Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Abe Pollin

Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin passed away yesterday afternoon at the age of 85, less than one week after I said that Ted Leonsis was more my kind of owner than Pollin. After reading about Pollin in several articles and hearing him lauded on local sports radio, I now see that I was unfair in my judgment of him, the longest-tenured NBA owner.

There's no question that Pollin loved the Wizards, and cared deeply about his players and his team. To preserve his team, he did something that no one else in the world has ever done: he fired Michael Jordan. Pollin related that Jordan had created an unfavorable atmosphere at the team, and had been as much a detriment to the team off the court as he had helped them on the court. Pollin knew he would take heat for the decision to sever ties with Jordan, but he was willing to take the PR hit for what he believed to be the right decision for his team. Jordan's Hall of Fame induction speech may have given us a glimpse into how right Pollin was.

Abe Pollin's true legacy, though, will be the Verizon Center. Pouring in millions upon millions of dollars of his own money, he chose to build a stadium downtown rather than take financing offers from suburban areas, because he knew it was the right decision for the city, and that the money would follow. The area now boasts brand new office buildings, restaurants, and one of the most advanced sports facilities in the world (just like the Capital Centre before it, which was the first major sports venue in the country to boast luxury boxes and electronic ticketing). Pollin's vision, and his execution thereof, single-handedly revitalized downtown Washington.

I still think Ted Leonsis is a fantastic owner, and perhaps one of the more underrated owners in all of sports. His passion for his team and his accessibility make him a fan favorite, and rightly so. But Abe Pollin's business acumen and loyalty were peerless. We were fortunate to have two wonderful owners in Washington, DC, and the responsibility now falls to Leonsis to carry the torch.

Good luck.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2009 Redskins Report Card: Week 11 vs. Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys 7, Redskins 6

It's painful to lose any game, but the cut is just a little bit deeper when it's Dallas doing the slicing. I didn't get to see much of the game on Sunday, which means I have to draw most of my conclusions from looking at the box score, and from the 10% or so of the game I did catch. See if you can tell the difference.

I promise it won't happen again.

Offense: D
Defense: C+
Special Teams: D+
Overall: D+

It's only fitting that the Redskins, the model of inconsistency, follow their highest point total (last week's 27-point outburst against the Broncos) by matching their lowest, a six-point game against the Chiefs that prompted a swirl of controversy about Jim Zorn's future and the starting quarterback position.

Perhaps most disappointing is that kicker Shaun Suisham recorded both his first and second misses of the season this week, including a 39-yarder at the end of the first half that could have been the difference in the game. But my anti-game-ball goes to Jason Campbell, who once again showed that you can have deceptively solid numbers to back up a terrible performance. He had the 10th most yards passing in week 11, but couldn't guide his offense into the end zone, couldn't stretch the field, and overall was just unable to make the offense go.

The defense isn't off the hook, though. You can't give up 153 yards on the ground and expect to win football games, even if you're able to shut down the opposition's passing attack. They were able to generate a couple turnovers, though, which has been long looked at as a weakness of the defense. Furthermore, they were forced to go without superstar defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, but still generated decent pressure on Tony Romo.

Sunday was another injury-heavy day for the Redskins, losing running back Ladell Betts and replacement lineman Chad Rinehart. I know, injuries affect every team, but between Haynesworth, Clinton Portis, Chris Samuels, Chris Cooley, and Randy Thomas, I'd say the Redskins were missing five of their top ten players, and four of their top five. It's hard to win with your best players unavailable.

I'm embarrassed to say I looked at potential playoff scenarios after last week's victory (if we win the last seven to go 10-6...), but that brief, positive sentiment has now passed. I'm ready to move forward with plan B, which involves playing out the string, then hiring a new coach, acquiring a new QB, and maybe a little voodoo magic.

Around the League
  • Ricky Williams seemed to thoroughly enjoy reminding us that he was a premier running back from 2000-2003.
  • Remember when I made fun of Kansas City and Oakland last week? Umm, oops?
  • When I think about the Broncos, I find myself thinking about Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, when John Candy and Steve Martin are driving the wrong way on a highway. Martin: "He says we're going the wrong way." Candy: "Oh, he's drunk, how would he know where we're going?"
  • Sure the Jaguars won, but it'll only be so long before Jack Del Rio finds a way to ruin his team again. He's awful.
  • Didn't the Lions win over the Browns remind you of the luchador matches in WCW in the late 1990's? The fighters may not be headliners, but the match was super-entertaining.
  • The Seahawks went into Minnesota and got their face knocked in, and Brett Favre is continually building a case for his third (or fourth, depending who you ask) MVP award.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bayou Billy

As some of you may remember (or just assume), I'm crazy about video game music. There's a whole site dedicated to video game music (OC Remix), and today's selection comes from that site. The song is called El Lagarto, by Evil Horde. The original song is from the game The Adventures of Bayou Billy.

I might normally give you a description of the song's style, tenor, etc., but not today. Today I'm just asking you to listen. Feel free to leave your opinion in the comments.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Flipping the Bird

Yesterday it was reported that Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams would be fined $250,000 for flipping the bird twice during Sunday's lashing of the Buffalo Bills, a 41-17 walloping. While I'm sure several Bills players cried themselves to sleep Sunday night, I'd wager that none of them were actually distraught at an 86-year-old man giving them the finger. But let's roll back and look at the most important part of that sentence.

$250,000.

I understand that Adams is an owner, and has a lot of money. But fining him a quarter of a million dollars is a terrible idea. First off, you're putting it out there for every fan to see just how rich your owners are, where $250,000 is a reasonable fine in a world of $10,000 fines (like the one Brady Quinn got served). If I got fined ten grand, I'd have to go to jail just to save on everyday expenses, and it'd still take me several months to pay it off. If I got fined $250,000, I'd have to flee the country, or pull off a heist.

Most humorous (and disturbing?) about this is that the news came one day after this article was posted on Yahoo about the Redskins and their offensive mascot, name, and imagery. The league is happy to levy a massive fine upon one of its owners when they flick off the opponents, but is conspicuously mum on the subject of a team's name being considered offensive. If the league came down on Washington and demanded a change, it would happen within a matter of weeks. It's been 17 years since the issue was first brought in front of courts, and it remains unresolved.

If the name bothers people, I'm willing to accept a new name, with new colors and a new mascot. I have memories of the Redskins, but they'll transplant to a new team. And they can sell new merchandise, always a draw for ownership. I suggest they take a page from the Capitals and go with red as their main color, and encourage fans to "rock the red."

Anyways, the Bud Adams fine is ridiculous. You could hire a dozen minimum wage workers with that money. I don't even know where fine money goes. Anybody?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2009 Redskins Report Card: Week 10 vs. Denver Broncos

Redskins 27, Broncos 17

It looks like the best way to stop your downward spiral is to meet up with a team going in the same direction, but faster. After starting out 6-0, Denver seems lost, and their offense looked abysmal in the second half on Sunday, to my delight.

I'm going to go with a different tactic for the rest of the season, and we'll see how it plays out. It'll be a quick report card, followed by some analysis (shorter than it's historically been). Then, I'll do a little "Around The League" section that goes over anything I think is discussion-worthy (along with built-in links to each game's box score on my favorite football website, Pro-Football-Reference.com). Overall, the Report Card posts may be a little longer, but will feature a more diverse set of topics.

Report Card

Early on, it looked like it was going to be the same old song and dance for the Redskins. Two quick strikes on completely blown coverages to a wide open Brandon Marshall, and Washington was down 14-7 in a hurry. But once again, Hunter Smith proved himself to be among the most valuable special teamers in football, throwing a 35-yard TD pass to Mike Sellers from a double-fake (field goal formation into punt formation).

From that point on, even though Denver took a 17-14 lead into halftime, I felt a great confidence in Washington, and for the first time since the loss to the Lions, I expected the Redskins to win. Ladell Betts looked very good, and while I'm not ready to toss the injured Clinton Portis to the side yet (at least for this season), it's certainly going to put some pressure on Portis when next he plays. Which is good. Portis could use some extra motivation.

Overall, it's nice to come off of a win again, particularly one in which the Redskins set a season-high in scoring. And it's great to have some confidence going into Dallas next week.

Offense: B+
Defense: B
Special Teams: A
Overall: A-

Around The League
  • Jay Cutler may have thrown five interceptions, but I still wish the Redskins had found a way to acquire him. He's got franchise quarterback ability, something that's just very difficult to find.
  • Did the Steelers get out-Steelered by the Bengals?
  • Say what you will about the leniency of bowl eligibility in college football, at least they don't make anyone watch Chiefs/Raiders. Congrats to Kansas City on winning the Stride Rite Bowl.
  • The reality about the much-ballyhooed 4th down decision by Bill Belichick is that had they made it, he'd have been lauded for his confidence in his offense. But we're a results-oriented culture, and the results dictate that we bash his lack of confidence in his defense. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, though. :)
  • Full disclosure: I have Maurice Jones-Drew on a fantasy team. But even if I didn't, how does Jack Del Rio tell MJD to take a knee at the one when they're down? I get that you want to guarantee a victory by killing some clock, which they did, but you never know what's going to happen on a field goal attempt, no matter how short. Anytime you can take a lead in the 4th quarter, you take it.
  • Let's hope some of the Cowboys' dismal performance against the Packers on Sunday carries over into next week.
  • It took me until his disastrous Monday night to realize it, but Brady Quinn is just terrible. Thank goodness I was wrong when I predicted the Vikings to draft him in 2007.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Twenty for Thirty

Yes, 20 for 30 would be a pretty solid completion percentage for a quarterback, or an unbelievable tear for a hitter, but I'm talking about neither of those.

Here's the idea. Next year is 2010, and I was born in 1980. So next year is the 30th year of my existence, and the year of my 30th birthday. With all of my recent talk about achievements, I got to thinking that maybe I should put together a list of things I'd like to do before I turn 30. I scaled it back a few months, and decided I'll put together a list of things I want to accomplish by the end of my 30th year, the year 2010.

I've got a preliminary list of not quite twenty goals, but I'd be happy to hear any ideas, discuss any topics, or dismiss any suggestions you might have. Drop me a line or post a comment if you've got something worth saying...or even if not, really. I'm the only one who reads this blog anyways.

:)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2009 Redskins Report Card: Week 9 vs. Atlanta Falcons

Falcons 31, Redskins 17

The best way to sum up Sunday's game is with this anecdote:

I was watching the game with my mom, and towards the end Fox showed their "Game Summary," giving a run down of how the game played out. My mom's comment: "The game summary should be, 'The Redskins suck.'" Well-put, Mom.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Games, and Real Life Achievements

A few weeks ago, as a result of several discussions with Chip, I decided since I spend a decent amount of time worried about accumulating Xbox Achievements, maybe I should incorporate that concept into my everyday life. It'll give me something to blog about, and, perhaps more importantly, it'll give me a reason to do things that are achievement-worthy. My trip to Atlantic City this past weekend gave me a couple opportunities...

  • "Lost" more than thirty minutes due to heavy partying.
Yes, the trip was interesting and eventful. What's unfortunate, though, is that from hearing about all of my comments and antics, it sounds like I was near the top of my game with regards to humor. It would've been nice to have firsthand memories of that debauchery. Also I seem to have burnt my tongue at some point during the night, and I've been dealing with that for a few days, so I must have burnt it pretty damn good.

In pretty much unrelated news, I love games. Mostly video, but board games can be fun as well. I've got one of each variety that I'd like to talk about today, and both of which I recommend fully.

Agricola

Allegedly, it's pronounced ah-GRI-ko-lah, but I will continue to pronounce it as if it were a farm soda. No matter how you say it, the game is seriously fun.

The basic premise of Agricola is that you're a farmer trying to make a living through the acquisition and development of farmland and livestock. The goal is to, at the end of the game, have the most complete, successful, and diverse farm in the game. The availability of resources and your opponents' actions play a heavy role in determining what your strategy ought to be. It's got a fairly low amount of luck involved, which is right up my alley (those of you familiar with my opinion on using kickers in fantasy football know that I don't like luck).

Most importantly, perhaps, is that I'm not terrible at the game. In fact, just last weekend...

  • Won a game of Agricola
League of Legends

League of Legends is based on the very popular Warcraft III custom map called Defense of the Ancients, or DotA for short. The basic premise is similar to Warcraft III, where two armies clash, each with the intent of destroying the opposing army's base. In this game, though, the two armies are controlled by artificial intelligence. Each player controls a "champion" unit on one of the two sides, with special abilities that he or she can use to turn the tide of the battle.

This new game is good, but it seems that the balance could be improved, and that the heroes could have a little more variety. Virtually every hero has a stunning attack and a nuke, and none of the heroes have any sort of unit summons. The game shouldn't be focused so dramatically on hero-killing, and I'm hopeful that through various future updates, the designers will provide a more unique experience with each champion.

I have no achievement associated with this game, as I haven't really done very well thus far. Whatever, suck on it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

2009 World Series Champions

Minimal congratulations to the New York Yankees on winning the 2009 World Series, besting the Philadelphia Phillies four games to two. I say minimal because I hate them, but as a sports fan, I can't help but show them a little respect. It's not easy to win the World Series, and there's no doubt they were the best team in baseball this postseason.

The fact that I predicted this World Series matchup and its result is of little consolation to someone who dislikes the Yankees so passionately.

Thankfully, the Redskins are back at it this weekend, so we have to...I was going to say "look forward to," but that implies optimism, and I'd hate to mislead any readers. Nobody here in Washington is actually looking forward to the Redskins/Falcons game this weekend. Here's hoping it'll be close.

Top 500 Songs - Dave Matthews Band

This was always going to be the hardest of my band lists, because I like so many of DMB's songs, and have liked them so differently over...