June 29, 2007

My Man Aubrey Huff Hits for the Cycle

When #19 Jeff Conine left the Orioles, I needed a new scruffy semi-asshole guy to root for, preferably someone in the tradition of Billy Ripken, BJ Surhoff and Joe Orsulak. Along came #19 Aubrey Huff, a lefty hitting, righty throwing first-baseman (sometimes). He's a grinder and he fit my prototypical gamer Oriole mold.

Tonight he hit for the cycle, only the third Oriole to do so, and all four swings were perfect lefty power alley swings. Huff, not known for his speed, now owns 12 career triples, 1000 career hits, and 200 career doubles.

The Orioles lost, despite coming back from a 5-1 deficit, 9-7. Chris Ray, of course, blew the hold in relief in the 9th inning, his 6th loss and 10th decision, nearly all as a closer. The famous slugger Howie Kendrick did the damage. Regardless, Huff's performance was very impressive.

P.S. -- Orlando Cabrera hit a solo homer in the 6th or 7th inning. I was the security detail during autograph sessions for Cabrera (and Javier Vasquez) when the Sally League A Delmarva Shorebirds were an affiliate of the Montreal Expos and I was a lowly parking attendant/onfield entertainment assistant. That means I sat at their table and enforced the "one item per fan" rule.

Dan Patrick to Host The Price Is Right?

Dan Patrick confirmed that he was contacted by TPIR to see if he wanted to audition for Barker's role. He declined the invitation, but rumors that Rosie O'Donnell has already been tapped must be false.

Woody Paige Accused in Sexual Harassment Suit

Story here on CNNSI.

I could not be more ecstatic. I've been a Woody Paige hater since he wrote an article for the Denver fishwrap calling Baltimore a cesspool in advance of the Ravens 21-0 first round playoff shellacking of the Donks in 2001 (link unavailable). Don't get me wrong. I'm well aware of Baltimore's shortcomings, but I'll be damned if I'm going to take crap like that from DENVER, the most redneck "city" in the country.

blahblahblahblahblahblThe best, and most sober, Woody has ever looked

Then we got to see Woody be a buffoon on Around the Horn. That at least confirmed my hatred. Then he moved into the most ill-conceived role in television history - sparring partner for Skip Bayless, a teetotaler, on Cold Pizza. Woody ranged from hungover to residually drunk to stinking drunk every morning I ever saw him. It's comical that the makeup artist for Cold Pizza is the one accusing Woody. I have a feeling they spent MANY mornings together trying to sew those saddlebags back into Woody's eyesockets.

June 28, 2007

Bill Simmons = Suicidal

With the 5th pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, the Boston Celtics select....Ray Allen?!?!?!? and lose Wally Szczerbiak and the 5th pick?!?!?!? WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?!?!?!

Please, someone, check on Bill Simmons. We've already had one pseudo-celebrity in the sporting world hang himself this week.

June 26, 2007

Apologies in Advance

300th post! I get all the milestones.

Dear Orioles' Fans/Internet:

I am writing to apologize in advance. If the Dave Trembley-skippered Orioles sweep the Yankees at home this week, I will go into full-on "hire Dave Trembley permanently mode".

Yes, I know that I very well might have been the first person to start the online "Fire Dave Trembley" movement. However, as a sports fan, and particularly as a Baltimore sports fan, I am fickle. Sweeping the Yankees/Steelers/Duke gets you a year and a raise in my book.

Conditionally sorry,


Chris Benoit

I've been reading some of the news coverage of WWE wrestler Chris Benoit's murder-suicide in Georgia. Why do the articles seem deferential to Benoit? What other child-murderer gets a three-hour tribute on USA Network as Benoit did last night?

Photo: AP

Reviewing "Terrapins Rising"

Terrapins Rising is a new show on Comcast Sports Net following the University of Maryland football team through spring practices. It premiered last night, so of course I checked it out in order to report back to you, loyal reader(s).

I went in suspecting that it would be one long Under Armour commercial, using the football team to sell t-shirts in an NCAA-allowed way. I thought that the target audience was football season ticket holders and other die-hard Maryland fans who would sit through a reality show about spring practice.

Turns out, I was very, very wrong. I underestimated Fridge and Debbie Yow. They managed to get Under Armour and Comcast Sports Net to sponsor and televise a 10-episode recruiting video. The football team has had a hard time recruiting top talent in the Baltimore-Washington area (the University's back yard), especially with Penn State and Virginia Tech fielding good teams the past few years. So the athletic department found a way to advertise the team, the coaching staff, and the facilities on regional television, and got someone else to pay for it. Frankly, it's genius. "Terrapins Rising" probably won't be as effective a recruiting tool as the Coach K AMEX commercials, but at this point, any little bit helps.

Thoughts from the first episode:

  • Friedgen comes off as the type of coach you would want to play for. He really cares about his players, and he works hard to make them better. This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's followed the team for the past 5 years.

  • Erin Henderson is a natural leader. He obviously loves the team and the university. He definitely seems like the type of guy you'll see on the sidelines of games after he graduates (when his NFL team has a bye week).

  • The main topic of the first episode was the quarterback competition. I was shocked when I first heard that Steffy was going to get the nod over Josh Portis, but after watching this episode, I can see why. Portis seems very raw and a little immature. They showed a highlight of him botching a snap and then running it for a gain, which is great, but he should have handled the snap cleanly in the first place.

  • Steffy was the star of the episode. He's the clear leader of the team, and anyone who saw him holding the clipboard the past 2 seasons knows that he gets along great with all of his teammates. I hadn't realized how highly recruited he was coming out of high school. I'll be cheering for him to live up to the recruiting hype this year

Final grade: B+
It was better than I expected. Lots of good interviews with players and coaches. I set up my DVR to record every episode.

June 25, 2007

Proof GM and Pontiac Still Have Value

I found it difficult to drive to work when I went out to my car and found this:


Someone still needs GM parts at least. At least they put it on a block and left me the lugnuts (in the white circular lid).

Bears Release Tank Johnson

According to ESPN, the Bears have released Tank Johnson in the wake of his recent 40-in-a-25mph speeding ticket in Arizona. Um.....what? He was good enough that you supported his motion to leave Illinois to participate in the Super Bowl but he isn't good enough to wait for the blood tests?

The officer who pulled Tank Johnson over "suspected" him of being under the influence, so he drew blood. Those tests are still a week or more from coming back. Since when is speeding "the last straw"? What changes between now and a week from now make you have to move immediately?

Tank's pager: "Hey Tank whazzup. Herd bout yer speedin tix. Sry, yer fired! LOLZ!!1!!"
I'm sure it has nothing to do with the fact that July 1 is veteran cut day to get under the salary cap. I'm sure the Bears were confident that Tank would be exonerated on Monday, July 2, 2007.

It looks to me like the Bears know something we don't, right? They know that blood test will be positive for alcohol or another banned driving stimulant. This is a team that is so blinded to reality that they let Trent Green go to the Dolphins for a conditional 4th round pick, yet they have the foresight to realize that Tank is facing more trouble??? Rex Grossman is a pony they'll ride but Tank Johnson is too much hoss to handle?

Forgive me if I don't think today is a great day to be a Bears' fan.

The East Coast Bias Review of the Lansing Metro Sports Scene

Some people go to Las Vegas for vacation. Others to the Caribbean. I recently deplaned from my vacation to scenic Okemos, Michigan, just next door to East Lansing, Michigan, and new home of Ben, my friend of almost 20 years, whose wife works at Michigan State University.

As an introductory note, I believe that Michigan State's motto should be "Home of the 7 or 8." Per capita, East Lansing had some of the best looking college female talent I've seen on the various college campuses I've been to. There aren't 10s, you never really find yourself gawking in amazement, but Michigan State wins the consistency award for the most steadily highly attractive "talent" I've seen on any college campus.

On to what matters... the sports geek's review of my trip to the Lansing Metropolitan Area.


So we went to see the Lansing Lugnuts (low-A affiliate of the Blue Jays) host the Fort Wayne Wizards (low-A affiliate of the Padres). However, the Lugnuts do call Carlos Zambrano and Jason Simontacchi alums, among a few other current major leaguers. The Lugnuts play in Oldsmobile Park. This should give you an idea about the town of Lansing... the ballpark is named after a brand of automobile that was discontinued in 2004 which the town prided itself on being the home of. Who knows if GM had signed a long-term naming deal when the park was built in 1996 and they're stuck with Oldsmobile Park. Nevertheless, the stadium is named after a defunct car manufacturer. It also happened to be Thirsty Thursday at Oldsmobile Park. Nothing to help the residents of a city with a 5.4% unemployment rate whose major factories have all pretty much shut down feel less depressed than $2 draft beers all over the ballpark. However, this also accomplished the feat of drawing half the MSU students who stayed on campus for the summer out to the ballpark (hence part of the knowledge base of the 7s and 8s). I will say this for Oldsmobile Park... it's a gorgeous place for a low-A team and for $9, we sat 6 rows from the field in between home plate and the dugout. The park definitely looks like it's designed to someday draw a higher-level minor league team. But on to the Lugnuts. First off, you should know that they actually have a song in the tradition of "Hail to the Redskins" and "Meet the Mets." One of the verses is as follows:

This is our town.
This is our team.
If you're up again
st us
You're gonna get creamed.
Just stick around,

See what we mean.
Get ready to yell

Get ready to scream.
Ready to scream, ready to scream,
Ready to scream, see what we mean.

You gotta Go Nuts, Go Nuts, Go Nuts, Go Nuts
Lugnuts, Lugnuts, Lugnuts, Lugnuts

So yes. A truly wonderful song developed by the best jingle writers in Central Michigan. I recommend going to lansinglugnuts.com and listening to the real song to understand just how campy the whole thing is, complete with electric guitar interludes. If you're fortunate enough to go to Oldsmobile Park, you should hear it about three times during your stay.

Also, while at Oldsmobile Park, I received Lesson #1 of the weekend... I learned it's probably better to not say out loud in Lansing that the Lugnut mascot looks worried because he just heard about how much more reliable and affordable Japanese cars are.

So Ben and I spent pretty much the entire day on Friday walking around the campus of Michigan State. Which, for a sports fan, means finding the sports venues on campus and trying to get into them. We were successful on both accounts.

Spartan Stadium
Truly a Big 10 Stadium, this stadium was not so impressive on the inside, not so impressive on the outside, but when full, can probably make an insane amount of noise. 3 sides of the stadium are totally decrepit, the concourses are crazily narrow, and it in general makes RFK Stadium look modern. However, one side of the stadium has been renovated so ESPN can get their all-important exterior shot. The other running joke was how an agricultural school like MSU used Astroturf on their football stadium (see above picture). All that finally changed a few years ago when the stadium went to natural grass. Of course, the downside to that is no more outdoor NCAA hockey games that draw over 75,000 people. The stadium seats 76,000 hardcore, green-wearing football fans. Immediately when you enter the stadium, the thing that you notice compared to Byrd Stadium (besides the size) is how everything in the stadium is in school colors of green and white. Byrd really needs to at least paint the roofs red and ditch the Carolina blue roofs. Spartan Stadium all in all was not as impressive a stadium as the Big House, but given that it is a very tall stadium that is closed on all sides means that it probably gets insanely loud in Spartan Stadium. I'll bet the stadium serves its purpose just fine, even if it's decrepit.

Breslin Center

So like all college hoops junkies, I was very interested to see the Breslin Center, home of MSU basketball. A nice-sized arena where as you can see above, the students surround the court. However, just like Comcast, the top seats are very high above the action and I'm sure that the people in those seats feel just as detached from the action as the people sitting in the 200s do at Comcast. Breslin does have trophy cases that contain such things as folding chairs from the benches of the arenas at all the Final Fours (so the folding chair has the Final Four logo), and a few other neat things. However, it doesn't have the floor from the 2000 Final Four unlike Comcast Center which has our national championship winning floor. Also, no giant trophy case which is a great landmark for Comcast. I didn't expect it to be Comcast in terms of newness or amenities, but when you win a National Championship, I think it needs to be the centerpiece of your arena. I can, however, see why it is one of the more intimidating places to play in the Big 10.

While at Breslin, we had an experience that any sports fan would understand... one of those experiences that leaves you excited but that excitement just doesn't carry over when you relay the story to your significant other. As we're walking into Breslin, we practically bump right into Tom Izzo, who looks much younger in person than on TV and is a very friendly guy, saying hello to everyone in sight as he leaves his office. Then, as we left Breslin, we saw Tom Izzo again, this time getting into his shiny silver Lexus with his wife and daughter. Of course now, he definitely shot Ben and I the "why the hell are you stalking me, you goddamn weirdos" look and zoomed past a stop sign and right into the crosswalk where we were standing. It's relieving though to see that traffic laws are optional for all big-time college coaches. Gary doesn't necessarily have to abide by DUI laws, so Tom Izzo shouldn't necessarily have to abide by stop signs.

On the outside of Breslin, they have the oddly-designed Magic Johnson sculpture, as seen at left. Of course it's Magic during his playing days, so they couldn't help but include him with a giant fro. But Ben and I, for the life of us, couldn't figure out what it was at the bottom of the sculpture that Magic is escaping from. Lesson #2 of the Weekend... not a good idea to theorize at Breslin Center with a few MSU staff members around that maybe those bodies represent the groupies who Magic had unprotected sex with. I'm pretty much unsure that Ben will ever go anywhere again with me.