May 12, 2007

Orioles back to .500!

And still 6 games back of Boston. On the bright side, we're still 7.5 up on the Nationals.

May 11, 2007

Commissioner Goodell Fetching a Good Switch

Two big stories in the world of NFL True Crime the past couple days. First, Steve McNair was arrested for DUI in Tennessee, despite not driving...and apparently not being under the influence. Second, Ricky Williams apparently tested positive for weed as recently as last month.

We'll dismiss the easy one first. Ricky Williams' career is a cautionary tale for any rookies about to sign their first contract. First, don't hire Master P and base your entire contract on incentives. You might get hurt. You might underperform. Most importantly, you might be so cheap that your team will just draft Deuce McAllister and phase you out.

Second, don't smoke pot. If you do feel like you absolutely must smoke pot, don't tell everyone you like to smoke pot. If any of the conspiracy theories about the NFL covering for its stars are true, they'll help you more if you aren't talking to reporters about how much you love smoking pot.

That plays into the third lesson. If you do get caught smoking pot, don't run off to India like a little bitch. That draws attention to you, and the NFL doesn't like that, especially this new Sheriff. Plus, you'll inspire your team to recoup your signing bonus, which will only make you come crawling back, again like a bitch, so you can basically play for free to pay off your debt to some rich old white man.

Now, for Steve McNair. McNair's brother-in-law was busted for DUI, while McNair was in the car with him. McNair was charged under a Tennessee DUI law that makes the owner of a vehicle criminally liable if a) the owner is in the car and b) the driver is intoxicated. We'll set aside McNair's 2003 DUI/gun in the car charge, since those charges were dropped, but you can bet Roger Goodell isn't letting that go.
The law is asinine. If the owner-passenger is extremely intoxicated, or even passed out, but happens to be in his own car when another is driving it, he's liable. He might as well drive the car while drunk.

And since when are Tennessee drivers trained in determining the sobriety of another person? Police officers spend weeks on this training, and have to memorize humongous binders of rules about the proper way to determine degree of intoxication without blood or breath tests. The statute foresees that the car owner will be intoxicated when he decides to let someone else drive. It's basically asking intoxicated car owners to determine if their designated driver is legally intoxicated. It's ridiculous.

The case boils down to conspiracy to drive drunk (or perhaps even solicitation to drive drunk). If the underlying brother-in-law DUI falls through, the case against McNair disappears completely. Seems like a fun way to have to prosecute a serious crime.

May 10, 2007

10 Rules for Preakness

Part I of East Coast Bias' ongoing Preakness coverage. Part II is a comparison of the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby

Even though none of the authors will be attending this year, East Coast Bias will be bringing you wall-to-wall Preakness coverage over the next 10 days (alright, so it won't be wall-to-wall, but we will have quite a few Preakness posts). Check back next week for our Preakness preview and reasons why Preakness is better than the Kentucky Derby.

Preakness Saturday is my favorite day of the year. Unfortunately, this year I'm not going to be at Pimlico with 100,000 of my closest friends. My wife is 9 months pregnant, and for some reason she thinks it would be a bad thing if she went into labor while I was drunk, an hour away from her, and in a place with notoriously bad cell phone reception. Since I can't go, I'm taking it upon myself to educate you, loyal reader, on the best way to enjoy Preakness. With only 10 days left until Preakness, here are 10 of the best kept Preakness secrets and lessons that I learned the hard way.

  1. The Party's in the Infield. This one should be a no-brainer, but somehow Pimlico manages to sell grandstand tickets to people under 60. Do yourself a favor and get an infield ticket, otherwise you'll be watching everyone else have fun while you try to see over all the ugly hats in front of you.
  2. Plan Ahead. Buy your ticket ahead of time. I never have, but trying to buy a ticket at the gate is one of the worst parts of Preakness. Make sure to check the long term forecast before you do, in case it looks like rain (right now they're calling for partly cloudy skies with a high of 77).
  3. Pack Light. You'll be carrying everything you bring at least a mile to the track, and then another few hundred yards through the most huddled mass of humanity you've ever seen. Leave the beach umbrella, kiddie pool, and Lay-Z-Boy at home.
  4. Your Stuff Will Get Broken. Leaving Preakness, you'll see the carnage that is other people's broken shit. Chairs, coolers, inflatable pools, all destroyed. Don't bring anything to Preakness that you would care if it got ruined. In fact, why don't I just give you a list of things to bring:
      • Beer (in cans, not bottles)
      • Styrofoam cooler, the kind you buy at 7-11. That way you don't have to worry about it breaking and you don't have to lug it back to your car at the end of the day.
      • Ice
      • Pen. If you're betting on the races and drinking, this one is crucial. You don't want to be trying to remember your bets at the betting window with 5 minutes to post and 20 angry people behind you
      • Bottled water
      • Camping chairs
      • Camera
    That's it. You really don't need anything else. Last year I went with my friend and some of his Law School friends. They brought a blanket and a picnic lunch. I say sit in your chair and buy a freaking hot dog.
  5. Don't Get Double Parked. This is one of the best secrets around: Park at Pimlico Middle School. There are a few different parking choices for Preakness. The most common is to park in someone's backyard. I know that probably sounds strange, but as you get close to the track, people will try to flag you down and convince you to park in their yard. This can be disastrous for two reasons: If it rains, you're screwed. Also, if you get double parked in, you could be waiting for a very long time to leave. Some people try to park on the street, but it can be tough to find a spot and it's a bit dicey to leave your car all day in that part of Baltimore. The best option is to park at Pimlico Middle School. It's $15, which is comparable to what you pay to park in some dude's yard. They don't box you in, and they have security watching the lot all day. It's also close to the track, only about a 3-4 block walk.
  6. Get There Early. Getting into the track is the absolute worst part of Preakness. There is just a mob of people trying to get to the security checkpoints. Everyone is pressed together and no one can move at all. At this point, you'll be very glad that you followed my advice on packing light. I still haven't found the sweet spot for missing most of the crowds, but my plan for next year is to come right after the 8AM crazies get in. There are a lot of people who show up before the gates open at 8, and a lot of people who show up around 11 or 12 to see most of the races. I think the best time to arrive is probably around 9.
  7. Buy Your Program Immediately. When you first come through the tunnel and into the infield, there are stands with people selling race programs with all the past performances for every race. As far as I've found, this is the only place in the infield where these are sold. Since you'll probably be sitting far away from here (if you're smart), buy one right now.
  8. Find a Good Spot. There are essentially three main areas of the infield: the college kids by the final turn, the 98 Rock area, and everywhere else. Coming out of the tunnel, if you go straight or left, that's the college kid area. It's always way too crowded, it's muddy, and people will walk all over you and your stuff because there's nowhere else to walk. The 98 Rock area always fills up pretty fast. It's a bit older crowd, with lots of Harley Davidson apparel in sight. They have a stage with bands and contests, so this is a good place for people who don't like the other charms of Preakness (in no particular order, horse racing, gambling, beer, and boobs). I'm a big fan of the "everywhere else" seating are. If you look around, you can find an area where you can spread out, where you won't get trampled by the crowds, and where you have good access to betting windows, the track, the big screens, and the port-a-pots (all the essentials). The best place I've found is near the First Aid tent. Make a right out of the tunnel and look for the red and white striped tent, way down by the backstretch. It's a very chill scene, you're not likely to see frat-boy fights (although I have) and you're about halfway between the betting windows and the track. It's an easy walk up to the windows to place a bet and then down to the backstretch fence to watch the horses go by. Then you can watch the finish on the big screens that are all around.
  9. Gamble Light Early. It's a long day, and betting $40 a race adds up very quickly if you're not cashing tickets. You want to have enough money left to make your Preakness bets, so don't shoot your wad on the early races.
  10. Walk Around. There's plenty of people-watching to do, especially if you head up towards the college area. There are likely to be quite a few people passed out by early afternoon, and quite a few people still drinking heavily. If it's sunny and warm, look for huge crowds of guys standing up and yelling. There's probably a hot drunk Towson or UMBC co-ed in the middle of the group working for some beads.
There you have it. 10 rules that, if you follow them, will improve your Preakness experience. Now go, have fun, and say hi to the queen for me (WHAT? She's not going to be there?)
Photo Credit: Raykru

May 9, 2007

Stan Kasten Bets on Baseball (and he's using your money)

If you live in Washington, D.C., Stan Kasten is betting on baseball with your money. In his column today, Thomas Boswell outlines the Kasten/Bowden plan for the Washington Nationals. Conserve money now, get into the new stadium, and count on a winning team in the next five years to keep the fans coming.
Boswell's argument is primarily based upon the theory that D.C. has done without baseball for so long that it isn't ingrained in the fan consciousness. I would add that, except for the Redskins, D.C. fans are extremely fickle anyway. I don't mean to say Redskins fans aren't bandwagoners, as they did officially invent the term, but they still BUY tickets no matter how badly the team is run.

blahbfellatioblahheblah "Wait, what was the plan again?"

But Boswell makes another good point. The Nats, including President Kasten, GM Bowden, and the Lerner ownership group are making a bet. They're betting $611M in public money (read: D.C. resident money) and $400M in private money that they can put together a winning team prior to 2013. That's six years from now, and 5 years into the life of the new stadium.

Here's some food for thought: Since 2000, which spans 7 different playoffs totalling 56 playoff spots, 11 teams have not made a postseason appearance. Oh, sure, they all had rebuilding plans too. They all conserved money and waited to make that big splash, but Baltimore, the Cubs, Cincy, Colorado, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Philly, Pitt, Texas, Toronto, Tampa Bay and Washington/Montreal have all failed. Stan Kasten is banking that he won't be in that bottom third of the league.
Brendan Haywood has man-titties
You know what Stan Kasten's job was before he was the Messiah of the Braves? GM for the Atlanta Hawks. He didn't exactly work attendance miracles in either job.

May 8, 2007

Big Papi Artificially Big

According to, Big Papi David Ortiz is "unsure" if he ever took steroids. My first inclination was to lambast him and call him a liar. Then I was going to post before and after pictures, something like this:
But alas, I couldn't do it to the man. I think, at this point, we should accept that a ton of players took performance-enhancing drugs of some kind. Rather than try to guess who did and who didn't, let's assume they all did and every team had their share of roiders. Yeah, the lifetime and single-season records don't mean anything, but outside of a cherished few records, who really cares?
Most importantly, let's compartmentalize this little scandal to the MLB.
God knows I don't want to know anything about anyone in the NFL who might have cheated a little bit.

Idol Recap 5/8

So brief recap because my work softball team went into extras tonight and I'm crazy exhausted after playing nine innings at shortstop. Oh yeah, we lost on a walk-off home run. Should've intentionally walked the guy. I'm captain, I blew that strategy decision, but anyway...

Jordin - Yeah, her second song, the Streisand number, had its problems. But Jordin is an amazing singer and was channelling some Kelly Clarkson in her first number. I think she's going to be the eventual winner because she's so damn charming, charismatic, and easy to love. Plus, her voice is quintessential pop.

Melinda - Really had an off night tonight. Starting to realize that she isn't all that versatile and all her songs sound like Tina Turner/Aretha Franklin. She still hits every single note like a pro and stays on tune. But if I'm the Idol execs, I'm praying she doesn't end up winning, because for her to put out a CD with 10 tracks on it would be like listening to Nine Lives by Aerosmith... you don't know whether you're listening to Track 2 or Track 8 because they all sound exactly the same.

Bl-a-ay-ay-ay-ay-ke - Dude... we know you can beatbox. Now cut it the hell out. It's to the point where it's getting in the way of your singing. Not a good idea on that second song to pick a song that nobody has ever heard of. You're going to have a pretty damn good selection to pick from as the only guy left in the competition. You already took your risk. Now is the time to just sit back, sing your songs, do your non-threatening guy thing, and let the teenybopper votes phone in. Very tempted to put you in the last category based upon your performances tonight but for your teenybopper votes.

Lakisha - Never good to be the person who Simon says is going to win it all at the Round of 24. She was set up to perform at a level that she can no longer perform at anymore, because I think the competition has taken a total toll on her. Tonight was the first night I ever understood what Simon was talking about when he talks about her yelling. And that version of Stayin' Alive was pretty terrible.

May 7, 2007

Interesting Ballpark-Related Websites

If you're a bit of a ballpark geek like I am, take a look at:

Lots of pictures from a guy obsessed with visiting major league stadiums and lots of pictures in his "Stadium Graveyard" section of ballparks gone by, including Memorial Stadium.

Also, be sure to check out this webpage, with realtime photos of the rise of Nationals Ballpark, pictures taken every 15 minutes from two different vantage points, and the ability to zoom in to 600x.

May 6, 2007

A National Crisis

Life is not good right now for all of us Washington Nationals fans. Not like life was ever going to be really good this season, but right about now, life is really friggin horrible.

1) Our "ace" (sorry... "#1 starter" is what Manny Acta told us to call him before the season began) is now on the D.L. and stated today that he has essentially pitched hurt the last two starts. Yes folks, amazing, but John Patterson, the only person in the major leagues less durable than Ken Griffey, Jr., is injured again, and out for at least a month. I had hoped he might make it to June or July until he got shipped to the D.L. and then for a few inevitable rehab starts in Harrisburg and Columbus. But wow... May 6... this is even quicker than I thought. Congratulations, John!

2) While we're on the topic of congratulating players for disappointing supporters of a team whom didn't think they could be disappointed any more because they had such low expectations to begin with, let's talk about our "closer," Chad Cordero. This man has now blown his fourth save in eight opportunities in the last three weeks. Just think about how tough this is to do normally, let alone to do for a team that has maybe 2-3 save situations per week. I was totally against trading him and thought that he was an essential young cornerstone of the franchise. But now the Nats are facing one of the worst questions any team can face... what do you do with a closer who starts failing you? Do you put somebody else out there and risk crushing that closer's already damaged psyche? Do you stick with that closer? Do you bust him down to AAA to pitch in some non closing situations there where the pressure isn't as high and he can focus on technique? Right now, I go with options 1 and 3... it's time to try 6'11" Jon Rauch as closer, and send Chad down to Columbus for a few non-save opportunities in AAA. But Jesus... the team's record now is embarrassing and it actually wouldn't be so bad if we had somebody in there who was at best a 50% shot of closing out the game when he comes in out of the bullpen.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner!

I just wanted to take a moment to point out that Brien nailed the exacta in his Kentucky Derby Preview last week. That's $101 on a $20 investment, a pretty good return.

I, on the other hand, put all my eggs in the Hard Spun basket. I was pleased that he got to the front so cleanly, but not so pleased when I saw he was ripping off internal fractions of 22 4/5 and 46 at the 1/4 and 1/2 mile marks. This would have been even cooler if he had just run Street Sense out the tunnel a la Bo Jackson

Still, we both did a pretty good job removing the wheat from the chaff in a crowded 20-horse field.
Now, on to the Preakness in beautiful northeastern Baltimore!