Tag Archive | "alex"

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Caps win tonight establishes them as a serious Cup threat

Posted on 04 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Part of the pain of being a lifelong fan of the Washington Capitals has been the “tease” factor and the dalliances with greatness. It’s a franchise that has had a long history of tragic, Game 7 losses in April and early May.

Tonight, with a rabid crowd and the greatest player on the planet registering a hat trick and a kid in goal who is playing electrifyingly exciting between the pipes, this team seems on the verge of doing some special things this May.

Despite a few retaliation penalties in the early going before righting their ship, the Caps played the part of a gritty, determined team — the kind that holds serve in their own rink and now must go to Pittsburgh with a chance to exterminate the Penguins in the Igloo on Wednesday and Friday.

No doubt the folks at the Verizon Center tonight will be telling people for years about the night that Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby both scored three goals and the Caps won 4-3 in the most exciting local sporting event of 2009. The building sounded like the roof was about to explode.

I went to the game on Saturday, which was a great event. But, tonight, I’m embarrassed that I missed out on the fun in person. That said, it was a pretty wild night just watching on TV. (I even got to watch the Orioles beat the Rays in between periods and the hockey game ended in the 8th inning, right on cue)

Sure, there’s a ton of hockey left to be played but these are the kinds of games and momentum builders that win championships. Simeon Varlamov clearly is unfazed — if not inspired — by the pressure of a sold out, singing crowd and the constant attack of the Penguins offense. And all of this comes after being woefully down 3-1 in the New York Rangers series and finding a way to come back and win.

The Caps are onto something good. It’s not a bad time to get on the bandwagon. There’s a lot of fun to be had watching the Caps this spring.

Hope to see you at Silver Spring Mining Company in Perry Hall on Wednesday night rocking your red. We promise $2 Michelob Ultras and plenty of noise in the room.

There’s nothing better than Stanley Cup hockey.

Nothing.

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Previewing Round Two

Posted on 02 May 2009 by Nicholas Miskelly

Previewing Round Two

 

On Saturday at 1 pm the Washington Capitals will be hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins as they resume their run at advancing to the Stanley Cup finals.  The second round will begin and it will put two of the game’s great young players, Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, against each other.  The one who shines the most will more than likely be playing for a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.

 

The Capitals were able to survive a seven game series against the Rangers because their offense was in a different class than that of the Rangers.  They were able to overcome defensive laps in concentration and execution as well as careless passing and untimely giveaways because they were that much better of an offensive team than the Rangers.  The Capitals were third in the league in scoring while the Rangers got in more with their defense as their offense ranked 28th in the league.  Because of their ability to outscore a weak Rangers team, they did not have to play their best hockey on the defensive end.

This will not be the case when the Penguins come to town.   Sidney Crosby will bring his Pittsburgh Penguins to town to take on Alex Ovechkin and the second seeded Washington Capitals.

 

This matchup is compelling to many hockey fans; but this battle between the Capitals and Penguins is about more than just two players.  Both of these teams have given their young stars plenty of support while on offense, as was evident by each team being ranked in the top six in scoring during the regular season.  Both teams proved to have a potent offense with the Capitals scoring just ten more goals then the Penguins during the regular season.

 

Defensively they are a wash since the Caps were at a seven goal disadvantage and both teams were in the bottom half of the league.  As good as these teams are offensively, this series may come down to which team can get the key defense stop when the game is on the line.  It will be on the defenders to keep the opponents’ offense off of the attack and on the goaltenders to keep the pucks out of the nets when the game is on the line.

 

To succeed in the series, the Capitals will need to play a complete game.  Their defenders will need to be aggressive and force the Penguins into an outside shooting type of game.  They will need to keep the forwards for the Penguins from in front of the goal.  They like to put the likes of Crosby and Malkin close to the net and create scoring for them by putting shooters around the perimeter of the scoring zone.  By pushing these two players away from the goal and keeping constant contact with them should increase the chances of Varlamov to continue his stellar play in net.

 

Offensively, the Capitals need to be more aggressive in attacking the net.  I felt as though there were times when they got too slap happy from the outside.  I felt there were periods were they would settle for hard outside shots instead of taking a little more time to generate more offense around the next.  I also feel as though they will need better execution in their passing game.  There were periods, such as in the beginning of game seven, when their passing was not crisp and accurate.  Their passes would be bouncing off the line of the intended target. 

 

This cannot happen against the Penguins because uncontested giveaways will give the offensively explosive Penguins easy scoring opportunities.  Both teams can transition to the offensive attack so quickly that any turnover could easily result in a fast break opportunity for the other. The team that commits the least amount of giveaways, thus limiting the opponents’ scoring opportunities, should come away with the victory.

 

In the end this matchup is so compelling because both teams match up very similarly and the one who takes care of the puck offensively and protects the zone defensively will move on to the conference finals. 

I predict that Varlamov will be the key in leading the Capitals to a 4 games to 2 victory over the Penguins in this second round series.   

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Who will the Ravens pick this weekend? Some clues here…

Posted on 24 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

You gotta love the NFL. The league hasn’t snapped the football in almost three months and the buzz is as strong for the draft as it is for Week 7 of the regular season. It never ends this love of American football. So much enthusiasm and energy and talk about the 26th pick on Saturday for the Ravens.

Amidst that, there are all sorts of stories and storylines:

What will happen with Anquan Boldin and are the Ravens really involved?

My gut AND my sources tell me that it’s not very likely. The notion that Ozzie Newsome would trade a No. 1 and a No. 3 and then have to back up a brink’s truck for Boldin is highly unlikely. Plus, the cap issues of taking on another superstar making a super premium salary seem daunting. If the Ravens had that kind of money, they should’ve kept Bart Scott, right?

Who are the players the Ravens really like and would select at No. 26?

It’s always a crapshoot on draft day when you pick so low. The Ravens were greatly affected by the Atlanta trade for Tony Gonzales yesterday because it’s clear that the Falcons won’t be taking tight end Brandon Pettigrew with pick No. 24. Every name that comes off the board in the first 25 spots – and every trade up or back, and we expect a few – will affect what’s left when the 26th pick hits the clock.

So, when people ask me today and all day tomorrow, “Who will the Ravens pick?” I tell them the same thing every year: “Even Ozzie Newsome has no idea who they’ll wind up getting with a pick so low.”

That said, I’ll take a low pick on draft day every year into perpetuity. The joy of a single-digit pick is far outweighed by the agony of dealing with 16 weeks of bad football during a 6-10 season. Let Cincinnati and Cleveland pick early every year from now until the end of time.

All of these weeks and months of mock drafts are just that: a mockery. One unexpected trade on draft day – and with lunatics like Al Davis, Mike Brown and Daniel Snyder running drafts there’s always somebody doing something – not to mention other legitimate trades for more picks or value, it’s more impossible to predict a mock draft correctly than filling out a perfect March Madness pool. I think you’d have a better chance of hitting the lotto tonight for $150 million.

And once one team or one player goes awry, the whole draft changes. Everyone tries to handicap it but it’s a futile effort.

But this much I know: The Ravens would LOVE to trade a few times over the weekend, which is all the more reason to be on our text service. They only have six picks. They’d rather have seven or eight.

Here are some names of guys — and some key positions of need for the Ravens — that you should keep an eye on over the weekend as the names come off the board:

Center – Alex Mack, California. The Ravens brought him into town and checked him out thoroughly. He’s a tough, smart “Raven” kinda guy. If they trade out of No. 26 to move backward (and I still think this is VERY likely because they really want more picks), Mack would be a early 2nd rounder that will help the team. The only question is whether he can help the team at guard because the team already has a two-year solution at center in Matt Birk.

Tight end – A “dream” scenario for the team would be if Brandon Pettigrew fell to them at No. 26. The Philadelphia Eagles at No. 21 would be the one team to tie them up but that’s looking less likely. Again, the Falcons deal yesterday to acquire Gonzales helps the Ravens if they indeed covet Pettigrew, who is a beast at 6-6 and could help the pass protection and provide a safety valve for Joe Flacco.

Wide receiver – While the whole universe seems to think the Ravens are desperate for a wide out, I’m not convinced they’ll take one in the first round. Perhaps they’d select Kenny Britt of Rutgers if he’s still on the board but I don’t think Hakeem Nicks will be their choice. I’ve been saying for two months that WR is not the team’s most acute need nor should they burn a first-round pick on the riskiest of all positions on draft day.

Defensive back – Vontae Davis and Darius Butler. You can never have too many cornerbacks. They’re like pitchers in baseball. If you don’t get one in the first round you’re probably not getting one you feel comfortable in calling a starter. It’s the toughest role this side of QB to fill in the NFL. Davis comes with some immaturity and a little bit of baggage, but he’s the closest thing to a poor man’s Chris McAlister in this draft.

Defensive line/LB – Rey Maualuga. He’s probably the only player in the No. 26 range that the Ravens would consider and this isn’t their greatest need. If they were to take a LB here it would tell you a lot about how highly rated this player would have to be on their overall board. Honestly, all of the USC linebackers look attractive and will almost certainly be gone by the time the Ravens get on the clock in the second round with pick No. 55.

Here’s my hope: Brandon Pettigrew

Here’s my “prediction”: Rey Maualuga

The real story of the Ravens’ drafts and their relative success since 1996 has been tied to what happens AFTER the first round. Between Newsome, Eric DeCosta and Phil Savage and their staffs, over the years the Ravens have become the best team in the league on the last weekend of April. It’s how Newsome and this department has survived so long in one place. It’s an absolute anomaly.

Think about it: What were the odds that in 1996 when Ozzie Newsome passed on Lawrence Phillips and selected Jon Ogden and then went on to take Ray Lewis instead of Leland McElroy at the No. 26 pick that he’d STILL be here in April 2009 making decisions for Baltimore’s football team?

Newsome is still here because he’s really, really great at evaluating talent. He’s got a gift. He’s not always right but he’s been right more than virtually anyone on the planet at doing this.

And most experts say this draft is NOT deep for starting talent beginning Sunday morning. For whatever reason, most scouts aren’t feeling great about finding the next Adalius Thomas or Jason Brown late in the day on Sunday.

It’s a great weekend to be a football fan. It’s a great weekend to be a draftnik. Or just a nerd, like me.

I’ll be bellied up to the bar at Padonia Station at 3 p.m. drinking $2 Michelob Ultras and watching the draft and sending texts to everyone on the text service.

We’re having a “Textathon” weekend because this is the one weekend when we know we’ll be sending you a lot of stuff.

We hope if you’re not on the service you consider joining. And, if you are, we hope you’ll forward our texts to your PSL, purple-loving friends so they know the news and know about WNST.net and our cool text service.

Thanks!

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My Newest Weekly Feature…..Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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My Newest Weekly Feature…..Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 07 April 2009 by Glenn Clark

This isn’t about the Orioles, so calm down already. I have admitted in the past that I am just not the biggest fan of watching baseball in general; and I was reminded that in about the 2nd inning of today’s game. I have always loved the Orioles; and I will be there Thursday afternoon (and probably Friday night) rooting them on, but I have always been one to seek out other options for my entertainment dollar or remote control direction.

So every week between now and the start of football season; I’m going to offer 10 alternatives for you for the week if you’re not overly obsessed with the “grand ol’ game.” This list will be for April 7-13….

Honorable mention: LeBron and the Cavs get a shot for revenge against the Wizards, the NASCAR guys go driving again, The WWE holds a talent “Draft”, and even more local college lacrosse

10-Spring Football: Pitt, Georgia, and Oklahoma (Georgia’s Game Saturday 1pm ESPN)

You might have to be a College Football degenerate like me to love the idea of Spring Football on TV; but I’m going crazy just thinking about this. Of the 3 biggest teams to play their Spring Games this week, clearly Oklahoma has the best chance of playing for a national title, as the Sooners return Heisman winner Sam Bradford. But Brad Nessler and Kirk Herbstreit will bring us the action of Georgia’s Spring Game, and I might well just turn it on from the Press Box at M&T Bank Stadium. God I love College Football.

9-Weekend Fights: Paul Williams/Winky Wright (Saturday 10pm HBO) Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Shamrock (Saturday 10pm Showtime)

The last time Frank Shamrock stepped into a ring, he walked out looking like this…..

shamrock

While I cannot say I’m exactly overly excited about the chance to see him return to the cage; the card has the chance to be entertaining, and at least you don’t have to pay Pay-Per-View dollars for it. Winky Wright hasn’t faught in nearly 2 years and is returning to face a guy 10 years his junior. Hopefully this one will keep him from fighting again in a while.

8-U.S. Clay Court Championships (Singles Final Sunday 5pm Tennis Channel)

Look, Tennis wasn’t supposed to be played on clay. Clay was supposed to be used in pottery class, and as a tasty treat before the age of 6. If a tennis tournament really had guts; they’d schedule an event to be played on Play-Doh anyway. And frankly, the event in Houston has a TERRIBLE group of players. James Blake is the number 1 seed-and if you haven’t heard, James Blake has never won anything. But you know what I like about this Tournament? Americans can win the damn thing. All the good players are somewhere else; so Mardy Fish gets a chance. Does it dilute a Championship when the Draw is bad? Sure. But if the event ends with someone carrying an American flag; I just don’t care.

7-NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship: UConn vs. Louisville (Tuesday 8:30pm ESPN)

Do I REALLY care who wins the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship? Frankly, no. BUT, I will be rooting for Louisville for a couple reasons: 1-They are lead by former St. Frances Star Angel McCoughtry. 2-They are coached by former Maryland assistant Jeff Walz. 3-Geno Auriemma looks like he might be as much of a “Richard” as UConn’s men’s coach. Plus, there’s almost no way this game can be worse than the men’s championship, right?

6-Caps’ Road Trip to End Regular Season (Tuesday 7pm @ Thrashers, Thursday 7:30pm @ Lightning, Saturday 7pm @ Panthers; All games Comcast SportsNet)

The best way this could go down is if the Capitals don’t even bother to wear their sweaters for the games; and instead skate out wearing nothing but these…..

caps

Nothing like scheduling a victory lap after a tough season to get ready for the playoffs. In fact, if I were Sergei Federov, I wouldn’t even bother sobering up for the games. If another team gets excited about a goal; just start belting out your karaoke version of “We Are The Champions” right in their face.

5-UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals Leg 1 (Tuesday 2:45pm ESPN2, Wednesday 2:45 ESPN2)

Tuesday’s ESPN2 game is Manchester United/FC Porto. You’ll watch this match because this dreamboat is involved….

ronaldo

(Editor’s note: reportedly not everyone is as excited about Christiano Ronaldo as I am. Oh well). Wednesday’s ESPN2 game is Liverpool/Chelsea; and Chelsea has a player whose name is legitimately just “Alex.” Which of course means that everyone else in the world whose name is Alex kinda sucks in comparison. My favorite thing about the Champions League quarters is that they play a 2 game series; which is absolutely the best way to determine a champion. You’d hate to come up with a scenario where two squads could end up tied or something…..

4-NISL Championship: Baltimore Blast vs. Rockford Rampage (Saturday 7:35pm, 1st Mariner Arena)

If you’re like me, you’ll enjoy be spending all of Saturday downtown; taking in the lacrosse games, then heading to the Arena to see the Blast try to claim their 5th Championship since 2003. Tickets start at something like $16; and I believe I heard somewhere that the Blast are trying to have a “Red Out” at the game. If you hear a drunk guy in a red sweater screaming “We Want More” even when no one has scored a goal; it’s definitely not me. In fact, don’t even bother checking to make sure. Just trust me.

3-The Masters (Thursday & Friday 7pm ESPN; Saturday & Sunday 3:30pm CBS)

Look, if Tiger Woods is involved in this thing on Sunday, it vaults to Number 1. But if he’s not; you’re more likely to catch me watching NASCAR. Is it wrong that I’m more interested in hearing Jim Nantz say “Hello Friends” than I am seeing anyone in the field (Tiger included) hit a golf ball Thursday or Friday? Can you imagine what a disaster this would be if Tiger hadn’t returned by now? Would anyone besides Drew watch? But again, if Tiger is in it; I’m all in. In fact, my cousins should be rooting for Tiger; because the lengths I go to hide their little plastic eggs Sunday will be based solely on whether or not I have to run in and see what’s happening on Amen Corner. If Sunday is a Jim Furyk-Nick Watney showdown; my cousins might still be looking for their eggs on Memorial Day.

2-Frozen Four (Thursday 5:30 and 8pm, Verizon Center or ESPN2; Saturday 7pm, Verizon Center or ESPN)

I got three words for you…..

bemidji

If the Beavers win this whole thing, I’m walking into the first room I find that houses a net; I’m cutting the thing down, and I’m running naked through the streets in celebration. I don’t know any of the players, I don’t know where the school is located, and I’ve never watched an entire College Hockey game in my life. But I don’t care. Bemidji State RULES!!!!!!!!!

1-Inside Lacrosse Day of Rivals (Saturday 11:30am and 2pm, M&T Bank Stadium or ESPNU)

If you don’t understand why Army/Navy is the best rivalry in all of sports; you can just go ahead and move to France or something.

Taken from Funlok.com….

A Navy man and an Army man are driving opposite directions on a curvy mountain road. The army man hits a patch of sand, swerves, and nails the Navy man’s truck. They both exit their cars with no injuries, but their vehicles are ruined.

Now, the rivalry between Army and Navy is well known, so needless to say a heated argument followed. Then suddenly the Navy man changed heart and said, “Hold on, this is dumb. It was an accident. Let’s put this rivalry behind us.”

The Army man agreed this was a good idea. So the Navy man offered, “Why don’t we celebrate our new friendship over a fifth of vodka? I have a bottle in the truck.”

The Army man thought this was an excellent idea. So the Navy man, being a gentleman, offered the Army man the first drink, and told the Army man to drink as much as he wanted. Soon half the bottle was gone and he offered the bottle back to the Navy man who said, “Thanks, but I’ll wait till after the cops get here!”

Did I mention Maryland and Hopkins play Saturday too? In the immortal words of Danny and The Juniors, “Let’s go kick the Hop’s ass”

That wasn’t what they said?

(Did I miss something? Let me know.)

-G

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A-Rod should have said…”what about the other 103?”

Posted on 17 February 2009 by Drew Forrester

It’s almost laughable now, this charade featuring Alex Rodriguez.

Mind  you, if you’re a dyed-in-the-wool baseball fan, you’re probably shedding a few private tears but they’re not from laughter.  Your great game is blowing up in front of you and there’s little, as a fan, you can do about it. I, on the other hand, having been disenfranchised in my own city by the team I grew up adoring, think it’s comedy on top of comedy — and I’m laughing so hard I’m blinking away tears.

Here’s the clip from today’s press conference where A-Rod talks about his three years of steroid use.

Remember the search that O.J. Simpson promised to launch in search for the “real” killers of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman?

We have a near national search in place today.  We’re trying to find A-Rod’s “cousin”, the guy who supposedly helped him buff up by supplying and/or otherwise turning him on to steroids.

We all have a cousin like that, I suppose.  He’s the guy (or gal) we blame something on when there’s enough evidence in place to find us guilty but there’s a sliver of doubt that we can cling to and use in our defense.  In law terms, it’s called “The Alford Plea”…enough evidence in place to convict but not an admission of guilt.

Except, in A-Rod’s case, he’s admitted guilt.  He’s just half-blaming it on his long-lost cousin.

Now, on to the real issue.

I think A-Rod is being too forthcoming, frankly.

If I were representing him, I’d tell him to clam up until the other 103 names of the positive-testers are announced.

Then, and only then, should A-Rod provide more details on his steroid use.

Why should he face the media, the fans and the strong arm of the law right now when 103 others cheated like him and they’re hanging out on a golf course right now thrilled to death it’s not THEM having the press conference?

It continues to be what’s wrong with baseball.

Stop protecting these miscreants and let’s get it all out in the open.

Let’s find out who the 1100 “clean” guys were as well.  That’s important information, don’tcha think?

No, we’re so obsessed with the tanned quarter-billionaire that we’d rather just focus on him.

It’s laughable.

The poster boy for the league has, ironically, become the poster boy for the league.

At least he didn’t lie to the government like the rattest of all rat-finks, Barry Bonds.

Say what you will about A-Rod, and more of you don’t like him than do, but I didn’t see any other juiced-up clowns facing the media today.  He’s done it twice in the last 8 days.  When’s the last time Barry Bonds sat in front of folks with a computer or a pen and paper and allowed them to go one-on-one with him?  Sammy Sosa?  Miguel Tejada?  Oh, that’s right, they’re English is bad.

I’m not Pro-Alex Rodriguez, but I’m getting there. 

There’s a part of me – this is true – that wants to see him hit 2 HR’s on opening day in Baltimore and go on to hit 48 more during the regular season. 

Everyone is laughing it up, talking about how much they can’t stand him and how he got what was coming to him and all that stuff.

Yeah, maybe he did get what was coming to him.  He cheated.

But, he’s front and center now, having been caught, of course, and he’s facing the music.

The other 103…where are they?  They’ve become baseball’s version of Bin Laden, hiding in a cave somewhere scared to see another human being in the event he or she works for SI.Com.

Leave it to baseball to screw up the biggest scandal since we found out Pete Rose bet on the game while managing.

They get even “out” the crooks the right way.

Of course, someone will say, “but Major League Baseball doesn’t really know the identity of the other 103 cheaters…”

Riiiiiiiiiiigggghhhhhttttt.

Or, simply, are they figuring if they feed the biggest fish to the media that we’ll all go away once we’ve cleaned, gutted and fried A-Rod?

You can bet your rump they know who the 103 other bums are…and they know who the 1100 non-cheaters were too.

They’d love to just pass along the massive list of the guys who tested negative but they can’t.  Or, at least, not until they also pass along the names of those who failed the test along with A-Rod.

I’m telling you, A-Rod would have been well within his rights today to say, “I’ll be happy to have a press conference with you folks when the complete list of those who failed the test in 2003 is published.”

I would have applauded him for that, frankly.

As it stands now, I just feel sorry for him, on a variety of levels.

I hope he finds his cousin.

That guy has some ‘splainin’ to do.

As for Rodriguez, he’s explained enough for now.

Let’s hear from the other 103 scallywags.

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Steroids: Others deserve scorn more than A-Rod

Posted on 09 February 2009 by Drew Forrester

Now, evidently, the witch hunt for baseball’s biggest villain has focused on Alex Rodriguez.

A-Rod, in case you missed it, flunked a couple of steroid tests back in 2003. In a method only baseball could conjure up, Rodriguez and 103 other players failed a test that really wasn’t a test. It was a wacky “pre-test” – done to determine if testing, in fact, was needed.

I know, it’s silly. Baseball has perfected the art of silly over the last dozen years or so.

Even more silly than pre-testing is the spotlight currently shining on A-Rod.

Why are we only hearing about Rodriguez and HIS failed test? What about the other 103 players and THEIR names and pictures? Why is the scrutiny just on him?

Breaking news: Baseball players used steroids. (zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz)

It’s such a boring, tiresome subject there’s actually dust build-up on it.

Effective immediately, I’m no longer concerned about who used steroids because we never get the complete truth on who passed the test and who failed the test.

But, I do care about something else as it relates to steroids.

And, to me, it’s actually the story we should all be chasing right now.

I want to know this: “Who knew?”

Along the way, since ‘roids became the rage, where’s the secret list of the league executives, team owners, staffers and player personnel folks who have known the identity of the users?

Where is THAT list?

Everyone is quick to scoff at the players who have been caught. A-Rod is the new goat because he supposedly tested positive and it’s easy to ridicule him because of his abundant wealth, good looks and general snobby demeanor — funny enough, those three “charming traits” probably apply to about 75% of the players in the game today. If Chris Gomez flunked a test in ’03 and his name was revealed in 2009, would anyone care? Chris who…?

But, it’s A-Rod, and since jealousy is one of the best tasting items on the human menu, everyone wants to sink their teeth into #13.

I couldn’t care less about A-Rod and his failed tests.

At this point, what’s another player-name anyway?

I would love to see the who’s-who of names that knew about A-Rod and Barry and Roger and Jose and Mark and Sammy and the rest and the rest and the rest of them.

Who, in Baltimore, for example, knew about Gibbons and Segui and Bigbie and Roberts? Who knew? I guarantee you SOMEONE knew. Did the owner know? Did the GM know? Did the trainer know? Did the manager know?

Who, in St. Louis, knew McGwire was on the juice? What about Chicago? I’m sure folks in Cubbie-land were in the know when Sosa was pounding balls out of Wrigley Field in 1998.

Because the players get paid and the fans pay money to watch them play, people only seem to care about the guys in uniform.

The players are sheep.

If there’s a baseball stadium with lights on and a paycheck waiting, they’ll play anywhere, anytime.

The guys in suits and ties – they’re the shepherds. They’re the ones responsible for gathering the sheep together and helping them graze on the needles, the statistics and the glory.

The “suits” sign the players, set the ticket prices, sell the TV ads and rent the players so we all have a team to call our own.

The players only get away with what they can – because they can.

I want to see the list of the people who have checked-off on letting the players get away with using steroids.

Let’s put some scrutiny on those guys and gals.

Personally, I’m going to start placing the blame on the shepherds.

I’d love to see the list of the folks in baseball who contributed to this lost-decade by acting like they didn’t know anything when, in fact, they knew everything.

That’s the only list that matters now.

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Dirty, Dirty, Dirty…Is It A Shame? And Whose Shame Is It?

Posted on 07 February 2009 by Mark Suchy

SI.com is reporting that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for two types of steroids in 2003 as part of a voluntary, sealed agreement between the MLBPA and the Commissioner’s Office to help determine the extent of performance enhancing drug use in the sport.  These tests were discovered by Federal Agents as part of the ongoing investigation into the BALCO case in 2004.  1,198 players were tested randomly in 2003, and 104 tested positive.  Including ARod.

This raises a few questions in my mind, most of which are troubling or have no answer, which could be even more troubling.  Such as:

Alex Rodriguez used steroids?  Why this doesn’t come as a surprise to me is troubling.

104 players total tested positive in ’03?  I would very much like to know the rest of the names.  But clearly, Rodriguez is the big fish here.  Something tells me there are plenty of journeymen included, as previous testing results have shown.

Why does all of this produce more of a yawn from me than shock or outrage?

That is clearly the issue at play here.  Years and years of watching records get smashed, players get bigger and 40 yard dash times get lower has produced a very jaundiced eye, both individually and collectively, to the lifelong sports fan.  We can question it all we want, but the hard truth is that what we pay to see is not clean, not genuine, not within the capabilities of “pure” human performance, and not going to change anytime in the forseeable future.

Ever heard of Human Growth Hormone?  And yes, there is no test available without drawing blood.  Which violates privacy laws for every professional leagues’ bargaining agreements.

So I am preparing to hear plenty of stories regarding HGH in, oh, sometime around 2020.  And honestly, not one of them will surprise me in the least.

Have we reached the point of oversaturation when it comes to reports like this?  When a “bombshell” such as ARod using steroids arrives, what does it say about me as a sports fan that I shrug my shoulders instead of being genuinely shocked?  I suppose it says, more than anything, that I accept the fact that cheaters have long prospered in sports as well as life.  And that everything I watch, every game I attend, is populated by people who will do anything in an effort to gain a competetive edge in order to gain financially when that next contract is negotiated.

The truth is that there is no moral to the story.  Because morality is absent in the conversation of cheating.  And that is what this is, cheating.  Nothing more, nothing less.

So Arod is a cheater?  AFraud?  Wow.  I would never have suspected.

Quite frankly, I’m worn out and that makes me a bit indifferent to stories such as this.  Call me a crank, call me a cynic, and you’d be justified in doing so, but take a moment and scroll back through your mind to McGwire/Sosa in ’98, Bonds from ’99 on, football linemen who weigh 340 pounds and run 4.9 second 40 yard dashes, and you’ll get a bit exhausted by it as well. 

There is no end in sight to these matters.  That is the ultimate, and saddest, truth of the whole story.  And if you can honestly answer these questions, then perhaps you accept that what you see isn’t genuine and earnestly gained:

Does it matter to you as a sports fan at all?

AND

Why do we continue to watch?

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It’s OK if the Steelers win – and other Sunday thoughts…

Posted on 01 February 2009 by Drew Forrester

Having been surrounded by Pittsburgh Steelers football all week on radio row, you’d think I would be the first guy to scream, “PLEASE, ARIZONA…PLEASE BEAT THOSE BLACK AND GOLD RAT FINKS!”

But, I don’t feel that way.

I really don’t care one way or the other who wins today in Tampa, but I can give you a good reason why – in Baltimore – we should be OK with it all if Pittsburgh does come out on top: it reduces their chances of winning the Super Bowl next year.

Think about it.  How hard is it to win back to back Super Bowls?  Since 1990, it’s only been done 3 times.

I’ll take those odds.

So, if Pittsburgh wins today, they won’t win the whole thing again next season.  I’d make that bet in a heartbeat.

And, that means one less team we have to worry about being in the way of the Ravens in 2009.

For the record, by the way, I’m calling it Pittsburgh 27-Arizona 24.

I’d say “I hope I’m wrong…” – but maybe I’d rather not be.  

> The Australian Open Final between Nadal and Federer was tremendous…but it was a little sad to see Federer throw in the towel like that in the 5th set.  Even when Nadal lost the 4th set, 6-3, he made Federer battle for every point.  Once Rafa broke Federer’s serve in the 5th set, Roger packed it in.  One thing for sure right now:  Nadal has Federer’s number.  And don’t look now, but they both have major title wins on three different surfaces.  Federer lacks only a win at Roland Garros (French) to complete the career Grand Slam, while Nadal needs to triumph at Flushing Meadows (U.S. Open) to wrap up his Grand Slam.  I wonder how important it is to Federer to win the French before Rafa wins in New York?  We’ll see in May.

> Start saving your money now for NHL playoff tickets in Washington.  How many highlight-reel game-winning goals has Ovechkin scored this year?  I can think of four off the top of my head.  Most players would give their right leg to have four game-winners in a season…let alone the kind of goals The Great 8 has scored to win games for Washington this year.  Have you seen the goal he scored yesterday in their win over Detroit?  Here it is.  What can you say?  The guys is…well…he’s…GREAT.  

> A nice win for Maryland last night over Miami and they fulfilled my early-week prediction that the Terps would win one and lose one in that brief two-game homestand.  At 3-4 in ACC play, Maryland still needs to somehow get to that 9 win regular season total in conference play to finish with 20 wins and a shot at the NCAA Tournament.  Looking at their remaining schedule, I don’t see how Maryland gets six more wins unless they win two of the five remaining games against the league’s best four teams: North Carolina (2), Duke, Wake Forest and Clemson.  They could go 0-5 in those, unfortunately…but they won’t.  Can they get to 20 wins?  Probably not.  

> Towson continues to struggle at home in CAA play, as the Tigers dropped a 60-53 decision to a surprisingly good Drexel team yesterday before 2,900 at the Towson Center.  The Tigers (3-8/CAA) are just 1-5 at home in conference play and are in danger of finishing 10th or 11th in the CAA if they don’t string together some wins down the stretch.  Towson’s problems are similar to that of Maryland: no big guy, no one under the basket to fight for the ball on either end of the court, and, ultimately, no one the other team has to work hard to take out of the game.  

> I’ll be at the RAC Arena on Monday night for the annual visit from Boston University and their animated Head Coach, Dennis Wolff.  B.U. is one of the America East’s best programs and UMBC will have their hands full on Monday night.  The Retrievers are coming off of a 1-point loss at Stony Brook on Saturday night.  If you’re coming out on Monday night, e-mail me (drew@wnst.net) and we’ll have a soft drink together before the game. 

> I don’t ever get excited about early-season golf on the PGA Tour, but I see that Kenny Perry is leading the tournament in Arizona by one shot going into the final round.  I doubt I’ll watch it today.  But Kenny Perry is a helluva player.  There’s your golf coverage.

> Is the third time the charm?  Twice in the last month, I’ve contacted the Orioles to see if they’ll make room for me in Ft. Lauderdale and allow me to broadcast my morning show from their spring training site in late February.  I still haven’t heard from them (maybe they’re evaluating the hordes of media folks who are applying for spring training credentials?) so I’ll reach out to them ONE more time this week and see if we can make it happen.  

Have a great Sunday…

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Yankees: Salary Tidbits

Posted on 24 December 2008 by Jason Jubb

They currently have the four highest contracts by total value in the game:

Alex Rodriguez, $275,000,000

Derek Jeter, $189,000,000

Mark Teixeira, $180,000,000

CC Sabathia, $161,000,000

 

They Yankees awarded the single biggest annual salary in history for one year when they gave Roger Clemens a $28,000,022 deal in 2007. (He only collected around $18 million of that since he did not play until partially into the season.) A-Rod has the second biggest annual salary at $27,500,000.

 

At $23,000,000 annually CC Sabathia is the highest paid pitcher in the game.

 

At $15,000,000 annually Mariano Rivera is the highest paid relief pitcher in the game.

 

At $17,142,857 annually Jason Giambi was the highest paid DH in history.

 

At $13,100,000 annually Jorge Posada is the highest paid catcher in the game.

 

At $22,500,000 annually Mark Teixeira is the highest paid first baseman in the game.

 

At $7,500,000 annually Robinson Cano is the third highest paid second baseman, but he has not hit free agency yet.

 

At $18,900,000 annually Derek Jeter is the highest paid shortstop in the game.

 

At $27,500,000 annually A Rod is the highest paid third baseman in the game.

 

At $13,000,000 annually Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui are tied for 12th amongst outfielders.

 

Starting in 2003 the Yankees have spent $1.138 billion in team payroll.

 

In 2008 Forbes Magazine estimated the value of the Orioles to be $398 million; the Yankees were at $1.3 billion.

 

In 2008 the Yankees offered only a 1 year deal to Joe Torre for $5 million with a vesting option. They went cheap on their manager and missed the playoffs for the first time since 1994.

 

I used multiple sources for the salary figures. Feel free to add more…

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WNST Puck Bus makes a perfect holiday gift!

Posted on 18 December 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

Just a reminder that for our Baltimore puck heads that the WNST Baltimore Puck Buses for 2009 are now ON SALE! We’re doing three trips down to D.C. to see the Capitals:

Jan. 6 vs. Philadelphia
Feb. 18 vs. Montreal
March 6 vs. Carolina
All trips are $60 each and a “three pack” is $150. It includes game ticket, bus ride, limited beer, sodas and snacks plus Caps trivia and stupid movies like “Slapshot” and “Youngblood” as well as some Canadian classics.

Our buses leave from White Marsh and pick up in Catonsville en route to the Verizon Center.

It makes a pretty cool holiday gift for someone in your life who loves hockey and won’t say “What The Puck?” if this makes its way under the holiday tree. All of the details are here and you can paypal your order now and you’re all signed up!

Hope we get to see you on our trips. Click here if you want to check out a video of the fun from last time when the Caps won a thriller:

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