Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Terps Wack Wolf Pack in Potato Bowl


The Terps won the Potato Bowl yesterday 42-35. And it was an exciting game to watch, even when it was sloppy and looked like the Terps were deliberately trying to mess things up. Luckily for them, Nevada, refused to take advantage of the multiple slip ups and let the Terps finish the season on a high note.

The games started off strange with several starting players being benched for violating curfew, including Da'Rel Scott. This prompted me to ask, what was so awesome happening in Boise that the players were willing to risk starting this bowl game? I mean it's Boise. Anyone?

The first quarter was rife with randomness. A missed extra point, a kickoff return for a touchdown and botched kickoff. It was full of fun and typical Terp ridiculousness. But the Terps managed to hold on to the lead and play the rest of the game reasonably well.

The Nevada defense was supposed to be really good at rushing the ball. But they hit the Maryland defensive line and were continually punished. Nevada seemed to have most of its success passing. But once the Terps managed to catch on to their passing scheme the defense was able to act.

Scott was probably the most valuable player for Maryland. Once he finally got into the game he seemed determined to prove that he deserved to play. And he proceeded to run all over Nevada's defense.

Overall, it was a fitting way to end the season. The Terps' play was maddening but totally expected in that it was totally unexpected. They might not be consistent. But at least they make things interesting. And hopefully next year they'll remember Boise and be inspired to get to a warm weather bowl instead.
For more on this and other college bowl games go to http://www.gunaxin.com/blog-bowl

Monday, December 29, 2008

Potato Bowl


Schizophrenia seems to have its downsides. The Terps, at one point poised to go to the Orange Bowl, or at least the ACC Championship game faltered down the stretch and are now going bowling in Boise, Idaho. So instead of getting to play in the post season in some warm locale that fans are willing to flock to, the game will be played on the blue field at Boise State, estimated temperature at game time 34 degrees.

The Terps will be playing in the Roady's Humanitarian Bowl against Nevada. This really sounds like one of those bowl games that people make up to make fun of the bowl system. But trust me, this is all too real. The sponsor, Roady's is the largest truck stop chain in the country. (I looked it up.) And it happens to be based in Idaho. I have no idea why it is the Humanitarian Bowl. I guess people in Iowa are just extra humane, or the truck stops promote being humane. Really, I would have guessed the potato bowl, but what do I know. If anyone out there can explain the bowl name to me I'd appreciate it.

Maryland is playing Nevada in the Potato Bowl. All I know about Nevada is that they play in the WAC conference. And apparently are not very good because they were also vanquished to the Potato Bowl. Sorry about this, but I refuse to do research about a team I won't think or hear about for years after Maryland is finished playing them in this meaningless game. So my next few predictions should considered with that knowledge.

I think Maryland will win this game. I say this just because I'm a Terps fan. They have played well in crappy weather all year long. They also play well in the afternoon, when this game is being played. If this was a big bowl game being played in prime time they'd probably lose. But if you look at the meaningless factors I've just mentioned they seem to have a pretty good shot.

I think it's justified to completely ignore Nevada in this assessment. Maryland didn't seem to care who they were playing all year. They played badly against bad teams and well against good teams until the end of the season when they just collapsed. They played better in bad weather and worse at night. This team has been impossible to predict all season, which is probably why they're playing in the Truck Stop Potato Bowl anyway. There is very little on the line for this game. I don't know which way that will break for Maryland. I'm still a little bitter this game is in Idaho. But I still hope we win.

GO TERPS!!!

For more on College Bowl season go to http://www.gunaxin.com/blog-bowl Articles about all the bowl games can be accessed here by tons of great bloggers.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Going to Miami


The Ravens did it. They beat Jacksonville and are now on their way to the playoffs as the last wild card team. WOO HOO! Baltimore will now be playing the Miami Dolphins next weekend in Miami. This to me is just great. I had no thoughts at the beginning of the season of being in the playoffs. And now I think we have a winnable first round game.

I'm glad that Miami won out today. Otherwise, the Ravens would have had to play the Patriots in Foxborough. I think the Ravens got the better game. The Patriots won 11 games this season without their star quarterback and probably feel pretty ripped off right now to be ending their season without a playoff game. But my team gets to go so I don't feel that bad. And Baltimore has beaten Miami once this year so I think they are better prepared to beat them again.

Also, the Ravens have improved and grown as a team since they played at Miami. Joe Flacco is much more comfortable playing and has been given much more free rein. Also, the team is surprisingly healthy right now. With only a few big injuries and backup players ready to step up. This Ravens team is going to be hard for Miami to beat.

Today the Ravens looked like a team that was really having fun. Flacco was launching the ball down field. Mason and Clayton kept coming up big. Reed had two interceptions and there were a bunch of trick plays that kept the Jacksonville defense one step behind the Baltimore offense. Baltimore just dominated this game. It was fun to watch. I'm already excited for next weeks game.

GO RAVENS!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Maybe Next Year


This has been a year of unlikely happenings. And while the world seems to be falling apart everywhere you look with the economic crisis, the on going wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the end of these being nowhere in sight, there have been some great things that have happened this year. And with the new year comes new hope.

I'm just going to talk about the good things in the sports world. Though I love politics, I've tried to keep this blog free of my personal views on the election. However, it is impossible to talk about things happening this year without at least mentioning the historic election of Barack Obama. And to tie this into sports somehow, he has expressed interest in getting a playoff system for college football. And for that policy he has my whole hearted support.

This year has been one of upsets and unlikely characters winning. The World Series featured the Tampa Bay Ray, who had never before had a winning season and the Philadelphia Phillies, whose city had suffered from a 25 year championship drought. The Phillies won and the in an even more unlikely turn of events, everyone is Philadelphia was happy for a few weeks. That was a truly amazing sight. The Rays gave hope to every small market team that with good management and a well stocked farm system allows a team to compete even in a division with the Yankees and the Red Sox.

Another surprise this year for me was the Ravens actually being competitive. With so much turnover and so many changes I picked them to go 5-11. They are now one win away from having the opposite record and going to the playoffs. My hopes for maybe next year turned into maybe this year. A win over Jacksonville tomorrow will cement a playoff berth and even a loss with some help could send them into the post season. The Ravens have been competitive all season and had some hard losses. Overall, they've been really fun to watch and it's been great to finally see some offense from this team.

The Terps football team was one of constant surprises. Each week a different team seemed to take the field. And they seemed to win the games they were supposed to lose and lose the ones they were supposed to win. They went from thoroughly enjoyable to completely unwatchable. It was a frustrating season, but they ended with a respectable record and a bowl game. So next year hopefully they'll be a tad more consistent and go to a bowl game in a warm city, instead of Boise. But a bowl game is always nice, expect another post about this soon.

The Terps basketball team is off to a great start this season. They are 8-2 and winning at the moment. They haven't lost any truly damaging out of conference games. They're only two losses coming to Georgetown and Gonzaga, both ranked. And they have managed upset wins over Michigan and Michigan State. They are playing well with a young team and look to be in a good position going into ACC play in the new year. Hopefully this season will end with a tournament appearance, and not the NIT. Right now things are looking good for the young Terps team.

I also discovered hockey this year. And apparently at the right time. The Caps went from being one of the worst teams in the league to winning their division and making the playoffs last year. Even though they were eliminated in the first round, they fought til the end and gained good experience. This season, the Caps have suffered injury after injury and are still leading their division by ten points. They could make a good run this season if they can get everyone or mostly everyone healthy by playoff time.

Even the Orioles seem to be moving in the right direction. They are shoring up their farm system and trying to sign young players to improve their core. They didn't get Teixeira, but not all is lost. The hometown boy probably wouldn't have been the savior they were looking for anyway. And while it's a slap in the face to go play in New York, that money can be better spent on quality pitching, a far more pressing need for this team. But with Baltimore back on the jerseys, maybe next season will be a winning one.

The Summer Olympics also took place this year. Michael Phelps popularized swimming and won a record eight gold medals. There was also some scandal involved with possibly underage gymnasts. And Usain Bolt shattered his world record 100 meter time even though he slowed down at the end to showboat. China dominated sports I didn't know existed like synchronized diving and trampoline. But the US had strong showing overall and I got sucked into watching sports I didn't care about and cheering for unlikely comebacks. I'm actually excited to see what happens in four years.

The new year is a time to look back and see how far things have come. Its a time to remember the good things of the year and think of ways to make the next year better. With so much turmoil and uncertainty in the world right now its nice to be able to look at sports think of the eternal hope of sports fans. Maybe next year things will turn around.

Thanks for everyone who has supported and read my blog this year. I've really enjoyed writing it and appreciate all the comments and criticisms. I'll try to get a few more posts up this year, but I thought I'd thank you all in advance. Have a happy new year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Incontrovertable Evidence?


So I know everyone has been complaining about the call at the end of the Ravens-Steelers game since the end of the Ravens-Steelers game. So I'm a little late in adding onto the complaining. However, I've been busy with exams so my complaining has mostly been directed elsewhere. But now I'm back to procrastinating, so here's the complaining. How could that call have been made?

That call was so close and it was originally ruled not a touchdown. If it had been ruled a touchdown on the field then there was not enough evidence to overturn that call either. It was just way to close. And the rules state that if there is not incontrovertable evidence then the ruling on the field stands, or something like that. And the ruling on the field should have stood.

The Ravens still control their own destiny. So if they win out their last two games then they will still make the playoffs as a wild card. If not then they will need some help. But if they miss the playoffs because of this I'm going to be really pissed. I know I've been talking all season about how the Ravens have done so much better than I expected and I'll be happy with whatever happens. But this is just so wrong. A season shouldn't be decided by one bad call.

If the Ravens win the next two games it won't really matter. But right now that's a big IF. This week the Ravens go to Dallas to play a resurgent Cowboys team. I'm not really sure how one moment the Cowboys seem ready to implode and the next moment they're destroying the Giants. The Ravens seem to be playing this team at the wrong time. And I'm a little worried.

I've tried to keep my playoff hopes under control. But Baltimore has been playing so well they started to creep into my mind. And no rookie quarterback, rookie coach, rookie runningback talk could douse them. I'm not ready to have those hopes dashed by a pretty boy, a drama queen and a bad call.

So Ravens, please win. Please. I'm a strong believer in maybe next year, but right now, I'm still not ready to give up on this year.

Photo: AP/Rob Carr found at http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Football/NFL/2008/12/14/7749046-ap.html

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hot Stove Hot Rumors


Now that the Yankees have completed the C.C. deal, the Cubs Peavy deal fell through and the Mets have shored up their bullpen the big story is where will Teixeira fall. There are a few teams reportedly still in the mix for the switch hitting first baseman. And one of them is the Orioles. Teixeira is a Maryland boy and has said he would rather play on the East Coast for family reasons. And he grew up an Orioles fan so somewhere in his heart, he probably still has some tiny desire to play for this team. I'm just not sure that his coming to the O's would be best for this team.

He's a great player and comes with a big price tag. The Nats supposedly offered him $160 million for eight years. The Orioles have also made a big offer in the area of $140-150 million for seven years. I'm glad the Orioles are willing to spend big money to try and become competative again, but I'm not sure this is the best choice. I mean, he is young and really good, but we need pitchers more than a big bat. On the other hand, he could revitalize interest in the club, bring in fans and maybe provide a much needed spark to the team. He could also make it easier to trade Brian Roberts by providing another fan favorite.

So far Andy McPhail has done a good job and made good moves for the team. If the team keeps heading in the same direction in a few seasons, the Orioles might actually be competative again. At this point I'd be ecstatic abouts a winning season, even if they didn't make the playoffs. If McPhail thinks this is the best way for the Orioles to get better, I'm not going to question him too much. It's just hard to get used to the Orioles having competant managment.

The Orioles have managed to make some good moves so far this off season. They got a much needed shortstop, Cesar Izturis, I don't know much about him, but there is no way he's worse than the bumbling idiots they had last season. They traded catcher Hernandez to create a spot for top prospect Wieters and aquired a outfielder/utility man. They seem to be moving in the right direction. But what the O's really need is pitching. I hope McPhail will be addressing that issue soon. I'd really like a winning season soon.

Photo: Getty Images found at the Baltimore Sun

Monday, December 8, 2008

Is It a Dynasty?


This weekend I switched up my studying schedule so I could attend the Fourth Annual Maryland State Beer Pong Tournament. My partner and I managed to get a wild card bid and had to face our arch rival in the first round. We've been doing this for four years, we do have an arch rival. Needless to say, we lost, and then we lost again. And were out of the tournament in a quick two games. This was neither surprising or unexpected. Neither of us play as much as we used to and the competition has gotten a lot better over the past few years.

The tournament started out with the National Anthem. A girl near me scoffed and made a comment about this not being a sporting event. She obviously hates America and is quite possibly a terrorist, who else makes insults during the National Anthem. Say what you will about beer pong, but it is very competitive. Ask most of the 56 teams that competed on Saturday. Or come watch another tournament. You have over 100 guys(mostly) competing against each other for a trip to Vegas to play in the World Series of Beer Pong for $50,000 and the title of Maryland State Champions. Tell me anywhere you can get that many people together and have it not be competitive.

I'll be honest, for my team, it was more about blowing off steam, hanging out with friends and an excuse to drink at noon on a Saturday, but even we came to play. Plus, its always fun when two girls can beat two guys at pong, even if it didn't work out for us this week. The team that actually won this tournament was the same winner as last year, Wet Ballz. They consistently rank in the top three in League Championships. You get the idea, they are the elite of the beer pong world. After losing in the first round they managed to fight their way through the losers bracket and to beat Redonkulous in two games.

I didn't actually manage to stay until the end. The beer and hunger got to me. Who could possibly have predicted that as a tiny girl I would be hungry and drunk before six hours of beer pong had finished up. I left to go get food and watch some college basketball and didn't make it for the final rounds of the tournament. I'm told that the matches were hard fought through multiple overtimes. So it looks like a Wet Ballz dynasty.

Major tournaments are springing up all over the place. There are leagues forming in most major cities and even an international tournament in Jamaica. And of course the World Series in Vegas right after New Years. So look for a league or some tournaments in your area.

Before you get too critical of MDbeerpong.com and similar organizations keep in mind that most of the people playing are young professionals who like to compete in every situation. Most of them developed a love of this game during college and don't see a reason to give it up because they now have graduated and moved on. It's not only about the competition, it's another way to socialize and have fun and maybe win some money and at least win some bragging rights. But a lot of is about competition.

Photo: Taken by me of Wet Ballz

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Battle of the UMs


Classes ended for me yesterday. And I should be working on papers and studying diligently for exams. Instead I took a field trip to the Maryland game last night. Almost thirty of us from the Maryland Alumni Association got free tickets and chartered a bus down to College Park. We went to see Maryland beat Michigan 75-70.

Maryland seemed to struggle through the first half. It seemed like nothing would fall for the Terps. But Gary Williams must have given them some pep talk at half time. Because in the second half Maryland came out and fought back. Vasquez once again led the way scoring 23 points and getting 12 rebounds. Hayes did a good job with 13 points and 4 assists. And they managed to hold off Michigan and helped not only Maryland win but the ACC win the ACC/Big Ten Challenge for the 10th a year in row.

Wow, the Big Ten is pathetic. You'd think that after 10 years they would manage to win at least once. As if one needed any more proof, but I think this is the final straw in the argument of which area of the country is better. Obviously the East Coast is far superior to the Mid-West. They can't even get their basketball teams to beat ours in a yearly challenge. It's just another reason for the East Coast to keep believing we're better than the people in fly over land.

Maryland still has a lot of work to do this season. But the schooling of the state of Michigan should bolster their chances of making the Tourney. And hopefully, the Maryland will play well at the BB&T Classic this weekend. It would be nice if they could play as well in this tournament as they do in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. We'll see what happens.

Just a note: I do have a fair amount of work to do on exams. So expect these posts to be less frequent and shorter for the next few weeks.

Photo: http://www.land8lounge.com/group/universityofmarylandalumni

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

ACC/Big Ten Challenge


Yes, it's that time of year again, that time where the ACC gets to beat up on the Big Ten. It's called the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Teams from the ACC are matched up against teams from the Big Ten, actually eleven teams. I'm not actually sure why the Big Ten keeps taking part in this. After nine years, the Big Ten has not won a single challenge. This year they might have a chance. VT and Miami lost, but Clemson and Boston College have won. Duke is winning but the Virginia is losing in the second half. So it could be tied going into tomorrow.

Usually I would be worried, but the ACC tends to show up big in this matchup. So I still think they'll pull it out. Especially, since one of those teams in UNC. Now, I don't want to get all high on UNC, but they are good. So if the games tally is even tomorrow, the ACC just has to win two games plus the UNC game. Three out of the other four games are played with the ACC having home court advantage. And ACC teams play well at home.

Maryland plays Michigan tomorrow at the Comcast Center. Maryland plays much better at home with the fans all riled up. Maryland showed that it can come to play when they beat Michigan State last week. I think they'll show up tomorrow. After two humiliating losses, they need to re-earn the respect of the fans and show they can be a contender. This is a win that will matter come tournament selection time. And Gary Williams can't afford another year with his team in the NIT.

I'm heading down to College Park tomorrow. So I really hope that the Terps show up and play well. This is a game that they need to win. And it's not going to be a fun bus ride home if they lose.

GO TERPS!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Higher Expectations Lower Spirits


Yesterday the Ravens destroyed the Bengals 34-3. And honestly, the score probably could have been a lot worse for the Bungles. The Ravens now have an 8-4 record. They can't have a losing season. And somehow, they are still in the playoff race and could still win the division. Yet watching them demolish the Bengals was not that exciting. It was merely expected, the Bengals are so bad, it almost takes the sport out of the game. As I watched the game, I realized there was nothing the Ravens could do that would surprise me. Mark Clayton throws a touchdown, Clayton's one handed TD grab, Flacco throwing for 280 yards, none of it was that surprising, though that one handed grab was pretty sweet. But if it was going to happen, it would happen against the Bengals, they really are just that bad.

I just can't get that worked up about this win. The Ravens should beat the Bengals. If you had told me at the beginning of the season the Ravens would be 8-4, with a rookie coach, quarterback, running back, and no real bye week I would have been ecstatic. But now my expectations have been raised. I know they will win games against the bad teams, it's just a matter of by how much.

I like watching Flacco progress, I like seeing my team do well. But it's hard for me to get excited about a win like this. Next week, we'll play the Redskins, then the Steelers, then the Cowboys and the Jaguars. All of those teams are legitimate competitive teams. It's possible the Ravens could lose the last four games. I doubt this will happen, but I could believe it. And yet, I can't enjoy that win yesterday. I now expect the Ravens to compete on a high level and watching them play the Bengals was like watching them play my high school team. If the Ravens didn't win, something would be seriously wrong.

This was a rebuilding year, and while I'm glad the rebuilding is going faster than expected, I don't know why I'm not more excited. Maybe I'm just being pessimistic, it's almost exam time and my stress level is pretty high, but I wasn't really wowed by this last game. I don't think I'll have to worry about this anymore, since the rest of the season should be good games or at least competitive ones. As a fan, I like to see a little competition. Is that too much to ask?

Photo: http://www.ravensgab.com/2008/07/28/paging-mark-clayton/

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Terp is a Four Letter Word


I'll admit I was totally unaware that a game was even going on Thursday. I was solidly in the grips of a food coma. And I really didn't expect much of the Terps playing agianst Michigan State, a team that came into the season with high expectations. So when I was out at the bar later that night trying to make sure I consumed the average 4500 calories, I was shocked to hear that Maryland not only beat Michigan State, but beat them by 18 points, 80-62. All of a sudden that damned hope started to seep back into my mind. My friend quickly pointed out that Maryland had to play Gonzaga the next night and would in all probability forget to show up. I nodded but the food/alcohol stupor numbed thoughts of a blow out the next day. All of a sudden I thought we could win the Old Spice Classic. I mean, Gary Williams could be an Old Spice spokesman. It would be fate.

I know that I caution everyone else agianst false hope about a flukie team. But I succumbed to it myself. So the next night I headed out with some friends to watch the game. Halfway through the second period, a large black box appeared on the screen of the TV I was watching, obscuring the game. The game was on several other TVs, all working fine, but they were all hard to see from where I was sitting. I am not joking. The TV I was watching censored the game. When the game ended, it went back to normal. I could see the edges of the screen but the game or the score. I chose to stay where I was sitting and forget about the end of the game. The Terps were outplayed the whole time I watched, I figured it wasn't going to get any better. I was right. Maryland lost 81-59.

Maryland shot a horrendous 37% from the floor and landed only one three point shot. I'm afraid that this team is going to take me on a rollercoster ride not unlike the Maryland football team. My problem is that I can't stop watching. It might be a depressing season, but everytime there is a bright spot, I'll be unable to suppress my foolish optimism and will get crushed once again. Gonzaga is a good team, there's no shame in losing to them. However, there's always a little shame in getting blown out. Hopefully, they'll use the Gonzaga game as motivation to play well agianst Georgetown on Sunday.

Sometimes I hate that I love sports so much. I'll have plenty of curses for this team as the season presses on. But I will still probably involuntarily finding myself defending them against naysayers. Even when I am saying the same things on a regular basis. I can't help it, as much as I hate this team some times, I will always hate Duke more. It's just the way it is. Stupid Terps.

Photo: www.puderluder.com

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Topsy Turvy ACC


So I'm home for the week and this means that I will be neglecting my blog while I do other important things like fill out my Bar application and stuff my face with as much Thanksgiving fare as is possible for a small girl. Yes, I'm one of those people that starves myself for a couple weeks before Thanksgiving so that I can come home and eat four times my weight in food in one day. This way after Thanksgiving, I really only have to starve myself for a short time before I resume the binge eating around Christmas. Yes, I am the epitome of 'healthy eater,' whatever, exercise is for people without the will power to just not eat.

Well, I'm back in Baltimore for Turkey Day and figured it was as good a time as any to give my thoughts on the ridiculousness that is ACC football this year. Now that Maryland has finally eliminated themselves, well I guess technically it was FSU that eliminated them, I can stop paying attention to college football and focus on the train wreck that is Maryland basketball. But I have some final thoughts about ACC football first.

All season, people have bemoaned the fact that there has been no clear front runner to win the ACC. Every week a new team was on top, I think before last week there were only three teams mathematically eliminated from playing in the ACC Championship game. And people seemed to think this was a terrible tragedy. I know I lamented about Maryland's incredible inconsistent play, and as a fan I wanted them to do better, but I think the conference is better for missing a clear number one.

Isn't this why teams are in conferences? They play other school with teams around the same caliber. The conference games are supposed to be competitive. Otherwise, what's the point? Just make it a free for all. Get rid of the conferences, the Big East is already trying to do this, why not just join in with them. While no one like their team to lose, everyone likes their team to be in the race, and a well balanced conference makes that possible. Maryland just had it backwards. They beat the good teams in the conference and were destroyed by the weaker teams. But what's the fun if there is no competition?

The ACC has never been a college football powerhouse. And honestly, it doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon. But at least most of the teams are competitive among themselves now. So complain about the lack of a juggernaut if you want to. I'm going to appreciate the even keel of this conference, even if it does make it topsy turvy. It makes me hopeful for next season. Because you can't be true sports fan if you don't believe in maybe next year.

Photo: umterps.cstv.com

Monday, November 24, 2008

Fun Times at Ravens Stadium


Yesterday the Ravens pounded the Eagles 36-7 for a thrilling 60 minutes of game time. Luckily, it wasn't a close game so we, the fans, were not subjected to talk of possible ties and players who may or may not know the rules of overtime. This was, on a personal note, the game I was looking forward to the most all season. In Baltimore, there are several teams we love to beat, including the Steelers, the Colts(though that never seems to happen) and the Redskins, among others. But Philadelphia was really the team I was most hoping to win against. I even took the energy to bundle up in 400 layers and spent the money to go to the game.

I live in Philadelphia for school, so I have to put up with Eagles fans pretty much all year round. And while I was happy for the citizens of Philadelphia to win the World Series, and happier to join in their revelry, I have no love lost for the Eagles. Mostly, I just hate that stupid chant that seems to emerge any time there are more than two Eagles fans in the room, no matter what the event. It just annoys the hell out of me. Also, I now have a lot of friends who are Eagles fans, and there is always competition and friendly rivalries between fans. I knew that no matter what happened the rest of the season, if the Ravens lost to the Eagles, I would be hearing about it for years. And I just wasn't ready to deal with that.

So thank you, the Baltimore Ravens, for allowing me to hold my head up high upon my return to the City of Brotherly Love. Those four interceptions, the safety, the high score, and pretty much the complete dominance of the Eagles allowed me to go basically the whole game without hearing that stupid fight song. The only slip up was the runback for a touchdown. But that was over so fast and was the only pause in the thrashing you gave Philadelphia, that no time need be spent dwelling on it. The Ravens even succeeded in getting McNabb benched, a rare feat.

I actually like McNabb, despite his inability to manage the clock, his lack of knowledge about the rules of overtime, and his puking on the sidelines, he has always been a very likeable guy. He's always smiling and composed. He appears to be trying hard despite the situation, and he never seems to be on the wrong side of his teammates or coach. (With the exception of T.O., who seems to put himself on everyone's wrong side.) So while I'm a little sad it looks like McNabb's legacy is going to be mired in his overtime incident instead of all the games he won for the Eagles and his years of consistent play, I can't help but rejoice in my team's overpowering performance.

The Ravens were able to rebound from last weeks abyssmal performance and show their resilience. This team is now still in contention to win the AFC North, at 7-4, only one game behind the Steelers. And if the season ended today, they would claim a wildcard spot and make the playoffs. But right now that doesn't matter to me. This team has won the game I really wanted them to win, and has done much better than I expected this season. So right now I'm just going to bask in the glow of this win for a little longer.

Photo from the Baltimore Ravens

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vasquez Steps Up, Terps Stay Perfect, Fans Still Have Doubts


A win is a win right, even when it comes in overtime against an America East Conference team. The Terps beat Vermont last night when Vasquez managed to tie the game in the last few seconds to force overtime. I would like to take a moment to say that this is disgraceful. While, I'm happy Maryland won, but they shouldn't be forcing overtime against small conference teams. They should b winning outright, by a large margin. I shudder to think about what's going to happen next Thursday when they play Michigan State. Hopefully I will be in a complete food coma by game time and won't notice the pounding my Terps will be receiving.

Right now though, I guess I should be basking in the fact that after playing three sub par teams we are still undefeated. Because the losses are going to start piling up pretty soon. Well maybe not that soon, maybe not until conference play, but they are going to happen. Maybe this team of youngster will surprise me the way Maryland football surprises me every weekend. Which could be a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it.

The upside of this team is that it is relatively young. With only one senior, hopefully they will be returning almost the entire squad next year. So as long as they can make progress through this season, next season should almost certainly be better. I know it's a little early to write off this season, but I think I might have a happier winter if I don't get my hopes up with this team. I'm just going to enjoy the wins, inevitably there will be one over a big team that we are not supposed to beat, and ignore the losses.

I know this is a pessimistic way to start the season, especially for one of my favorite sports, but I just don't have faith in Gary any more. He's let me down the last few years. He got my hopes up and then crushed them. I not ready for that type of heartbreak again. I'm not even ready to be cautiously optimistic. Maybe the Terps can show me that I should give them another chance. But I'm not counting on it this year.

Photo: Damian Strohmeyer from the Sports Illustrated Vault

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Journey to Hockey Fandom


So this is my first full season as a hockey fan. I guess I picked the right time to start being a Caps fan, they made a huge turn around last season and somehow made the playoffs, but left after losing the seventh game of the first round to the angry Flyers. Right now they are leading the Southeastern Conference with an 11-4-3 record. They lead with 25 points. I haven't actually watched any hockey this season, but I have been trying to follow the Capitals through news and standings. Yes, I'm a sorry fan, but I am trying.

I know how Alex Ovechkin left the team for a few games to be with his ailing grandfather in Russia. I know how Alex Semin stepped up in his absence and is maturing into real leader on this team. I know how Ovechkin has found his stride again and has become a point scoring machine. And I know that I should be paying more attention.

Hockey fandom is new to me. I forget that I like it until I start paying attention, then suddenly I realize that I missed it. It's weird to think a year ago I probably couldn't have told you a single player on the Capitals. Now, I try to follow what's happening with them on a regular basis. I'm not at the point where I go out of my way to watch games yet, but who knows what will happen as the season wears on.

The Capitals are shaping up to be a formidable team this year. Not just the Alex the Great show, well maybe the Alex the Great and Alex the Awesome. As this team matures and players come into their own and still work great together, this is a team that is built to win. And after a heartbreaking loss in the first round of the playoffs last year, they will have the experience to go farther and do better this year. I don't know what's happening around the rest of the league but according the the ESPN power rankings the Caps are 6th. But that's the same world wide leader in sports that didn't have hockey power rankings for two weeks with no explanation. So, take them with a few grains of salt.

I don't know what's going to happen. But so far I'm enjoying becoming a hockey fan, and I will really try to go to a game soon. I really want to be a better fan.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sports Czar


So, I've tried to avoid talking about politics on this site despite my mild obsession with it. But this is an issue I feel comfortable weighing in on and espousing my views since it does not seem to be a very partisan issue. Yes, I'm talking about the BCS playoff system and President-Elect Barack Obama's statements that the will through his weight around to get one. Several other sports bloggers have thrown around the idea of a Sports Czar or Playoff Czar. Since I am graduating in the spring and will have a law degree and need a job, I would like to throw my hat into the proverbial ring.

I'm sure when Obama says he's willing to throw his weight around, he actually means he'll tell someone to bug the BCS guys and make them fix this under some imaginary threat and the watchful eye of the president. Hey, if I was president I would use my newfound power to get random things I want done that would also make a bunch of people happy.

I would be happy to fill the role of person who works for President Obama with the BCS to get this playoff system into action. He will have a lot of other stuff to worry about, like fixing the economy, resolving the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in a reasonable manner, fixing healthcare, balancing the budget, fixing Social Security, all the while saving the environment, and increasing the standing of the United States around the world. So, I'd say playoff shouldn't be his top priority. However, all those are going to take a long time, so anything that can be done definitively and quickly will remind people that they still like President Obama, and that his administration can get things done.

The problem with the BCS system is that there is no clear champion. There's a championship game, but just some formula and voting system that no one really understands to decide who gets to go the bowl game. However, colleges like bowl games. They generate revenue for the schools and raise awareness for the programs. No one believes that the team that wins the Tire Bowl is a Champion of anything, but schools and alumni like it. They get to feel good about their teams.

So here is my proposal. First, a playoff system is not going to happen overnight, television contracts and whatnot. So before next year lets make the formula better. I would put Nate Silver in charge of this. He's a stat genuis who happens to like sports and politics and is a big supporter of President Obama. If he was able to predict the popular vote percentages within .1% then he should be able to come up with a better formula for the rankings. And we can keep the rankings. Everyone likes to see their team ranked, even if it doesn't mean much. Right now, there are power rankings for every sport for all sorts of random categories. So if we keep the rankings, we need to make them better.

Next, take the top eight teams for a playoff bracket. The top eight teams are usually pretty easy to figure out. I will talk to some consultants about whether all these teams have to have won their conferences or whether they are the top eight teams. This issue can be fully debated at another time. An eight team playoff will add three weeks onto the season. And only for a few teams. So schools could cut the season by one game and eliminate one of the cupcake teams they play. This will make college football more competitive and fun to watch anyway.

Also, lets keep the other bowls. Colleges still get to keep the promotion and the revenue. Fans still get to say they won a bowl. Those games are meaningless anyway, so why not keep them. They bring plenty of fans such as myself much joy from watching.

That's my platform on changing the college football system. I have already addressed the NFL overtime situation. So if there is anyone out there who would like to appoint me to be the Sports Czar or wants me to meet with the President-Elect, just let me know.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ravens Get Giant Beating


The Ravens lost yesterday at the Meadowlands to the Giants 30-10. They were outplayed in pretty much every aspect of the game. The Giants ran all over the Ravens' top ranked rush defense. They threw the ball well, and they shut down the Ravens' running game, putting more pressure on rookie Joe Flacco. But honestly, I'm not that upset.

Usually, I'm painfully pissed off after a loss, but yesterday, I just didn't have my usual ire. Maybe it's because Maryland has actually been winning recently and still controls its destiny in the ACC Atlantic Division. But maybe, it's because this Ravens team has already way exceeded my expectations. I picked them to go 5-11, they've already done better than that. This team has come a long way since the first preseason game where Flacco didn't have a clue.

Right now the Ravens are one game behind in the AFC North and well situated to get a wild card spot even if they don't win the division. Really, at the beginning of the season were we even talking about the playoffs? No. This was a rebuilding year, new coach, new quarterback, young offensive line and lot of injuries in the secondary. This team isn't giving up, they are going to continue to play solid the rest of the season, and next season is going to look even better.

The Giants beat the Ravens. The Giants looked like a better team. Really, the Giants looked like the best team I've seen all year. They are the defending Superbowl Champs. And they only have one loss and are leading what is considered the toughest division in the NFL, the NFC East. There's no shame in losing to the Giants, it's not like we tied the Bengals. That would just be shameful.

So instead of being angry about this loss, lets focus on the next game. The Ravens need to win against the bumbling Eagles team. I mean they tied the Bengals. And their quarterback was not aware that an NFL game could end in a tie. I mean it hasn't happened in six seasons, but that doesn't seem like much of an excuse.

So Ravens, please, try to learn from last week, and then go out there and pummel the Eagles in Baltimore. Otherwise, fans will have a real reason to be angry.

END NOTE: My ticket to the Ravens-Eagles games seems to have fallen through. So I am now in the market again for a ticket. Shoot me an email at meghanlg@gmail.com if you have an extra you are looking to get rid of. Thanks.

Photo: AP courtesy of the Charlotte Observer

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Maryland Football Beats Yet Another Ranked Team


The Maryland Terrapins have been perfect at home this year. And they kept up their unlikely streak of beating ranked teams by beating University of North Carolina yesterday 17-15. So after beating 4 ranked teams this season; Clemson, Cal, and Wake Forest, they have managed to climb their way back into the BCS rankings themselves. They are ranked 25 in the BCS poll and 22 in the AP poll. Most important though, is that the Terps control their own destiny.


Maryland plays next week against Florida State, who fell from the rankings after a loss to Boston College yesterday. The Terps are playing at home, in Byrd Stadium, so even though Florida State is no longer ranked, the Terps still look good to win this next game. Hopefully, it will be sunnier next week and for the sake of the fans in attendance. This week was the second miserable rain soaked game loyal Terps have had to sit through. And they were both close wins, the first being the Homecoming game against NC State. I'd be happy to keep winning in the rain, but it makes for sloppy play and discomfort for the fans who are a big part of the reason the Terps are undefeated at home.


Next weeks game is very important, because with a win give Maryland some seperation in the ACC Atlantic Division race. The ACC is such a mess that it could be a game to clinch the division depending on what happens in several other games. It would give them larger lead over Florida State and set them up nicely for their last game against Boston College. Could this team that has been hard pressed to string together two quality games actually compete for the ACC title?


Hopefully, the Maryland team that played yesterday is the one that will show up on Saturday. This team has lacked consistency all year hopefully they can find it for the last few games. It would renew my faith in Fridge and Maryland football in general. The last few seasons have been rough and it's nice to be able to watch a winning team again. It's really amazing how much a Maryland win improves my mood.


So here's hoping for a good game next week. GO TERPS!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Terps Are Undefeated


Last night, the Maryland mens basketball team had their season opener. They beat Bucknell 81-52 and are now undefeated on the season. Hopefully they will be able to continue winning on Tuesday when they play the Youngstown State Penguins. And since this is a team I've never heard of, I'm confident that the Terps can start the season 2-0. In fact, the Terps don't run up agianst any real competition until the fourth game of the season when they play against No. 7 ranked Michigan State. That will game will be a real test on these young Terrapins.

Regardless of how we do this year, it's always nice to start the season off with a few wins. It gets the confidence up and allows the team to find a good chemistry. And with the win over Bucknell last night, hopefully the team is finding a way to come together. Maryland was able to shoot 43% from the field and even managed a respectable 73% in free throws. For anyone who has watched this team in recent years, you have seen how terrible Maryland's free throw shooters have been. It's almost been like they don't want the easy points.

With only one senior on the team this year, David Neal, who isn't even a starter, the Terps are going to have to look elsewhere for leadership. If Vasquez has matured then he is the obvious choice. He has started since his freshman year, and led the team in minutes, rebounds and assists. He was second in scoring with 13 points, however he made only 5 of 16 shots, which probably means he still has work to do on his shot selection. Last year he had a tendency to try too hard and just throw the ball up there and make something happen. Hopefully this season he can learn to take less shots but score more points.

I'm hoping this team can come together during the beginning of the season and develop some great chemistry before heading into ACC play. The ACC is pretty stacked this year, with four teams ranked including the unanimous number 1. The Terps need to find their way before ACC play begins in January, otherwise, it's going to be a long spring, and another miserable March.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Uniforms Hopefully Not the Only Change Before Next Season


Today the Orioles unveiled their new uniforms. While I'm happy to report they have not only put Baltimore back on the away uniforms, they have also added a Baltimore sleeve patch to their home and alternate uniforms. I'm glad to see this change. When you have 11 losing seasons, you should try to placate your fans in whatever way you can. But hopefully, these new uniforms will just be one of many changes as we head into the new seasons.

The change the Orioles need most is a new shortstop. Baltimore went through one lousy shortstop after another last year. I'm pretty sure one game, one shortstop had 3 errors, including a ball go through his legs. I can't even remember which one, a testament to how bad they all were. For a team that has had historically good players in the shortstop position, it's hard to fathom how we have went from All Star to Single A players.

The uniform changes are a good analogy for Baltimore management. They waited too long to address the fans desires, and then made just enough changes to show that there has been some change. While they addressed the need to put Baltimore back on the away jerseys, they altered the oriole bird, but kept it as an ornithological correct depiction. I love the old cartoon bird and wished they would have gone back to that. Maybe it's about small steps. The bird was changed slightly so maybe, next year they'll make big changes.

I'm hoping the biggest changes are on the field and on the mound. In addition to a new shortstop, the O's should also be looking for a new first baseman. They have good catcher coming up in the farm system, so really shouldn't worry about that right now. And hopefully some of the pitching prospects will work out. But the Orioles shouldn't be tempted by some of the big names on the hot stove. Yes, it would be nice to think about Manny or Teixiera, but that big money could be better spent on some lesser known young players that will stay in the system a long time. And money definitely needs to be spent on some pitching before a first baseman or outfielder. While they are talented players and big bats, right now solid fielding and pitching will do more good for this team than big names.

I personally would love to see Teixiera return to the Baltimore area and play for the team he grew up cheering for. But, unless Baltimore is one piece away from contention, it doesn't make sense to splurge on him. And it would take a big splurge, because he's not going to come to a losing team willingly, when he can make good money with a contender. I'm just trying to be realistic. Also, anyone who watched this team at the end of the season last year knows they are way more than one piece away from a contender, though they seem to be trying to give up their losing ways.

I'm excited to see what other changes are in store for O's faithful over the off season. And hope that Andy McPhail continues to make smart moves and address the changes that need to be made as well as changes the fans want to be made.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

College Basketball Season Starts, Feelings of Trepidation Begin


Last night college basketball season tipped off with Duke beating some cupcake team. I know that's how big college programs start their seasons in every sport. Whatever, I'm fine with that, I like to see a win in the season opener as much as anyone. And with the Maryland team this year, we're going to need all the cupcake teams we can get, or maybe not.

Last season, Maryland gave up some easy wins to not very good teams, including American and Ohio. Yet, they managed to beat UNC while healthy, one of the few teams to do that. I fear that Maryland basketball might suffer the same problems as Maryland football, they play to the level of their opponent and forget to show up sometimes. This is a young team that is lacking in leadership and big men. Yes, they have Vasquez and Hayes as solid guard options, and that new freshman who was magically declared eligible, but this is a team that is going to struggle with consistency.

I know I'm sounding pessimistic again, as I tend to do at the beginning of any season for a team I follow, but lets be fair. I haven't had a reason to be optimistic before any season started this year. And with the Terps missing the NCAA Tournament 3 out of the last 4 years, and having an epic collapse last year, can I really get excited. I'd rather be surprised if Maryland does well than disappointed if they play terribly.

I believe that the ACC is the best conference in college basketball. Yeah, some people will argue that the Big East is the best, but I think they lose credibility when they have so many teams, they can't all play in the Big East tournament. The ACC was a little weaker than normal last year, but it's still a force to be reckoned with. And with 6 teams from the ACC ranked in the top 40 on rivals.com and 7 teams in the top 65.

This seems to be yet another rebuilding year for Maryland. Though I hope Gary will be able to motivate the team to somehow make the tournament. I'm tired of getting excited only to wind up watching the NIT every year. I'd rather go out in the first round to the Tourney than go deep in the NIT. And I think most people would agree.

I'm not going to make any preseason predictions as to what the Terps record is going to be. I really haven't put that much effort into analyzing the schedule and looking at how other teams are doing. And I really just have no idea what's going to happen. Maybe, Gary will get his alcoholic ass together and be able to motivate this young team and coach them into solid play, while showing the fans and alumni that there is a lot of upside for this young talent. And maybe, Gary will get so drunk he'll pass out mid game, leading everyone to think he finally had that heart attack everyone sees coming. Or maybe, he'll actually have a heart attack during an ACC game. Really, I can see any of these possibilities happening.

One thing I'm pretty certain of though, this whole, I won a Championship seven years ago routine is not going to fly much longer if the Terps keep missing the tournament. Maryland fans expect this team to be competitive every year and are getting tired of going to the NIT. If Gary doesn't turn things around this season, a lot more people will be calling for his head.

Photo: AP and found on the Baltimore Sun website

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ravens Are Bowl Eligible


Well, I was wrong. Before the season began, I predicted the Ravens final record to be 5-11. As of right now the Ravens are 6-3 are tied with Pittsburgh for first place in the AFC North after a 41-13 win over the Texans. And the Ravens are looking better than anyone I know expected and have compiled four straight wins. The Ravens are taking advantage of the weaker teams they have to play and getting the wins they need to get. They have only beaten one team with a winning record, but two of the three games they have lost were very close. And as the Ravens seemingly get better each week, they will probably have a good chance to make the playoffs.

A lot of this renewed hope in Baltimore is due to the 'three headed monster" running back approach. Call me an elitist if you will, I am going to rename this the Ravens' Hydra. I think it sounds better, and makes sense. Running backs Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, and Le'Ron McClain combine to tear apart defenses week after week. It seems as if a team tries to shut one down just has to worry about another. In a way, if you cut off one head, another grows back in its place.

One reason that the Hydra is so effective is the offensive line good play. This line was suspect coming into this season. Plagued with injury and inexperienced players, the O-line has overcome these obstacles and come together quite nicely. They open running lanes and help to make the big plays. They will however face a big challenge next week against the Giants' defense. And we'll get to see if the Ravens' offense is really coming together or has just capitalized against weak defenses.

The Hydra and the offensive line also allows Joe Flacco to excel. The Ravens are able to run the ball so there is less pressure on Flacco. And the offensive line relieves pressure by giving him plenty of time in the pocket. He's been able to mature from game to game and can lead the team down the field. He can spread the defense by throwing the long ball, man, he has a rocket for an arm. And it turn, this helps the Hydra to succeed. If a defense stuffs the box to block the run, he can throw a long pass and open up the field.

Every part of this team seems to be working together to make the other parts better. The second string quarterback, Troy Smith comes in and runs the option, he creates another threat and adds another highly skilled player to the offense. He enables Flacco to become a receiver, which helps to confuse defenses. And receiver Derek Mason has been running great routes making Flacco's passes look even better because Mason keeps coming down with the ball. Even Todd Heap was getting in on the action last week, reminding everyone why we used to love this tight end.

Cam Cameron has done a great job this year making this offense work. He deserves some type of award for finally giving Baltimore an offense. I'm happy Miami was so bad last year so the Ravens were able to pick him up. I guess something good came out of the 1-15 season.

But this is still a very good defense. Ray Lewis, who people were saying was past his prime, came down with two interceptions yesterday. He continues to be a dynamic force on the field and great leader on the sidelines. Even in his 13th season he continues to be effective in leading the defense which has not allowed a 100 yard rusher in recent memory. Only three teams this season have scored over 20 points on the season and only one team, the Colts, have scored over 30 points. Those are impressive numbers. This is a defense that cannot be overlooked, even though the offense has been shining this year as well.

Expect the defense to play a big part next week against the Giants, the defending Super Bowl Champions are 8-1 this season and are pulling away from the NFC East, considered the best conference in football right now. They are looking to be serious contenders again this year, and a win by the Ravens would be a big statement about how far this young Baltimore team has come.
It should be an exciting game next week. We'll see if the Ravens' Hydra combined with new dynamic offense and brutal defense can shut down the Giants' own three headed monster. It'll be a good test for the Ravens who have so far this season exceeded expectations. While playoffs this year would be great, knowing that we are able to compete with the best teams in the league will be a good enough result for me.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Fear the Turkey


Last night Maryland went out on the national stage to make a statement. Unfortunately that statement was "this is not our year." Maryland has played well some games and dismally others. They are only half a game out of first place in the ACC Costal Division but they were outplayed in every way by Virginia Tech last night. All night they traded touchdowns for field goals or punts. They wasted excellent field position time and time again. And they put almost no pressure on the VT quarterback Sean Glennon, who is still recovering from a high ankle sprain. Maryland can't even rush a gimpy guy. That is not good.

The only glimmer of offense came when Heyward-Bey caught a pass from Turner and ran 63 yards to the end zone. It finally looked like there was a change in momentum. After that, a VT player was hit by the kickoff and Maryland recovered. But even with such great field position all the Terps could muster was a field goal to make the score 20-13 VT. And that was the end of the comeback for Maryland. The final score was 23-13 VT. I know that Da'Rel Scott is injured and so we have to rely more on the passing game. But this was a game of wasted opportunities much like this season has been one of wasted potential.

It's possible that Maryland could turn around and win the next three games and go to the ACC Championship game. As of now two out of the last three teams they play are ranked. And the Terps have been prefect this year against ranked teams. But last night showed that they are undersized and inconsistent. The defensive line averaged about 50 lbs. lighter than VT's offensive line. Fifty pounds is almost half a person, not a football player, but a person like me. Why are we so small?

The reason is that our recruiting sucks. VT is in Blacksburg, VA. It's a nice town, but it's in the middle of nowhere. And they recruit way better than Maryland, which is right outside of DC. How is this possible. Is our team that terrible that players are willing to go live in the middle of nowhere rather than play for us? Why can't we get bigger recruits? I know the ACC isn't really a football conference, and I can understand players wanting to live in boondocks to play for a SEC or Big 10 team. But we're losing these players to VT. Come on.

I know that it's not normal to do this with a winning team that has beaten a bunch of big teams this year, but I'm calling for Fridge's head. Or at least calling for some better recruiting. Yes, we've won the big games, but imagine how great we'd have been this year if we'd actually won the games we were supposed to win as well. It looks to me like there is a problem with the leadership. And maybe it's time for some new blood.

Maryland had the opportunity to be great this year. They could be dominating the ACC right now if they would just show up all the time. I know the team has made big steps since last year and I appreciate that. And maybe it'll continue next year. But it's just as likely that next year Maryland could finish at the bottom of the ACC.

So come on, I'd like a little consistency. And a bigger defensive line. I hope the Fridge is listening, because I doubt I'm the only Maryland alumni to feel this way.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Not So Fantasy Thursday


Now I like football as much as the next girl, well, maybe more, but I don't really like NFL games on Thursday nights. Besides the fact that the games are on a channel that no one gets, I almost feel like it's too much football. I know, this sounds like crazy talk. How can one have too much football? I'm not exactly sure, but I think the answer is by having Thursday night NFL games.

Now, I'm perfectly happy with Thursday night college football games. In fact, I love those. (This might have something to do with Maryland playing Virginia Tech tonight.) But Thursday seems to early in the week to have NFL games. It gives team an extremely short week unless they are playing after a bye. And as a result I think the football viewers suffer.

The NFL already has all day Sunday and Monday night. Do they really need Thursdays as well. I like to spend my Thursdays either watching college football or Grey's Anatomy. Whatever, you know you've watched it too. Now I'm expected to go to a bar and try to watch some NFL game just so I have an idea whats going on because it's a nationally televised game and therefore a big deal? Boo to that.

The other problem is that Thursday night games are terrible for fantasy football. I now have to remember to make my picks before Sunday morning. I guess I can deal with that, but I also like to play around with my fantasy roster all week. What can I say, I have a few mediocre wide receivers, and I usually decide to go with my gut at the last minute. Now I'm being forced to commit to a few players by Thursday. What if I want to pick up someone off waivers only to find out they've already played? I don't like this at all.

This week its not a big deal. Jay Cutler is my starting quarterback and that's not likely to change. But what happens when I have someone who I decided not to play or totally forgot about and has a huge week. I have to stare at that stat for a few days and have it eat away at my confidence.

One plus, is this week I have my quarterback starting on Thursday and my opponent has no one. So I get to be in the lead for at least two and a half days. Which will be nice, but could easily come back and bite me in the ass. Also, I get annoyed having to wait until Monday night for a winner to be decided. This is just going to be worse.

Fantasy participation is up over the last few years. Again I have no stats for this but I feel like everyone I know now has a fantasy team. This was not the case a few years ago. So I'm going with my observations. And I have to believe that as a corollary, people are paying more attention to football. Now I'm not saying the NFL should base its schedule on fantasy owners. But a lot of these owners are fans. And the NFL should schedule games around the fans preferences. And I'm not sure most fans want Thursday football. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's just me.

I know that no one wants to hear about anyone else's fantasy team. But this complaint is a fantasy team owner complaint, not so much about my actual team. So thank you for listening to my little rant. Let's leave Thursday football to the NCAA.

GO TERPS

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Flacco for President


For years, Ravens' fans have watched our beloved defense win games and haven't complained too much. But this weekend we saw something different. The offense actually came from behind and won the game. When the Ravens were down 27-13 in the third quarter I thought it was over. Yeah, I was ready to call it quits and go take a nap. But I hung on and something wonderful happened. We cam from behind and won. The Ravens scored 24 unanswered points in the second half.

There have been many games over the years where the Ravens have scored 24 points over the course of several games. So this is a big change for us loyal fans. All of a sudden, we're not out of the game when down. All of a sudden, we can come from behind. This is a huge change. And its something to get excited about. Games will be more fun to watch because everyone loves offense. People will have more reasons to cheer. And Baltimore will have a much better chance to not only have a winning record but make the playoffs.

Ladies and gentlemen, it looks like we have found a franchise quarterback. He has a cannon for an arm, can run if need by, and even has pretty good hands for any of those crazy trick plays. I doubted him in the beginning. I didn't think he was ready. But it goes to show that a level head, poise and steep learning curve can count for more than experience. Experience doesn't hurt. With every game he gets better and better. And that has to have something to do with experience, but I guess it could also be comfort within the system.

Flacco now has my full vote of confidence as a starter. And if there are any fans still not behind him, I think you should take another look at his accomplishments. He has no interceptions in the last three games while having four passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown. He's not afraid to take risks and throw the long ball to spread the field. He stays calm in a crisis and can orchestrate a come from behind win on the road. He even runs a no huddle offense with only minor snafus.

So as a Ravens fans, I think I've found change I can believe in.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Maryland Wins Big on Bye Week


For the mercurial Terps, the bye week might have been there biggest victory so far. They did not have a chance to play while Florida State and Georgia Tech slugged it out. Luckily for Maryland, Georgia Tech won, which places Maryland on top of the ACC Atlantic Division. Which means, Maryland is now in control of it's own destiny. If the Terps continue to win, they could go the ACC title game. That's right, the team that barely beat Delaware and lost to Middle Tennessee is now a legitimate contender for the ACC title.

Maryland is now 6-2 overall and 3-1 in conference play. They go to Virginia Tech this Thursday for a nationally televised game. Virginia Tech is no longer ranked but maybe Maryland will step up because this is a nationally televised game and play the way they have in big games. Maybe they have finally gotten their act together and will continue to play to their potential. Since their first bye week, they have won two in a row. One to an unranked team, in the pouring rain. So maybe this will continue. (By the way, can someone explain to me why they get two bye weeks, I'm not complaining, I just don't remember this happening before.)

Maryland is now ranked 23 in the BCS poll and the AP poll and 21 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. They are bowl eligible and keep up the good play could be looking at something better than the Tire Bowl or Toilet Bowl or whatever lame bowl games they've gone to in recent years.
I know this is a lot of optimism and hope to put on the line when talking about a team that sometimes fails to show up, but I've been very pessimistic lately and am trying to see the glass as half full.

The ACC has been wide open and very volatile this year. The standings change pretty dramatically every week and Maryland has a tough schedule for the last 4 games playing VT, UNC, Florida State and Boston College, all of which have winning records overall and only Boston College has a losing conference record. I think this is actually a good thing for the Terps. They tend to play to the level of their opponent. So when they have a tougher opponent, they tend to play better than against a cupcake team.

No matter what happens throughout the rest of the season, I've been pleasantly surprised by the Terps this year. Despite their struggles and some ugly wins, they have done better than I expected. This probably means I've jinxed them and they will go off the Lithium and go back to being bipolar, but I guess I can live with that. I mean pretty much every team that is bowl eligible gets to go to one now. Even if it is the Toilet Bowl.

Whatever, I'm still excited for Thursday's game. GO TERPS!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Audacity of Hope: Life as a Sports Fan


On Friday a friend asked me when the parade started so that she could avoid it. She then went on to say that she thought sports fans were the dumbest people out there. They get all excited because they have no lives and root for sports they can't play. And then get feel like they have achieved some sort of personal victory because "their team" won. I thought this was an odd thing to say to me, since I'm probably the biggest sports fan she knows, and I spend way too much time watching, reading and writing about sports. But it got me thinking about why do people invest so much time and energy and emotion into their sports teams.

Sports allow people to invest in something bigger than themselves. When you are a sports fan, you are part of something. There is a large group of people who bond over the triumphs and failures of a group of athletes playing a sport at any level. You watch a game that you love and forget about everything else. They are an escape where you can focus on two teams or athletes fighting it out. They are an alternate reality where everything can be broken down to x's and o's or simple mechanics.

Sports are a reason to get together with your friends. They are a reason to party and celebrate. Be it the Superbowl, the World Series, March Madness or just a Sunday afternoon. There is always a reason to meet up with people and hang out and talk.

Fandom can be a family tradition. Even if you don't support the same team as your parents, many times they are the ones that instilled the love of the game in you. I may complain about how long the baseball season is and how terrible the Orioles are, but I get a little teary eyed every time I drive past the spot where Memorial Stadium used to stand. I'm not the worlds biggest baseball fan, but the sight of that stadium's old spot are enough to flood me with memories. And I have my parents to thank for that, for instilling a love of sports in me.

Sports also give people something to talk about. During a lull in the conversation, sports are an easy topic. While people harbor strong feelings about their teams, they are usually willing to talk about sports in a mostly civilized manner, unlike religion or politics. They are a common ground among most people. Everyone has at least one sport that they at least half way care about even if it's rhythmic gymnastics.

If you're like me, they are also a way to pick up guys. Yeah, I use sports to pick up guys. It's easy to butt into a conversation about sports, rattle off a few facts, and then apologize for butting in. Usually guys are then confused by a girl with even a cursory knowledge of sports, so they forget you rudely interrupted and happily accept you as part of the conversation. And it's an easy way for them to talk to a girl. So everyone wins.

But I think most importantly sports give people a sense of hope. I sense of anything can happen. And a sense that if you keep trying long enough and work hard enough, you will persevere. There's always next year. It could happen. America is still a country that loves an underdog or Cinderella story. Don't believe me, look at every sports movie in recent history, see any stories about how great a dynasty team is? People believe that you can rise above your place. Sports are a reason to hope. A reason to cheer. A venue for heroes to arise and villains to be defeated. Dramatic story lines are created. No one stays on top forever. And for that reason, your team could be next.

Sports often lead to heartbreak instead of championships. But there enough victories during a season that its worth watching. And the little victories of beating a rival or making the playoffs are usually enough to tide a fan over. Besides, there's always next year. Sports give people a reason to hope and if for no other reason, it's great to be a sports fan.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Philadelphia Freedom


Last night something happened in Philadelphia. It was more than just a win. It was more than a World Series championship. It was a giant sigh of relief. A weight was lifted off an entire fan base. After 25 years of no championships for a city, years of almosts wons, years of letdowns, last night the city rejoiced. And I was lucky enough to be around for it.

After a monsoon suspended the game, Philadelphians started to think that even God was conspiring to keep them from winning a championship. The faith in this team started to wane and doubt was creeping into the city that had been smiling just days earlier. Yes, it was really odd, people in Philadelphia were uncharacteristically happy. There was a gasp of inevitability when Rocco Baldelli hit a home run to tie the game for Tampa. And then Pat Burrell crossed the plate on a hit by Pedro Feliz to take a 4-3 lead and the team never looked back. And then, last night the city celebrated.

People rushed onto Broad Street. There was much hugging and high five-ing and general good will. Yes, there was some mayhem, some banners torn down, some lights broken, a few cars flipped, and a few fires started. But the overwhelming sense was not one of a riot scene but more of a big party. For all the videos on youtube of people acting the way you would expect Philadelphians would, there were far more people toasting the city, and just being drunk, happy fans.

I was almost disappointed in the lack of destruction. I expected a little more from the city of Angryville. But maybe this is a different city now. One that doesn't boo every time something goes a little wrong. One that doesn't feel the need to destroy all the city that finally has a championship. We'll see what happens as the afterglow fades. Since the moment Brad Lidge finished his perfect season, this city has been in emotional overload. There was laughing and crying and hugs and kisses and cheers and car tipping and fires. This was a moment that changed the lives and attitudes of every Philadelphia fan.

Why Can't Us is now YES US CAN!

Congratulations Philadelphia, it's been a long time coming.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ravens Offense Runs Wild


This weekend was a little bit of sports overload for me. Homecoming, World Series, Ravens game, as well as an exam on Monday and a paper due Thursday left me a somewhat overwhelmed. So while I was super excited about the Ravens' win over Oakland, it was hard for me to find time to write about it. Please excuse this late editorial about last weekends game. It was one of the most fun games to watch in a while. It was almost as if Oakland was so bad the Ravens felt they could just run any offensive scheme. And well, they were kind of right.

The Ravens are a team that relies on its defense. Defense wins championships. This is something we have been taught again and again and again. But as many times as I hear this adage, it doesn't matter, offense is fun to watch. And as a Ravens fan, offense has been sorely missing. When there is something exciting happening in a Ravens game, it's usually bad, or a brief moment of defensive brilliance. But offense is what crowds want to see. And the Ravens came through winning 29-10.

Last weekend the Ravens went wild. Defensive players playing offense. Quarterbacks playing receivers. Trick plays, running plays, passing plays, overwhelming amounts of offense. Forget Miami's Wildcat, Baltimore has their two quarterback offense. And I'll take any offense that scores points for the Ravens. Especially when there is an extra skilled player, Troy Smith, on the field.

I think Flacco is great. Or at least is going to be great. He has shown poise and the ability to bounce back after losing. But I feel a little twinge for Troy Smith. He won a Heisman and would have been starting this season if not for a virulent strain of tonsillitis. He lost over 20 lbs. in two weeks. Man I want that diet, except if I lost 20 lbs I might shrivel up and die. Anyway, he is a great player, even if he's not our starting quarterback, it helps to have him on the field.

And this weekend the Ravens coaching staff came to the same conclusion. So Cam Cameron, Rex Ryan and John Harbaugh decided to utilize this valuable asset. And it worked out well. It was really fun to watch Troy Smith throw a 43 yard pass to Joe Flacco. Flacco could have had a passing, rushing and receiving touchdown if he had not tripped near the goal line. But still, an unusually fun game by the Ravens.

Yes, it was against the Oakland Raiders. And without their star running back Darren McFadden. But still, it was good to see the Ravens offense put the points on the board. This was a showdown of defensive coordinators. With the Ravens Rex Ryan going up against his brother, the Raiders, Rob Ryan. It was clear the Rex was the winner on Sunday.

I hope the offense continues to produce. I also hope they keep utilizing all the possible strengths and assets that are available. If they do, it'll be a fun season for Ravens fans. Because while our defense will continue to be stellar, our offense will finally start to match up.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Suspense is Killing Me


Last night was the night the Phillies were supposed to end their city's misery. Last night, the unstoppable Cole Hamels took the mound to finish off those upstart Rays and clinch the World Series. But alas, it was not to happen. Mother Nature, father Commissioner and Big Brother network colluded to play in terrible conditions. It was raining when the game started. And as the field turned to swamp and the base paths turned to bog, the game was not called.

The Phils went up 2-0 in the first inning. And it was not until B.J. Upton scored the tying run in the top of the 6th that the game was suspended. This is a game that should not have been started. It should have been delayed. But Commissioner Bud Selig gets different weather reports than everyone else. His reports only called for a little rain. But he was still worried before the game started. He told the managers that this game would not be called because of rain. I think that was the right call after a initially wrong decision.

Even starting the game earlier would have led to playing in terrible conditions. But there was no way that could have happened. Fox was not going to let this game be played in any spot other than prime time. Even if the forecast had been better. Bud Selig wouldn't have had the power to go against the mighty network that already dictates so much of the World Series schedule. Even the game that was supposed to be restarted today was not going to get broadcast until 8 pm. However, Mother Nature is still not cooperating. It is absolutely miserable today. Rain, possibly snow in some places, is pounding the area, and even if it stops the wind is gusting.

MLB has announced that the game will not be resumed tonight but will have to wait to try again tomorrow. This is much to the chagrin of the Rays. They had checked out of their hotel yesterday before the game. And the hotel was booked for tonight by the out of town fans. So they had to scramble to find a new place to stay last night. Let's hope they still have rooms open for tonight.

But back to Selig's decision. No player wants to win or lose the World Series due to a rain out. It seems unfair. And I understand Selig's reluctance to call the game. But there should be some contingency plans for bad weather. Especially as the baseball season gets longer and longer. The game could have been suspended before it was complete, which would have led to it being continued when the weather allowed. Selig waited too long to suspend the game. But suspending it was the right thing to do. Even if he did wait til the game was tied. Hamels had lost the ability to control the ball and couldn't pitch anything but fastballs. But Kazmir and Balfour both had to deal with the same conditions. And the fielding was equally as hard for the Rays as the Phillies. No one should have been playing in those conditions. It took away the pitchers' control, the fielders' grip, and the runners' speed. It was a miracle that B.J. Upton was able to run through the muck and mire to make it home.

But there is one other group that did not want this game postponed. It was the Phillie fans. They wanted to go to the game last night. They wanted to see their team win. They did not want another day off to wait to celebrate. The fans could almost taste the victory. They could sense the agony of 100 years without a championship was about to end. There would have been unhappy people in Philly no matter what Selig decided to do. Philadelphia may be pissed about the way last night was handled, but they would not have been happy regardless. The weather was not cooperative for them.

I'm not that upset. I wasn't really that excited about going and celebrating in the cold rain that came down last night. I'm sure the fires from the riots that I'm sure will ensue if the Phillies win might have helped to keep me warm. But I had my fill of drinking outdoors in the rain at homecoming this weekend. So maybe tomorrow night will be better. And maybe tomorrow night will finally bring the celebration this city is so craving.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Black Out


This weekend I traveled back to Maryland to go to the Homecoming game. And by game, I mean tailgate. I went home to see my brother and some friends who I thought were going to the game. In typical Meghan fashion, I made no plans beforehand about tailgating and didn't make any definite plans with my friends. We all just said that we would meet up at the tailgate somewhere. "Send a text when you get there" type of thing. Of course, this led to none of us having actual tailgates. I also had no ticket to the game. I figured if the weather was decent I'd scalp a ticket once I got there.

Luckily my sister has more organized friends. So my brother and I crashed her tailgate. We brought beer and put in some money for food, so we weren't total freeloaders. And then basically we drank in the rain. Which actually was beneficial for some of the games we were playing. Please ask me how to play shotgun, shotgun. Because the sky continued to open up and pour down on us, my brother and I decided to forgo the game and just watch it at a bar where hopefully we could dry off soon.

But the game was not on TV! I'm serious! THE MARYLAND HOMECOMING GAME WAS NOT ON TELEVISION, NOT EVEN IN COLLEGE PARK! Not even on some crappy channel. Maryland is ranked in the AP poll this week. They had not lost to a ranked team. What the hell. I didn't even think to check if the game was televised. How could it not be. I have never hated all networks more. I sat dripping wet in bar in College Park and all I wanted was to watch my alma mater beat up on NC State.

Maryland did go on to win the game. I listened to some of it as my brother drove us home to Baltimore. But really, I don't want to talk about. This game made the Terps bowl eligible. This win ties Maryland for first place in the Atlantic Division of the ACC. The Terps finally beat a team they were supposed to beat. This game was could have been so special. This was a chance for the alumni to watch even if they weren't at the game. To celebrate in College Park. But in wasn't the rain that put the main damper on the mood. It was the inability to watch the game.

Stupid networks.

Yeah, I'm still a little bitter.