May 26, 2007

Nats Update

So the Nats are the hottest team in baseball, having gone 11-4 in their last 15 games. They have one win less on the season than the O's and with 20 wins, are better than 5 teams in the majors. This is pretty amazing given that the following nine pitchers have started games for the Nats thus far this season:

Mike Bacsik
Shawn Hill
Jason Bergmann
Micah Bowie
Jason Simontacchi
Matt Chico
Levale Speigner
John Patterson
Jerome Williams

Nine starting pitchers just over 1/4 of the way through the season. The original starting five decimated by injuries, and pulling guys out of the bullpen who can give you quality innings from the mound. That's how you win games you're not supposed to. And I would give ten dollars to anyone outside of the Washington Metro Area, not affiliated with Elias Sports Bureau or ESPN, who could name four of those above 9 guys.

We have a .500 record against the NL East, which has three teams currently at .500 or above.

At this point, we're on track to avoid losing 100 games. If that happens, it's a total miracle of a season.

Coolest T-Shirt Ever

From the amazing No Mas store:

May 24, 2007 Reverts to Being Just Another Blog

For all the progress had made in becoming a premeire alternative news source for the NFL, they threw it all away with totally ignorant editorial commentary in their rumor mill today.

ProFootballTalk, edited by Mike Florio, has dedicated two posts to speculating about Surry County Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Poindexter's motivations in the Michael Vick case. They have stooped to implying that he is on the take, lazy, a coward or some combination of the three.

I've said before, and I'll say again, that Mr. Poindexter is handling this investigation absolutely appropriately. He has many issues to manage that are far beyond the superficial comprehension of dog catchers and part-time bloggers. For example:

1) Surry County has 6,800 residents, some smaller number of them being eligible jurors. Media coverage perverts juror pools. If Mr. Poindexter empanels a jury expecting to see videos with Michael Vick waving and smiling while taking in a dog fight, and then he instead presents a solid but boring case, the jurors will feel disappointed. He'll be lucky to get jurors who haven't prejudged the case as it is.

2) Michael Vick, if he is involved, is likely not the day-to-day primary defendant. If Michael Vick is indicted, he becomes the whole show. What resources will remain to prosecute guys who actually trained and fought the dogs? Considering Vick could obtain the best defense money can buy, how much time would be left to jail the most despicable people involved?

3) The statute of limitations for dog fighting does not expire at the regular season kickoff in 2007. That's our window as football fans. In real life crimes are investigated and prosecuted on the government's schedule. Bad things happen when prosecutions are rushed due to media pressure. That is precisely what happened with the Duke Lacrosse fiasco. That's what happened with Richard Jewell and the Atlanta Olympic Park bombing. That's what happened with Ray Lewis in Atlanta. That's what happened with Stephen Hatfill and the anthrax mailing case. That's a long trail of ruined lives and postponed justice because the media and impatient citizens want an indictment.

4) Related to 3), Mr. Poindexter serves the people of Surry County, Virginia. He does not serve fans of the Atlanta Falcons. He does not serve fans or haters of Michael Vick. He does not serve the SPCA, PETA or the Humane Society. He does not serve the police. He does not serve the local dog catchers. He will handle the case appropriately.

5) Vick might not have done it. God only knows who these "witnesses" are who claim to have seen Vick at dogfights. If I remember right, the Duke Lacrosse case had a witness who made salacious, titillating accusations that got the whole state of North Carolina in a tizzy. How did that turn out?

ProFootballTalk is just starting to get the credit it deserves for changing the way we get our football news. They need to take a step back and curb the totally uninformed commentary before they cheapen themselves to the point that they're no better than blogs like this one.

May 23, 2007

Not to Say I Told You So...

On 3/21/07, in my Idol Recap, posted the morning after the top 10 performed British Invasion week, just before Stephanie got axed:

"But the big news is that Jordin Sparks is my new favorite to win Season 6. She looks cute, perky, could be a Gap girl, and showed off AMAZING vocals last night in her song. She is marketable and talented, which is the perfect mix."

If only I took advantage of that and laid money down. The odds at that point on Jordin were roughly 8:1. Lakisha was still the favorite with Melinda just behind her. Everyone was sleeping on Jordin, people too focused on Sanjaya's hair and Haley's legs.

Also, did anybody notice that in Idol's gratuitous Sanjaya performance tonight, in their lead-in, they compared him to the great leaders of JFK, Martin Luther King, and Gandhi. Hmm... all three were assassinated. Do good things come in fours as well?

CONGRATS JORDIN! But we haven't heard the last of many of this Idol group, as I predict Blake, Melinda, and Lakisha will all go on to put out great albums. Who's in for the summer tour? Stops at First Mariner Arena (they need something in between monster trucks and Blackbirds) and Verizon Center (I guess the Mystics are out of town that night).

Anticlimactic Idol Finale

I guess the question going into this season's final performance show last night was whether Blake could steal enough votes by being cute and entertaining to somehow beat the more-talented Jordin Sparks. That question was answered in the negative about 10 minutes into the show.

Blake failed to recapture the wow factor from his unique take on Bon Jovi's "You Give Love a Bad Name". I don't know if he did it any differently or not. It might just not be as interesting when all the beat-boxing is expected. His second song, Maroon 5's "She Will Be Loved", required Blake to quickly jump up and hit some falsetto notes. Each time there was a split-second where he seemed to be trying to home in on the note, instead of cleanly hitting it. The last song, the dreaded "written-for-the-show" inspirational, was clearly written for Phil Stacey. Since both performers did "This Is My Now" last, I don't think Blake had the option of getting it out of the way early. your American Idol!

Jordin, on the other hand, came out a little overhyped for Xtina's "Fighter", but that's probably a good song for her to scream off the nerves. She did an excellent job with Martina McBride's "A Broken Wing", which also gave her some big power notes to belt out. The last song was less of a disaster for her, but she released a manufactured tear precisely as she sang the closing line "this is my now...."

The judges were a little more critical than we've seen in past finales. By the end, they pretty much concluded that the world should vote for Jordin. If DialIdol has any credibility left, that'll be the result tonight, and by a comfortable margin. I suspect this will not be the most-watched finale ever.

May 22, 2007

Lottery Balls

First of all, I'll provide my surreply to Jeremy's reply later. I'm sick of writing for the day.

On to the NBA Lottery. There aren't any visible lottery balls, they just bring out a stack of cards. Perhaps the most hilarious thing is that you have a mix of former players including Lenny Wilkens, Jerry West, Larry Bird, and Dominique Wilkins, some current players like Brandon Roy, and then some stuffy front office guys who look totally out of place.

So anyway, I give half a Sunday shit about the NBA, but I do like college basketball. Unfortunately, that means I read Bill Simmons' "Basketball Blog" for the one or two pieces of information that don't relate to his boner for Greg Oden and Kevin Durant as potential Celtics. I actually found myself watching the lottery hoping that Boston's card would come up each time. I almost sprung wood when they got the 5th slot. No Oden, no Durant. Now I suppose Simmons will subject us to his Red Sox crap.

Reply in Response to "Baltimore v. Washington Battle Royale"

I appear to be compelled by my distinguished colleague and brother of the Maryland Bar to fashion a response to his post. To be frank, I am swamped at the moment and don't have time to craft a response to everything that he said. However, I will publish for all to see what I stated in an e-mail to Jason... Jason is exactly right on one of the points in his e-mail. I do believe firmly that Washington baseball fans have a "complex" about the Orioles and their fans. I don't quite know if it's an inferiority complex... it may very well be. But I would compare how Nats fans feel now to how Ravens fans felt in the late 90s.

Let me take you back to the heady times of 1998. Jeremy and Jason were in the senior year of high school, destined to meet the following fall in the hallowed halls of Ellicott. The Foo Fighters were about to make rock history by releasing a series of albums that all sounded the same. Blow jobs were fodder for impeachment. And the Ravens were preparing to begin their third season in Baltimore. Ravens fans HATED Redskin fans. The Redskins were on their way to a division title and played in front of a packed crowd in a new stadium. The Ravens were floundering, coming off a Vinny Testaverde and Ted Marchibroda-led 6-9-1 record and about to move into their new stadium. Ravens fans continue to hate Redskin fans to this day, and much of the animosity lingers from that time when the teams' fates were so different, and from the day when the Redskins were perceived, rightly or wrongly, as keeping a team out of Baltimore. Redskin fans are by and large ambivalent towards Raven fans.

Flash forward to today, and change the sport to major league baseball. The Orioles are not necessarily a team of success, but play in a beautiful stadium, and spend lots of money on their players. The Nats were pegged by all to lose 100+ games, play in a stadium upgraded in a manner, as described at one point by Stan Kasten, as something akin to putting lipstick on a pig. The Nats' payroll is virtually non-existent. And Nats fans are certain that all of the efforts of the Orioles brass was to quash their very existence. We've been accused of being unable to support a team, called losers, embarrassments, and lots of other things. I've been told that O's fans are ambivalent towards Nats fans.

This is why we have a "complex" against Baltimore's baseball team. It has nothing to do with the city. It has everything to do with the fact that when we can claim a victory over the O's, we, as the total underdogs who didn't start a single pitcher in the three games who would start for many AAA teams, have managed to beat the team that wishes that we were never born. The crappy stadium over the sparkly stadium. The fan base that was told it was nonexistent over the fan base that believes it is the best in baseball despite attendance figures to the contrary. Is it an "inferiority complex?" Maybe. But that would be why we Nat fans took so much glee in evading a sweep. So Jason my friend, examine the BALTIMORE Raven fanbase's feeling towards the WASHINGTON Redskins (minus the humor that they are able to find in Dan Snyder's regime), reflect that the other way, and you'll find much of the same in the WASHINGTON Nationals fanbase's feelings towards the BALTIMORE Orioles.

May 21, 2007

Baltimore v. Washington Battle Royale!!!!

I thought I had defused any possible Baltimore v. Washington pissing match by stating that a Washington fan bragging about a late-inning comeback against human piece-of-shit Danys Baez would have as much intergrity as a grown man bragging about beating a four-year-old girl who only uses the Redskins at Madden. I guess I was wrong.

To be fair, I'll repost East Coast Bias contributor Jeremy's comment here:
[Side note, "to be fair" is a phrase we lawyers use to indicate that we are about to give a semblance of fairness before absolutely distorting the argument in our favor. It's an uh-oh phrase like "just so I understand". If you ever hear a lawyer say "just so I understand", they are about to ask you about something they entirely understand, but they hope you don't know how badly you've painted yourself in a corner. I've already learned too much about my profession. I think I'm going to go find a cinder block, some rope, and a swimming pool.]
FILLERFILLERFyupILLJanus was not a lawyer....allegedly

Without further adieu, Jeremy's comment:

I'm guessing neither of you guys were at RFK for any of the three games this weekend? Believe me... the people who were there cared a whole hell of a lot. And nothing gives us Nats fans more pleasure than being the ones to finally flip the switch and cause the Baltimore Sun to write their series of articles on whether Perlozzo should go. Jesus, you guys couldn't sweep a team that started three guys who would struggle to make most teams' AAA squads? That's rich. And there weren't nearly as many O's fans as you think or as I expected. I'd guess in the 31,000 crowd on Saturday, maybe 5,000 MAX. I can't wait to go to Baltimore next month for two of the games. And hey, Camden Yards and Pickles is half of the fun. Seeing the O's lose to a team that all O's fans think is hapless and a joke is way more fun. Fear the Nook.

And no, Jeremy isn't dumb. He's not referring to Nuke LaLoosh, the Tim Robbins character from Bull Durham. He's referring to Nook Logan (7 for 23 for .304 with 2BB and 3SB), a speedy leadoff guy with skills precisely the same as those of Tony Womack. He's a big star in Washington this week. Kind of like Tom DeLay and Karl Rove were.....yeah..... Womack, by the way, is currently a free agent after being released by the Nationals after Spring Training.......yeah.....lerfillerfiller

Brien's wife will have a human child any day now. He'll have to explain to that kid how Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon were both once considered sexy. Use contraception.

Anyway, this was my response:

I took some time to think about my actual reply to Jeremy's comment. I was just talking earlier today to my SoCal friend about my mastery of anti-D.C. rhetoric. I explained to him that between Baltimore v. Washington/Boston/NYC and Maryland v. Duke/UNC, I had more inferiority complex experience than even a Bostonite.

Now I see comments from Jeremy that make me wonder if Nats fans aren't actually the ones with the complex. It would be understandable, to be sure. That organization is being run pretty much like a minor league team, Bill Simmons' assertion that the NL is AAAA to begin with aside. In this, the first year of full MASN coverage, Angelos has tipped his hand and used the Orioles broadcast team to cover the game. In addition, if Jeremy's estimation of only 5,000 Orioles fans at the game is correct, MASN is predominately only focusing on Orioles fans at the Really Freaking Krappy Stadium.

The common thread is overcompensation
Perhaps more concerning is that Jeremy took pleasure in the Nationals "flipping the switch", causing the Baltimore media to comment on their own managerial shortcomings. Doesn't that presuppose that the Baltimore media ever cared about or commented on the Nats' organizational flaws? I can't believe Jeremy would be referring to Rick Maese's column from April, which was basically a "cheer up Charlie" to Baltimore, reminding the city that they could have had the run of sports luck endured by D.C. That certainly does not amount to wasted space criticizing their sorry ass team.

Perhaps he meant the switch was flipped in that the D.C. media was not criticizing the Nats' manager. Nah, that couldn't be the case. The only person on the Post's staff who gives half a shit is Thomas Boswell, and his rah-rah article in today's Post completely ignores reality in the new era of baseball in both Beltways.

Boswell, like most Nats' fans, ignores the one obvious flaw in the whole "can't we all get along" dreamworld. This isn't like Dallas and Ft. Worth having two teams. No Orioles fan will support EITHER team when things are bad and no real Nationals fan (if one exists) will support EITHER team when things are bad. These two cities do not like one another. Washington relies on its status as the second most powerful city in the world for its identity, even though no one who derives benefit from that actually has anything to do with it. Baltimore derives its identity from deciding that it's cool to be in Baltimore, even if there is no logical way to justify that (which is pretty much the same as Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, etc). That's why days like Preakness are so important.
The funniest illustration of the two cities is that both are predominately liberal, but one city has white residents who hide from black people as much as possible and the other city has white residents who are say "Fuck it. Crack and the Clap aren't that bad." (For the sake of argument, we'll assume that no white person voted for Marion Barry in D.C.)

And now it appears that the Nats actually "flipped the switch". Their fans are making asinine comments like "You couldn't even sweep us!" To me, it sounds a lot like my fellow Terps fans who care more about beating Duke in the regular season than even making the NCAA Tournament. How did that happen?

[And, yes, I considered that Jeremy is so Madden-incompetent that he might not have realized that one REALLY SHOULD NOT brag about beating a four-year-old girl who only plays with the Redskins.]

Your move my friend.

Just Too Easy

Clinton Portis, RB for now for the Redskins, decided this offseason just wouldn't be complete without his expert commentary on the Michael Vick dogfighting situation in Surry County, Virginia.

Actual quotes from

"I don't know if he was fighting dogs or not, but it's his property, it's his dog,"

"If that's what he wants to do, do it. I think people should mind their business."

"It can't be too bad of a crime."

"You want to hunt down Mike Vick over fighting some dogs?," Portis [told a Norfolk] television station. "I think people should mind their own business."

"I know a lot of back roads that have the dog fighting if you want to go see it[.]"

Chris Samuels, LT for now for the Redskins, had something intelligent to say: "You can't accuse this man of something and go ahead and throw the book at him right now," he told WAVY-TV. "He's got to be convicted first, and I don't think that's fair." Samuels then proceeded to hold Demarcus Ware, who wasn't even there.

Portis apparently had a change of heart (read: someone at Redskins Park talked to him):

"In the recent interview I gave concerning dog fighting, I want to make it clear I do not take part in dog fighting or condone dog fighting in any manner." I suppose that includes "it's property, it's his dog." Semantically, he said he does not "condone dog fighting" in the present tense. Perhaps he did right up until CerraSnydoGibbs called him.

Should Perlozzo Go?

That's the question posed by the front page of the Baltimore Sun this morning. I think the answer is "maybe". Perlozzo has definitely made some questionable, if not poor, decisions over the past few weeks. They include pulling Jeremy Guthrie in the 8th inning up 5-0 last Sunday, bringing in righty Danys Baez to face a lefty in the 8th inning of yesterday's game (or ever for that matter), and failing to take advantage of lefty-righty hitting matchups in other situations, especially with the flexibility possessed by the O's at C, 1B and OF with Huff, Chris Gomez, Gibbons and Hernandez. Given the Orioles' margin of error is very slim due to injuries and overall talent, these factors all point to firing Perlozzo.

Unfortunately, Sam and pitching coach and childhood friend Leo Mazzone come as a package deal. If you believe that the progress shown by Loewen (pre-injury), Cabrera, Guthrie, Bedard and others is due to Mazzone, you'd be hard-pressed to send them both packing. If, on the other hand, you look at bullpen disasters like Danys Baez and the regression of Chris Ray, you might not feel particularly attached to either of them.

Given Peter Angelos' reluctance to make mid-season moves, and since no player has publicly griped about Perlozzo, I think we are going to be stuck with him for the remainder of the season. It will be unfortunate to see bad things happen to good people, but it wouldn't be the first time (Johnny Oates, Cal Ripken Sr., Frank Robinson).

Orioles v. Nats - Quick Note

You may be surprised to see a total lack of back-and-forth banter between the Orioles fans who contribute to his blog and the Nats fan who also does. This is readily explainable.

--For Orioles fans, bragging about beating the Nats two out of three is like bragging about beating a four-year-old girl at Madden. It's just unfulfilling.

--For a Nats fan, bragging about coming back to beat the Orioles on a three-run rally against human piece of shit Danys Baez is like bragging about beating a four-year-old girl at Madden who refused to play as any team other than the Redskins.

--Also, as much as Nats fans would like to brag about the above-average attendance numbers at RFK this weekend, they also saw the TV coverage and realized that at least half of the fans shown on TV were in Orioles gear. As much as Orioles fans would like to be proud of that, we're not filling our own stadium so I'm not sure why we would go to a "decrepit football stadium" (as Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun calls it) rather than our own beautiful Camden Yards. Must be all that Nats star power.

Losing the Cup (again)

Yesterday BMW Oracle was knocked out of the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals, meaning that for the fourth time in a row, the US entry will not take home the America's Cup. Worse, for the third time in a row, the US entry didn't even win the Louis Vuitton Cup. This, in an event that the United States won 25 times in a row between 1851 and 1980.

Even worse than losing the cup is the embarrassing way that it happened. BMW Oracle entered the semifinals as the favorite to challenge Alinghi for the America's Cup, and many believed that they had a good chance to bring it back to the US. Instead, they were blown away by a Luna Rossa team that BMWO had beaten twice in the round robins.

It's not even like the races were close. BMWO won a single race, and had to mount an amazing comeback to accomplish that much. In all the other races, Luna Rossa either dominated the pre-start and began the race with a commanding lead, or the boats started fairly even, but the first wind shift went to Luna Rossa and gave them a commanding lead. In most of the races, by the time the boats rounded the first mark, BMWO was in a position of needing a miracle to win.

Before yesterday's race, Chris Dickson finally stepped down as skipper and helmsman of BMWO. He certainly had made some mistakes, but I'm not sure how much of the American loss was his fault. Really, I can't figure out what could account for the free fall the BMW Oracle team has been in for the past week.

Most people who read this probably weren't even aware that the America's Cup competition had started, and they probably don't care too much that the US has lost it again. But the America's Cup was for years a symbol of American dominance. Sure, it was just a sailing competition, but think of it this way: The US won 7 Olympic gold medals in basketball before Munich 1972 and was considered unbeatable. Imagine if they had won 25 in a row. That's how dominant American teams used to be in America's Cup competition.

Unfortunately, it looks like that era is gone forever. We can now only hope to emerge victorious after a hard fought battle with equals, who also have unlimited budgets and excellent sailors.

I still plan to watch the rest of the Louis Vuitton Cup and the America's Cup, but it won't be with the same intensity that I cheered for BMW Oracle. Now I'll put my support behind Emirates Team New Zealand, but my national pride is not on the line anymore. Four more years until the next chance to win back the cup...

Photo credit: Valencia Sailing