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Red Light District Returns for Caps Young Guns

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Red Light District Returns for Caps Young Guns

Posted on 20 December 2011 by Ed Frankovic

“Your best players need to be your best players.”

You hear that saying from coaches a lot, but it is ultra true, and on Tuesday night, the Washington Capitals, who used to live off of the efforts of their “Young Guns,” erupted for four goals in a 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators. Alexander Oveckhin scored early on after a beautiful feed from Karl Alzner, Nicklas Backstrom followed that up with a sweet wraparound goal, and then Alexander Semin tallied on a sick top shelf wrister after one of his patented gaffes led to Nashville’s only goal in the third period. Troy Browuer closed out the scoring on the power play with #19 right next to him in front of the Predators cage. Michal Neuvirth (20 saves) was outstanding in net and for once the Capitals could breathe easier down the stretch and not have to hang on for dear life in a one goal victory.

Here are the highlights, quotes, and analysis from a win that improves the Caps to 17-14-1:

- This was a much needed offensive game for the Capitals after a pretty dismal display in Colorado on Saturday night. Washington can be very guilty of overhandling and overpassing of the puck but in the first period it was pretty clear that Coach Dale Hunter stressed the need to get the biscuit and bodies to the cage. The result was the Caps played their best first period in the Hunter era dominating a Predators team that is known for hard work and good defense. The shots were 11-4 for the good guys after the first frame and if not for some decent saves by Anders Lindback (19 saves total) this one would have been a blowout.

“I thought we came out well in the first period. We were ready to play and we took the play to them pretty good and we jumped on them early. We made a few mistakes in the third and gave up some scoring chances but I think the first set the tone for the game where the guys came out and played hard,” said Hunter.

- Solid coaching from Hunter tonight with his line combinations. #32 split up Ovechkin and Backstrom and that forced Predators Coach Barry Trotz to pick a line to play his top d-pair of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter against. Trotz chose the Backstrom-Semin-MJ90 unit and as a result Ovechkin, Brooks Laich, and Brouwer were able to go against a different defensive pairing. Alexander Ovechkin set the tone with his physical play and also credit coach Hunter for using the last change to his advantage and getting the Gr8 out against weaker d-man, John Blum, when he could. Ovechkin abused the young #7, who was recently recalled from the AHL, to spark his club. Alexander the Great had seven shots on goal in just over 15 minutes of ice time and he also had three hits.

“He’s a special player and he came out here scoring and hitting. He was a complete player tonight. Especially in the first [period], we needed a lift and he came out and played hard.”added Hunter.

“They {the Capitals} have two lines with {Nicklas} Backstrom and {Alexander} Semin and obviously the {Alex} Ovechkin line, so we’re pretty young on the back end and we had to split them {our defensemen} up tonight,” added the Predators coach, admitting that Hunter put him in a tough situation tactically, given Nashville’s defensive lineup.

- Neuvirth played his third straight game and appears to be regaining the form he had last season when he carried Washington in a lot of contests en route to the top seed in the Eastern Conference. #30 is saving over 92% of his shots while under Coach Hunter and will likely see the net again on Friday night in New Jersey. He had excellent positioning on Tuesday and did not allow many rebounds. He made several big stops, with one on Jordan Tootoo in the slot standing out in the third period. This is the kind of goaltending this club needs to get on a roll and gain confidence.

- One thing the Capitals have to improve on is their penchant for taking bad penalties. Washington was shorthanded five times and if not for some super penalty killing they could have lost the stranglehold they had on this contest at even strength. The infractions were as follows: too many men on the ice, a lazy boarding by Semin after he reached with his stick and got his skates tangled up with Tootoo, an Alzner puck over the glass for delay of game, a retaliatory cross check by Jason Chimera, and a careless slash by Joel Ward. Every one of those penalties did not take away a scoring chance for the Predators so they are BAD ones and show a lack of discipline. That needs to be cleaned up.

- Good things happen when you shoot the puck. In the second period Semin had a two on one rush with Marcus Johansson (two assists) and he tried to saucer a pass to MJ90 instead of firing away. In the final frame, after Semin turned the puck over at the blue line on the previous shift to allow the Preds to make it a one goal game, MJ90 gave Semin a beautiful drop pass and #28 fired off his back foot from a bad angle but it WENT IN. It was an incredible display of skill and it only shows that if he would just fire more we might see a return in production from him. In fact, the whole team needs to shoot more. Dennis Wideman’s simple power play blast that was batted home by Brouwer is another perfect example.

- So at the end of the night, Hunter’s Caps earned one of their better victories on the season. They came out hard, dictated the pace early on, and the Young Guns delivered. It was a game that gives hope of an offensive resurgence for this red light challenged team. The question now is can they keep it up and find some consistency or are they going to continue to be a one game on, one game off team? If they shoot the puck more, get to the opposing net with a passion, receive quality goaltending, and stay out of the penalty box then they will find themselves back near the top of the NHL standings. Easier said than done, though.

Notes: Mike Knuble was honored beforehand for his 1,000th NHL game. #22 played only 10:07 and didn’t attempt a shot on goal…Mike Green participated fully during the morning skate and appears close to a return. That would be a huge boost to this hockey team as the Caps are 8-0 when he plays…Jeff Schultz was the sixth defensemen and he didn’t look too good on one shift and barely played after that (6:01 total for the game)…Wideman led the Caps with 28:44 of ice time…Washington won the face-off battle, 35-23, after a subpar outing in Denver in that department on Saturday. Jeff Halpern, who played 18:05, was 14-5 from the dot.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 20 December 2011 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Women’s College Basketball-UMBC @ Navy (Tuesday 7pm Alumni Hall)

10. Kix (Friday 7pm Rams Head Live); Cinder Road (Friday 7pm Recher Theatre); Mint Condition (Thursday 7:30pm Baltimore Soundstage); Cris Jacobs Band (Friday 8pm 8×10 Club); Carbon Leaf (Thursday 8pm Friday 3pm & 8pm Rams Head on Stage), Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers (Monday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Chuck Brown/Wale (Wednesday 6pm 9:30 Club); Common “The Dreamer, The Believer” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

Judge me all you want. I went to see Mint Condition (and Boyz II Men actually) on the 4th of July a few years ago in Phoenix. It was AWESOME.

Knowing CJB is playing in Federal Hill Friday night only makes me sad thinking about The Bridge…

I’m such a nerdy fan of Carbon Leaf…

Honestly, I don’t think much of Wale’s new record. But his first was a freaking JAM…

9. John Waters Christmas (Wednesday 8pm Modell Performing Arts Center-Lyric); “Warrior” available on DVD/Blu-Ray (Tuesday); “The Adventures of Tintin” (Wednesday) & “War Horse” (Sunday) out in theaters

If I can’t make it to The Lyric Wednesday night, I’d be willing to settle for watching old clips of John Waters talking to David Letterman…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRJ-CZAnQNs

“Warrior” was the best movie of the year you didn’t see. Did you enjoy “The Wrestler”? “The Fighter”? Yeah…that realm.

Oh, and “War Horse” is the movie your girlfriend REALLY wants to see but is also REALLY afraid might be very sad so she’s thinking about not seeing it.

Wait. Strike that.

“War Horse” is the movie MY girlfriend REALLY wants to see but is also REALLY afraid might be very sad so she’s thinking about not seeing it.

It’s confusing. Here’s this!

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The Reality Check Week 15 NFL Power Rankings

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The Reality Check Week 15 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 14 December 2011 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Indianapolis Colts (Last Week:  32)

The TV show “Napoleon Dynamite” might be better than the Colts.

31. St. Louis Rams (LW:  31)

We’re still certain Sam Bradford might be a good quarterback, right?

30. Minnesota Vikings (LW:  29)

I’d tell you I was interested in the Vikes’ Christian Ponder/Joe Webb conundrum, but I’d hate to have you consider me a liar.

29. Cleveland Browns (LW:  27)

Colt 45 > Colt McCoy with a concussion > Indianapolis Colts QB’s

28. Washington Redskins (LW:  28)

Thank God for that.

27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LW:  23)

Really?

26. Kansas City Chiefs (LW:  21)

I feel like they have the talent to get a good coach, but Scott Pioli might be an issue.

25. Carolina Panthers (LW:  24)

Are they a year away? I can’t figure that out.

24. Jacksonville Jaguars (LW:  30)

Mike Zimmer jumps out to me here.

23. Miami Dolphins (LW:  19)

If they’re willing to spend the money, Jon Gruden would be the guy. I think.

22. Buffalo Bills (LW:  25)

I still think giving Ryan Fitzpatrick the extension was a good idea however.

21. Arizona Cardinals (LW:  22)

Huh? Huh.

20. Philadelphia Eagles (LW:  26)

But thank you Jeremy Maclin for ruining my Fantasy Football season.

19. Chicago Bears (LW:  17)

Brian Urlacher sounded like a jackass after the game Sunday.

18. Seattle Seahawks (LW:  18)

A quarterback might really be the only thing they really need.

17. Cincinnati Bengals (LW:  16)

They’re going to fall a bit short, but they’re really close.

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The 15-7-0 > The BCS

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The 15-7-0 > The BCS

Posted on 05 December 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. Oklahoma State looked REALLY good Saturday night. It’s a shame it didn’t really matter at all.

I tried explaining to everyone it wouldn’t matter if the Cowboys blew out Oklahoma Saturday night in Stillwater. Every time someone asked a question like “what if the Pokes win by a score of 50-0?” I responded with a simple “it won’t matter.”

I was right. Louisiana State will face Alabama again in the BCS Championship Game and OSU will get to watch after playing Stanford in the Fiesta Bowl.

It’s a shame, as Oklahoma State certainly looked like a team capable of making things interesting in New Orleans on Saturday night. The shame is that their Bedlam rivalry win was marred by 13 fans being injured when they rushed the Boone Pickens Stadium field. It’s also a shame the Big 12 Champs aren’t Bayou bound because we’d all like to see more of Mike Gundy dancing…

2. With that in mind, does anyone think LSU is losing in the BCS title game?

It’s not that I don’t think highly of Oklahoma State (or Alabama), it’s just that the Tigers have been pretty dominant. See Badger, Honey.

It appears as though Tyrann Mathieu’s punt return TD shouldn’t have counted, and he actually had another return later in the game that didn’t result in a TD that was more impressive. But this was still a lot of fun to watch him run all over the Georgia Dome field in the SEC Championship Game.

It’s awfully early, but I’ll go ahead and call a Tigers win over the Crimson Tide in the title game. Just going out on a limb without having to at all. All balls, that Glenn Clark. At least that’s what my 4th grade teacher always said.

3. Tim Tebow is in first place. Since he won’t say it, I will. “Suck it, haters.

I picked the Denver Broncos to beat the Minnesota Vikings on “The Friday Football Frenzy” this week; but I gave myself an out. “If Von Miller doesn’t play the Broncos lose” I said.

What I didn’t know is that the great Tim Tebow had the “throw a 41 yard touchdown to Demaryius Thomas while running out of bounds” in his repertoire…

Tim Tebow is better than you. And thanks to an Oakland Raiders loss we’ll get back to later in the game, he’s in first place in the AFC West.

Some Tim Tebow haters won’t give it up, including Merrill Hoge. He told the New York Post that Tim Tebow hasn’t proven anything because he hasn’t won a Super Bowl. Yep. That’s solid analysis. Well done sir.

Since we’re here, here’s this humorous picture of Matt Willis and Willis McGahee.

And also, this is apparently a photo of a fetus (or unborn child if you will) Tebowing. If you don’t want to look at it, don’t. I have no idea what I’m looking at myself.

4. Through one week, everyone who said “TJ Yates will be fine because he has Arian Foster” is right.

Of course, I was not in that camp so I feel like a bit of a silly goose.

The Atlanta Falcons had a great chance to make a move in the NFC Wild Card race, but they couldn’t contain Arian Foster in a loss to the Houston Texans.

I don’t have any (legitimate) highlights of the Texans’ win, but I DO have a video of Tommy Lasorda dropping a TON of F-Bombs in an old interview. Does that interest you???

5. I believe the pythagorean theorem somehow helped deliver West Virginia to the Orange Bowl. Clemson got there the old fashioned way.

The Mountaineers barely held on to beat South Florida Thursday night in Tampa Bay, claiming part of the Big East title-apparently the part that gets you to Miami.

Clemson on the other hand finished a season sweep of Virginia Tech (we’ll get back to them) in the ACC Championship Game. They totally earned their spot in the BCS. It’s a neat change of pace.

The Tigers and ‘Eers will get together in an Orange Bowl showdown that absolutely no one will be interested in. Except maybe this girl…

But I don’t really think of her as much of a sports expert when you think about it.

Oh-and apparently the appropriate way to celebrate a Clemson ACC title is to “fromble.” I had a lot of beers when I was in college. I didn’t know a damn thing about this…

6. Perhaps Chris Johnson really was worth a ton of money after all?

CJ2K has gone over 100 yards three times in his last four games, a feat he accomplished just once in in his first eight games.

That would be better if you were confused while playing along at home.

It was 153 yards and two TD’s Sunday as the Tennessee Titans topped the Buffalo Bills, a team I SWEAR had been good at some point during their existence…

Things get a BIT more difficult for the Titans next week, as they battle the Saints in Nashville. They find themselves still alive in the AFC South race but also still in the AFC Wild Card mix. AND they’re in the mix for the Cotton Bowl. Or something like that.

7. I don’t think much of the New York Jets, but I enjoy watching anyone beat the Washington Redskins.

The Jets scored 3 TD’s in the final five minutes of Sunday’s game at FedEx Field and got big plays from Aaron Maybin to avoid the upset.

A few things to giggle about here.

One-If the Skins manage to win two of their last four games this season, Mike Shanahan will manage to tie the great Jim Zorn’s record through the first two seasons! Big stuff!

Two-Washington’s Fred Davis and Trent Williams are suspended for the next four games for a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy. I don’t think the substance has been officially announced, but I think I have a guess…

(Continued on Page 2)

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 29 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Auto Racing-NASCAR Awards Show (Friday 9pm from Las Vegas live on SPEED); Golf: PGA Tour Qualifying School (Saturday & Sunday 4pm, Monday 3:30pm from La Quinta, CA live on Golf Channel), PGA Tour Chevron World Challenge (Thursday & Friday 1pm live on Golf Channel Saturday & Sunday 12pm live on NBC. All golf from Thousand Oaks, CA); Women’s College Basketball: Big Ten/ACC Challenge-Michigan @ Maryland (Wednesday 7pm Comcast Center), Maryland @ American (Sunday 1pm Bender Arena); Tennis: ATP Tour Davis Cup Final (Friday 8am Saturday 10am Sunday 7am from Seville, Spain live on Tennis Channel)

10. Andrea Bocelli (Friday 8pm Verizon Center); Erykah Badu (Friday 7pm Rams Head Live); Dashboard Confessional (Saturday 7pm Recher Theatre); All Mighty Senators (Saturday 7pm 8×10 Club); Aaron Neville (Monday 8pm Rams Head On Stage); Robin Thicke (Wednesday 7pm 9:30 Club); String Cheese Incident (Wednesday 8pm Lyric Opera House), Ryan Adams (Sunday 7:30pm Lyric Opera House); J. Roddy Walston & The Business (Friday 9pm Ottobar); Mac Miller (Thursday 7pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Ra Ra Riot (Friday 7pm Ritchie Coliseum College Park); Tori Amos (Monday 8pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall); Adele Live at Royal Albert Hall available on CD/DVD/Blu-Ray/iTunes (Tuesday)

I really shouldn’t like Robin Thicke all that much. I just can’t help myself…

Dude, Ryan Adams has made so many great tunes but are any of them greater than this?

I feel like I should be a bigger J Roddy Walston fan than I am…http://wnst.net/wordpress/wp-admin/post.php?post=185164&action=edit

I don’t know if Adele sounds BETTER at Royal Albert Hall…but I know this much…no CHANCE she doesn’t sound amazing…

9. Washington Monument Lighting (Thursday 7pm from Mt. Vernon Place live on WBAL11), Mayor’s Christmas Parade (Sunday 2pm Hampden/Medfield); Gary Valentine (Thursday-Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Steve-O (Thursday-Sunday DC Improv); Jim Norton (Thursday-Saturday Magooby’s Joke House)

Is there any chance that when Stephanie Rawlings-Blake flips on the lights at the monument the scene looks anything like this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ar-__ub0rc

And since I’ve already invoked Christmas Vacation, I think it’s only appropriate that we do this…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk74WprmZxY

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With All of the Losses, Even the 15-7-0 Is Now in the BCS Title Picture

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With All of the Losses, Even the 15-7-0 Is Now in the BCS Title Picture

Posted on 21 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

You know how it works. 15 positive football observations, 7 “not so” positive football observations and one “oh no” moment from outside the world of football.

(As a reminder, we don’t do Baltimore Ravens analysis here. We do PLENTY of that elsewhere. This is about the rest of the world of football.)

15 Positive Observations…

1. I have no concrete proof that Towson University is building a statue for Rob Ambrose, but I don’t know why they wouldn’t.

A lot of people are surprised by the Tigers’ success, but not me. I’m so effing stunned I’m still not a hundred percent certain it actually happened…

There’s no way anyone…in the world…could have ever seen a CAA Championship coming this season. This team still has more work to do though. They won’t feel incapable of beating anyone they play in the NCAA playoffs, starting with Lehigh December 3rd at Unitas Stadium.

Seriously…this is Towson we’re talking about. This can’t be real.

2. I thought I was happier to see the Washington Redskins lose when they play miserably, but I think I was even happier to see their fans suffer heartbreak Sunday.

I will admit that I thought those a-holes in DC were done after Tony Romo hit Jason Witten from 59 yards away…

…but somehow Mike Shanahan’s team stayed in the thing long enough to have a kick to win in overtime. Graham Gano of course missed the kick and DeAngelo Hall channeled DeAngelo Hall to help the Cowboys survive.

I celebrate your misery, clowns. May you never win another game…unless for some reason you play the Steelers. Even then, I dunno.

3. Tony Sparano is giving Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross something very similar to what Lou Brown gave Rachel Phelps.

Does anyone remember earlier this year when the Buffalo Bills were good? No? I swear I thought they were…

Stephen Ross started interviewing coaches before bothering to fire Sparano. Sparano used that to fire up his team, convincing them to win in order to piss off the ownership there that wanted to get new players and coaches. Suddenly Matt Moore and Reggie Bush are playing like real National Football League players and there’s a problem on South Beach…at least for now.

It’s very similar to what Lou Brown did back when he was managing the Cleveland Indians…

Did we ever find out if Brown won American League Manager of the Year that year? He was a hell of a skip.

(Side note. Every time the Orioles tried to hire a General Manager this offseason I assume the calls went awfully similar to that time when Charlie Donovan called Brown at Tire World to offer him the gig with the Tribe.

“How would you like to be the Birds’ GM?”
“Gee. I don’t know.”
“What do you mean you don’t know? This is your chance to be a Major League Baseball General Manager!”
“Let me get back to you, will you Peter? I got a guy on the other line asking about some white walls.”)

4. Andrew Luck has an impressive lateral motion towards the Heisman Trophy.

Do you get the feeling the Stanford quarterback is saying to himself, “Well, if no one else wants it…”?

I’d show you something from the Cardinal’s win Saturday night over rival California, but there wouldn’t be anything that would convince you Luck has locked up the award.

Instead, here’s Lee Corso dropping the “f-bomb” on ESPN’s College Gameday Saturday morning from the University of Houston. There’s no real reason to share the video, other than the fact that it includes the f-bomb.

5. If ANYONE has put their name back in the Heisman mix, that person is Baylor QB Robert Griffin III.

The Bears’ QB almost singlehandedly made sure next weekend’s “Bedlam” game was uninteresting to the rest of the country by throwing (and running) all over Oklahoma Saturday night…

It’s probably too little, too late as far as the Heisman is concerned-but it is certainly a reminder that RG3 has been one of the most entertaining players in the country all season. This TD pass to Kendall Wright however is probably not one he should take credit for…

Also humorous? Erin Andrews took the worst of a Gatorade shower intended for Griffin…

AND…in the hysteria on field after the win in Waco, America fell in love with a gal rushing the field on crutches…

6. At times, Matthew Stafford is one of the best quarterbacks in the world.

But if he did this more often the Detroit Lions wouldn’t have to make dramatic second half comebacks week in and week out like they did Sunday against the Carolina Panthers…

This game also involved Lions TE Tony Scheffler invoking an AT&T Flash Mob commercial in a TD dance…

And a note to Fantasy Football owners: Lions RB Kevin Smith ran for over 100 yards in this game. The physics of that alone are stunning, really.

I’m well aware it’s a different guy, but can we talk about this picture for a second? I say this as a HUGE Silent Bob fan. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? Are those shorts? Is it some sort of jean skirt? Is it a denim quilt? Holy hell.

7. No one knows how to pronounce his name, but Chris Ogbonnaya had himself a fine day Sunday.

Well, I feel like a bit of a silly goose for taking fantasy advice and playing the Jacksonville Jaguars defense against the Cleveland Browns Sunday.

The only meaningful highlight in this one came from Jags RB Maurice Jones-Drew, who invoked Cleveland “hero” LeBron James by tossing powder in the air after scoring a TD…

And in an unrelated story, here’s a 6 year old kid crying about the New York Jets after their loss to the Denver Broncos the other night. He has an awful mother…

El oh el.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 15 November 2011 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Mixed Martial Arts-UFC 139: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Dan Henderson (Saturday 9pm from San Jose, CA live on Pay-Per-View), Strikeforce Antwain Britt vs. Lumumba Sayers (Friday 11pm from Las Vegas live on Showtime), Bellator Fighting Championships 58 (Saturday 7pm from Hollywood, FL live on MTV2); Soccer: Team USA @ Slovenia (Tuesday 12pm from Ljubljana, Slovenia live on ESPN2/ESPN3.com); MLS Cup: Houston Dynamo @ Los Angeles Galaxy (Sunday 9pm from Carson, CA live on ESPN); College Soccer: NCAA Tournament-Xavier/West Virginia @ Maryland (Sunday 5pm Ludwig Field); High School Soccer: MPSSAA Boys & Girls Finals (Thursday-Saturday UMBC Stadium); Boxing: Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. vs. Peter Manfredo (Saturday 10:30pm from Houston live on HBO); Women’s College Basketball: Towson @ Maryland (Wednesday 7pm Comcast Center), Maryland @ UMBC (Saturday 7pm RAC Arena); High School Football: MPSSAA Regional Finals-4A North Catonsville @ Poly (Friday 7pm), 3A North Aberdeen @ North Harford (Friday 7pm), 2A North Chesapeake-Baltimore County @ Edmondson (Saturday 4pm Poly HS), 1A South Surrattsville @ Dunbar (Saturday 1pm Poly HS), 1A North New Town @ Overlea (Friday 7pm CCBC-Essex), 1A East Cambridge @ Perryville (Friday 7pm); College Field Hockey: Final Four-Maryland vs. Old Dominion (Friday 4:30pm from Louisville, KY live on NCAA.com), NCAA Championship Game (Sunday 12pm from Louisville, KY live on NCAA.com); Canadian Football League Playoffs: Eastern Conference Finals-Hamilton Tiger-Cats @ Winnipeg Blue Bombers (Sunday 1pm from Winnipeg live on ESPN3.com), Western Conference Finals-Edmonton Eskimos @ BC Lions (Sunday 4:30pm from Vancouver live on ESPN3.com)

10. Hank3 (Wednesday 7pm Rams Head Live), Airborne Toxic Event (Thursday 7:30pm Rams Head Live), Brett Dennen (Friday 7pm Rams Head Live), Robert Randolph and the Family Band (Saturday 7pm Rams Head Live), Five Finger Death Punch (Monday 6:30pm Rams Head Live); Chris Robinson Brotherhood (Tuesday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage); Bob Schneider (Sunday 8:30pm Rams Head On Stage); Owl City (Wednesday 5:30pm 9:30 Club), Mike Doughty and His Band Fantastic (Thursday 7pm 9:30 Club), The Kooks (Sunday 7pm 9:30 Club); Ray Davies (Tuesday 7pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Kid Rock (Wednesday 8:30pm Fillmore Silver Spring), LMFAO (Thursday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Warren Haynes (Saturday 7pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Straight No Chaser (Saturday 8pm Meyerhoff Symphony Hall); Drake “Take Care” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I start with Brett Dennen, whose tune “Comeback Kid (That’s My Dog)” I play regularly on “The Reality Check”-a fine radio program that airs Monday-Friday 2-6pm on AM1570 WNST.net. You should really be listening…

Then there’s Robert Randolph. Holy hell I have no idea how many times I could possibly post this video. It’s just…it’s just…it’s just amazing.

Bob Schneider’s “Honeypot” is one of the most underrated songs of 2011…

Does the Chris Robinson Brotherhood play Black Crowes songs? I’ll bring my lighter…

9. Cirque du Soleil Quidam (Thursday-Sunday Verizon Center); Russell Brand (Thursday 8pm Patriot Center); Tony Rock (Thursday-Saturday Magooby’s Joke House); Bob Marley (Thursday-Sunday DC Improv); “Pirates of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tide” available on DVD/Blu-Ray (Tuesday)

Instead of Russell Brand doing stand-up in Fairfax, is there any chance we could get a concert featuring Aldous Snow and Infant Sorrow???

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t6beljyjyA

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Wrapping up a week of Ravens/Titans talk: They got beat. Period!

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Wrapping up a week of Ravens/Titans talk: They got beat. Period!

Posted on 22 September 2011 by Peter Dilutis

Letdown. Meltdown. They were too confident. Read too many newspapers. Heard too many good things being said about them.

Those are just a few of the many lines we’ve heard throughout this week from Ravens fans who simply cannot understand how their team that looked so dominant in Week 1 could come out the next week and barely cause a stir in Nashville.

Looking back on the game, I’m of the opinion that the Ravens just got beat. Plain and simple. In every aspect of the game. Coaching. Preparing. Playing. Competing.

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Look, a part of me saw this coming. Before I bought into the hype that the Ravens would easily handle the Titans, I was weary. Is was the Titans’ home opener. It was Mike Munchak’s first home game as head coach. The Ravens and Titans have been longtime rivals going back to the Steve McNair and Eddie George years.

But then I listened to everyone else, and honestly listened to what my eyes told me on September 11 when the Ravens came out like gangbusters and put it to a Steelers team that has since rebounded quite nicely. I thought the Titans would keep it closer than people thought, but of course, most people THOUGHT the Ravens would win by 14-17 points.

The fact is that in today’s NFL, teams don’t just walk over their opponents every week. If it was so easy, we’d all bet the Ravens and Steelers and Patriots and Jets every week and go home millionaires after the season.

There are going to be weeks when the Ravens play below their standards. There are going to be weeks when their opponents will play above their heads.

Last Sunday, all the ingredients were there for the Titans to play over their heads. It was one of those magical days in Nashville when the stars aligned for the Titans to play what may turn out to be the best game they’ll play all season.

Having said that, it wasn’t just luck. The Titans really had a great plan and they executed it perfectly. On September 18th, the Titans played like a good football team. If the Titans came out every week and Matt Hasselbeck played like that and Kenny Britt exploited every mediocre corner and Nate Washington sped past defenders as he did in his old Pittsburgh days and their defense got pressure on every QB as they did to Joe Flacco, then they’d be a pretty darn good football team in 2011. They really would.

I don’t expect that to happen, just like I didn’t expect Cincinnati to look like they did in week 2 last season for the duration of the 2010 season.

Just as I don’t think the Ravens had an emotional letdown last Week 2, I don’t think they did this season either.

And just as the Ravens rebounded to go 12-4 last year and come an avalanche short of their second AFC Championship appearance in three seasons, I think the Ravens will rebound from this loss and find themselves at 3-1 heading into their BYE week.

We all want to make excuses. As fans, we want to blame someone for the loss. We never want to admit that the other team could possibly beat our team unless someone on our team screwed up.

It wasn’t the Ravens this time. It was the Titans.

They beat the Ravens, and they beat them in every phase of the game.

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Happy 5th Anniversary to my Free The Birds friends who want change for Baltimore baseball

Posted on 21 September 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

I’ve been watching the Baltimore Orioles since 1973 and I’m not sure any of us could’ve predicted what this franchise was to become back in the late 1980’s when Camden Yards was built, our city was starved without football and the Colts had split town.

It’s amazing now because most of the people in my company and many of you reading this under the age of 35 do not remember the Colts at all. Or a time when there was no purple. Or when there was no shiny stadia downtown that we all take for granted.

I watched William Donald Schaefer fight for all of this. I watched John Steadman politic and report through all of this as a colleague and a kid at The News American. I watched the first shovel go in the ground downtown. I was at that magical game in 1988 when all of this civic planning was announced on the backend of an 0-21 start that invigorated the renaissance of not only the Orioles but this community as a whole. I wrote more than 75,000 words on this topic five years ago. You can read all of it here…

I was there for all of it. I’ve got some perspective on just how incredibly foolish this all looks – the Orioles who drew 3.6 million people now barely getting a legitimate 1 million people through the turnstiles from the interior Baltimore community. Let’s face it: if it weren’t for a few tourists and 18 games a year against the Red Sox and Yankees, the place would be empty every night. Even on nights when they give away bobbleheads and orange T-shirts, they don’t have enough productive players to even get the promotions right. How many years in a row will they hand out an item for a player who isn’t even on the team?

Sheesh. Starting with all of the craziness of Peter G. Angelos in 1993, I could write a f**king book.

Well, actually, I did…and it’s all right here.

The civic devastation and their annual derelict status in the AL East (and in all of sports, really) makes them so insignificant as to not even be criticized by most national media and the locals are never going to say a word while their companies collect advertising checks from Angelos, via MASN or the Orioles.

The black cat is out of the bag – there’s intense financial greed behind that legal façade of Peter G. Angelos and that’s just fine, I suppose, if your audience participates in the Fantasyland charade of the Orioles attempting to compete to win a championship in Major League Baseball.

The Orioles are funded by you — the cable television buyer. You give your money to them – specifically MASN — through a third party. I bet if you got a bill every month for a couple of bucks from MASN – and it were optional – you and 99% of the state of Maryland would opt to NOT have MASN.

The same way I opt to not have Sirius radio, an IPad or a newer car.

I don’t like anything about the fact that $3 a month of my money goes directly to Peter Angelos under some mystical civic umbrella and trust that he’s investing it back into making the Orioles a better baseball team for the citizens of Baltimore.

That’s clearly not happening these days.

And that’s not my lie. That’s from Angelos himself. Here’s the direct link to our friends over at Pressbox, who take a check from Angelos and get “inside access” and get to ask questions once every decade. This is from 2006 when the Greek God of Losses told Stan Charles that MASN would change the team’s fortunes via increasing the payroll.

Instead, Andy MacPhail came out from underneath a rock in New York and came to Baltimore to quell the insurrection and help Mr. Angelos better understand the way to the profitland of Major League Baseball. Just like he did for many years for the Tribune Company and the Cubs, who now are entangled in the ownership of The Baltimore Sun.

It’s amazing how most Baltimore sports fans in town have no idea how the business of baseball and MASN and free agency and the MLB draft all work. Angelos clearly preys on the naïve nature of the local sports fans who are being fed the new “company line” that MacPhail has parroted through all of his worthless years here in Baltimore: “We just don’t have enough money to compete with those evil teams in Boston and New York.”

My other McFail favorite is this one: “We’ll grow the arms and buy the bats.”

Yeah, what bats? Mark Reynolds? Garrett Atkins? Cesar Izturis?

I can’t imagine that we’ve seen the end of the Orioles demise or the bottom of the proverbial barrel in this macabre tale of “How to Wreck a Baseball Franchise for a Local Community.” Given the state of the franchise and the fact that they’ll be looking for another “leader” who’s given “full control of the baseball operations” in two weeks, it’s pretty apparent that Angelos and the Orioles will still be big spenders of Syd Thrift’s “Confederate money” this offseason.

Angelos clearly bunkered down five years after Free The Birds. He was angry. He was humiliated. He took my press pass. He issued an edict to every member of the franchise to treat me like a pariah, even though it’s pretty clear that I love the team more than any of those people because I’m willing to face the hard reality and 14 years worth of facts.

Sure, Baltimore came back on the home jerseys a few years (I told Drew Forrester then that it was an empty gesture that wouldn’t improve the team) and Andy MacPhail was brought in to stabilize the organization (at least in the minds of the fans) and put a set of spectacles on it so it could look semi-legitimate.

Everything has been fine since Sept. 21, 2006 except for the fact that the team never won, stars haven’t emerged and accountability continues to be non-existent. Oh, and the fact that the man running the team at the time killed himself a few weeks ago.

The death of Mike Flanagan would be a tragedy anytime, anywhere. It’s a story that’s among the saddest I’ve ever heard as a Baltimore journalist. But amidst his suicide, there’s a story that must be told of his relationship with Angelos, the Orioles and the Baltimore fanbase.

Someday I might be the one who tells that story. But for now, I continue to grieve his loss with his family and attempt to help them heal.

Flanagan’s death has made my phone ring off the hook with former teammates, loved ones and people in the baseball community who are reaching to me to find out what happened.

I know a lot more about what happened than what I’m telling out of respect to Flanny’s family and loved ones. But I know the truth. And the truth should and will be told at an appropriate time.

And, rest assured, the truth isn’t going to make the Orioles look very good or make you feel any better about Peter Angelos’ ownership here in Baltimore.

I can’t imagine what it must feel like to be Tippy Martinez or Jim Palmer or Rick Dempsey or Boog Powell — when you walk around your hometown every minute of every day getting recognized by people over 45 who don’t know whether to console you, hug you or engage you in any sort of baseball chatter because let’s be honest – the only reason we’d know who any of the former Orioles are is because of baseball. It’s the one thing that bonds us.

And, really, none one of us wants to discuss the Orioles or Angelos or the situation with Mike Flanagan when they’re in last place the entire topic of baseball, suicides and World Series take a backseat to the purple football machine in the fall.

But, therein lies the problem.

No one EVER says ANYTHING.

I hate to say it, but YOU ARE THE PROBLEM!

So, embrace that statement, stew about it, send me “F**K YOU!” letters, sharpen your pens and your wit.

And then send them to Peter Angelos and see if the 82-year old can find your thoughts on his Facebook page.

The local media here is such a civic disgrace that they should be ashamed of themselves for burying the topic of the Orioles’ ineptitude and profit line and intentions. And you should be ashamed of yourselves if you tune into any of the Orioles “media partners” (it should say “protectors”) and believe a word any of these hosts and personalities say. They’re all told what they can and can’t say and when they can say it.

CBS & WJZ = guilty

WBAL = guilty

The Sun = perhaps the most guilty because their unique selling point and marketing tool is “credibility” and “knowledge of the community” and “journalism”

Pull Scott Garceau or Peter Schmuck or Gerry Sandusky or Mark Viviano up on the side and ask them what THEY REALLY THINK. Ask any of these “local leaders” and “trusted experts” off the record how they’ve been treated. Ask them how they’ve seen people treated around the organization. Ask them what Mike Flanagan told them about the team when he was running it and beyond.

I saw 15 Baltimore reporters crowded around a young Ravens cornerback named Cary Williams in a locker in Nashville three days and yet no one can make their way to downtown Baltimore to interview a guy who has chased 2.5 million people out of downtown on summer nights and destroyed local business in such a profound way as to be the most powerful man in the state?

Disgraceful…

Ask ANY bar and restaurant owner or anyone involved in the beer industry about whether their businesses would be stronger if the Orioles actually existed in their establishments on summer nights.

I’ve asked them ALL. And there’s not one who doesn’t want to see a stronger baseball franchise in Baltimore.

I go into bars all summer long and see that many don’t even put the Orioles games on their televisions these days. And that’s just in the suburbs.

I live in downtown Baltimore. The city comes to life when events prosper and the community swells with pride. The U2 concert was amazing. The IRL brought tons of new faces into the city that hadn’t been this happy near the Convention Center since the All Star Fanfest in July 1993. The Caps-Predators game last night was an incredible event – bringing 11,000 into the First Mariner Arena and stimulating commerce throughout downtown for a night.

The Orioles success and their verve and mojo doesn’t seem so far away to me. I remember it all. I wrote 19 chapters about it and you can click here and begin that journey if you’re really interested in my thoughts and my rationale and my legitimacy.

I’m not some hack journalist from out of town coming into Baltimore to tell you what to think. I’m not an out-of-town media leader.

I’m a citizen. I’m a taxpayer. I paid to get Camden Yards built back in the 1980’s. My city tax dollars fronted that IRL mish-mash three weeks ago. I own a business in Baltimore County. I employ people and put them to work and I trade off of ONE THING: your trust!

The team routinely doesn’t spend money. They’ve made far more money losing than they’d ever make trying to win. That’s just a fact.

And, right now and for the past decade, that’s been exploited and profiteered from by Peter G. Angelos and his ownership group. We’ve got a dead Cy Young Award winner who worked for the company for most of 38 years and his life became so entangled that he put a gun to his head and ended his life less than a month ago.

Who’s going to ask the tough questions?

And when is Angelos or anyone at Major League Baseball going to answer them?

Winning is not as profitable as losing. And when the citizens of the state are paying the freight and there’s only tens of millions of guaranteed profit every year, apparently popularity or civic pride or winning ownership and respect for tradition doesn’t factor into the equation for Peter Angelos.

If the richest guy in the state isn’t interested in winning a World Series then the Baltimore Orioles might as well just leave town and return when they’re ready to win.

It’s such a fragile trust to begin with in Baltimore, where Angelos was a resident and apparently unmoved by the Mayflower vans or any of the chicanery of Bob Irsay back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s when he did a beauty tour that was a disgrace to everyone but him.

The story of Angelos and his wrecking machine for the baseball traditions of our community is a legendary, well-told tale that as Ronnie Milsap once sang: “It’s too sad to write.”

Free The Birds is five years old today.

What will the Orioles look like five years from today?

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Ravens for Week 2

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Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 Ravens for Week 2

Posted on 20 September 2011 by Luke Jones

Below are our Top 7 Ravens players in the deflating 26-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans in Nashville on Sunday. We’ll track our rankings throughout the 2011 season with the following point system:

No. 1 – 7 points
No. 2 – 6 points
No. 3 – 5 points
No. 4 – 4 points
No. 5 – 3 points
No. 6 – 2 points
No. 7 – 1 point

And, yes, we know there really weren’t seven players worthy of the honor, but we did our best in completing the process.

Luke Jones’ Top 7…

7) Ray Lewis
Lewis

6) Terrell Suggs
Suggs

5) Billy Cundiff
Cundiff

4) Haloti Ngata
Ngata

3) Terrence Cody
Cody

2) David Reed
Reed

1) Ray Rice
Rice

Drew Forrester’s Top 7…

7) Sam Koch
Koch

6) Marshal Yanda
Yanda

5) Terrell Suggs
Suggs

4) Lardarius Webb
Webb

3) Haloti Ngata
Ngata

2) Ed Dickson
Dickson

1) Ray Rice
Rice

SEASON TO DATE:
Luke:

1. Haloti Ngata (10 points)
1. Ray Rice (10 points)
3. Terrell Suggs (9 points)
4. David Reed (6 points)
5. Bryant McKinnie (5 points)
5.Terrence Cody (5 points)
7. Joe Flacco (4 points)
8. Billy Cundiff (3 points)
9. Ed Reed (2 points)
10. Matt Birk (1 point)
10. Ray Lewis (1 point)

Drew:
1. Haloti Ngata (9 points)
1. Ray Rice (9 points)
3. Terrell Suggs (8 points)
4. Bryant McKinnie (7 points)
4. Lardarius Webb (7 points)
6. Joe Flacco (6 points)
6. Ed Dickson (6 points)
8. Marshal Yanda (2 points)
9. Ed Reed (1 point)
10. Sam Koch (1 point)

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