Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Saints No Longer Undefeated...

Yes, I know I'm a little late on the post... Been sleeping hard in the midst of the snowstorm of the weekend.

But the Dallas Cowboys did what every other team couldn't do for the past 13 weeks of the New Orleans Saints' season. The Cowboys pulled off a dominating performance against the Saints to win 24-17. Not only did this win end the Saints' run, but it also put themselves in control of their own destiny to make their own run for the playoffs.

Cowboys DE Demarcus Ware not only played in the game after suffering from a sprained neck and being carried out on a stretcher out of last week's game against the Giants. Nope. He had 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles, giving the Cowboys the defensive attack that they needed against the potent New Orleans offense.

QB Tony Romo didn't disappoint either. He has had ZERO interceptions in the past 3 games, and he threw for 22 completions. Despite December historically being the worst month for the Cowboys, Tony Romo has been playing the best football out of his entire career - that came through in this Saints game.

Of course, WR Miles Austin did his thing, with 7 receptions for 139 yards. I have to say, I definitely enjoy watching him play......

However, the Cowboys could not win without some type of drama. With Dallas up 24-3, the Saints went marching in (had to do it) with 14 unanswered points, cutting the Dallas lead to 24-17.

It doesn't end there - after all, that's not enough drama for a Cowboys game. The Cowboys decided to play conservative football, and instead of pushing for another touchdown on 4th down, they let Nick Folk kick for a field goal; a 24-yard field goal that would seal the deal for a Dallas win over the then-undefeated Saints...
NO GOOD!

As a Cowboys fan, I almost DIED at the sight of an NFL-kicker, who made the PRO-BOWL one time, miss a crucial FG at such short yardage. The worst part of the missed FG kick?

I called it.

Afterward, I was doing my trademark rocking-chair motion with hands folded, pleading to the screen that the Cowboys hold on because the playoffs depend upon it. Not to worry though, the Cowboys defense stepped up when it was needed most.

Demarcus Ware up and sacked Saints' QB Drew Brees with less than 20 seconds left in the game, forcing the ball out of Brees' hands. However, a fumble was not called, on account of the ball coming out from the force of the hit. I thought, "Bull," but I would be vindicated. An almost identical play by Demarcus Ware forced a definite fumble, which was recovered by the Cowboys to seal the win.

Dallas follows through with a knee on the final play of the game, winning 24-17.

Thankfully, Nick Folk is no longer a Dallas Cowboy. Instead, the NFL leader in missed field goals (with 10) has been replaced by... SHAUN SUISHAM! Ironically, the Cowboys play Suisham's former team, the Washington Redskins, who lost today in a humiliating loss to the NY Giants, 45-12.

As a Cowboys fan, I hope not to see Suisham miss crucial FG's from short yardage like he did in the last Cowboys/Redskins game. Should be fun to watch, nonetheless.

Which leads me to the next point...

The New Orleans Saints were bound to lose. Something about them just did not feel right for them to be go undefeated. Their vulnerabilities were exposed in the wild 33-30 win over the Redskins in Week 13, and the following week against the Atlanta Falcons where they also barely won 26-23. If the Cowboys went into the Super Dome on top of their game, the Saints would have to play a quality team after those previous losses.

It also didn't help New Orleans that they did not have a strong defense: The Saints were 25th in Pass defense and 18th in defending the run, and that's just the short story, aside from allowing 30 points from an offensively struggling Redskins team. With the Cowboys going in with receivers like Miles Austin, a strong running game, and Tony Romo playing better than he ever has before, it set New Orleans up for failure. All Dallas had to do was to bring out all of this in one game, along with their defense to stop the offense. And they did just that.

It's nothing personal; I kind of wanted to see the Saints go undefeated with the possibility of 2 undefeated teams, the Indianapolis Colts and the Saints. But when I saw that the Cowboys had a chance against the Saints (many doubted that chance) as long as the conditions were right, I thought about the opportunity for Dallas to redeem themselves in December to make the playoffs (and finally win a game there too).

From here on out though, I wish the Saints luck. They'll be fine since the Vikings don't look so well either, losing 2 out of the last 3 games, including this week's loss to the Carolina Panthers, 26-7. So the Saints can breathe.

Finally...

I'll be in Florida fortunately and unfortunately during the Cowboys and Redskins game (leaving Friday), although I will be watching. I'm excited for sure; for the trip and the game.

I'd like to give a shoutout to the Washington Caps as well, being #1 in the entire NHL. A good 2-1 Western road trip showed fans the Caps might finally be a legitimate team finally. I mean, for the first time in a LONG time, I heard the words, "The Caps are the more experienced team, and it shows" in the 6-1 win against the Northwest Division leading Colorado Avalanche. It's a good time to be a Caps fan indeed.

Monday, December 14, 2009

“Hockey in the Hood” – But is the Hood in Hockey?

“Hockey”, “cities”, and “minorities” are not words most commonly used in a sentence. When people think of the sport of hockey, they do not usually associate people of color in general with the game.

I come from a background that traditionally does not participate in winter sports. My parents hail from South America – where ice hardly even exists. The turnaround for my involvement in a winter sport came when I was growing up; despite being encouraged to do lady-like things, I went to a Washington Capitals game and fell in love with the sport of hockey. I learned everything about the Capitals and the entire sport, and within about a week's time, you would have thought I knew everything about the game. Since then, I have remained an avid fan of hockey and the Capitals.

Having lived in the DC-Metropolitan area, many assume that it is an anomaly for people of color to have an interest in the sport of hockey. It’s not too farfetched to guess either; according to the 2009 roster count in the NHL, there are only 25 black players out of the 700+ total players. That is a slight improvement from the 18 that were in the NHL in 2006. What many fail to realize, though, is that there is quite the following in the sport of hockey.

A long-time DC resident, Mike Lewis, identifies with being a Caps fan. He states that even as a black man, he has followed the team since the early days in the 1970s. Lewis stated that had he been given all the supplies to play hockey he would play it: “Probably if I was younger though.”

Lewis also shared his knowledge of the Capitals’ former black players. He knew of Donald Brashear, who played on the Capitals from the 2006-2007 season to the 2008-2009 season, and of the NHL’s second black player, Mike Marson, who played on the Capitals’ inaugural roster in 1974.

He did note a similar thought that many other people of color have expressed before: “If there were more black people in hockey I would watch hockey more.”

This issue of minimal minority players in the game is not because of the lack of effort from the NHL. Aside from their Hockey is for Everyone diversity program that created the 39 inner city institutions in North America, the NHL’s A.S.S.I.S.T. grant system provides $10,000 to the program that seems to have done the most in that year to make an impact on their players.

A player from the Fort Dupont ice hockey club in Southeast Washington, DC, Austin Palmer from St. Alban’s high school, commented on how the NHL does help their program.

“The NHL does enough to support our program,” says Austin. “They’ve donated a lot of money and time and they have the Hockey in the Hood tournament. We also practice with Alex Ovechkin, which is helpful to know that they care.”

Fort Dupont: the example

Being a hockey fan at an early age, I always heard about local hockey programs in the area. The Fort Dupont ice hockey program is the oldest minority program in the nation, founded in 1978. The founder, Neal Henderson, remains the head coach of the team.

At Fort Dupont, the team manager, Betty Dean, pointed out one man on the ice in particular, Ralph Featherstone. He began to play at Fort Dupont when he was in the 7th grade until he was admitted into the Naval Academy. He continued playing hockey there, playing on the Navy’s hockey team from his sophomore year, and becoming the team captain his senior year.

Featherstone has finished his collegiate career and after being stationed at various places around the country, he has returned to the DC-Metropolitan area. Now stationed at Quantico, Featherstone drives to Southeast Washington, DC every Monday and Wednesday for the Fort Dupont ice hockey practice to contribute back to his former program.

After practice, a few players spoke about their experiences in the program. They all had different reasons for joining the program in the first place.

Katherine Baker, a 6th grade center, simply thought that hockey was sport that was the most fun to her.

“I do play other sports,” she said, “but hockey seems like the most fun and energetic, and it takes a lot of work and ethic.”

Others mentioned that others got them into the sport of hockey.

Austin Palmer, from St. Alban’s High School said “I was 5, so I just started to play it since my friend got me into it.”

They take their hockey expertise on other teams than Fort Dupont as well. Austin plays at St. Alban’s and another player, Marc Ray, plays for Gonzaga High School’s program.

Austin seemed the most prepared for his path to continue hockey beyond high school, and hopes to play in college. When asked if he had aspirations to go into the NHL, he seemed positive.

“”Yes that would be nice; The NHL would be great,” said Austin. “I’m looking at Clemson, University of Virginia, UNC-Chapel Hill, Cornell, and Duke.”

His plan to get noticed by the NHL: “I’m going play really hard in college, play really well, and hopefully I will draw some attention.”

Katherine was also positive about her future plans involving hockey. When asked if she plans to play college hockey and to somehow make it into the NHL, she responded with an adamant, “Yes.”

“It’s going to take a lot of work and effort,” she said when asked how she plans to do that, “but I can do it.”

After hearing a couple more stories about former players on the Fort Dupont ice hockey club, speaking with current players, seeing how Henderson has remained deeply involved with the program, and their appreciation of the attention to the program, it became apparent that there is, in fact, an interest in the black community with the sport of hockey.

Fort Dupont is not the only place where a large group of inner city kids get the opportunity to play. There is the Ice Hockey in Harlem program, programs in South Philadelphia, and more to create the 39 total inner city programs throughout North America. If logic presented itself in this situation, there would have been a positive correlation between the number of inner city programs, and then number of minorities in hockey.

However, the statistics in the NHL do not support this evidence of a growing population of hockey players and fans in the minority community.

But there still are so few players of color in the NHL! Why?

So if the NHL is doing all in its power to help create young players of color for the future, then what is the problem?

John Drysdale, a sociology professor at American University, suggests that the lack of players of color in the NHL actually is founded in the lack of players in the college ranks. According to a study by the JBHE Foundation (a group of black sociologists), blacks make up only 2 tenths of 1 percent of the 3,500+ hockey players in college hockey.

Drysdale continued, “Most famous college hockey programs do not bother to venture into inner cities and into racially diverse areas. They tend to remain in well-known hockey regions, where the population will be mostly whites.”

Drysdale responded to the possibility of the lack of black role models in the sport of hockey causing young black players to become discouraged to continue on to play in the professional level and to even try for college level. He agreed with the idea, further stating that, “if there are only less than 20 black hockey players in the NHL and even fewer at the college level, then the odds of them getting to those ranks are very low.”

He expanded the statement, saying, “This is what pushes minority kids to move on to more popular sports among their community, where they feel as though have a better chance at going pro.”

With all of this in mind, and in trying to find out the DC Department of Parks and Recreation’s role in increasing the publicity of ice hockey in the city, they did not say much on how they support of hockey programs in the city.

“It’s rather difficult to support hockey programs because of our budget so we can only accommodate to the Fort Dupont club,” said communication director John Stokes of the department.

From the information gathered then, one can state that much as there is a general interest in the sport of hockey, and some support from the NHL, the problem of the lack of players of color seems to involve reasons that the NHL cannot control, like the lack of attention from college recruiters and city funding for more programs.

So is there anything that can increase the number of minorities in the game?

One solution that could help increase the numbers of minority players in hockey involves requiring college recruiting programs to have a minimum amount of players from a southern region. This move would allow different types of people with different styles of playing to become involved in hockey at a higher level. The same recruiting rule could be instituted for the NHL in scouting programs as well.

The result of seeing a more diverse group of hockey players various regions can provide others a new mindset to the game and a chance to seriously consider a career in ice hockey, seeing that the odds of them making it are much higher.

Either way, if the NHL really hopes to increase its numbers of minorities in the game, they will have to reach out to selecting players to show an example for others.

“It would be nice to see more,” said Austin from Fort Dupont, “It’s exciting, kind of inspiring to see more players of color in the game. I’m as inspired as you can get, but it wouldn’t hurt.”

If these programs aren't producing NHL pros, then what is their purpose

For now, these programs in inner cities can provide a place for young kids to have another choice for a sport to play, and for kids to just have fun, aside from being a place to help build potential profressionals.

As a product of the inner city hockey program in Fort Dupont, Featherstone spoke on what he learned from the program that helped him in his future experiences in hockey at the Naval Academy.

“It may be a little cliché, but Fort Dupont taught me teamwork, especially putting the team’s needs over self needs. I also was taught about hard work, and to keep on pushing when you’re tired.”

Also a current contributor to the hockey program, Featherstone explained the importance of Fort Dupont and how it serves the community.

“What drew me back to the program was the evolution,” he said about returning to help coach at Fort Dupont. “When I started to play, Fort Dupont was the only outlet for young black kids to play hockey and take part in the game.”

Featherstone added, “Now the program has grown so much. There are kids from all different backgrounds. There used to be only lower income kids who came in to play at Fort Dupont. Now there are kids from all kinds economic backgrounds; it’s much more diverse now.”

Conclusion...

The interest in ice hockey from inner city kids and people of color has been proven to exist. However, whether this interest that has increased over the years can be translated into a more diverse NHL has yet to be seen. Nonetheless, these programs should continue to grow and provide opportunities for kids from many different backgrounds to be exposed to such a great sport. After all, hockey IS, indeed, for everyone.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Last Words...

Phew! This piece was a lot of work to construct. A lot of planning, phone calls, questions being answered (and being declined to be answered), writing, re-writing, re-writing, re-writing, re-writing, and more re-writing (like infinitely) went into this post. It was originally a "term article" for a class, but I figured it was interesting enough to expand upon.

Credits

I would like to thank the Fort Dupont ice hockey program for being so accomodating while I was there visiting and afterwards. Coach Neal Henderson and Team Manager Betty Dean were great, and I fully support what they've done to keep this great program running.

Also from the program was Ralph Featherstone, accepting to do an interview on short time, and the players mentioned in the article. I certainly wish them the best of luck in all that they do.

Thanks to my dad for driving me to Fort Dupont, and my mom for asking about the article. That means you read the first blog post! Thanks for reading!

Thanks to my people who read this article, helped me think it through, and who wanted to help even if you didn't get a chance to. Especially Jake Russell. I called Jake the day I thought about it and constructed the initial outline and contact list with him. This is why I call you my colleague and my "techinical other half" lol

Anyone else I left out, please hit me up and I will put you in, or at least be happy because you know who you are...

....I feel like I'm writing album thank yous. My apologies. Let me get back to business. Comments are welcomed, and please, this is a general assessment of the issues, so don't get all upset if I left something out.

Thanks for reading and PLEASE pass this along!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

I'm back! One more post before the big one...

I'm back! Classes are over, and I have more time for you all! Still busy, but I'll do what I can.

While I was gone there have been some developments in the world that I did not comment on until this point. One included that Tiger Woods nonsense that belongs on E-hollywood or something like that, and not on ESPN.

I was hoping that it would just go away and that it would be this little incident that happened, and I wouldn't have to comment on it. But it hasn't. There have been some (meaning like 2) pieces of good analysis in a sports view on his "transgressions" and how that would affect things, in a moderate format. Unfortunately though, the women are now coming out of nowhere and keeping this story alive and making it sound more like a gossip story than sports.

I stole this plea to let these shenanigans go from my good friend, Marc Cowans from his Facebook page lol. It basically says everything that's needed to be said on the matter on a sports site... and I didn't feel like talking about it anymore.

"We deserve nothing. I cannot believe, nor do I understand, the American media
or blogosphere. Yes, I understand that Tiger has cheated on his wife, but in
light of true crime. But the questionable moral judgment from individuals like
Mark Sanford, Elliott Spitzer, and Bill Clinton deserves this level of
scrutiny much more than a man whose success we measure in fairways hit and the
number of colored jackets in his closet. Now that he has taken a leave of
absence, please let this story go. I wonder how low you want to see him go. smh
(shaking my head)"
So as you can see, sure, he did something awful and terrible. But it's not our place or the sports world place to pay attention to all the details. It doesn't affect our lives as it would if a politician was spending their time taking part in "transgressions" over fixing a bill or something.


It's not like Woods killed somebody. He cheated on his wife. He does NOT get a pass on this at all, and yes I am judging him in my head because as a woman, it's quite disgusting, going out
there doing any and every woman out there (and going bare? Really? That's asking for judgement)... I digress...

But for real, men, especially athletes, are going to cheat. I expect them to cheat anyway, but that's a personal problem. The story was relevant to the point that he got into a car accident and is okay. After that, it was superflouous. Please, leave the issue.

Ovie: too tough?

In lieu of Alexander Ovechkin’s recent suspension after a knee-on-knee hit on Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason, and a game misconduct in the previous game against the Sabres, many have begun to ask the question if Ovechkin’s playing style is too dirty. They question the fact that he’s the league’s highest scoring player, but plays a style of hockey that endangers not only others’ careers, but also his own career.

Far too often have people accused European players, especially Russians, of being too soft when they play, and that they are too afraid to make a hit on an opposing player. So now I find it extremely interesting that people are now complaining that Ovechkin is too rough and should tone it down.
Haha! This picture had me rolling on the floor.
So what the hell do these people want?!?!

As a Capitals fan, I would like to defend Ovechkin’s actions during these past few games and his overall style of hockey. Unfortunately, I can’t allow Ovechkin to make knee-on-knee hits on other players. Even his coach, Bruce Boudreau, isn't a huge fan of his recent acts of aggression. He calls his playing style “reckless”.

And of course it’s reckless! The worst part about his knee-on-knee hit was that Gleason wasn’t even hurt! Ovechkin was the one who was day-to-day with an injury from the hit. I fear that if Ovechkin were to continue playing with reckless abandon, he DOES, in fact, run the risk of giving himself a possibly career-ending injury. As the Capitals’ star player, the face of the NHL, and possibly one of the greatest to ever play in the NHL, that would be a DISASTER.

But do I necessarily want him to change his game? Not really... Yes, I would like Ovechkin to thinking about how he plans to make a hit, especially since now, the referees are going to scrutinize him. Ovechkin, being as big and strong as he is, should consider the force and angle at which he chooses to make a hit on an opposing player.

However, I am not going to ask him to stop being aggressive toward other players, and I want him to continue to deliver bone-crushing hits (cleanly). His badass-ness is what draws his fans in; his mixture of a European scoring touch and a North American sense of toughness.

People complain too much about Ovechkin. He's too tough, he's too cocky, he's too talkative, he's too fun, he hits too hard, why is he blocking shots, he's too direspectful, he's this, he's that. It's annoying! Why would people prefer the usual unmarketable hockey player?

Ovie's charisma, talent, style, and yes, craziness have all won over millions of fans. Even fans who couldn't convert to Caps fans are at least Ovechkin fans. He, alone, could keep the NHL alive among a wide audience. I definitely had a conversation last night with a guy from Kenya about Alex Ovechkin. How 'bout that!

He's refreshing to the league and its fans. We can't afford lose him to injury, but we also can't afford to diminish his star quality. I mean, Ovie is that guy that guys can have a man-crush on, but ladies can still love - yup, I said it. Aside from being an unconventional stud, that badass attitude when he says "No one can kill me" has us all hooked.

You wouldn't want to change that now, would you?

Week 14 Picks

Sunday
Saints over Falcons
Ravens over Lions (I wouldn't be surprised if it went the other way though)
Packers way over Bears
Texans over Seahawks
Colts over Broncos
Dolphins over Jaguars (always wanted to know, are there jaguars in Jacksonville?)
Sabres... I mean Bills over Cheifs
Vikings over Bengals (I want to watch this one)
Patriots barely over Panthers (because if they lose they'll have to go into time-out like a kindergartner... right Adalius Thomas?)

Jets over Buccaneers
Titans back, over Rams
Raiders over Redskins (Raiders look fly all of a sudden)

sigh... Chargers over Cowboys (don't say I don't have any faith in my team. I think Dallas has a shot if they play WELL. Dumb penalties aren't going to cut it.)

Eagles over Giants

Monday
Cardinals over 49'ers (surprise day maybe if the reverse happens?)

Finally...

The story will appear in the next post. Enjoy it! I hope it's somewhat informative. Apparently my professor loved it, so we'll see if you do, too.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Caps with a solid 2-0 win against the Sabres

So I'm back home from school for Thanksgiving break - VERY crazy but finally no work or classes to concern myself with. This means that not only do I get to eat a whole lot tomorrow and watch football, but I can finally watch Caps games live on my television! No radio; don't have to go anywhere; don't have to
watch some bootleg version... LIVE AT HOME!

This meant that I was able to sit down and focus and see for myself what this team does well and what it needs to work on. Granted, I've been visualizing through radio broadcasts, reading post game reports, and watching just to see the team win at bars and restaurants. So now I can see it from a truly analytical perspective.

The Caps played the Buffalo Sabres tonight at the Verizon Center, and they ended up winning 2-0 after a series of epic events. We'll get there though.

The Capitals began the game as they normally would, spending quality time with the opposing team's zone, but not getting too many quality chances. he first goal of the game was scored 6 minutes in by Alex Ovechkin from a nasty wrister, where Ryan Miller couldn't do anything to stop it. After that, however, the scoring chances in the first period were 5-1 in the Sabres' favor.

Aside from the number of scoring chances, the Caps seemed to keep the Sabres with minimal opportunities and shots following the first period. The Caps themselves seemed to posses the puck more at the same time.

Through 2 periods there were no penalties, until about halfway through the 3rd period:

Scenerio #1: *through my eyes* Alex Ovechkin, a typically hard hitting player, went to the much smaller Patrick Kaleta on the Sabres, and did quite a hard body check on the side into the glass, but nonetheless it was a great hard hit on a player that didn't brace himself properly.

Scenerio #2 (the one that matters):*through the officials' eyes* Ovechkin recieves a boarding major penalty, a game misconduct; thus, he was kicked out of the game.

So this puts the Caps in a particularly interesting situation: A team that has problems on the penalty kill, a 1-goal lead, and no more Ovechkin, this was quite the nerve-wrecker. However, the Capitals didn't even allow a shot by the Sabres the whole 5 minute power play, and also managed to kill off one more penalty toward the end of the 3rd period.

Eric Fehr then gave the Caps some insurance, and the team held off a last stand by the Sabres to win 2-0.

What I noted

As I mentioned before, I was able to follow the Caps more closely tonight, and actually be able to truly scrutinize the team's play. In doing so, found a few points that contributed to tonight's win,and that the team did differently from previous matches.

Me with my analytical face to watch the Caps game - in my bed lol
  • The team seemed to sacrifice massive offensive power and shots in exchange for a more solid defensive presence. Saw multiple blocked shots, a more aggrssive defense, and quick disposal of rebounds.
  • Related to defense, The 4th foward, Mike Green, reset himself in time from offensive plays to return back to his post on defense.
  • The Caps took the penalty kill seriously tonight. A team traditionally with PK problems, especially this season, it was nice to see a strong effort being perfect on the kill.
  • The team played a full-60 minute game; contrary to the normal 40-minute offensive outburst and then defensively collapsing, killing their leads. Mind you, the Caps have had a lead in EVERY game this season (25 games), only to lose it in devastating fashion.
  • When Alex Ovechkin was taken out of the game, the other lines stepped up and continued to produce.
  • When Alex Ovechkin was in the game, he was constantly out there creating chances and kept his legs moving.
  • Dumb penalties were kept to a minimum (the killer in the 3rd period of the Senators loss), and by minimum, I mean we had one dumb penalty (the one on Ovie was questionable).
  • Caps have hella injuries. Good rotation of lines, especially on defense. People will come back soon, but we're deep in Hershey, so it's not soooo bad.
  • Simeyon Varlamov is reliable. The saves he was making were borderline miraculous. Congrats on his first regular season shutout by the way.
  • All of this occurs after Bruce Boudreau accusedthe team of quitting on him, and questioning the capability of the Caps to hold a lead, saying that during the 4-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators, he had a feeling the Caps would lose the lead and didn't want to pull the "hate to say I told you so".
Hopefully the Caps don't need that type of encouragement ALL the time if they want to win. They have an opportunity now to redeem themselves against the Montreal Canadiens.

Allen Iverson - Retired?

Okay, I'm hearing conflicting reports. Comcast Sportsnet says that Iverson has not really retired. He is seriously considering it, but he will have further communication with his former head coach at Georgetown, John Thompson, to discuss whether he should or should not retire.

However, ESPN is all talking about "Iverson's legacy" and it's on their bottomline.

This Iverson situation, being a local-story of sorts, I think I'm going to stick with the Comcast reports; considering he hasn't even officially filed the papers.

So don't fuss yet you ladies who only watched basketball to watch Allen Iverson, it's not QUITE over; just yet. And you'll see him on TV somewhere anyway.

Turkey Day/Weekend Football Picks

Thursday:
Green Bay over Detriot
Dallas over Oakland
Giants over Broncos

Sunday:
Tennesee over Arizona
Philadelphia over Redskins
Tampa Bay over Atlanta
Miami over Buffalo
St. Louis over Seattle <-- Just for kicks Carolina over Jets Indianapolis over Houston San Diego over Kansas City San Francisco over Jacksonville Minnesota over Chicago Steelers over Baltimore

Monday:

My heart says New Orleans, mind says New England
*prove me wrong please!*
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And finally, R.I.P. to D.C. icon Abe Pollin, former Caps' owner and now-former Wizards' owner...

Hopefully everyone has a great Thanksgiving break, and throughout the rest of the holidays. Umm.. I know I keep saying I'm going all incognito and stuff, and I am. Trust me. I am. But I will keep appearing every now and then. But until my huge story is out, don't expect to see me. LOL.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What makes a REAL fan?

So today I joined my friend and colleague Jake Russell from thehogs.net to watch the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys match up at the bar. We began the day meeting up in McDonald's, me in my Cowboys jersey and Jake featuring his famed Sean Taylor Redskins jersey.

Needless to say, we caused quite a ruckus on the way to the bar with passing cars honking their allegiances and people stopping telling Jake that, "She's in the wrong colors." Granted, when you're a Skins fan hooking arms with a Cowboys fan, people will feel the need to correct you. My response: "Oh... Well, 'DC' stands for 'Dallas Cowboys'... Seeing as we own this city.

Once we reached the bar, Jake keeps calling out all the Cowboys fans not wearing jerseys, claiming they're "not real fans", including one in the bar I was sitting next to. He claimed to have been a Cowboys fan since the '70s. He just wasn't wearing a Cowboys jersey or shouting and screaming the whole game.

I then remembered this commercial that asks, "What's a real fan?" and then went on to suggest if it was the clothes they wear, or if it was how loud they shout it. The commercial concludes with the statement that "it's what's on the inside that matters..."

So I had to really think, what DOES make a real fan?

I mean we all know that I'm the Washington Capitals fan who has a thousand things to show the world that I'm a Caps fan. I've got jerseys, shirts, posters, rally towels, blankets, autographs, pictures with players, autographs, and the notorious Washington Capitals tattoo on my back.
At the Washington Nationals game in September with Jake

Thus, the question arises: "does that make me a real down-ass fan"?

I personally would say that having "things" from your team alone doesn't signify TRUE fanship. Because of course, one could just hide all those things or give them away once the team goes down the drain. So there must be more than things.

It's not just how loud they shout it either, because that can go away when the team goes down the pooper as well. Continuing with the Washington Capitals, the team built a really nice fanbase over past couple of seasons. They won the Southeast Division in consecutive years, and changed their jerseys in the 2007 season. Those things and a couple of other factors led the fanbase to grow in the DC area and now even outside the DMV area.

Now, imagine if the Caps played poorly (heck, even if they continued the season the way they play now) for the rest of the season... People, regardless whether they have paraphernalia, will shout a little bit less every portion of the season where their team does worse.

So I guess there must be more than saying you're a fan and wearing things that say that. It must be what's inside then. So what is inside that should count?

I may have A LOT of Capitals gear at home and in my room at AU, the car, my computer, etc. But think about it: I have accumulated all of those things over a number of years. For example, I have para from the 30th season in the franchise's history. That was about 5 years ago. I acquired my first jersey in the 1999-2000 season and then went up from there. Therefore, time following a team is factored into being a fan.

I also believe that knowledge about the team that you are following is important. While one may know every player on the team now, and know all the stats from the past 2 or 3 seasons, you have the lack of time following the team.

I think a bigger fan would know the past events of their team, featuring information like the founding date of their franchise, playoff appearances, championship history (if applicable - in my case it's just appearances lol), real rivals and the history behind the rivalries, division history, former players (at least the major ones), major stat leaders, and maybe miscellaneous facts here and there.

A real fan would also know the game that they are a supposed fan of; meaning that they would know the rules, know the current state of the team, and be able to participate in group discussions regarding their favorite team (if the situation calls for it - I mean I was silent for a minute during today's drudgery match).

Now granted, this is all a mon avi - in my opinion - but I hardly find reason to disagree with this criteria for knowing a real fan from a bandwagoner or a fake fan.

So at the bar I would say that the guy who Jake decided to question his Dallas fanship fits this criteria of fanship, even though he was not wearing Dallas Cowboy colors or a jersey. Hence, Jake just looks like a hater :P

~~~~~~

Just to conclude the story, nobody was hurt watching this game. However, the atrocious 7-6 win over the Redskins by the Cowboys was certianly emotionally painful on both ends. Even though my team won, I became upset that the Cowboys only seemed to play with real emotion in the last 5 minutes.

Along with the fact that Dallas played an awful game, especially offensively and the defense gave up too many passing yards, everybody was irriated at the 500000000 minute hiatus between Jason Campbell's "out of bounds toss" and the missed field goal by Redskins' kicker Shaun Suisham*. I mean, I was happy that after all those shenanigans going over the play over and over again, the Skins missed a kick from 39 yards; but I was also mad that it took SO LONG, only to see a missed FG.

It was a rough game to watch, but oh well: a win's a win, and I can be upset right now that Dallas played poorly for 55 minutes, but I can only hope that my concerns will be quelled by Thurday so I don't spoil my Thanksgiving dinner.

Side note

I just have to state that today was cardiac-Sunday for a lot of fans in the early games - including Lions and Browns fans. As I saw someone tweet today, this was the battle for the "Loserweight title" LOL! But for real, it seemed really entertaining, and congrats to the Lions for the shootout win: 38-37.

I'm also going to congratulate Real Salt Lake for winning the MLS Cup tonight against the LA Landon Donovan-David Beckham Galaxy.

And yes, I know. I blogged today, even though I'm extremely busy, and I probably should be working on something else. But I had to keep the masses entertained! Hope you all enjoyed, and if you have any comments regarding what constitutes someone as a real fan, feel free to comment below and put your input.

Oh well, after this loooong post, I must say a tout a leur until I finish this project, or if something pops in my mind for an easy post. Stay fresh!

*** Somtimes I type too fast and make mistakes lol.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hard at work...

Hey yall! Hope you've been loving the blog so far.

I'm going to be working on one big project for the next month, so my posts will be fewer than usual in the coming weeks. But not to worry! Definitely catch up on older posts you never read, or re-read a favorite or two.

This project is going to be big, as it is partially for a class, but I'm doing more work than needed as I really want to know the answers to the questions I'm asking, and I'm making it a bigger story to expand upon outside of the class...

... What was that?

No!!!!! I can't tell you what the project is! It's a surprise! Because when it's all finished, it's most likely going to show up on here as one huge post that I'm going to want you to read and pass along to everyone that you know.

What I CAN tell you though is that it's going to be interesting, and even though you may have heard of the issue, or have thought about it, it's much more complex that one may think it is, and it's going to be from a perspective that is not heard often.

So all I can say is to be patient with me. If I have the time to post periodically, then I will. But my focus will be in this assignment.

Ha! Now I got you all excited for my big project! Well, stay close and you'll get to read it soon. Trust me.

Thanks,
Angie

Saturday, November 07, 2009

College sports day :)

So I decided to change it up today and bring it to college sports, an not just college football, but an issue that affects many sports, but specifically women's basketball. This was because I was chatting with American University's ladies' team and I heard a lot about the lack of defensive knowledge going into the college game from the head coach and the players. Then I thought about it, and realized that society’s focus is rarely, if ever, on defense and less scoring.


Our culture likes to focus on high scoring in sports. The NHL tried to change the rules in its game to allow for more goal-scoring in order to attract fans. Soccer is considered a boring sport because their games usually end with a score no higher than 2-1, but in contrast, we are highly entertained by a 121-119 NBA basketball game.


This culture of high-scoring has permeated sports so much that people tend to forget the other important aspect of a game: defense. People have admired strong defensive teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers and their “Steel Curtain” days, but typically, defense is not the sexiest part of a sport.


The issue of the lack of defensive knowledge seemed to affect the AU women’s basketball team, so I spoke with two players, Raven Harris and Ashley Yencho, and their head coach Matt Corkery. In discussing their upcoming season, I tried to find out where they were when they came in terms of defensive talent and knowledge.


Sophomore point guard Raven Harris is certainly one of the better players on the team, coming from a strong high school basketball program at Princess Anne High School, who were champions every year she was on the team. Harris was also able to score over 1000 points during her high school career. She clearly had the type of offensive talent that can win games.


However, once she got on the AU team, Harris had difficulty adjusting to basketball at the college level.


“I was a couple steps behind,” Harris said about her struggles learning defense. When I asked her what she had to work on, she gave me a look and laughed, saying, “A lot.”


Junior point and shooting guard Ashley Yencho gave a similar response when asked what she needed to improve on defensively. She further explained that high schools (just like us sometimes) do not particularly care for defensive concepts.


“In high school,” said Yencho, “you only play a 2-3 zone or you play man.”


Nonetheless, both players feel as though they have improved immensely between the beginning of last season and this season. “Getting yelled at and reinforced really helped me out a lot,” Yencho said with regards to Corkery’s influence on her play.


Harris also added that she was getting better at defense, as Corkery has worked with her.


According to what I found then, players go through years of playing basketball, and no matter how well their program did, a player is still unprepared for the defensive responsibilities at the next level. That seems a little unfair. Of course, Coach Corkery agreed.


“Without sound defense, a team’s chances to win are greatly diminished. They don’t know when to be and where to be. They don’t know ‘come here’ from ‘sick ‘em.’”


Corkery seems baffled at the fact that high school coaches do not demand enough from their players on defense. I was too. So I asked him why he thought that was the case.


“A lot of coaches aren’t well-versed in defensive fundamentals of the game.” Corkery said. “It may be because they themselves just weren’t exposed to it, or it may be that they’re not taking the time to study the game.”


However, as previously mentioned, the issue is being dealt with, as players feel more confident in their defensive skills going into this season with Corkery as their head coach for now a second season. We will see how well the players have improved then, as Corkery implemented a stronger and more aggressive defensive style for this season.


Other aspects of the team should also be able to help them in their quest to top the Patriot League. The Lady Eagles’ players are riding on much improved team chemistry, and as the season goes on, they feel like that will carry them to better skill development through working together.


If the NCAA Tournament is the ultimate goal for the season for the Eagles, developing a strong defense might be their best bet in winning. After all, Drake says it best, "You gotta take that D!"


*horrible I know LOL!*...


And big ups to The U, Swagger U, the University of Miami, or however you'd like to address them for the 52-17 crushing of UVA. Made me quite pleased...


I refuse to make mention of the Capitals as well. I'm going to let that one ride out until they consistently perform the way they played last night against the Panthers, winning last night against the division opponent 4-1

Friday, November 06, 2009

I concede...

Fine, fine... So the Yankees win in 6 games. Go out and party. You won Game six 7-3 and you played better in that game than the Phillies. Congratulations. Be happy... BUT...

This just means that ALL teams can erase all of their records, and if you didn't win or were in the World Series, you can pretend it never happened and start all over again! It's about to be a brand new season and we are all 0-0 now. In a Kansas City Royal's fan's mind, they are technically in first place in the division at this point! Milwaukee Brewer's fans are in the running for an actual playoff spot for the 2nd time in 3 years! And the Red Sox... well, they can believe they're back to reappearing in the World Series again ;-).

The fact is, is that the end of a season in any sport can be seen as a relief period. I definitely enjoyed watching the World Series games this season, and playoff periods in your favorite sports can be super entertaining. And of course, for instance, when hockey season is over, I'm really sad - that's my favorite sport of all time to watch. But when it's all said and done - no pun was originally intended - You can get back to believing that your team has a chance to make it. After all, we all have the same record now.

So I'm not mad at the Yankees at all for winning the World Series. In fact, what World Series? My mind is on the future, considering the Red Sox made move #1 this offseason already, acquiring Jeremy Hermida from the Florida Marlins for a couple of minor league pitchers (Jose Alvarez and Hunter Jones) today. Clearly, Angie and the Red Sox are on the same page.

I do not concede however...

That Anze Kopitar is better than Alex Ovechkin. But he's really really REALLY good. I'm going to go out on a limb actually, and say I think he's slightly better than Sidney Crosby. I'll save that discussion for The Hockey Blog, my second blog site where I write with a team of other hockey fans. For right now though, he's overtaking Ovie the Gr8 in points as Ovie is sidelined for a couple weeks.

Unfortunately though for Ovie's team, the Capitals are going to need to prove their true talent and the true depth that we have in scoring. Because the thing is, the Caps HAVE the ability to score and to get goals from other sources that Ovechkin. It just needs to show. That secondary scoring that is.

Losing 3-2 to the Devils on a usual day may not be THAT big of a deal, considering that's usually how the Caps fare against the NJ hockey team. I mean, the Devils have always been known to sink teams down in the ice with defense enough to bore a team from trying to penetrate with inability to get through. Worse yet, they still have Martin Brodeur in goal.

The issue here is that the Caps have been struggling BEFORE Ovechkin went down with the upper body strain, and THAT'S where my concern stems from... Hence, my urgent message for Washington to step it up in these times so that when Ovie does return to the lineup (hopefully in a week or so), the Caps will return to unstoppable status (from last year).

I have difficulty enjoying the cardiac manner in which the team has played against teams they are better than this season though. The Caps started all right, but increasingly played more games under tight circumstances and playing well for only about 30 minutes. Not a good look Washington if you're trying to win the Cup.

Hmm... the C-high Young Winner? LOL! (I know, I know, awful)

Tim Lincecum... I have nothing to say on the matter. Not saying that I have any affiliation with the issue, but that substance should be legal by now. If Michael Phelps and Tim Lincecum are avid users of the substance, and you see the type of crazy-good talent they can STILL produce, I can't imagine how awful it could be. Just sayin'... And why the surprise?!? Call it profiling, but I'm not surprised at all.

Roy Williams, is a #1 Receiver...

Hahahahahhaha! Roy Williams still calls himself a #1 receiver! Hahahahaha! Phew... Okay, I'm done...

Really though? REALLY?!? HOW is that so? Seeing as he doesn't receive the 2nd most passes on the Dallas Cowboys behind Miles Austin and Patrick Crayton, that doesn't look like a #1 receiver to me.

Not only is that a reason that's keeping me from believing that, but clearly, his performace over this season hasn't been any better than last season with the Cowboys. His inability to get open for Romo, and then Romo just finding guys that will, has just made Roy Williams look like a fool for saying that.

What to do with him! I guess if he really thinks that, as long as he's going to stay quiet about it until the Cowboys win the Sup... I mean, finish the season, then I can live with it (yeah, I know, shameless plug).


And finally thoughts and prayers go out to those killed and wounded (and their families) in the Fort Hood shooting that took place today at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Philly, New York, and Mad Football

In this Sunday in sports, the Philadelphia Eagles demolished the New York Giants and the New York Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Phillies. I was hoping that Philly would sweep NY, but I guess you can't have it all.

In Game 4 of the World Series, the Phillies had Joe Blanton on the mound and the Yankees put on CC Sabathia on short rest. The Yankees immediately took control, getting 2 runs in the 1st inning.

It wasn't until the 4th inning when the Phillies came back and tied the game. The second run was questionable, however, as Ryan Howard coming from 2nd base ran and dove to touch home plate, but he never made contact with it.

What I found funny was just by how much he missed it,considering not only his hand missing the plate, but the fact that even his leg could have touched it and it flew right over.

At 2-2, the Yankees fired right back, scoring two more runs to go up 4-2 in the 5th inning, and recieve the 4th run on a sort of "soft" play. Nonetheless, the Phillies were back down.

The Phillies seemed sluggish for the rest of the game until the 7th inning when Chase Utley reminded Sabathia of the 2-homer performance he had in Game 1 by crushing the ball, putting the Phillies down by only 1 run.

Pedro Feliz followed suit by homering in the 8th inning, tying the game at 4. Unfortunately for the Phillies, the top of the 9th was their worst inning yet as they put Brad Lidge in the game. Lidge gave up 3 runs after allowing Johnny Damon to literally run around the bases.

Lidge started off smoothly, causing Hedeki Matsui to pop out and then struck out Derek Jeter. Then after Johnny Damon's single, he stole 2nd base, got up from his slide and continued on to 3rd base, which the Phillies seemed to forget about.

After the defensive mental lapse by Philadelphia, the Yankees took 3 runs in the 9th, and took out the Phillies 1-2-3 to win 7-4. They now have a comanding 3-1 series lead on the Phillies.

I wouldn't completely count out the Phillies yet, but of course, this doesn't look good for Philadelphia fans/residents/those who hate the Yankees. It would be absolutely epic if the Philles were to come back from being down 3-1 in a series, but it would be difficult.

It would be nice if Big-Mouth Jimmy Rollins would have backed up his pretentious prediction on the series, but he hasn't done much for the Phillies to win. And if they want a chance to win, he will have to get things going for their offense so that people like Howard and Utley have more to work with. I mean, a 2-run shot is better than a solo shot...

Game 5 will be tomorrow, same time, 7:57... still haven't recieved an answer as to what that's about. Stay tuned for a pitching matchup between Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnette.

NFL Week 8

The halfway point of the NFL season has been one of the more interesting weeks all season.

Rams 17, Lions 10

I would like to start off that I am shocked that the Lions couldn't pull the win against the St. Louis Rams, considering they were FAVORITED to take it! But they ended up losing (as they always do) 17-10. I'm even more shocked that the score was a lot higher than I had expected. I predicted somewhere between 6-3 to 9-7. But nope! Freakin' 17-10! lol...

Ravens 30, Broncos 7

It was delightful to see the Ravens play well again, defeating the Denver Broncos 30-7. Denver is now no longer undefeated, leaving only the New Orleans Saints as the only undefeated team left. The Broncos did play more subpar teams than quality teams, except for Dallas and New England (or have they really changed their names to the Boston Patriots now?). However, 30-7 was a prime victory for the Ravens, who have suffered from 3 straight of hard losses against the Bengals, Patriots, and Minnesota.

Vikings 38, Packers 26

Minnesota and Green Bay faced off today - yes, yes, Brett Favre's first game back to Green Bay as a non-Packer. When FOX went to the broadcast of the Packers game, all I heard was hostility. It was kind of hilarious to hear the massive amounts of boos, and to see all the Favre bashing signs in large contrast to the "We still love you" and "We miss you" signs for Favre.

The first half was awful for Green Bay. The Packers' offensive line gave Aaron Rodgers NO time. When he did have time, he was subject to being diven to the ground by 300 men. So there was little success, if any, for the Packers in the first half.

With the Vikings up 17-3 going into the 2nd half, however, the Packers had a hightened sense of awareness. They decided to pick themselves up and score 17 points in the 3rd quarter, and with just over 10 minutes to go, they were only down 31-26...

...And then Brett Favre comes in and destroys Green Bay's dreams of an epic comeback as Minnesota did on their own turf. After the Packers failed on the 2 pt conversion after their touchdown and missed the 51-yard field goal, Minnesota got a touchdown with 3:09 to run the game. Green Bay was unable to get anywhere, as they reverted back to 1st half form, and then Minnesota took the ball away, and won the game. The End.

Cowboys 38, Seahawks 17

In other games, Dallas played the way they should, defeating the Seahawks 38-17. The Cowboys have usually played poorly and have had to cut it close in the end of games against lower teams, but this game, they clearly looked superior. Good look for the team as they play the Eagles next week.

Eagles 40, Giants 17

Speaking of the Eagles, they destroyed the Giants 40-17 at home. With the number of turnovers throughout the whole game and the lack of concern by the Giants, I feel like they deserved to lose like that. Plus it humbles the NY fans/people.

And Tennesee beat Jacksonville 30-13... Congratz on the win today, Titans. You are now no longer winless. Vince Young was the QB today... think about that.

Phew! A lot of typing today. But a lot happened lately! I had to update y'all! Thanks for reading!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Catholic University vs. Emory and Henry

So yesterday I had to travel with a few others all the way from American University to Catholic University to cover a football game. Catholic played this school I had never heard of, Emory and Henry University in a close game, but ended up losing 13-1o.

I went in, and it was, an... interesting set of hours spent there. This was my first experience at a Division 3 football game, and it is VERY obvious of the difference in a D1 football program and a D3 program.

First of all, nobody knew where the stadium was! These were students who had NO IDEA how to get there. Now I understand that not everybody can enjoy the beauties of football, but as a student on YOUR OWN CAMPUS, I feel like you should at least know the buildings and landmarks on your campus at this point of the year - freshman or not.

Secondly, after the trek (oh man was it a trek) to the stadium, it was not much of a "stadium", but a field - akin to the field at my small, private former high school: there was one side of bleachers of about 10 rows, and the field. At least there was a small press box though on the top.

Mind you, this whole time, there was only one guy in charged of ALL the athletics on Catholic's campus, and he was EXTREMELY helpful in our research and access to the team and its stats. *shout out to him* But he really wa over at the cross-country event, then had to run over to the football game to help us out a little bit.

And in the game itself, the playcalling wasn't very diverse. Both teams stuck with the quarterback draw, along with a couple more running plays. Any passes didn't go for more than 10 yards, if they ever passed. Even the "Hail Mary" at the end of the game by Catholic only reached mid-field, instead of hauling it to the endzone.

Nonetheless, it wasn't awful. Big ups to D3 programs for even having football... unlike SOME campuses in the country.............. (no names).

When I returned home, I sat down and wrote the corresponding article for the game to beat the deadline (there will be a video explaining the behind-the-scenes action). For your viewing pleasure, I have posted it with this blog:

Despite Catholic University's best defensive effort all season long, they were unable to capitalize on multiple offensive opportunities, causing Catholic to lose 13-10 to Emory and Henry University.

Contrary to the final score and other offensive mishaps though, Catholic did not play poorly either.

Although Catholic gave up the first touchdown of the game, they blocked the extra point and were able to score the next 10 points through one field goal and a touchdown run in by John O'Brien.

The Cardinals then were able to stop Emory and Henry's offense for another drive, and seemed to have the momentum to keep their opponent down.

Early into the third quarter though, the Wasps came out strong and were able to score a touchdown. But even with the lead, Emory and Henry could not penetrate the Catholic defense for the rest of the game.

Catholic actually led in time of possession in the second and third quarter, and was able to march down the field into Emory and Henry territory up to the redzone.

However, the mistakes made in the Cardinals' inability to create opportunities deep in the Wasps' territory and ultimately to score points kept them down and eventually gave them a difficult loss.

One of the most outstanding mistake for the Cardinals was the field goal kicking. Catholic kicker Brendan Deluca missed four field goals, including three from very short distances and one with 1:09 left in the game from 40 yards.

Nonetheless, teammates seemed to be sympathetic towards Deluca's failed field goal attempts. Receiver Mike Smith, who had four catches for 58 yards, said that the missed field goals were not as much of a factor in the way the rest of the team played.

"Not at all; we still played hard," Smith said. "If you're not on the field goal team, there's nothing you can do about it. You can just watch and hope he makes it. It was just a bad day for him."

Regardless of the tough season, the team continues to have confidence, especially in the coach. When asked about whether head coach Dave Dunn deserves the bad rap he received from the fans today, Smith commented, saying their coach "puts everybody in the best position to win." Smith continued, "When you look at the yards, we dominated on offense and defense, and everybody makes a mistake. You're coaching on the fly."

Catholic focused on the positives from the game, and noted that it was just an "off-day" for the team today in reaching their full potential to win against Emory and Henry.

"It went really well for us actually," Smith said about the game. "We played hard on every aspect of the game. It's just that it came down to little mistakes, and when we got down to the endzone, we couldn't capitalize, and out kicking game wasn't at our best."

Dunn further elaborated on the things that catholic did to give themselves a chance to win.

We followed the game plan up until we got to the redzone. We outgained them to up to double their yardage and didn't turn the ball over." Dunn also did not forget to mention that Cardinals held the number one player in rushing yards in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC), Caleb Jennings, to under 100 yards.

Their biggest faults in today's game according to the coach were "mental mistakes."

Catholic's next game is against Guilford University at home. When asked about what could be changed, Dunn said, "We're just young in the skilled spots on the offense." Dunn also added that they lost many players from last year on defense as well; thus, making the Cardinals an "inexperienced team" versus a young team."

Smith said simply, "We just have to want it in the end."

However, Dunn isn't going to focus on the four botched field goald, the missed opportunities in the redzone, the fans' displeasure, or even next weekends's game or next season. "My goal is to have a good practice tomorrow."

2009 World Series Game 3

The offensive floodgates finally opened last night as the Yankees defeated the Phillies 8-5 at Citizens Bank Park. (No I didn't catch the game because I went out for Halloween).

However, I am watching toniight, as the Phillies try to even up the series at home in Game 4. Joe Blanton will pitch for the Phillies, resting Cliff Lee, and CC Sabathia on short rest will be on the mound for the Yankees.

I mean, for my prediction to be correct, the Phillies would have to win the next 3 games in a row... To be honest, I don't see that happening. But I can see them winning in 7 games. I think in order for either team to win actually, it will have to go to 7 games.

Both teams are just so evenly matched in good pitching and offense (numbers wise) that it will have to be a punch-for-punch series. I think the Phillies are better though in base running and hitting anything other than home runs than the Yankees; hence, why I picked them to win.

Side Note...

THE EAGLES ARE GOIN INNNNN!!!!! Like, I don't even like the Eagles, and usually, I hate anything affiliated with Philadelphia, but I do enjoy a good football game. The Eagles at the end of the first half are up 30-7 agaisnt the New York Giants with mad takeaways and passing it down the field.

Then again, I might just be excited because I'm pulling for the Phillies against the Yankees.

I'll cut the Redskins fans some slack today... they have a bye week. LOL!

At the same time, my team, the Cowboys just went up 21-10 by the end of the first half against the Seattle Seahawks. Which makes me happier.

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed.

*Posted at 2:50pm

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Back in Action! New World Series Order

So after helping to construct another blog, The Hockey Blog, and getting through midterms and all of that junk, I'm back!

Tonight was Game 1 of the 2009 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies - just stating in case you've been under a rock lately.

The battle between the two prideful cities is what I think will be one of the most exciting World Series in recent times. As much as I dislike the Yankees, you can't say that the World Series matchups they've played in have been boring and uneventful, from a neutral fan's perspective.

Philadelphia definitely proved themselves to be the top of the National League, running over all theri opponents this playoff season. New York did the same until the last series, however, it seemed like as if the Yankees were only giving the Angels a "mercy game," as they clearly looked like the better team throughout the whole series.

Tonight's game featured two of the best pitchers in this postseason thus far: former Cleveland Indians CC Sabathia (and ALCS MVP) for the Yankees and Cliff Lee for the Phillies. Aside from the pitching matchup, the offenses of both teams are comparable, despite the lack of acknowledgment of the Phillies' offensive power.

...

However, this game didn't speak of the pre-game notions of what was expected. The Phillies ended up handing it to the Yankees, defeating them 6-1! . From early on in the game, Chase Utley gave Philadelphia the leading offense through 2 solo home runs. Later in the game though, the base running of the Phillies provided the final 4 runs to put away the Yankees.

Cliff Lee was ultimately superior in the supposedly-spectacular matchup between him and Sabathia. He pitched through 8 innings, but the of course, the Yankees had to spoil the shutout in the bottom of the 9th with 1 out. Nonetheless, Lee pitched exceedingly well.

Sabathia on the other hand did a decent job until he gave up the first home run to Utley in the 3rd and actually pitched through 7 full innings. The Yankees bullpen, however, screwed it up for New York, putting them down by more runs; thus, the game ended 6-1.

I'm excited for Game 2 now, not only because the Yankees are going in down 1-0 in the series and I'm reading all of these stats that now favor the Phillies, but I still think this will be an exciting series. Yes, even if the Phillies beat the Yankees in 5 as Mr. Rollins stated (which I won't lie, I don't think will happen).

Pedro Martinez and AJ Burnette are projected to start tomorrow night at 8pm (listed as 7:57?????) for Game 2 in New York. So I'll see you at the barrrrr... or if you're not there, enjoy where ever you're watching!

*Oh! I forgot! I never predicted anything! Phillies in 6 games.
And if anybody has any way that my frat Ryan Howard can meet his soror here in DC, please let me know! :)

Side Note:

Washington Capitals play against the Atlanta Thrashers Thursday night as well, and guess who traveled with the team - Tomas Fleischmann! He was out with an injury due to a blood clot in his leg, and should be back on the ice soon. It's definitely promising, and it's good to know since there are ample things Fleischmann can bring to the team's offense and defense... err, power play maybe?

Friday, October 02, 2009

It's about time: The Caps' season has officially started!

The Washington Capitals came out dominant and showed signs of a complete hockey team in their 4-1 win against the Boston Bruins.

The opener in Boston began with some quick offense as Brooks Laich scored just under 3 minutes in the game. This showed to be a good omen, as in the 2nd period, Alex Ovechkin follows up on a sick wrist shot to score a goal delivered by Alex Semin.

Washington was not finished in the 3rd period, scoring two goals, again from Laich and Ovechkin before the period was 2 minutes old.

Patrice Bergeron was the only goal scorer for the Bruins, scoring late in the 3rd period.

The Caps were able to do a number of things right. Taking advantage of opportunities such as power plays, taking only minimal number of penalties (minus John Erskine's dumb holding the stick penalty), the defense and goaltending remaining in unison throughout the entire game, and the main offensive players doing what they were supposed to do.

What surprised me was that Jose Theodore made 19 out of 20 saves, considering every game he started in the preseason, the Capitals lost. Although it does make sense - the Caps never really allowed that many goals when he started either. They just never felt like playing that hard for him I guess...

But that was preseason, and hey, as long as there's a goaltender in net who's giving the Washington a chance to win, then I'm going to be happy.

Finally, as a side note, Alex Ovechkin leads the league in the most multi-goal games in the past 2 seasons with 14 games, and also leads in the most 3-point performances with 15, over Crosby and Malkin.

MLB Playoff Picture

So the Tigers/Twins "saga" continues. The Twins decided to win today of all days, and to stave off their elimination for a few days. Seeing as how no team has come back from being 3 games back in the last... forever actually, the Twins have an extememly slim chance of making the playoffs now.

But, they do close out the season in a 3-game set with the Kansas City Royals, who the Twins have defeated 9 times in 15 games thus far this season. So there it CAN happen, if the Tigers just lose 3 straight against the Chicago White Sox...

As far as the National League goes, the Colorado Rockies have made the playoffs for the first time in 3 years (it's been that long since the Red Sox swept them for a 2nd World Series championship??? I know - jerk move, I'm sorry lol).

On the other hand, the LA Dodgers, the Rockies' next opponent for the final 3 games of the season, have had a magic number of only 1 for almost a week. Needless to say, they have not gotten past that.

So the battle between these two teams are now to see who wins the NL West division title and who takes the NL Wild Card position. Should be interesting....

Shout out...

To the Calgary Flames for winning their first season opener in 7 years!

To Marion Barber III - stop being injured.

And to Jay Morgan. if you're reading this, I'll explain it Friday over dinner? Out or at home, it's up to you :)

HOCKEY'S BACK!!!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Red Sox have clinched the AL Wild Card!

So I have been mad all weekend because my Twitter and Facebook were spammed with mass statuses regarding the Yankees and this past weekend in their series against the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees spent their time clinching the AL East Division, a playoff berth and obtaining their 100th win for this season. You would think they won the World Series already with the ruckus about their weekend.

At the same time, I had figured that the Red Sox would also make the playoffs - it would only be a little matter of time before it happened, and I could celebrate, too.

The Red Sox got lucky tonight, clinching the AL Wild Card spot with the Texas Rangers' 5-2 loss to the LA Angels despite losing their own game to the Toronto Blue Jays 8-7. The loss today counted as Boston's 5th straight.

This situation now sets the Red Sox in a playoff series with the LA Angels, again. In 6 years, the two teams have met 4 times, and this meeting would mark the 3rd consecutive year the Angels and Red Sox square off. Seeing that Boston has dominated the playoff series between the two teams, this looks like an easy write-off for the Sox.

Well...

Right now, the Red Sox are struggling mightily, especially for the calibur of their team. With the 5 straight losses, and 5 more games left this year, one can hope that the Sox get everything together. In 9 games against the Angels this year Boston has also ended up 4-5.

However, Boston hasn't always been particularly telling in the regular season of how well they play teams in the playoffs though. Also in favor of the Sox, key players like Josh Beckett, who have been out with injuries lately, will be returning soon.

So while this series will NOT be an easy sweep in my eyes, I have pretty good faith that the Red Sox can create a positive result by the end. Alas, note that I'm neither confirming nor denying a particular playoff result. I will say though that 2004 occurred on a Wild Card year. I'm just saying...

Ojo del Twins???

On a more exciting note, I am closely following the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins series, which should define who is going to play the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs.

I'm pulling for the Twins, because I'm a Joe Mauer fan, and I'll face it; the Twins have put in so much work to get this division, especially without Justin Morneau in the lineup, that it would really suck for them not to make it.

My main issue though is that I won't be mad at whoever wins the division, because that team just better beat the Yankees, and we'll all be in good standing!

NFL Week 3 Personal Highlights

Before I finish (it's late here on the East side of the States!), I would like to give a high and mighty shout out to the Dallas Cowboys for winning our first game in the new house. I thank Carolina Panthers' QB Jake Delhomme for the late interception and the total revival of the Dallas defense in the 4th quarter.

However, I'm not a fan of the play calling at the 1-yard line in that drive where Dallas only got a field goal; TWO passes at the 1-yard line? Really?!?! Really could have avoided the field goal situation - because you also could have gone for it on that 4th down! But what do I know - I'm not an NFL coach.

But Wade Phillips made up for it by calling for the 2-point conversion on the extra point oppoortunity after the interception-for-the-touchdown, calling a nice run play. Thanks buddy.

And one more shout out to the Detroit Lions. This one is for you. I haven't been able to blog for a few days due to time constraints, but I'm putting this one out here for the Lions. Your 19-game losing streak has been snapped.

They must thank the Washington Redskins for failing to have any sort of offense in the game. Their defense didn't even do the usually decent job either in this game. So Detriot can rest in peace knowing that they have won, while the Redskins must live with the loss. I'm sure they've "put it in the past" by now (cliche statement - you know they're still mad).



*Finally, please put my cousin in your prayers and your thoughts. He was shot on Monday. He is alive and in the hospital, but the family wants a full recovery. Thank you.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

No Penguins for Me

This may be a sports blog, but, mind you, sports sometimes intersects with our outside lives as well...

*I know that over half the population that reads this has been through this at least once in their lives.

So let's say you see that gorgeous man/woman of your dreams. He/she is fine, they dress well, and they've got that swag. You get the guts to go up to him/her and introduce yourself (or whatever you do to strike a conversation). To your surprise, he/she actually acknowledges your presence and they seem to be equally as interested in what you're saying, how you look, etc.

Then suppose you get into sports - you mention you love [insert sport]. Their eyes get big at the mention of your favorite sport, and as the conversation unfolds, you believe that you have found love...

Until you mention that you are (for example) a Washington Capitals fan, and he/she states that they root for the... Pittsburgh Penguins.

For me, the conversation ends right there, unless you're looking to pick a fight with me. I love to discuss hockey, talk about my team, or even take part healthy debate over hockey topics. But sometimes, I am NOT in the mood for a discussion as to why "Sidney Crosby is better than Alex Ovechkin" and "which team is better," especially in this situation.

A. I have already exhausted myself arguing to the death for Alex Ovechkin being a better marketing tool for the NHL and B. I would never want to do this on a date.

As a fan of other sports though, personally, I feel like somethings are passable: As a Cowboys fan, I am open to Eagles fans, Giants fans, and because of my location Redskins fans can be accepted. I mean, it's only twice a year when we are head to head anyway so it can't be that bad.

In baseball, I've even been open to Yankees fans despite my strong disdain for them and being a Red Sox fan.

But best believe, you say the wrong thing in our first meeting and it's over. I mean, it is OVER. No chance. No shot. You lose.

If I hear you're an Eagles fan, I don't want to hear about the last game of last season against the Cowboys all night. We can joke about it for a second, but it better be dropped real quick...

The only sport though I get really touchy about the most though is hockey. You've got to be REALLY attractive to root for the Philadelphia Flyers and hold my hand at games. I can't even think about what it takes to be a Pittsburgh Penguins fan and be around me though. I certainly have some friends that are Penguins fans, but dating is another realm to cover.

I do have a little bit of tolerance, however, in other situations. In the past, a Tampa Bay Lightning fan, named Greg, was an interest. And he was really nice, funny, cute - basically all that is good. His only flaw; he was a Lightning fan. As a Caps fan, I don't know what it is (I do, but that's another post), but ever since the 2003 NHL playoffs, I have hated the Lightning, even though they have been non-contenders for a couple of years.

Nonetheless, I would fight for hours with Greg over whether that goal in the Calgary Flames/Tampa Bay Lightning Stanley Cup Finals in 2005 scored by Marty Gelinas really crossed the line or not - thus, justifying whether the Bolts really deserved the Cup or not.

Me, being the one who hated the Lightning, could have been blinded by hate for the team. But I have always believed that the Flames were cheated out of a Cup, and hated that the Lightning got a championship title before the Caps did. I would obviously claim that the goal should have counted. Greg, being a Lightning fan, argued the contrary.

Now, this relationship was not defined by the two of us cheering for two different teams in the same division, but you can't tell me that it was easy with that factor. Every game is added with extra anxiety, so that you don't have to hear the trash-talking - that's your job, right? And losses suck even more when they're againt your significant other's team.

Luckily though, Greg wasn't a jerk (like I was) about games, and was a rather mild-mannered man. He never called me right after a game that the Caps lost to the Lightning (rare as it was) to brag. We also went hand-in-hand to a Caps/Flyers game last season; both intensley cheering for the Capitals because we despised the Flyers considerably more than each others' teams, respectively.

Which has, in the end, allowed me to give leeway to those who are not a fan of my team, or pledge alleigances to teams that I absolutely can't stand - well, besides the Pittsburgh Penguins.

So it's not necessarily true that I will disreagrd one's presence solely because they are a fan of a rivalry/disliked team. Just make sure that the team you cheer for isn't named after a flightless bird that lives in Antartica and the lower tips of Australia, South America, and Africa.

*Feel free to dispel your experiences with the decision to go through talking to someone who avidly follows your rival team. I know some have got to be funny.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

NHL Preseason - Caps vs. Sabres!

OMG IF YOU THOUGHT I WAS REALLY EXCITED FOR NFL PRESEASON AND THE BEGINNING OF THE NFL SEASON, WATCH OUT BECAUSE THE CAPS JUST BEGAN PRESEASON!

So basically, hockey is back, and the Washington Capitals start off looking pretty good in a 4-3 OT win against the Buffalo Sabres. The Caps already seem better than last season, scoring on an overtime two-man advantage; something the Caps could never capitalize on in previous years.

The often-injured defenseman, Brian Pothier netted the team's game-winning goal. Other goal scorers included Alexander Giroux, who scored 60 goals with the Hershey Bears and is hoping to get a more permanent role on the Capitals; former Flyers' pain-in-the-ass Mike Knuble, who was signed during the offseason to add a gritty and experienced offensive touch; and Jay Beagle, who also will be spending more time with the Capitals between Washington and Hershey.

The Caps looked good to start the game. They held a 1-0 lead from the 1st period until 2:56 into the 3rd period where Sabres' Jason Pominville scored. About 4 minutes later, the Sabres scored again on a goal from Clark MacArthur.

The Caps tied the game at 2, but shortly thereafter, the Sabres regained the lead from Tim Kennedy's deflection.

Not giving up though, 23 seconds later, Washington tied the game again at 3-apiece, and ultimately winning in overtime, 4-3.

While the offense seems to be the main story for the game, Simeon Varlamov played an important role as well for the first part of the game, making multiple saves to maintain the 1-0 lead for the Capitals on Buffalo's odd-man rushes and scoring attempts.

Needless to say, I'm extra happy because the Caps won, and the fact that there was a variety in scoring, as well as a strong comeback effort that proved to be successful. Granted, I know that it's preseason, so I'm not tripping too much over one preseason win, but a win like this in the regular season would look good.

This win can possibly show that Varlamov can hold games for the Caps and keep them in until the end, that Mike Knuble has settled in to the Capitals' system, and that some new players can become the unsung heroes and make a roster spot by October 1st, opening night.

"The U" is BACK!!!

So had I not gone to American University, one school I was really hoping to get into was the University of Miami. Provided, I probably am doing really well at AU and I love it there, but man, had I gone to the Univ. of Miami, I would be covering their Hurricanes football team all the time - forget classes!

However, if I was at The U for the past couple of years, I wouldn't have enjoyed the games a whole lot, considering they've been struggling for a good minute, mostly since 2006, one of their most disappointing seasons. They just barely missed a losing season that year.

After the Hurricanes fired their coach and hired Randy Shannon as their new coach, they had an even worse performance, actually completing the campaign with a 5-7 record, missing a bowl game. In 2008, Miami lost to teams they usually beat, such as Georgia Tech; and much hated rivals, University of Florida, and Florida State University.

This season though, the Hurricanes have begun the season with vengance: Miami has won their first 2 games, including the opener against Florida State in a 38-34 thriller, and a dominant 33-17 performance against Georgia Tech.

Like I had mentioned about the Washington Capitals, it's early to make written-in-stone statements about the Hurricanes, but it's difficult to ignore their early season success, especially after the woes of the past few seasons.

Hate it or love it; whether you like it or not, The U is back.
There was an error in this gadget