Archive for April, 2006

Super Sized
April 29, 2006

The Ravens appeased everyone with their first round pick of Haloti Ngata, everyone except for ESPN’s Mark Schlereth. The former offensive lineman ripped the Ravens for their pick of Ngata because according to Schlereth Ngata takes off plays and lacks motivation. TV 11 Sports Director Gerry Sandusky saw Schlereth’s view as narrow. Sandusky explaining it’s easy to confuse someone taking off a play with someone who doesn’t rush the passer well. Makes sense.

The key is Baltimore’s draft not only filled the direct hole at defensive tackle, it makes Ray Lewis happier, and therefore the locker room’s a better place in which to work.

Tell me what you think of the selection. <a href=”mailto:11sports@thewbalchannel.com?subject=Gilbert’s Arena –
“>e-mail Pete
I’ll share some responses on the air tonight at 11:00.

Advertisements

Daddyhood Musings
April 28, 2006

Been off for three days, mostly tending to my seven month old twins. In the brief moments between not eating and not sleeping, things went popping in my head. Some at
my head, and some in it.

It continues to amaze me how many people earn a livelihood on the NFL Draft. Millions of dollars to be made all in preparation for the draft. An entire weekend of coverage complete with draft superstars like Baltimore’s Mel Kiper Jr., to discuss the picking of teams. When I think of player selection, I think of praying not to be the last one standing in front of the backstop at age 11. The process took two minutes. Then it was the game that mattered. Congrats to the NFL for becoming so hugely popular that its non-game event grabs a bigger television rating than most MLB games on the same Saturday.

Speaking of MLB, here’s an example of why the tradition rich league lags behind the NFL in marketing and excitement. Road Grays. In use since the dawn of time, they inspire like the colorless attire of the Soviet Union. It’s like Brezhnev picked them out himself. They are boring, ugly, out of touch and need to go.

Another tradition I’ve never enjoyed; pitcher retaliation. This brought to mind thanks to the flap with Jose Mesa and Omar Vizquel. Mesa drilled Vizquel again earlier this week, a feud stemming from their time as teammates in Cleveland. So a personal vendetta leads to retaliation. Instead of sending Vizquel and Mesa to the center of town at high noon with pistols, other players end up plunked unnecessarily. Here’s my question; if the retaliation is to serve as a message or deterrent, why did the batter get hit in the first place? The first pitcher knows he’s putting his own players at risk, yet head hunts away. There is no deterrent and the only message is one of stupidity.

Watched the third to last episode Will & Grace last night (kids had gone to sleep). Love the show ever since my wife made me watch it three years ago. But like seemingly every other sit com, outside of Seinfeld, the producers are compelled to make the show sappy and dramatic. Like the moth to the flame or the swans to Capistrano, they can’t help themselves. Please, just keep it funny.

If you have topics to share, thoughts from anything you’ve read, or a good recipe. E-mail me at <a href=”mailto:11sports@thewbalchannel.com?subject=Gilbert’s Arena –
“>e-mail Pete
I’ll be back regularly throughout the weekend to discuss the NFL Draft. For what it’s worth, and because everyone has a prediction, with the 13th pick in the 2006 NFL Draft the Baltimore Ravens select Brodrick Bunkley , defensive tackle from Florida State. Want your feedback on the Ravens selections. I’ll share your best e-mails.

Streaking to Infamy
April 24, 2006

We love sports for the numbers. We define success and failure by adding up digits. We look to the numbers because, unlike politicians and utility corporations, the numbers don’t lie. However numbers don’t always make sense.

32 straight wins for Johns Hopkins lacrosse over Navy? Once a year, every year since Ford took over for Nixon, the Blue Jays beat the Mids. The latest coming Saturday in a 9-8 Blue Jay Victory.

A streak like that makes some sense, if say it was Texas over Prairie View A&M in football. But Navy’s good in lacrosse. The Midshipmen reached the NCAA Finals just two years ago. They were ranked 4th entering the game whereas Hopkins has already lost more games this year (4) than in the last three seasons combined (3).

And the stat to cap it off, the last five meetings between the two ended in one goal games.

Explaining the streak is like trying to explain how Paula Abdul keeps her job on American Idol without ever bringing a single intelligent thought to the show. Can’t do it.

The streak though got me wondering about other runs of futility for one team against another. And mind you, most of this research was accomplished without the internet, instead with old media guides. Therefore I actually had to add. Therefore don’t quote me.

MORE NAVY

The Mids also own a rather infamous losing streak in football. It’s even worse than in lacrosse. 42 straight times Notre Dame has sent Navy packing on the gridiron. The streak earned less recognition with the resurgence of Navy football the last several seasons, the focus instead on three consecutive bowl berths. But not since Roger Staubach ran amok in Annapolis have the Mids beaten the Irish.

Navy isn’t making things any easier for itself. The schools agreed to a 10 year extension of the series, including a 2012 game to kick off the season in Dublin, Ireland. Yeah, pick Navy in that one.

PRESIDENT COOLIDGE LOVES MARYLAND LACROSSE

Okay, I don’t know if Calvin Coolidge liked, or even knew what lacrosse was. He preferred horse back riding to team sports. But he sat in the Oval Office when Maryland beat Penn State in 1924. The first of 29 consecutive wins for the Terps over the Nittany Lions. PSU in fact has never beaten Maryland in lacrosse. Penn State though hardly garners credit as a lacrosse power.

MAYBE IF THEY PLAYED ON THANKSGIVING

From 1968 to 1997 the Washington Redskins won 18 consecutive games over the Detroit Lions. Sure the Redskins won three Super Bowls during that stretch but they also had eight losing seasons during the stretch so the Lions should have had their chances. They never played on Thanksgiving where the Lions actually own a winning record. Oh wait. They did in 1973. Washington scored a shut out 20-0. Never mind, there’s no defending the Lions.

DUKE SPORTS NOT ON TRIAL IN THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION

The Duke women’s basketball team ran up 14 straight wins over Maryland heading into the 2006 ACC Tourney. Even when Maryland fans filled up the Comcast Center each of the last two seasons and head coach Brenda Frese was guaranteeing victorythe Terps failed to even challenge.

I would however bet Duke Head coach Gail Goestenkors would trade the 14 consecutive for the little two game win streak Maryland as on the Blue Devils. The first coming in the 2006 ACC Tourney. The second coming in the form of a National Championship.

THIS ONE’S FOR YOU HONEY

Not a mammoth streak but it provided tremendous consternation for my Philadelphia native wife. From the end of the 2003 season into July of 2004 the Florida Marlins won 10 straight over the Phillies. The Phils actually should have made the playoffs in ’03 but limped their way to the finish losing seven of their last ten games and missing the wild card. And now, I’m off to put some clean sheets on the couch.

Tejada vs. Yankees
April 23, 2006

When Miguel Tejada kept demanding a trade, and complained they were going in the wrong direction, days like today were why.

Miggy had four hits against the Yankees.

The Orioles had four hits against the Yankees.

7-1 the final as New York takes two of three in the Bronx.

The bats though will likely recover, but the starting pitching. Yikes! Outside of Erik Bedard (4-0) and Kris Benson (2-2)(maybe it’s the K instead of the C in their names that works) Oriole starters range from mediocre to flat out bad.

Bruce Chen (0-3), the darling of the staff last year with 13 wins continues to throw batting practice. Jason Giambi tagged Chen for two more homers today, running his total of souvenirs created to eight on the season. Tough to keep your Chen up.

Baltimore needs to find another starter in a hurry.

They’ll keep Daniel Cabrera (1-2) in the rotation because he has so much freakin’ talent and is so young. And Rodrigo Lopez (1-1) will eat enough innings to help the bullpen rest even if he gives up four to five runs an outing.

But they need to send Chen to the pen for long relief and either bring up another starter (preferably Hayden Penn) or make a trade.

This team can’t win the A.L. East. It can’t even really compete for a wild card berth. But it can end the streak of eight losing seasons. That’s the critical mark for the franchise. Reach 82 wins and you prove the club’s going in the right direction, and then you can sign free agents. Until then, they’ll stay away, and so will any prospects for prosperity.

So, just 19 games into the season the Orioles find themselves at a critical juncture. Act now or the spiral downward goes on.

Alive and Well
April 22, 2006

Wanted to share this yesterday, but apparently in our still slightly bugged system, spell check also means delete. Lost a lengthy post, but not to be deterred we’ll carry on.

Where was I?

It’s not often a player with no chance to win garners a press conference to announce his inclusion. But when that player is Arnold Palmer, fanfare knows no bounds.

Friday afternoon the “King” took center stage at McCormick & Schmick’s downtown to announce his intention to play in the 2006 Champions Tour Constellation Energy Classic.

Taking center stage with embattled Constellation Energy CEO Mayo Shattuck in the audience is no small feet. Shattuck shared that with his now being referred to by first name only in Baltimore Sun articles that his daughter says he’s reached an iconic level of celebrity, like Prince. Or maybe a level of infamy, like O.J.

But Palmer’s presence captivated the room. And that surprised me.

I met Palmer once before. He took part in an event I covered from 2002. The opening of the First Tee facility in Little Rock. On that day he seemed guarded and unsure of himself. It concerned me that four years later, now 76, a slide towards diminished capacity might have occurred.

I quickly learned, my concerns, like Darren Daulton’s bizarre rantings, were baseless.

Palmer held court as you would expect. The eight time major winner was funny, thoughtful, and on point throughout a 20 minute presentation, slash, Q&A session with the media.

His retelling of the 1956 PGA Eastern Open at Mt. Pleasant Golf Course in Baltimore was a gem.

Palmer said he was tired heading into the tourney and just not ready to play. On the first hole of the first day he hooked his tee shot onto Hillen Rd. Out of bounds and two stroke penalty.

“That’s it. I’m done”, said Palmer as he started walking off the course.

Fortunately for Palmer his playing partner Doug Ford put a hold on those plans. Telling Arnie, “everybody knows you can still win this tournament even if you give us all two strokes “.

Probably the last time Ford made that mistake. Palmer not only won, as he put it “comfortably”. But at one point in the tourney he led by 12 strokes.

Back to the present where Palmer said “If you think I’m coming there with the attitude that I won’t win, you’re crazy. I may not, but that’s what drives me.”

He later however told me his game right now is “bad”. Fortunately there is no cut on the Champions Tour so we are guaranteed three rounds of golf with the legend this September.

Welcome In!
April 20, 2006

Welcome in to Gilbert’s Arena. The name for which I must credit a college friend Rob O’Donoghue. I actually solicited several friends for help in the naming of this blog. Most went with sarcastic remarks for which I would be fined or fired if shared. Thanks guys.

Not sure how Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas feels about it, but just in case, Gilbert your game is special, you’re a sure fire All Star even as you chuck it like George Costanza.

Now that you know the name, just what are you getting (by the way, nice to have the time unlike during a sportscast to just throw things in parenthesis and ramble on)?

For one, you get my time. No limitations of the three minutes from TV. We can take as long delving into topics as we want. So the goal of Gilbert’s Arena is to create discussion of what’s going on from the likes of Barry Bonds’ horrifically comical pursuit of the home run crown to the Ravens journey back to respectability. Even your rec league softball game and why the lights can’t stay on past 11:00 P.M.

But more than discussion, because I have the resources of a television station, I’ll share more than you can get in a daily sportscast. If a press conference sparks interest, we’ll put chunks of it on the web instead of a snippet during the news. Batting practice video from Oriole Park? You can watch all we get on tape. Slide shows from Ravens training camp, morning workouts from Preakness week (by the way, did you see Brother Derek win the Santa Anita Derby? Place $10 to win right now), even the best photos or video you have to share.

Now to the meat. Substance from today. The Ravens pre-draft luncheon. A gathering of local media to first gorge in the Ravens cafeteria, then settle in for an hour of Q&A with G.M. Ozzie Newsome, Head Coach Brian Billick and Director of College Scouting Eric DeCosta. Good move to eat first as the tryptophan from our turkey sandwiches sedated nicely.

Despite that, a 52 minute press conference ensued covering everything from draft philosophies, (they say they will continue to draft the best player available regardless of position) to drafting players of character and what that means.

When queried on how the team can say it has drafted so intently on character yet have so many players endure legal difficulties, Newsome explained how they stay away from guys who repeat mistakes and show patterns. That they will take a young man with an issue but otherwise seems decent. Newsome asked if we had done anything between the ages of 18-22 we’d rather not discuss. Good point, but we’ll debate that at another time.

The most interesting part of the afternoon came after the formal discussion. In hanging around with Billick discussing the draft in a small group he relayed a story from the NFL Combine from a few years ago.
I did not have a tape recorder going but this is very close to the story if not word for word.

Each head coach gets 15 minutes with 60 different players for one on one interviews. Billick explained how prepped the players are by agents and cracking through to find out what they’re really like is tough.
Towards the end of a grueling session Billick looked at a just seated player (he would not name the player), one with a few brushes with the law but nothing terribly serious and said, again I’m paraphrasing, Look, we’re both tired so let’s cut through the @#$%. Are you a thug or are you stupid?

The player responded Are those my only choices?

Billick laughed heartily and said That’s it. We’re done.

Billick finished the story by saying how much he liked the player, but that he was drafted just before the Ravens could select him. Mr. Anonymous has apparently gone on to an excellent career.
The moral from that story; stay funny and mistakes are forgiven. Therefore I’m hoping for perfection.