April 14, 2007

Hank Aaron Won't Attend Bonds' Record Chase

I have nothing against Hank Aaron not wanting to attend the game where Barry Bonds breaks his home run record. For one thing, it could be a week between when he ties it and when he breaks it. He should, however, come up with better excuses.

He told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "I'm 72 years old, and I'm not hopping on a plane and flying all the way to San Francisco for anybody." In the same article he said he might fly to West Palm Beach to play some golf, but that's it.
Great news Hank! I don't know whether you currently live in Florida or somewhere around Atlanta, but it just so happens the San Francisco Giants have a road trip August 14th through 20th that starts with three games in Atlanta and ends with a four game set against the Marlins! Then you'd be able to attend. Right? Right Hank? You said the long flight was the problem, so you'd be there right? Hank?

He should have just said what he meant. He's not going because he doesn't like the idea of losing the record and he doesn't feel like answering all the stupid questions. That would have been enough for me.

April 13, 2007

Baffling Umpiring Decision in O's-Royals Game

In the bottom of the first in tonight's game, with runners on first and second, Aubrey Huff hit a ball that apparently hit beyond the right-center fence for a home run. The umpires conferred and determined that it had not been a home run, despite the second base umpire clearly signaling home run, and Huff was awarded second base after a brief argument with O's Manager Sam Perlozzo.

So if Huff is awarded two bases and the ball is dead, the runners are awarded two bases as well, right? Wrong. Both runners scored. Why? I thought perhaps the MLB rules had some "discretion of the umpire" provision for ground rule doubles. It doesn't.

MLB Rule 6.09:

  • (e) A fair ball, after touching the ground, bounds into the stands, or passes through, over or under a fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery, or vines on the fence, in which case the batter and the runners shall be entitled to advance two bases;

  • (f) Any fair ball which, either before or after touching the ground, passes through or under a fence, or through or under a scoreboard, or through any opening in the fence or scoreboard, or through or under shrubbery, or vines on the fence, or which sticks in a fence or scoreboard, in which case the batter and the runners shall be entitled to two bases;

  • (g) Any bounding fair ball is deflected by the fielder into the stands, or over or under a fence on fair or foul territory, in which case the batter and all runners shall be entitled to advance two bases

No other provision in the MLB rule book allows for a discretionary change to this. At the time (at the game), I was very worried that the Orioles had forgotten to put the runner back on third. The scoreboard operator apparently was also confused, having changed the "3" for a homer to a "1" for a ground rule double with runners on second and third still. When no runner came out, he changed it back to a "0", apparently not wanting to tip the umpires off. When play resumed with no runner on third, he put up "2".

It doesn't matter how far the runners had advanced prior to the ball being declared dead, as it was when the 2B umpire signaled home run. If the result is a "ground rule double", the runners get two bases from where they were when the ball was struck. There was no double steal on or anything like that.

I have to believe the umpires blew this one. The play immediately before Huff's drive was a ground ball to third that 3B German booted, allowing the batter to reach on error. Mora was already on second, but could not advance due to the ball being hit to third. I think the umpires forgot that runners were on first and second rather than first and third, and they didn't think to put Mora back on third.

Weird weird stuff. It's rare that you see an actual valid grounds for a team to protest a game. Protests are only available when umpires incorrectly apply objective rules.

I put feelers out to Jeff Zrebiec and Roch Kubatko of the Baltimore Sun, hoping one of them was in the press box and heard an explanation. Check back here to see if I get any response.

Orioles' Friday Hats

I hate the Orioles' Friday night "alternate" hats. The normal two hats, with the bird and either a black or orange bill both look great. I have no idea why the team would think that they need to wear a different hat for Friday night games, especially one that looks so ugly. We need to get Uni Watch to take up this issue and fight for us to get rid of the stupid 3rd hat (along with getting Baltimore on the away jerseys).

I'm also not really sure why there is an apostrophe on the hat. "O's" means possessive, it should be "Os" meaning the plural "Orioles."

Bedard looked good tonight. I've been really happy with the starting pitching so far this year. It feels like the Orioles have the basis for a good team, just not a team that can compete with the mercenary powerhouses in their division. Attendance didn't look very good again tonight, even with a free wool hat giveaway. J-Red is doing his part to help attendance tonight.

Jemele Hill Picks Her Battles

Jemele Hill has issued an apology to the Duke lacrosse trio.

Pretty wise of her to leave the Don Imus situation alone. As I have mentioned, and will continue to mention until she is fired or apologizes, she expressed her desire to see "12 sequels to 'Mississippi Burning'." This was her attempt to poke fun at her frustration with Ole Miss' performance in a past NCAA Basketball Tournament. For the families of the three civil rights' workers who were murdered and buried in an earthen dam, it probably wasn't funny.

But what is that minor issue viewed alongside Imus' smart-assed and ill-advised comment? The Rutgers' girls, who were a dead news story about one second after Tennessee won the championship, are now experiencing an extended 15 minutes of fame. Certainly not the fame they wanted, but fame nonetheless. Jemele Hill's 15 minutes of fame also continues, at least for as long as people continue to click EVERY link on ESPN to kill time at work.

April 12, 2007

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!!!

For the 180th time in 181 posts, I have been proven right once again. In response to Jeremy's post yesterday about the Duke Lacrosse Non-Rape, I said:

I am really wondering which major news source will be the first to "leak" the accusers identity now that the NC AG's statements made it clear that no case will ever be brought based on the evidence currently known.
And the winner is....Fox News! They posted her name and photo yesterday.

Baltimore Sun's Rick Maese on D.C. Futility

Everything you already knew but wanted summarized in an easy-to-cite article: Here!

2002 One Shining Moment

I swear to God this will never get old to watch and I'll never stop getting goosebumps around the 2:40 mark. That, and enjoying watching Jason Williams bawling like a baby after tanking the game against IU.

And baseball dies in Baltimore...

Congratulations Peter G. Angelos. From my vantage point, despite a castle of a ballpark, and a team with some legitimate talent, baseball is dead in Baltimore. And truly, despite what some might think, it brings me absolutely no joy to say that.

We all know that I used to have a partial plan to the O's and made it to at least 20 games a season when I lived within blocks of the beautiful monument to baseball that is Oriole Park at Camden Yards during my three years of law school, but that I am now primarily a Nats fan for better or worse, and still follow the O's closely as they are my favorite American League team. However, we all also know that Peter G. Angelos is one of the primary reasons I threw my hands up and walked away from the O's when baseball came back to D.C., disgusted at how he purged managerial talent, on-air radio talent, and player talent in the biggest non-firesale that has ever occurred in Major League Baseball. He insisted on meddling in player personnel decisions and foiled trades that the GMs were about to pull the gun on, and insisted on stupid trades.

Well, last evening, the Orioles drew their second-smallest crowd ever in the 15-year history of Camden Yards. 13,288 people filled the 48,000+ seat stadium to watch the O's host the defending American League Champions. It wasn't a game against the Devil Rays or the Royals... it was a game against the Tigers, with a potential Cy Young winner on the mound for Detroit.

So who outdrew the Orioles last night? In descending order of attendance, New York Mets, Boston, L.A. Dodgers, Texas, San Diego, Minnesota, Arizona, Oakland, Cleveland (PLAYING A HOME GAME IN A DIFFERENT CITY), Atlanta, Toronto.

Who did the Orioles outdraw? Florida. Pittsburgh.

I don't want to hear a weather argument. The weather was drizzly in Atlanta and they drew more people to Turner Field for a game against my crappy Nationals. The weather was 80 degrees and clear in Florida, and they couldn't get people to the ballpark. Weather only goes but so far in these arguments.

I remember vividly going to the Camden Yards box office with my dad in the mid to late 90s in February and ranking about 20 home games that we'd like to go to. And only being able to get seats to #13 or #14 on that list because #1-12 were all sold out. That was the enthusiasm that the city felt. Yes, the ballpark was newer, but this was just before the Orioles were putting the powerhouse teams on the field of 1996, 1997, and 1998. This was still during the years of Mike Devereaux and Rick Sutcliffe. And yes, this was before the Ravens returned. And yes, this was before the Red Sox and Yankees decided to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on payroll and the AL East was slightly competitive.

But now the question I'll throw back at all of you who have given me crap about D.C. not being a baseball town. Is Baltimore still a baseball town anymore?

Another heartbreaker

After American Idol, I noticed that the Orioles game was tied 0-0 going into the 11th, so I actually figured out what channel MASN is, and watched the end of the game. Big mistake. If you didn't watch, the Os lost in 12 on a grand slam. No, that's not deja vu, the Orioles have given up 2 final-inning grand slams in the first 2 weeks of the season. The worst part is that Millar almost ended the game in the bottom of the 11th on a warning track shot. And the top of the 12th should have been over before Craig Monroe even stepped up to the plate. Here's how the runners reached base in the 12th: Pudge had a hard hit line drive through the 1B-2B gap, then there was a 2-out infield hit that Mora almost got to in time, then a walk (Birkins was ahead in the count, but couldn't get the strikeout). To add insult to injury, the stadium was pretty much empty by the end of the game. I'm sure the weather (cold and rainy) had a lot to do with it, but it's really sad to see Camden Yards so abandoned.

You really have to question some of the managing in the game. Why was Birkins pitching in the 12th inning of a shutout? Because he was the 8th pitcher in the game. That's right, Perlazzo pulled 7 pitchers who hadn't given up a run. Loewen threw 95 pitches in 5 scoreless innings and only gave up 5 hits. He probably should have been left in for a little while longer, but I can understand that decision. Then, for each of the next 7 innings, we had a new pitcher. Each one before Birkins didn't give up a run, but Perlazzo pulled each one at the start of the next inning. Maybe one of the guys could have gone 2 innings so we didn't get down to the dregs of our bullpen? Chris Ray pitched the 9th and didn't give up a baserunner. I've never really understood the strategy of sending in your closer for the 9th in a home game. More often than not, it seems like you end up just having to pull him out in the 10th.

Looks like another frustrating season for the Orioles. At least they're giving us exciting finishes to the games. Unfortunately, the wrong team keeps winning.

Photo credit: Elizabeth Malby, Baltimore Sun

April 11, 2007

Something Actually Worth Reading on CNNSI Other than Peter King

"Duke is considering taking legal action against rapper T.I. after he left the stage early during a performance last weekend. The school claims T.I. agreed to perform for at least 60 minutes, but the rapper from Atlanta called it a night after only 40. Fortunately for Duke students, the men's basketball team has adequately prepared them for how to deal with early exits."

I would argue that it will take a few more first-round exits to "adequately" prepare them to my satisfaction.

NHL Playoffs

The NHL Playoffs started tonight. Seriously. I had no idea either.

A Miscarriage of Justice

So possibly as a lawyer, I am more sensitive than many, because I feel that the year-long Duke rape case which came to a conclusion today has brought my profession, a profession that is already the butt of more jokes than any other professon, incredible shame. Today, in a long overdue move, the North Carolina Attorney General's Office dismissed all charges against the three Duke lacrosse players wrongfully accused of rape last year.

In the end, who is irreperably harmed by this? Well, you've got the Duke lacrosse coach who had to fall on his sword and was (virtually) forced to resign by a university desperate to pin the blame on somebody. You have the kids on the Duke lacrosse team who lost last season. You also have much of the student body of North Carolina Central University, which wanted nothing to do with this story, but who found themselves in a maelstrom of activity, and who will likely be met with suspicion and hostility in Durham because a fellow student caused this whole mess. Most of all, you have three kids, who despite being kids of privilege who likely behaved irresponsibly on this evening, including saying some crass and probably racist things to the strippers, have lost a year of school, have lost their ability to play the sport that they love, but most importantly, have been branded as one of the lowest form of society. Look, we know they weren't choir boys. At least one of them has a criminal history relating to intolerance and bigoted behavior. But whatever they may have said that night does not justify being branded as a rapist.

Who comes out with egg on their face? Lots of people. I'm gonna go with Jesse Jackson, who seems to profit on making race an issue and lambasting people who would dare behave in a racist manner (oh, but we're supposed to forget that he referred to New York City as "hymietown" in the 80s). I'm gonna go with the President of Duke University who demanded that a scapegoat be found because he was scared to holy hell of alumni running the other way with their deep pocket donations. I'm gonna go with the Duke professors and students who instantly passed judgment on the accused. I'm gonna go with the national media who seized on this as an example to write commentaries, blog entries, and appear on camera describing the tragedies of race and class differences in America. Most of all, I'm going to go with Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong. And let's take a look at Mr. Nifong.

Mr. Nifong was in a tough election for District Attorney in Durham County, a majority black county. To win, he had to appeal to the black vote. The alleged rape was the goose that laid the golden egg. So, in prosecuting this rape, he recklessly and maliciously threw aside the oath that he took to affirm the laws of his state and his country, cast a blind eye to the Constitutional rights of three young men to be afforded with exculpatory evidence (that's evidence that might tend to prove their innocence for you not familiar with legal jargon), and used these three boys as props in his reelection campaign. Roy Cooper, the North Carolina Attorney General, today used the following words to describe Nifong, and the case he built:

"A rogue prosecutor"
"Lost the ability to see clearly"
"The result of a tragic rush to accuse and a failure to verify serious allegations"
"With the weight of the state behind him, [Nifong] pushed forward unchecked"
"This case shows the enormous consequences of overreaching by a prosecutor"

Nifong appealed to base prejudices and biases of people by stating publicly that "Duke students' daddies could buy them expensive lawyers," and also came to an agreement with the DNA testing company that they would withhold the fact that the DNA samples taken from the accuser did not match that of any of the three accused because this would be "explosive."

So what should happen to Nifong, and what may happen to him? Well, fortunately the North Carolina Bar is taking action. I would certainly suspect that Nifong will resign as District Attorney very shortly. I would not be surprised to see him disbarred, following the Bar proceedings. And what I hope occurs is that a judge finds that his actions were so reckless and malicious that he is stripped of his governmental immunity and that he is sued civilly for malicious prosecution for every cent that he is worth. To use his own words, in this case there really was only one "hooligan," and that was Durham District Attorney Michael B. Nifong.

It takes a lot for this Terp fan to feel sympathy for Duke athletes. You win, D.A. Nifong.

April 10, 2007

The Nats and Passover

I really thought I was on to something. Jeremy cited Passover as a potential factor in the low Nats attendance for the latter two games of the Nats-Marlins series. I remembered that RFK is one of many area stadiums to have a Glatt Kosher food concession.

So was the stand open on the first two nights of Passover, the traditional Seder nights? According to Jonathan Katz, President and CEO of Kosher Sports, Inc., in an exclusive e-mail exchange with ECB (assuming he didn't bcc: anyone), "The stand has not been opened yet this season. It will open for the first time on Monday April 16th."

Come to think of it, I suppose this makes a lot of sense. The menu consists of:

  • Kosher Dog - $4.75
  • Italian Sausage - $5.75
  • Jumbo Pretzel - $3.75
  • Peanuts - $3.75
  • Domestic Beer - (price illegible)
  • Bottled Water - $4.00

That's not exactly a good lineup for the Nats home games during Passover.

Damn You UNC!

I knew UNC getting Roy Williams was not good news for the ACC. Not only did he already win a National Championship, now he has Tyler Hansbrough and Ty Lawson announcing that they'll be coming back next season. Why couldn't they have just hired Calipari or Huggins or some other mercenary-recruiting coach?

Idol Recap

Alright, so Latin Night is painful as ever. A brief recap because to be honest, I just finished watching the show on DVR three minutes ago and I can't remember half the songs.

First, predictions...
I think this week they do bottom two, and that'll be Phil and Haley. Phil is gone. Haley's legs will keep her around for another week. Lakisha could be in trouble this week actually because the others have just enough redeeming qualities (or insanity) to capture the hearts of the voters.

Some random thoughts...
1) There is no way humanly possible for Melinda to sing a song sexily. Is it possible she's a virgin? This was running through my mind during her performance. Probably shouldn't have been, but she consistently does a great job of looking like Tina Turner at age 27.

2) Paula should just stop saying "you look gorgeous" to Lakisha, because it's really code for "despite your huge girth, our wardrobe designers managed to do something to make you look slightly less like Shamu." And seriously... we were very close to a wardrobe malfunction today with Lakisha and her G-cups. Nothing as good as a close up of the back fat bulging out of that shirt. I'm mean tonight, aren't I?

3) Jordin just continues to do well. I called it in this spot many weeks ago, but she's the winner I think for all the reasons I've stated already. Melinda and Lakisha will split votes if they both make it that far, and Jordin is somebody who everyone can love.

4) He did it again... this time Chris made Santana and Rob Thomas sound like Justin Timberlake. But the judges liked it. Interesting. Is it any surprise that this guy's former professional career has included manager of a Hooters? He is total and complete white trash. He's KFed who sings like J.T.

5) They definitely had Haley in a pair of Hooters hot shorts tonight. That's the only place they could've gotten things that short. I guess Chris' former employer came through. I wonder if the camera guys drew numbers to see who would be the lucky one to get to do that slow close up ranging up her body.

6) Sanjaya actually wasn't that bad. How scary is that? Of course, the song wasn't in English.

That's all for now. Maybe when I get more rest I'll add other thoughts. But my projected bottom two are Haley and Phil with Phil going bye-bye.

You're Suspended

Here's the apparent sliding scale for suspendable offenses:

  • Brag about your "crafty" "Jew lawyer" - Terminated
  • Get arrested a few times including bystander paralysis - Suspended for one season
  • Get arrested a few times including puking out the window - Suspended eight games
  • Call the Rutgers' ladies basketball team "nappy-headed hos" - Suspended two weeks
  • Accuse Charlie Rose of being apt to "fag out" - No penalty
  • Shut down a blog just to prove you can - No penalty
  • Describe a couch as "n****r-brown" on the label - TBD

I'm not going to weigh in on the various offences, because it would take far too long. Suffice it to say that I don't think these transgressions are being treated uniformly. There is no way to justly apply the NFL's new-found intolerance for misbehaving. It's true that comparing the circumstances for two players is like comparing apples to oranges, but unfortunately for the NFL comparing the duration of suspensions is apples to apples.

A cynic might point out that the players (and presumably coaches, though naked drive-thru coach Joe Cullen only got one game for two arrests in a week) aren't going to review past suspensions when deciding on an inappropriate course of conduct. It's still inherently unfair to allow the punishment to be determined after the crime (and I of course use the word crime loosely since a crime is not required to find "conduct detrimental to the league"). The policy is opening Pandora's Box and wetting an already slippery slope towards a career-ending kangaroo court and Draconian justice; the damage caused may render the Big Kahuna's piece de resistance a Pyrrhic victory, a real no-win situation where no one saves face.

That's ten cliches in one sentence. With all these suspensions, I'm ready to apply for a job in broadcasting.

Kentucky Derby

Great early Derby preview over at some random fantasy baseball blog. I guess we're getting close enough to start talking about betting rules for the Kentucky Derby. My big one is to always bet distance horses. Anyone who's tired at 9 furlongs (or even worse, hasn't run at a mile or more) is immediately scratched off my racing form. We'll have more Derby coverage as it gets closer to the first Sunday in May. What are your ironclad rules for Kentucky Derby betting?

Curb Your Optimism

So one week ago in this space I posted my prior to attending Nats Opening Day at (as J-Red calls it) Really Freaking Krappy Stadium. I had the optimism that all baseball fans should have heading into Opening Day. Of course, optimism for the Nats is a little different, as my optimism included a 67-95 prediction... basically that we would not lose 100 games. Well a week has passed, and as Barry Svrluga discussed in yesterday's Post, it's not time to hit the panic button. But maybe at the very least it's time to re-examine my optimism as we head into the second week of the season:

As per Baseball Tonight, the Nationals have not held the lead in any one of their 260+ plate appearances this year, the only win in their 1-6 record coming on a Dmitri Young walk-off single. This single stat implicates our...

John Patterson is not a #1 starter. Manny Acta told reporters not to describe him as an "ace," because he's not the prototypical "ace" of a pitching staff. But maybe it's time we realize that John is not a #1 starter either. I look 30 miles up 295 and I see four pitchers in a rotation that would all start ahead of Big John. I really like the guy, and when he is on, he has some filthy stuff. But he's been shelled in two starts this season and I worry about his confidence... as in does he really feel ready to be the guy people turn to every fifth day to stop a losing skid. About the only bright spot in the rotation has been Shaun Hill (not the former Terp QB for those confused). Matt Chico and Jason Bergmann are basically getting experience in the big leagues that they would be getting in Double-A for any other team. I just hope it doesn't shallack their confidence too much.

One of the reasons for my early optimism is I fell into the trap of looking at Spring Training results and seeing the Nats putting up a good number of runs against good teams. Of course, I realize now that I overlooked the fact that half of those pitchers who the Nats were putting up runs against are now in Lansing, Toledo, Quad Cities, and other minor league outposts. Looking back at our Spring Training results, we tended to do very poorly against opposing pitching that was actually of the Major League ilk. We have a handful of guys who can hit, but it doesn't do much good if nobody else is getting on base.

I think that J-Red actually conceded that it's a little too early to be tough on Nats fans for having their three poorest showings at RFK since baseball has been back in the D-dot-C-dot. I lucked into gorgeous weather for Opening Day against the Marlins. However, the four games against the D-Backs were in freezing cold temperatures that would've been more appropriate for a 'Skins game at RFK. The Nats are simply not a team to justify sitting out in the freezing cold for three hours and freezing your nuts off. I will also discount the poor attendance at the third game of the Marlins series, a weekday afternoon game. Those are tough draws anyplace besides Wrigley and Fenway. What really troubled me was the total lack of attendance at the second game of the year, a gorgeous night game against the Marlins. Granted, it was Passover, and I was actually observing my people's exodus from Egypt (could that be compared to the Nats' exodus from Montreal... maybe fodder for another post?) But come on, there aren't that many observant Jews in D.C. to not even fill half of RFK for the second game of the year. This section is just going to be the fuel for J-Red's 20 comments about baseball failing in D.C. for a third time.

Stan and Ted, we know you want us to look blindly towards 2008. However, there are still 74 home games left at RFK. The product that you're putting on the field you acknowledge isn't great. So can we please actually work with Aramark to train our concessions workers and make sure that there is enough bottled watter to make it through a game when it's 85 degrees in the sun. It couldn't have been that much of a surprise that 40K posted for Opening Day. Can we please work with our ticket takers so that they uniformly enforce the liberal policy on bringing in outside food? You promised to improve the gameday experience at RFK and made steps forward last year. You took two giant steps back in the first two series this year... not such a wise move when you openly acknowledge that people are most likely coming to RFK to see a loss.

Updated Prediction: 50-112

April 9, 2007

Orioles Opening Day

With 53 years of experience, Baltimore knows how to get Opening Day right. I have the privilege of a one-day vacation between jobs today, so I'm enjoying WJZ 13's coverage of Opening Day festivities (and I am enjoying it. Excellent team coverage from Baltimore's CBS affiliate).

All of the players are being introduced and jogging out alongside a youngster. Scott Williamson jokingly held the kid back and then raced ahead of him. Literally a minute after the idea struck me, Kevin Millar did his best grass-sniffing Ray Lewis impression before jogging out. I still haven't really taken a liking to Millar, but he is winning me over. Given my predilection towards scruffy Orioles (Joe Orsulak, Billy Ripken, Brian Roberts), I really can't explain why I'm not a Millar fan.

An excellent National Anthem from an unknown singer. The traditional A-10 Tank Killer flyover from Martin State Air Guard Station is close to my heart because of my grandfather's years of service as Martin's top non-commissioned officer.

Game time. Let's hope the game lives up to the pageantry. Christ, it's Jim Palmer. Save us Gary Thorne!

Belated Eddie Robinson Tribute

By now I am sure everyone is aware that Coach Eddie Robinson passed away last week. Robinson had a great 55-year career at Louisiana's Grambling State University, winning 408 games. Grambling, a historically-black college, plays in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) in Division I-AA. The school is probably best known for the Bayou Classic* played annually against Southern University in the Louisiana Superdome, which includes the famous halftime Battle of the Bands.

I don't think enough can be said for what Robinson accomplished at a state school in northwestern Louisiana during the mid-20th century. Those years were characterized by the Civil Rights Movement, of course, but what is often overlooked is how Black figures were permitted to enter the national consciousness. The unspoken rule was that America was (relatively) comfortable with Black success so long as it was in an entertainment role. Exclude civil rights figures, and the well-known Blacks of the 1950's and 1960's are pretty-well limited to musicians and athletes.

I don't think anyone would have faulted Robinson for teaching his players that the NFL was the only way they could really be successful in White America. Instead, he taught his players how to succeed in the real world, despite the handicaps of prejudice and segregation. It is frustrating that the statistics cited in almost every article regarding Robinson's career are his win total and the fact that he sent 200 men on to NFL careers, including Super Bowl MVP Doug Williams. I understand the 3000 or so men Robinson propelled to non-athletic success to be the far greater accomplishment.

Had Robinson merely churned out NFL talent from a relatively small school in the woods of northwestern Louisiana, he wouldn't have been given the honor of lying in state at the Louisiana Capitol Building, a sign of respect usually reserved for governors. For a state that had its ongoing racial problems illustrated for the world by Hurricane Katrina, that's a far greater testament to his impact than any stats-focused approach could provide. It is unfortunate that it took his death for the mainstream media to properly credit his contributions to civil rights in this country.
*The Bayou Classic is sponsored by State Farm Insurance. How ironic is it that the premiere Black cultural event in Louisiana, and perhaps the whole Gulf South, receives corporate support from one of the companies that has fought tooth-and-nail to resist reimbursing the people who had their homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina?

Woke Up This Morning...

And had me some Sopranos predictions for Season 6(ii) after watching last night's episode and reading the Entertainment Weekly TV Watch review. We can revisit after June 10:

1) A bad wind is a blowin' between Christopher and Tony and there is going to be one final and violent confrontation between the two of them. Between Tony's slipping to Bobby that he was grooming somebody to be a "buffer" for him and that person was going in a divergent path from him (Christopher) therefore leading Tony to the conclusion that he needs somebody new (possibly Bobby, see below), we know Christopher is not in the future plans of the family. Christopher is an immensely proud man, and as he confided to Adriana and then to others in the wake of her whacking, he's a soldier and he's given everything that he's loved to work for Tony and to make Uncle Tony proud. When he finds out that he's not going to be rewarded for this by becoming the heir to the throne as Tony had led him to believe, bad things are going to happen.

2) Somebody in Tony's immediate family is going to have something catastrophic happen to them. ET Weekly hypothesises that it might be Carmela, which could make sense, and would certainly bring Tony's world crashing down. Just as easily, I think it could be AJ, who seems to be on a self-destructive path with Blanca, Hector, throwing parties, still working for a pizzeria, and just totally yet to find his way through things. He could cross the wrong person somewhere along the way, or Blanca could put him in a very bad spot (pregnant, or "embarazada" in her native tongue)

Bobby is particularly sensitive to old Drifters' songs about boardwalks.

3) Bobby is going to be running a lot more than model trains this year. The elimination of potential heirs is numerous. Paulie busted up that kid last year despite Tony's express instructions not to (story never elaborated on yet). Silvio just doesn't have it. Christopher, see above. Bobby is family now. He's not a Soprano, but he married in. His father's past was alluded to last night. He's got a history of being extremely loyal to Uncle Junior , therefore has a history of working for the family, and is one of the few people who Tony kept on after the power struggle between the two that Tony came out on top of. And Tony forced him to "pop his cherry" last night, which was particularly cruel of Tony to do, but I think especially calculating.

4) The show will end with the feds never getting their man. I think this is the biggest red herring of them all. It seems like the only way that they get Tony is if he does something incredibly stupid which he is not prone to do (that throwing of the gun was immediate self-preservation and not stupidity), or if somebody in the family flips on him, which I don't see happening. I think Tony knows he's on thin ice, wants to enjoy old age, Meadow bringing him grandchildren, and really is serious about creating a buffer for himself.

Your thoughts?

April 8, 2007

Masters Disaster

The turtle beat the hare, and it appears Augusta wanted it that way. Only three times since 1950 has the Masters winner been at or over par for the tournament, and I expect the ratings to show why. Every player was punished for trying to be aggressive. In the final round today, Tiger found water when trying to hit the 15th green in 2 and Justin Rose found the wrong fairway when trying to attack 17. Back at Butler Cabin, after the challengers all fell short, winner Zach Johnson admitted that he never tried to reach a single par five green in two shots.

If only Tiger had been granted the gift of the invisible club this Easter by his caddy.

Conservative golf makes for bad television. This year's Masters will be characterized by all of the "almost" putts by all of the challengers. Zach Johnson took home the green jacket by holing out a chip on the 8th hole and then playing the equivalent of Four Corners golf. CBS caught a minor miracle when Tiger's approach on the 13th froze and then found the slope, coming to rest about 8 feet from the hole, but he never mounted anything approaching a charge all day. I blame the black sweater obscuring his traditional Sunday Red.

A Tradition Unlike Any Other

It appears that CBS has some control over how Augusta sets the pairings and tee times on Sunday. Despite Tiger and Justin Rose being tied at +3, Tiger got the nod to tee off last, at 2:15p, with leader Stuart Appleby.

I think the pairing hurts Appleby a lot more than it hurts Rose. Appleby will have to deal with the huge crowds and the roars, and he'll know when Tiger is making a move, if he does make a move. Rose, along with the pack of 12 golfers at +4 to +6, will stay far enough ahead of Tiger to be able to just concentrate on their game.

Tiger celebrates a long putt at the Paint Branch Golf Complex's challenging dogleg 6th.

I wouldn't rule anyone out all the way down to Vijay Singh at +7, five strokes off the lead. It should come down to whoever solves the hard, fast, sloping greens first. Naturally that would suggest a longer hitter who can generate more loft on the approach shots, but an accurate driver who can line up the best run-up lanes to the green might be able to solve it just as well.

Should be fun! At least we get to hear Nantz talking about something he knows a little bit about.