Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Top Bog Heavy

No change in the Top Three this week as Georgetown and Maryland dominated American and GW, respectively, and Virginia Tech asserted itself over Navy just in time. The Mids made the big move to #4 because the loss to Tech was their first in eight games. By beating UVa, George Mason and William & Mary, Liberty can be included in a discussion of the best teams in Virginia. As can VMI, so here's hoping we get to see them on TV both times that they play. George Mason only has two losses (LIberty and Hampton), so the Patriots should be able to move up if those teams keep winning. VCU won just enough to claw back in, but GW appears to be in disarray and a good bet to fall back out. Virginia had better beat Longwood next week; if they don't, it could take a Tobacco Road sweep to get them back in the Top 10.

12/8/08

1. Georgetown (5-1)
After losing to Tennessee, Georgetown beat Maryland and American by a combined score of 148-97. Don't poke the Hoya, kids.
2. Maryland (6-2)
Landon Milbourne's supremacy over GW was more impressive than the Milbourne identity against Michigan, but my personal favorite was the Milbourne ultimatum against Youngstown State.
3. Virginia Tech (5-3)

Hanging on to the #3 ranking like Barack Obama clutching his last Marlboro.
4. Navy (7-2)
Coach Billy Lange has proposed changing academy motto of "from knowledge, seapower," to "from knowledge, three-pointers."
5. Liberty (6-2)

Flames snuffed at Clemson, which is big in the south, but not in the Big South.
6. George Mason (6-2)

Patriots' overtime loss at Liberty presents tremendous opportunity for political statement about Patriot Act and civil liberties that would have been so witty in 2003, but not so much now. Why couldn't they have lost to the Citibanks?
7. GW (3-2)
Karl Hobbs still weighing offer from the Obama Administration to become Undersecretary of Barely Controlled Rage.
8. VCU (5-3)
Larry Sanders is averaging three blocks per game; expect him to start at tackle for the Redskins next week.
9. VMI (6-2)

Keith Gabriel > Peter Gabriel > Roman Gabriel
10. Hampton (5-3)
Beat Howard 45-39 in Madison Square Garden; fortunately, Knick fans in attendance able to appreciate a game where the winner shoots 32%.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Bog Update

Way too many Bog matchups going on to wait a whole week for an update, so here goes. #1 Georgetown's battering of #2 Maryland earned the Hoyas a nice break until they face #8 American on Saturday. G'town should coast but the Eagles are in a Bog do-or-die period for the next two weeks. After gagging at home against the Mount, they have games against #7 GW, UMBC and Maryland after they play Georgetown. Going to be tough for them to stay in the Top 10 if they go less than .500 in that stretch.

Speaking of the Terps, they can extend their Big 10 win streak to seven games against Michigan tonight. The Wolverines are 5-1, but only one impressive win (UCLA); still, when you've lost 20+ games three straight years, you take 5-1 and run. Maryland get's GW in the BB&T on Sunday, so 6-2 is just as likely as 4-4.

Beating Maryland could mean a big move up for the Colonials due to losses by UVa, VaTech, and #4 George Mason. To be fair, Tech nearly knocked off Wisconsin and the Hokies three losses have been by a total of seven points to quality teams. Still, they'd better take care of Navy on Sunday, or they could find themselves in the bottom half of the Top 10, or out altogether.

Virginia, on the other hand, is still reeling from its home loss to Liberty; that, and the fact that teams have figured out they'd better guard Sylven Landesberg. In the Cavs three wins, he had 28, 21, and 22 points; in their three losses, 17, 16, and 10. Fortunately, they've got a couple weeks to get ready for Longwood.

And what to make of Liberty? The Flames have beaten William and Mary, UVa, and George Mason, and freshman Seth Curry has shown flashes of big bro' Steph's jumpshot and big play demeanor. Having already played Montreat and Coker, Liberty should be able to pad its win total with contests against Anderson and Cincinnati Christian, but also has yet to face Clemson, St. Louis and Northern Colorado in its non-con. Hard to believe that the Bog Games of the Year could be the two between VMI and Liberty.

VMI fell out of my Top 10, but a home win against Winthrop tonight would certainly get them back on track. As for the rest of my Top 10, #5 Navy is another team with a chance to move up but Tech at Cassell will be tough sledding. #4 George Mason had better put the Liberty game behind them and get ready for CAA opener Drexel. #9 JMU should take note of recent Bog team "upsets" tonight and not take Longwood for granted. The Lancers have already got four wins this season.

Tonight, the TV is thick with Bog action. I'll be watching Maryland-Michigan, Towson-UMBC, Richmond-ODU, and even a little VMI-Winthrop.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Stephen Curry has a little brother

Unbelievable. Two years ago in the NCAA Tournament, Stephen Curry announced his presence to the college basketball world with 30 points in Davidson's first round loss to Maryland. Last year his Wildcats came within a whisker of the Final Four. So when Steph's baby brother Seth graduated from Charlotte Christian high school last spring he must have been inundated with major Division I scholarship offers, right? Okay, he's maybe 6-1, 180, but big brother Steph has panned out pretty well, so surely none of the big schools wanted to miss on another Curry, right?

Wrong. Seth Curry is now a freshman at Liberty (#30 in the above photo, if you haven't figured it out already) in the mighty Big South conference, the home of March Madness bracket busters Winthrop and Coastal Carolina. And, don't look now, but the Liberty Flames are 5-1 with wins over Virginia, George Mason, and William and Mary, and their leading scorer is one S. Curry with 22 ppg. Granted, UVa is not Duke and George Mason is not Georgetown and the Flames' other two wins are against Coker and Montreat. The Big South is not even a mid-major, so Liberty will have to substantially improve its 0-1 conference record for Curry to match his brother's impact nationally, but something tells me that come March, plenty of major college assistant coaches are going to have some explaining to do. Again.

Big South Bog

Another week, another Big South team enters the poll. With wins over Montreat and Coker, the Liberty Flames' 4-1 record is a bit deceiving, but the victory at UVa gives them a legitimate entry into the Bog Top 10. At the other end of the spectrum, Georgetown dominated Maryland so thoroughly in the Old Spice Classic at Disney World that the Terrapins' impressive performance against Michigan State faded like Cinderella's dress after midnight. Virginia's fairy tale season imploded with a home loss to Liberty followed by a road downer at Syracuse; not coincidentally, Sylven Landesberg was held under 20 in both losses. Navy has won five straight since dropping its opener at Towson and George Mason has been strong save for a slipup against Hampton. GW is back in also, but nobody in the 6-10 spots is safe with all the quality looking on from just outside.

1. Georgetown (4-1)
Hoyas' win over Maryland was so anticlimactic, the band played "Don't Stop Believing" at the final buzzer as the arena faded to black.
2. Maryland (4-2)
Terps' performance at the Milk House over the weekend only slightly worse than Gus Van Sant's political biopic, "Milk."
3. Virginia Tech (4-2)
Hokies are 38-118 from three-point range this season. Who is their shooting coach, Plaxico Burress?
4. George Mason (5-1)
A loss to Hampton is all that stands between the Patriots and a Number One ranking; that, and BCS voter bias.
5. Navy (5-1)
Academy officials surprised that the Village People's "In the Navy" doesn't jazz the home crowd quite as much as "YMCA."
6. Virginia (4-2)
Home loss to Liberty means Virginia misses chance for a Big South sweep, a feat not achieved since William Tecumseh Sherman marched from Atlanta to Savannah in 1864.
7. GW (3-1)
Colonials fans incensed that the Washington Post gave more coverage to Georgetown-Maryland than GW-UMBC.
8. American (4-2)
Eagles haven't played a home game since November 17; apparently Bender Arena is the temporary home of the Obama transition team.
9. James Madison (4-2)
JMU went 1-1 on the weekend; the Duke won at Fordham but nobody beats New York City holiday traffic.
10. Liberty (4-1)
Toughest part of the Flames schedule is finding Montreat and Coker.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Turkey in the Bog

Hoyas fend off the Drexel Dragons to stay unbeaten and unchallenged atop the poll this week, but their upcoming trip to the Old Spice Classic could get interesting, especially if they cross paths with the Terps. Maryland barely escaped Vermont, and Virginia seems to have filled the void left by Sean Singletary's departure. Rankings get pretty tricky after that, but I'll keep VATech up on quality losses (Xavier and Seton Hall), and Mason below VCU because of a bad loss to Hampton, despite two decent road wins (Vermont and East Carolina). Sort of a pick 'em after that, but Mount stays after an idle week and VMI still riding on the win at Kentucky, but they need to start getting some D1 wins to stay in the top 10. Lots of teams waiting in the wings, including GW, Navy, ODU, UMBC, and James Madison. Trying to sort them out is more sleep-inducing than second helpings on Thursday.

1. Georgetown (2-0)
Hoyas chase the Dragons out of Verizon Center.
2. Maryland (3-0)
Overtime win against the Catamounts means free Vermont Teddy Bears for all fans in attendance at Comcast Center.
3. Virginia (3-0)
Sylven Landesberg is now my second favorite Landesberg, behind Steve Landesberg - whose portrayal of Detective Arthur Dietrich on "Barney Miller" remains unparallelled in television history.
4. Virginia Tech (3-2)

Three straight wins followed by two straight losses - another proud tradition of Hokie basketball.
5. VCU (2-1)
VCU's loss at Rhode Island featured hot Ram-on-Ram action.
6. George Mason (3-1)

Patriots lose to Hampton Pirates, beat East Carolina Pirates, have yet to face Seton Hall Pirates, Somali Pirates, Pirates of Penzance, or Johnny Depp.
7. Mt. St. Mary's (1-1)
Mount legend Jim Phelan went into the College Basketball Hall of Fame Sunday with Billy Packer, Charles Barkley and Dick Vitale. The acceptance speeches are still going on.

8. American (3-1)
AU running new offensive scheme, "Dude, where's Garrison Carr?"
9. VMI (3-1)
Keydets' leading scorers are identical twin brothers, Travis and Chavis Holmes, the best Holmes ballers since Baskerville.
10. Towson (2-1)
Because there needs to be a sports story from Towson that doesn't contain the phrase "record-setting Olympic swimmer."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Bog Blood

With a stunning season-opening win against Jacksonville, Georgetown remains atop the Bog Poll this week. Virginia Tech posted shaky wins - barely holding off Mount St. Marys and needing overtime to take out Gardner Webb, who lost to Longwood. Most impressive win of the week goes to new Top 10 entrant VMI, who beat Kentucky at Kentucky but could not do the same at Virginia, which reentered the poll after falling out last season. Old Dominion gets runner up in the "Best Win" category with a victory at Charlotte, and the Terps, VCU, and Mason held serve. The "Blown Opportunity of the Week (BOOTW?)" Award is a tie between Towson, who trounced Navy and then lost at Niagara, and Howard, who followed an impressive win over Oregon State with a loss at Navy.

1. Georgetown (1-0)
Over-under on "Monroe Doctrine" references for the 2008-2009 season set at 324.
2. Virginia Tech (2-0)

Malcom Delaney made as many free throws as Mount Saint Mary's attempted, one of the little-known perks of ACC membership.
3. VCU (1-0)
TJ Gwynn went 8 for 8 against The Citadel, the best performance by a Gwynn since Tony hit .394 in the strike-shortened 1994 season.
4. George Mason (2-0)

George Mason's new mascot inspired the Patriots to a 37-point victory in their home opener. The fact that their opponent was an Ivy League cellar dweller was of no significance.
5. Maryland (2-0)
Bucknell guard Darryl Shazier went to Menchville High School. So we know he's good people.
6. ODU (1-0)
Gerald Lee is from Finland; curously, his teammate Ben Finney is not from Leeland.
7. Mt. St. Mary's (1-1)
Having beaten Loyola, Mount sets its sites on Georgetown and the Bog Poll's prestigious Cardinal Hickey Cup.

8. Virginia (1-0)
The Sylven Learning Center, where Cavalier opponents get schooled.
9. VMI (2-1)
After losing to UVa, Keydets thump Maryland Bible.
10. Morgan State (1-1)
Head coach/blogger Todd Bozeman tracks opponents substitutions on Twitter during games.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Bog Poll - Return of the Hoya

Okay, so college basketball starts this week, and that means it's time for a new Bog Poll. Last year, Georgetown went wire-to-wire as my top-ranked team. The competition was so weak not even a second round NCAA Tournament upset by Davidson could knock the Hoyas off the Number One perch. Yes, five other teams in the Poll made the NCAA and a bunch more went to the NIT and CBI but none were able to win consistently enough to throw a scare into Georgetown. So for now, the men from the Hilltop are still in the top spot.

Lots of questions follow the Hoyas. Can Virginia Tech's youngsters improve enough to offset the loss of Deron Washington? Can the CAA get two or even three teams to the NCAA Tournament, after missing last year's Big Dance? Are American, Mount St. Mary's, and UMBC one-year wonders? Can Virginia and Maryland avoid the ACC basement? Will the MEAC or the Patriot Leaague have more teams in my Top 10? My friends, only time will tell.

1. Georgetown
Obviously, Jeremiah Rivers was the player to be named later in the Patrick Ewing Junior transfer.
2. Virginia Tech
The Hokies basketball team will be better than the football team? Ha! Good one. Next you'll try to convince me that the state voted for a Democrat in the presidential election.
3. VCU
Jamal Schuler is not walking through that door! Will Fameni is not walking through that door! Eric Maynor is not walking ... what? Wait a sec' ... Okay, Eric Maynor is back - apparently his petition for a 15th season of eligibility was approved.
4. George Mason
Patriots' most promising newcomer is a 7-footer- their mascot.
5. UMBC
Jay Greene averages fewer turnovers per game than Jason Campbell.
6. American
Can someone please explain to me why American Eagle Outfitters is not the official outfitter of the American Eagles?
7. Maryland
Terps' three and four-guard offenses more effective than their don't-guard defense.
8. Mount St. Marys
Mount St. Mary's hasn't been ranked this high since the Princeton Review published the "Top 10 Colleges Your Parents Don't Know Are Party Schools."
9. ODU
Gerald Lee's signature dunk at the end of a fast break is known as the Finnish finish.
10. Morgan State
It's a Bear market, right?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Classics












I don't know who writes the sports headlines at Comcast.net, but somebody should send him (or her) a Webster's Dictionary as an early Christmas gift. Using the word "classic" to describe last night's Monday Night Football clash between the Saints and the Vikings makes about as much sense as kicking to Reggie Bush after he returns two straight punts for touchdowns. Yes, the Vikings won on a last-minute field goal less than two minutes after Saints' kicker Martin Gramatica missed a 46-yarder. And, yes, the oft-criticized Bush had two astounding touchdowns on punt returns and might have had a third if he had not slipped to the turf as he cut back across the field. The Vikings' points came in equally unconventional fashion, as they scored on a blocked field goal and a pass thrown by Chester Taylor, who normally finds himself clearing space for Adrian Peterson.

You want to call it dramatic, that's fine with me. Vikings coach Brad Childress probably saved his job, and Gramatica probably lost his. The thrill of Bush's returns was complemented by several hi-def hits and blocks in the second half. One of those hits knocked Minnesota QB Gus Frerotte out of the game after he completed a pass to Bernard Berrian for 36 yards. Frerotte returned one play later and marched his team to the end zone.

So there were some great plays, some big hits, but I can't think of one reason to call it a classic, something that would stand the test of time. Last week's MNF game pitted hated rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore battling for the top of the AFC North. As the defenses dominated, the result seemed more a question of survival than execution. There were a lot of penalties and punts, but that was more a testament to the strength of the defenses than the offenses' ineptitude. The main question in last night's game was how many plays could make the blooper reel.

New Orleans did not attempt a punt in the first half because three straight possessions ended in turnovers. One of the two fumbles that the Saints did not lose came when Drew Brees wasn't ready for the snap on a shotgun formation; since the ball hit him in the shin, it probably wouldn't have mattered if he was. The Saints best scoring opportunites came as Bush awaited Minnesota's punts; and for some reason, the Vikes kept kicking to him. Minnesota punted a total of seven times, including five in a row in the second half. Neither team rushed for more than 60 yards on the night. Throw in the oddity that referee Ed Hochuli has become and you've got yourself a football game as envisioned by Tim Burton: oddly beautiful and compelling, but eerily unsettling because something is just not quite right.

The only reason I watched to the end was because of a very entertaining Yahoo Sports Live Blog. I'm not a bettor, but I'm guessing most of the others people who stuck it out were waiting to see if New Orleans could cover the three point spread. Better luck next week, for all of us, I hope.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Michael Phelps needs some new vines

Michael Phelps came home to Maryland for a "Parade of Gold" on Saturday, a wonderfully small town moment that got national coverage. The parade also honored his USA Swimming teammate Katie Hoff and Paralympian Jessica Long - both Maryland natives - and included his family (Mom Debbie in Chico's finery, no doubt), the principals of the public elementary, middle and high schools he attended, as many local politicians as they could find cars for, and a number of high school marching bands, flag twirlers and the like.

Like Santa at the end of the Macy's parade, Phelps drew cheers and screams of joy as he waved to the crowd from atop a National Guard Humvee. Some fans travelled across several states and some only several blocks, but all jumped to their feet to catch a glimpse or a picture of America's Olympic hero.

And what did the greatest swimmer of all time choose to wear for this grand occasion? You tell me, because that hoodie up there almost defies description. Why not a Team USA jacket, something in red, white and blue, or even a North Baltimore Aquatic Club Shirt? I can't believe Speedo wants their spokesman looking this bad. Get a queer eye on this guy, call Tim Gunn, whatever, but put some lipstick on this pig, please.

Sadly, we've seen this particular fashion disaster before. Back in Beijing, Phelps popped into the USA Basketball locker room to chat with LeBron, Kobe and Coach K, and was rocking the exact same shirt. Maybe he's been travelling so much, it's the only thing he had clean, maybe it's his lucky shirt, maybe his mom set it out for him. I'm just glad he got rid of the hat.


Parade photo from AP, Beijing photo from Getty Images.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Great moments in debate history

Abraham Lincoln vs. Stephen Douglas, 1858
This was the big one, the benchmark for all future discussions of political debates. Lincoln and Douglas squared off seven times in less than two months in their campaign for the Illinois seat in the United States Senate. Lincoln lost the election, but used the accompanying publicity as a springboard to the Republican nomination for president two years later.

William Jennings Bryan vs. William Howard Taft, 1908
Losing three presidential elections hardly tarnished the legacy of William Jennings Bryan, who served in Congress, as Woodrow Wilson's Secretary of State, and famously argued against Clarence Darrow in the Scopes Trial. His debates with Taft were remarkable in that they were recorded for the phonograph and can be purchased still today.


John F. Kennedy vs. Richard Nixon, 1960
The first televised debate was scored a win by those who only heard it on radio, but Kennedy appeared far more comfortable and, let's face it, attractive in front of the camera than Nixon, whose career took eight years to recover.


Ronald Reagan vs. Walter Mondale, 1984
Every ounce of the Gipper's charm was on display in this brilliant reversal of a campaign issue that the Democrats strove so unsuccessfully to exploit. Reagan's line was so good and so expertly delivered, even Mondale had to chuckle, thinking all the while, "There's no way I can beat this guy, is there?"

Michael Dukakis vs. Bernard Shaw, 1988
Dukakis's opponent in the debate was actually George Bush, but his surpisingly unemotional reply to moderator Bernard Shaw's question of whether the candidate would support the death penalty in a hypothetical case where his wife was raped and murdered drew a flat response from viewers.


Lloyd Bentsen vs. Dan Quayle, 1988
When the Veep candidates took to the podium, Quayle gave Bentsen a belt-high fastball when he compared his own experience to that of John Kennedy, and Bentsen swatted it out of the park with perhaps the most famous putdown in debate history. You can almost see Quayle blink away the stinging tears.


Frank the Tank vs. James Carville, 2003
Okay, technically, this was not a political debate, not a real event, and not the funniest moment in this movie by a long shot, but still, how often do you see James Carville at a loss for words?

Flip-flopper!



First he's in, then he's out, and now he's in. Really. He means it this time. John McCain will be at the presidential debate tonight in Oxford, Mississippi. Which is good, because otherwise I'd have to watch the end of the Orioles' game as the hometown team goes for nine straight losses.

Cornfield of Republican Dreams


The Cookie Polls are old news, forget about Obama Girl, let's get to the heartland of the matter. That's right, it's the amazeing Sara Palin corn maze, part of a 16-acre labyrinth at the Corn Maze at the Butterfly Farm in the presciently named town of Whitehouse Ohio.

Video available at myfoxtoledo.com.

Will they or won't they?


Right now, the biggest question regarding tonight's presidential campaign debate is not about the war in Iraq or the economy, but rather the more existential query of whether it will happen at all. John McCain wants to delay until the financial crisis bailout legislation is finished, Barack Obama says there's no need to wait, and University of Mississippi officials say they are ready to go forward. Dan Balz of the Washington Post offers a nice little primer to get you ready.

We'll know for sure in a little less than 12 hours, but if it falls through, here are a few backup plans: Sweet Home Alabama with the lovely Academy Award-winning Reese Witherspoon on USA Network; What Not To Wear on the Learning Channel, where a former exotic dancer solves her "problem" of wearing shirts that are too short; Kelly's Heroes, a WWII classic starring Clint Eastwood, Don Rickles and Telly Savalas on Turner Classic Movies; or if you must have eloquent statements and dramatic posturing, WWE Smackdown, featuring Triple-H and his partner/rival Jeff Hardy in a tag-team battle with MVP and The Brian Kendrick. And of course random CSI and Law and Order episodes about every 10 channels or so depending on your cable provider.

Palin speaks!

Reporters covering Sarah Palin's tour of 9/11 memorial sites yesterday scored a major get when the Republican Vice Presidential candidate paused to answer a few questions on camera.



Palin has conducted sit-down interviews with ABC, Fox, and CBS, but this was her first press conference, if answering four questions can be called a conference. No earth-shattering revelations in the video, but no laugh lines either. She stated standard party lines on 9/11 and the Bush Doctrine and neatly danced around a reporter's question about the reelection of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, whose trial started yesterday. No pigs, pitbulls, lipstick, or Bridges to Nowhere. Let's see Tina Fey try to make this funny.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Huckabee TV show a reality

Former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee will host a talk show on Fox News airing this Saturday at 8:00 Eastern Time. Huckabee made the announcement on his Huck PAC blog and Fox News confirmed the announcement. The show will be taped Saturday before a live audience and the first guest will be Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Other than that, precious few details about the show have emerged.

This move makes so much sense the only surprise is that it took so long to happen. Huckabee, who lost 100 pounds while governor, can do the obligatory diet and exercise segments himself. His band, Capitol Offense, can handle the musical entertainment. Throw in sports, weather and a goofy sidekick (Fred Grandy?), and you got yourself a show.

Still some unanswered questions here. Will "Huckabee" get big ratings in Iowa but tank in New Hampshire? Will Chuck Norris handle security? Will John McCain cancel an appearance on the show? Can't wait to find out.

Letterman livid over McCain bailout

Republican presidential nominee John McCain's suspension of his campaign in order to help address the nation's financial crisis included cancelling his appearance on David Letterman's Late Show last night, a decision that the notoriously cranky host received none too graciously.



Letterman made sure to acknowledge McCain's heroic service to his country before stomping him like so many bunches of Zinfandel. Dave's been known to hold a grudge (see Winfrey, Oprah), so don't be surprised if tonight's Late Show features the "Top 10 Real Reasons Why John McCain Cancelled." My version would be as follows:

10. Couldn't remember which house he left his car keys in.
9. Went lipstick shopping with Sarah Palin (favorite shade: Red State Red).
8. His wife, Cindy McCain, prefers Last Call with Carson Daly.
7. Straight Talk Express bus driver forgot his EZ Pass and got stuck in traffic.
6. Found out Paul Shaffer is Canadian and can't vote in the election.
5. Didn't want to miss "Dancing with the Stars" results show (rooting for Cloris Leachman, natch.)
4. Furious when he found out the trip would not include one last
game at Yankee Stadium.
3. Went over to Joe Biden's house to watch reruns of FDR's televised speeches.
2. Too stunned by Clay Aiken's coming out to appear in public.
1. Luke Russert told him that smart people watch Katie Couric, not David Letterman.

Barney Frank would prefer Superman?

Massachusetts' Representative Barney Frank, the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, criticized Senator John McCain yesterday, comparing him to Mighty Mouse. And not even the real Mighty Mouse, but rather this brilliant perfomance art sketch by the late American comic genius, Andy Kaufman.



After his obscure yet dismissive characterization of the Republican nominee for Commander in Chief's plan to assist in the federal government's $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Frank went on to crush McCain in more unambiguous fashion, saying, "He hasn't been involved ... He doesn't know anything about it ... He doesn't bring anything to it." Straight Talk Express, indeed!

Note that Kaufman is not wearing a "Mighty Mouse costume" in the above clip. That detail appears to have been added by Rep. Frank. I'll forgive the slip, considering the stress that Frank has been under recently, but in the future, I hope he keeps his little fantasies to himself.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Whacko for Flacco!

Attention Greater Baltimore sporting goods retailers: you might want to increase your Joe Flacco jersey sales orders. The rookie quarterback didn't complete a pass longer than 15 yards, but he made a powerful love connection with the fans at M&T Bank Stadium with his poised play in the Ravens' 17-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday. The "Let's go, Flacco!" cheer could be heard throughout the game, but when the Ravens' first round draft choice rumbled 38 yards for a third quarter touchdown, the crowd noise nearly drowned out the radio broadcast (so did my car horn honking). For all the fuss about the Flacco, though, the story of this game was told in the trenches.

Baltimore dominated the line of scrimmage so completely in the second half that the Ravens held the ball for 23:43 to the Bengals' 6:17. And that's not because of Cincy's quick strike offense; the results of the visitors' four second-half offensive possessions were: three and out, turnover on downs at the Ravens' 36 yard line, three and out, and turnover on downs at the Ravens' 26. Their only touchdown of the day came on a 65-yard fumble recovery by Johnathan Joseph. The next time the Bengals come to Baltimore, Marvin Lewis might want to remind his offense where the end zone is because the Cincinnati O hasn't scored a TD at M&T since 2006.

On offense, the Ravens stuck to a ground attack that churned out 226 yards on 46 carries. The sizzle came from Flacco's bootleg jaunt and a double-reverse by Mark Clayton that went for a 42 yard touchdown, but the steak was fullback Le'Ron McClain (19 carries for 86 yards and rookie tailback Ray Rice (22 for 64). Flacco was never sacked as he completed 15 of 29 passes and if he was pressured, he didn't seem flustered. Cincinnati is not known for defensive prowess, but Baltimore had a solid day and the imminent return of Willis McGahee along with improvement from Flacco bodes well for this unit.

Now, back to those jerseys. In a completely unofficial and unscientific poll, I did a quick phone survey of Baltimore area sporting goods retailers this morning. Shenk and Tittle in White Marsh seemed to be most on the ball with about 180 Flacco jerseys in stock and ready to move. Their preseason top seller was a surprise to me: Matt Stover. Flacco got hot when he was named as the starter and apparently, Ray Rice will be in demand once it becomes available. Modells in Reiserstown was out of stock in Flacco adult sizes but had plenty for kids. Champs in Eastpoint only had 10 in stock but expected them to go quickly, outselling previous favorites Ed Reed and Todd Heap. Sports Authority in Glen Burnie had about 50 and would be increasing its monthly order as Flacco overtook Ray Lewis, Stover, Kelly Gregg(?) and Heap. Finally, Dick's Sporting Goods' website lists the Flacco alternate black jersey as its top selling Ravens item.

Now, two names in the previous paragraph jump out at me: Matt Stover and Kelly Gregg. Stover has longevity (he's the only Cleveland Brown veteran on the team) consistent productivity and he is well-known as a good guy in the community, but how many NFL teams have the kicker as one of their top-selling jerseys? According to two salespeople I spoke with, Stover is hard to find, so perhaps its rarity makes it more desirable. As for Gregg, well, he was the fourth-leading tackler on the defense last year and he was tied or second in sacks with three. Hmm, I'm sure I'm missing something.

In any case, I'll be checking back with those stores in the coming weeks to track the Flacco sales. The Ravens' next home game is in two weeks against the Browns. Expect to see an influx of Flacco.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Apocalypse? Wow!

Happy Ramadan, everybody!

On Friday, I wrote a little bit about Barack Obama and, in the interest of equal time, said I would post something about John McCain's nomination of Sarah Palin later. I figured I'd wait out the long weekend and let things settle down a little bit, but now it seems we're going to need a few more days, weeks, maybe months. We'll know by November 5, anyway. Unless it ends up in the Supreme Court, again.

Talk about dominating the news cycle. Palin's story is Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, and Nastia Liukin combined. Palin was all over the Internets all weekend long. Even the sports blogs were not immune as the kickoff of college football had to share time with Palin the basketball player, Palin the sports broadcaster and Palin the beauty queen, all of which engendered the quiet, observant and respectful commentary so synonymous with the blogosphere.

In fact, Palin's only competition was a story with a lot of similarities: Hurricane Gustav. Let's face it, the Palin Watch is a lot like a hurricane story. It forms at a distance, gathers strength, weakens, becomes more threatening as it approaches land and nobody knows what will happen until it happens. Meanwhile, we all prepare as we think we need to and the media whips everyone into a frenzy. Okay, so no one ordered an evacuation, and the political analysts aren't wearing rain gear on camera, but everybody talks about it, reports the slightest shred of news and/or speculation related to it, and compares it to past events of similar magnitude.

All of these stories end the same way though. Nobody has a definitive answer. Was Palin a good choice? They don't really know. Will the hurricane be Category 4? They don't know. Will there be something else to talk about a week from now? Of course. For instance, the NFL starts on Thursday.

None of this really matters, though, because the world is going to end in 2012, anyway. I learned this recently when I wrote an item for Fourth Place Medal about the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Many visitors to my story were very disappointed that it was not an analysis of the end of the world.

So, go ahead and vote however you want. None of these candidates will have a chance to serve a second term.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Politics, shmolitics

Welcome back to FitzFacts. My five week stint over at Fourth Place Medal is done, and the kids are back in school, so I should be hitting the blog pretty hard (emphasis on should). College football started last night, the Ravens are in a bigger quarterback dilemma than they expected, and the Orioles are limping into September, but the topic of the day has to be politics: Barack Obama's historic nomination and John McCain's vice presidential candidate selection.

Let's start with Obama - maybe I'll get to McCain next time. Like most of my political knowledge, I learned about Obama through the pages of the New Yorker and the programs of National Public Radio.
The New Yorker profile was a precursor to the typical "Could this guy run for President?" article that I have read in that magazine about so many politicians (John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani, Hillary Clinton, etc.), but his appearance on the NPR show, "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me," in August, 2005, really caught my ear (Okay, I'm pretty sure I didn't hear the original broadcast, but as Obama's political star rose, they replayed the segment several times).

Obama was nominally on the show to play a quiz game, but most of his time was taken by a discussion of his attack on the overemphasis of 8th grade graduations. He felt that many schools and families were overreacting with limousines and parties for an achievement that warranted not much more than a handshake and a ride to the first day of high school. By the end of the segment, he had won over the hosts (and me, too). After all nothing warms my heart like an attack on innocent children, although now might be a good time to confess that my own 8th grade graduation featured a dinner and a dance with a live rock band. To be fair, the band was led by our concert band teacher, and they brought the house down with Kool and the Gang's "Celebration."

So, I have been a fan of the guy ever since. I watched some of the speech last night, not so much for particulars but just to absorb the moment a little. Even though I am going to vote for him, I still can't quite believe he might actually win. People can talk about inexperience, age, the Iraq War, hope, and how many houses all they want, but I still believe race will have a greater impact on this presidential campaign than all those factors combined.

I know we'd all like to think we've moved beyond that and I hope we have, but I am not entirely convinced. I remember being in high school and watching one of the candidates for student government president check the list of students marked absent, counting white kids as votes he'd lost and black kids as votes he'd gained. A few years later, when I was working at GW, the student body president was forced to resign because he referred to his black opponent with the N-word in a private conversation. That was more than 15 years ago, but I'm not sure we've changed enough.

I doubt I'll ever watch his entire speech. I prefer to go looking for this one:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Whither FitzFacts?

Those of you who still check up on this blog, thanks for doing so. You might be wondering why I didn't post anything for about six months and then suddenly, an Olympics piece, and then, just as suddenly, nothing.

That post was sort of an audiiton for Yahoo! Sports, where I am now part of the Fourth Place Medal team, a group of bloggers covering the Olympics. Check us out the following link.

I'll be over there until Closing Ceremony, and then rolling back here in the fall.

USA! USA! USA!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Citius, Altius, Phelpsius

With the Opening Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics less than four weeks away, let’s take a look at what the big stories will be. Let’s see … off the top of my head, there’s Michael Phelps’ pursuit of Mark Spitz’s seven gold medal record, there’s USA Basketball’s quest to regain world supremacy in the hardwood ‘hood, and there’s Tyson Gay’s attempt to recover from injury and set the world record in the 100 meters without the aid of wind, steroids or ruby slippers. What else?

Checking over at NBC.com, the TV network home of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, I find a promo for tonight’s schedule, featuring Nashville Star, America’s Got Talent, and Dateline NBC, which informs me that I might be rich if I own some of the $30 billion of unclaimed property held in state treasuries across the nation. Riveting programming no doubt, but no Olympic hype.

How about this link entitled NBC’s All-American Summer? Looks promising, but Apolo Oh No, now I am awash in America’s Got Talent, the freak show of mediocrity which will never be known as “America’s Got Ratings.” Desperate for info, I type “Olympics” into the nc.com search bar and come up with 939 results! Excellent! The first three are an NBC Olympics Legacy T-shirt featuring logos from 12 different Olympic Games, a Beijing Olympics 2008 Logo Tumbler (it’s a cup, not a gymnast), and a Beijing Olympics Embroidered Military Cap designed by Roots (just the perfect accessory for that visit to Tiananmen Square I’ve been planning).

I try to refine my search and click on the menu tab indicating six video results, and I get the following: three clips from an episode of The Office, one clip of Nadia Comaneci plugging her charity work on The Celebrity Apprentice, one clip of a woman named Erin Birch who won $167,000 for the Special Olympics on Deal or No Deal more than two years ago, and wait a second, a segment of Last Call with Carson Daly from last August which must reference the fact that the Olympics are only a year away, but who knows because the wireless network in Bethany Beach, Delaware, doesn’t seem to be able to handle the bandwidth I need to see the clip.

Okay, so where’s all the Olympic scoop? Where’s the heartbreaking story of the gymnast who perseveres through pain, puberty and Communist oppression for a chance at fame, fortune and future reality tv stardom? Or the decathlete whose success lands him first on a Wheaties box, then a series of TV cameos, an infomercial, and finally a reality tv show about his spoiled, narcissistic, hateful stepchildren? Or the diver who misses a chance at gold because of America’s boycott of the Moscow Olympics only to win in Los Angeles and Seoul, the latter despite gashing his head open on a platform dive attempt, and then comes out of the closet and has his story told on a made for TV movie starring Mario Lopez, and yet somehow has never been on a reality tv show unless you count Circus of the Stars 11?

Wait a second, there’s a different website called nbclympics.com? I can find stories, pictures, video, blogs and a live clock counting down to the Opening Ceremonies? And athlete profiles, where two out of every three items focus on an American who has little, if any, chance to win a medal next month, while numerous foreigners who are slam-dunk gold medal favorites get the shaft because they don’t hail from the Home of the Brave? Oh. Never mind.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bog Poll Boils and Bubbles

We are coming down to the end of the Bog Poll, so I will have to find something else to write about, but more importantly, soon we will have final rankings. Over at Big Stein's place, the Terp lovers have Maryland ahead of VIrginia Tech, even though they have nearly the same record and the Hokies have beaten the Terps twice. For me, it's more interesting that Norfolk State lost to South Carolina State over the weekend, and fell out of the poll. I actually watched the end of this game on TV, and SCSU needs to work on its endgame, i.e. making free throws, inbounds plays, boxing out on defense. Speaking of endgame, the 7-10 teams below are really on a tear right now. Almost no way Georgetown won't finish the season #1, VCU is solid at #2, and UMBC has won its way to #3. The Hokies shoved Maryland out of the way and George Mason made it easy to keep the Terps at #5 with the bracketbuster loss to Ohio. Another week of 1-1 for the Patriots and we could see them passed by any or all of American, Morgan, Loyola, or Old Dominion. Lots of postseason action for the Top 10 will keep the rankings bubbling for a few more weeks at least.

1. Georgetown
Over the weekend, Rich Chvotkin filled in for Georgetown’s wrestling announcer: “Hoyas pin! Hoyas pin! Hoyas pin! Hoyas pin! Hoyas pin! Hoyas pin! Hoyas pin! Hoyas pin! Hoyas pin!”
2. VCU
Rams thought they were going to Akon, not Akron, took out their anger on the Zips.
3. UMBC
Retrievers are Baltimore’s first 20-game winner since Jim Palmer.
4. Virginia Tech
Vomit jokes will be harder for Dorenzo Hudson to get rid of than … than …well, than the smell of puke.
5. Maryland
Greivis Vasquez still struggling with English idiom, said he meant to challenge Hudson to “throw down right now.”
6. George Mason
With at-large prospects fading, Patriots counting on endorsements from NCAA Selection Committee super delegates.
7. American
Eagles hold Army to 40 points; Black Knights’ coach blames inferior body armor.
8. Morgan State
Bears’ successful season spurs growth of the school’s fundraising committee, the Morgan Donors.
9. Loyola
Davis Love > UC-Davis > Mac Davis
10. Old Dominion
Great week for Blaine Taylor. His team won its fifth straight, and he won the CAA Academy Awards pool, ending Pat Kennedy’s dominant four-year reign.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Remember the Spartans?

Hottest team in the Bog Poll has to be the UMBC Retrievers with six straight wins, and American University gets special mention for five in a row, but the award for the out-of-nowhere, given-up-for-dead-on-the-side-of-the-road, stick-a-fork-in-them (they're-done), comeback story has to go to the Norfolk State Spartans, who have won eight of their last nine and are tied for first place in the MEAC with Morgan State. Yes, they lost to Longwood and Prairie View, and Richmond is their only nonconference win over a .500 team, but the Spartans have had their act together in conference play and have made the MEAC into a three-team race. Welcome to the Bog Poll, Norfolk State!

In other news, Georgetown steals another win and loses on the road again (to Syracuse), but splits or worse by everyone else in the Top Five keeps the Hoyas at the top spot. Greivis Vasquez' three-point shooting brings the Terps back against Florida State, but I don't think Maryland can count on that from him every game. VCU stumbles at home against ODU, and the CAA finds itself dining at the one-bid table. UMBC is in the driver's seat in the America East but has three of its last four on the road including trips to the second and third place teams. George Mason is strong enough for second in the CAA but got swept by UNC Wilmington and ill likely see them in the league semis. Virginia Tech's only win in the top two-thirds of the ACC is against Maryland more than a month ago. American has been hot, but the Eagles' most recent loss was to second-place Navy and they head to Annapolis for the grudge match next week. Morgan doesn't get the same chance for redemption against Norfolk State, so Bog Poll bragging rights (and an NCAA bid) will have to wait until the conference tournament. And Loyola finally jumps back in the Top 10 for the first time since Week One. Still some decent teams hanging in the wings: Richmond, Hampton, William and Mary. And some pitiful ones: Virginia.

1. Georgetown
Rich Chvotkin’s play-by-play call from the Villanova game now a part of NPR’s “This I Believe” series.
2. Maryland
Terps lose at Duke, Dick Vitale blames Kelvin Sampson.
3. VCU
Rams maintain ranking in Bog Poll, but Anthony Grant slips from #1 spot on South Carolina AD’s speed dial.
4. UMBC
Enraged by the choice of Uno the beagle as Best in Show at Westminster, Retrievers vow to track and kill every opponent in the America East.
5. George Mason
Being named Homecoming King is little comfort to Will Thomas after losing to UNC Wilmington.
6. Virginia Tech
Hokies beat Virginia on February 2, which makes their record ½-3 in their last four contests.
7. American
Eagles’ dominance of the Patriot League reportedly began shortly after Jeff Jones and his wife attended a party at the home of Jose Canseco.
8. Morgan State
Todd Bozeman promotes a Morganic basketball lifestyle as the cornerstone of his team’s success and the future health of the planet.
9. Loyola
After Greyhounds struggle at Niagara again, Jimmy Patsos decides to play next year’s game on the Canadian side.
10. Norfolk State

Spartans follow 2-8 start with 11-2 run. Let’s just hope they can stay on their meds for the rest of the season.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Bog Poll Comes in on Little Cat Feet

These Terps look familiar, don't they? Not the individual players - I think it's safe to say we haven't seen anyone quite like Greivis Vasquez or Bambale Osby before. And not just the style of play - that is pretty typical of a Gary Williams team. No, I am referring to the arc of the season, the plot line, as it were. I have no stats to back this up, but I am willing to bet that over time, Williams' teams have had great second half records that almost always come on the heels of disappointing second quarters (or Decembers or whatever you want to call it). One of the voter's in Big Stein's poll described Maryland's bad stretch as nauseatingly familiar and not made better by the probability that they would come through and hit their stride, which is exactly what has happened. Watching them win against NC State the other night impressed me almost as much as the win at UNC and more than the "gallant" home loss to Duke. If Vasquez can eliminate the poor second-half decisions (launching a three with a lead and 10 seconds on the shot clock, taking a steal downcourt for a missed layup instead of pulling back and running some clock), then the Terps could be a Final Four team. Seriously. They have corrected the defensive lapses that led to career performances by opposing guards and Osby and James Gist are more than most teams can handle inside. But keep your eyes on Vasquez to see where this team is truly headed.

In the poll, Maryland is closing fast on Georgetown, leaving the various Virginia teams behind. VCU has to finish strong to have a shot at an at-large bid if they lose in the CAA Tournament, Virginia Tech drops two spots with two straight ACC losses, but Mason can't pass them with a CAA split last week. UMBC is catching up with a win over Mr. Tony's Binghamton Bearcats, but they'd better keep the wisdom of Satchel Paige in mind because the Morgan State Bears are hotter than Amy Winehouse's hair dryer right now. William and Mary looks like a decent spoiler bet in the CAA and American is looking more phoenix than eagle, with a sudden resurgence. As for Virginia, well it doesn't look very good for the Wahoos right now, does it?

1. Georgetown
Rick Pitino changes from a white suit to a black suit at halftime, and his team goes from losing by eight to winning by eight. After the game, Al Sharpton calls a press conference and demands an apology.
2. Maryland
When the Terps’ dramatic turnaround season is made into a feature film, I’ve got Dennis Hopper playing Gary Williams, John Leguizamo as Greivis Vasquez, but for Bambale Osby, I keep getting stuck on ‘70s TV stars. Lawrence Hilton Jacobs? The guy who played Coolidge on the White Shadow? How about a little help here?
3. VCU
Rams win at Georgia State and Delaware, which is about the same as winning at Delaware State and Georgia, I think.
4. Virginia Tech
I keep reading that Seth Greenberg got an extension, but you have to get more than one if you are trying to get rid of the bald look, Coach.
5. George Mason
Following GMU’s loss at Old Dominion, Jim Larranaga announces that his team has suspended its campaign for an at-large bid.
6. UMBC
In his pregame pep talk, Binghamton alumnus Tony Kornheiser asked the team to win one for his ailing comrade, Michael Wilbon, but, apparently, the Bearcats prefer Around the Horn to PTI.
7. William & Mary
William and Mary’s leading scorer against Northeastern made three field goals, but the Tribe’s failure to recognize the Huskies’ zone-blitz packages doomed their three-game win streak.
8. Morgan State
Seven-game win streak has the Bears’ swag approaching Kanye West level, the Defcon One of arrogance.
9. American
First place in the Patriot League! Tenleytown hasn’t been this excited since the Red Line was extended to Shady Grove.
10. Virginia

Cavaliers are staring into the abyss, a pit of hopelessness more bitter than the heart of Jim Fassel.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Hot Bog Poll

Things are getting a little testy, which is better than little testes, over at Big Stein's, where this week's voting results + jet lag = an irritable poll host. He also anointed Jamie Paquette and me as some kind of Supervoters, so you have to like that. Anyway, I've still got Georgetown #1 of course, Tech and Maryland push ahead of VCU because of the Rams' loss at George Mason, so tough for them going from #2 to #5. Mason can't go ahead of the other two because they lost at UNCW, though. Still a slight edge for the Hokies over the Terps until Maryland shows a couple more wins in the current "hot streak." After the Top Five, UMBC by default over Virginia, which has replaced James Madison as the worst team in the poll. William and Mary won two so they move up and Morgan State reenters just ahead of Hampton. If I could give an 11th, it would be tough to choose between Loyola and Richmond.

1. Georgetown
Hoyas’ five-game winning streak meets South Florida’s eight-game losing streak Tuesday night. Who made this match, Dr. Neil Clark Warren?

2. Virginia Tech
Hokies are 3-1 in overtime games this season, but a woeful 0-7 in games in which they trailed at the end of regulation

3. Maryland
Terps had five players in double figures against Georgia Tech, the kind of balanced effort that has made the Flying Wallendas an international success, except for the rare occasions when one or more of them has fallen and died or suffered crippling injuries.

4. George Mason
In the four games since he shot 10-10 from three-point range at James Madison, Dre Smith has shot 3-23. Might be a good time to switch to southpaw.

5. VCU
Rams’ forward Larry Sanders blocked seven shots against Towson, then celebrated the team’s win with dinner at Hank’s Lookaround CafĂ©.

6. UMBC
Retrievers carry injured opponents to their bench where coach Randy Monroe humanely puts them out of their misery by quickly wringing their necks.

7. Virginia
“Hey, JR, it’s Sean … How you been …. Good, good, the team’s doing real good … No, no, nothing’s wrong, I was just calling to say hey, you know, see what’s up … ”

8. William & Mary
In churches, the sexton is responsible for maintaining the grounds and digging graves. For William and Mary, freshman guard John Sexton has assumed the responsibility for burying the opposition.

9. Morgan State
Bears beat Delaware State after becoming enraged when they discover that Hornets don’t make honey.

10. Hampton
Jerry West > Rashad West > Adam West

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Super Bowl Bog Poll

Actually, I got nothing on the Super Bowl, except that we were almost going to be on a plane at kickoff. See, the Doc has a conference this weekend in Orlando, and we are taking the kids so they can do the Disney/Universal thing, and when she originally booked the flight, take off was at just about kickoff. Seeing as how my sons would rather go to an Orlando Magic game than Magic Kingdom, this could not stand. So we changed our flight arrangements and should be safely parked in front of the TV for the big game on Sunday. As far as a prediction, boy, it's hard for me to muster up any tender feelings for either team. Give me a 10-9 borefest of a defensive battle with Brady failing on fourth down to end the game on his knees wishing he had accepted the marriage proposal from the reporter at Media Day.

As far as the poll, Georgetown absolutely stole the game in West Virginia, a brazen act considering the Mountaineers are usually the larcenous party on their home court. VCU still strong atop the CAA, but losing to Mason last night will hurt them in next week's rankings. Virginia Tech is a tough, ugly team with an ugly record, but the Hokies have every right to their spot in the poll. Mason dropped a bad one to UNCW, Maryland should have beaten Duke, and Virginia could find itself cozying up to Morgan State at the bottom of the poll next week if the Cavaliers lose at Maryland. Very likely to see two MEAC teams next week and Richmond has its work cut out against URI coming up.

1. Georgetown
I haven’t seen such an obvious Patrick Ewing goaltending call since the 1982 National Championship game against North Carolina.
2. VCU
Rams have won their last five games against Drexel, making them the best Dragonslayers since Peter MacNicol.
3. Virginia Tech
After the Hokies win in overtime at Boston College, the first question to Seth Greenberg from the Boston media is whether he has any information on the status of Tom Brady’s ankle.
4. Maryland
Not surprisingly, Landon Millbourne is the Terrapins’ team champion in Milles Bournes, the internationally acclaimed French card game of road racing.
5. George Mason
Patriots lose to a UNC-Wilmington team led by two guys named Vlad and Chad, who also host a drive-time morning radio show that is the #1 Arbitron-rated program in the Greater Cape Fear media market.
6. Virginia
Virginia correctly went to a box-and-one defense in overtime against Georgia Tech, but mistakenly guarded Matt Causey with the “one” instead of the “box.”
7. UMBC
Retrievers get their Alpha Dog swag back against Boston University, marking the Case Gym as their territory in a 62-40 win.
8. Hampton
Pirates have righted the ship that strayed off course in December, set sail for March Madness.
9. Richmond
Richmond forward Oumar Sylla is a terror in the lane, but he was tiwce as effective with his high school teammate, Joe Charybdis.
10. William & Mary
Contrary to widely held belief, William and Mary’s Kaplan Arena is not named for standardized testing guru Stanley Kaplan, but rather, Gabe Kaplan, who won the arena in a high-stakes poker game from College President, Gene Nichol.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Slow and Steady Bog Poll

Georgetown loses for the second time, so if wind conditions were perfect, the other teams in the poll could get a whiff of the Hoyas, but they still can't see them. VCU stays strong atop the CAA. Virginia Tech pushes ahead with a win at Virginia, but it's a weak statement when combined with a bad loss at Georgia Tech. Mason still stalking VCU, squeezes ahead of UVA, who could have made a bid for #2 by beating BC. Maryland moves up two spots with the big win at #1 UNC. Voters in Big Stein's poll moved the Terps all the way to #3, but I still have memories of American to temper my enthusiasm. Put it this way, if Maryland beats Duke this week, they are #3, probably #2. If they don't, 5 or 6 is about right. Big moves by Hampton (undefeated in the MEAC) and William & Mary (third place in the CAA).

1. Georgetown
Georgetown PR Office trying to squelch the announcement that New Jack has been voted Best New Mascot by NAMFLA, the North American Man Furry Love Association.

2. VCU
Temperatures dropped to 15 degrees during Rams win at Old Dominion. Fortunately, the game was being played indoors.


3. Virginia Tech
In his apology following his two-game suspension, Hokies’ Jeff Allen promises that he “ain’t gonna bump no more with no big fat referee.”

4. George Mason
James Madison’s scouting report identified the Patriots’ primary scoring threats, but they forgot about Dre.

5. Virginia
Cavaliers’ Mamadi Diane attributes his inspired play against Boston College to the outrageous hilarity of the student section cheer sheets.

6. Maryland
When the smoke clears over College Park, Terps disappointed to find that they are still in seventh place in the ACC.

7. UMBC
Retrievers try to turn the corner against Binghamton, but lose their footing on the Events Center’s freshly waxed hardwood floor.

8. James Madison
If this keeps up, Tom Petty will dedicate “Free Fallin” to the Dukes at halftime of the Super Bowl.

9. Hampton
Five-game win streak has the Pirates feeling “zestangicy.”

10. William & Mary
Linus Pauling > Linus Kiselius > Linus van Pelt > Scott Van Pelt

Friday, January 18, 2008

Flickerish Whips

Cloverfield
Ahh, Cloverfield. It sounds so pretty, so peaceful, so like something you'd just want to lie down in for a nice, sweet-smelling nap, so of couse it's an action horror flick about an alien that attacks Manhattan and beheads the Statue of Liberty (Metaphor alert! Metaphor alert!). Superstar TV producer J.J. Abrams, sooo hip with "Lost", "Alias", and "Felicity", is back to the big screen where his product has had mixed results ("Mission Impossible III", "Armageddon", "The Pallbearer", "Forever Young"). Director Matt Reeves combines twitchy, Blair Witchy camera angles and off-screen shouting with lighting seemingly provided solely by blinding explosions and flickering fluorescents. At least that's what I gathered from the trailer, which tries to add to the suspense by not letting you see the monster (hint: I don't think it's the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man). Rejected alternate titles included Dangerfield, Bloombergfield, Sallyfield, and Lambeaufield.


Mad Money
Any movie theater owner with half a brain would be offering Ladies' Night ticket specials this Sunday for "Mad Money" showtimes that go up against the NFL playoffs. Director Callie Khouri helped bring us "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" and "Thelma and Louise", and with a cast that features Diane Keaton, Queen Latifah and Katie Holmes, "Mad Money" looks like the frontrunner for what women will really be talking about at their next book club meeting when they realize that none of them actually read a book this month. "Mad Max", "Mad Men", "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," heck even "Mad TV" and "Mad About You" before "Mad Money." What's it about? I dunno, a bunch of chicks steal government money that was headed for the shredder. Then they blow it all on shoes and and sea salt scrub pedicures.


27 Dresses
Am I the only person who hoped this was a documentary about former Redskin great Ken Houston's pregame routine? Yeah, I thought so. Double-dose of chick flick this weekend as we go from formulaic man-hating feminist empowerment power trip to paint-by-number romantic comedy wedding fantasy. You may have come to love Katherine Heigl as the blonde bombshell of "Gray's Anantomy" and "Knocked Up," but I'll always treasure her as the redheaded heroine of "Bride of Chucky," which perfectly employed Jennifer Tilly's acting skils by casting her as a wooden doll. Seriously, we need another wedding movie like we need another James Bond movie, but if you people keep throwing money away on these things, Hollywood will keep churning them out.


Teeth
Thankfully in limited release, "Teeth" can be summarized by a phrase that strikes fear, loathing and nausea into the hearts, minds and souls of all heterosexual men: vagina dentata. there, I typed it. Now I need to go throw up. I'd really have to question the director, Mitchell Lichtenstein, regarding his motive for making this his feature film debut, but I guess when your dad is Roy Lichtenstein, you might be able to come up with some pretty wacky stuff. If I ever see this one, be assured I'll wear a cup.


Cassandra's Dream
Speaking of discomforting sexual imagery, there's a new Woody Allen movie coming out this weekend. Still in exile in London, Allen puts Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell and a bunch of Brits you've never heard of in yet another crime thriller, a dully recurring theme of late for him. You know, "Match Play" was okay, but it was no "Take the Money and Run." Here, the title makes obvious classical inferences, but unless Allen reprises the hilarious Greek chorus of "Mighty Aphrodite," I'm betting we won't be able to figure this one out. Worse yet, we won't care.


Taxi to the Dark Side
And, finally, your weekly anti-Iraq War movie. And it's a documentary. Doesn't that just set you all agiggle? Alex Gibney, the Oscar-nominated director of "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room," studies the case of an innocent Afghan taxi driver who was tortured and killed in 2002 to examine the larger issues of the war and torture. We should all probably see this movie and become enlightened and enraged. But, we probably won't.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bog Poll: No Rhymes, Not Much Reason

Okay, here we go: Georgetown still Number One by leaps, bounds and pirouettes. When you win a game on a Roy Hibbert three-pointer, it's a good day to play the lottery, too. VCU might not be better than Virginia, but the Rams did not lose their last two games by 60 points either. Virginia Tech grabbed a win against something called Charleston Southern and shoved Maryland back down to the bowels of the ACC and the Bog Poll. George Mason, James Madison, and UMBC all had nondescript losses but paired them with at least one unimpressive win, so not much change there. Splits for the bottom three also with Richmond feeling like John Edwards hanging on to the #10 spot with a triple-overtime win against LaSalle. Lots of teams waiting in the wings including Hampton at 7-6, GW at 5-6 with a 49-20 (!) win over St. Louis, and if VMI (9-6)can get two straight wins over teams I have heard of, they might get in.

1. Georgetown
Georgetown radio man Rich Chvotkin’s summary of the season thus far: “Hoyas win, Hoyas win, Hoyas win, Hoyas win, Hoyas win, Hoyas win, Hoyas win, Hoyas win, Hoyas lose, Hoyas win, Hoyas win, Hoyas win, Hoyas win, Hoyas win.
2. VCU
Rams move up in the rankings with wins over Georgia State and Hofstra, a.k.a. the Maryland and Georgia Tech of the CAA.
3. Virginia
10 days after losing by 38, the Cavaliers lost by 22; if they can just continue to improve at this rate, they’ll get their next win on January 27 and go on to win the national championship game on April 7 by 104.4 points.
4. Virginia Tech
Seth Greenberg throws up when his team loses close games? So that’s how he keeps so trim.
5. George Mason
On the minus side, the Patriots lost at Delaware. On the plus side, they stayed overnight and had a whole day of sales tax-free shopping.
6. UMBC
Retrievers roll over and play dead against the Maine Black Bears, an excellent survival tactic in the wild, not so good on the basketball court.
7. James Madison
Dukes cannot overcome William and Mary’s dramatic homecourt advantage in Williamsburg, the town where CAA title dreams go to die.
8. Maryland
After Terps lose to Virginia Tech, Gary Williams takes away sneakers, forces players to practice in Birkenstocks
9. American
Winning at Lehigh about as impressive as winning the Wyoming primary.
10. Richmond
Spiders need three overtimes to score 75 points against LaSalle. Over-under for total score in Richmond’s game against St. Louis University currently hovering at 50.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Relentlessly Unbalanced Bog Poll

Happy Monday, everybody! Today's post title comes courtesy of an enthusiastically loquacious (or is it loquaciously enthusiastic) Associated Press writer whose coverage of the Xavier-UVA blowout provided me with some chuckles as I reviewed last week's play of the Bog Poll teams. Of course, I had to laugh because the only other reasonable reaction would have been to cry as the losses piled up. Georgetown's season is becoming more monotonous than the USC Fight Song, Virginia got crushed but stayed at #2 because VCU could only manage a split. Virginia Tech swapped with JMU and I'm probably not giving UMBC enough credit at #7. Richmond is back in for the first time since my initial poll, and American forced me to rethink one of my basic rules about the Bog Poll after Old Dominion and Morgan State dropped below .500.

1. Georgetown
Next week, Robbie Madison will attempt to best his New Year’s Eve world record motorcycle jump of 322 feet by jumping the gap between the Hoyas and the Number 2 Bog Poll team.
2. Virginia
The Associated Press article on UVA’s 108-70 loss to Xavier described Sean Singletary’s 14 points in this game as “harmless.” Apparently, Singletary is pre-med and has already taken the Hippocratic Oath and figured that scoring more points would be a violation of Virginia’s honor code. The article also made note of Xavier’s “relentlessly balanced offense.”
3. VCU
Rams relentlessly balanced their week’s record with a win at UNC-Wilmington after losing to James Madison.
4. George Mason
After watching the season premier of “The Wire,” Jim Larranaga decides that his team’s loss to Georgia State was definitely the fault of the Baltimore Sun.
5. James Madison
Dean Smith > Dean Keener > Dean Wormer
6. Virginia Tech
Saturday’s game against the Terps will be the thrilling conclusion of ESPN’s “I can’t believe these are major Division I programs Week.”
7. UMBC
If college basketball were politics, UMBC’s win at New Hampshire would force American and VMI to drop their programs until next season.
8. Maryland
After beating Charlotte, Gary Williams puts names back on players’ lockers but uses erasable ink so they don’t get cocky.
9. Richmond
Tied with Georgetown for longest active Bog Poll win streak of three games. Also like the Hoyas, they play five men on the court at a time. There the similarities end.
10. American
Losing to an Ivy League opponent not starting with the letter P used to be grounds for a minimum two-week suspension from the Bog Poll. Beating one in your next game should not make up for it.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Groovy Movie Friday

Okay, maybe not groovy, but what else rhymes with movie? Exactly. So, we have a couple opening today, so let's take a look. As always, I have not seen these fine cinematic achievements, and I almost certainly never will. But if an uniformed public can choose a president, I see no reason not to talk about movies I'll never see.

One Missed Call
Japanese horror film remake, a tactic I am generally against as American studios usually glam the interesting originality right out, but the success of films like "The Grudge" and "The Ring" means Hollywood will keep churning these out like greasy imitation popcorn butter. Shannyn Sossamon stars and she was pretty spooky as the ghost in "Dirt" on F/X, so this could be okay except that we also get Edward Burns, whose smug mug has to rank at the top of most guys' list of actors they'd like to slap silly. The credit line he generated with "The Brothers McMullen" was overdrawn about a decade ago. Also featured is Azura Skye who was born named Azura Dawn Storozynski. I understand why she wanted a name change, but why not just go with Azura Dawn? Surely she can't hope to displace Ione Skye, femme fatale of the indy 90s. Also, Margaret Cho fulfills the "Asian in a Japanese remake" role required by the Japanese Ministry of Culture; just guessing here, but her character probably provides exposition, explaining to the ignorant Americans the ancient Eastern origins of whatever horror is terrorizing them. Or she plays a comedian. It's a tossup.

The Killing of John Lennon
So, we go from nasty suspense thriller to a character study of the man who shot to death one of the iconic figures of rock music and modern pop culture. Wow, I think I'll go rent "The House of Sand and Fog" to cheer myself up. Press materials from the official website for this movie insist that it is "entirely factual," which is a welcome change from the "based on a true story" explanation that allows filmmakers to propagandize to their bleeding hearts' content. Jonas Ball makes his feature film debut as Mark David Chapman; his previous credits are all in television, including voice work for the Japanese cartoon series translated by IMDB as "I My Me! Strawberry Eggs." Could be worse. He could have worked on a Japanese game show. I am surprised to say that I might actually want to see "The Killing of John Lennon," although I think I'd rather see "The Assassination of Richard Nixon" or, even better, "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three."

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year, New Bog Poll

Happy New Year, and if the greeting is almost two days late, well, hey, so is this week's Bog Poll, which by the way Big Stein didn't even run this week. But I promised limericks, so limericks ye shall have:

1. Georgetown
Final Four looks to be within reach
For the Hoyas again if they each
Learn how best to convert
At a rate like Hibbert
Best we’ve seen since the baskets held peach?

2. Virginia
The jumpshot of Sean Singletary
Can at times his entire team carry
But if no one else helps
The Cavs look like whelps
Worse than Swordfish sans Halle Berry

3. VCU
VCU can’t wait for more madness
So Maynor can show off his badness
And they hope to repeat
The improbable feat
That filled the Duke fans’ hearts with sadness

4. George Mason
The team from the city of Fairfax
Made the nation’s media make tracks
To their Final Four game
Which brought them much more fame
Than their namesake’s assault on stamp tax


5. Virginia Tech
It’s sad that a once brilliant Hokie
Is serving hard time in the pokey
But the basketball team
Is still living the dream
Let’s give them a break, okey–dokey?

6. James Madison
The Dukes’ fans might get the sensation
They’ll get a Big Dance invitation
Their win total is high
But a bad RPI
Will end their joyous celebration

7. UMBC
Some people might call the Retrievers
Scrappy, gutty overachievers
But come tournament time
Bet a nickel and dime
They’ll turn doubters into believers

8. American
There once was a team called the Eagles
Opponents kicked them like Jeff Feagles
But one night at Comcast
The offense turned full blast
And made the Terps heel just like beagles

9. Maryland
There once was a team coached by Gary
Whose perimeter shooting was scary
If a player named Greivis
Keeps acting mischievous
In March they’ll be in the library

10. Morgan State
For a team that has not ever been
To the Tournament for a quick spin
’08 could be the year
They break into a cheer
I just hope they avoid the play-in