September 1, 2007

Baseball Statistical Question

The Orioles finally won tonight, ending a 9-game losing streak. The streak happened to begin with the 30-3 beatdown at the hands of the Rangers, the afternoon after Dave Trembley was named the new manager.

So today was Trembley's first win since being manager. Or was it? He was ejected in the fourth inning after arguing a play where Melvin Mora was ruled tagged out despite the catcher having the ball in his bare hand, rather than the mitt. Cincinnati Reds fans probably found this to be karma for Elrod Hendricks' phantom tag in the 1970 World Series, albeit not as satisfying considering this was a regular season game and the Orioles still won.

Elrod, laughing at the city of Cincinnati. Not for the phantom tag though, just in general.

So does Trembley get the credit for the win? The O's are on the road, so he didn't make it the four and a half innings that a pitcher needs for a win. What are the rules for crediting a manager for a win? If he comes back into the dugout with Groucho glasses, a la Bobby Valentine, can he still win the game?

August 31, 2007

Fantasy Update - Leftwich Out, Garrard In in Jax

Hold the phones on the Brunell to Seattle deal. Jax is prepared to announced that Garrard is their starter this season, and Leftwich is being shopped to various teams. I'm sure Atlanta is Leftwich's number one choice, since he could start this year.

According to ESPN, the Jags are interested in getting Brunell to be Garrard's veteran backup.

This is already shaping up to be a very unpredictable season.

See You all in Two Weeks...

So I was going to write a post about the Devil Rays sweep being the lowest point in Orioles franchise history since 0-21. But then I realized that if this was football, that would earn me a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for piling on. And I also realized that J-Red would fire back with deserved ammo about the Nats falling apart.

So I'll have to settle for saying goodbye to everyone for about two weeks. I'm about to head outta here for a wedding. This time, the wedding is going to be my own. Fortunately, entering the sacred covenant of marriage (I win the pool for which ECB blogger would manage to use the phrase "sacred covenant" first in any of their posts) is only forcing me to miss one sacred Maryland football game, and this one isn't so sacred (Take the Terps over Villanova, whatever the spread is).

J-Red has my football picks and he will ghostwrite my post mid-week next week for Week 1 of the NFL season. You'll see a wrinkle for who I am competing with in my picks (that, my friends, is what we call a tease).

I'll be back from my Honeymoon in Aruba searching for Natalee Holloway and Sidney Ponson just in time for Maryland-WVU, and to celebrate a New Year with my people. But until then, everyone, enjoy Week 1 of college football, Week 1 of the NFL, good luck in your fantasy leagues, and I'm out.

Now 1/2 of our ECB contributing staff will be married. J-Red, you're on the clock.

August 30, 2007

Skins Still Talking with Seattle over Brunell Deal

Look out Seneca Wallace. WUSA 9 in D.C. is reporting that the Redskins have traded QB Mark Brunell to the Seattle Seahawks. Brett Haber says the deal is not complete, but will be soon.

Is Brett Haber above reporting a false trade for Danny to induce panic in Atlanta? Brunell played well tonight in Jax.

Details to follow...

blablkhblah This is the Raven-killing Mark Brunell I'll always remember

11:10p update - Seneca Wallace is reportedly being moved to TE. That explains why Ituli Mili and Jerramy Stevens were allowed to leave (other than the fact that Stevens sucks). Marcus Pollard, a 13-year veteran, is the only other name you'd recognize at TE on their roster.

Morning update - Brett Haber might have jumped the gun on this one. Apparently no deal was ever imminent, but rather the Seahawks inquired about Brunell. I think I'll go ahead and trust the Washington Post over the guy who has bounced between ESPN, WTTG Fox-5 D.C., radio and WUSA CBS-9 D.C.

What does it say for Mark's popularity in D.C. that the internet went ablaze last night on rumors that he had been dealt, especially considering he's worth no more than a 5th rounder or a mid-round pick swap?

Feeling good about the Orioles

With Russell and Jeremy (deservedly) bashing the Orioles lately, it took this post from J-Money over at Ladies... to make me feel a little bit better about being an Os fan.

College Football Season is HERE!!

I know I may not have contributed significantly to the 400+ posts, but that does not mean I have been ignoring the sports world. I have a few comments from the slightly more southern part of the East Coast, the town that Mike Vick screwed.

The Falcons season should undoubtedly be devoted to securing the best possible draft pick in the upcoming draft so that Petrino can draft Brohm or any other somewhat capable quarterback. While the Falcons may win more than 3 or 4 games (such as against Minn week 1), 3rd in the NFC South would be the best possible result. NFC South order of finish: Saints 12-4, Bucs 10-6, Panthers 8-8, Falcons 6-10. That's right, Jeff Garcia is taking the Bucs to the playoffs. Gradkowski and Sims really did cost them that many games last year, along with Cadillac being hurt some.

I'm eagerly anticipating another horrid Skins campaign. The last few years have just proven that a bad owner really can destroy a good coach(es). I'm embarassed to be a Skins fan and their future may be even darker than the Orioles if that's possible (Jeremy appears to have said everything that needs to be said regarding the 30-3 debacle).

But on to happier subjects... COLLEGE FOOTBALL!!

The excitement is palpable here at Tech for the first season without Reggie Ball in 4 years. The loss of Calvin is overshadowed by the prospect of having a QB that might be able to break a 55% completion rate. It was just painful to watch. GT-ND will be a fascinating matchup of teams trying to rebuild, and I think GT has a much better chance than most people expect. The line was only GT +2.5 last time I looked. Says something about the loss of Quinn and his cohorts.

So the Terps finally showed signs of life last year, miraculously winning 9 in spite of being dominated in almost every possible category. The fact that Steffi appears to be the starter over the new guys is a bad sign for the next years. Rumor has it that the new QB's can't even line the team up correctly yet. While the ACC isn't getting that much stronger, you really have to wonder if we shouldn't bring back Vanderlinden just to recruit. I'm embarassed that MD's top recruits are being lost to schools such as Illinois. I can deal with VT and Penn St. getting a few, but ILLINOIS?? Really? Ron Zook's that appealing? I know it's not the location... Vanderlinden recruited Lamont, EJ, Curome Cox, Madieu, Bruce Perry, Shaun Hill, along with lines that were able to open holes for Lamont in spite of the ineptitude of our passing attack. MD made the commitment to Fridge, he needs to keep things heading back toward the ACC championship and consistent 8+ win seasons. 6-6 is not good enough.

LSU at Miss. St is probably the only game of any interest tonight, and it might not be very good after the first half. Unless of course you're predicting a Buffalo or Murray State (1-10 in I-AA last year) upset.

August 29, 2007

Just to Reiterate the Obvious...

Another Strike Against South Carolina

1) Strom Thurmond
2) Clemson University
3) Your Miss Teen USA contestant stumbles her way through a question about the plight of American education with this train wreck of a response that really seems more fitting for one of those parody movies like "Best in Show."

Anyway, this is totally non-sports-related, but I felt I would be derelict in my duties for not posting this one. Everyone knows her answer really doesn't matter, because in two years she'll likely be posing for Playboy.

August 28, 2007

Improving the NFL Preseason

It's the time of year where every sports fishhack in the country writes his annual column suggesting ways to improve the preseason. Most of the suggestions are unrealistic or untenable, but everyone agrees that the preseason could be better than it is now.

Rather than tell you why an 18-game regular season is ridiculous (destroys records, increased chance of injury, weather concerns like we saw in Landover Saturday, risk of burnout, screws up schedule), I'll just suggest my own remedy.

blahblahblah The ECB Preseason Plan could result in triple-digit uniform numbers!

Teams should open training camp for rookies and designated young players in mid-June. Players designated as "non-essential" may report later, at the usual time. The rosters are vastly expanded for this "rookie camp", allowing far more undrafted free agents to participate. Four games are played against other teams using only the designated rookies. In fact, each team must designate 20 players who are ineligible to play in the four rookie games. The cut-down periods are moved up to occur after the second and fourth rookie games. The fifth and sixth preseason games are open to all players and are designed to give veterans a chance to shake off rust.

The first four rookie games are played in non-traditional NFL sites within a resonable distance from camp, such as smaller college stadiums. The final two are played in the regular stadiums, and owners are welcome to charge full price as starters will probably play at least three quarters in both games.

"Rookies" are paid a reasonable stipend while they are on the roster, and this stipend does not count against the salary cap.

I can see two major criticisms to this approach. The first is that owners would be foregoing a game's ticket and concessions revenue. If the average NFL stadium seats 60,000 at an average of $70/seat, that's a substantial amount, $4,200,000 + concessions and less costs of operation. On the other hand, a greater chance to evaluated young players in game situations could certainly save an owner more than that in overpayment for underequipped players.

The second criticism might be that it's just too much football. The coaches may not be willing to lose another two weeks of their life. This could be avoided though. The rookie camp and rookie games could be coached only by the position coaches. No team would be using their full playbook anyway, or implementing any complicated schemes, at least not until the veterans arrive two weeks later. Plus, minority coaches, who are far more prevalent as position coaches (partly because so many are former players), would get additional opportunities to display their leadership abilities and worthiness as head coach or coordinator candidates.

Anyone have any other criticisms or ideas to add?

August 26, 2007

Last Night's Redskins-Ravens Game

Last night's game proved any one or all four of the following things. Feel free to comment on whatever else it may have proven to you.

1) The Redskins offensive line is inept, draft Todd Collins in your fantasy drafts because Jason Campbell will be out for the season by week 3, and avoid both Portis and Betts at all costs as there will be no holes for either to run through.

2) It's a good thing that Rex Ryan lost a ton of weight, because if he was still as heavy as he was last year, seeing all the penalties flying against his defense all season would have caused him to have a quadruple coronary on the field. If he has the same disposition as his dad, he may punch McAllister if he can't avoid drive-saving illegal contact or pass interference calls.

3) God is a Redskins fan because he sent a bolt of lightning down a block from FedEx Field last night causing the power to fail just as the Redskins took the lead.

4) God is a Ravens fan who officially had enough of Kyle Boller and threw said bolt of lightning down after seeing Boller screw the pooch yet again on another fumble leading to a defensive score by the 'Skins. Seriously, if I'm Brian Billick, I totally give up on Boller and just make Troy Smith my #2 heading into the season and let him learn all he can from McNair.

Ookie's Day in Court


So tomorrow Ookie (aka Michael Vick) heads 80 miles up the road from his hometown to plead guilty to federal dogfighting charges. On an interesting sidebar, I'll also be in court tomorrow in line to get a marriage license. Oddly, both Ookie's appearance and my appearance in court will involve bitches. Emily, dear, it's just a joke.

But anyway, Roger Cossack (Prediction: J-Red will take his job by force within the next ten years) gave a pretty thorough rundown of what to expect tomorrow on Sportscenter this morning. For the benefit of our readers, here is the combined Cossack/Jeremy analysis of what you'll see in court tomorrow:

1) Case is called. Vick appears with his fleet of attorneys.

2) Judge Hudson asks if everyone is ready to go forward, and asks if it's still Vick's intention to plead guilty. At this point, Hudson will thoroughly voir dire (lawyerspeak for "question") Vick to make sure that he is pleading guilty knowingly and voluntarily because he is in fact guilty of the charges against him, and to make sure that he is satisified with his representation. This occurs in every guilty plea, and generally serves as a checkmate to any post-conviction relief that the Defendant could seek a few months down the line by saying "My attorney was shitty" or "I didn't know what I was doing when I pleaded guilty."

3) Judge Hudson will also ask Vick if there have been any promises made to him to get him to plead guilty. At this point, the Assistant United State's Attorney would note to the judge that there is a plea agreement whereby the government has promised Vick that they would seek a 12-18 month sentence, which is the amount that federal sentencing guidelines would call for. Judge Hudson will advise Vick that this is a non-binding plea, that the federal sentencing guidelines are discretionary, and that he could impose up to the five-year statutory maximum for the crime Vick is pleading guilty to.

4) Judge Hudson (or at least his clerk) will have already perused the full plea agreement that has been filed and was leaked to ESPN. However, on the record, he'll have to hear a proffer from the state of what they would prove if they had gone to trial. So here, the Assistant U.S. Attorney will briefly summarize the facts that Vick is pleading guilty to, just enough to prove that the elements of the crime of conspiracy to commit dogfighting have been proven. In other words, the AUSA can read aloud the entire plea agreement if he/she chooses, or can just summarize it in a way that shows that Vick has committed the crime he's pleading guilty to.

5) Judge Hudson will then ask Vick's attorneys if there are any "material" additions or corrections to what the AUSA has just stated. Material = "Hey, you're wrong and my client didn't do that and you can't prove the crime." In other words, doesn't often happen.

6) Judge Hudson will then accept Vick's guilty plea and Vick will stand convicted of the charges against him.

Sentencing has been set for a few months down the line. Tomorrow, after Vick has been found guilty, the government may seek to increase Vick's bond, because he now doesn't enjoy the benefit of being innocent of charges. The purpose of bond now would be to make sure that Vick doesn't abscond before sentencing, and the higher the flight risk, the higher the bond. While Vick doesn't face that much time in jail, the government will likely argue for a very high bond because Vick certainly has the resources to skip town if he wanted to. Not likely that Vick would skip town, but he'll still face a high bond, of which he would have to pay a small percentage to remain free pending sentencing. The remainder he would forfeit and owe to the United States if he doesn't appear at sentencing.

Between tomorrow and sentencing, both Vick's attorneys, and the government attorneys, will submit lengthy sentencing memoranda to Judge Hudson to try to persuade Hudson to go along with the bargained-for sentence within the guidelines range of 12-18 months. It's obvious why Vick's attorneys want the lower sentence. The government would also want the bargained-for sentence, as they lose credibility with criminal defendants if they can't convince judges to abide by plea bargains. Remember... plea bargains benefit the government sometimes as much, if not more so, than they benefit the Defendant. There will also be a presentence report prepared by a federal probation officer to assist Judge Hudson in sentencing. This report will take into account all of the facts, will thoroughly research Vick's criminal and personal history, and will present an independent recommendation to Judge Hudson for a sentence, including jail, probation, and/or fines.

What will Judge Hudson do? Well, most people think he will go along with the plea bargain and sentence to the guidelines of 12-18 months. I think this is highly dependent on how convincing the State is in their sentencing memoranda and just how much Vick cooperates with the government between now and his sentencing date, which he has agreed to do. Yes, Ookie is a snitch.

Why at first blush do I personally think that Judge Hudson will depart from the guidelines range of 12-18 months and give Vick a 2-3 year sentence? Look to page 352 of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines under "Extreme Conduct."

"If the defendant’s conduct was unusually heinous, cruel, brutal, or degrading to the victim, the court may increase the sentence above the guideline range to reflect the nature of the conduct."

While the examples of such conduct normally involve human victims, I think that Vick's admitted participation in the execution of dogs rises to the level of "heinous, cruel [and] brutal." I'm sure that we'll hear much more about an expected sentence from the pundits and talking heads over the coming weeks. Tomorrow is purely the guilty plea.