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.

ESPN.com 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.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Kind of Strange Story That You Can Only Get From a Blog

But not this blog. I don't have "ins."

If you're a Washington Nationals fan, Dan Steinberg of washingtonpost.com's D.C. Sports Bog (bookmark that page ... it's good) posted some entertaining offseason reading for you.

Apparently during the "Nationals Caravan" -- which as far as I can tell is a bunch of Nats players, manager Manny Acta, and a group of oversized former presidents drumming up support for the upcoming season of Nationals baseball by travelling to suburban shopping centers -- a woman visiting the Bowie Town Center Safeway autograph signing brought a Nationals jacket that was far too large for her. So Acta tried it on, it fit, and hilarity ensued.

Well, maybe not hilarity, but at least "cuteness."

And here I was hoping to get through this post without indirectly calling a baseball manager "cute."

Read the whole story: Manny Acta Gets a New Jacket.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Caron Butler Disses Gilbert Arenas, Picks Steve Nash as MVP

When you have mad street cred like I do, you can use post titles that include words like "disses" and "mad street cred" without looking like a complete poser nerd. OK maybe not.

Caron Butler was on the Jim Rome Show today, and after they talked a little about the absolute beating that the Suns laid on the Wizards last night, Rome asked if Steve Nash is the MVP this year. Caron Butler said he thinks so. (I don't have a link or anything, but trust me that it was said on the radio.)

Image from TSN.ca
I didn't think twice about it until I realized the implication Butler was making with that response: Caron apparently thinks his teammate Gilbert Arenas is not the MVP.

I have to think Gil is going to give "Tough Juice" some hell for that in the locker room.

You've got to go with your teammates when people ask these kinds of questions. When Jerry Stackhouse came on later in the show, he picked teammate Dirk Nowitzki. When a fan asked Alex Ovechkin who the best goalie in the NHL and the world is during a washingtonpost.com chat today, Ovie said, "Kolzig. I'm glad I don't have to play him."

Way to cover your ass, Alex. Caron, take notes.

Arenas has my vote even if he doesn't have Caron's.

Yeah, Nash has won it the last two years and he's averaging a double-double this year, but Arenas averages 10.2 more points per game and he's the leader on a less-talented team. (Caron and Antawn Jamison are good but Nash has five teammates who average double-digit points, including a powerful post presence in Amare Stoudemire.)

If the Wizards win their division -- and certainly if they come in first in the Eastern Conference -- Arenas deserves serious MVP consideration.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ovechkin In Skills Competition, Green In YoungStars Game Tonight

If I were a columnist for a major media organization, this is where I would make a joke about how the troglodytes known as hockey fans will be stuck endlessly flipping through the channels searching for the elusive Versus network so they can watch the NHL SuperSkills Competition and YoungStars Game tonight, and if they're lucky they might find it around when the puck drops for Wednesday night's All-Star Game.

But since I'm one of those alleged troglodytes and I take in more than the occasional NHL game, I know that Versus is channel 28 on Howard County Comcast. If you're a hockey fan and somehow you don't know what channel Versus is where you are, you can find out quickly by entering your ZIP code here.

I'm such a shill.

Representing the Washington Capitals tonight in Dallas will be Alexander Ovechkin in the SuperSkills Competition (and the All-Star Game tomorrow) and defenseman Mike Green in the YoungStars Game.

And in honor of these events, I'll be capitalizing and compounding ExtraWords because it's UltraCool.

First up tonight is the YoungStars Game, slated for 7:30 and only lasting an hour. Don't ask about the format because I have no idea.

At 8:30 the real all-stars will take the ice for the SuperSkills Competition. Ovechkin will be competing in the fastest skater, breakaway and "in the zone" competitions.

Apparently the "in the zone" competition involves three players who are positioned in the zone (one at the blue line, one in each face off circle), and they have to pass the puck twice before shooting on the goalie.

If you can somehow find Versus, which is apparently the Salman Rushdie of cable channels, the skills competition is usually more fun to watch than the actual All-Star Game.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Weekend Recap, ADD Style

1. Is there a more exciting team in the area to watch than the Wizards? They're in first in their division by 2.5 games and tied with Cleveland for the Eastern Conference lead after weekend wins over Orlando and Boston.

2. Going into the All-Star break it's looking more and more like the Caps are still a year away from being serious playoff contenders. They looked terrible on Saturday in a 4-1 loss to Florida, getting outshot 42-18.

3. I'm starting to wonder if the T in NIT stands for Terrapins. They fell to 1-4 in the ACC by losing to Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, and if they don't finish out their ACC schedule by going 7-4 or better it'll be a third straight trip to the lesser postseason tournament.

4. As much as I learned to hate the Colts last week, it couldn't compete with my complete disdain for Boston area sports fans and I was openly cheering for Indy last night. You just know that New Englanders were already booking catering for their Super Bowl parties with two minutes to go in the first half. Plus anything that crushes Bill Simmons' emotions for a little while can't be a bad thing. Dan Steinberg of washingtonpost.com's D.C. Sports Bog wonders "whether Bill Simmons will write 7,000 columns on the Tom Brady face." And how stupid did Bill Belichick look in the post-game interview?

5. No local sports tonight. Not even Orioles Classics on MASN.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Useless Random Facts: Miguel Tejada's Streak

If Miguel Tejada continues to play every game of every season, he would tie Cal Ripken Jr.'s consecutive games played record (2,632 games) in the 94th game of the 2016 season. Tejada would be 40 years old.

Miggy's contract with the Orioles only takes him through 2009. Assuming he keeps the streak alive and doesn't receive a contract extension before then, he'd finish that contract having played in 1,566 straight games. That would put him third on the all-time consecutive games played list behind only Ripken and Lou Gherig.

Tejada is currently seventh on that list, and he's also one of only seven players in history to play more than 1,000 consecutive games.

He is 23 games behind Joe Sewell for 6th, 37 games behind Billy Williams (not to be confused with Lando Calrissian) for 5th, and 127 games behind Steve Garvey for 4th.

Tejada could top all of those during the 2007 season.

(Now ... is it bad that I can't stop chuckling at the line in the Wikipedia entry on Garvey that says he's a "native born Tampan"? High brow, I know.)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Call Me When Something Good Happens

With the exception of Gilbert Arenas' buzzer-beating three-pointer to beat the Jazz on Monday and snap a short, two-game skid, it's been a rough week-long stretch for local sports fanatics.

The Wiz lost to a terrible New Orleans team and then to a much much less terrible Spurs team.

The Caps celebrated their three-game winning streak by going on a three-game losing streak.

The Maryland women's basketball team lost for the first time this season -- to Duke.

Maryland's men's basketball team lost at home to Miami, one of the ACC's worst teams. Then the Terps beat Clemson, the last undefeated team in the nation and a team that always beats Maryland even in their crappiest years. Then the Terps lost to Virginia, a team that had lost six in a row prior.

And the worst of all, of course, was the Ravens losing to the Colts ... in Baltimore ... in the playoffs ... when the defense managed to hold the Colts to nothing but field goals.

Today I plugged all the Orioles games into my calendar -- gearing up for further disappointment, I guess.

Consider this my doom and gloom post for the winter sports season. I'm sure my usual optimism will return soon, but it would help if the Caps could win the next couple games and the Terps could beat Virginia Tech in Blacksburg on Sunday.

Oh, and a snow day on Monday would do wonders, too.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Todd Heap on Jim Rome Show Today

Todd Heap's interview is now over. He called in at about 2:10.

Basically he said he was surprised to see the Colts hold down the Chiefs running game so well last week, but he agreed with Rome that it would be difficult for the any team to sustain the kind of emotional play the Colts brought to the KC game for a second week in a row, especially in Baltimore.

Rome briefly asked about the connection to Baltimore with the Colts coming to town, and Heap just said that the city was pretty amped over it and that he can't wait to hear how loud it will be.

Todd Heap is scheduled to appear on Jim Rome's radio show today between 2 and 3 p.m. to talk about the Ravens and the match-up with the Colts.

As far as I know, Rome isn't on any Baltimore or Washington radio stations, but if you want to hear it you can listen live via Internet streaming by going here:

If he says anything really groundbreaking, funny or interesting I'll post it here.

Learning to Hate The Colts

As I said on Monday, I was born just five months before the Colts moved from Baltimore so I really couldn't relate to the feelings that the proud people of Baltimore have toward the Colts. It also always struck me as a little odd when people my age said, "Man I hate the Colts." They were never Colts fans -- they're too young. They were just drawing their feelings from stories told by their parents.

But after doing some reading the past couple days, I've really begun to dislike the Colts franchise. Mostly I'm just gaining a strong distaste for Bob Irsay, the owner that moved the Colts to Indianapolis, but he's dead so the Colts inherit those feelings.

So here I present to you, "Learn To Hate the Colts in 20 Minutes":

1. Read this article in The Sun by Rick Maese, entitled "Colts owner faces relentless grudge."

Key Quote:
"You're talking about something that's a long time ago and you're talking about something where everything that transpired back then and what happened and the people who were in charge of the city and state and this ownership, none of those people are present anymore." --Jim Irsay, current Colts owner

2. As you begin to think, "Hey, he's kind of right" ... read today's column by Mike Preston in The Sun, "Colts memories, ill feelings over move are alive and well."

Key Quote:
"On a snowy night on March 29, 1984, Robert Irsay pulled his team out of Baltimore. What took decades to create was gone, in the hours it took to load a couple of Mayflower moving vans. And, according to outsiders, we're supposed to 'get over it.' Forget the feelings, forget the passion, and get over it." --Mike Preston, The Sun columnist

3. Now that you have a little sense of the anger, read some of the pleasantries that Bob Irsay's own family had to say about him in 1986, as relayed by Roch Kubatko in his blog post on The Sun's Web site: The Irsays. Take some time to read the reader comments, also.

Key Quotes:
"He's a devil on earth, that one. He stole all our money and said goodbye. He don't care for me. I don't even see him for 35 years. My husband, Charles, sent him to college. I made his wedding. Five thousand dollars, it cost us. When my husband got sick and got the heart attack, he [Bob] took advantage. He was no good. He was a bad boy. I don't want to talk about him." --Robert Irsay's mother, talking about her son to Sports Illustrated in 1986
"Anyone who compares Art Modell to Irsay doesn't have all the facts. Sorry. Modell is a villian in Cleveland - the city that retained its team name, its colors, its history, after a brief exit from the NFL - but he's no Robert Irsay. Nobody else comes close." --Roch Kubatko, The Sun sports writer

4. For the finishing touch, watch this short video from Sports Illustrated.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Ravens vs. Colts Match-up Set

Despite The Sun salivating over the multitude of stories and columns it can run on Baltimore's former team facing Baltimore's current team in the playoffs, I find myself apathetic about that aspect of Saturday's game.

I know there's still a lot of bitterness in Baltimore toward the Colts because of how they skipped town in the middle of the night, and while I understand it, I don't share the feeling.

But I was born in 1983, just over five months before the infamous Mayflower trucks took the Colts from Memorial Stadium in the middle of the night. I didn't have any memories of the original Colts for the Irsays to steal, so I can't even pretend to feel similar resentment to older fans who were here for the Unitas years.

So here's my basic feeling:

Indianapolis stole Baltimore's team, Baltimore stole Cleveland's team and Cleveland got a new team. Everyone's even, right?

Well, not so much even. The Ravens won a Super Bowl in their fifth season in Baltimore, where as the Colts haven't even made it to the Super Bowl in 23 seasons in Indianapolis and the Browns, old or new, haven't won a championship since the championship became the Super Bowl.

All that being said, here's some reading for the week leading up to the Ravens' first playoff game:

Colts are coming by Jamison Hensley, The Sun

AFC Divisional Playoffs: Colts at Ravens, ESPN.com

Divisional Playoffs Game-by-Game Analysis, NFL.com

Three things each team needs to do to win by Len Pasquarelli, ESPN.com

Colts not interested in history lessons by Rick Maese, The Sun

In search of an encore by Mike Chappell, The Indianapolis Star

Friday, January 05, 2007

Capitals in Advertising

I don't know why I've become a complete YouTube whore lately, but it's happened so deal with it.

Recently the Washington Capitals have had a couple of players featured in television spots, and since YouTube makes it so easy to hijack them and post them on my blog as if I did all the work, I figured I'd share them here.

The first ad, featuring Donald Brashear, is a local spot for WUSA 9 News -- specifically Brett Haber's sports coverage. I'm not a huge Haber fan because I don't like the cut of his gib (yeah I went there ... and by there I mean to expressions that no one has used since 1955), but the ad is funny:

The next is a national ad for the NHL on NBC, featuring Alexander Ovechkin. I thought it was hilarious, but everyone I show it to just kind of shrugs and says, "meh."

(I know that's not actually from YouTube, but I'm taking it upon myself to genericize the YouTube brand name -- like Kleenex, Rollerblades and Band-Aids.)

Watching these ads has me wondering if the Capitals are starting to get some more recognition in the area and maybe that will lead to increased attendance before too long.

We can hope, right?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Quality Shots

I don't know what the best part of this video is, the Arenas buzzer-beating three-pointer from the parking lot to win the game, or the fact that this YouTuber just held a camera up to his TV and that you can even see that he's watching the Sugar Bowl on the picture-in-picture.

The D.C. Sports Bog had some great postgame coverage that shows how a good reporter writing in blog style can be way funnier than what they can actually put in the game recap. I especially like Brendan Haywood's Double Dribble reference, if only because Double Dribble was the basketball equivalent to Blades of Steel.

For me, the best part of this shot was that I was actually watching the game. How bittersweet is it to wake up and only see the day-after highlights of some amazing local game?

I missed Alex Ovechkin's "The Goal," and even though it's still "simply sensational" ('sup Joe Beninati?) in highlights, it sucks to sit there wondering why in the world you missed watching it on live TV.

When someone IMs me at 9:30 p.m. with a "DID YOU SEE THAT!?!?!" there's nothing worse than having to say, "uhh ... what?"

With Arenas' shot, I would have been able to say, "HELL YES I SAW THAT ZOMG!!!!!!1111one"

If only I had any friends to IM me ... maybe I would if I stopped saying "ZOMG."