Archive for October, 2010


Arenas Fakes Injury For Young, Gets Fined

By Jesse Jones

In the first preseason game in Washington for the Washington Wizards, it was reported that Gilbert Arenas would not play because of a knee injury.  In his place, Nick Young started against the Atlanta Hawks.

However, Wednesday, Arenas told the media that he does not have a knee injury, but instead he faked the injury so that Young could start.  “I told [Young] I’d sacrifice playing tonight so he can get some time in because I know he’s kind of frustrated he’s not getting a chance to crack the [small forward] position, especially since we’re going three guards,” Arenas said.  “So I told him I’ll go and fake an injury or say something’s wrong with me so you can start.”

Young took full advantage of this opportunity, as he scored 24 points on 10-14 shooting, including 4-7 from three, and 2 steals.  Along with 19 points and 7 assists from John Wall, the Wizards would win the game 107-92.

The move ultimately came with consequences for Arenas.  Head coach Flip Saunders has fined him an undisclosed amount.  Arenas still expects to play Thursday, in what would be his first game back in action in D.C.

Although Arenas lied and was fined, I don’t see this as anything major.  Arenas put the team first, which people have always wanted him to do, and by doing this, allowed Nick Young to show what he can do and after his performance last night, Young’s confidence has had to have risen.

And let’s not forget, this is a preseason game, it doesn’t mean much.


Ravens Beat Broncos, Improve To 4-1

By Jesse Jones

Coming off an epic win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, there was speculation that the Baltimore Ravens would have a “hangover” against the Denver Broncos.  But this was not the case.

The Ravens dominated the Broncos from the start, driving into the red zone on their first three out of four drives.  Joe Flacco and Ray Rice each scored on one-yard runs to put the team up 14-0, and Billy Cundiff added a 37-yard field goal to put the Ravens up 17-0.  With under one minute left in the first half, it seemed Baltimore was going to go into half holding a shut out.  But the Broncos first-ranked pass offense wouldn’t allow that, as Kyle Orton completed a 42 yard pass to Brandon Lloyd for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 17-7.

The second half saw a scoreless third quarter, and saw Joe Flacco look completely out of sync at points.  But in the fourth quarter, the Ravens closed the game out, as Ray Rice scored another one-yard touchdown, and Willis McGahee scored on a 30-yard run.  Denver added a field goal inbetween those scores, and scored another long touchdown pass with under one minute left in the game to Brandon Lloyd.

The Baltimore Ravens would ultimately win the game 31-17.

Baltimore got exactly what it needed, and that was a huge game by Ray Rice.  Rice had not scored a touchdown or ran for over 100 yards until Sunday’s game.  In total, he finished the game with 133 yards and 2 touchdowns on 27 carries.  Flacco played solid for the most part, going 14-25 for 196 yards with no passing touchdowns and no turnovers.

The defense gave up over 300 yards to Kyle Orton, but only allowed two touchdowns, and both came with under a minute left in each half.  So far, the pass defense seems very solid, and the run defense is great as usual.

Baltimore now stands atop the AFC North alone, with a record of 4-1.  The Ravens will travel to New England Sunday to face the 3-1 Patriots who are now without Randy Moss and brought back Deon Branch.


Caps Start Season 2-1

By Jesse Jones

Last season was supposed to be the season the Washington Capitals won it all. The team had the best offense and the best record in the NHL, and faced the eighth seeded Montreal Canadians In the playoffs. But the team failed to perform in the playoffs, and lost in seven.

Now it’s a new season, and the team is hungrier than ever, as they should be. They have arguably the best player in the league, the best offense, and one of the best coaches. But what’s been lacking was consistent goal tending and defense.  So, in order to make a change, the team let go of goalie Jose Theodore and decided to go with two young net-minders in Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth.

After a 5-1 preseason, the Caps finally took the ice to start the regular season in Atlanta October 8.  Things started out good for the Caps, as Brooks Laich scored the first goal of the season between the two teams.  But the momentum would not hold up, as the Thrashers scored the next 4 out of 5 goals between the two teams, including two by Evander Kane, and the Caps lost the season opener 4-2.

The following day, Washington had their home opener against the New Jersey Devils.  After falling behind 2-1 in the first period, the Caps played lights out and scored six straight goals, including two by Alexander Ovechkin, and Washington got their first win of the season 7-2.

Last night, the Caps had their second straight home game, this time hosting the Ottawa Senators.  Alexander Semin started the scoring in the first period, but the Senators tied the game up in the second.  Shortly after, Eric Fehr scored his second goal of the season to put the Caps up 2-1, before Ottawa tied it up 2-2 in the third, sending the game into overtime.  With 30 seconds left in OT, the captain, Alex Ovechkin , scored the game winning goal, and his third of the year.

After three games, the Washington Capitals have a record of 2-1, and have 4 points in the standings.  The goal tending of Neuvirth has been enough to help solidify the defense in the absence of Varlamov.  The team will look to improve their record and gain more points tomorrow night when they host the New York Islanders.


Portis out 4-6 weeks


Portis has rushed for 195 yards and 2 touchdowns so far this season with the Redskins.
















By Ben Linton

For the second consecutive season, Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis will miss a significant amount of time due to an injury. Portis injured his groin Sunday in the Redskins win over the Eagles, which should keep him out for 4-6 weeks.

That leaves second-year man Ryan Torain as the Redskins feature back for the next couple weeks. Torain ran for 70 yards on 18 carries against Philadelphia, highlighted by an 12-yard run where he trucked Eagles safety Quentin Mikell on his way to the endzone. We aren’t sure about Torain’s durability, but he has potential and right now he’s all the Skins got.

Washington put themselves in a bind with this injury. With Larry Johnson and Willie Parker both released, Ladell Betts in New Orleans, and Marshawn Lynch now on the Seahawks, the Redskins are short at running back. The back up right now is Chad Simpson (who?) and Keiland Williams is on the practice squad. Expect the Redskins to pick up a running back, possibly bringing Johnson back as a third down option with Torain as the feature.

Mike Shanahan has been known to make stars out of ordinary backs, so let’s just hope that Torain becomes another Olandis Gary or Mike Anderson for a couple weeks. The Redskins definitely should make note of this and start looking at the best college running backs now, because Portis’s future is uncertain and we don’t know if Torain is the long-term answer. We may see someone new running the ball in D.C. next season.


Baltimore Orioles 2010 season recap


The Orioles began the season awful, but finished 33-23 under new Manager Buck Showalter
















By Ben Linton

The Baltimore Orioles came into the 2010 season with hype and hope that this would be the year they would finally break through in the AL East. The Orioles young stars had another year to grow, while veterans were added to the roster to provide leadership. But when the Orioles started 5-18 after the first month, lost 11 of their first 12, and lost their All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts for 60 days, the season seemed lost already.

The Orioles got off to their second-worst start in franchise history, which prompted the firing of Manager Dave Trembley on June 4th, when the O’s were 15-40. A period of uncertainty and doubt followed when Juan Samuel took over as manager while the front office tried to get things straight. Then on August 3rd, the Orioles hired manager Buck Showalter to bring in a real baseball guy with good credentials that knew how to win in the league. The Orioles seemed energized by this move, as they won 8 of their first 10 games and went 17-11 in the month of August. The Orioles would go on to end the season 33-73 under Showalter.

The Orioles had an up and down 2010, and ended in a familiar spot, 66-96, last place in the AL East, for a 13th consecutive losing season. Although it seems like we’ve heard this song before, there is hope for the future in Baltimore, but not all the pieces are in the right place yet. Here are my season awards for the 2010 season:

Team MVP:

Nick Markakis – Although this power numbers were down from a year ago, Nick Markakis led the Orioles in hits (187) and batting average (.297). At 26 years old, we can only expect better things from Markakis in the future. He is already the best hitter on the team, and if he can find some power next year, a trip to the All-Star game may be in order.

Team Ace:

Brian Matusz- In his first full year as a starter for the Orioles, Brian Matusz made the most of this learning experience, and showed signs of promise for the future. Although he may never be a true No. 1 starter, Matusz has potential to be a solid No. 2 starter in the MLB. He started off shaky at 2-9, but won his last six decisions on the year. Matusz ended with a 10-12 record, a 4.30 ERA, and 143 strikeouts, which led the team. His best performance this season was against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 27th, when he went seven innings, allowing no runs of three hits and striking out eight batters.

Team Disappointments:

As sad as it is to say it, the Orioles season was over in April, and it all started after losing to Toronto in the 4th game of the year when Brian Roberts got injured. Roberts only played in 59 games this season due to an injured back. The Orioles lead-off hitter could only manage to get four home runs and 15 RBIs in his time on the field. Roberts plays a tremendous role in the Orioles’ offense, and losing him definitely hurt the whole team  as the O’s finished 27th in the league in hitting.

Kevin Millwood was brought in to help mentor a young pitching staff, but it would have been nice for him to lead by example. Millwood struggled mightily this year, going 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA. He did have a lack of run support on most nights, but his final stats are not acceptable. The Orioles have been looking for a veteran pitcher to help their staff, and Millwood was not the answer this year.


Showalter has managed the Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Rangers before coming to Baltimore. He is inked through 2013.



Future Outlook:

Looking ahead to next year, the Orioles will need to be active in the market and in free agency. The O’s will need to add a power bat in the middle of their lineup and another starting pitcher to provide support to the staff. It will be interesting to see what the Orioles do about Cesar Izturis and Ty Wigginton next year, who will both be free agents. The bullpen expecets to see some changes next year as well with Koji Uehara becoming a free agent. The O’s will need to decide who to keep out of Mike Gonzalez, David Hernandez, and Jason Berken as well.  In the outfield, will the Orioles trade away Felix Pie, resign Corey Patterson, and hand the starting job back over to Nolan Reimold?

A lot of things will happen this off-season, so keep your eyes on the Orioles as they try to make moves to catch up to their AL East rivals. The Orioles have a long way to go and this season may have been a step back, but as long as the O’s keep their chins up and keep playing the wins will come. As they the Tampa Bay Rays defeat them 5-0 on September 28th to clinch the AL East Division Title, one couldn’t help but remember how not so long ago the Rays were in the same position as the Orioles and how quickly they turned things around. One can only hope that one day the O’s can do the same.


Ravens Finally Win In Pittsburgh

By Jesse Jones

Housh Says Bye To Pittsburgh After Grabbing The Game-Winning Touchdown

It should have been done last year, but self-inflicted penalties and mistakes prevented the Baltimore Ravens from winning in Pittsburgh.  So heading into Pittsburgh Sunday being 0-3 in Pittsburgh under John Harbaugh and behind Joe Flacco, the Ravens needed a win in Pittsburgh to prove to themselves that it can be done.

The Ravens fell behind in the first quarter 7-0 thanks to a one-yard run by Rashard Mendenhall, but quickly tied the game up on their next drive on a nine-yard touchdown run by Willis McGahee.  Then Billy Cundiff put the team ahead 10-7 heading into half with a 33 yard field goal as time expired, after missing a field goal earlier in the quarter.  In the third quarter, no points were scored, but the Steelers missed two field goals that would have given them the lead.  The fourth quarter was a thriller.  Rashard Mendenhall scored another touchdown to give Pittsburgh a 14-10 lead with seven minutes left in the game.  Baltimore drove the ball down the field, but got stopped at the goal line on fourth down with just under three minutes and one timeout left.  Game over, right?  Wrong.  The Baltimore defense stopped the Steelers to a three-and-out and with 55 seconds left, and Flacco drove the ball down the field with two completions to Anquan Boldin, followed by a completion to TJ Houshmandzadeh.  The very next play, Flacco froze the Steeler defense with a pump fake and found Housh in the end zone for an 18 yard touchdown that gave the Ravens a 17-14 lead with 32 seconds left.  Ofcourse, Pittsburgh tried to throw the ball down the field to get into field goal range, but Charlie Batch’s first pass was intercepted by who else, but Ray Lewis.  The Baltimore Ravens finally won a game in Pittsburgh under John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco.

Baltimore played an all-around very solid game.  The offense had 22 first downs compared to Pittsburgh’s 14, and had a total of 320 yards compared to Pittsburgh’s 210.  Joe Flacco showed a lot of maturity yesterday, not making mistakes (besides his one interception that was just a bad throw) and went 24-37 for 256 yards overall.  The Ravens ran the ball relatively well (70 total yards), considering that they were playing one of the best defenses in the league and having an injured Ray Rice.

Yes, the Steelers were without Ben Roethlisberger, but the Ravens were without Ed Reed.  Without those two stars, the game was still a thriller and a classic matchup between the two rivals.  Baltimore improved to 3-1 and are now in first place in the AFC North ahead of Pittsburgh, who fell to 3-1.

Baltimore heads home to face the 2-2 Denver Broncos, while Pittsburgh will have a bye week and prepare to face the Cleveland Browns, who beat the Cincinnati Bengals, in Roethlisberger’s return.


Redskins Survive in McNabb’s Return

Donovan McNabb was all smiles after the Redskins beat the Eagles 17-12

By Ben Linton

If you had told me five years ago that Donovan McNabb would be playing at Lincoln Financial Field as a visiting quarterback, I probably would have believed you. But If you had told me he would be playing for the Redskins, I would have called you crazy. In one of the most bizarre trades in NFL history, Donovan McNabb, at age 33 and no signs of slowing down, landed in the laps of the Washington Redskins in the biggest story of the 2010 off-season.

Although McNabb always has a “one game at a time” attitude a “We not Me” mentality with the media (as any franchise quarterback should), I’m sure deep down that this game was circled on his calendar from the start. I’m sure he payed close attention when he saw Kevin Kolb get injured in Week One, then Michael Vick took his place even when he was back and healthy. I’m sure he remembers how the Eagles used their excuse of shipping him to Washington as a beginning of the Kevin Kolb era and starting in a new direction. But when Vick started weeks two and three in Detroit and Jacksonville, it seemed as if the Eagles wanted any quarterback not named Donovan McNabb to be their leader in 2010. Slap in the face to Donovan if you ask me.

But Philadelphia redeemed themselves somewhat when McNabb was applauded as he was announced on Sunday. He was the one who would get the last laugh in the end as Washington defeated Philadelphia 17-12. Finally, Donovan got to say what was on his mind:

“But I just want to say, definitely, this right here defines team, and this is something we can feed off of going into the rest of the season. We are No. 1 in the NFC East, and we are gonna stay up there. Everybody makes mistakes in [their] lifetime, and they made one last year! So … thank you.”

Whether McNabb wanted it to be or not, this game was about him. He deserved to say that Philadelphia made a mistake, and proved it by beating them yesterday. This was a defining moment in McNabb’s career and for that I congratulate him.

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October 2010
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