February 23, 2008

Nationals Park - A+ for food

So the Maryland loss likely has all four of us in a crappy mood. News today from WTOP radio and other outlets that will warm any fan's heart who plans to spend significant amounts of time (or any time) at Nationals Park.

The Nats plan to offer food that is "unique" to D.C. in the form of restaurants and establishments that are D.C.-area born and raised.

The following restaurants will serve food at Nationals Park:

- Five Guys (the burger that guarantees a food coma)

- Ben's Chili Bowl (never had a chili half-smoke, I think it'll be time to try)

- Hard Times Cafe (chili nachos that they sold at RFK in 2006 were to die for)

- Gifford's (D.C. founded ice cream chain that is creating a new Nationals ice cream bar)

- Cantina Marina (Southwest Waterfront Tex-Mex restaurant)

- Capitol City Brewing Co. Beer Garden (how cool is this... a beer garden at the stadium?!?! likely in the centerfield plaza area that will open up 2.5 hours before every game so that fans can watch both teams take BP)

- 6 other local restaurants that have signed contracts but are as-of-yet undisclosed.

And thankfully, for your standard hot dog, soda, nachos fare, Aramark got their asses kicked away from the Nationals by team management. Anybody who had been to RFK for a game where more than 15,000 people showed up (and yes J-Red, that actually happened last year, quite a bit) knows what a total clusterfuck Aramark was. It took at least 1/2 inning for them to serve the three people in front of you, and when you got to the front of the line, you got yelled at like you were in boot camp. Since more than 15,000 rarely show up to Camden Yards anymore, Aramark hasn't been exposed up in Bodymore yet.

Finally, if anybody really wondered if the ballpark was for real, I give you this, a picture of the Park's Jumbotron this morning... the sign that any stadium is about to officially open:

It's About Time

Finally, after 14 years of cannibalizing each others successes, IRL and the Champ Car World Series realized what everyone else knew in 1994: that North America can't support two top-tier open wheel racing series, and that everyone would be better off if the two sides would reach an agreement.
For the 2008 series, for the first time since 1994, there will be only one unified open wheel series in America. To answer the two major questions: yes, they will run at Indy, and yes, they will run on road courses.

The new IRL is not going to challenge NASCAR any time soon (if ever), but it now seems to be lined up to make some inroads. It has a great TV deal with ESPN and ABC, finally has some recognizable stars in Danica Patrick (famous for being an attractive woman) and Helio Castroneves (famous for being on dancing with the stars).
In theory, I should be an IRL fan. I like NASCAR, and I watch just about every Formula 1 race every year. For some reason, though, I've never really gotten into American open-wheel racing. Maybe it's time to give the IRL another shot.

February 22, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Matt Millen is "Beyond Awful"

"Son, we both suck."

Confirming what everyone with even half a brain already knew, Matt Millen has admitted his record as GM of the Lions has been "beyond awful" according to ESPN.

"If I was sitting at home and I was a Lion fan, you've got to blame somebody," Millen said. "I'd blame me, too. ... That's part of my job is to get blamed. I'm OK with that. But it's also part of my job to win. We haven't done that."

So what I heard is that he's good at taking blame, but nothing else relevant to being a GM.

"We're not good enough in some areas." Really? The 31-81 record didn't give that away, nor did the 1-7 second half in 2007.

About the only thing I can say in Millen's favor is that bad franchises seem to stay bad in some cases, regardless of who the coach or GM is (Kansas City Royals, Pittsburgh Pirates, Los Angeles Clippers). On the other hand, consistently drafting WRs in the top 5 every year hasn't appeared to be the best strategy. That didn't even work with Mike Martz as the OC.

For comparison, Cleveland managed a 10-6 mark this year after years of mediocrity. Tampa Bay recovered from 4-12 in 2006 to win the NFC South. The Washington Redskins snagged a wild card spot. Those teams picked #3, 4, and 6 in the 2007 draft.

Bad Week for Duke - 2006 Lacrosse Team Gangsues School, Others

As if losses to Wake Forest and Miami aren't humiliating enough, Duke now has to face a public relations nightmare. Thirty-eight 2006 Duke Lacrosse players who were NOT charged with rape in the wake of Mike Nifong's botched "rape" witch hunt have filed suit against the University, the City of Durham, the hospital and others. I've had an opportunity to review the suit, and I'll analyze it here.

(Civil procedure stuff. Skip unless you REALLY care about our legal system and the differences between state and federal court.)
First, the suit was filed in Federal court in the Middle District for North Carolina, where Durham is located. There are two jurisdictions in which civil suits can be brought in this country, either a state court or the federal system. There are a limited number of ways to get into the door in the federal system, including suits regarding federal laws, questions under the U.S. Constitution, suits between citizens of different states (with over $75K in question), and suits that are inherently federal (involving the federal government, between two states, involving an ambassador, arising from maritime or federal land jurisdiction).
This case involves 38 of the 47 Duke Lacrosse players. Subtract the three indicted players and the one Black player and you might be left to wonder why five players are not plaintiffs. The answer is found in the legal posturing. The 38 plaintiffs are the White 2006 Duke Lacrosse players who AREN'T from North Carolina. All the defendants are North Carolina "citizens". That allows the attorneys to proceed in federal court under "diversity of citizenship" (every plaintiff is from a different state than every defendant). In addition, the plaintiffs' attorneys wisely have alleged violations of the United States Constitution.

Even if the defendants can show that one or more plaintiffs are actually North Carolina residents (domiciled in North Carolina with the requisite intent to remain there indefinitely) the suit might stay in federal court due to the court's "supplemental jurisdiction", which allows federal courts to retain jurisdiction over matters in which federal issues predominate and the common nucleus of operable fact relevant to the state and federal claims is the same. That is an avenue of attack the defendants will pursue. It's questionable whether Duke wants this in state court anyway, but then again I don't know how much sympathy Durham juries have for a bunch of preppy New York, New Jersey and Maryland kids.
(Welcome back. Resume reading now.)

blahblahblahblah Jesus, Nifong, was the re-election worth it?

Here's a quick (sort of) rundown of the allegations and parties.

--Thirty-eight White Duke Lacrosse players not from North Carolina

--Duke University, assorted higher-ups, and the campus police who assisted the investigation
--Duke University Health System, assorted higher-ups and examining nurses
--City of Durham, various higher higher-ups and various police officials

1) Intentional infliciton of emotional distress
2) Negligent infliction of emotional distress
3) Negligent supervision of (hospital nurses)
4) Breach of duty of care in conducting/reporting forensic examination
5) Breach of duty of care to warn and protect against hazard
6) Intentional infliction of emotional distress (second fact set)
7) Negligent infliction of emotional distress (second fact set)
8) Fraud and conspiracy to defraud
9) Negligent misrepresentation
10) Abuse of process and conspiracy to abuse process
11) Constructive fraud through abuse of confidential relationship
12) Breach of duty of care in conduct of a voluntary undertaking
13) Breach of duty based of special relationship of mutual benefit
14) Breach of duty to protect students from known dangers and harassment
15) Breach of contract
16) Tortious (constituting a tort) breach of contract
17) Promissory estoppel (inducement of detrimental reliance)
18) Intrusion upon seclusion, solitude and private affairs
19) Negligent supervision of Duke professors and employees
20) Fourth Amendment search violation - Key card reports
21) Fourth Amendment search violation - DNA samples
22) Fourthteenth Amendment due process violation - Malicious investigation
23) Obstruction of justice
24) Fourth Amendment due process violation - deprivation of property
25) Fourteenth Amendment due process violation - False public statements
26) Monell v. Dep't of Soc. Servs. (Durham responsible for ratifying Nifong/police acts)
27) Negligent supervision of Durham police
28) Intentional infliction of emotional distress (third fact set)
29) Negligent infliction of emotional distress (third fact set)
30) Negligence by Durham police
31) Negligent hiring/training/supervision/retention of Durham police
Basically, this is what you need to know. Duke screwed up by allowing the campus, and particularly the faculty, to incite feelings against the lacrosse team. It should not have suspended the season and fired the coach based on the shaky allegations of one woman. They should not have turned over key card records for the players and they should not have allowed warrantless searches of the players' rooms.
The Duke University Health System screwed up by having a recently trained nurse examine the accuser, and then ratifying everything she said without even reviewing the record of the examination. They also should have stopped the nurse from changing her story over time and reporting facts that did not exist.
The City of Durham and Durham Police should not have conducted the illegal searches and should not have suppressed statements and evidence that would have exonerated the players.

Sorry, no big finish. The suit asks for damages to be proven at trial rather than some exorbitant number that draws big headlines. Don't get me wrong though, the attorneys in this case want big headlines. Check out the hot new blog, http://www.dukelawsuit.com/. It's run by Robert Bork, Jr., the son of Reagan Supreme Court nominee (and famous political victim) Robert Bork, and it's labeled "official".

Some of these claims are quite weak, but taken as a whole the 225-page complaint is quite damning. I don't know that I have ever seen such a clusterfuck of incompetence at so many levels, and the suit doesn't even include Nifong or the lying accuser. I'm including Hurricane Katrina, 9/11 and Abu Gharib when I say that. The most difficult aspects of the suit are going to be procedural, in that there do not appear to be enough federal claims to keep the matter in federal court if diversity of citizenship can be successfully challenged. After that it's just a matter of which defendants are writing checks and how many zeroes they need.

The only thing I know for sure is that this is NOT going to trial, at least not with Duke and the Duke medical system as defendants. This is an ugly, career-killing trial for many people if it sees the light of day. I wouldn't be surprised to see the players get on the order of $1.5M each from the University. The City of Durham will fight harder (because it has better defenses as a government entity and because it has a duty to its citizens to limit damages whereever possible).
Duke's endowment, as of 2005, was valued at around $2.5 billion. They won't be shuttering the university over this.

February 21, 2008

BracketBusters: A Maryland Perspective

Butler vs. Drake is the headline, but doesn't matter. (Photo: ESPN, AP)

This post is for the Maryland basketball fan (or a fan of any team on the bubble) and provides a game by game analysis of the effect on the #62 Terps' bubble status. ESPN has a full breakdown of the games, but no one knows who most of these teams are or why you should care, so here's the rundown with whom to root for in bold:

Davidson at Winthrop: Root for RPI #106 Winthrop so that #61 Davidson's chances at an at-large are eliminated.

UC Santa Barbara at Utah State: No impact, neither league has a shot at an at-large.

VCU at Akron: #60 VCU beat the Terps in College Park, so this win would enhance the Terps' RPI and make the loss look less bad. Akron is a non-factor, and VCU's SOS is sufficiently bad (165) that they won't be the reason the Terps miss the tournament.

George Mason at Ohio: Even though the Patriots are a local team, you have to root for #63 Ohio for the same reasons as VCU. Besides, #66 George Mason is essentially tied with Ohio in RPI and SOS, so there shouldn't be any hesitation on this one. Go Bobcats!

Creighton at Oral Roberts: #71 Creighton is not going to pass the Terps for an at-large, but #44 Oral Roberts is a threat, go with the Bluejays.

Nevada at Southern Illinois: Even though the Salukis are having a tough year, they are #56 in RPI. They're not making the tournament, but it looks bad for the Terps when you trail a 15-12 team from the MVC.

Drake at Butler: Both teams are already in, so choose whichever Bulldog you prefer.

Miami (OH) at Valpo: A marginal one, root for Miami (OH) because they're in the MAC, as is Ohio. Part of the RPI formula is opponents' opponents' record. The MAC is unlikely to be multi-bid even if the Redhawks win.

Marist at Cleveland State: No one cares.

Rider at CS Northridge: No one cares.

UW Milwaukee at Bradley: No one cares.

Siena at Boise State: No one cares.

Kent State at St. Mary's: This is a tough one, but I'm going to root for St. Mary's. I think the Gaels have already clinched an at-large, so knocking the #40 Golden Flashes down is the better choice. On the other hand, the Miami (OH) MAC argument applies. Kent St. is unlikely to get an at-large regardless, but Maryland could pass them in the RPI if things fall out right.

Wright State at Illinois State: #52 Illinois St. is ahead of Maryland, and a loss by them helps keep the MVC a one-bid league this year (unless Drake loses in the conference tourney.

Enjoy a bunch of games between teams you almost never see!

NBA All Emaciated Team

With all the hubbub about Shaq's physical presence, here's a look at the opposite end of the spectrum, guys that you wonder if they have an eating disorder. You have to wonder if Shaq could break some of these guys in two like Bo Jackson breaking a baseball bat over his knee. But this list isn't just to make fun, many of these guys deserve credit for making a career without needing much time in the weight room. My apologies to anyone I forgot (feel free to suggest).

As a note, the height and weight listed is from ESPN, and in some cases are pretty questionable. The eyeball test was used more than just the height to weight ratio.

So here's my top 10 sorted by height:

Jason Terry (6'2", 180 lbs) - Dallas Mavericks

Juan Dixon (6'3", 165 lbs) - Detroit Pistons (as of today)
Seriously, 165?? Are you sure? When he was in college, he only broke 150 with a brick in each hand.

Steve Blake (6'3", 172 lbs) - Portland Trail Blazers

Francisco Garcia (6'7", 195 lbs) - Sacramento Kings

Tayshaun Prince (6'9", 215 lbs) - Detroit Pistons
Girls would kill for that waist. Note that he has to take the shorts in by a couple inches to keep them from falling off.

Tyrus Thomas (6'9", 215 lbs) - Chicago Bulls

Kevin Durant (6'9", 215 lbs) - Seattle Supersonics
Duhon tries to handcheck (as he was taught at Duke), but there's nothing there but jersey.

Travis Outlaw (6'9", 215 lbs) - Portland Trail Blazers

AK-47 (6'9", 223 lbs) - Utah Jazz

Marcus Camby (6'11", 235 lbs) - Denver Nuggets

Proof the NBA or ESPN lies:
Jason Kapono (6'8", 215 lbs) - One more inch and he would look like Tayshaun??

Steve Nash (6'3", 178 lbs) - You can't tell me Steve Blake and Steve Nash are the same height.

All photos from the AP.

Blazers, Wizards Have Flat Tires

The only two teams I actually track in the NBA, even though they're never on TV in Atlanta, are the Blazers and the Wizards, and both of them are really sucking right now.

Portland has now lost 5 straight to fall 4.5 games behind the 3 teams essentially tied for 7th in the West. The Blazers' once-intimidating home court advantage is fading, as they are 3-4 since the middle of January at home and those 3 wins were by a combined 4 pts (or 10 if you count the OT margin) over the Knicks, Bulls, and Hawks (none close to .500). Looking ahead, the Blazers are in a world of hurt if they intend to catch up with the playoff hunt. They get the Lakers twice and the Celtics before the end of February, and 6 of their first 7 games in March are on the road where Portland is 8-18 this year.

Roy gives a crazed look (AP: Matt Slocum)

To make matters worse, Brandon Roy is day-to-day with a viral infection and a sore ankle. On a team that rotates so many players into the lineup, it's hard to pinpoint problem areas or personnel, but the simple things like FT shooting are becoming a problem for this young roster (for example, 11-21 in a 12 point loss to Houston). The Blazers certainly have a bright upside, but the dream of making the playoffs this year is disappearing rapidly.

Everything's just out of reach for the Bullets (AP: Manuel Ceneta)

Meanwhile, the Bullets have the luxury of being in the East, where .500 is good enough for a decent seed, and yet they're doing everything they can to exit the playoff picture. At 1-9 in the last 10, Washington is now 3 games under .500 after playing their 6th straight game without Caron Butler. The most frustrating part for the Wiz is that they have leads in the 4th and just can't close the deal (see the Knicks and Warriors games in the last week). The schedule is not favorable either. Two games with the Hornets among others make 2-6 in the next 8 very realistic. Washington needs to pull it together and get healthy prior to mid-March, when there's a good chance for them to make up some ground. On the positive side, 25-28 is good for the 6th seed in the East right now, and the Wizards should be able to hold off the Kidd-less Nets and the 76ers. Atlanta, Indiana, and Chicago are capable of making a run, but the Wizards should still make the playoffs.

Yes, this is the obligatory, requested NBA post.

ACC Bubble Watch

IN: UNC, Duke

Clemson (18-7, 7-5, RPI: 25, SOS: 27) - The Tigers need 2 more wins to feel good, but 1 would probably suffice. A victory over Miami or Maryland next week would move them into lock land. All four remaining games are winnable.

Miami FL (17-7, 5-6, RPI: 28, SOS: 33) - A victory over Duke to extend the winning streak to 3 bolstered their already strong computer numbers. 8-8 in conference is the number I've been quoting for a while, and I still think that's necessary. Virginia and BC at home should be W's, and that just leaves one win from the other three games: Maryland, at Clemson, at FSU.

Maryland (17-10, 7-5, RPI: 62, SOS: 22) - The debilitating, disappointing debacle yesterday at Comcast was extremely costly. Now the Terps really need to win 3 of the last 4 (at Miami, at Wake Forest, Clemson, at Virginia). Look at those games again and tell me the VT loss wasn't huge. Miami and Wake both just beat Duke, providing confidence even though we play a very different style. Clemson is the third best team in the league, and while Virginia's last in the ACC standings, don't underestimate how hard it will be to win in Charlottesville on Senior Day for Sean Singletary. The Terps are capable of winning all 4 and of losing all 4.

Wake Forest (16-8, 6-5, RPI: 64, SOS: 93) - I had the Deacons out last week, and they're still really close to needing to win out. Their non-conference SOS is 264 and they only have two road wins all year. #27 BYU is the only non-conference win in the top 150. After a likely loss at UNC, Wake has Maryland and NC St. at home and the two Tech's on the road, all winnable. If they do finish 4-1, they would be 10-6 in the ACC and winners of 7 of their last 8. That would probably be a third place finish in the ACC, and might be enough to overcome a soft schedule.

NEED TO WIN OUT (and probably win at least their first round game in the ACC tournament): Florida State (15-12, 4-8), North Carolina State (15-11, 4-8), Boston College (13-11, 4-7), Virginia Tech (15-11, 6-6)

OUT: Virginia, Georgia Tech

February 20, 2008

Idol Recap - Feb. 20, 2008

Since Jeremy is out with the "Why Did I Go to Law School? Flu" (it's epidemic in these parts), Idol Recap duty falls to me. Unfortunately for you, our still baffled reader, I haven't seen a single episode of Idol prior to tonight. Fortunately for you, I haven't seen a single episode of Idol prior tonight, so I'm not corrupted by the Idol pre-performance propaganda machine.

I will open by noting that the girls are strong in the rack department this year. That's what I like to see. Odds are that four of them will have no shot anyway, so at least give me something(s) to look at while we wait for their inevitable departure.

Seacrest tells us that the contestants have been struck by cold/flu season. We'll see which girl plays the "sick" card first after an especially galling performance.

1) Kristy Lee Cook (Rescue Me - Aretha Franklin) - First of all, you won't win over many viewers by describing how you sold your favorite horse to audition for Idol in Philly (especially when you live in Oregon). The girl is cute (tall skinny blonde), but the song was boring. She has none of Aretha's tone and absolutely NO charisma. I've been in the car with people who sang it more convincingly. Randy Abdul noted that she was sick and had to go first. Simon said the song didn't suit her, her performance was robotic.

2) Joanne Borgella (Say a Little Prayer for You - Aretha Franklin) - She's a charming African-American plus-sized model (and we're talking Lane Bryant, not Mandisa). She has excellent tone and good rhythm for the song. It slows down a bit towards the end, but she started so strong that she should survive. Randy says "pretty good" and disagrees with me on the first part. He thought she finished strong. Paula said something incoherent. Simon said he did not like it at all, calling it a cabaret version of a cabaret song. Simon agreed with me that the second half was worse than the first. She handled the criticism very well and kept smiling.

3) Alaina Whitaker (I Love You More Today than Yesterday - Diana Ross) - Ditzy cute blonde, talked about her shoes. Looks like a slightly busted version of Carrie Underwood, but she's only 16 so we'll give her a pass. Alaina has enunciation issues, but a very strong voice. Still the song was unrecognizable before the chorus, which is an Idol staple. The belters never seem to try until the big notes. It was a good performance, very slow start but she finished well with the big notes. Randy agreed with me that the beginning was rough, but he liked it overall. Paula said she captured the joyous nature of the song and loved the ending. Simon said that he thinks she is very good, though he hated the song because it's corny.

4) Amanda Overmyer (Baby, Please Don't Go - Muddy Waters/Van Morrison/AC DC/Aerosmith) - This is a goth-looking white girl with a bleach blond streak in her bangs. She sang Janis for Hollywood week. Unfortunately slightly resembles Rosanne Barr, though not overweight. The guitar drowned out the difficult scat intro. I think she was doing the Aerosmith version, since I could hear Stephen Tyler doing it. She's got a great rock voice and handled a very difficult hard rock take on a classic blues song. Randy loved her bluesy rock twist on it (though I still suspect she stole either the AC/DC or Aerosmith version). Paula called her authentic (an authentic what?) and the real deal. Simon said he really liked her and found her "genuinely authentic" (redundant, and an authentic what?). Simon accused her of missing the lyrics, but Randy, Paula and Amanda informed him that she was scatting, which Simon seemed to buy. She has some charisma, which doesn't seem to be lacking on the girls side.

5) Amy Davis (Where the Boys Are - Connie Francis) - Did you see "My Box in a Box", the take off on Justin Timberlake/Andy Samberg's "My Dick in a Box"? This girl looks likes her with a slightly longer face and a practiced pageant smile (but similarly nice rack). Her personality is non-descript, which also perfectly describes her boring-ass performance. I thought I was seeing a slow dance scene from a 1960's movie. Seriously, we went from Aretha and Diana Ross to Muddy Waters to Connie Francis? Snore. Randy found pitch problems and wasn't impressed by her big finish. Even the boos are half-hearted. Paula gave her standard shitty performance criticism, saying "the camera loves you" before adding that the performance was lackluster. Simon agreed she looked great but didn't sound great, calling the song and the arrangement boring.

6) Brooke White (So Happy Together - The Turtles) - Kate Hudson apparently has an alias. This girl has nice long wavy blonde hair and a good smile. If she can sing, I could get attached to her. She is very well-spoken and sure of herself. Her voice has some of the gravelly tone of Jewel's, at least in the low notes. The song is a good choice because it's instantly recognizable. She had to cut off a held-out note in the middle, likely because of taking a breath at the wrong point. She moves well at the mike and plays with her beautiful hair at the right moments. The ending is "bah-bah-bahs" and "bup bup bups", which doesn't allow for a big finish. Randy admitted what I've said, that the beginning doesn't matter if you kill the end. Paula said that she's original. Simon said she picked the right song, but the night feels like a 60's commercial for him. Unfortunately, Ms. White is Mrs. White.

7) Alexandrea Lushington (Spinning Wheel - Blood, Sweat and Tears) - She is an attractive younger African-American female. She has an interesting style, wearing a Boy Scouts shirt to Hollywood and tailored flared dress pants, a white t-shirt and suspenders tonight (showing off her assets). She seemed a bit nervous, but performed well. Randy loved it. Paula complimented her entrance and her outfit, and said she had great confidence. Simon said he didn't get it, and said something else whining about the 60's. He didn't love the vocals as much as Randy and Paula. I seem to be between the two camps.

8) Kady Malloy (A Groovy Kind of Love - Phil Collins) - I can barely tell her from Alaina Whitaker, though she's slightly hotter. She's 18, so I feel more comfortable noting that she's hot and has quite nice tits. She does a good Britney impression from back when Britney was hot. Her voice is a little deeper than most of the other girls, which might serve her well in some of the theme weeks. I found her performance as boring as the song. If you don't know the song, note that the word "groovy" is in the title. I hate the word "groovy". Randy complimented her Britney impression, but found the performance restrained and controlled. Paula noted how pretty she is, but didn't see enough of her personality. Simon agreed with Paula, calling it "Night of the Living Dead." He notes that she seems to only have personality when she is doing impressions. She looks very hurt by Simon relating her actual personality to a pencil.

9) Asia'h Epperson (Take Another Little Piece of My Heart - Dusty Springfield/Janis Joplin) - I'm going to be forgiving on name spelling, since the girls didn't name themselves. Asia'h's dad died two days before her initial audition. She's an attractive African American girl with pretty curly hair, possibly with some Asian heritage. She sings with a lot of sass and has very sexy lips and a nice smile. Her voice is a little dusky, but not throaty. She started very well, but her voice broke a little towards the end. The whole performance was entertaining though. I suspect she is one of the sick ones. Randy said he loved it. Paula said she had some really nice moments. Simon said it was his favorite of the night and that she is fun and likeable.

10) Ramiele Malubay (You Don't Have to Say You Love Me - Dusty Springfield) - Ramiele is a petite exotic-looking 20-year-old. You could tell me she is Asian, Hispanic, African-American, Filipino, some combination or from a different background entirely and I'd believe you. She picked a very difficult song with a slow start that requires precision. She had choreographed head moves that were well-executed. The song was a perfect choice because it's instantly recognizable and it builds nicely throughout. Randy noted that she executed the beginning well and ended it strong. Paula complimented her "accents" with her head. Simon said he didn't like her at first, but each round has been more and more impressed with her. He said she out-sung the competition.

11) Syesha Mercado (Tobacco Road - Nashville Teens/Jefferson Airplane/David Lee Roth/The Animals) - Another cute African-American girl with a mini-Diana Ross hairdo (but far less frizzy, I can't describe it better. I'm tired). She has a nice face structure, and a nice body structure too. I wish Simon had been a boob man seasons ago. She looked nervous at first and her voice was shaky, but she hit a big ending note that got Paula standing. Since she finished well, she'll get compliments. Randy said it was a little shaky in the middle, but he liked it. Paula said it was joyful and big. Simon said it wasn't her best, but it doesn't matter because she's one of the most talented. He said it was terrific.

12) Carly Smithson (Shadow of Your Smile - Barbra Streisand/Frank Sinatra/Tony Bennett/Stevie Wonder/Eva Cassidy) - Ah, the dark-haired blue-eyed Irish chick with tattoos all the way down her right arm. I only wish she had a thicker accent. She looks a little Evanescence, which scares me. She also has a little Celine Dion nose scrunch on bigger notes, which also scares me. She has the best voice of the girls, though a couple higher notes might have been a little flat. I wasn't familiar with the song, though looking at who has recorded it I would think it's a "standard". She appears ill, coughing afterwards. Randy said it was the best vocal of the top 24. Paula said she is the lucky coin in the pocket, reliable. I can almost no longer hear Paula's voice. My brain shuts down to protect itself. Simon said he didn't get it, and implied that she is overhyped. He said it was a letdown, and her "mike technique" was cabaret.

For the record, without commercials Idol runs about 37 minutes. Thank God for DVR and it's USB equivalents.

Where They Stand

Safe for Sure - Amanda Overmyer, Brooke White, Asia'h Epperson, Ramiele Malubay, Syesha Mercado, Carly Smithson

Lucky to Be Hot - Kady Malloy, Alaina Whitaker, Alexandrea Lushington

In Trouble - Kristy Lee Cook, Joanne Borgella, Amy Davis

My picks for the two girls to be eliminated are Kristy Lee Cook and Amy Davis. Joanne Borgella had the bad luck to go early, but she picked a song that people love and she stands out from the competition as the only girl to wear bigger than a size 4. Kristy Lee Cook and Amy Davis are forgettable and gave forgettable performances. With 12 telephone numbers, that should be fatal. If there is a bottom four, add Alaina Whitaker (who should be safe on talent and her performance, but likely isn't because she didn't distinguish herself in any way). Kady Malloy is just too damn hot to be in any trouble this far out.

February 19, 2008

Idol Recap 2/19

Alright, I'm a little under the weather and bed is calling, so I'll give you all an abbreviated recap of tonight's performances of the 12 guys, and be sure to include a few snarky comments along the way:

Soon to be on the 2008 Idol Tour:
David Archuleta - Natural performer, but isn't it a little weird to not have your voice changed yet at 17? I guess it worked for Michael Jackson. I'm getting suspicious of the "awww shucks" thing from David the same way I was suspicious of that from Melinda last year.

Michael Johns - Considering the reaction of my wife when he appeared on screen, this is going to be the heartthrob vote of the year. He's got the Aussie accent which works for him. And above all, I'm not going to hate... he's got an awesome voice.

Start picking your songs for next week:
Robbie Carrico - It's hard to imagine this guy used to open for Britney Spears. He pulls off the rocker thing effortlessly. He'll make it far, then get cut, then get a nice record deal along the lines of Daughtry.

David Hernandez - Not a bad performance to start the evening. He's got to get over his nerves but he's got a good voice. He'll make it through for a few weeks.

Jason Castro - Not such a fan of the hairstyle on anybody except for Adam Duritz. Nonetheless, he's got some great music talent and had a good night tonight.

Danny Noriega - I personally hate this kid. Really and truly hate him. But he'll get enough vote to get through. When I heard he was going to cover Elvis, I cringed. Look, Danny is gay. Flamboyantly gay. And I have zero problem with that. Seriously. But don't friggin try to cover Elvis and swish around stage. Did not work. Still, he's safe. He looked seriously pissed off at Simon for calling his performance "grotesque." It was a great scene.

Middle of the road... I've already forgotten you less than 2 minutes after the show ended:
Colton Berry - You do look like Ellen DeGeneres. Congratulations on pointing that out.

David Cook - Not even sure I remember what you sang.

In danger of being voted out (or the "We're too dumb to not know by now to avoid ballads at all costs" category):
Luke Menard - The wife had an amazing observation... "he looks like a Luke... dead ringer for Luke Perry." She's right. Too bad his song sucked. And he's got zero stage presence.

Jason Yeager - Didn't work tonight.

Garrett Haley - I'll give Simon this... he at least has the guts to say what America is thinking. This kid looks like Casper the ghost, has a nasally, high-pitched, whiny voice, and like David Archuleta appears to suffer from delayed-onset puberty. However, unlike Archuleta, his voice doesn't compensate for these shortfalls.

Eze - Since Chikezie wanted to drop his last name, I'm going to refer to him only by his last name. However, I suspect this is going to be the last time I refer to him. He sounded like a cruise ship performer and he borrowed a suit from Bruce Pearl. An all-around failure of a performance.

Reality Show Retreads Part 2

I'm sure Jeremy will post his in-depth Idol review tomorrow, but I had to post about this.
Jason Castro just performed on American Idol, and as soon as he went on stage I thought that I recognized him from somewhere. Since I apparently have an encyclopedic knowledge of bad old reality shows, I realized that he was Cheyenne Kimball's love interest in the short lived MTV show "Cheyenne."

Carefull, she's still only 17

For those of you who didn't watch it (probably everyone reading this post), Cheyenne was a show about a 16 year old musician whose family moved from Texas to California to support her music career. It mainly appealed to pedophiles, reality show addicts (guilty), and people who like mediocre vanilla pop music. One of the most annoying parts of the show was that Cheyenne had an inexplicable crush on this dirty looking guy named Jason.

Cheyenne and Jason on the set of her music video

Fast forward 18 months, and somehow Cheyenne has fallen off the face of the earth and Jason is in the top 24 on American Idol. WTF?

Weird Stadium Thoughts

Well I was reading my latest edition of Sports Illustrated and I read an article about the Phoenix Suns playing well at home at "U.S. Airways Arena." This immediatley brought me back to memories of the good 'ol U.S. Air Arena (formerly the Capital Centre), along Harry Truman Drive just off the Capital Beltway, formerly home to your Washington Capitals, Washington Bullets, and Washington Warthogs.

Home of the Phoenix Suns

Home of the Capitals, Bullets, Warthogs

Upon a little research, I discovered, of course, that U.S. Airways Arena in Phoenix is actually named U.S. Airways Center. It was renamed such when America West Airlines merged with U.S. Airways, hence rendering the former name America West Arena obsolete.

Look at the two pictures though. We look at the lower picture of U.S. Air Arena (home of the Capitol, Eagle, Bell, and Flag and where yours truly took in his first ever concert - Aerosmith on the Get a Grip tour in 1993), and all we think is how obsolete that arena is. We look at the upper picture of the new U.S. Airways Arena and we think how cutting edge and new it is. How much time will it take for the glass and modern architecture of stadiums to be viewed as obsolete? I suppose this is more an architectural question than a question to pose on a sports blog, but it makes me wonder if all of the stadiums built during the latest MLB Stadium craze will soon be perceived by the public in the same way as the public ten years ago perceived Riverfront, Municipal, Three Rivers, Veterans, and all the other MLB stadiums built during the 70s stadium craze.

Further, this has to be the only time that a stadium's namesake has seen their arena imploded (U.S. Air Arena blown up in 1999 to make way for the Largo Town Center where three people were shot to death on Super Bowl Sunday... ahh... Prince George's County), only to place their name on another arena not even ten years later. If it was going to happen in any industry, it'd certainly be the airline industry. I'm not sensing that 3Com or Monster or Fleet will be putting their names on any arenas anytime soon.

Your random stadium thoughts for the day.

February 17, 2008

This is Not a Parody

If you've watched any Duke basketball games recently, you've probably seen this commercial

Is this really going to convince anyone to go to Duke? It's like they're not even trying to counter the stereotype of the Duke student as a pasty anti-social loser (maybe it's not a stereotype?).

The best part comes at 0:09 in the video when the two guys walking down the sidewalk bump fists. For some reason, it kills me every time. I like to imagine what they're saying to each other (post yours in the comments):

  • "Did you see the new cheer sheet?" "You know it!"
  • "I'm going to dress up as a monkey at the next basketball game!" "What a great idea, that's so clever!"
  • "We go to Duke!" "I know, it's totally radical!"
  • "Let's not tell anyone that we had butt sex." "Good idea."
  • "Halfway to being a 40-year old virgin!"
Update: Coach_Ghey from Yardbarker came through with the screencap:

Cole's First Terps Basketball Game

Yesterday, my wife and I took our 8 month old son, Cole, to the Maryland vs. Florida State game. We had taken him to a football game in September, but he was only 3 months, then, so he just slept and spit up the whole game. He won't remember this game either, but he was old enough to take in the sights a little bit more.

My baldfaced campaign to be INRCP's "Fan of the Week"

The plan was to scalp tickets outside Comcast Center. I had heard from a bunch of different people that scalping tickets to basketball games was easy. There were plenty of scalpers around, who had obviously scooped up all the available extras. They were asking outrageous prices ($100 each for lower level) at first. But by following the first rule of dealing with scalpers (wait, wait, and wait some more), we were able to get some decent upper bowl seats for $30 a piece. I'm sure if we had waited another 10 minutes, we could have done even better.

Cole was a little bit overwhelmed when we first went into Comcast Center. The first time the crowd cheered, he burst into tears because it surprised him. After that, he settled down and seemed to enjoy the rest of the game. He was much more interested in staring at the people sitting around us than the game, but he was really well behaved. By the end of the game, he was exhausted, but there were no tantrums or crying fits, so I consider the trip a success.

The game wasn't pretty, but it was great to see the Terps win. I was disappointed by the number of empty seats I saw. There's no reason a season ticket holder can't find someone to take his tickets for a Saturday afternoon ACC game. If you have season tickets and let your seats go empty for a game like that, you're a bad fan, I don't care how much money you give the university.
Cole in front of his namesake.

Even though there's no way he'll remember seeing the game when he grows up, it was really cool to share something that's such a big part of my life with my son. He's still too young to pick up on that kind of stuff, but as he gets older, I think a common fanhood will make us closer. Sports have always been a big part of my relationship with my dad, and I'm looking forward to having that same bond with Cole.