Friday, April 13, 2007

The Quest for...Lil Jon's Cup

Is there anything better than Lil Jon's fan page on NHL.com? Yeah, just about everything is better than that, but nothing else has pictures like this:



Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Lead? What's a Lead?

Going into tonight's game against Atlanta, the 1-7 Washington Nationals (with the worst record in baseball), have a big problem. Well, they have several, but of major immediate concern is the team's penchant to fall into a big hole almost immediately in every game they've played.

The AP reports:

After an 8-0 loss to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night, Washington has now been outscored 53-18 this season. Forget that the team has fallen behind by at least 3-0 in every game and hasn't scored in the first three innings in every game.

The fact that is perhaps most surprising is that in eight games, Washington (1-7) has never led at the time of any pitch -- their only win came on a game-ending RBI single by Dmitri Young against Florida last Wednesday.

"We're still waiting for that lead," Washington manager Manny Acta said. "We haven't gotten a lead yet."
I know this is supposed to be a season full of taking baby steps, but...damn, nonetheless!

Redskins 2007 Schedule

It's out.



Immediate observations...early bye week (4), MNF against the Eagles in Week 2, Thu. against the Bears 12/6, Sun. against the Giants 12/16, both Cowboys games late in the season.

Home finale against Dallas is gonna be a must-attend game, since the 'Skins are gonna be making playoff noise this year!

The non-divisional schedule seems pretty favorable. Weeks 5-7 (Lions, Packers, Cardinals) should be a nice soft stretch to get some momentum going. In December, we face the Bills, who probably aren't going to be very good, and the Vikings, who definitely won't be.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Don't Mess With Roger

New NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is making his presence felt in a big way. The league announced today its disciplinary actions against Titans' CB Adam "Pacman" Jones and Bengals WR Chris "I get arrested a lot" Henry. And it looks like neither are going to be collecting paychecks for quite some time.

No slap-on-the-wrist. Pacman is gone for the entire season, Henry for 8 games. (I guess appeals could reduce the length, but not by much.) That's a major punishment, and yet most commentators have reacted favorably. After all, both players are definitely not Boy Scouts, and their behavior has been embarassing for the league. Pacman has been interviewed 10 times by police recently and was involved in a fight and shooting in Vegas; Henry has been arrested 4 times in the past 14 months.

Interestingly enough though, I was watching Comcast's excellent new sports talk show Washington Post Live, and one of the commentators--I forget who--brought up an excellent point. How many games did Ray Lewis have to miss when he faced murder charges and wound up copping a plea? Answer: none.

So while Pacman and Henry have not actually been convicted of any crimes, it looks like Goodell is making examples out of those two. He's the new guy in charge, and I guess I support him. In general, NFL players enjoy a much better reputation than NBA players. Goodell clearly wants to make sure his players don't get stuck with the "thug" label attached to a number of basketball players.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Are You KIDDING?

In the span of a few short days, things have gone from really bad to unbelievably worse. Sunday, Caron Butler broke his hand, and is out until at least the deeper rounds of the playoffs. It was going to be very difficult getting that far anyway, and then tonight at home against Charlotte, Agent Zero went down. Arenas collided with Gerald Wallace, spraining his left knee. The AP report uses the phrase "weeks, not days" in describing the likely severity of the injury.

Caron gone? A heartbreaker. Arenas out too? To use the phrase most associated with him, dagger! Call it unbelievable, unreal, a nightmare, it's a dagger in the final leg of our season.



Eight games left to limp through, and the Wizards have already fallen a game behind Miami for the division lead. We're still 5.5 games ahead of Orlando, so missing the playoffs is unlikely, but even so it feels like the season is over already. No Caron, no Gil, and we have to find a way to win a first-round series against either Miami or Toronto.

Someone tell me this is a bad dream.

Meat Hook with the Walkoff, Nats Win!

I turned on the TV this afternoon just in time to see the Marlins take a 6-1 lead over the Nationals in the 5th inning. Another Nats' starter (this time Matt Chico, in his first appearance above AA-ball) was done after a short outing. Coming off 9-2 and 9-3 losses the past two days, the Nats might well have easily quit on this series.

Instead, a monster 3-run HR to right-center by Ryan Church--the Nats' first HR this year--in the bottom of the 6th kept hope alive. Then a litany of Nats' relievers--Bowie, Colome, Wagner, King, and Rauch--held the Marlins to 1 hit and 0 runs in the last 4 frames. Still, the Nats' were down 6-4 going into the bottom of the 9th inning, looking for the first victory of the season.

Ronnie Belliard, our third starting SS in as many games, led off with a double. Fick scored him on a single and moved to second on a sacrifce by Lopez. Luck interceded next, when Casto hit a hard shot right to shortstop that bounced off the Marlins' Ramirez--Fick scored, tie game. A Zimmerman single and a 4-pitch walk of cleanup hitter Kearns set the stage for Dmitri Young.

Bases loaded for The Meat Hook. He hit a deep fly ball right along the left field line, all the way into the corner. Marlins' OF Willingham had no choice but to let it go and hope it would drop foul, because if he caught it the runner on third was sure to tag up and go home for the winning run. So he let it go, and it landed fair by a couple of inches.

Nats win. Ensue wild celebration and pile in the infield.

So yeah, this team may still mostly be a ragtag collection of minor leaguers and other washed up players, but they can still scrap out a great win. And if Dmitri Young wants to be our Big Papi, I have no complaints. Bring on Arizona.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Disaster (Nats' Opener...)

Yesterday was a glorious sunny afternoon in the mid-70s with a gentle breeze, and the perfect day for me and a couple friends to go down to RFK Stadium for the Nationals' season opener. Of course, it was pretty much all downhill from there, as the Florida Marlins embarassed us 9-2 in a game that saw plenty of insult and injury.

Two players, CF Nook Logan and SS Cristian Guzman, left with injuries. Our only supposedly "good" starting pitcher, John Patterson, didn't finish the 4th inning and had 6 earned runs. Meanwhile, Florida's reigning Rookie of the Year, Hanley Ramirez, had 4 hits and scored 4 times. Fellow stud sophomore Dan Uggla jacked a monster HR, and star Miguel Cabrera had a HR and 4 RBIs.

There were a couple bright spots, such as Dmitri "Meat Hook" Young hitting a pair of doubles. (As opposed to his usual, say, hitting a pair of buffets.) A much better symbol of hope was the play of our hero Ryan Zimmerman. The Post's Tom Boswell, while shaking his head at yesterday's carnage, stops to admire Zimm:

Ryan Zimmerman continued to play in his own tiny, uncontaminated universe. He tripled, singled, was robbed of another hit and, finally, with his team seven runs behind, refused to give up on a wind-blown foul pop that appeared headed several rows into the stands until he suddenly snagged it backhanded out of the photographers' bay.

"You want to win and show the crowd how it's going to be all year or make them think that's how it's going to be," Zimmerman said. "But we can still win the series."
You gotta love that guy.

But if the Nationals' play in the opener is any indication of what the season is going to be like (and nothing says it will be different), we're looking at 100+ losses for sure. Zimm aside, there's not going to be all that much to love this year.

Opening Day's Best Moment

The most exciting performance on Opening Day yesterday had to have been Seattle's Felix Hernandez. Remember him? The hype around "King" Felix has faded after his mediocre 2006 season, but last night he threw 8 shutout innings and struck out 12 Athletics. Maybe the King is back.

The other standout moment from yesterday had to be the emotional opening ceremony before the New York Yankees game to honor the late Cory Lidle (the pitcher who died in a plane crash in October). This photo of his young son throwing out the first pitch is incredibly touching.

Florida Repeats, Noah Has "No Idea"

As predicted by yours truly in his Facebook bracket, the University of Florida has repeated as national champions, the first team to do so since Duke in 1991-1992. The game didn't seem very exciting and I didn't pay attention for most of it.

What I found more interesting, however, was Joakim Noah's post-game speech. Cicero he's not, and sure he's a kid who is excited at having just won a (second) national championship, but man he sure sounded stupid in his "You have no idea" speech.



The YouTube video above misses the first few seconds of Noah's remarks, but you get the idea. Was it too hard to put together a few perfunctory sentences for the cameras, something about it being a hard season, his teammates sticking together, a good job by Billy Donovan, a nod to Ohio State, the thrill of repeating, anything? Thankfully Donovan cut him off before he could go on for too long.

Ok, it's not really a big deal, but still kind of disappointing. Fellow college stars Durant and Oden, who like Noah are probably headed for the NBA, seem much more intelligent and mature by comparison.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Disaster (No, Not an April Fool's Joke)

Caron Butler broke his hand today.

From the AP report:

Butler wasn't optimistic about returning this season.

"Second round, third round (of the playoffs), a possibility," Butler said after the game, his hand in a cast. "But right now, I probably won't have a jersey on until next year."

Butler said the accident happened when he was going up to challenge a shot by Ruben Patterson and his right hand hit the backboard.

"My hand caught under the rim, and it popped out of place," said Butler, who was playing his third game since missing six games with a left knee contusion. "I see a hand specialist tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll get the opportunity to come back as soon as possible."

He entered the game averaging 19.1 points and 7.5 rebounds.

"Caron is going to out for a long time," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said.
This is terrible news and even worse timing for the Wizards, who are 2-8 without Caron this season. Just when the Wiz had got him and Jamison back in the lineup and ready to close the season strong, this happens. His replacement in the starting lineup (will it be Hayes or Songaila, I'm not sure--I prefer the latter), as well as the rest of the bench, is going to need to pick up the slack.

Washington's road to somewhere past the first round of the playoffs just got a lot more bunpy.