Thursday, August 30, 2007

Yeah, We Really Do Care About Soccer...

The Drudge Report currently has two David Beckahm headlines right now because of the knee injury he suffered last night in the SuperLiga Final. Now read both stories carefully there and tell me if you notice anything odd about them?

Give up?

Neither one bothers to mention that David Beckham's team, the L.A. Glaxay lost the game on penalty kicks. Hades, none of them even bother mentioning the score of the game (1-0 Pachuca) when Beckham left due to injury. Now wouldn't you consider that a pretty important detail to the game? Unless that is you're completely uninterested in the game itself and are more interested in star gazing/stalking.

Injury to Beckham aside, does anybody still want to argue that Beckham is going to raise the profile of soccer in the United States? You'd have to subscribe to the "there's no such thing as bad press" school of thought to even have a chance. But what this underscores is just how fleeting and unserious the new found interest in soccer in the United States really is. The media is more interested in reporting whether or not Beckham plays than how well he does out on the field or if his team wins or loses. That's Pop Culture at work, not serious sports following.

If Beckham is out four-to-six weeks, he would be well-advised to just shut it down for the remainder of the season because let's face it, while his coming to America has been a success for the MLS because of non-refundable ticket purchases, on the field it has been a total flop. Since the MLS has Beckham for four more seasons after this one, they should resist the temptation to rush him back to the field because this has turned into a no-win situation for them.

New Caps Radio Carrier

After well publicized dust up between WTEM and Caps owner Ted Leonsis, the Caps today defied the odds and announced a move to WWWT today for Caps radio broadcasts.

WWWT is currently another one of Ted's favorite targets, the Washington (Com)Post's radio station, WTWP and is the current radio broadcaster of the Washington Nationals. It is a two year deal for the Caps and Bonneville (the parent company of WWWT).

I am old enough to remember when the Caps were on 1500 AM (then WTOP) and word circulated last year that Ted wanted the Caps on WTWP but Bonneville's asking price for air time was too high. I guess with the radio station tanking even further (they're dropping the (Com)Post programming on September 20th) the air time got even cheaper.

The one real curious thing about this is the future of Tony Khornball at the radio station. He's currently on haitus to dumb down ESPN's Monday Night Football broadcasts but he was the only show on WTWP to generate any kind of promising ratings for the station. (The rest of the "NPR on caffeine" programming proved that there is no market for lefty moonbat talk radio.) If you think Steve Czaban has been/is dismissive of the Caps and hockey, he's got nothing on Khornball.

One positive thing to note, the Caps shouldn't be scrubbed from WWWT nearly as much as they were on WTEM due to conflicting programming, but how the situation is worked out in April should the Nats return to WWWT should be interesting to say the least. Bonneville doesn't have the extra space like Clear Channel (parent of WTEM) to make accommodations.

Too bad though we aren't getting rid of Steve Kolbe...


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ultimate Nonsense

A big story in Las Vegas for the last couple days of my vacation was the Renato "Babalu" Sobral - David Heath light heavyweight "fight" on Saturday night. It was an under card bout that made headlines because Sobral not only badly bloodied Heath, he also choked Heath unconscious after Heath tapped out. Sobral claimed he did that because Heath "has to learn respect."

Does any of this sound familiar?

And what may you ask was Heath's transgression that required the lesson in respect?

Heath mistook Sobral for Oedipus.

This of course folks is what we're told by our Ultimate Fighting on Ice (UFOI) friends is the "fastest growing sport in America." Yet there's some outrage (at least what you can find considering the massive coverage this "sport" gets) over Sobral's actions, including the Nevada State Athletic Commission withholding part of Sobral's fight purse while they investigate his actions. Furthermore, there's talk the "fight" won't even be aired. (Gee, I wonder why???)

I know I'm beating a dead horse folks, but if even the powers-that-be in the UFC are sickened by these kinds of actions, just what in the world is it going to take for powers-that-be in the NHL to finally get the message that the NHL needs to clean up its act? Note too that Sobral's antics were not well received by the 11,118 (which is less that what the Caps and every other NHL team averaged last season) in attendance. If actual UFC fans don't like to see guys bloodied beyond recognition and knocked completely out, what does it say about UFOI advocates who worship and go to extraordinary lengths to defend blood and KO's on the ice?

In news that I "missed" while I was gone, the Caps resigned John Erskine Bowles for the next two seasons. At over $1 million for the next two years, I really have to wonder about this for a couple of reasons. #1. Erskine-Bowles wasn't a hot commodity last season considering he wasn't signed until the night before training camp opened. For the life of me I just can't figure out what he did to raise his stock so high that we not only qualified him, but gave him a two year contract to sit in the press box/play in Hershey. #2. With the logjam on the blueline, his value as a "depth" defenseman becomes highly suspect. While he's by far the most physical of the "depth" defensemen (which is a stretch because he whiffs more than he actually hits), he'll only serve to impede the progress of a younger player with greater upside. And should we trade one of the youngsters for the much needed "veteran physical blueliner," Erskine-Bowles becomes even more obsolete.

But hey, it's great work if you can get it. You'd could almost be forgiven for thinking that this contract is nothing more than an attempt to hit the league's salary floor but that isn't going to be a problem for the Caps this season or next. But one thing is for certain, Sections 204 and 205 at the Phone Booth should be well secured during the upcoming season.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Viva Las Vegas?

With my father, a few of his friends, and myself on our way to get John Kruk bobbleheads here in a little bit I'd thought I'd throw out there this bit of "lost" news earlier this week about a new Las Vegas Arena.

The universal opinion of course is that the NBA isn't going to touch Las Vegas with a ten foot pole in the aftermath of the Tim Donaghy scandal. However don't lose sight of the fact that the proposed Las Vegas Arena is being built by AEG, the same group that built, owns, and operates the Sprint Center in Kansas City and currently owns the L.A. Kings. They too are looking for any possible tenant from the NBA or NHL to come in, though the only NBA franchise seriously looking to move is the Seattle SuperSonics and they're looking hard at Oklahoma City.

But the groundwork for NHL expansion is quietly being laid and that should concern all NHL fans.

And speaking of the NHL, we all remember the indignity that the NHL suffered this past May when the Buffaslugs-Ottawa Game 5 was bumped from NBC to Versus in favor of the Preakness pre-race coverage. Well, as I said at the time, at least you had a chance to continue watching the game if you wanted to unlike viewers of the Edmonton-Saskatchewan CFL game this past Saturday night. That game was delayed for over 55 minutes in the fourth quarter because of a power outage at Mosaic Stadium in Saskatchewan caused by thunderstorms. Once power was restored and play resumed CBC did not return to the game broadcast, opting instead to stay with a showing of the Nick Nolte classic The Good Thief.

At least the NHL got bumped for a Triple Crown Horse Race...

Looking through the various sports books, I can't find print outs of the odds for the 2008 Stanley Cup Championship. I did find it oddly amusing that the sports book at South Point has the Eagles (10-1) only slightly better favored over the Redskins (11-1) to appear in Super Bowl XLII. I say that because the last time I saw the World Wide Leader in Schlock, their "experts" told us that the Eagles are the team to beat in the NFC East and the Redskins will be lucky to improve upon their 5-11 record of a year ago. The bettors believe that Chicago (6-1) and New England (6-5) will go to Glendale Arizona next year. Detroit is still the longest shot in the field to make Super Bowl LXII at 30-1.

To win Super Bowl LXII, the Redskins are 30-1 after opening at 55-1. The favorites to win it all is New England at 2-1 after opening at 9-1. The long shot is Houston at 90-1 after opening at 100-1 though the Oakland Raiders opened as the longest shot of 150-1 but has fallen to 50-1.

Finally, yes I noticed that 30-3 pasting the Rangers laid on the B.O.'s Wednesday night and even watched some of it in horror. While I have no love for the B.O.'s and this is a very good moment for Schadenfreude, I personally think the score is just as embarrassing for the Rangers as it was the B.O.'s. 16 of the 30 runs were scored in the last two innings when the game was well in hand. There was no reason for the Rangers to continue to swing the bat the way they did against the B.O.'s. This ranks right up there with High School basketball teams that win games 150-2. There's no excuse for running up the score, especially in the major leagues. While it would be even more embarrassing for the batters to either intentionally step on home plate while bunting or walking to first base on a ground ball (commonly done in High School and youth leagues to end a monster inning), there's no rule that says they must swing the bat while at the plate. The Rangers could have gone to the plate and looked at every pitch the B.O.'s threw and I doubt that anybody would have really noticed or been upset that they did. The game was over, there was no need to continue the slaughter, especially when you still had the double-header night cap to come which is why the B.O.'s hung their relievers out to dry despite pitching batting practice to the Rangers.

(Now that I've defended the B.O.'s, I need to delouse...)

However, the funniest line referencing that game came from the Houston Astro's announcing crew during last night's Nats-Astros game after the B.O.'s had lost their third game in a row, "give some managers an extension and they just stop managing."

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Vick Sings

As reported by Fox News. Vick cops a plea

Details elsewhere...


Vacation Time

Well it's summer, there isn't much going on, and it has been awhile since I've visited my parents who are spending their retirement (among other things) in Las Vegas.

So later today I'll be throwing myself feet first into the joy that is the air travel system this summer. At some point later tonight I (hope) will arrive in Las Vegas and will there for a little over a week.

I would like to take the time to thank a certain nameless airline that once provided naming rights for Dishonest Abe for canceling my direct flight from Reagan to McCarran and routing me through Philadelphia on a flight with a 20-30% on time rate.

Posting here will be sporadic as I drive my Mom's cats nuts with a laser pointer. The Sunday Smorgasbord will return on September 2nd though you should expect a post talking about the various sports odds and if something major happens to go down.


Imitation Is The Sincerest Form of Flattery

After hitting the "publish" button last night I started turning things off to go to bed and I had to stop to watch the following commercial from the NFL.

You know, it was the NHL that first started handing out the tradition of handing out the championship trophy on the field of play. It took awhile but now all the professional sports leagues do it.

Now the NFL is ripping off the NHL's commercials. Now I can't blame them, that commercial done at the All-Star game was funny but it makes you have to sit and wonder. If the NHL is so poorly marketed as some Anti-Bettman folks claim, why are other leagues ripping off their commercials and traditions?

The NHL has to be doing something right...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday Smorgasbord 8-19

  • From the "Gee, What a Surprise File", Nats first baseman, Nick Johnson will not play at all this season. This makes the recent contract extension given to Dmitri Young even better. Personally I think the Nats would be well advised to find a first baseman as talented as Johnson but one with better durability at a minimum and a fast healer in a perfect world. The long awaited acquisition of Wily Mo Pena fills a dire need of a power hitter who can come off the bench. Whether it is Pena or Ryan Church in that role makes no difference because the Nats lack of power hitters to pinch hit late in games has been a problem recently. Pena might be the one better suited to that role because he isn't as defensively sound as Church is. Though I do give Pena credit, he at least waves at the ball as it goes by him in the outfield.
  • The sad part about the Mets sweeping the Nats this weekend is the way last night's game went down. The Mets clearly have more talent and shouldn't need to have questionable calls made in their favor in order to win a game. Not a single close call went the Nats way when more than a couple should have. Maybe these are growing pains and maybe they aren't but it is frustrating to see hard work go unrewarded. (Though it could simply be that MLB needs a New York team in the playoffs...) Now at 55-69, the Nats are 15.5 games back of the New York Mets in the NL East with an elimination number of 24. The Nats are 11.5 behind San Diego for the Wild Card with an elimination number from the playoffs of 28. The Nats are a game back of Florida for fourth in the NL East and there are six teams in MLB with worse records.
  • Now Redskins fans have a real reason to panic. Forget the meaningless 12-10 loss to the Steelers, the knee injury suffered by Jason Campbell and elbow injury suffered by Marcus Washington last night are real causes for concern. While Campbell is officially listed as day-to-day it means his preseason is over. Campbell isn't Clinton Portis, he needs the preseason to take charge of the team and establish chemistry with his receivers. If you ever wonder why teams hardly play their starters in the preseason, this is exactly why and this is the third time in the four years under Joe Gibbs that the Redskins have lost a key offensive player in the preseason. Campbell isn't down for the count yet, but I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see this knee injury linger on into the regular season.
  • However, not having any preseason games does not make you immune to season ending injuries. Maryland knows that after losing redshirt freshman Alex Wujciak for the season this week because of a knee injury. Head Coach Ralph Friedgen had publicly declared him too good for the Terps to not to play him somewhere. While that problem is solved and the Terps don't have to figure out how to get him on the field, it creates depth problems. For the Title IX crusaders who love to attack Football's 85 scholarship limit, here's a kid who will occupy a slot for another season, will not even see the practice field now, and the Terps cannot go out and sign somebody to come in right away to replace him.
  • After flaming out in the SuperLiga, D.C. United rebounded strongly on the road and got another much needed 2-0 win over Columbus. United is now tied with New York for second place with 33 points, but D.C. has a game in hand. They trail New England for first place in the Eastern Conference and first overall by three points. However, D.C. United has a whopping three games in hand on the Revolution. D.C. should be able to win at least one of those three games.
  • This week D.C. United will host the New York Red Bulls at RFK on Wednesday night to try to break that second place tie. United then heads to Toronto to play FC Toronto on Saturday night. The Nats hit the road and should see their fortunes improve as they start a four game series in Houston tomorrow night against the Astros. The Astros are only one game ahead of the Nats. The Nats then head to Colorado for a weekend series against the Rockies.
  • As always, please send all comments, questions, corrections, suggestions, criticisms, and odds of winning the 2008 World Series to "capsnut" over at gmail dot com.


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Miracle Men

The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team

By: Wayne Coffey
Publisher: Crown (January 11, 2005)
ISBN-10: 140004765X

Having seen the movie Miracle, documentaries and specials on the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team, and just being a normal red-blooded American Hockey fan; the story of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid New York is pretty well know. A bunch of college-aged kids from the U.S. went up against the Soviet Hockey machine and defied all odds and expectations by defeating them and going on to win the Gold Medal; pulling the United States out of the malaise that was the Jimmy Carter Presidency.

It too has also been documented over and over again that Olympics like the 1980 Winter Games are a thing of past now. The thin veil of "amateurism" that existed at that time has been lifted and now accomplished professionals are invited to compete in the marquee events such as Ice Hockey and Basketball.

However until reading this book, you never really got any kind of in depth look at the players that comprised the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team. Sure you knew the names of the players and where they were from. You knew that they were a collection of players who forced head coach Herb Brooks to overcome the regionalism that dominated and divided the U.S. Hockey Federation even to this day. You also knew that Brooks decided to make himself the common enemy of his players so that they would stand united with each other instead of worrying about Minnesota Hockey vs. Boston Hockey.

Wayne Coffey however goes beyond that and gives you a sample of each player's upbringing. Where he was from, what he was like, and how he got to the Olympic team. That is the real value of the book unless you're looking for more information about Minnesota's Iron Range. Not only do you find out their backgrounds, you get a good sense of what life after Lake Placid has been for the 20 players. Instead of focusing on the team as a whole, Coffey ironically pays direct attention to the players as individuals on what had to have been the closest knit team ever assembled.

Coffey writing shifts between a play-by-play of the February 22nd, 1980 game and narratives about the players upbringings. It begins to wear on the reader as the 263 pages marches on but I can't think of any better way for him to weave the personal stories of the players into the game that made them all famous.

Coffey also gives us insight into the minds of the Russians who were on the short end of the stick that evening. It is very easy to forget that there were two sides to the story and hearing about the background of the Soviet program and fallout and regret from the loss gives you a better picture of the overall story.

The big thing that I take away from the book is that if there is a player who regrets 1980, he doesn't make a big deal of it. 13 of the 20 players, Ken Morrow, Neal Broten, Mike Ramsey, Dave Christian, Mark Johnson, Mark Pavelich, Rob McClanahan, Steve Christoff, Dave Silk, Bill Baker, Jim Craig, and Steve Janaszak went onto play in the NHL, each with his own level of success.

However considering the long odds that they faced down and their accomplishments in Lake Placid, I don't think their NHL careers did anything to diminish what they did in Lake Placid. On the contrary, the lack of NHL success for all but a few players increases their accomplishment. Sadly of course, the book was written after the untimely passing of their Head Coach Herb Brooks in 2003 and while it now going onto 28 years, soon some of the players will begin departing in similarly shocking fashion. However, this book serves as fitting tribute to 20 individual players who pulled off the greatest miracle in the history of sports.

Thanks to Brenna for the suggestion and the Library of Congress for the book though I wouldn't mind owning my own copy of the book.

And with my vacation starting on Monday night, this will be the last book review until next summer as I don't think I'll have the time to get another book in before hockey games (well, preseason at least) start back up.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Good Grief

Geeze Louise, do I have to draw flash cards for you people?

Did you actually read exactly what Czaban had to say after D.C. not being Detroit, New York, Boston, Montreal, and Philly? Or did you just stop right there and launch into your laughably bad counter factual? (That failed to contain any facts)

Czaban properly pointed out that Sports Talk Radio doesn't make the overall Top 10 in ANY market it is in. I actually went and fact checked Czaban for the Top 10 radio markets. The closest is KTCK/KTDK in Dallas-Fort Worth (market #5) and they're ranked 11th Overall in the most recent book.

Czaban is right when he says that Sports Talk Radio is geared towards MALES 18-54. Who else is interested in that stuff? You mean to tell me that Jim Rome appeals to the same audience that Oprah Winfrey does? The overall rankings (which is what Ted was referring to) is EVERYBODY (that's Males, Females, and "Transgenders") over the age of 12.

Have I lost you yet?

Now, according to Ted, WTEM is a failure because they aren't trying to appeal to the widest audience possible. "They just don't get it." But where does Ted put his advertising dollars? Where does Ted buy airtime for his teams? Not on the stations with the largest overall audience in the market but on a station he considers a failure and "just doesn't get it."

But what really makes Ted look foolish is when Ted defends his marketing strategy. Ted brags about how they selectively target their marketing, how they "just don't buy an ad in the (Com)Post and call it a day." If marketing dollars are being selectively targeted, why shouldn't media outlets selectively target their audiences as well to serve the purposes of the people paying the bills? It would seem to me to be a win-win situation. The buyer of airtime for advertising purposes wants to reach a certain audience. A media outlet is looking for ad dollars to run their operations and sees a target audience that they can easily attain. So they tailor their programming to that particular niche the advertisers are paying for. What is the problem with this?

And lets say for the sake of argument that Ted is only concerned about MALES 18-54 (which by all accounts according to him, he isn't). He would still be better off advertising and having his games carried on WHUR, WTOP, WJFK, and WLZL than WTEM.

Look, I know that WHUR, WPGC, and WTOP have little interest in carrying the Washington Capitals or the Washington Redskins for that matter as well. However if Ted or Dan wrote a big enough check to purchase the airtime, it would be a done deal and those teams would be on those stations. (I'm old enough to remember when the Caps were carried by WTOP BTW) However, the Redskins would rather have somebody pay them for the rights to broadcast their games (or just own the whole darn thing themselves which is the current trend) and the Caps would get a much better deal in terms of price from Clear Channel and WTEM than Howard University and WHUR or See-BS Radio and WPGC.

Let me further state for the record if your eyes haven't glossed over yet that I don't blame Ted in the least for going with the cheaper airtime rates. It only makes economic sense for a guy who has been losing $$$$$ on the team since Day One. There was talk last year that he wanted to get the Caps onto WTWP but the airtime costs that Bonneville was asking was too high for him.

I hope you understand now that it strikes me as all kinds of odd that Ted would bash WTEM for targeting a specific radio audience when he himself targets a specific audience himself for marketing purposes. Furthermore, Czaban is right that this is a Redskins town. The evidence of that is overwhelming and it would be suicide for them to move away from Redskins coverage; especially now that there's competition on the airwaves from the team itself.

And let me once again repeat myself, last week's D.C. United-David Beckham game was a one-trick pony. It is very rare to consistently fool people with those things and it speaks more to the pop culture status of David Beckham than it does soccer. Attempting to argue otherwise is foolish.

Finally, I can't begin to explain to you just how foolish you and everybody else who complains about the lack of hockey coverage not only in Washington, D.C but in the US as a whole looks. I understand, respect, and admire your passion for the game of hockey. I agree that it is an outstanding sport and I would love nothing more than to see it grow to be as popular as the NFL, MLB, and NBA. However the reality of the situation is that we are a very small minority here. Complaining that we are being under served and shouldn't be when a lot more people would be under served by less coverage of other sports is just ludicrous. Furthermore, why should they be civil towards you, when you admittedly aren't civil towards them?

Czaban's right, grow the team, grow the market, grow the game, and the coverage of it by the media will follow. Once that happens Czaban and his ilk will mock hockey at their own risk.

Criminey, the City Paper handed Ted his lunch...

But I guess with Ted's last words on this we'll be seeing Caps ads on WHUR , WPGC, WLZL and BET now. Ted will include The Washington Blade in his print advertising realm too. Is there any other "diversity" I've missed?

Ted, You Got Pwned

OUCH! Not content just to rip on the Washington (Com)Post and other newspapers for their declining circulation rates, Ted Leonsis decided to take on Sports Talk Radio this week and Steve Czaban brutalized him in response.

If this were a boxing match and I was Ted's trainer, I would have thrown in the towel. Sorry Ted, cute little emoticons and sending you this blog's traffic statistics won't bail you out of this one. Everything Czaban said (including his irrelevant and low blow cheap shot crack about your rankings in NHL attendance) was spot on 110% correct. According to Czaban, he even smokes you in web traffic.

Ted, you'll only embarrass yourself further if you continue this fight. I'm sure you've heard the joke about the meaning of WTEM's call letters (With Testosterone. Estrogen Missing.). Will you yourself be at RFK this coming Wednesday night when D.C. United hosts the New York Red Bulls? Or will the lack of international stars playing cause you to not prioritize attending the game. I know where you'll be on October 20th and it won't be at RFK for United's season finale against the Columbus Crew. That D.C. United-David Beckham game last week was a one-shot trick pony and everybody knows it.

It utterly amazes me that when a team can bring 90K+ people to its games, has sold out every home game for over thirty years, and has a waiting list for season tickets long enough to refill the stadium more than twice that people can't understand just why they get all of the attention in town despite having just two playoff appearances in the last fourteen seasons.

It's pretty clear Ted that it's you who and not everybody else doesn't get it. And what is going to be the most embarrassing for you is when in the next month and half when you announce your radio carrier for the 2007-2008 season. Odds are very good that you'll be signing on once again with WTEM and it will be a very valid question as to why you choose to put your team on a station that not only consistently mocks your fans but one that you personally believe "doesn't get it." I know you won't even consider consider putting the Caps (or making an appearance yourself) on WHUR or WPGC (the top two overall rated radio stations in the D.C. market) even if they would let you because those two stations do not fit the demographic you're shooting for.

I know you've seen the ads from Comcast on cable about targeting your advertising. Hades Ted, you crow constantly about your targeted marketing yourself. I don't think you're putting ads on Lifetime or during Oprah despite the NHL claiming to have by far the largest female audience of the four major professional sports leagues (I wouldn't know because I don't watch the Lifetime network or Oprah). If you and other advertisers are going to be selective in where you put your advertising dollars, why shouldn't TV and radio stations cater to select audiences themselves?

Finally, in some ways I think you're lucky Ted that the (Com)Post hasn't responded to your constant broadcasting of their woes by posting their own web traffic numbers. I already know I get more traffic sent my way when Dan Steinberg throws me a link than when you do (and I obliterate all records when I post leaked pictures of new jerseys...) so I think it is safe to assume that the (Com)Post gets more traffic than you do as well. It is my understanding that Jason LaCan'treporta's Redskins blog gets the most traffic of any of the sports blogs more than the Caps do but sometimes loses to the soccer blog at the (Com)Post. (I wonder how many of those vistors are local yokels...) I however would be very interested to see what their web traffic is compared to their circulation. I would be willing to bet that their web traffic has been increasing while their circulation has been on the decline. It only makes sense and their financial situation has more to do with the fact that many companies (AOL being one of them) has had trouble finding ways to make the internet profitable. As I said before, newspapers still carry a considerable about of clout in the community at large despite the fact that their dead tree publications are dying a slow death. You can continue to willfully ignore that if you want, but you'll continue to embarrass yourself in the process.

So please Ted, as somebody who does respect and admire you, please take my friendly advice and stop this. You're only embarrassing yourself.

UPDATE: Dan Steinberg has a good and humorous round up of the whole thing. He also corrects for me the (Com)Post Blog stats and the changes have been made in the body of the post here.

Also yesterday on Drudge, this story says that the (Com)Post gets about 8.50 million visitors a month to their website.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

NHL TV Scheduling

You've got to hand it to the guys in the NHL Front Office, it's almost as if they never learn. We're constantly fed the same teams and matchups over and over again when it comes to national TV coverage. For instance, you can always count on seeing at least once on NBC a Flyers-Rangers, Rangers-Penguin Scum, Penguin Scum-Flyers, Flyers-Bruins, and Bruins-Rangers game and this year's schedule doesn't disappoint unless you're hankering for a Bruins-Flyers tilt. But it's ok because you get two Flyers-Penguin Scum and two Bruins-Rangers matchups instead.

At least they avoided shoving more Avalanche-Red Wings games at us. (That was saved for Versus)

Now a fair amount of this has to do with the NHL's current schedule format. There isn't a Caps-Kings game for somebody to pick up this year. But a quarter of the Flyers-Penguin Scum tilts will be on NBC. I can understand the "history" and "rivalry" but when was the last time the Penguin Scum and the Flyers were both in the playoffs? That isn't likely to happen again this year with the Flyers coming off their worst season in franchise history.

And speaking of the awful Flyers, they get a whopping 8 games on Versus in addition to their four games on NBC. The Colorado Avalanche, who also missed last year's playoffs, also gets 8 games on Versus but only one on NBC.

So there clearly isn't a "prior performance standard" when it comes to getting your game picked up by either Versus or NBC. The Caps get four games on Versus and three on NBC. Five of those seven combined games will be at the Phone Booth. This is better than the combined 3 appearances he had last year on NBC and Versus.

Now as I mentioned yesterday; NBC has the flex scheduling option which means they can pick up or drop games as they see fit up to 13 days in advance. This of course means that our 3 games on NBC are not set in stone and this is also an absolute nightmare for fans looking to attend these games and other games currently scheduled for later in the day. There's a total of 35 games that NBC could move into their coverage not including the games they could drop.

None of those 35 games on NBC Sundays involves the Caps; however if the Caps are dropped in favor of say Minnesota-St. Louis on February 10th, the Caps-Rangers game that day could very well end up not being televised at all if it isn't hastily moved to later in the day. NBC has an exclusive window for broadcasting and no other US network is allowed to televise an NHL game while NBC is.

Versus also has that right this year for their broadcasts on Tuesday nights early in the season and on Monday once the NFL regular season is over. This means that you won't see the Caps playing in Atlanta on November 6th unless you have a ticket to the game.

For a league that is kicking and screaming as loud as they can and desperately trying to get more attention for itself, its players, and its franchises; prohibiting the TV broadcast of ANY game is downright stupid. This is NOT how you go about building a following for yourself. Look at the Chicago Blackhawks if you don't believe me.

But it is what it is. The NHL has made their bed with this and now they must lie in it.

Otherwise, the Caps get their two token appearances per season on CBC's hockey night in Canada. The first one is in December when they visit Ottawa on the 29th and then at home on March 1st when the Maple Leafs drop into the Phone Booth and as also noted yesterday, we'll have five games on TSN.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

NHL National TV Schedule Released

TSN's is here where the Caps will have 5 appearances.

I get the others and analyze them all later.

According to the press release: NBC will have the wonderful "flex scheduling" which means they will choose their Sunday games no later than 13 days in advance which is great for wreaking havoc on people's schedules and plans. HDNet gets the same deal too.


Monday, August 13, 2007

They Fired Joe Theismann in Favor of This???

I was just watching the endless morning loop of ESPN's Sportscenter and in their preview of tonight's Monday Night Football preseason game in San Francisco, Tony Kornheiser said that he was more interested in what 49ers head coach Mike Nolan will be wearing on the sidelines tonight than anything else.

Say what you want about Joe Theismann in the booth but there's no way you'll ever convince me that he is/was worse than Tony Kornheiser. But this is par for the ESPN course. Forget "all sizzle and no steak", it's just nothing but all schlock all the time.

Furthermore, I'm not alone in complaining about ESPN's coverage of the D.C. United-L.A. Galaxy game last week. D.C. United players are upset as well and they very well should be. They played a great game in front of a large audience and got zip in the way of attention. I can only imagine just how upset they would be if they had seen the entire broadcast of the game and not just the 30 second highlight package the next day.

And remember folks, this is the network that a majority of NHL Owners and fans think can take the NHL to the "promised land."


Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sunday Smorgasbord 8-12

  • Hank Aaron held the All-Time Home Run title for 33 years before Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* broke his record. If Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* holds the record for even half as long as Aaron did, he will not be able to "pass the torch" onto his successor as Aaron did on Tuesday night. You see, Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* is already 43 years old, he'll be 59 in 16 years and steroid users hardly live that long. So my final thought on Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* breaking Hank Aaron's record is that he won't get to enjoy it on this plane for very long.
  • For some reason, the sale of the Tampa Bay Lightning strikes me as having the potential for real disaster because of too many chiefs and not enough indians. Say what you want of Head Coach John Tortorella and GM Jay Feaster, (and I certainly have) but those two guys have won a Stanley Cup and now they're taking direction from new owner Doug MacLean who is still living off his 1996 run to the Cup Finals with the Florida Panthers. MacLean for some unknown reason is seen as great hockey mind in spite of his record in Florida (which is only two and a quarter seasons) and Columbus (forget making the playoffs, a franchise still looking to post a winning record in one season). MacLean has his work cut out for him with the Ning's ugly cap situation and even worse issues in goal. If he can sort that mess out without making a bigger mess in the process, then he'll deserve his kudos.
  • After years on WMAL in Washington, D.C. the Maryland Terps moved to WJFK this offseason for their D.C. area radio outlet. Why? Well according to Maryland Athletic Director Debbie Yow, WMAL requested that Maryland pay WMAL $15,000 per event they carried and Yow balked at the idea. There are two ways to get your program on the radio, you either find a station willing to pay you for the rights to broadcast the game and the station then holds onto and sells the ads that run during your program to make their $$$$$ back. Or you can purchase your airtime (which is what a vast majority of NHL teams to) from a radio station and then you keep and sell the ads that run during your program to make your $$$$$ back that you spent on the airtime. With over 50 events, Maryland would have had to pay $750K+ to WMAL. For some reason, I don't understand why Maryland thinks that they couldn't have made much, much more than that by selling ads themselves.
  • Ok everybody repeat after me, "the defense is always ahead of the offense in August." Got that ok? Let's all calm down after the Redskins defense lead the way in the 14-6 preseason win over Tennessee last night. First of all for the detractors who are quick to point out the absence of Titan's quarterback Vince Young, the Redskins defense couldn't stop anybody last year so the fact that they were able to hold a backup quarterback to just 3 points in the first half is improvement. Now if the Redskins need Chris Samuels this badly on offense, then they are in serious trouble. However, the offensive line has been a weakness for years even with Samuels and the preseason is where players like Stephon Heyer can get a chance to improve themselves. No the Redskins aren't on their way to Super Bowl XLII but with an improved defense, they will be better than last year's 5-11. All that being said, despite all of the bluff and bluster, a 1-0 start to the preseason means about as much as a 0-1 start to the preseason. These games don't count so come in off the ledge please. (I can only imagine if the Skins had lost last night...)
  • With a thrilling double come from behind win today, the Nats were able to salvage a respectable road trip where they went 3-4. Jesus Flores has shown to be an absolute steal by Jim Bowden in the Rule 5 draft and John Lannan has not looked like an overwhelmed minor leaguer. The team still has miles to go but if they can continue to keep this never-say-die attitude when the talent rolls around, they'll be very tough to deal with and will compete in a tough NL East. But it is going to take some time to get there because the Nats are now 54-64, 11.5 games behind the New York Mets and 9.5 games back of San Diego for the NL Wild Card. The Nats elimination number from the NL East is down to 34 and 36 for the playoffs. The Nats are just one back behind the Marlins for fourth place in the NL East.
  • Lost in all the hoopla over David Beckham is the domination of the L.A. Galaxy that D.C. United had in that game and the brewing resurgence of D.C. United. The win on Thursday night put United alone in second place, three points behind New England with a game in hand on the Revolution for first place in the MLS's Eastern Conference. With today's results, D.C. is now tied for second with the New York Red Bulls however, D.C. United has a game in hand on them and two games in hand over the New England Revolution who also beat the L.A. Galaxy at home 1-0. David Beckham did not play at all today and you have to wonder just how much attention will the MLS get down the stretch of the 2007 season with pro and college football starting up while David Beckham's team doesn't even get a whiff of the playoffs.
  • Ok, this week the Nats are back in RFK after taking a day tomorrow to travel home before hosting the Philadelphia Phillies for a three game series starting Tuesday night. The New York Mets are in town over the weekend and I'll be first in line once again Saturday night to get my Abe Lincoln Bobblehead. D.C. United hits the road to face David Beckham on Wednesday night in the second SuperLiga Semifinal and then travels to Columbus to face the Crew on Saturday night. The Redskins are in Landover hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers in another meaningless exhibition game on Saturday night that is certain to have everybody overreacting no matter what the outcome of the game is.
  • Please send all questions, comments, criticisms, corrections, suggestions, and panic attacks to "capsnut" over at gmail dot com.


Friday, August 10, 2007

The World Wide Leader In Schlock

Much to my surprise, ESPN2 didn't hold up the start of the David Beckham game last night at RFK Stadium. However, nothing else about the game was much of surprise to me as it was David Beckham, David Beckham, L.A. Galaxy, and a healthy dose of Landon Donovan thrown in for good measure.

Oh, and BTW if you didn't already know, David Beckham and the rest of the L.A. Galaxy was playing D.C. United.

D.C. United actually won the game too but all you heard about on ESPN2 was David Beckham this and David Beckham that. It was a David Beckham stalker's dream broadcast. ESPN2 even dedicated a David Beckham cam to follow David Beckham as he sat on the bench.

Now I'll give the guy credit, he played despite a balky ankle on a poor field in bad weather conditions. He could have very easily hurt himself even more than he already is and used that as an excuse to not play, especially after L.A. went down a man.

But this isn't a post bashing David Beckham, this is a post bashing ESPN. Between ESPN2's fawning coverage of Beckham (we got more replays of Beckham warming up than we did of Luciano Emilio's goal, which was the only goal of the game) and the HIGH-LARIOUS Barra Brava/Screaming Eagles "We Sing Better Than Your Wife" sign directly across from the L.A. bench - that cracked me up everytime I saw it - it was tough to watch what was a very good soccer game. Well, at least for D.C. United fans.

Even Michael Wilbon was at the game to repeat his slur that the MLS has "blown by the NHL." However Michael would you have been at RFK if that game had been scheduled for a 5 pm kickoff on September 9th? I don't think so. One thing lost in all the hoopla is that Beckham is signed for five years. So that means there (should be) four more visits to Washington, D.C. If the L.A. Galaxy and D.C. United can still pack in 46,686 or more into RFK (or wherever D.C. United is playing) in 2011, then I'll be impressed.

D.C. United is back in RFK on August 22nd versus their arch rivals, the New York Red Bulls. If D.C. United can get generate half of the 46,686, I'll be surprised and maybe, just maybe concede that Wilbon is right about soccer and hockey. However, the odds of D.C. and New York generating 23K+ for a mid week match in the middle of August is rather slim. Furthermore, with the admission that the MLS "needs 25 more Beckhams" maybe the MLS isn't on the solid footing that some think it is. Nobody is clamoring for more "star power" in the NHL.

Besides, even if the MLS went out and got 25 more Beckhams, I seriously doubt it would make much of a difference for the MLS. The NASL already tried that and failed miserably. Furthermore, the more David Beckham's the MLS imports, the fewer American players the MLS develops for the U.S. National Team. While some might see this as xenophobia, the best thing the MLS does is that they help identify and develop talent for the U.S. National team. It is good for the MLS's bottom line that David Beckham is here and people are coming out in droves to watch him run up and down the sideline for an hour. However, it will be through the success of the U.S. National team that will grow the sport in the United States. Not aging foreign superstars in the twilight of their careers.

But the problem for the MLS right now is that they have to go out and get a David Beckham in order to get ESPN to pay any attention to them. This is potentially the first step down the same road that the NASL traveled. And true to form, David Beckham is the only thing that ESPN is willing to talk about. Jaime Moreno needs one goal to become the All-Time leading goal scorer in MLS history and it got passing mention (mostly on a graphic) but even discussion about Moreno was spun into more talking about Beckham. After Beckham came on the field, there was one point where D.C. United maintained consistent possession, but not a single man in ESPN's three man soccer booth mentioned a United player's name with the ball or United in general. It was all Beckham and Galaxy.

There was little interest in the MLS from ESPN before David Beckham signed on. Now ESPN is overkilling everybody on David Beckham so that when people get tired of hearing about him and pay attention elsewhere, they'll say "soccer is dead in America" and/or "what's wrong with Americans that they don't like soccer"?

But soccer not being a uniquely American sport, which is Wilbon's excuse, won't be the reason why. It will be because people like ESPN show little respect for the sports that they cover. They shove the New York Yankees down everybody's throats, especially when they're playing the Mets and Red Sox. They employ hype masters like Stephen A. Smith and Dookie Vitale who turn more people off to their broadcasts than turn on. They also promote and build signature broadcasts around bozos like Tony Kornheiser.

No wonder Dan Patrick is jumping ship...

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Front Loaded Issues

There's been much discussion this off season about the front loaded contracts that have been very popular among NHL teams and free agents who get more $$$$$ up front but less in the out years of the contract. The teams love it because they get "extra cap space" early on in the contract at the cost of "dead cap space" at the end because the salary cap figure is the average value of the contract, not the actual year-to-year salary.

Take for instance, Michael Nylander of the Caps. The Caps will have a "cap savings" of $625K for each of the first three years of his four year contract. That isn't a lot of $$$$$ but in his fourth an final year of the contract, the Caps are hit with $1.875 million of dead cap space should Nylander still be on the roster because his actual salary will be lower than his cap number.

However, one of the reasons the Caps gave Nylander a front loaded contract was to decrease his buyout number. Now the CBA's buyout provision is rather murky. From what I can tell if I am reading it right, a player is entitled to at least 1/3 of his remaining actual salary and 2/3's if he is over the age of 26 when he signs the original contract which is the case with Nylander. All buyouts remain on the team's cap number for twice the remaining years on the contract. So if a player has one year left, he remains on the cap for two. If he has three left on his contract, he remains on for six and so on. Alexi Yashin had four years left on his nine year contract with the Islanders and his buyout means that the Islanders have his "dead $$$$$" on their cap for the next eight seasons.

So let's say that the Caps want to buy out Nylander in year four of his contract. The Caps can then write Nylander a check for $2 million and Nylander is gone. However, if I read the example in the CBA correctly, the Caps get a $2.875 million salary cap hit for Nylander in the final year of the bought out contract and have another $1 million cap hit the next season as well. While the Caps would "save" $2 million of overall cap space, they increase their "dead cap" space in the process for 2010-2011 and create "dead" cap space for themselves in 2011-2012.

Now the Caps aren't alone, the New York Rangers have big issues of dead space in 2011-2012 themselves. If they buyout Scott Gomez's final year 2013-2014, they'll "clear" about $3 million in cap room and suffer an increase in their "dead cap space" for one year along with putting Gomez onto their cap for an additional season. And as mentioned before, the sooner you buyout the contract, the longer that player occupies your salary cap and the more misery you have with your salary cap.

As a matter of fact, the Caps buying out Nolan Yonkman last year in his the final year of his contract created dead cap space for the Caps last year and again this year. Though the $75K charge to the Caps salary cap won't hinder the team a bit. However, with Nylander and the extension for Captain Chris Clark, the Caps have just over $2 million of dead cap space already built into the 2011-2012 season. While I understand and accept that the Capitals aren't likely to spend the maximum amount; if they wanted to, that $2 million could very well end up being the difference between getting a player they need to compete for a Stanley Cup and not getting him.

It looks to me that this "loophole" teams and players are trying to exploit is actual a big vat of quicksand that can very easily consume a team if they aren't careful.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Take Your Record And...

Watching the Nats-Giants game last night, you could tell very early on that Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* was going to hit a home run and break the record of Hank Aaron. Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* was "locked in" as they say and with Felipe Lopez, Austin Kearns, Brian Schneider, and Bengie Molina all hitting homers ahead of Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds*, you knew the ball was flying out of AT&T Park.

Now let me first say that Bud Selig should be left alone. Yes, the guy is a National Disgrace and the sooner he steps down as MLB Commissioner, the better. However when it comes to Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds*, Selig is in a no-win situation. By "ho-humming" the chase and the achievement, Selig is getting ripped for snubbing and slighting Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds*. However had Selig gone out and been the lead cheerleader for Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds*, Selig would be getting ripped for promoting a cheater and a fraud by the same people who are ripping him for snubbing and slighting Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds*.

And don't think for a second that Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* doesn't have his cheerleaders and people quick to say "innocent until proven guilty" to begin with. However, this isn't a court of law where innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt applies. This is the court of public opinion and the rules are entirely different. But I have to wonder what the "innocent until proven guilty" ostriches think of Orenthal James Simpson? He was acquitted of murdering his wife and an unfortunate soul in 1995. I also question their "innocent until proven guilty" attitude as it relates to WWE Owner Vince McMahon who was acquitted of steroid distribution in 1994 (a fact he proudly wears on his chest ) in light of the recent Benoit family tragedy. Scooter Libby was convicted of perjury based entirely upon "he said-she said" evidence while Marion Barry was acquitted of using crack cocaine despite being caught on video using the drug. Our legal system sometimes leaves a whole lot to be desired.

It takes a special kind of dense to look at all the available evidence in this case and still believe that Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* did not take steroids. The fact that his trainer and other close associates sit in jail while he's under investigation himself is pretty damning. And even if you try to take it half way and believe Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* when he says "he didn't know" he still IMHO has a responsibility to take responsibility for his actions.

Instead Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* likes to play the victim card while he pursues his own personal glory. Make no mistake, what happened last night wasn't about the San Francisco Giants as a baseball team. It was all about Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* as he came out of the game after breaking the record in the fifth inning. Did you know that the Nats ended up winning last night? One can only wonder just how the game would have turned out had Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* stayed in and played the entire game. As stated before, he was "locked in" going 3 for 3, scoring three runs, and needing just a triple to complete the cycle. But nope, it was party time for Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds*, and his team lost for the 63rd time, 2 more times than what was supposed to be the worst team ever assembled in the history of Major League Baseball.

Finally, not only is Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* chemically enhanced, it turns out he's also mechanically enhanced too (I found that on Drudge Monday), but hey, we're all just jealous or racist or Yankee fans right? And so Mike Bacsik becomes the footnote to history and graciously as well. Personally I would have walked Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* but I don't get to make those executive decisions.

At least now the circus is over and the Nats and Giants can get back to playing and worrying about nothing but baseball. Maybe the Giants can find a way to make a run to improve their record now that Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* has his precious record. It's too late for either team to challenge for the playoffs but the least they can do is to play hard for the rest of the season instead of phoning it in like I suspect a certain player will.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Navy Ducking Maryland?

At least week's MGN kickoff party, Maryland Athletic Director Debbie Yow bluntly said that Navy had 8 weeks to agree to a rematch of the 2005 Maryland-Navy game in Bhawlmuher in 2010 or the offer would be off the table. Yow said that Maryland was offering Navy the exact same deal, a 50-50 split of tickets and revenue from the game and two years ago, Ralph Friedgen mentioned that it had the potential to be an extra bowl game for both football programs with the added bonus that Maryland wouldn't have to share any of the payout with the ACC (all ACC Bowl payouts are evenly distributed among the ACC schools).

Today we find out why Navy is dragging their feet and does anybody really feel sorry for these guys?

First of all, let's look at this from Maryland's perspective, you have a choice between going to Charlotte, NC in December or Orlando, FL in December, where would you want to go? You have a choice between a game with a payout of $750K per team or a payout or $2.250 million per team. (while all ACC schools share the bowl payouts, the larger the bowl payout, the larger budget a team has for traveling to the game)

Personally, I don't see what Navy's problem is and I wouldn't blame them for a second if they made the same decisions that Maryland did which includes going where the players wanted to go. If Navy honestly thinks the Terps snubbed them last year, why haven't they signed the deal to play in Bhawlmuher in two years and lock in a game on the schedule that the Terps can't back out of?

But Navy's AD want to play the victim card here and as a result, they aren't going to get a game with Maryland anytime soon. Too bad that a potential win-win situation here gets passed up.


Monday, August 06, 2007

No Ego Trip Here

IF I was rather egotistical about this blog I could very easily think that Larry Brooks reads this blog and is reacting to what I write about him. How else could you explain his opening sentence yesterday? Seriously, in less than a year I've caught Ol' Lar talking out of both sides of his mouth in just one column let alone within a month of columns. For Ol' Lar to openly admit that what he writes one week has no bearing on what he'll write in the future is an amazing admission. Somebody, somewhere had to have gotten to him and pointed this out.

However, I've seen my website's traffic numbers and I have no illusions about "the power of the blogsphere" so I know Ol' Lar public wiping of the egg off his face had nothing to do with me. (and for the record, I am fine with that)

But that doesn't mean we still can't rip Ol' Lar for attempting to equivocate Kevin Lowe's offer sheet lunacy. Maybe when Marcel Hossa uses the Vanek and Penner offer sheets against the Rangers in arbitration, Ol' Lar will change his tune. Because those contracts from Lowe WILL spiral player salaries to an extent and you'll see more Michel Ouellets, Karel Rachuneks, and Adam Halls to "correct" the problem under the cap.

I do give Ol' Lar credit though, he wants the players to get as much $$$$$ from the owners as they possibly can. His disdain for Martin Broduer for is well known but his silence for the Ouellets, Rachuneks, and Halls of the NHL shows he's only worried about the paychecks of the star players and nobody else.

What great guy... Don't you see why I just love unions???

And of course from the "Those Who Live In Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones" File, yes I'm going to get on Ol' Lar (though his editors deserve a fair amount of shame) for letting this nice and confusing double negative slide on by:

Such a move is not only not outside the spirit of the CBA, it is codified by the labor agreement.

You got that right???

Finally I would be remiss if I didn't point out that when Ol' Lar first attacked Lowe, I questioned Edmonton's need for a goaltender. None of Lowe's attempted signings this summer have been of a defensive nature and I laid out how most teams aren't going to pay a guy $3 million+ to sit on the bench in a baseball cap. For all the praise Ol' Lar got for his "exposure" of the Lowe-Sather friendship the first time around, I have to wonder why nobody else picked up on this glaring hole in Ol' Lar's theory???

I can't be THAT insightful can I???


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sunday Smorgasbord 8-5

  • Finally, our long national nightmare is over and Freddy Adu is now taking his whining act to Europe. The kid who chose MLS and D.C. United over an English Premier League Developmental Squad is now heading to the soccer machine of Portugal. That's right, Portugal. And reading Freddy's interview in the (Com)Post, he still doesn't get it. Three years and a half years ago when he first showed up in D.C., Freddy said and did all of the right things. He happily lugged the equipment on and off the field and yet behind the scenes was never happy with his playing time or his role. He's sounds contrite, talks about "how much he's learned" but is still looking for "comfort." For Adu, "comfort" is doing whatever he wants and he believes that's what he's going to find in Portugal. Well, Godspeed Freddy, please don't whine again when Bob Bradley doesn't start you in South Africa.
  • I was rather upset last night to see Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* tie Hank Aaron's home run record in San Diego and it has nothing to do with them now playing the Nats at home this week. It was my sincere hope that the Baseball Gods would have a sense of justice and leave Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* one short of the record. However, there is some hope, tomorrow night as the Nats will trot out John Lannan to start. Should he lose control of his inside stuff again; he very well could do to Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* what he did to Chase Utely. Yes, I know that isn't very Christian of me but that could actually be a fate worse for Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* than coming up one short.
  • Speaking of the Nats, I think it's time to break them up. They've now won nine straight at RFK and six games overall in a row. The Nats are now 9 games under .500 and only a .5 game out of fourth place in the NL East. So what has happened to the team? Well, the schedule has gotten (somewhat) easier. Record wise, the Reds were on par with the Nats when they were swept and with the sweep of the Cardinals, the Nats now have more wins than the Cards. The Nats streak could very well keep going because the Giants are out of the playoff race as well and the Nats have a better record than them as well. It is when the Nats play teams that are in the playoff chase that they have real problems which means the fun is going to end sometime around this coming Friday. But now at 51-60 the Nats are currently 11.5 games back of the New York Mets (who are leading the Cubs as I write this) in the NL East with an elimination number of 41. The Nats are 9.5 games back of San Diego for NL Wild Card with a playoff elimination number of 43. Currently, 7 teams (4 NL, 3 AL) have worse records than the Nats do.
  • After another 1-0 loss to Houston in the SuperLiga, D.C. United got out of their road doldrums with a 3-0 beatdown of New England today. I didn't get the chance to watch either game but it is good news for D.C. that they advanced to the Semifinals of the SuperLiga despite the loss to Houston. D.C. will face allegedly face David Beckham on August 15th. If David Beckham can't go, they'll have to settle for the rest of the L.A. Galaxy. But with today's much needed MLS win, D.C. pulls into a tie for third place in the East with New York, six points behind New England with two games in hand on both New York and New England. Now is the time for D.C. to make their move in the MLS standings.
  • Spooked by last year's Preseason injury-fest, the Redskins, rested most of their starters in the scrimmage with the Ratbirds. Joe Gibbs once said that he would love to have more preseason games and fewer regular season games, but I fail to understand just what is accomplished with a one hour bus ride to go hit somebody else if the starters aren't getting many reps. But then again, Gibbs has won three Super Bowls and I've only watched them on TV...
  • As mentioned above, this week the Nats head out for four games in San Francisco against Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds*. Expect the Nats to be in ESPN2 this week until Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds* breaks the record or doesn't play (which is assured of happening on Thursday when the Giants and Nats play a day game. That turnaround is too much of a strain on Big Head BALCO Barry Bonds*). The Nats then move onto Arizona to play a weekend series against the Diamondbacks that could get ugly. D.C. United welcomes David Beckham to smile, wave to the crowd, and then sit on the bench in street clothes as they try to beat L.A. in RFK Stadium for the first time in four years on Thursday night which should be on ESPN2 (unless the Arm Wrestling championships goes long). The Redskins will play their starters for about a set of downs on Saturday night at 8pm when they open up their preseason schedule in Tennessee against the Titans. That game for some reason has been picked up by the NFL Network which probably means we have to suffer through Bryant Gumbel once again.
  • As always folks, please send all comments, criticisms, corrections, questions, suggestions, and recipes for bananas foster to "capsnut" over at gmail dot com.


Friday, August 03, 2007

Fair Is Fair

Last year I took Dan Snyder to task for having the audacity to charge $25 per car for parking at the Redskins-Ratbirds scrimmage in Landover despite advertising "FREE ADMISSION!"

Well, Ratbirds owner Steve Bisciotti is doing him one better, not only is he charging for parking he's also charging for admission to the Redskins-Ratbirds scrimmage in Bhawlmuher.

Yes, I do see the fine print about "all net ticket proceeds going to the Ratbirds All Community Foundation." Operative word is "net" and even if all the $$$$$ is going off to charity, it still takes gonads to charge admission for a controlled scrimmage.

It is bad enough that the NFL charges full price for meaningless and worthless preseason games, but for these franchises to charge any kind of admission for glorified practices is even more outrageous. At least I can get a full tax write-off on the preseason games I have to buy.

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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Penner Poached

About a week after Brian Burke's temper tantrum the Ducks today let Dustin Penner go and took three first round draft choices off the Edmonton Oilers.

(No comment yet from Larry Brooks on why Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe decided not to target Sean Avery...)

Of course, I thought that the Buffaslugs should have let the Oilers have Vanek. Why? Well in both cases, the players receiving the offer sheets were being paid well above their value. And with the Oilers making questionable, at best, moves (including these offer sheets) the odds of the Oilers first round draft pick being late in the first round were slim to begin with. Imagine now if Anaheim ends up in the draft lottery next year? Something tells me, they won't miss Penner that much...

Of course, Anahiem's cap situation is not at all helped by the continuing limbo of Scott Niedermayer (already under contract) and Teemu Selanne (not under contract) between returning or retiring. That may have been the true source of Burke's frustration. While he might not miss Penner that much, he now faces the real prospect of not having Niedermayer and Selanne either.

Though give Kevin Lowe credit. He did much better homework with this offer sheet than he did with Vanek. The Ducks are in a much more precarious cap situation than the Buffaslugs were. Now Lowe is in somewhat behind the 8-ball because he has a bunch of RFA's next year. While the Oilers have plenty of cap space now, a few well written offer sheets combined with some arbitration awards can put the Oilers in their own bind. Gone too is next year's draft class (unless Lowe pulls off some trades to get a first, second, and third round picks next year) which will come back to haunt the Oilers down the road.

However, it is highly unlikely Kevin Lowe will be around long enough to have the chance to clean up the mess he's made.


Professionalizing Bloggers?

The Venerable Off Wing Opinion started a Hockey Bloggers group on Facebook which I went ahead and joined in order to take part in the credentilization of bloggers for NHL Press Boxes.

Now, my feelings are pretty well known, I don't understand why bloggers want to be in the press box and I don't believe for a second that giving bloggers access is going to help the NHL grow its audience. I don't care to rehash any of that but I will say that the VOFO's idea here IMHO takes bloggers out of the blogging arena and into the world of being semi-professional writers for Internet Sports Journals.

There is no doubt that bloggers are getting more and more attention from various outlets. As a matter of fact, while waiting for Ralph Friedgen to begin at the MGN Kickoff earlier tonight, I found this on page 206 of the 2007 Maryland Terrapins Football Media and Recruiting Guide:

Credentials may be issued to other online entities that: a)are affiliated with a national or regional media organization; b) host a website that regularly and substantially reports on University of Maryland Athletics, and c) employ for that University of Maryland dedicated website at least one full-time, permanent employee who writes a substantial majority of all material posted on the site. An online entity that is an outlet primarily devoted to the recruitment of student-athletes will not qualify for credentials.

So much for my Dook streak....

I will reiterate that I don't believe that bloggers have any inherent right to belonging in a press box anywhere even if the blogger undergoes a certification process to "clear" them to sit there. Rumor Boy has shown all of us just how any kind of access (either real or imagined) can be abused and turned into a destructive force. The lack of accountability (despite the claims of some) is a serious detriment to the credibility of the entire blogging community, not just the hockey bloggers. While taking some steps to provide that accountability (which is what the VOWO and other are trying to do) is step in the right direction, it ends up taking bloggers away from blogging and turns them into semi-professionals which is something completely different.

Finally, like it or not, all of us hockey bloggers are going to be in some way lumped in with Rumor Boy. You might notice that I barely give that clown the time of day and many of you may not know exactly who I am talking about. But the VOWO was applauding this AOL Fanhouse article (BTW, the VOWO also writes for AOL Fanhouse) earlier today. While that article is a great compilation of the various fiskings of Rumor Boy since he started spreading his garbage, I have to ask why bother? As noted in the article, the Professional Hockey Writers Association wants very little to do with him and is very likely to tear themselves apart if somebody ever decides to let him in. While he discredits the work of bloggers, attacking him only serves to give him more legitimacy which is something Ted is right about. If Rumor Boy is so bad and so wrong, ignore him. But when you make attempt after attempt after attempt to bring him down, you only drive the curiosity factor higher and higher which plays right into Rumor Boy's hands.

That my friends, is not what you want.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Rangers Go Over

If the numbers here are correct, the Rangers are now about $1.7 million over the salary cap after they accepted Sean Avery's arbitration award today. The Rangers can stay in this position over the cap until October 1st when they must immediately get under the cap.

It doesn't look to be easy for the Rangers either as Shanahan chews up $5.3 million of cap space despite a $2.5 million salary because he's over 35 (his bonuses from last season apply towards this season's cap). Though as the Genius Manager in New Jersey has shown us, there is all sorts of chicanery that can be pulled to relieve pressure from the cap.


At Least They're Talking

The buzz among hockey fans recently has been all about the talks between the NHL and ESPN about getting the NHL back onto ESPN. Of course it looks as if the NHL is going to trade their U.S. National TV contract with NBC in favor of being sequestered (again) on ESPN2.

Personally, the NHL should pass on this kind of deal. Nothing and I mean NOTHING is going to cement the NHL's status as a "second tier"/ "fringe" sport as taking themselves off of broadcast television and putting themselves on a secondary ESPN network for nine regular season games and the playoffs, including the Stanley Cup Finals. Furthermore, just because NHL games will be on the ESPN family of networks does not mean that ESPN will treat the NHL with any more respect.

The NHL should at least insist on having the playoff games on regular ESPN and the Stanley Cup Finals on ABC if nothing else. The freaking X-Games gets airtime on regular ESPN and ABC for crying out loud. Is the NHL so desperate for ESPN's attention that they'll willingly take a back seat to the X-Games?

But what this really shows is just how desperate the NHL is to find TV coverage despite all the rosy reports you hear from various League officials, owners, and other "interested observers" about how the NHL is in great shape. If the NHL was in such good shape and a "hot growing commodity" ESPN would be begging the NHL to come back, not the other way around.