August 10, 2007

Sad Irony

I just read here that George Mitchell, who is leading the Major League Baseball steroid probe, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Fortunately the cancer is in its very early stages and Mitchell's prognosis is very good. If he gets chemotherapy to treat the cancer, which I imagine he will, what is he likely going to be prescribed to ensure that he does not experience the horrible side effects of chemo? You guessed it. Steroids.

And yes, I know it's not the same kind and he won't get backne and Chris Benoit rage from the kind he gets prescribed. Still, George Mitchell will be on steroids. Classic.

Mascot Hall of Fame Voting Ends Soon

Go to and make sure you vote early and often for the Oriole Bird.

Shut Up Navy

All of us who were fortunate enough to be at M&T; Stadium in September '05 for the reincarnation of the Maryland-Navy rivalry knew that we were seeing something great that should have happened every season. The Maryland student section, never known for anything resembling class (and damn proud of it) stood and applauded as the Middies entered the stadium in formation. The game was well-played and a nail-biter down to the final minutes of the game. It was a packed house and a hell of a way to start the season.

So as soon as Maryland has an opening in our schedule to start the season in 2010 we're going to see this game again because Navy as an independent has nothing but openings in their schedule except for games against Army and Air Force, right? WRONG.

Apparently the folks over in the Naval Academy Athletic Department are pissed at Maryland. They feel that Maryland backed out of an opportunity to play Navy last year in the Meineke Car Care Bowl when Navy had already accepted a bid and the Bowl was looking for an ACC opponent for Navy. Instead of accepting the opportunity to play Navy, Maryland accepted the bid from the Champs Sports Bowl.

Admittedly, Maryland did turn down an opportunity to play Navy. But let's look at this closer. First off, Maryland turned down a bowl in Charlotte, North Carolina, for a bowl in Orlando, Florida. A bowl game is a reward for players and fans. Which player and/or fan would turn down a trip to Florida for a trip to Charlotte? The Queen City is pretty cool, don't get me wrong. But Florida in December... yeah, take that option. Secondly, the Meineke Car Care Bowl is the sixth-best bowl game tied into the ACC. The Champs Sports Bowl is the fourth-best bowl game tied into the ACC. So Navy is pissed at Maryland for turning down the fourth-best game for the opportunity to go to the sixth-best game in a crappier venue with less national media coverage? Makes sense. Thirdly, the Champs Sports Bowl offered Maryland the unique opportunity to play the fourth-best Big 10 school, which does not arise very often. Maryland figured that they would be able to schedule Navy shortly down the line. They would not be able to schedule a solid Big 10 team down the line for quite some time.

But, according to Navy, Maryland spurned Navy's invitation to play them last December and there will be no rematch in 2010 as of now. Because, really, who wouldn't turn down the opportunity to play in a better bowl game, with more national exposure, against a team who actually plays in a conference, in a better place to play, for the opportunity to play independent Navy in a crappy bowl game with absolutely zero national exposure in Charlotte in December?

Navy AD... why don't you go out and borrow a Y Chromosome from some of your male or "female" Middies? Quit whining, shut up, and get over it.

Pennant Fever Sweeps Washington!!!

Alright, so maybe a bit of an overstatement, but the Nationals are 8.5 games out of the NL Wild Card with 47 games to play. I can see it now... October baseball at RFK. The story of the year. Or maybe not so much given that 25 of those remaining 47 games are against the Mets, Phillies, and Braves. Still... to think we're even remotely in shouting match of the wild card is pretty awesome.

Oh, and just because I was thinking about it this morning, not because I am trying to bash the Orioles (seriously!!), the Nationals have the distinct possibility of finishing the 2007 season with more wins than the Orioles, which would mean that in all three years the Nationals have been in existence, they had a better record than the team 40 miles to the north with a payroll multiple times higher than their own. In 2005, the Nats finished with 81 wins to the O's 74. In 2006, the Nats eeked it out, finishing with 71 wins to the O's 70. And as of today, the Nats have 53 wins to the O's 52. So anything is possible for the remainder of the year, and I know O's fans will say the Nats compete in the NL which as a whole is easier than the AL; and that the Nats compete in the NL East which is easier than the AL East. But really, that's gotta burn a hole somewhere in the diehard O's fan's heart that despite trying so hard and spending so much money, the results continue to be the same. Despite my utter despise for Angelos, I do find it sad what has befallen the Orioles and actually do wish them well because the Oriole fans do deserve so much better than what they've received the past 11 years.

Speaking of, I want to give one shout out to Bud Selig, because for as much crap as he takes, I do think that interleague baseball and the Wild Card are two of the greatest things to happen to the game in a long time.

I also want to give a shout out to our buddies over at Awful Announcing. Being the Nats fan that I am, how about a post on the not-so-awful announcing of Don Sutton as color commentator on Nats broadcasts? He really does a great job of giving insight into the game, both on-the-field and off-the-field without going over the top and being totally immersed in his own career like Jim Palmer.

August 9, 2007

Peter Boyle on Barry Bonds

I just caught a Mind of Mencia re-run that is particularly relevant today.

As most of you non-mouth-breathers know, Peter Boyle was the hilarious actor best known for his portrayal of Frahnk-en-steen's monster in Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein. He unfortunately also earned notoriety playing Ray Romano's father in "Everyone [except me] Loves Raymond".

blhblahblahlblahblahblah PUHTIN AWN DA RITSSSSZH
I paraphrase:

I don't care about steroids in baseball. If some guy wants to take steroids and shrink his balls for a few more home runs, what do I care? I get to watch good sports and my balls are still huge.

That pretty much sums up my "I Forgive Barry Bonds" post. Ok, maybe it doesn't, but if I were one of the most underrated comedic actors of all time, it would have.
R.I.P. Peter. The greatest tribute I can think to give is remembering you in more than just the days since your passing.

Maryland Must Be a Good School

We might not be have become Lefty Driesell's UCLA of the East, but we have apparently achieved Sandy Mack's vision of becoming the Harvard of the South (leaving the argument for whether Maryland is in the South for another day).

According the Baltimore Sun, Terps' redshirt freshman RB Pha'Terrell Washington and FS Taji Thornton are both missing fall camp due to academic ineligibility. Here's some inside info: Maryland's fall semester starts on the last Thursday in August, meaning their seasons hinge on their Summer Session II grades.

The pair, of course, join Jared Gaither, the LT who entered the NFL Supplemental Draft after becoming academically ineligible to remain on the team. Gaither landed with the Ravens, where he has people very excited that the Ravens might have replaced (and I use that word intentionally to indicate he may be as good as) Jon Ogden while spending only a 5th round pick in 2008.

Painful Epiphany

I woke up this morning and was upset to see that the Yankees fell back to six games behind the Red Sox.

I work up this morning and was UPSET to see that the YANKEES LOST.

blahb lahbl ahblah In September, will this make me happy?

You've done it Boston. The Red Sox Nation is so goddamned obnoxious that I actually find myself rooting for those lovable underdogs in pinstripes. That A-Rod? Not such a bad guy. Jeter? Plays his heart out. Matsui? Kind of charming in a Mr. Baseball way. In a way, the Red Sox win knocked the Yankees' fanbase down just enough that they suddenly became tolerable.

I'm an Orioles fan, which means I'm from Maryland, which means I hate New York, New Yorkers, and anything related to New York. That city is a stain that permeates every city on the East Coast. That being said, I'll never go to Boston again. Every time I hear that grating accent I start thinking of bloody socks and Dave Roberts and Bill Simmons, not to mention Jimmy Fallon disgracing the national pasttime and getting away with it.

Some call it schadenfreude, but that's not what this is. I'm not taking pleasure in seeing the Red Sox struggle, I want revenge for having to endure their incessant crowing and attention grabbing over the past few years.

Suspicious, to say the least

Nikolay Davydenko, the 4th ranked tennis player in the world, retired from a match last week in the Prokom Open in Poland. That in itself is not newsworthy. Interestingly, though, on at least one betting site, Davydenko was not favored to win the match due to late bets on his opponent (a no-name).

I've always heard the old NFL betting advice that you bet with any late moves in the line, because that means that someone knows something. I never really put too much stock in that advice, thinking that no one could really know anything that would make a difference in the outcome of the game. But when a Russian tennis player retires from a match in which someone bet lots of money against him, it makes you wonder.

blahblabhbljhblah He at least APPEARS to care too much to tank

One thing I don't understand: the bets were placed on, which is a trading market gambling site. In trading markets, you bid on a bet (say $1 to win $.50 if Davydenko wins). Another gambler could then accept that bid, putting up their $.50 against your $1 if the other guy wins. This sort of betting scenario does not seem to lend itself to betting on games where the fix is in, because the lines can move too quickly. As soon as big money starts coming in on one side of the match, it would change the calculus of how much a bet for the other side is worth.

I would think that a traditional gambling site, where the lines don't move much, and even then, not that quickly, would be a safer move. Maybe the fixers thought that a traditional gambling site would notice this behavior and would invalidate the bets. That reasoning backfired, though, because invalidated their bets anyway.

So now the question is, will future Davydenko matches in second-rate tournaments see him undervalued or overvalued? Will people bet against him, believing that he'll throw another match? Or will they bet for him, hoping to make money off the cynics who believe the matches are fixed? Is there a way to make money off this?

UPDATE: Sports Yenta reports that mens tennis players have been receiving anonymous telephone calls asking them to fix particular matches.

[J-Red's addendum: The player that is claiming that other players on the tour are receiving calls asking them to throw matches is Bob Bryan (the better looking one). He's on the ATP Player Council, which is big shit in circles that follow ATP Player Councils.]

August 8, 2007


(SAN FRANCISCO - ECB WIRE SERVICES) - The Washington Nationals earned a hard-fought victory last night, coming from behind to beat the San Francisco Giants 8-6, and moved out of last place in the NL East for the first time since early April.

The Nats fell behind 2-0 in the second inning. After the Nats scored three in the top of the third to take the lead, the Giants scored another two in the bottom of the third to regain the lead. The Nats pushed across one more run in the top of the fourth to tie the game. The Giants scored a run in the bottom of the fifth inning on a home run by Barry Bonds to take the lead. The game was delayed for some time immediately after Bonds' home run while an unruly Mets fan (as if there's any other type) was removed from the stadium surrounded by a phalanx of security. The Giants earned an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh to earn what seemed to be an insurmountable two-run lead at 6-4. Alas, it was not to be, as the Nats had a monster eighth inning, scoring four runs, bringing the score to 8-6. The wild game saw four lead changes, ultimately ending in a Nationals victory.

Jon Rauch and Chad Cordero pitched another two solid scoreless innings out of the bullpen, lending credence to those Nats fans who believed it would be a horrible move to trade them. The surprising Chris Schroder earned the win, and actually raised his ERA to 1.47 by giving up one run over two innings.

The Nats win, combined with the Marlins loss, leaves the Nationals tied for fourth place with the Marlins. The Nationals now have 52 wins on the season, tying their win total with the Marlins, Orioles and White Sox. The 52 wins are more than the Devil Rays, Royals, Rangers, Cardinals, Astros, Reds, Pirates, and Giants. The Nats now only need 11 more wins in their remaining 49 games to avoid what all baseball pundits preordained; that the team would be historically bad and achieve 100 losses on the season.

When asked to comment on the Nats surprising record in the standings following Tuesday's game, Giants slugger Barry Bonds adamantly declared, "This record is not tainted at all. At all. Period. You guys can say whatever you want."

Bonds Hits 756

I missed Barry's homer live because, frankly, I forgot. I was awake, even here on the East Coast, and I forgot. I got the CNN Breaking News e-mail and I immediately clicked over to the Nationals' local station (blackout so no ESPN2). They weren't even talking about it. I went to for the video.

That video is really disappointing and deflating. No fans chased him around the bags. No mob greeted him at home plate. The announcers even couldn't come up with something better than "Barry Bonds stands alone"? So does the cheese.

blahblahblahblabblah Bonds alone in a beautiful field

His son patiently awaited him at the plate and hugged him briefly. Barry then shed his offspring and pumped his arms in the air, alone. He then thrust his fist in the air, alone. It looked exactly like what I did in my front yard a thousand times. He might as well have mimicked Joe Carter rounding the bases, as I did in my front yard a thousand times with my neighbor as Mitch Williams. This did not feel like history. It felt like watching a man's singular pursuit come to a cold end in the arms of the only person who truly loved him, his son.

Can you sum up the clip better than that? "San Franciso loves Barry." "He needs to break the record at home." No, San Francisco cheered for Barry because they were happy to see history, but history seems only to be willing to tip the cap and move on. The next inning, you could see 50,000 faces contemplating whether it would be rude to leave early. It was like King Kong was the opening act, and the bearded woman was the main event. They saw what they came to see, and they felt underwhelmed once they saw what was to follow.

I said in early July that I forgive Barry Bonds for what he almost certainly did. I was comfortable with the inevitable, and yet it felt like I was watching a game show contestant win the big prize. I feel good for him, and I feel happy for him, but I don't feel good and happy for myself like I did when McGwire took Maris' record back in the Age of Innocence.

Imagine if I told you in 1990 that Cal Ripken showing up for work would be one of the most emotional moments in sports history, while Hank Aaron's record being broken would be a Play of the Week on SportsCenter. You can't because it was unimaginable. To hit 61 was something Kid Griffey could achieve with luck, perserverance, more luck and the beautiful swing. To hit 70 you needed a Sega controller in your hand. Now? Home run records mean something because we know they should, but we just can't muster the actual emotion.

(And don't think I'm not aware of the fact that Griffey hit 249 homers between 1996 and 2000, a homer per 11.7AB, but hit 340 homers the rest of his career (1989-1995, 2001 to present), or a homer per 17.7AB. I'm aware of it, but I don't know what, if anything, it means.)
Tonight it seemed that every fan in San Francisco realized that same concept all at once. It was a great big empty stadium with great big empty people. They all came to the stadium imagining the moment, and predicting how they would react to the moment, and wondering if they would cheer or cry or jump up and down. Then it came, and they all gasped at the swing, cheered as it flew, and then looked around to see how long they were supposed to maintain a hearty applause. spacer
For a record a career in the making, this record felt too much like the making of a career.

August 7, 2007

Racism in Indiana? Inconceivable!

Ball State, the school formerly known only as David Letterman's alma mater, is dealing with a little NCAA scrutiny right now. Head Coach Ronny Thompson (son of John Thompson II (the Ewing one)) "resigned" on July 13, two days after the NCAA informed the school that an investigation had uncovered rules violations, specifically that Thompson and his staff attended "voluntary" (haha) offseason workouts.

Ball State University is located in Muncie, IN, only 65 miles from the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis. It's probably not the best place for the coach to don his best Bobby Valentine groucho mask and "cheer" encouraging words like "flex cut 34" from the corner of the gym during voluntary workouts.

blahblahblJohn Thompson and JTIII try to explain to Ronny that Georgetown and

sssssssssssssssssssssssjhjsssssss Princeton aren't THAT white
But that's not the story. Coach Thompson has taken a parting shot on his way out the door. He is alleging that a racist environment at Ball State made it very difficult for him to do his job. Ball State has pledged a full investigation...into the allegations of racism...made by a former head coach who left in shame. I bet that report will be scathing and will really illuminate every dark corner and every racist subculture at Ball State. Thanks for the sanctions, and we'll go ahead and paint ourselves bigoted at the same time.

Here are the facts you need to know about Ball State University. According to Peterson's, Ball State is 90% white and 7% black. The mid-50 percentile SAT score is 930-1130, lower than that of Towson University (which is a fine school ladies of Towson, a damn fine school). Add that Indiana was (and is) one of the hotbeds of Ku Klux Klan activities, and you can imagine that Ronny might be telling the truth. (Get your official KKK robes HERE, [NOT A GOOD LINK FOR WORK] but Indiana residents have to add 5% sales tax.)

Jason Whitlock, Kansas City Star sports columnist, is a Ball State alumnus and former student athlete. We know from his ESPN/Scoop Jackson "incident" that he is no stranger to blogs. We also know from his strong comments about the Don Imus/Rutgers incident that Whitlock, an African-American, is not one to shy from racial controversy. It will be interesting to see if he experienced the same bigotry alleged by Coach Thompson.

August 6, 2007

Advice for the Nats

The Washington Nationals open a series in San Francisco tonight, with Barry Bonds on the verge of passing Hank Aaron for the all-time home run record. Here's my advice to tonight's Nats' starter, rookie John Lannan. Dish it up for Bonds. Not only are you a rookie, which means there is no guarantee that you will be remembered throughout history, you play for the Nats, which pretty much need all the attention they can get. So few people are paying attention to the Nats, including those in and around Washington, that no one realizes they are exceeding what miniscule expectations there were for them.

Plus, 10 years from now, the video clip of Bonds breaking the record will be useful for children who don't remember the Nationals.

blahblblahblahblahbh Will John Lannan be remembered?

"Daddy, who were the Nationals?"

"Before the Portland Beavers moved in 2013, they played briefly in Washington."

Everybody wins!

In other news, people think Bud Selig went back home to Milwaukee instead of staying with the home run chase as a silent protest of Bonds breaking the record. In reality, he just knew he couldn't sit through a Nats series.

You Want an Inspirational Video???

Superbowl XXII Highlight - Watch more funny videos here

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know it's from 1988, but we also could get one from '91. But this is my all-time favorite football memory encapsulated into a nice 2.5 minute video that is great for the following reasons:

1) Narrated by the great John Facenda
2) Contains a cheezy 80s synthesized version of Hail to the Redskins.
3) We see lots of 80s women with their frizzed out hairstyles
4) Dexter Manley, Joe Jacoby, and Clint Didier celebrate together. Great 80s Redskins.

Say what you want about the Redskins today, but the second quarter of Super Bowl XXII will not be replicated for some time in a Super Bowl