Tag Archive | "Football"

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What did we learn from Ravens vs. Redskins??? And why the NFL doesn’t want this feud to happen…

Posted on 23 August 2010 by Shawn Credle

23-3. That was the final score from this past Saturday’s Ravens vs. Redskins preseason match in Washington, D.C.. But don’t let the score fool you. The offense wasn’t as polished as they were a week ago. The Ravens’ first-team offense committed three fumbles. Joe Flacco was 9-16 for 72 yards, and had a QB rating of 67.0, nearly half of his preseason week #1 number of 127.1. Saturday’s game showed the other NFL teams that if you pressure Flacco early, you can rattle him, causing bad throws to his receivers. The Ravens always have Ray Rice to fall back on (even though he did fumble the ball twice), but it is necessary to develop the passing game of Joe Flacco to newcomers Anquan Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth if they want to keep playing at a high level.

Teams are trying to find the holes in the offensive line to get to Flacco. And with the injuries that the team has been suffering at the line, Flacco will have to figure out a way to get the ball out of his hands quickly. Failure to score TDs or lack of protection from the O-Line, causing an injury, could lead to the dreaded QB controversy, as Marc Bulger continues to play well during the preseason. (Jared Gaither, the line is missing you!)

9-7 was the Ravens’ record last year. And while most fans want to believe that the Ravens will just blow through every team this season, it is more likely that the Ravens will end up with the same record as last year, if not, maybe one better, 10-6. Cincinnati went undefeated within the division in 2009. A collapse doesn’t look like it’s going to happen with the Bengals, unless Terrell Owens makes one happen. Ravens’ fans only hope so. But there are a lot of tough teams in the League. And the Ravens won’t have to wait long for their first test. Week #1, they get the New York Jets, a team many experts believe will go to the Super Bowl this year. (My prediction: a rematch of Week #1 will happen in the AFC Championship Game this year).

And, oh yeah, a Fake Punt in the preseason??? Something tells me that the next time we see that one will be in the postseason, if they can get there. But the 51-yard run off a fake punt, by Haruki Nakamura, was the highlight of the night.

In looking back at this game, I began to wonder why the NFL doesn’t push for this feud to happen. Ravens vs. Redskins would sell out every time if presented more than just once every four years, not only in the stands, but on the televisions at home as well. However, I soon realized that it won’t happen because of one thing….MONEY!!! Baltimore and Washington are two distinct television markets that the NFL keeps separate to generate more revenue, not like what Oakland and San Francisco have. It’s the reason why you generally see only one or the other. And while the fans would love to have the games for bragging rights, the League would prefer that they order NFL RedZone or the NFL Sunday Ticket in order to see those games. It’s really a shame, as the possibility of showcasing these two teams, with their rabid fanbases fighting one another, on more than once every four years, would generate high ratings for whatever network would carry the game. But, I guess we will have to wait until a Super Bowl matchup between these two teams shows the League that the fans are ready for Ravens vs. Redskins.

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Wes Moore at Hopkins

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Former Johns Hopkins WR Wes Moore on His Accomplishments: “It’s Been With the Help and Support of A Lot Of People Who Refused to Give Up On Me”

Posted on 22 July 2010 by Ryan Chell

Wes Moore at Hopkins
Former Johns Hopkins wide receiver Wes Moore, in the beginning stages of his life growing up in Baltimore, was starting down a dark path. After watching his father pass away right before him at the age of 3, with no real father figure or influence in his life, Moore was finding a lot about life from drugs, crime, and his deviant friends.

His mother and grandmother became afraid of his future, so he was sent away to military school. Much as expected, he hated it.

“I tried running away,” Moore told WNST’s Rex Snider on Friday. “At this point I had already run away four times from the school, and after a fifth time I tried to run away, my squad leader came into our room and gave me a map on how to get to a train station.”

“He said my attempts to run away were pretty pathetic. I kept running through the woods to find this train station was and I couldn’t find it. And finally he gave me this map, and I wen out later on that night and tried to use this map to try and to a train station, and this map kept on taking me more and more deeper into the middle of the woods.”

“Eventually I just start crying, cause there’s nothing I wanted more than just to go home. And then I start hearing leaves rustling and I start hearing laughter, and it was my entire chain of command. They followed me out to the middle of the woods, and the map was fake. The map took me out to the middle of nowhere; they just wanted a gauge on how bad I wanted to go home, and I think that night they got their answer.”

But in the end, he was allowed to make a phone call afterward to his mom, and he finally realized that he had a cheering section behind him. He realized he could turn his life around because of the people around him, but he had to take the first step.

“She reminded me on that phone call how many people were rooting for me, and how many people were there supporting me, and who really wanted to help me. But I had to meet them half-way. And how my father was looking down on me, and how proud he was, and that he just wanted me to give it a shot.”

He finally realized that while this school was not going to be easy, it was going to change him into a different individual. But it would be a change that Moore wanted to go through with in order to make him a better man.

“While I hated every minute of it,I literally ran away five times in the first four days, it was a place that really helped to shape my larger identity and helped me think more about the kind of person I wanted to become, and the type of man I wanted to become. And I think really from there, I started to understand all the parts of something bigger.”

Wes Moore

And Wes Moore did become something bigger. He graduated as a regimental commander from the military school, and eventually found his way to Johns Hopkins University. It was there that Moore graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and became was a star receiver for the Blue Jays.

He averaged 25 yards a catch his senior year for the Hopkins, and he said that he learned a lot about life from sports.

He eventually went on to serve a tour in Afghanistan, time in the White House under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a White House Fellow, and he had the distinction of being the only Hopkins football player to earn a Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford University.

But Moore said he had to stop and take a look at his life the day he was scheduled to graduate from Hopkins. The Baltimore Sun that day wrote a story about his accomplishments, but around the same time the Sun chronicled his life, they also wrote a series of articles about a Wes Moore from the same neighborhood, similar age, and background as the Wes Moore graduating from Hopkins.

Only this Wes Moore,  who along with three others, robbed a jewelry store and killed a police officer. Reading more,the similarities to his background seemed odd to our Moore, so he wanted to dig deeper before, during, and after he headed overseas.

“Here I was going off to England on this full scholarship while the other Wes Moore was heading to a maximum security facility for the rest of his life. This story…this contradiction really haunted me, and it haunted me to the point where I one day reached out to him, and wasn’t sure if he would even write back.”

“But then a month later, I received a note back..from Wes and that one letter eventually turned into a dozen of letters, those dozen of letters turned into dozens of visits. And it was really through that process that I began to learn how much more we had in common than just our name. How much we had in common just on our neighborhood, and what that larger story means to us as a society and what it means to us as a larger country where we have to think about the types of Wes Moore’s that we’re fostering around us.”

And all through this process, the Wes Moore who was out of prison wanted to make sure he gave the incarcerated Wes Moore his due. He wanted to not be judgmental and to be fair, and to see where he went wrong. That promise to his “partner” turned into over 200 hours of interviews and research, and Moore turned his conversations with Wes Moore while he was in prison into the book which he has been promoting, ‘The Other Wes Moore.”

Moore and his story have made appearances on Oprah, The Daily Show, and The Colbert Report.

“I really wanted to go through this process, and make it as thorough as possible, because the only way that you can really do justice to this was to A.” Not be judgmental”, but also that you would be accurate. And so I really made sure that I wanted to get all the facts right, and the feel of the story right. I’ve known Wes for about five years, but it only took me two and a half to write the book, so it was a long and arduous process.”

He said the lesson behind the book is that there are points in everyone’s life where there is a fork in the road, and with just a single positive mentor in a young man’s life, that one guiding hand can draw a person down the right path-and a lack of guidance-can steer a young boy down the dark path.

Wes Moore said he-and his other half in prison-should be prime examples of that philosophy.

“I’ve had the honor of serving as an army officer, and serving in the White House as a White House fellow, and so many amazing things. But again, it’s been with the help and support of a lot of people who just refused to give up on me, even though they had no reason to.”

And Wes Moore said one of the first people to take home his message was the incarcerated Wes Moore himself.

“It’s interesting because Wes really had two different reactions when he read the book. The first was that it amazed him how much research that I put into it, having done the hundreds of hours of interviews. and the second reaction that he had was once he got to read about his life in the book, it amazed him how little he’s done with his life.”

And now Moore is out there fighting for make sure there are no more Wes Moores out there that end up in prison, and his book-and the message it conveys-is his tool.

“Right now, I’m working with the book and trying to make sure the lessons of the book that I’m trying to drive home…taking care of one another, and the importance of mentor ship, and the importance of role models, and understanding when second chances become last chances and the choices we make in life, -that’s the things I’m really passionate about.”

And that’s what Moore wanted to re-iterate. This book is so much more than two different Wes Moore’s, where one went left and the other went right.

“The fascinating thing about this, and typically about the reaction to the book, is people realizing this book is so much more than just these two boys. It’s about so much than Baltimore. It’s so much more than about one socio-economic group, or one race of kids.”

“It’s really about all of us, and how the decisions that we make , the people we have in our lives that help us make those decisions, and what the ramifications for making those decisions are, and what they can be.  That’s what’s been so grabbing about all this. Hardly ever do we think about our own lives, and think, if it hadn’t been for this decision or not making this decision, how different things could have turned out.”

“And as I say on the cover of the book, the chilling story is that his story could have been mine, and the tragedy is that my story could have been his.”

And Moore said that while his life may look like its all peachy, he wants to assure his readers and followers that it wasn’t easy as it seems and he was very difficult to work with at times, but it became a lot easier when he took his life into his own hands.

And remember, he was a receiver, so he had some really good ones.

“I’d be lying if I said anything happened overnight cause it didn’t, but there was a switch that started to take place where i started to realize that leadership mattered, and accountability mattered, and responsibility mattered. And that’s where I think I started to do a shift on who I wanted to be and what I wanted to become.”

If you would like to read Wes’ book, it is available at Amazon.

WNST Thanks Wes Moore for spending time sharing his story with us and wish him the best of luck in his continued journey spreading his message!

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My ideas for instant replay use in MLB.

Posted on 07 June 2010 by Keith Melchior

Last week, first base umpire Jim Joyce made a bad call that affected a perfect game by Detroit pitcher Armando Galarraga. There was nothing else he could do at the time but make a call and he did. Unfortunately, replays showed it was the wrong call. Joyce apologized after knowing he made an error in judgement, but it could not change the outcome of the game. Umpire crews 15 or more years ago would have swept it under the table and stand firm that they were right and the replays people were seeing were tainted. But what happens if that call was made on the first batter of the game, THEN Galarraga goes out and retires the next 27 hitters? Is there an uproar like this? Doubtful. Perfect means without flaw or error. In baseball, a perfect game means no batter reaches base, no hits, no runs, no walks, and no errors. Sadly, human error is a part of every sport. Overturning the call after the game is over to allow a perfect game is not the way to go. Kudos for baseball to at least get that one right.

The use of replay in major league baseball games seems like a great idea. It doesn’t totally remove the human element of an umpire or referee, but can be used as a tool to aid and enhance that human element image. Referees and umpires aren’t perfect all the time but replay shows they make the correct calls probably more than 97% of the time.  They use replays in football, basketball and ice hockey, so why should baseball be any different. Major league baseball isn’t the pure innocent sport it once was painted to be. The steroid and HGH era proves it. Maybe it is time to evaluate the use of replay in baseball games.

The NHL uses replay to determine a goal/no goal situation. When in doubt the calling official goes to the scorers table and asks to speak to the replay official stationed in one of the press boxes. It is the responsibility of the replay official to determine whether a goal is awarded or not. He relays the information to the referee and the corrct call is made. It is a very simple process and it either shows the referee to be right in his judgement or serves to correct an error. The officials review the replays and use it as a training tool to make them better the next time out. Rules and mechanics changes come about because of use of instant replay.

I have argued for years that the NFL is doing it all wrong. Instead of the white hat making the final decision and wasting time looking under the hood, they need an official in the booth to determine the outcome of a particular play, IF challenged by the head coach. The NFL needs to totally eliminate the “booth challenge review rule” in the last 2 minutes of each half and in overtime and allow the coaches to determine whether a challenge should be made or not. Since when is the last 2 minutes of a half made more important than the first 28 minutes?  I realize it’s traditionally the time a team is scrambling to put itself  into some type of scoring position as the clock is winding down, but by giving the replay booth the authority to force a challenge in those final minutes is totally unfair. Leave it up to the coaches to kill momentum with a challenge if they wish to risk one. If the replay booth gets all the power in the final 2 minutes, then why not have them challenge every questionable call for the other 58 minutes of the game?

Major League Baseball should revamp their use of instant replay to make the game pure again, thus eliminating questionable calls by umpires. We witnessed some terrible calls during the 2009 playoffs. To my knowledge, none of those calls affected the teams that eventually lost their series, but still, getting the calls right makes baseball look like they really care about their game.

Here’s how MLB should use replay:

The umpiring crew is increased to 5 members and their assignments rotate as they do now, so every 5th day they would be assigned to the replay booth. This would help keep them fresh and bring them even more together as a viable team as they assess their strengths and weaknesses throughout the season. Umpires who get calls overturned are flagged and then placed on a probationary list. If  an umpire gets 10 calls overturned in a season, he is to be suspended for 6 months without pay or terminated, unless there are legitimate reasons why the proper call was missed. Umpires who get the least number of calls overturned during the season are rewarded by assignments to post season games and bonus pay increases. This would be a huge incentive for them to make every effort to concentrate on their jobs and get calls correct. MLB closely monitors every replay challenge so the replay umpire would have to make the correct determination and not attempt to cover up for his crew.

Challenges are allowed to determine safe, out, fair, foul, catch, no catch, HR, ground rule double, fan interference, tag ups, and position of runners if a ball goes out of play. The “in the neighborhood”  forceouts at 2nd base would be challengable and placed  under close scrutiny as well. 

Managers will not be allowed to challenge balls and strikes.

Allow managers 2 challenges per game.  Once their 2 challenges are made, there are no further challenge options, so what they challenge would be very important.

Incorrect challenges come with a penalty. If the umpiring crew is determined to have made the  correct call, the manager is ejected and fined $1000  and the team loses it’s 2nd challenge. If the manager is ejected for arguing balls and strikes or ejected for any other reason, the team loses any remaining challenges when it loses its manager. This also serves as an incentive to managers to study and know the rules of the game and  pay attention to the action on the field.

When a challenge is made, calling umpire and the crew chief would contact the replay umpire and a determination would be made quickly.

If a team uses both challenges and the manager remains in the game, he may not question or challenge any subsequent calls. If he comes out to do anything but ask for an interpretation or is beckoned by the umpire for an explanation, he is ejected.

This would be a very simple process, given the fact every game in MLB is on television. It would help the game of baseball in the long run.

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Lingerie Football League invades Charm City

Posted on 03 May 2010 by Genna Wittstadt

Baltimore city has incorporated a new outlook for football as the city is now participating in the Lingerie Football League (LFL) as the Baltimore Charm.

The league is an all-female league where the girls wear lingerie-type uniforms as they play full-contact football.

Over the weekend on May 2, at First Mariner Arena, LFL held tryouts for Baltimore Charm that brought a crowd of girls with bare mid-riffs and showing cleavage with full make-up—but don’t think these girls don’t know how to take a hit or sprint down the field.

A student at Towson University tried out for the Baltimore Charm after her roommate found an article about it, so they decided to try out together.

“The idea of us being in the LFL started as a joke, but a few weeks after we heard about the league they announced Baltimore tryouts,” Shay Kemble, a senior at Towson, said. “We both wavered back and forth as to whether we should actually go or not, but decided to do it just to say we did it and to see if we were good enough to compete with the other girls.”

About 70 people tried out for the Baltimore Charm Sunday. It will be the newest in the 10-team Lingerie Football League. So far, the LFL has peaked interest in some and caused racy sneers from others.

“I don’t think there is anything wrong with showing off some great abs and I really don’t think the uniforms are that scandalous,” said Kemble. “I, personally, would feel great to show off an athletic body. I don’t think it exploits women at all because it is just as much about having skill as about having looks.”

Mitchell S. Mortaza, founder of the lingerie league, said the lingerie is the marketing tool, but in the end the league is about the sport.

“[Mortaza] kept shouting out that he didn’t want any cheerleaders and that he didn’t want any stupid girls. Girls who couldn’t follow instructions were cut pretty instantly,” said Kemble.

Mortaza believes most professional female sports haven’t done well because there is nothing to draw people in. He notes that his league is profitable and he is starting teams in Europe and Asia over the next two years.

Other teams include the Philadephia Passion, San Diego Seduction, Seattle Mist, Miami Caliente, Tampa Breeze, Los Angeles Temptation, Dallas Desire, Chicago Bliss and Orlando Fantasy.

The Charm will play its four-game season opener on the road starting September 17 against the Philadelphia Passion.

The home opener is scheduled for Oct. 1 against the Tampa Breeze so for all of you Baltimorians out there interested in this league keep that date open.

As far as who is on the team, that has yet to be announced. According to 22-year-old Kemble, the LFL would be calling about 20 girls to be invited to mini-camp this coming Friday through Sunday. After that, they will narrow down to the best again.

How do all of you feel about this new idea? Is it a good one, or one that exploits women?

“I think it’s more of a change for women’s sports than it is for football in general. The LFL allows women to play football, full contact football. Not many sports allow women to play full contact.,” said the Dillsburg, PA native. “I love that it’s an equal playing field with men’s football.

Kemble has played for another social football league before and grew up playing sports in general. Girls from other teams agree with Kemble about this opportunity to play a full-contact sport as seen on LFL’s blog page.

If you think this league is sexist, make sure to check out exactly what these girls go through and you may have your mind swayed.

And just keep in mind, it was considered scandalous when the All-American Girl’s Professional Baseball League was played from 1943-1954 during World War II (watch A League of Their Own for a refresher).

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Snowbound and Surfing

Posted on 23 December 2009 by Tom Federline

This past Saturday evening, I received an unexpected Christmas gift. We had just been hit by a record breaking snowstorm, I had cleaned the house, I had done the laundry, I had shoveled twice and it was still snowing, roads not cleared. I’m snowbound. My body and back is sore, I feel old, I need my couch and the TV remote. Time to go channel surfing. And some of you thought this blog was going to be about being stranded in a slope side skiing cabin with a snowboard. Ain’t happenin’ – 1. I don’t snowboard. If and when I attempt to ski, it’s with two sticks on my feet. 2. I don’t like cabins. 3. I don’t like cold weather. No, this is about hunkering down after a long day and being pleasantly surprised with sports entertainment on the tube.

Ok, lets surf. News – no, sick of snow reports, weather channel – no, sick of snow reports, holiday specials – no, it’s all fake snow. Bang, ESPN, Wyoming vs. Fresno State, it’s the 4th quarter, Wyoming has the ball, they are down by less than a touchdown and driving. The teams are actually playing…….and hard……there goes my “bag the bowls” theory. Next thing I know it’s 2 OT’s, Wyoming wins, fans go nuts. Very cool. It’s still snowing, time to channel surf again and here comes the Xmas present.

Another football game, in the snow, tape delay from earlier in the day. It is the Pennsylvania PIAA Class 4A State Championship game from Hershey, PA. LaSalle Explorers vs. State College Little Lions, 6″ of snow on the field and it was still coming. It is 3 – 0, LaSalle. Yes, they kicked a field goal in a blizzard. These kids could play. If I could have combined the two teams into one, they would have beaten the Terps this year. It was snowball at it’s best and these kids were playing for what seemed like gold buried treasure, leaving it all on the field. The sizes and athletic talent of these kids was astounding. We’re talking 6′-3″ 225, 6′-0″ 210, 5″10″ 185 and one kid on State College 6′-8″ 275 and not an ounce of fat on him. One kid ran the 100 yard dash in like 9.4 (not today though). They were throwing the ball and catching it, blocking, sweeping, tackling, running, in the blizzard…………and it was good! Then it got better.

LaSalle is up 10-0. Penalty flag. The crowd goes nuts. Obviously, the microphones were on the LaSalle side – “You S### Ref, You’re killing us ref, Are you “Snowblind” – (Black Sabbath), That was a S#### call ref.” Heard it loud and clear over the tube. It was beautiful! The announcers get into it – “That’s the 5th penalty on LaSalle and 0 on State College. The fans seem a little upset. Good contingent of fans here for LaSalle.” They are playing in a blizzard, there’s a foul every play. Apparently the game was not going in favor of the refs. Back and forththey go. While play is on one end of the field, they are shoveling off the yardage lines on the other end. Heck, the High School Athletic Director for the State of Pennsylvania is helping shovel with his 5 year old granddaughter in tow. Nice touch.

Then just before half, LaSalle running back breaks one, 54 yards – TD! 17-0 LaSalle rolling….wait a minute…..wait a minute….FLAG…..holding – LaSalle- neg on awesome TD run. The crowd erupts, this time with slightly even stronger opinions. It was beautiful. LaSalle eventually scored. Halftime score – LaSalle 17 State College 0. Halftime penalties – LaSalle 6 State College 1. Second half State College goes 60 yards on opening drive, only to have one of LaSalles 6′-3″ 235lb. linebackers knock the ball loose while being blocked by a 6′-0″ 250 lb. lineman. The linebacker then recovers the ball in the 8″ of snow, hands the ball to the ref, then himself signals first down LaSalle ball. It was that kind of passion on both teams throughout this game. The penalties settled down and the game ended up LaSalle 24 State College 7. It was a closer game than the score reflects.

It’s now 9:30 -10:00pm and my aching body has molded itself to the couch. I sit up and simply say, WOW – did I just get lucky or what? I ended a long “homeowners special” day, by witnessing parts of two awesome football games – by chance – surfing the tube – while snowbound. Hope you all get that lucky (it’s the small things). Merry White Christmas, gang. PEACE.



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Giving Thanks to Baltimore coaches everywhere

Posted on 26 November 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Well, we made it to yet another Thanksgiving. It’s another late Thursday in November, another Calvert Hall-Loyola game, another dose of Detroit for lunch and Dallas for dinner. We’re all a year older and hopefully a year wiser. It’s football, turkey and “giving thanks” for whatever good graces we all have in our lives.

So, being the sports guy that I am, I thought I’d write a Thanksgiving tribute to all of the coaches in my life. At 41 and being the nutty up-all-night sports web media entrepreneur that I am, the real gift of all of my years of doing Baltimore sports media has been the wisdom that I’ve unwittingly acquired along the way from coaches, managers and leaders of men in the business that I’ve fallen in love with – sports and community.

Of course, when you’re 15 years old and taking the No. 23 MTA bus downtown to Skipjacks games and writing about them for The News American next to John Steadman, you don’t realize until much later the impact these people have had on your life. So, today, I’ll give them thanks.

I truly have a lot to be thankful for – a great family, wife, son, a 90-year old Mom who brings great humor to my life, and many awesome partners, co-workers, friends, business associates and athletes, jocks and Facebook friends.

This whole “Thanksgiving blog” idea was borne out of a phone call I received about six weeks ago. It was from the 847 area code and I didn’t recognize the number. (This is where I should insert that I HATE phone calls. I’m a texter. I’m an emailer. I’ll even IM on occasion. Ask anyone in my life, I’m a communicator. But in 2009 – after spending 35 years of my life with my ear glued to a phone to do virtually every piece of my communication — I now find phone calls to be intrusive and disruptive and generally annoying.)

That said, I always seem to answer the damned thing.

“Hello,” I bellowed.

“Nestor…it’s Gene Ubriaco here. How ya been, kid?”

These are the little “gifts” that come out of the blue. I met Gene Ubriaco 25 years ago this month, when at the age of 16 I was put on the Skipjacks beat. My boss, Tom Gibbons, pulled me into his little office on Pratt and South Streets and basically said, “You’re the only one around here who actually wants to go down there and write about them so you’re our guy.”

Gibbons, who came from Boston and loved hockey, also had no budget at a dying newspaper (sound familiar?) and paid me $3.33 per hour to go to games. So, I made about $13 a game, parked for free, got free hot dogs and soda and the good fortune to sit on the roof of the then-Baltimore Civic Center’s rooftop veranda with the rats, roaches and a myriad of really cool old dudes who loved hockey and told me a zillion awesome stories. And sometimes, Barton Mitchell would even bring corned beef sandwiches from Attman’s as a “thank you” to the media.

Jimmy Jackson covered the team for The Sun. George Taylor covered the team for The Evening Sun. They were both well into their 60s. Pete Kerzel was my first media friend and we’d talk about pro wrestling and Jimmy Buffett. I was 16. Those evenings with Jackson and Taylor are my greatest memories of being a sportswriter. They’d eat Fiddle Faddle, yell at the officials, laugh and talk hockey.

After the games, we’d head down Baltimore’s slowest elevator to the locker room to chat with Skipjacks coach Gene Ubriaco. “Ubie,” as everyone would call him, was almost 50 then – a middling to bottom of the roster NHL hockey player but mostly a minor-leaguer who had made a post-career life as a coach and went on to lead the early Mario Lemieux-era Pittsburgh Penguins into a few playoff berths before being jettisoned. He also coached the Italian Olympic hockey team in Albertville, France in 1992 and has been in Chicago for the last 15 years running the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.

Ubie, who will turn 72 the day after Christmas, was kind of like an uncle to me, teaching me the game of hockey and giving me insights into the psychology of a hockey player. He knew because he had been that kid from “The Sault” (that’s Sault. St. Marie, Ontario, eh?) who was trying to catch on in the NHL. Ubie played just three season in “The Show” – all in different locales like Pittsburgh, Chicago and Oakland (yep, he was a Seal!)

Ubriaco would always take extra time to not just “give me quotes” – as every newspaper reporter needed – he would actually try to instruct me as to what he was thinking and why, so I learned more about the game. He was truly an educator, a teacher. He also had a little trouble hearing and pinched cheeks like the old Italian uncle.

Two decades later when I was sitting in NFL film rooms with Marvin Lewis or Jim Schwartz or Rex Ryan, I suppose that “learning” experience and openness that Ubriaco shared with me in 1984 was still being passed down to me by good men simply because I asked and had an interest in trying to get the story right.

Today, I celebrate Thanksgiving by thanking them here.

So, Ubriaco called me out of the blue six weeks ago, he’s back in Baltimore with his son for this holiday and on Black Friday we’re going to lunch together. We’re going to talk about old times, hockey and life. He recommended that we go to Gary Rissling’s place, Silver Spring Mining Company, and so it is. Rissling was on that first Skipjacks team I covered in 1984 and we work together to bring Caps fans to his restaurants and he still travels the world spreading the gospel of hockey.

Maybe you remember “My Dinner With Andre.” Well, this is my lunch with Geno. I’m sure I’ll have some great wnsTV footage.

But this reunion with Ubriaco has gotten me thinking about coaches and what an unbelievable source of knowledge they’ve been for me over the years in so many ways. Especially after my father died in 1992, they’ve all filled some sort of interesting role in my life as friends, teachers, advisors, sounding boards and confidants. And, obviously, Brian Billick is a partner in my business now at WNST.net. He’s shown the ultimate confidence in me and I’m thankful for his friendship and wisdom.

Ask my wife or anyone close to me and they’ll tell you that coaches are my favorite people in the world.

I’m really “thankful” for all that they’ve done for me.

At 41, I’ve now become a very reluctant coach of sorts. Sometimes, I’ve had to replace players, fire them, make moves for the betterment of the team at WNST. And it’s never easy and never comes without great strategy and use of knowledge and information that I’ve been taught by coaches.

But it’s no different than any of the other coaches who’ve had to deal with the media, cut players, fire assistants, deal with ownership, fans, the “crowd” and still manage to have families and passions outside of the games that they try so desperately to win.

Ubie was the first of many, many good men I’ve met and befriended along the way. Quite frankly, he taught me the ropes of being a sportswriter – all the stuff they’d never teach you in college.

One day I’ll write a whole book with a chapter about these guys and funny stories. (Some of them I could write a whole book about, but I don’t think I’m old enough to do that just yet.)

But I want to point some of them out by name, because it’s been one helluva run of good people over these 25 years and Ubie is special because he was the first person who took the time to care and try to help me not only understand the game but to be a better person.

For that, I’m thankful!

In hockey, Bryan Murray and Terry Murray (I covered the story the day the younger brother replaced his fired older brother…weird day at the Capital Centre!), Doug MacLean, Barry Trotz, Walt Kyle and Moe Mantha were all superstars in continuing a hockey tradition of fellowship.

I still see Trotz all the time in Nashville and one of Doug MacLean’s interns is our weekend Section 410 anchor Eric Aaronson. In particular, Terry Murray and I always had a special relationship because I had to track him down after games on the road in places like Fredericton and Binghamton to get quotes after listening to the games on the radio. He thought I was nutty/obsessed with getting the story and he was right. He always called me his “favorite reporter” in some sort of tongue-in-cheek way.

I also covered Eliott Uzelac’s macho boys of Navy football and Jim Lynam’s NBA Bullets. Lynam was a helluva good guy and loved to talk basketball. He was a junkie.

When I started doing radio in 1992 and the Orioles moved to Camden Yards, I inherited the first skipper that I really didn’t like, Johnny Oates. Unlike all of the other “friendly” skippers I’d had the good fortune to chat with after games in hockey, Oates was introverted, militaristic and hated any real questions.

Think about it. As a sports reporter, when you ask a “question” to a coach or player you’re essentially doubting, second-guessing or asking for some sort of justification for a decision or action. By its very nature, I suppose it’s weird or confrontational for anyone who is paranoid to be asked “why” they did or didn’t do something.

Oates, in particular, took every “What were you thinking in the 7th inning question?” as a personal assault. Almost 20 years later, just watching Dave Trembley do these things on live television after a loss is a throwback to the worst days of Oates. I literally cringe some nights.

But through it all, Oates appreciated that I knew the game and would take time to explain things on nights when the team won. But after a loss, he wasn’t warm and fuzzy. In the end, he came around during the 1993 season and apologized for being so evasive and snappy. This was right around the time that he found a spiritual change in his life and mellowed.

In September 1993 he chased me through the old Cleveland Stadium locker room – still the nastiest, dirtiest visiting locker room I’ve ever entered in any facility, major or minor league – while soaking wet and draped in a towel and called me into his office and we had a 30 minute chat about our roles and jobs and we made a peace pact and professional courtesy that lasted until his tragic death.

Oates was a good man. And in the end, he taught me a lot about baseball and about the people in baseball. It’s a conservative game. And it’s an awful business. There are a lot of tortured souls in the game of baseball, no matter how much money is involved.

In the days when I had a press pass (before Peter Angelos came and wrecked sports in our city during the summers since the mid 1990’s), baseball was great for educators about the game: Phil Regan, Greg Biagini, Chuck Cottier, Elrod Hendricks, Sam Perlozzo, Leo Mazzone, Davey Lopes, Tom Treblehorn, Bruce Bochy and Sparky Anderson were all awesome resources and always happy to answer any question that started with “Why?”

Cottier in particular would always put his arm around me and say: “Anything you ever wonder about in the game you just come to me and I’ll help you…”

I’m thankful for the Chuck Cottiers of baseball. There weren’t a lot of them, but they are appreciated.

I’ve also encountered some other great educators in other sports – Kenny Cooper, Pete Caringi, Dave MacWilliams, Kevin Healy, Bobby MacAvan, Tim Wittman, Mike Stankovic and others within the soccer world. And the basketball guys like Dino Gaudio, Mike Jaskulski, Terry Truax, Jimmy Patsos and Tom Sullivan have always had an open-door policy to asking questions about strategy and the nuances of the game on the hardwood.

Even with a sport like lacrosse, which has never been in my blood, when guys like Tony Seaman and Paul Cantabene do my radio show or see me out around town, they’ve always been enthusiastic about teaching me their game and comparing it to other sports so I could better understand the technical aspects.

But it’s been in my adulthood and with the emergence of the Ravens in Baltimore that my “coaching up” has taken on graduate-level courses.

Marvin Lewis was the first coach I met when the Ravens came in 1996. He’s taught me more about football than anyone over the years. Every Friday, we’d watch film and do a Q&A about the strategy of the game and the decisions that are made on the field on Sundays. Usually, Jim Schwartz was in the room in those early years and later did eight years worth of Fridays on my radio show and station, checking in with his Baltimore roots. Kirk Ferentz and Pat Hill were also phenomenally generous with their time and knowledge during the days of the flying ‘B.’

Then came Brian Billick and a myriad of super people like Jack Del Rio, Mike Smith, Mike Nolan, Mike Pettine, Rex Ryan, Jim Fassel, Rick Neuheisel and Matt Cavanaugh who always had a seat in their office for a few minutes of transparency in their ideologies and strategies to turn me from novice fan into someone who really understands the game.

And scouts like Phil Savage, Eric DeCosta, George Kokinis and Joe Hortiz are coaches of a whole different kind and have always been educational and accountable.

Again, one day, I’ll write a whole book on these guys above – the education is always ongoing with football and the NFL.

But for today, I just want to say “THANKS, COACH!” I’ll never be able to repay them for their time, energy or candor about all aspects of their job.

My Pop was the ultimate coach – he taught me to listen to coaches.

And as much as I know I’m still not the world’s greatest listener…


I must’ve done something right along the way because I’ve certainly heard the greater message.

Honesty. Integrity. Kindness. Charity. Friendship. Honor. Strategy. Accountability. Passion. Respect. Diligence. Creativity. Team first. These are the things that all of these sports coaches preach on a daily basis to their players. I’d like to think that a lot of this has sunk in over the years.

So, on this Thanksgiving, I just want to take time to thank all of the people who’ve taught me the most about life.

To the coaches of Baltimore over the past 25 years who’ve been cool and kind and helpful – with a special bow to Gene Ubriaco — on this special Thursday in November, I say: Happy Thanksgiving!

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Posted on 04 October 2009 by Bryan Powell

Let me state for the record I am a New England Patriot fan. I am from Annapolis and I was 7 when the Colts left so I had to look elsewhere for a team to cheer on. Unfortunately that meant the Redskins who have become the NFL’s version of the O’s. Dan Snyder and Peter Angelos have a lot in common.  However when I found out Bill Belichick and I attended the same high school,  I immediate;y started following him when he was in Cleveland and that has continued in New England. I do respect the Ravens and what they have built. This being said here are my thoughts on today’s game.

The officiating was bad but they were only doing what they were told to do by the league. If you want to be angry at the league for protecting the quarterbacks that is fine but the refs are only enforcing those rules. The Suggs and Ngata calls were bad so was the unnecessary roughness call on the Patriots but Flacco’s INT in the red zone bailed them out. One question I have though is why does Baltimore/Washington area think referees in every sport are against them. Whether it is baseball, college basketball, college football, or the NFL, fans in this area think the refs are out to get them. I am including  Redskin fans in this also.

Back to the game, after the Patriots stopped the Ravens on third and fourth down they tried to give the Ravens the game. They only took 1:30 off the clock and the punt went into the end zone meaning no run back and the ball on the 20. The Ravens were a dropped pass away from making the Pats pay dearly for that.

I think these two teams will meet again on a snowy January day. I am hoping it is in New England because M&T isn’t a fun place to visit.

Good luck the rest of the way until they meet the Pats again.


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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (9/25/09)

Posted on 25 September 2009 by Jack McManus


Andy Behrens from Yahoo! Sports comes on the show to offer his weekly fantasy football advice. He advises Drew to stay away from most Titans as they play the Jets who have not allowed an offensive touchdown. He tells me to go with Jay Cutler over Trent Edwards, Ryan Grant over Darren Sproles, and Roy Williams over Donald Driver. Finally, he tells Glenn to start Leon Washington over Knowshon Moreno and Mike Bell, and Eddie Royal or Torry Holt above Steve Breaston.


Jeremy Bloom, who will be on the broadcast team for the Maryland-Rutgers game is now up. He calls Da’Rel Scott one of the best backs in the ACC. He goes on to state that he thinks Maryland has a great chance to pick up a much-needed victory tomorrow. He explains that the Terps need to improve their discipline in order to turn the season around. Bloom moves on to talk about how he had success in both skiing and football. Bloom next describes the The Jeremy Bloom Wish of a Lifetime Foundation. The program aims to grant wishes for low-income senior citizens. For more information on this cause click here.


Andre Knott is the next guest. He is a sideline reporter for the Cleveland Browns. Knott admits that the Browns may be taking many bad losses this season with their current talent level. Knott states that it appears as though Jamal Lewis will not play this Sunday. Instead Jerome Harrison and James Davis will take the majority of the carries. Neither back is as big and strong as Lewis. Knott explains that not all of the Cleveland players have bought into Eric Mangini’s coach philosophy. He moves on to talk about how many fans in Cleveland still have bitter feelings towards the Ravens, despite the fact that the city has another team.


Steve Tasker, CBS Sports Broadcaster, makes an appearance on the show. He will call the Ravens-Browns match-up on Sunday. He states that the Browns do not stack up to the Ravens on either side of the ball. He explains how many NFL teams see the Ravens as a measuring stick for success. Therefore, if the Browns compete with the Ravens, some will be satisfied. He goes on to say that the change of scenery for Kelley Washington has greatly helped him find his way to contributing on the field. He also believes that Ray Lewis could be the best inside linebacker ever. Tasker talks about the Patriot’s early season struggles. He thinks the team will still be strong, but will have to fight to win many of their games. The one 0-2 team that Tasker thinks is not as bad as they look is the Jacksonville Jaguars. He describes how the blame should be placed on the players, and not the head coach.


This morning Glenn and Drew participate in the picks and comment segment. Each set of picks is posted below.


Ravens over Browns 28-13

Titans over Jets

Giants over Bucs

Texans over Jags

Vikings over 49ers

Pats over Falcons

Lions over Redskins

Packers over Rams

Bears over Seahawks

Bills over Saints

Chargers over Dolphins

Steelers over Bengals

Raiders over Broncos

Cardinals over Colts

Cowboys over Panthers


Ravens over Browns 34-10

Titans over Jets 23-17

Giants over Bucs 31-15

Texans over Jags 37-7

Minnesota over 49ers 24-20

Patriots over Falcons 27-24

Lions over Redskins 20-17

Packers over Rams 24-19

Bears over Seahawks 23-20

Saints over Bills 34-24

Chargers over Dolphins 33-17

Bengals over Steelers 20-17

Raiders over Broncos 17-14

Colts over Cardinals 31-27

Cowboys over Panthers 34-24

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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (9/23/09)

Posted on 23 September 2009 by Jack McManus


Victor Rojas from MLB Network is now on to talk some baseball. The first topic is the American League playoff picture. Rojas calls the Texas Rangers a team of overachievers. He explains that his provides hope for the future of the team. He moves on to the Boston Red Sox pitching situation. The group’s inconsistency could be a problem in the postseason. On the National League side, Rojas states that the Phillies are the front-runners. Rojas next talks about the AL Cy Young competition. He agrees with Drew that Zach Greinke will win the award, particularly after his performance last night. In the NL, Rojas thinks the award will be given to either Adam Wainwright or Chris Carpenter, teammates on the St. Louis Cardinals.   


Now, Fergus calls in. Fergus will be playing at the Baltimore Country Club in the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship. Fergus talks about the use of the long putter in golf. He argues that for many this is the most effective way to putt. He goes on to talk about the quality of the course at the Baltimore Country Club. He also mentions how thankful he is for the opportunity to play on the senior tour and prolong he career.    


Keith Fergus, a professional golfer appears next is not reachable, and will therefore not be on the show.


Newsday columnist, Bob Glauber is the next guest. He starts off by stating that a Giants-Jets Super Bowl in extremely unlikely. He goes on to talk about the impressive performance thus far of Eli Manning. He believes that the Giants are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. He also thinks that the NFC has more quality teams than the AFC this year. The topic next moves to Rex Ryan. Glauber explains the positive impact that Ryan has made on the media, players, and fans. The players have totally bought into Ryan’s system. He moves on to Mark Sanchez. He states that Sanchez has had not had a difficult time adjusting to being in the largest media market in the country. He next talks about how just because a team is currently 0-2, judgements should not immediately passed. Drew and Glauber agree that Drew Brees could very well be the best quarterback in the league. However, Glauber states that he would not trade Joe Flacco straight-up for any other QB in the league, while yesterday Drew named a number of players better equipped to win now.


Glenn is up with a Ravens report. He talks about the roster moves the team made yesterday. The team traded LB Prescott Burgess to the Patriots for a 7th round draft choice. In a corresponding move, the team signed TE Tony Curtis. He will provide insurance for the thin TE group and also contribute on special teams. Also, the Browns confirmed that Brady Quinn will the starting quarterback against the Ravens this week.


An Orioles fan calls in to talk about the bullpen’s recent problems and the organization’s handling of Michael Aubery. Another caller brings up how Gary Thorne discussed the attendance problems in Toronto for the Orioles game last night. He points out how Thorne would never bring up the Orioles similarly small attendance.


Donald Hill-Eley, head coach of the Morgan State football team is next up. He starts off by explaining how the new-found success of the sports teams at Morgan have greatly improved the morale around campus. He next talks about his quarterback Carlton Jackson. He explains that Jackson’s decision-making skills have greatly improved this year. However, Hill-Eley states that the running game must improve in order to have more offensive success. Finally, he describes the importance of the game this weekend against Towson and its importance to the local sports scene.


Towson’sfootball head coach, Rob Ambrose calls in to talk on the show. He discusses how he became very animated towards the officiating crew on Saturday. He says he later had a conversation with the head referee. He goes on to talk about how the Tigers have multiple players that can play different positions. Next he talks about the “buzz” in the stadium during the game. He felt that all the fans were very excited and truly believed the team could win the game. This is important to the success of the team, because Rob admits that the road to having a strong team may be rocky.


Mike Gathagan, a spokesman from the Maryland Jockey Club makes and appearance on the show. He talks about the upcoming Jim McKay Maryland Million day at Laurel Park. He also describes the Two Rings for OJ event held on OJ Brigance’s 40th Birthday. For more information on giving to this charitable cause, click here.

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Now that’s a double-header

Posted on 15 September 2009 by Eric Aaronson

I just got home from our WNST Neighborhood Tour Night which concluded “Dundalk Week” at Jimmy’s Famous Seafood on Holabird Avenue. Thank you to all of those that came out for the cold Coors Lights and two great Monday Night Football games! We at WNST appreciate your support of our Neighborhood Tour, Dundalk, and Jummy’s Famous Seafood.

It was a great night filled with plenty of good times and great games (including the Men’s U.S. Open Finals), however it may take several weeks for me to forget the images from our wing eating contest. Congratulations to our winner Don who was able to muster enough stomach capacity following the Bills loss, one which supposedly cost him plenty. However he stayed focused enough to eat 15 wings in record time! In fact it was obvious to all those in attendance that Don’s performance was Hall of Fame compared to that of T.O., who was unspectacular to say the least in his Buffalo Bills debut. In fact, Don didn’t hesitate to finish off the remaining wings left over from the rest of the participants. Great job Don! Look for the video from the wing eating contest on wnst.net to see for yourself.

For those of you that weren’t able to make it out to Donna’s Tavern on Thursday or Jimmy’s Famous tonight for the Coors Light WNST Neighborhood Tour Nights, I can’t encourage you enough to mark your calendar for next Monday night, as we’ll be calling Cockeysville home and hanging out at Piv’s Pub on York Rd. There isn’t a better way to watch the game and hang out with your favorite WNST personality then during our 17-week tour. Thanks again to Jimmy’s Famous Seafood for hosting all of the fun tonight and I can’t wait to see the video from the wing eating contest! I hope you enjoy the video as much as I enjoyed seeing it live.

Here’s the evidence:

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