March 4, 2009

Ravens Welcome Ray Lewis Back, Sign Birk, Positioned to Retain Suggs

As much as I hate to bump a picture including Juan Dixon, one of the only people on Earth guaranteed to get a smile out of me, off the top spot, the Ravens made a couple big moves today.

The first was the most widely expected. Ravens icon MLB Ray Lewis came crawling back, and Ozzie and Co. were willing to take him. Ray really overplayed his hand by pretending to have offers from other teams as free agency dawned last month. It became apparent that he did not, and worse yet the Ravens offer was out there for all to see. Any of the other 31 teams could have slightly one-upped it and probably landed Ray, but the Cowboys signed Keith Brooking and the Jets and new head coach Rex Ryan signed fellow Ravens' linebacker Bart Scott. No one else surfaced, and Ray was looking a bit sheepish.

The second signing provided a bit of cover for Ray to crawl back, which I am sure his agent appreciated. Minnesota Vikings C, and Harvard grad, Matt Birk signed with the Ravens Wednesday. Birk will fill the void left by the departure of Jason Brown. Brown, 25, signed with the Rams on Friday for five years, $37.5M, $20M guaranteed. Birk, 33, signed a three-year deal with the Ravens, but the financial terms are as of yet unavailable (ESPN says $12M over four years, $6M guaranteed, which would be great if true). The clear implication is that the Ravens were willing to part with Jason Brown if it meant they could replace him competently and still have enough room to re-sign OLB/DE Terrell Suggs. My how the championship window has shifted after last year's run.

Let's ride.

March 3, 2009

Idol Recap 3/3/09

Hi, I'm Josh Howard. I hate the National Anthem.

American Idol: 8:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Maryland vs. #10 Wake Forest: 9:00 p.m. - 11:00 p.m.

Idol keeps conflicting with meaningful Terps games. Your regular Idol recapper is at Comcast Center and all his co-contributors are watching the game. By the time we DVR, the results show will be on. All we can say is we're rooting for our boy from Bowie but don't love his chances.

Look for us back immediately upon the resumption of live performances and voting. By that time there shouldn't be a conflict with meaningful Terp games.

March 1, 2009

And You Thought the Dancing Robot Was Bad

First, some background. I love Fox's NASCAR coverage. The announcers seem to actually enjoy their job, which is a huge advantage over the Buzzkills at NBC and TNT. But sometimes the fun goes a little too far.

Fox has a camera in the track, sort of like the home plate camera in baseball. Great idea, it gives a different view of the track and some cool footage at times. Then, they made a cute little graphic of a gopher to show every time they switch to the in-track cam. That's a little annoying, but not surprising given the graphic saturation of a NASCAR broadcast. Of course, the gopher needed a name, which launched a months-long contest that ended with the obvious (and uninspired) choice of "Digger."

At this point, I thought that Fox had gotten all of this nonsense out of their system. They could pop up the "Digger Cam" graphic approximately 20,000 times a race, what more could they want? Much more, it turns out.

At the Daytona 500, Fox debuted a Digger theme song by country superstar Keith Urban, which is every bit as awful as it sounds. I don't know who at Fox has incriminating pictures of Urban that they threatened to show Nicole Kidman, but it's good enough blackmail material to make him whore himself out like this.

As if all that wasn't bad enough, they also premiered the first episode of the Digger show. Each week during the pre-race show, there is a 2 minute animated short featuring Digger and his crazy band of buddies running around a racetrack trying to avoid a police wolf or something like that. It's like Tom and Jerry without any kind of imagination or sense of humor and with some NASCAR branding thrown in. See for yourself:

Oh, and there's also a Digger Store at where you can buy t-shirts and a $10 beer coozy.

I know, I should have expeced this when I decided to watch a NASCAR pre-race show.

Update: With Leather beat me to it

Nats GM Bowden Leaves Team in the Lurch

The Nats (Washington Nationals, formerly the Montreal Expos) recently received confirmation, through CNNSI, of their suspicion that highly paid prospect Esmailyn Gonzalez is older than he claims. Actually, that isn't even his name. Add in that General Manager Jim Bowden and assistant Jose Rijo were both implicated in a skimming scandal involving Dominican prospects, and things haven't been going well on the Space Coast for Major League Baseball's forgotten franchise.

Rijo was fired on Thursday. Bowden resigned abruptly today. With no replacement. With no interim named. During Spring Training.

To borrow a line from Bill Simmons, "Ladies and gentlemen, these are YOUR Washington Nationals!"

Bowden has always seemed surprised at the lack of support he has received within the organization. I guess he got the last laugh though, abandoning the team at the time of year when the General Manager is perhaps the most important man in the organization. Whatever happened to two weeks notice?

Did Bowden scribble out a little note for his successor, explaining his entire five-year plan to make the Nats competitive, or will the replacement, whoever that is, be able to piece it together himself (or herself)?

Seems like a giant F-You to me.