Sports Outside the Beltway

Weekly Miami Dolphins Prediction

Miami(0-3) plays host to Oakland (1-2) this afternoon. Miami scored 28 points last week against the Jets but still managed to lose 31-28. The offense, at least for one week, appears to be coming together. Except Miami was playing the 28th ranked defense in the NFL last week. Will Miami soon return to their bumbling ways on offense?

Note- Oakland is ranked 27th in defense.

Much of the talk this week revolves around former Dolphin Daunte Culpepper getting the start. The bigger issue for Miami is the dismal play of the team’s defense so far this year. Supposed to be the team’s strength, instead the unit is ranked 29th in the NFL. That makes for a bad combo when the Dolphins play the 3rd best rushing team this week. Will Raider RB LaMont Jordan have a field day today?

Like the Dolphins history with the New York Jets, Raider-Dolphin games are usually determined by who has home field advantage. I’m going against that factor, for I don’t know how Miami can contain Jordan. My prediction- Oakland 27, Miami 24.


India’s Vishwanathan Anand wins World Chess Championship in Mexico

From the Times of India.

Vishwanathan Anand became the world chess champion on Saturday, after winning the global tournament in Mexico. In doing so, he replaced Vladimir Kramnik of Russia as champion, winning the tournament on points after tying a match with Hungarian Peter Leko on the 14th day of the contest, which he dominated from the start.

The tournament saw eight of the world’s top chess brains battle it out in the competition, from which Anand came out unscathed.

The 37-year-old Indian had previously won the world championship in 2000, but the achievement was valued less since at the time the chess world was split between two rival world titles.

While I’m a prolific Correspondence chess player(Over 1,000 games lifetime with over 100 going at present), I don’t follow the world chess scene much anymore. Much like my baseball viewing habits, I knew the status of the game(sport) much better twenty years ago. Like many US chessplayers my age, I can tell you all about Bobby Fischer. My familiarity with his successor, Anatoly Karpov, is almost as strong.(We both like to play a certain Caro-Kann variation. I’ve played it over 70 times, Only Karpov and four other have played it as often or more). Only by sheer fluke, do I know anything about what Annad likes to play. A 2003 Golden Knights game of mine following one of the World Champ’s 1999 games for 25 moves. Opening databases are wonderful aren’t they? Till your game leaves them, then you’re on your own. I barely managed a draw in the 2003 game.

The way the World Championships are conducted has changed. For 25-30 years starting in 1964, the champion was determined via a series of Interzonal tournaments followed by elimination matches. This method put into place after some said the old Candidates tournaments were too prone to Soviet cheating. Now we’ve come back to a system much like the one used from 1948-1962.

Congratulations to Annad. Now are Indians prouder about Annad winning the World title again or Team India winning the recent Cricket Championship.

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Thoughts about 25 years of season tickets

From the Baltimore Orioles mailing list … (reprinted with permission)

This is kind of a long ramble, but hey…its about the O’s :)

I went to this game last night….My family has had season tickets since ’82. 20+ rows back from the O’s On Deck circle. Back then we had 4. A few years into Camden Yards we increased it to 6. A few years after the tailspin began, we lowered it back to 4. 2 years ago we lowered it to 2 seats. My family is now thinking we’ll give up our seats next season. We
can’t find anyone who wants to split them anymore and at $97 a game ($45/ticket, $7 parking) to watch this crap, its just not worth it.

So I figured I’d take my nephew and go to one last game in the family seats. We rushed to make it in time for the first pitch–which Zambrano promptly used to nail the first hitter in the side.

It only got worse…and it just seemed as if he had no control other than to lay it in there. Any time he tried to actually PITCH, they took it for a ball. Only things getting over the plate were medium speed meatballs.

Finally they pulled him after it was 5-0, bases loaded 2 outs. Birkins then completed Zambrano’s night by allowing all 3 inherited runners to score.

8-0. Zambrano’s line? 2/3 inning, 8 runs. I kept repeating that in my head. 7…8…9 years ago, that would have been all the sports stations were talking about the next day. Yet today I know that if I turn on 1300 or 1570, it’ll be mostly Ravens chatter about their game in Cleveland (I’m a huge Raven’s fan, so that doesn’t bother me that much).

On the drive home (we left after the 6th inning since it was a bit sticky out and a school night and I had to get my nephew home), I called my Dad and chatted a bit. He lamented about giving up the tickets, but knew deep down the only reason he’d kept them these last couple years was for my nephew who’s a huge Orioles fan. Prior to that, we’d kept them because my mother and I were crazy Orioles fans and loved going to the games. My dad was always a tag-along and would bring the Wall Street Journal or a sailing magazine and read while my Mom and I would follow the finer points of the game.

Every Opening Day was like a holiday for my family. I would have an excuse written to get out of school to go see my dentist. What the administration didn’t realize was my Dentist was my Dad and I’d be seeing him sitting next to be at the ballgame! (side-bar, I submitted this many years ago to ESPN the Magazine for best excuse used to get out of something for opening day
and they printed it in issue #2).

Anyway, so I talked with my dad and just said “Angelos has killed my love of the Orioles. Can you believe it? A diehard fan like me and he has left me just not caring.” And its true. I used to attend or watch well over 140 games a year when I was younger. I knew the O’s TV schedule by heart and looked forward to watching each game. As the losing continued, I would watch less and less. I’d check the box scores less and less. Every Spring I would get so excited. I had to watch the first televised spring training game, even though I knew I would only see the real players for the first inning or two. Didn’t matter. It was the O’s.

And here I am now. I’m 32 years old and I feel like I’m in mourning. I sat in the old seats and it looked and felt different. I couldn’t see the Bromo-Seltzer Tower because of the monstrosity of a hotel they’re building which blocks out 1/2 the view of the outfield (not really Angelos’ fault, but still. The players are mostly mailing it in, other than Markakis. Even BRob looked a little slow and uncaring on some plays/at-bats. There were maybe 5 thousand people in the stands. There are far less employees around (nobody directing traffic in the parking lots, most concessions only had 1 cashier working).

And in that phone conversation with my Dad I realized it didn’t matter if he gave up the tickets; honestly, what exactly would I be missing? It didn’t FEEL like a fun place to come. It felt like a Shiva house (a Jewish house in mourning). I’ve gone to maybe a dozen Frederick Keys games over the last decade and I can get more enjoyment out of those games. It feels like a place people want to come! My boss has season tix to the Nationals so I’ll probably got a few of their games next year. Not that their record is much better, but they show more promise and don’t have the weight of 10 losing years hanging on them.

I’ll have positive memories of games I’ve attended in my family seats…

’83 playoffs and world series in Memorial Stadium (we had practically the
same seats/sections before the move)
Last game at Memorial
First game at Camden
Ripken’s 2131 game with my mom
Playoff runs in ’96 and ’97
Ripken’s last hit from game1 on 10/05/01

I’ll always remember last night…but for much different reasons. With all apologies to Don McLean, for me, it was the day the Orioles died.


Kevin Gandel
IT Manager
Lemek LLC dba Panera Bread

Crossposted on Soccer Dad


Upset Saturday in College Football

It was a bizarre weekend in college football, with eight ranked teams losing to teams ranked below them — seven to teams not ranked at all.

    #3 Oklahoma lost to unranked Colorado, 24-27.
    #4 Florida lost to unranked Auburn, 17-20.
    #5 West Virginia lost to #18 South Florida, 13-21 (Thursday night).
    #7 Texas lost to unranked Kansas State, 21-41
    #10 Rutgers lost to unranked Maryland, 24-34
    #13 Clemson lost to unranked Georgia Tech, 3-13
    #21 Penn State lost to unranked Illinois, 20-27
    #22 Alabama lost to unranked Florida State, 14- 21

This was on top of several other close finishes.

ESPN’s Pat Forde dubs it “Insanity Saturday” and observes that this throws the whole season out of whack.

Just that fast, the college football landscape shifted seismically beneath our feet.

Just that fast, the Red River Shootout game Saturday between Oklahoma and Texas was dropped to undercard status. For the first time in years, it’s not the marquee game in the Big 12. And for the first time in years, the league’s maligned North looks more compelling than the South. If you can believe it, the biggest game in that league next week might be unbeaten Kansas at 3-1 Kansas State — either that or 4-1 Nebraska at unbeaten Missouri.

Just that fast, the upcoming LSU-Florida showdown Saturday in Baton Rouge lost half its helium when the Gators were shocked in The Swamp by an Auburn team that had lost at home to South Florida and Mississippi State on consecutive weekends.

Just that fast, the three Big East teams that began the season in the Top 25 all have at least one loss. Louisville went down first, then West Virginia, now Rutgers. Suddenly South Florida, Connecticut and Cincinnati are the unbeaten teams in the Big East. Honk if you foresaw that in August.

Just that fast, Illinois is 4-1 and tied for first in the Big Ten at 2-0. That’s the same Illinois that went 2-10 last year, with only one victory over I-A competition.

Just that fast, we have an ACC plot twist that leaves Virginia and Boston College well out in front in their respective divisions at 3-0 in league play. Virginia was left for dead after a Week 1 blowout loss to Wyoming. Boston College was picked last in its division by at least one preseason magazine.

And just that fast, USC and LSU put that much more distance between themselves and what’s left of the pack.

The object lesson here is that no favorite is safe. Not at home, not on the road, not in league play, not out of league play. If those lessons hadn’t already been learned by Appalachian State 34, Michigan 32, and Syracuse 38, Louisville 35, they were reinforced on Insanity Saturday.

And no lead is safe. You’d think the Sooners getting up 24-7 would be enough to make Colorado quit. You’d be wrong. The Buffaloes scored the final 20 points, winning on the last play of the game — a 45-yard field goal by Kevin Eberhart.


Underdogs aren’t scared right now, by much of anyone. Players and coaches are shrugging off past history, blowing off bad losses, not worrying about falling behind and regrouping to pull upsets nobody saw coming. Nobody’s rolling over.

I’ve seen this sort of thing in college basketball before but never to this extent in football. The bottom line, though, is that Notre Dame and Alabama and Michigan no longer have an automatic recruiting advantage over South Florida and West Virginia and Georgia Tech. There’s a wealth of talent out there and plenty of television exposure to be had in the realigned conference structure. Players would rather go to a program with less prestige and start than sit on the bench and one of the Big Boys.


South Florida Upsets #5 West Virginia

A bunch of turnovers and the early exit of their star quarterback sent #5 West Virginia Mountaineers to a loss to the upstart South Florida

No. 18 South Florida is not only basking in the national spotlight, the Bulls are thriving in it. Matt Grothe upstaged West Virginia stars Pat White and Steve Slaton for the second straight year, leading rapidly rising USF to a 21-13 victory over the mistake-prone, fifth-ranked Mountaineers on Friday night.


West Virginia (4-1, 0-1) averaged 357 yards rushing in its first four games, but only managed 188 on the ground after surprisingly opening the game throwing on seven of its first 11 offensive plays.

The Mountaineers lost White late in the second quarter after the junior quarterback was hit in the right knee on a running play. He limped off the field and remained on the sideline, but did not return.


The victory before a record crowd for a USF home game (67,018), figures to propel the Bulls to unprecedented heights for a program that has only been in existence for 11 seasons. They moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly known as Division I-A, in 2001 and entered the Top 25 for the first time two weeks ago.

“It’s a big win for everybody around here,” USF coach Jim Leavitt said as he waved his left arm toward the on-field celebration. “Pretty neat stuff.”

Although many will view the result as an upset, USF is not a stranger to taking down ranked opponents. The Bulls upset Louisville at home two years ago and knocked West Virginia out of contention for a BCS bowl berth with a 24-19 upset at Morgantown last November. They moved to the brink of cracking the Top 25 for the first time with a 26-23 overtime victory at Auburn earlier this month.

In a season of stunning upsets, it may not even be surprising anymore. That’s especially true for a Florida team, where they seem to grow more top flight college football players than the other 49 states combined.

AP Photo/Chris O’Meara


New York Jets fan sues New England Patriots, seeks $184 million

Some how I knew this was coming.

NEW YORK – A New York Jets season-ticket holder filed a class-action lawsuit Friday against the New England Patriots and coach Bill Belichick for “deceiving customers.”

The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., by Carl Mayer of Princeton Township, N.J., stems from the Patriots being caught illegally videotaping signals from Jets coaches in New England’s 38-14 season-opening win Sept. 9.

“They violated the integrity of the game,” Mayer’s attorney, Bruce Afran, told The Associated Press. “This is a way of punishing Belichick and the Patriots.”

Mayer is seeking more than $184 million in damages for Jets ticket holders.

Belichick was fined $500,000 by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, and the team was fined $250,000 for violating a league rule that prohibits clubs from using a video camera on the sidelines for any purpose — including recording signals relayed to opposing players on the field. New England also must forfeit a first-round draft pick next year if it makes the playoffs or a second- and third-rounder if it doesn’t.

“They were deceiving customers,” said the 48-year-old Mayer. “You can’t deceive customers.”

But how were Jets fans Patriot customers? The Jets are who the fans bought the tickets from. If Mayer’s clients sued the Jets, the team may not want to sell them tickets any more.

I wonder if I could sue Theodore Bikel then. Some years ago, my wife and I saw the stage musical version of Fiddler on the Roof at the local playhouse. Because of a musicians strike, the only music that night was supplied by piano. Bikel had fun with the Tevye dream sequence line in the show. “There were even musicians.” I didn’t pay one hundred dollars for my wife and I to see ‘Piano on the Roof’!

Mayer and Afran, who consider themselves public interest lawyers, have been thorns in the side of New Jersey politicians for years, filing lawsuits and demanding investigations to advance their grievances. They are well known in the state but generally have had little success in their causes.

Both have lost bids for elected offices, and Mayer once served as a presidential campaign adviser to Ralph Nader.

Now we know these lawyers are crackpots. Anyone who can advise Ralph Nader to run for President is certifiable.


Scottish golfer has run-in with hotel chandelier


KILLENARD, Ireland — Marc Warren was back playing in the Seve Trophy tournament on Friday, the morning after he injured himself by accidentally smashing a chandelier with a golf club in his hotel room.

The Scotsman said he tried a practice swing with a 5-iron in his room Thursday night and hit a glass chandelier which smashed into pieces over him.

Warren was taken to a hospital where he received stitches for a deep cut in his abdomen. He also had minor cuts on his arms and head.

“There was plenty of blood and a towel I held to my stomach was covered when I arrived at the hospital,” Warren said. “But the only thing that hurt was the scratch on my head. I feel fine about playing today.”

Mr. Warren may be hurting in the wallet also. Hotel owners, my late father was one, don’t appreciate customers destroying hotel property.

Memo to Marc- Stick to practice putting on hotel rugs.

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Andruw Jones’ Braves Career About Over

It’s sure looking like Andruw Jones, who came up through the Atlanta Braves’ farm system and has been playing in the Big Leagues for the team since he was 19, is about to hit the road. The AJC’s David O’Brien reports,

In a conversation with the Journal-Constitution, agent Scott Boras was more clear than he has been to date on the subject of Jones and chances of the soon-to-be-free-agent center fielder accepting a discount to stay with the Braves.” Andruw Jones took a discount to stay in Atlanta last time,” Boras said, referring to the six-year, $75 million contract Jones negotiated with the Braves before the 2002 season, when he and his father worked out the deal with general manager John Schuerholz without Boras at the table. Jones has assured Boras he will let the agent handle negotiations this time, and Boras told him about 15 teams will have interest. “He probably took 30 or 40 million less to stay, because he likes Atlanta and enjoys playing in Atlanta,” Boras said. “But as he said earlier in the year, he wants his fair market value [this time].”

Despite Jones’ career-worst season — .222 average, 26 homers, 94 RBIs — Boras seems certain he’ll command a contract befitting a nine-time Gold Glove winner with 368 homers, including 92 homers and 257 RBIs in 2005-06. “It’s a very different marketplace than when he signed his previous contract,” Boras said. “Revenues in baseball have doubled. We all know the Atlanta Braves are making millions of dollars in profits.”

Schuerholz again declined to discuss the Braves’ intentions for Jones, or say if they’ll make an offer. Team officials have indicated privately that Boras’ asking price will far exceed what they’re willing to pay.


[Boras also] represents Braves first baseman Mark Teixeira, who’s expected to command at least $12 million in his final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent after next season. The Braves want to re-sign the former Georgia Tech star, who has 17 homers and 55 RBIs in 53 games since being traded to Atlanta.

Teixeira is a much younger player and has greater upside. It’d be a shame to lose Jones but the Braves are playing with a much more limited payroll than several other clubs and Schuerholz has shown a propensity to let aging home-grown stars leave rather than overpay.


Skip Caray Snubbed by TBS Playoff Coverage

Skip Caray has been broadcasting baseball games for TBS for over thirty years but he didn’t make the cut for their playoff coverage.

TBS named its broadcast lineup for the baseball playoffs this week, and Skip Caray was none too happy about being excluded. “It hurt my feelings, and I’m mad at myself for thinking there was any loyalty left in this business,” Caray, the longtime Atlanta Braves broadcaster, said in an interview Wednesday. “I should have known better. They can do whatever they want to do,” Caray said, “but I’ve done a lot of good work for these people, and it’s hurtful that they apparently don’t think I can do good work anymore.”

Atlanta-based TBS, in its first year of televising postseason baseball games after decades of airing Braves regular-season games, this week named three play-by-play voices to work first-round series: Dick Stockton, a former baseball broadcaster who has worked mostly football and basketball in recent years; Ted Robinson, a former longtime baseball broadcaster who is the voice of NBC’s tennis coverage; and Boston Red Sox broadcaster Don Orsillo. They join Chip Caray, Skip Caray’s son, who was named earlier to call play-by-play on TBS’ No. 1 postseason team.

“I feel like I can do a better job than a tennis announcer or a football-basketball announcer,” Skip Caray said. “I’m not knocking Ted Robinson and Dick Stockton, but point of fact is they don’t do baseball anymore and I’m there every day.”

TBS responded to Caray’s comments with a prepared statement by spokesman Jeff Pomeroy: “TBS has put together four telecast teams that we feel will best serve our national baseball audience. … We appreciate Skip’s abilities as a play-by-play announcer and look forward to his [Braves] calls for us next year on Peachtree TV, but we decided to go in another direction as we look to brand our new MLB-on-TBS playoff package.”

TBS will televise all four division series, plus the National League Championship Series. Game analysts will be Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, former manager Bob Brenly, former Cubs analyst Steve Stone and current Braves analyst Joe Simpson.

Skip Caray said “no one has given me a reason why” he didn’t make the postseason lineup.

A Braves television announcer since 1976, Caray has had his TV role reduced recently. This season he has worked mostly on radio, calling just 10 Braves games on TBS. He will work Sunday’s game on TBS, the network’s last national Braves telecast.

Caray said he’d like to be voted into baseball’s Hall of Fame along with longtime broadcasting partner Pete Van Wieren someday. “But when your employer says you’re not good enough to do the playoffs, I don’t think that helps your chances.”


Caray is a controversial figure, either loved or hated by Braves fans. I’m definitely in the former camp but his opinionated style irritates a lot of folks. That he’s a Braves homer works against him, too, as TBS is looking to brand themselves as a sports network rather than a Braves network. And of course there’s the age issue: If you’re looking to rebrand yourself, you don’t do it with a guy who’s likely to retire soon.

Still, Caray is their best baseball announcer. It’s a shame not to include him.


Tonight! Yanks clinch playoff spot

And will probably play Cleveland in the Division Series. The Yanks have the best record in baseball since the All-Star break (48-24).

They started the journey seven months ago, across the bay in spring training at Legends Field. Joba Chamberlain was not invited, Roger Clemens was not signed, Melky Cabrera was not a starter, and Carl Pavano was not hurt.

So much has changed, the season unfolding in surprising and sometimes painful ways. The Yankees lost 29 of their first 50 games, and kept stumbling into July.

“There were times,” Manager Joe Torre said, “when you felt like you’d won the lottery when you won a game.”

But the bumpy road has brought them to their expected destination, the playoffs, for the 13th season in a row. With George Steinbrenner, their principal owner, watching from a box after lunching with Torre in the afternoon, the Yankees clinched a spot in the postseason Wednesday night with a 12-4 wipeout of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Tropicana Field.

“This has definitely been the hardest one,” said Derek Jeter, who went 3 for 5 with a homer. “We scuffled early on, but everybody here knew we had a good team; we were just playing bad. A lot of people counted us out, and everybody sort of liked that.”

It does feel good, especially considering how many ‘experts’ put forks in the Yankees in May.


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