signed by the Nationals after the 2006 season, I was so disappointed. Who else was going to call another team's manager "a piece of garbage"? Enter Dmitri Young.

Like Guillen, Young is a reclamation project who was given an unconditional release by his former employer. But Young is even crazier than Guillen. And he was an All-Star this year!

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Besides his .390+ OPS, Millar cannot be traded because, as SC at Camden Chat said, "Millar is kind of like the Rally Monkey, only he's a player on the team."

And because there's a corny between-innings video that they show at Camden Yards where O's players pick the best singer on the team, and after the majority vote goes to Millar, the video shows him in Benito Santiago shades going "DA NA NA NA NA NA DOCTOR FEEL GOOD!!!!!!"

And who can forget the Ray Lewis dance?

That's worth the price of admission right there.

Monday, July 23, 2007

What? The trade deadline is in eight days?

Being an O's fan (or a Nats fan for that matter), it's pretty easy to forget when the trade deadline rolls around. Because trade deadlines are for "good" teams that are "still in the hunt," or at least teams with good players that someone else might want.

So as I wake up from my month-and-a-half long sleepwalk through the local sports scene to realize that, hey, they're actually still playing baseball and someone I've heard of might change teams soon, it's time to take a look at who might get unceremoniously shipped away from our local losers.

With Miguel Tejada hurt everything gets real boring around here, because who's even worth talking about if not for destined-to-fail Tejada-for-so-and-so-pitchers rumors?

On the Nats all eyes are on Chad Cordero. And honestly who else is worth a damn? Jon Rauch would add bullpen depth to a contender and his name has been tossed around also, but trading away your two best relievers -- both of whom are under 30 -- doesn't seem real smart for a team that's building for the future.

Don't get me wrong, no one's building a franchise around a bullpen, but not having one will certainly slow the process (just ask the Orioles).

Allegedly Ryan Church is on the block, and if Jim Bowden had his way he'd replace Church with Adam Dunn. That's a great idea but I don't see any way that Bowden has what it would take to get Dunn from the Reds. Although I wouldn't have thought Royce Clayton and an over-worked Gary Majewski would have been enough to get Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez from the Reds, so I guess anything is possible when dealing with Bowden's former employer.

For the Orioles there are a few trade options I guess.

They could dump Kevin Millar off on some team that needs a DH or first baseman who gets on base at a .390 clip (that's what he's doing this season ... I didn't believe it myself until I looked it up). The obvious fit is the Yankees but he's said he doesn't want to go there -- or anywhere for that matter.

Steve Trachsel could get some looks from teams who are REALLY strapped for starting pitching (even Rodrigo Lopez got some looks last July). But his departure won't really be much of a loss for the starting rotation with Garrett Olson proving he deserves a shot, nor will Trax bring much of anything in return. So who really cares?

Other than that, there's your typical list of guys who are only in rumors in Orioles fan circles because we want to see them gone, not because there are actually any takers. Danys Baez tops the list of course. Jay Gibbons is a close second. Some have even suggested Chris Ray, but he's got huge upside so why trade him when his value's never been lower?

Yep. Nothing but questions. Boring questions that no one really cares to know the answers to.


Wednesday, May 30, 2007

EXCLUSIVE! New Capitals Logo Leaked!

This is the only place you'll find this, folks. I'm not going to say how I found it, but just know that my "inside sources" are VERY reliable ('sup Eklund?) and I give this one a very high rating of credibility...

stupid Caps logo


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Are The Orioles Stuck With Sam Perlozzo?

The Orioles are 46 games into the 2007 season and they're four games under .500. If you'd have told me that would be the case before the season started, I probably would have sarcastically replied, "Nice prediction, Nostradamus. Next do you want to tell me how the Nationals are going to suck, the Redskins are going to blow a ton of money on overrated free agents and taxes will be due in April?"

But one thing the Orioles have shown this year is that they should be better than a 21-25 team. Clearly they're not actually better than a 21-25 team, because they are a 21-25 team. But some of the losses have been absolutely painful to watch.

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Defensive lapses, blown leads and, of course, managerial ineptitudes. All of this has led many fans -- and at least one local columnist -- to request the firing of manager Sam Perlozzo. Some have even begun a Millar for Manager campaign.

My advice: Don't hold your breath. I don't think Sam's going anywhere any time soon.

Of course I say that as purely my own opinion, and now that I've put it up on the Intergoogles he'll be fired this afternoon.

It's not that I support Perlozzo ... he's been terrible. But do the Orioles really have the stones to essentially fire their manager and pitching coach in one fell swoop? Especially after letting one of the best pitching coaches in the game go to bring in the current pitching coach?

When Perlozzo became the manager I wanted so badly for him to succeed. Not just because it would mean the Orioles were having success, but because he waited so long for his turn. When Leo Mazzone came to town before last season I thought it might actually happen.

Then the season started and it became pretty clear that Perlozzo wasn't exactly a good decision maker -- or anything close.

I tried to write it off as "rookie mistakes," if you will, despite the fact that he'd been in the Orioles dugout for 10 seasons and had already managed for 50 games. He was bad.

For some reason I was again given hope during spring training when all the talk was about Perlozzo's changed demeanor and coaching style.

Did that change results on the field? Nuh uh.

Yet my own feelings are still mixed on firing him, and that's why I think the Orioles front office must be really reluctant to pull the trigger.

If you fire Sam, does Leo go with him? He does, right?

Perlozzo's promotion brought Mazzone here, so it only makes sense that Perlozzo's firing would send him away.

Finding a manager better than Perlozzo won't be hard, but finding a pitching coach better than Mazzone will be damn near impossible. So does the team think they can find a combination of manager and pitching coach that will get them better results than the terrible manager, great pitching coach combo they've got going now?

That's tough to answer, so the easiest thing for the O's front office to do would be to just avoid it entirely.

They're stuck.

Mazzone is under contract through the 2008 season, but I don't think the Orioles would fire Sam and then say, "Hey Leo, you better honor that contract!," leaving them with a disgruntled pitching coach in the dugout.

And that's why I say Sam stays, at least until the end of the year.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Why I'm Not So Upset About The Orioles Three-Game Losing Streak

Normally I'd be devastated by a three-game losing streak like this. The O's had a four-game winning streak and a lot of momentum going for them, they are facing a couple of good teams in short series at home and it would have meant a lot to show those clubs that the O's are for real.

But it's April 26 and that's all B.S.

The O's have been "showing teams that they're for real" for the past few Aprils now. I didn't believe it until I looked it up, but the Orioles have finished April at or above .500 for the past four seasons. And where did it get them? Not once in those seasons did they finish within five games of the break-even point.

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That's why early this month I told myself that I wasn't going to get worked up about what happens in April.

Lots of crap teams jump out of the gate hot and put up decent April records. The good teams get better as the season goes on.

And if you look at how the team has played, these guys should feel lucky to still be one game over .500.

Erik Bedard was supposed to be the ace of the staff, and he's putting up Bruce Chen-like numbers.

Melvin Mora seems to have dedicated his April to making a bloopers reel for his six kids.

Razor Ramon Hernandez, One of the best all-around catchers in the Majors, is hurt and has been replaced by Paul Bako, honestly one of the worst all-around catchers in the Majors.

Aubrey Huff in April has been in 2007 as Aubrey Huff in April has been throughout his career -- bad.

But those things will change. Huff will get hot, Hernandez will come back from his injury, Mora can't be this bad in the field forever (right?!?) and Bedard will return to form (he did have a 5.97 ERA on June 1 last year before basically dominating for the last three months of the season to get it down to 3.76).

It's fun to project out numbers less than 20 games into the season and say things like "Ian Kinsler is on pace for 64 homers" or "The Orioles are on pace for 96 wins," but then reality sets in. Because this is baseball, and the season is long.

Every team is going to have winning streaks and losing streaks and every player is going to have slumps and surges, but at the end of a 162-game season everything will end up where it should be. The best players will separate themselves from the flukes and the best teams will rise to the top of the standings.

So for now I'm just trying to sit back, enjoy the baseball and be pleased with how the O's have kept their heads above water despite the issues and injuries. ... But seriously this team better not be sucking like this in May or I'm going to flip.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

My Wizards Optimism Rides On Tonight's Game

Defying all reason -- no Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler, an ugly game-one loss, facing Lebron in the playoffs -- I am still optimistic about the Wizards chances in this series.

Not "I think they're going to win" optimistic ... more like "I think they can win" optimistic, which is better than they're getting from most people.

For three quarters on Sunday Cleveland looked like crap. They failed to pull away from the Wizards, who seemed to botch every open, in-tight look that was giftwrapped for them by the Cavs' defense. Cleveland did pull away in the fourth and ended up winning by 15, but the game made me more confident that the Wizards can steal an early win in this series and keep themselves in it.

Unfortunately, an "early win" means tonight.

The task of any road team in a seven-game playoff series is to take one of first two games in the other team's building to wrestle away home court/field/rink advantage, so for the Wizards tonight is their opportunity. Their only opportunity.

It would be especially big because it would ensure that the series will get to at least a fifth game, which could be long enough to get Butler back in the lineup.

Caron had his cast removed on Monday but is supposed to avoid contact for a week to 10 days. Even on an ambitious schedule there's almost no way he's cleared to play in game four on April 30, but Caron prides himself on his toughness -- or is that tuffness? -- and based on no inside information or real facts at all I wouldn't rule out a game five or game six return even though Eddie Jordan apparently has.

And it's that type of irrational hope that sums up my optimism. If the Wiz can eek out a win in C-town tonight then win one of their two home games, they could get Butler back with the series not yet out of reach.

But if they lose tonight you can kiss all that goodbye and I'll start posting about the Orioles again.

Friday, April 20, 2007

New In The Shop: JAMIE WALKER T-SHIRTS!!!!shift11

That's right. Go to the Beltway Sports Shop and you can get your very own #32 "Everything fits in this skillet" T-shirt (several styles available).

You know you love him. What's not to like? His ideal day includes sitting in the country with a Bud in his hand listening to some music. ... And "maybe a bug zapper" because "them are pretty cool."

This is a guy who plays for a month of the spring in party-town Fort Lauderdale, but says he "ain't going to no damn club, that's for sure." He owns a '79 Trans Am ... and a pickup truck.

And you know what else? If it fits in a skillet ... he kills it.

Here's what's on the shirts (sans "" above it):

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wizards Will Face Cleveland In First Round

I'll admit, I completely missed this scenario as a possibility, but the Wizards beating the Pacers, the Bulls getting stomped by New Jersey, and the Cavaliers beating Milwaukee means a first-round rematch from 2006: Wiz vs. Cavs.

Except last year's series featured Lebron James vs. Gilbert Arenas. This year will be Lebron James vs. ... um ... DeShawn Stevenson?

I don't love the Wizards chances against the Cavs (I was really hoping to get Toronto), but I prefer it to facing Detroit or Chicago. And I think if Cleveland comes in thinking they're already in the second round they're going to be surprised.

I told my brother last night that I thought the Wiz would shock some people and take two games of the series. He then asked if I would give him even money that the Wizards would win more than one game. I said I would not.

I also can't help but wonder if this is going to become some sort of Capitals vs. Penguins situation, where the Wiz and Cavs play each other in the playoffs five of six and seven of 11 years -- hopefully with the Wizards doing a little better than the Caps (Pens have won six of those seven series) . But they've got a long way to go for that.

So here's your first round schedule:

Game 1: Sunday, April 22 @ Cleveland, 12:30 p.m.
Game 2: Wednesday, April 25 @ Cleveland, 8:00 p.m.
Game 3: Saturday, April 28 @ Washington, 5:30 p.m.
Game 4: Monday, April 30 @ Washington, Time TBD
Game 5: Wednesday, May 2 @ Cleveland, Time TBD (if necessary)
Game 6: Friday, May 4 @ Washington, Time TBD (if necessary)
Game 7: Sunday, May 6 @ Cleveland, Time TBD (if necessary)

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Could Wizards Turn Tough Breaks Into Inspiring Run?

It looks bad for the Wizards, I know, but part of me feels like the injuries were what they needed to start playing like a team (and I know Jshuane Melton, Wizards beat writer at DC Sports Box, agrees).

Maybe it didn't need to be quite as bad as what they got, but in the last two-plus weeks, the Wizards have rallied around each other and started playing good team ball.

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The results haven't shown up in the standings, but they've played admirably despite the absence of their all-stars.

The only blowout loss the Wizards took with both Arenas and Butler out was Sunday against Chicago.

Other than that, the Wiz fell to Charlotte by eight (in the game Arenas was injured in), Cleveland by five, New Jersey by six (in overtime) and then four, Miami by three and Orlando by six.

They're losses, but they're solid efforts and they're enough to give the most ridiculous of optimists (me) some hope.

There was so much optimism before April 1. Then things started going wrong.

The Wizards won that night in Milwaukee to get to 39-33 but all-star Caron Butler fractures his hand and is done for the regular season. The Wiz get embarrassed in their next game, April at Charlotte. Trying to regroup without Butler, the Wizards lose to Charlotte again on April 4 at Verizon Center, but Gilbert Arenas' torn knee ligament is more of a crushing blow than the final score.

The Wizards have lost eight of nine going into tonight's regular season finale, and only a win against lottery-bound Indiana will get them to the break-even point.

Tonight's results will decide where the Wizards will be seeded going into the playoffs and who they will face in round one:

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A loss tonight coupled with an Orlando win over Miami would drop the Wizards to the eighth and final playoff spot and pit them against Detroit in the first round.

However, if the Wizards win tonight and the Nets lose to the Bulls, the Wizards get sixth place and would face Toronto, the Atlantic Division champs.

If all stays as is, the Wizards would take on the second seed Bulls, and we all saw how that went on Sunday.

Unfortunately, Arenas' only shot at a return is if the Wiz make the finals. Butler's situation is slightly better -- he targets a possible second-round return -- but the team has to get there first.

As easy as it is to say, "They suck, they've lost their all-stars, they'll play the minimum," I'm not quite ready to write them off.

After Arenas went down, Jamison stepped up huge in the first four games. He recorded double-doubles in each and averaged almost 29 points. Then he stumbled for the next three games, averaging under eight points per game. Wearing down from trying to carry the team, perhaps? I would have thought, but then he broke out for 48 points on the Magic last night.

Jarvis Hayes has also stepped up, getting into double digits in scoring in all but one of the past eight games, including 29 at New Jersey and 20 at Atlanta.

Is there realistic hope that the Wiz can pull off a shocking upset over either Chicago or Detroit? Probably not. Jamison would have to score 40 every night and Hayes would have to shoot approximately 100 percent from the field.

But Toronto's a different story. They get a third seed by default for winning the Atlantic Divison, which is probably the worst division in the NBA this year.

I take that back. There's no probably about it.

I like the Wizards chances against Toronto. Not that I'd put money on it, but out of the three available opponents that's the one that that the Wiz could most likely beat. (And I know Juan Dixon wants to face Washington, but I'm not particularly offended. Who wouldn't? If Shaq and Dwyane Wade were both hurt everyone would want to face Miami.)

If they go into the playoffs playing the kind of team basketball they've been playing lately, the Wiz might just make it out of the first round. Then if Butler really does return, who knows what could happen?

At the very least, here's rooting for a great story.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More Meaningless Baseball Stats

If you are merely a passive observer of baseball, you may look at the current records of the Orioles and Nationals and deduce that they are on pace for x wins and x losses based on their winning percentage 13 games into the season:

Orioles: 7-6, .538 winning %, on pace for an 87-75 season (gotta love April).

Nationals: 4-9, .308 winning %, on pace for a 50-112 season (not loving April as much).

But if you use Bill James' pythagorean expectation formula -- 1/(1 + (Runs Allowed/Runs Scored)^2) -- you get different results:

Orioles: 60 runs for, 57 runs against, pythagorean expectation of .526 winning %.
Bill James would say 7-6 is right where they should be, and stretched over an entire season they would go 85-77.

Nationals: 36 runs for, 67 runs against, pythagorean expectation of .289 winning %.
James would again be satisfied with their 4-9 result, and it would stretch out to 47-115 if they continue to play like this.

So not a huge stretch in either direction, but it's interesting that even after only 13 games, Bill James' stats -- which were meant to be applied to full seasons -- are proving accurate.

If I don't get lazy I'll keep track of this throughout the season.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Unusual Statistics That You Don't Want To Hear

Tonight the Orioles lost on a Tigers grand slam in the 12th inning, already the second time this season the Orioles have lost a game on a last-inning, game-winning grand slam.

The season is nine games old.

At this rate, the Orioles will lose 36 games this season in this fashion.

That five-month wait with no baseball sure seems worth it now, doesn't it?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Kevin Millar Would Like To Know If There Are Any Dogs In The House

I once heard a pack of drunken frat guys doing their rendition of the Ravens pre-game ritual (I think it was while tailgating for a University of Maryland football game) and it effectively ruined it for me. Just to clarify, they weren't doing it mockingly ... they were serious about getting amped for that next Natty Light.

That being said, Kevin Millar went all Ray Lewis up in this joint on Monday afternoon before the home opener against Detroit. He busted out a pretty impressive rendition of the infamous Ray Lewis pre-Super Bowl dance.

I missed it because I was in the District looking at overpriced apartments, but the good public has been kind enough to hold a digital camera up to a television and post the results on YouTube. So here it is for you to enjoy ... all seven seconds of it!

That's worth watching a good 10 or 20 times.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

My Homage to Jamie Walker

So it's only two games into the season, the Orioles haven't won and he's pitched all of 2/3 of an inning, but it's not too soon to wrap all of the amazing backwoods likability that is Jamie Walker into one awesome GIF file.

If first impressions are everything, Jamie should already be in the Orioles Hall of Fame for some of these gems.

So here you go. Man this would make a nice-lookin' T-shirt, ya reckon?

Yes. Indeed I do "reckon." Jamie, have your people call my people.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

So ... Is This How It's Going to Be in 2007?

Nice start to the baseball season, eh?

At 1:00 yesterday the Nationals kicked off their season, and by 1:30 it was obvious they were going to lose.

The Orioles started six hours later but it took about as long of actual game time for them to look like they were out of it, except then they teased us with a big inning and a lead that lasted, oh, maybe 45 seconds including the commercial break.

Marlins 9, Nationals 2.

Twins 7, Orioles 4.

The "aces," John Patterson and Erik Bedard looked awful. Chalk it up to opening day jitters, I hope.

I still don't think the Nationals lose 100 games, despite that it seems like the media has all but guaranteed it. ESPN's Buster Olney went as far as to say the Nats could lose 130 games, which is Youppi-level ridiculous.

Here's the thing: 71-91, which the Nats were in 2006, is a bad team. REAL bad. And it's easy to say "well that's only nine losses less than 100!" But a 71-91 team is 20 games under .500, playing .438 baseball. A 100-loss team is THIRTY-EIGHT games under .500, playing .383 ball. The difference is HUGE.

Are they looking at last place in the NL East? Probably. But it won't take 100 losses to get there.

In true Orioles fashion, key injuries have shown just how unprepared this team is for success. After an offseason thinking about what depth the Orioles might have with one of Jay Payton, Aubrey Huff, Kevin Millar, Jay Gibbons or Corey Patterson coming off the bench each night, two guys get hurt before opening day and whaddya know you're looking at a lineup with Paul Bako starting and Freddie Bynum pinch hitting in a key situation.

Freddie Bynum.

But it's OK because Bynum plays several positions so that makes him Brandon Fahey valuable.

What I'm most annoyed about, though, is that I went to Champps last night figuring I could catch the last half of the O's game and then watch the NCAA championship, but the O's game was nowhere to be found -- apparently there was some problem getting the channel to work. (I suspect they didn't realize that the game was locally blacked out on ESPN2 because it was on MASN, but if that's the case it's a pretty sad indictment of the state of the franchise that a sports bar in Columbia doesn't even know what channel the local team will play 162 of its 162 games on.) So the O's finally have a night opening game that I would be able to watch and I only get to see three and a half lousy innings. Aaugh.

Oh well. That's the beauty of baseball. You only have to stew on a loss for a workday and then you're greeted at home by another game! Unless you're the Cubs...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Your 12 Over 5 Special: Long Beach State!

That's right. I'm calling it. Tennessee beware.

Every other 12 seed has been tapped repeatedly as a potential upset team. Old Dominion over Butler. Illinois over Virginia Tech. Arkansas over USC.

But where's the love for Long Beach?

It's easy to take the trendy picks, but what about a team that hasn't beaten anyone even remotely decent and hasn't been in the tournament in 12 years? LONG BEACH!

The 49ers (that's Long Beach State) start five seniors and are led by Big West player of the year Aaron Nixon, who also took home Big West tournament MVP honors.

Hmmm ... good guard play ... senior leadership. Remind you of a certain local team that made a long and completely unexpected run last year?

So that's my "if this doesn't happen no one will remember and I'll never speak of it again but if it does I will gloat about it for the next 10 years every time I pick some crap 12 seed to beat a 5 seed" pick.

I just had to get this on record somewhere by Thursday so I could prove that I predicted it ... because I didn't have the mahhhhh-bles to actually pick them on my bracket.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Best Television Commercial of ALL TIME

Like anyone can even know that, Napoleon.

My friend Abram IMed me today with this gem of an advertisement for the NHL on NBC featuring Washington's own Alex Ovechkin and about half a dozen other NHL stars. (I wouldn't have pointed out that Abram sent it to me but he demanded that I give him credit.)

For anyone who's been on a hockey road trip -- or even lived in a college dorm -- this should bring back some pretty great memories:

The only thing missing is in the knee hockey part. Where's the one jackass with the sawed off street hockey stick instead of the little plastic souvenir thing that all the normal kids used?

(YES, your eight inch blade with a boomerang curve DOES give you a significant advantage over my inch-and-a-half wide cheap plastic stick. And is there some requirement that every rink hosting a tournament has to sell those plastic souvenir sticks with logos from random teams like the San Jose Sharks, even if located on the east coast nowhere near San Jose, inevitably leaving everyone in the hotel playing knee hockey with San Jose Sharks sticks by the third day of the tournament because they've all broken the sticks they brought with them by then?)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Kolzig Injured In Practice, Out At Least Three Weeks

The Post's Tarik El-Bashir is reporting that Olie Kolzig hurt his knee in practice today. General Manager George McPhee said Kolzig would be out at least three weeks but at the moment it does not look like he will need surgery.

For a team that needs every point it can get, this is not good. The Caps have called up Frederic Cassivi from Hershey, but Olie's backup, Brent Johnson, is expected to see a bulk of the goaltending time in Kolzig's absence.

Image from
Johnson is an unimpressive 4-7-3 this season with an .885 save percentage and a 3.86 goals against average. Late last year, however, he performed admirably with semi-regular playing time from mid-March to the end of the season. In his last seven starts of the 2005-2006 campaign he went 4-2-1 with a 1.96 GAA.

I know a lot of people have written off Cassivi as a career-AHLer, but I'd like to see him get some playing time in the next three weeks. He's had plenty of success in 10+ seasons in the AHL, but he's never really had a shot at the big time. He's only played 9 NHL games (8 with the Thrashers -- 6 in 2001-2002 and 2 in 2002-2003 -- and 1 with the Caps last season) and they haven't exactly been stellar ... or even close (3.93 GAA, .892 SV%). But maybe he's a guy who, with a few starts to adjust to the faster NHL competition, could become at least a decent stop-gap if it takes longer than expected for Caps goalie prospects Maxime Daigneault and Semen Varlamov to prove themselves in the AHL.

And no, I'm not kidding about Varlamov's first name.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Another Argument Against The NHL's Division-heavy Schedule

Anze Kopitar.

Heard of him? He is the 19-year-old rookie center who represented the L.A. Kings in this year's YoungStars game.

The 11th pick in the 2005 draft, he is the first Slovenian player to play in the NHL and he made an instant splash this season when he scored two goals in his NHL debut on October 6 in Anaheim, then followed with three assists in his home debut the next night.

Image from
He currently has 13 goals and 33 assists for the last place Kings.

If you're only a passive NHL fan -- or a die hard Washington fan devoting all your NHL-watching energy on the Caps -- you're forgiven if you have no idea who Kopitar is.

Actually, you can blame the NHL and its ridiculous schedule that pits teams against divisional opponents a total of 32 times a year.

Every hockey fan should know who Kopitar is, but why would Eastern media outlets write about Kopitar if he never pays a visit to their cities? Similarly, I don't think I've seen the Sharks' Jonathan Cheechoo play for more than a total of two minutes, and he led the NHL in goals last year.

When Kopitar and the Kings leave Verizon Center after the game tonight it will be the last they see of the place until the 2009-2010 season unless the NHL votes to change the schedule in the meantime, which they failed to do just last month.

Kopitar and 24-year-old teammate Alexander Frolov (28 goals, 27 assists) are two of the more exciting players in the game, playing on a team trying to build itself from the ground up much like the Capitals.

If you want to see Cheechoo or Sharks teammate Joe Thornton, you better buy tickets for the Feb. 21 game at Verizon Center -- otherwise seeing them before 2009 will require plane tickets.

Only six Western Conference teams make it to Washington this season (Minnesota, Dallas, Anaheim and Phoenix have come and gone), so if you were really hoping to see the red hot Predators or you're still holding on to fond memories of Peter Bondra even though he's in a Blackhawks sweater, better luck next year -- maybe.

But don't worry, the NHL is letting you get all the Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Atlanta Thrashers and Florida Panthers you can handle -- four times each at the Verizon Center every year, to be exact.

The worst part for the Capitals (and Caps fans who like to travel) is that the weighted schedule also cuts down on the number of games that the Capitals play against other divisions in the East.

The beneficiaries of the current schedule setup are teams in the Atlantic division, where every team is in Pennsylvania, New York or New Jersey. But the closest team to the Capitals in their own Southeast Division is farther away from Washington than the farthest Atlantic Division team. (Raleigh, N.C., where the Hurricanes play, is about 260 miles driving from Washington, whereas the Islanders home in Uniondale, N.Y., is about a 250 mile drive from the District.)

But division alignments are an argument for a different day -- one that many Caps fans longing for the good old days of the Patrick Division would love to make to anyone who will listen.

The schedule doesn't even make financial sense, though. The idea was to create intradivisional rivalries and capitalize on those match-ups the maximum number of times, but most Capitals fans still feel their main rivals are the Penguins and Flyers (again with the Patrick Division...). Plus the NHL is sending Alexander Ovechkin to non-hockey towns like Tampa, Raleigh, Atlanta and Miami a total of 16 times a year while depriving fans in Canada and the Northwest U.S. who are clamoring to see the young star.

As for Kopitar and Frolov, there's no reason to think Washington will see more of the L.A. Kings or their Western Conference counterparts any time soon.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Reality Time: The Capitals Have To Trade Ovechkin

I've been doing a lot of soul searching after the Capitals devastating shootout loss last night to the Bruins – their staggering first loss in a row – and after grappling with it I've decided it's time to blow up the team.

The Caps are 55 games into the second not-locked-out season of its sweeping rebuild, and all we've seen is marginal improvement over last year. How long can I possibly be expected to wait before seeing some results?

Alex Ovechkin, probably hanging his head because of his many disappointing years in the nation's capital.
Image stolen from Puckhead's Thoughts, who likely stole it from somewhere else.
So with that in mind, I think it's time to say what's been on everyone's mind for several days now:

The Washington Capitals need to trade Alexander Ovechkin.

They brought him in as the alleged savior of this franchise, paid him the big bucks to lure him away from perennial Stanley Cup contender Dynamo Moscow, built a supporting cast around him with solid NHL veterans like Matt Bradley and Ben Clymer, hired defensive stalwarts Brian Muir and Mathieu Biron Ivan Majesky Milan Jurcina to police the blue line, and still Washington has no Cup.

Even the scrappy group of never-weres that General Manager George McPhee astutely rescued from the junk heap several years ago managed to make the playoffs in 2003, shocking teams who had left players like Jaromir Jagr, Michael Nylander and Robert Lang for dead or wrote them off as classic cases of "project" players that never panned out. Those guys had heart, though.

Legendary coach Bruce Cassidy pulled that team together and led them on a surprising run that saw them get six games deep in the playoffs.

Now what do the Caps have? A bunch of overpaid guys slacking off and keeping the team from going out and acquiring that 38-year-old once-superstar, now "gritty veteran and true leader" that could put them over the top.

Damn this salary cap.

That's why the team needs to trade Ovechkin. He's an albatross. With incentives he can make almost $4 million a year. That's slightly more than the Caps are still paying Jagr! Ridiculous.

I know Ovechkin's value isn't high right now, what with him mired in an extended scoring drought of three games that would make even Joe Reekie and Brendan Witt blush, but it's time for action and the Caps can't afford to wait and hope his value magically goes up. How many players can you remember who improved after turning 22? Without doing the research, I can tell you the answer is "not many."

Alex will be on the wrong side of that hill in just a shade over seven months.

I'll wait while you let that unnerving reality set in.

As the days go on, it's becoming increasingly clear that the Caps will never win a Cup with Ovechkin logging 25+ minutes per game, only barely clinging to the league lead in goals as his salary bumps the team dangerously close to the salary cap.

And let's not forget the locker room squabbles – it's been literally minutes since I've read an article about how genuinely nice and well-liked Alex is. Not a good sign.

I know it's difficult to let go, but you have to use your head, not your heart. Yes, it will be odd to see all those number 8 jerseys around Verizon Center that were foolishly purchased by overzealous fans who failed to realize that Ovechkin could not possibly be in the long term plans of this franchise when he was inked to a deal at 20-years-old – well after he had surpassed his prime – but that's the reality of the situation.

Professional sports are a business, and sometimes you just have to put a player out to pasture. Better to do it now when you might be able to sucker some team into giving you something of marginal value in return.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Week Has Passed, But The Story Remains The Same

The Maryland Terrapins basketball team, which I will admit I had left for dead after their loss at Florida State dropped them to 2-5 in conference, once again has a huge game tonight. And every time I say that they seem to go out and lay an egg.

But here I am saying it again. Send the hate mail to

After bouncing back (sort of) with a win over a dreadful Wake Forest team, the Terps are once again two games under the break-even point in the ACC -- only now they have two less games to make up the difference.

Tonight is a home game against Virginia, who beat the Terps, 103-91, in Charlottesville three weeks ago today. Virginia went into that game on a three game losing streak, but that game ignited the Hoos' current six game winning streak that has catapulted them to a tie atop the ACC standings with Boston College. The Terps are tied for eighth with N.C. State.

Game time is 9 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Big Terps Game Tonight at Florida State

Ignoring that no men's basketball team has ever started its ACC season 1-4 and then earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament, Gary Williams' Terrapins have a game tonight in Tallahassee, where they will take on Florida State in an attempt to claw back toward a .500 conference record.

A win would put the Terps right where they need to be to finish 8-8 in-conference: A 3-4 record with five home games and four road games remaining. A loss makes it an uphill battle -- not to say that it isn't already.

The Terps' have been inconsistent this season, but that shouldn't have come as a surprise to anyone. Terp fans have come to know the inconsistencies of seniors Ekene Ibekwe, Mike Jones and D.J. Strawberry, as well as junior James Gist. So putting that group together with freshmen guards Eric Hayes and Greivis Vasquez is a recipe for a rollercoaster, and that's what we've seen this season.

The optimistic view sees Hayes and Vasquez maturing and adapting to the ACC game, giving the Terps a chance at a late run that propels them into the tournament, but that needs to start sooner rather than later.

Tipoff tonight is at 8 p.m., and the game will be televised on the CW.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Gilbert Arenas Will Start In The All-Star Game

Gilbert Arenas won't have to rely on an injury to another player to get into the NBA All-Star Game this year. He'll be starting.

Arenas received the second-most votes among Eastern Conference guards, behind only Dwyane Wade. reported that Arenas trailed New Jersey's Vince Carter by over 200,000 votes just 10 days before the voting ended, but rallied to beat Carter by just over 3,000 votes -- the fourth-closest margin in NBA All-Star history.

People must really like the dunk contest, because how anyone could pick Carter over Arenas this season is beyond me.

Also, it's nice to see that no one heeded my request NOT to vote for Shaquille O'Neal, he of only five games played this season. Yep ... he'll be an All-Star starter, too.

Here's Gilbert's thoughts on being voted a starter:

Now what is he going to use for motivation against the league's coaches? I'm sure he'll find something...

The Wizards play the Pistons in Detroit tonight at 8 on Comcast SportsNet. The game will also be shown nationally on ESPN.