Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Big 10 Presents Big Opportunity

The Maryland Terrapins are headed to the Big 10 and the pissing and moaning coming out of the DMV is louder than a baby on a cross-country flight. As a self proclaimed and unapologetic hater of all things Terrapin, my hair trigger reaction is to tell Terp Nation to shut the heck up. But after further review of the Conference Move, my reaction is….SHUT THE HECK UP TERP NATION.

This is a good move. Wait, no. This is a really good move! Wait, still not there yet.  This is a GREAT move! There we go.

The biggest obstacle for many of you is this feeling of nostalgia for the old ACC, and I completely get that. But the ACC really hasn’t been the ACC since Miami and Virginia Tech joined up. And with the upcoming additions of Pitt, Syracuse, and Notre Dame, the ACC is about to be as recognizable as Joan Rivers before her 3,764 plastic surgeries. The ACC is changing, expanding it’s market, and quite frankly these moves were not going to be good for the University of Maryland. But we will dig into that sport by sport later on. 

The move to the Big 10 is a money grab, plain and simple. This has become commonplace in collegiate athletics, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this.  In case you have been sleeping under Ralph Friedgin’s gut for the past few months, you know that Maryland’s athletic department has been hemorrhaging money.  To the point where they had to slash seven programs including the swim team, men’s tennis, and a whole bunch of men’s track teams (that’s right, the runners are multiplying!).  With the move to the Big 10, Maryland will take in a projected $30 million annually (TV Revenue, Ticket Sales, etc.) which will go a long way for a school whose athletic programs need cash flow more than Antoine Walker.  This deal from the Big 10 is like someone with years of student loans and credit card debts opening their front door and seeing Ed McMahon with a large cardboard check.


Maryland will hopefully know what to do with this newfound cheddar, and they will need to funnel it into recruiting. Period.  Byrd Stadium is already a great venue and the football facilities are state of the art.  The Comcast Center is a far cry from the vibe of Cole Field House, but it is certainly enough to entice recruits. 

Testudo is on the balcony ready to jump off and I’m the police officer with the megaphone who is trying to talk him off the ledge.  My wife has left me and she took the kids all because I have a bad drinking habit, which stems directly from the fact that I let a 16-year-old girl jump off her apartment balcony 6 months ago.  This is a tough thing to get over, and it’s cost me everything, but maybe just maybe, if I can prevent Testudo from jumping I will redeem myself. Well here it goes 


This is the sport that stands to benefit the most.  Football is most schools’ major moneymaker.  Maryland’s football tradition in the ACC is about as storied as any of these contestants on Dancing With the Stars.  This whole “Oregon East” movement backed by Under Armour can work, and the Big 10 will provide a wider net for this.  Whether you are a Randy Edsall supporter or a Randy Edsall Hater, this conference move is a good thing.

Haters: Maryland does not have the money to fire Edsall.  If they fired him with this many years left on his contract, the school would be on the hook to continue to pay him the remainder of his contract.  They cannot afford to pay him and another coach at the same time. This move can give them the financial support to fire Edsall and bring in a viable replacement and pay him an appropriate salary.

Supporters: For those of you who still believe in Edsall, the move to the Big 10 is still a good thing. Football is better in the Big 10 than it is in the ACC.  With that Randy Edsall can start to recruit a different caliber of athlete than he could in the ACC.  Players who get spurned by Ohio State or Michigan will want a crack at those schools and Maryland can provide that opportunity.  The move provides Maryland with a more legitimate opportunity to open the recruiting trails in the Big 10 states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. 

Ohio State, Penn State, and Michigan will be a sellout every single year they play at Maryland.  They have large fan bases that will buy up tickets, which in turn will also bring Maryland’s fan base out for the big games.  Playing big time programs like this will also help recruiting. As a high school football player, you want the opportunity to play the Ohio States, the Michigans, and the Wisconsins.  More national television games and more national exposure mean better recruiting pitches.  Getting a chance to play at the Big House, the Horseshoe, Happy Valley, or Camp Randall will help recruit a better caliber of athlete than going to play Virginia Tech, Clemson, or Florida State (which is a great venue, but wouldn’t you take the opportunity to play at 3-4 great venues per year, not just one?). 

With more money coming in, there will be bigger recruiting budgets and the Maryland staff can go on more visits, and get out and watch the players play more.  It may take a couple of years for Maryland to get up to where they want to be, and it may take a different coach, but as far as football goes THIS IS THE RIGHT MOVE.


Here is where people are most upset.  Reasons being, the nostalgia over their “rivalries” with Duke and Carolina, the reputation of the ACC, and their regionally geographic bound with the Atlantic Coast. Lets debunk all of these right now.  In order for it to be a rivalry, both sides must consider it so and the hate and passion must be so high on both sides that this game is the biggest of the year, regardless of the two teams’ records.  With that said, there’s really only one true rivalry in the ACC and that’s Duke and Carolina.  Maryland fans hate Duke and they hate Carolina – as evidenced by these being the only two games the student section is actually full.  Duke and Carolina enjoy beating the ever-living piss out of the Terps, but no more so than Wake Forest or Florida State.  This is not a rivalry just angry little brother syndrome.  So move on Terps fans and forge new rivalries in the Big 10.

The second part of this is the reputation of the ACC.  For a few years, the ACC had ascended to the tops of College Basketball where 7-8 teams were making the big dance.  However, it has become a very top-heavy conference with tiers. Your Top Tier is Duke and Carolina and now you HAVE to include N.C. State.  The 2nd tier is the next batch of schools that are competitive, jump in and out of the top 25, and make a run every few years, only to shy up once the lights come on. This is Florida State and it used to be Wake Forest.  Maryland would sniff this tier, but in reality they were in the 3rd tier with everyone else.  The Terps were lost in the shuffle most years, and not even a GPS could help them find a way in the new ACC, which will include Syracuse, Pitt, and Notre Dame (which is a better job and program, cut to Mike Brey nodding). 

Finally, the regional attachment to the ACC.  I get this argument somewhat because the charter members of the conference come from the Maryland, Virginia, and Carolina region so there is a certain bond.  But once the ACC welcomed in schools from Florida and Massachusetts, that bond essentially disintegrated.  And now with schools from Pennsylvania, upstate New York, and even Indiana coming aboard, this regional attachment is nothing more than an old man refusing to give up his recliner despite the fact the original covering is withered away to nothing.

In recent years the Big 10 has surpassed the ACC as a basketball conference.  The Big 10 has won the past 3 ACC-Big Ten Challenges, since 2009 the Big 10 has made 3 Final Fours while the ACC has made 2, and currently the Big 10 has the no. 1 ranked program (Indiana), the no. 3 (Ohio State), the no. 4 (Michigan), no. 15 (Michigan State) the no. 24 (Wisconsin), and Minnesota who is somewhere between 26-28.  Besides the Tobacco Roadsters (Duke no.5, UNC no. 9, and NC State no. 16) there is not much going on in the ACC. Florida State will be there, but as a whole the Big 10 is far more competitive.  It is the better basketball conference and with the recruiting classes that Turgeon is bringing in, I could definitely see Maryland getting more at-large bids out of the Big 10 than they would in the ACC.

As far as baseball goes, Maryland was never EVER going to compete in the ACC.  They won 5 games a year in conference, and eeked their way to a .500 record overall year in and year out.  While the Big 10 is a major step down from the ACC in baseball, it gives Maryland a chance to be who they really are.  They were never going to be a good ACC team and trying to fool themselves every year was counter active.  Now they can compete on a more even playing field.  Not bad for a program that barely survived the program slash from this summer.

As for those of you who are complaining about how it affects lacrosse.  Put on your croakies, and your pastel shorts, hop back into your daddy’s beamer, and drive back to whatever hole you crawled out of.  You are a niche sport for rich white kids.  There are only 3 teams in the Big 10 now with Maryland and Rutgers making 5.  Maryland has the option to just become independent much like Johns Hopkins.  Seeing as there are only like 20-30 college lacrosse teams anyways (not accurate number, but I’m not taking the time to look up how few college lacrosse teams there are) Maryland can go independent and still load their schedule with the premier teams they’ve grown accustomed to.  Your sport generates no revenue for Maryland so stop complaining about how it impacts your sport.  Football and Basketball are the CEO’s and CFO’s and Lacrosse works in the mailroom.

Bottom line, this is a good move for Maryland.  The university will make far more money which will lead to improved facilities, more recruiting resources, better academic funding, and they can even reinstate many of the programs that had to be cut over the summer.  Come on Testudo, get down from that ledge it’s not so bad. Forget about cursing out Roy Williams or Mason Plumlee. It’s time to direct those obscenities at Thad Motta’s children and Gary Harris’s mother.  

Monday, October 29, 2012

2012-2013 Washington Wizards Season Preview

The Eastern Seaboard is strapping in as Hurricane Sandy prepares to unleash a rage and a fury we haven’t seen since Teresa Giudice’s last period.  The rain is expected to come down sideways and the winds are expected to howl.  Even George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg think its best to stay inside for the next couple of days.  But despite all of this, let’s discuss something that will not blow…the 2012-2013 NBA Season!

There are more storylines to this basketball season than a season of LOST.  Can the Heat repeat? With the world’s weight off his shoulders, will Lebron go into “I Told You So Mode” and supremely dominate for the next 7-8 years? Can the front loaded Lakers win it all despite their bench being thinner than Nicole Richie?  Can the Thunder take the next step? Will the Nets wear scarves in the summer like most of their fellow Brooklyn residents? Is the Celtics-Heat rivalry about to become the most heated (pardon my pun) in the league – cut to Ray Allen nodding?

With all of these juicy undertones to the season, it’s time to discuss a topic that ESPN will ignorantly ignore; a topic that Ivan Carter will certainly not neglect…our Washington Wizards’ season outlook.

Before we start battering you with our overtly optimistic predictions, we have to get the bad news out of the way.  John Wall will be out until about January with a knee injury.  Our most exciting and most important player will miss the first two months and the Wall-Beal Backcourt (still working on a better nickname) will have to wait to unleash their speed and skill on the league. 

Randy Wittman is back as head coach after taking over for the biggest Windsor knot advocate Chocolate City had ever seen.  He has been hell bent on changing the culture of this locker room. Wittman’s no nonsense style was exactly what this young squad needed, and they actually finished last season on a six game winning streak. Break up the Zards!

Despite all the bad trades, and his infatuation with unathletic and unproven Eurotrashians, our ass clown of a General Manager had his option picked up by Teddy Owner’s Box.  This move left us all scratching our heads, but who better to clean up the rotten culture of a team that he is solely responsible for building? Getting rid of malignant morons like JaVale McGee, Nick Young, and Andray Blatche were priority numero uno, and all three currently have new addresses.  So kudos to you Ernie, but then again you don’t have to get rid of knuckleheads, if you don’t draft em.

Big Ern had an eventful off-season starting with his trade of Rashard Lewis and his expiring contract to the New Orleans Hornets for Omeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza.  This trade was met with mixed reviews because Rashard Lewis’s massive expiring contract was a very primo trade chip and many thought the Zards could have brought in a better haul. But, that’s neither here nor there because the Zards picked up two proven NBA players who will saddle up with NeNe and bring a little more passion and professionalism to this squad of young bucks.

Speaking of young bucks, we drafted Bradley Beal with the third overall pick in the draft.  Beal is a tad undersized, but the thought of him being Jimmy Wall’s running mate gets the Nation’s Capital more jacked up than this year’s presidential election’s two tandems.  Beal is a good shooter and will bring a new level of high character that is more foreign to this team than a sushi menu is to Jan Vesely.  We have insider knowledge from one of our closest friends who was on Florida’s basketball staff las season who told us that “Brad Beal is one of the best human beings I have ever been around. He works hard and wants to be great. He is the Anti-Blatche.” Get excited folks, Wall and Beal together is going to be special. 

Our frontcourt is going to bring a new level of defensive toughness.  Something Ernie Jordan always wanted, but never actually coached towards.  When healthy, NeNe can be a force, and Okafor can still block shots and grab boards.  Ariza can score a little bit, and he will be tasked with covering other team’s wing players – never easy.

Our bench is a rag tag group that can get it done, similar to the Nats’ “Goon Squad.” Don’t sleep on Kevin Seraphin! He is a big boy who really came on strong down the stretch last season, racking up double doubles like Andray Blatche at Mickey D’s drive thru……….

……As I’m writing this preview Tyler just texted me COMPLETELY out of the blue. He had no idea I was working on a preview, and here is what just transpired:


Tyler: Grunfeld needs to be fired. Here’s Why: Hold on to the pick in 09, take Steph Curry at 5.  Wall comes in 2010. Take Kwahi Leonard in 2011, not Vesely. Now you’re building around John Wall, Leonard, and Steph Curry. Fuck.

Ben: And yet he got an extension.

Tyler: Then he drafts some Czech PG when you already have Wall, Crawford, and Mack on your roster, and Draymond Green still on the draft board. He’s basically giving up on Mack. Double Fuck.

Tyler: This is goddamn lunacy!!! How is there not more outrage about Big Ern’s extension?!?!

Ben: Chocolate City needs to start caring about the Zards again!!!

Tyler: Yea, I mean this is like DUI bad.  I can’t believe it.  If Big Ern knew how to draft, we could easily be a 6 seed in the East.  Then you could sell FA’s into coming to DC.  Even though no one hits Free Agency anymore.

Ben: DC should be a bball destination for FA’s, instead it’s an after thought. WTF?!?!?

Tyler: ABSOLUTELY! Atleast with that plan you have young movable assets if you wanted to make a trade.  Fucking crazy.

Ben: I get that he was trying to change the culture from that slew of knuckleheads that HE DRAFTED, but the direction of the franchise is more misleading than a Garmin with low battery.

Tyler: HAHAHAHAHAHA. True on all counts.  It’s all garbage.  We remain victims.

Ben: In the Grand Jury Report that will come out in 6 years in the case of Ernie Grunfeld accused of crimes against a fan base, we will be labeled victims 1 and 2.

Ben: Too soon?

Tyler: Not at all. That sort of thing is well deserved.

Ben: Ernie Grunfeld is a son of a bitch.  *Drops The Mike*

Sorry for that textual sidebar.  Seeing as we have already racked up over a 1,000 words on the Zards we will wrap up the bench in a short and sweet manner.

F Martell Webster: Considered a veteran?
F/C Jan Vesely: Brutal
F Trevor Booker: Excited for his future.
G Jordan Crawford: Takes more shots than a sorority girl with daddy issues.
F Chris Singleton: Defense first, shoot second.
G A.J. Price: Backup point guard.
G Shelvin Mack: the backup point guard’s backup.
G Jannero Pargo: Sure
F Cartier Martin: Double sure.

Not a lot of household names, but they could all make an impact. The talent pool is not where many of us would like it to be, but we fully think this team could sneak up on the NBA. If they can stay a float with out Jimmy Wall, then hopefully he comes back from the DL with swagger and a jump shot.  There is no reason to think that this team couldn’t sneak into an 8 seed and start building towards a sustainable playoff team.

Prediction: 38-44, 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Birdland Bulletin: Reverse Jinx

REVERSE JINX (n): A prediction, which is the opposite of the outcome, desired by the person making it.  Phrase is mainly used in a sporting context.

I love when people use the reverse jinx and think it will have an impact.  I myself have never used it, but merely chuckled from a far. Then again the Orioles need some serious MOJO, and I’m fresh out of chickens to sacrifice, so maybe this is my only avenue.  I would rather find out that my parents are swingers and that I am actually adopted than write the words I have to write, but trust me when I say this folks, this is necessary.

Take everything I say here with a keg full of salt…

There is no chance the Orioles can bounce back after last night’s crushing defeat at the arthritic hands of aaRpaul Ibanez.  A loss like that busts your guts, breaks your heart, and crushes your soul.  Oh, and it broke the Orioles will to compete. They will come out flat tonight because they are simply so emotionally taxed from last night’s Brutality in the Bronx.

The pitching matchup is so ridiculous it hurts.  Phil Hughes is so consistent and will probably shove it up Birdland’s butts tonight with a dominating 8-inning performance.  We may eek out 2 seeing-eye-singles, but that will be all.  Phil Hughes is so lights out it’s not even funny, not to mention he is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his career in the ALDS.  And with the way our bats are going right now he will undoubtedly improve to 3-0. 

Joe Saunders is pitching for the Orioles? No way he pitches the way he did in Texas when he exercised some personal demons and locked down the Rangers.  His veteran experience will play no factor at all tonight at Yankee$ $tadium. 

As for the Yankee$ lineup, Joe Saunders is just OVERMATCHED! Derek Jeter has a  bone bruise? What bone bruise? We will all be fortunate enough to witness yet another gritty, gutsy, and clutch performance from the greatest captain in all of sports.

I doubt Ichiro gets out tonight.

A-Rod will break out of his slump with a casual 4-4 day including two home runs, one of which will be a grand slam. Nine RBI’s total.

For Cano, see Ichiro.

Teixeira is still a horse-faced retard. Somebody’s gotta get out so it may as well as be this hack.

Swisher, Granderson, Martin, and Ibanez will look more like Mantle, DiMaggio, Munson, and Ruth.
The Orioles batters are in a collectively ill-timed slump.  Hardy, Jones, Wieters, Thome, and Reynolds have fewer hits than the Baha Men, The Proclaimers, and Chumbawumba combined.  Expect that to continue.  There is no way these talented professional hitters will break out of their slumps, especially now that their backs are against the wall.

All of a sudden Jim Johnson has been leakier than underwear made of Lindsey Lohan’s alibis.  He bounced back from Game 1’s abortion, but last night was a crippling blow to the Orioles closer.  Even though he retired the next five batters after Raul’s shot heard round the sewer Bronx, JJ is clearly shuck to his core.  Luckily for him he will not be called upon tonight because the Yankee$ will probably be up 16-2 by the 6th inning.

Shame on us Orioles fans for thinking we could go toe to toe with the New York Yankee$ in a best of five series.  They have better players at literally every position.  Even their ticket ushers have exuded confidence and charisma.  There’s just something magical about those pinstripes that inspire greatness in everyone it touches. 

Thanks to all of the Yankee$ fans who have littered social media with their applause of the Orioles effort and how great it is for baseball to have the Baltimore Orioles back in the fold.  Your humility and candor is in a world by itself, much like the New York Yankee$ as a franchise.  You are not condescending at all; trust me when I say everyone in Birdland sincerely thanks your approval of our 2012 season.  Hopefully we can attempt to breath the same rarified air as you next season, because this year is all but over.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

PSA: Proper Playoffs Etiquette

Today at 1:07 Eastern Standard Time, the Washington Nationals will host their first home playoff game in franchise history, and the first home playoff game in our nation’s capital since Betty White was 11 years old. 

If you are lucky enough to attend today’s game or any of the Nationals playoff games, it is your responsibility to conduct yourselves appropriately.  And by appropriately, we mean going absolutely berserk and losing yourself in the ballgame!

For whatever reason, our fan base has been hit with the label of not being the most educated, or most excitable.  These claims are probably being made by condescending New Yorkers and Bostonians, but in the slimmest glimmer of this being the tiniest bit true, we have decided to give you a few guidelines on what not to do at a playoff baseball game (or any baseball game for that matter), just to be safe.

First off, we’ve got to stop jumping out of our seats every time a Nationals batter lofts a fly ball into the outfield.  Just because it is a flyball, does not mean it has a chance to be a home run. Who are we, Dodgers fans? Seriously, some of you have worse reads on a flyball than Albert Belle.   A key things to look for to make sure you don't "clown out" everytime there is a flyball.
-Listen for the sound of the ball of the bat.  If it's a real firm whack, it's got a chance.
-Watch the batter's reaction and body language.  If he pimps it or starts strutting, he's probably gotten a good hold of it.
-Watch the overall trajectory of the ball. This is usually a good indicator whether or not the ball has the distance.

We love heckling the pitcher just as much as Henry Rowengartner, but booing said pitcher every time he throws a pick off over to 1st Base is not a good look.  You’re essentially saying, “BOOO! STOP PLAYING SMART BASEBALL!”  Pickoffs may seem like a stall tactic to some, and they may bore others, but pickoffs are part of the game.  How many times did you hear the Cardinals fans booing when a Nats picture picked over? Probably the same amount of times Jan Vesely hits 2 consecutive free throws.  Tell the pitcher his mother is a one-eyed whore, but for the love of God, no more booing on pickoffs.

If you are over the age of 12, 11 years old, DO NOT BRING A GLOVE TO THE GAME!  I don’t care if you are sitting a row behind the dugout and need it for protection; use your bare hands or your inner-Keanu and Matrix out of the way of the ball.  No grown man should have a glove at a baseball game, period. 

While Steve Bartman did not have a glove on his hand, he may as well have to go with those headphones and that turtleneck.  This guideline is directed towards the people lucky enough to be sitting down the left field or right field lines.  If a foul ball is hit down the line when the Nationals are in the field, DO NOT interfere with Big Mike Morse or Jayson Werth.  Allow them the best opportunity to make the play and get outs, cut to Moises Alou nodding his head.  If you are sitting in the front row you need to turn into the walk-on at the end of the bench during March Madness, and hold everybody back.

And finally, I think I speak for most red blooded Americans when I say STOP DOING THE WAVE. A baseball stadium is not the place for a wave, especially when your team is out in the field.  It is distracting and it makes it harder for the defense to read the ball off the bat when the crowd is ebbing and flowing all over each other.  If Terrance and the rest of the Natitude Crew are telling you to stand up at the count of 3, look him dead in the eye and tell him that his dance moves freak everyone out and it’s time for him to start looking for a new day job.  The Wave is a sign of boredom as well as a complete and utter lack of feel at a baseball game.  We can stop this notion that Nats fans are still new to this whole “baseball” thing, by simply eliminating the Wave.

When Edwin Jackson gets two strikes on a batter, get the hell out of your seats and start cheering and making noise.  There are few sports moments cooler than when a home team’s pitcher has two strikes on a batter (especially with two outs) and the whole stadium rises up as one.  It’ll give anyone goosebumps, in fact it even makes the hairs on the back of James Carville’s neck stand up.

Get loud, make noise, let the whole eastern seaboard here us today!  Wave those red towels until you feel like you’ve torn your rotator cuff.  And when that happens, wave some more.  Strasburg may have had an innings limit, but we sure as hell don’t! 

Natstown is full of passionate baseball fans who have been waiting for today.  Our savvy fan base has gotten a bad rap, probably from doing a few too many Waves.  But we all know what this fan base and this team are capable of.  Keep these friendly guidelines in mind today during our franchise’s BIGGEST GAME.

Go crazy, get wild, and leave your glove at home.