August 2008 Archives

Crybaby Punter Frost is Given the Boot

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I was content to just state that Durant Brooks beat Derrick Frost out for the punting job with the Redskins. However, after his comments, he has put some diehard Redskins fans, including myself, in the position of choosing the lesser of two evils...defending Vinny Cerrato.

Frost somehow managed to hold on to the job since 2005. He may not have been the worst out there, but you can't tell me that the Redskins couldn't have found someone better. I get the feeling that he had something on the Redskins, like Terry Matthews had on the Orioles.

Vinny, a man that couldn't find an NFL job during the season that Marty Schottenhemier fired him, did the right thing. Frost was not a great punter, but if Brooks is not that good, it was possible for him to come back. Until those comments. Goodbye Derrick! Hope you screw up another team's punting for a few seasons.

That's Mr. Ocho Cinco to You.

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Ocho Cinco.jpgNo add drop needed in your fantasy football league. If you have Chad Johnson, you now have Chad Javon Ocho Cinco, as he legally changed his name this past week.

I gotta say, funny as it is, it's going to be a mess for him personally. I mean think about it. He'll need to order new checks from his bank. Social Security is going to be a pain. Ever stand in that line? I guess that's why he's got an agent.

Maybe Big Money Tony should be my new legal name. That might be tough to sell on the business card.

Tampa Bay Rays attendance

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On last night's edition of Baseball Tonight, Buster Olney and Eduardo Perez both hit the nail on the head as to why the Tampa Bay Rays struggle to attract fans to attend their home games despite the team being in first place. Buster Olney summed it up by saying that playing four good months of baseball does not make up for ten bad years.

AFC West Prediction

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San Diego Chargers
The Chargers are head and shoulders above the rest of this division. They have solid playmakers on both sides of the ball, and running back LaDanian Tomlinson is still arguably the league's most dangerous offensive weapon. Phillip Rivers should continue to progress at quarterback. If they play to their potential they will be a serious contender for the Super Bowl. If I was a Chargers fan, I wouldn't feel too good about Shawne Merriman's decision to play the season with 2 torn knee ligaments, however--too risky.

Denver Broncos
After two straight unsuccessful seasons, Mike Shanahan has promised that the Broncos will return to the playoffs in 2008. But none of their offseason signings really excites me much. Judging by the preseason Jay Cutler seems to have stepped up his game a notch. The offense should be able to score some points. Defense could be a problem area again this year, and could cause them to miss the playoffs. If anyone can get them to play at a high level it's Shanahan.

Oakland Raiders
The pieces are in place for this team to improve. JaMarcus Russel has a year of experience under his belt. Top draft pick Darren McFadden gives them the explosiveness they've been lacking on offense. If Javon Walker can stay on the field (and off of the pavement) they have a legitimate deep threat in the passing game. They're not a playoff team yet, but they will beat some.

Kansas City Chiefs
Top draft pick Brendan Albert should help quickly revitalize an offensive line that looked like a shadow of its former self in 2007. That in turn should be good news for RB Larry Johnson who is healthy again and ready to prove that he can still be a productive back. Dwayne Bowe was one of the breakout players of 2007 and should continue to shine. But overall this is a mediocre team stuck firmly in rebuilding mode. I'm also not convinced that Brodie Croyle is the answer at QB, but we'll know after this year.

Nats Sweep Dodgers and Guzman hits for Cycle

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The Nationals put together a streak fans should be happy about. Along the way of the sweep, Cristian Guzman hits for the cycle, getting the elusive triple in his last at bat.

Not only do the Nats put together a pretty good winning streak, but they put the Dodgers in peril of winning the NL West. Of course the Arizona Diamondbacks are making it interesting by not winning that often either.

Guzman wasn't the only part of the offense, as Elijah Dukes hit two home runs in the game. Hopefully this is a sign of the offense we'll be seeing next season.

APB: Bring Back Chief Zee's Tomahawk

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Remember those awful commercial in the late 1980s and early 1990s that would say something like STOP it's the computer expo at such and such locations while showing the Govenator on a motorcycle from "T2"? Well everyone needs to stop and take notice that Chief Zee is without his prized prop tomahawk that he's had from the glory days of Redskins history in the 1980s Chief Zee Tomahawk

Who would actually take the prop of one of the most famous fans or dare say mascot's in the NFL? To those that may be in possession of Chief Zee's prop, please return it. Maybe a misguided Redskins fan may now have a piece of history. This is almost as bad as the time Chief Zee was attacked at a game around Christmas in old Veteran Stadium in Philly some years ago. Let Chief Zee have his tomahawk back and hopefully if returned it will bring back some Redskins magic, too.

Baseball Takes A Second Look at Home Runs

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Baseball has decided to institute instant replay on home runs. What makes this so interesting is the change takes place during the season. I don't recall the NBA or NFL making changes to the rules in the middle of the season. Whether good or bad or in need of clarification the NFL and NBA implement rule changes at the end of the season. Live by the rules put in place at the start of the season that is fair for everyone good or bad from beginning to end playing by the same rules.

Yet maybe MLB being quick and nimble can prevent a bad call from being made. As much as it's great to be quick to act to get it right, playing by the same fair rules throughout the duration of the season seems to take precedence in the NFL and NBA and works well. Everyone knows the rules and works within them. What makes the change so interesting is that it's the right thing to do but the timing is so odd that it conjures the feeling of indifference this late into the season. It's almost like an espisode of Seinfeld as a rule change this late seems like a change about nothing.

Duckworth Passes Away

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Kevin Duckworth, former Washington Bullet, passed away on Monday in Oregon. Known around these parts as "Double-O" or "The Big O" for his jersey number, 00, played for the Bullets before the team changed the name to Wizards from 1993-1995. His short stint didn't leave much a mark on the Washington Basketball team, but as a former NBA All-Star, he brought some light to a franchise plagued with bad decsions. He was toward the end of his career playing here, so nothing was gained.

Recently, we was working with the Portland Trailblazers, his first NBA team, in promotion and holding basketball clinics.

Girls on Trampoline

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Girls on trampoline? No, it's not the Man Show. With a blink of an eye a little known Olympic sport has come and gone. Trampoline makes an appearance every four years at the Olympics. I don't even recall it making a prime time appearance this time around around. It's difficult to fathom how trampoline is a medal sport and softball isn't.

Needless to say, I was somewhat looking forward to trampoline. I recall the first viewing of the 'sport'? The first competitor I saw was a tiny girl who bounced her way with such amplitude that the camera couldn't even keep her on the screen. The next woman tamplinIST, I'm assuming, was a bit larger in nature and had the look of someone much "hungrier" which was a disadvantage as the camera had no problem keeping its eye on her.


Gene Upshaw passes away

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Gene Upshaw, the executive director of the NFL Players Assocation, passed away at the age of 63. He lead the union for a quarter of a century and negotiated some of the most important agreements between players and the NFL.

In recent years, he has contemplated retiring around the same time Paul Tagliabue, the former NFL Commissioner, retired. He also faced calls for a formal plan to replace him. He was also an offensive lineman for the Raiders back in the day and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Despite the salary cap, players prospered under the contract he negotiated. Some criticized him for allowing a salary cap and not doing enough to address healthcare for retired players.

Upshaw apparently died from pancreatic cancer that was not found until recently. He is survived by his wife and three sons.

Yankee Stadium

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Yankee Ticket.jpgThis past Saturday was the draft for one of our fantasy football leagues. Q, The Sports Freak, Stu, and myself made the trek up to New York City to meet up with Bob and another friend of ours. What better to do on draft weekend than to go to Yankee Stadium? OK, the Redskins were in town against Favre and the Jets (I nearly said Bennie & the Jets!). But it was only pre-season. We had live, real baseball going on in the Bronx. Against the Kansas City Royals. OK, maybe I'm not making a great case. Oh yeah, it's the final season of Yankee Stadium. There, that was a good reason.

With our luck, we had Sidney Ponson starting for the Yankees. Ahh the Prince of Aruba, ex-Oriole when even Q was still paying attention to baseball. Fond memories of watching him blow game after game. He apparently realized there were a few ex-Orioles fans in the stands, as he decided to revert to "Oriole Ponson". Yet the Royals only managed to pull 2 runs out of him. Of course, the Yankees weren't better for the first few innings, leaving players stranded for most innings including at least one with bases loaded. Finally in the seventh, the Yankees broke through for 2 runs, eventually winning it in the 13th.

Fantasy Football League Draft

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It was the 7th Annual Keeper League Draft for Stu, Q, Big Money Tony, Bob, and me this weekend. We rotate the draft locations every year. This year it was NYC and a Yankees Game. Yankee Stadium offers a proud tradition of history in baseball. It's everything that you remember about baseball when you were a kid going to a game with family. The dimensions, monuments, and fans make Yankee Stadium one of the best, EVER.

After returning from an extra inning game, we ventured back for a draft. As a former champion and co-commissioner, it was time to prepare for the draft. After being able to unload Alexander for a 1st Round Draft Pick near the beginning of the season last year, I had completely overhauled my team including trading Palmer for Addai plus picking up an additonal second round pick.

It was a re-building year after five playoff seasons. There seems to be some solid depth at running back this season with another season weak at QB & WR. It also boasts a season full of potential at the running back position with rookies. As someone that other's in the league and in the office have come to for strategy and advice, please feel free to ask The Sports Freak for advice or for that matter...Q, Big Money Tony, Stu, BJ or Bob.

Women's Chinese Gymnastic's Team

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Much has been made of the women's Chinese Gymnastics Team and the age of some of the competitors. Bela Karolyi's comments have been hysterical. Q went as far as to say wouldn't it be great to have a Bela Karolyi channel? With NBC leading the world in coverage of the Olympics, could anyone imagine the possibility of leveraging the investigative reporting team? Maybe it would be more entertaining to satire the events like Saturday Night Live often does. It could look something like the following:

Elderly Man: (walks into house)
Young girl: (over the intercom) I'll be down in a minute. I'm putting on my training uniform.
Chris Hansen: (approaches elderly man) Hello. Do you know who I am?
Elderly Man: Yes. You're Chris Hanson.
Chris Hansen: Then you know this is the part of the show where I say that I'm Chris Hanson.
Elderly Man: Yes.
Chris Hansen: Then you also know this is the part of the show that I introduce the film crew.
Elderly Man: Yes.
Audio Crew: (Moves In)
Video Crew: (Moves In)
Chris Hansen: And this is the part of the show where I say that this is Dateline NBC to catch a scout for women's gymnastics.
Elderly Man: Actually I'm not here to scout young girls for the women's gymnastics team. I'm here to encourage her to play ping pong...it's the national past time.Ping Pong. In fact, I'm on my way to a ping pong tournament now and should be going. (exits)
Olympic Committee Officials: (wrestle scout to the ground and take him away)

Redskins Cheerleader Swimsuit Party

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DSC00494.JPGThe Washington Redskins Cheerleaders had a party at a DC area nightclub Friday night to celebrate the premiere of the 2009 Swimsuit calendar. The Sports Freak and I attended as fans of both the team and the cheerleaders.

There seemed to be confusion from the get go. Earlier in the week, I checked the website of the establishment to get some details. They were scarce, except for a $20 entry fee. I thought this was odd and contemplated not going. Then our friend Q forwarded an e-mail that said entry was free from 5-7 PM.

So off we went. I arrived 20 minutes before the Sports Freak. There seemed to be some holdup as a number of fans were held outside the party. I finally figured it out as they were not allowing anyone with an SLR camera in. Later on, they did, only on the caveat that they remove their cameras by 7 PM, when only the official photographer was allowed. Luckily, all I had on me was your standard pocket digital. Unlucky for some, like one of the fans who was wearing shorts. That was another no-no. His brother went through the pat down before realizing he couldn't get in. After some discussion about where to get a pair of pants, the older brother, who was wearing slacks, asked younger if he needed to go with him. When the younger answered, "Yes", the older was fuming. Off they walked for about half a block before I heard a very loud expletive yelled at the top of the older's voice. Good times, at least for me. A minute later, the Sports Freak arrived.

What $20M is Really Worth

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Details of the Green Bay Packers $20M-10 year retirement deal with Favre have been revealed. Apparently there was more to it than just "Go Away".

What I find interesting is that supposedly this was in the works since right after Favre retired. Seems pretty interesting. So many other great players never had this opportunity.

Where is Joe Montana these days? Running a diner.

Joe Namath? Strug-a-ling for a kiss.

Jim McMahon? Wearing a headband and fur.

I guess Favre was the everyday man who will become every man and Packer for Life, like Mayor for Life

AFC East Prediction

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New England Patriots
After their Super Bowl upset defeat at the hands of the Giants, the Patriots are looking to repeat as division champs and advance deep into the playoffs. Their offense is returning largely intact, which is good news for a unit that set all sorts of records last year, including total points and most TD passes. Their defense still looks a little old and slow, despite the addition of LB Jerod Mayo, a potential opening day starter, in the first round of the draft. But the coaching staff is excellent at putting together schemes and gameplans to make this defense better than just the sum of its parts. Though they will obviously not go undefeated this year, the Pats should have little trouble wrapping up the division for the sixth straight year, for the simple fact that very few teams will be able to outscore them.

New York Jets
Before the Jets signed Brett Favre I would have ranked them third in this division, but Favre brings an instant legitimacy to the QB position that New York has not had in several years. Having a future Hall of Fame QB to lead the offense will increase the production of the Jets skill position players, and should translate into a couple more victories than they otherwise would have had. Upgrades at G (Faneca) and FB (Richardson) in the offseason should also allow the Jets to run the ball more effectively this year. The Jets loom as a wildcard contender but my gut tells me they will come up a little short.

Buffalo Bills
The Bills have been gradually improving the last couple years and that trend should continue, but ultimately this team needs better production from its offense. Will rookie WR James Hardy develop into the receiving threat they've been looking for to take some of the pressure off of Lee Evans? Will QB Trent Edwards perform better as a full-year starter (assuming J.P Losman doesn't reclaim the job at some point this season)? I have my doubts. However, the running game and defense remain decent to above average and will give the Bills a shot at making the playoffs, albeit a slim one.

Miami Dolphins
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that the Dolphins will win more games than they did last year. Seriously though, this is a team with a lot of question marks heading into the 2008 season. They traded away their best player, defensive end Jason Taylor. Ronnie Brown is only 10 months recovered from a torn ACL. Their defense was downright terrible last year, and at least on paper doesn't look to be much beter in '08. And the guy expected to start at QB, Chad Pennington, was literally just signed a few days ago after the Jets dumped him. On the positive side, the offensive line will be better this year (though that's admittedly not saying very much) with the drafting of blue chip tackle Jake Long at #1. If the Dolphins win more than five games the season should be considered a massive success.

Large Redskins Roster to Whittle Down

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The Redskins are in the enviable position of too many players to consider for the final 53-man roster. With just over 2 weeks before final cut, there could be 4 running backs, 6 wide receivers, 3 tight ends, and at least one fullback.

For running backs, we have the fairly obvious keepers, Portis and Betts. Rock Cartwright, to the Sports Freak's dismay, will probably be the number 3. Marcus Mason is the potential fourth back. As a practice squad player last season, he grew his NFL skills. This season, especially after his showing in the two pre-season games, his time on the practice squad would not be long, as likely any of the other 31 teams would take him in the chance he becomes the next Ryan Grant.

USA Basketball: Redeem Team

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Team USA won by 21 vs. Angola. Much like Bond, I like my USA/Angola match-up to be shaken not stirred. Gone are the days when NBA Pros can dunk and knock down an Angolan player a la Charles Barkley with the Angolan basically asking for an autograph. The 1992 "Dream Team" really was a dream boasting some of the best players and legends of the game. In 1992 the USA won by 68 in the match up. It was sheer dominance in every sense of the word.

Not only has the International game and competition improved since 1992, but the mind set has also changed. Where are the legends of countless years with plenty of game still in them to dominate the field on the team. The most subtle of changes in the NBA was the ability for a time to draft high school players. It changed the field. Players were learning on the job more so then ever. It's taken it's toll on the NBA as the league became much younger. International players aren't looking for autographs anymore. They play with the young NBA players and they want to beat Team USA.

Olympic Fever

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There are so many stories to discuss from the spectacular opening ceremony to Michael Phelps becoming the gold standard winning his eleventh gold medal tonight in the 4X200m freestyle relay. So much has been made of Phelps chasing down Mark Spitz record of seven gold medals. Phelps has won or been part of a team relay to set a world record time on his way to winning each gold so far through his races.

Viewers have watched interviews and heard of Michael's rigorous schedule during the Olympics. Yet, what seems to be missed during the hype of the "chase" of Spitz record is his own personal pride and dedication to be the best and challenge himself. How many folks have the opportunity in front of them and dare to take the risk to move leaps and bounds ahead? The deeper meaning in all of the footage and interviews seen on TV is how much he pushes himself for himself and not for the glory of shattering a record but to test the boundaries of his own personal talents.

Too bad a soft and understated Pat Summerall in his prime isn't available to cover the events and let the event itself capture the moment and not the same lines and questions on air. One of the closest relays and most excitng races in a US Gold victory displayed Phelps competitive nature rooting on his teammates as the bulletin board material by other teams saying they'd smash the US in the relays only seemed to push Phelps more that night. Could Michael Phelps be "Best there ever was. Best there is now and best there ever will be", as mentioned in "The Natural."

Pennington Goes Shopping

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Pennington was released as part of today's events as the Favre traded unfolded. There's another side to consider with this trade. Who could benefit from the release of Pennington? Pennington could vault the Vikings into a serious contender in the NFC by just getting some production out of the position which would in turn free Peterson up even more.

The lack of production at the quarterback position in Minnesota can turn your stomach sour. Vince Young may not throw the ball as much as Jackson but he gets more production and any bit of production would help the offense and Peterson. Leinert may have problems in Arizona fighting off Warner, but in Minnesota he'd have no problems holding off Jackson. Is there a quarterback situation worse than in Minnesota? Most likely no, due to the ability of the team to become a true contender with any production from the position.

The drama of the Green Bay Brett Favre saga finally ended this morning as Favre was traded to the Jets. Rumors quickly circulated that Pennington would be released by the end of the day. Two quarterbacks may soon find themselves wanted by a franchise, but will Brett ultimately get what he wants and be happy?

The Packers found themselves so close to going back to the Super Bowl. As much as the organization had geared itself to a season without Brett, it's difficult to imagine a team so close to glory willing to wait for a young quarterback to take them there then give a legend one more shot at bringing his beloved franchise another title. Is it fair to keep Rodgers waiting? Yes, as long as the player ahead of him gives them the best chance to win a title.

Favre to the Jets

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At least this story is over. Until he "retires" again. Brett Favre was traded to the New York Jets for an undisclosed draft pick. It is said to be conditional but at least a fourth round.

Favre has immediately improved the Jets. The muddled AFC East, after the juggernaut New England Patriots now appears to be a two team race, with Brady and the Pats still significantly over Favre and the Jets. Only time will tell to see if Brett can continue the magic he had with Green Bay last year and lead the Jets to the playoffs.

The the Jets other quarterbacks, it looks like the Chad Pennington era is officially over. Whether he will remain a Jet this season will be the next question. Kellen Clemens takes the role of Aaron Rodgers as heir apparent, except surprisingly, he has more NFL experience in games than Rodgers did.

NFC East Prediction

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With the NFL Pre-Season underway, it's time for predictions much like The DC Sports Page - NFL Mock Draft and Baseball division (a la Bob) the NFL Divisional predictions will be provided by some of the usual bloggers:

NFC East:

The Dallas Cowboys:

Dallas seems to hold the keys to the NFC Championship game due to the upheaval in Green Bay. The Cowboys upgraded several key positions of weakness with the additions of Pac Man Jones and Zach Thomas. The only real questions regarding the Cowboys are do they spontaneously combust and implode from within and what will happen should TO become injured? Dallas seems to have the least amount of concerns heading into the season in a weak NFC.

The New York Giants:

Defending the Lombardi Trophy can prove a daunting task with an abbreviated off season and higher expectations. The Giants have to answer one more question at the start of this season than they had prior to last season. The defensive line lost a future hall of famer and a leader in Strahan. It was the ability to pressure the opposing quarterback from the ferocious front four that helped bring back a title to NYC. Continuing the unrelenting pressure from the defensive line will be critical to a second trophy in consecutive years. Eli Manning must prove his critics wrong and show that the steady player down the home stretch for a Super Bowl run can manage the game through the rigorous sixteen game schedule and the playoffs. In a town with quick and harsh criticism by the fans and media, the Giants know how to band together better than any team in the league and will defend their title deep into the playoffs. Without a Favre in GB a possible NFC Championship between Dallas & NY could be in the works.

Josh Hamilton Takes Control of the Home Run Derby

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Nothing can captivate an audience like someone knocking the ball out of the yard at a game. JWjr summed up most baseball fans opinions when he said, "when I watch a game at home I want to see a pitcher's duel, but when I'm at the game I want to see the ball leave the stadium." Well nothing seemed to capture the country in the now deemed steroid era of baseball following the 1994 players strike like McGwire and Sosa going yard.

Justin Morneau may have won this year's home run derby, but Josh Hamilton won the fans hearts and imagination. Hamilton's record setting 28 home runs in the first round can only be described as "electric." Fans weren't just watching history or sitting on the edge of their seats, they were standing up with a giddy glow and a look of utter amazement as did the fans in the fictional movie "The Natural."

The Sports Freak Returns

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After being on special project assignment at the day job, a crashed laptop, and a vacation the sports freak is back. There are plenty of items to catch up on from the home run derby to the skins and nats trades to looking at the upcoming season of hockey and football. So let's get started!

Green and Monk in Canton

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Wow. What a great day Saturday was. The only thing that would have been better is to see it in person. How I regret that. I don't think there will be another day where two of the greatest Redskins ever get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In addition to Washington's own Darrell Green and Art Monk, Emitt Thomas, Andre Tippett, Gary Zimmerman, and Fred Dean were enshrined.

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