Archive for July, 2009

Rest in peace, Jim Johnson

July 29, 2009

Former Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson

As a Redskins fan, I have a healthy dislike for the Giants, Cowboys and Eagles.

It’s a NFC East thing, a moral imperative, if you will.

But I always liked Jim Johnson.

Johnson, the longtime defensive coordinator of the Eagles, lost his battle with cancer yesterday.

And with his passing, one of the great coaching minds in the NFL fades away.

His teams were always fun to watch. Nobody, and I mean nobody, brought the house on blitzes more often than Johnson.

I always liked his moxie, even when it was pounding my Redskin quarterbacks into oblivion.

I’m telling you, Eagle games just won’t be the same without him.

Prep soccer schedules

July 29, 2009

The folks at ncprepsports.net have the 2009 boys’ soccer schedules posted for the public schools. Check them out here.

I’ll send a note to my private school friends and see if I can get those schedules as well.

Fayetteville Academy

Northwood Temple

The Strasburg watch

July 22, 2009

I’m not encumbered with the burden myself, but it must be tough to be a Washington Nationals fan.

The gentleman standing atop this page is former San Diego State hurler Stephen Strasburg, the top pick in the 2009 MLB Draft by the Nationals.

The trouble is that, unless the Nats and super agent Scott Boras reach a deal by Aug. 17, the 100-mile-an-hour tossing pitcher will go back into the draft pool for 2010 and probably pitch in the Independent League until next season.

A quick glance at the standings this morning – and I must like you people because, as a rule, I don’t look at them until Aug. 1 – reveals that the Nationals are 27-66, an epic 27 games behind the Phillies in the National League East.

A side note: If you added the games back for the entire Central division, it only comes to 20.

I know that Boras is demanding a king’s ransom – a major league deal with somewhere north of $10 million in guaranteed money – but with a half-empty, shiny new ballpark and a fanbase that’s running low on patience – the brass in D.C. needs to get this done.

You can’t really go two years in a row without signing your top pick (The Nats took Aaron Crow last year at No. 9, but failed to sign him), can you?

Bite the bullet.

Write the check.

Donovan to Livorno?

Tell me this isn’t happening.

Rumors out of Italy (sounds like a great title for a novella) say that recently promoted Livorno (to the Italian top flight, Serie A) are considering a bid for L.A. Galaxy and U.S. International front man Landon Donovan.

I want him in Europe more than most people, but this deal is a little like spending five years in a bomb shelter eating MREs, then opening the door, walking down the street where you could eat at, say, a Cracker Barrell, Texas Roadhouse or a good Mexican place and deciding instead to eat at Waffle House.

Wait for a better team, dude.

(Please let it be Fulham…)

Morning headlines

July 21, 2009

I hate the Yankees.

If you’ve spent any time in the shop window here, you’ve surely heard that before.

But last night, it was yet another cruel blow as Hideki Matsui laced a Jim Johnson fastball over the wall in right center for a walk-off home run in a 2-1 Yankee victory over my beloved Orioles.

I really hate those guys.

But that isn’t going to stop me from checking out the new billion-dollar Yankee Stadium next month when the bride and I invade NYC.

I’ll be cheering for the Blue Jays that day, in case you’re wondering.

It’s in the game

I’m sure I’ll get around to writing a full review, so I won’t spoil it by telling you all about NCAA Football 10 for the PS3.

My early impressions are pretty positive. Aside from a few too many turnovers, injuries and penalties, I’ve made the adjustment from last year’s game. The engine has a definte Madden feel to it, though, which makes running the option -which is already next to impossible – even more so.

The graphics are solid, and Erin Andrews (fully clothed, of course) is patrolling the sidelines providing injury reports – which again happens to me far too often.

Overall, a must buy for the serious fan.

And, if you’re a PS3 guy, you can go online and download a real roster from some guy named buckeye02.

Good stuff.

Headlines, Monday July 20

July 20, 2009

I’m going to try and start updating this thing more often.

Yeah, I know you’ve heard that one before…

Anyway, let’s get busy:

Erin Andrews gets exposed

In what is easily the most reported story in the blogosphere, ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews was victimized by a peeping tom and the video spent the weekend being spread around the Internet before ESPN’s legal team sent out enough hate mail to get the videos taken down.

Apparently, hackers have gotten in on the fun, using the video to spread viruses.

Look, I know she’s hot. But it’s called self control, people. Look into it.

I don’t want to be a prude here, but this is outrageous. The poor woman was dressing in her hotel room. The idiot slug who did this needs to spend some time in prison. And with the clout of ESPN behind her and her legal team, that mouth breathing pervert is likely shaking in his crocs this morning.

What a sad world we live in.

Watson implodes

Speaking of sadness – not to mention adding another mark on my “there’s no such thing as fair” scoreboard – 59-year-old golf icon Tom Watson had a one-shot lead standing on the tee box of the 72nd hole of the British Open at Turnberry.

About an hour later, he has blown up like, well, naked pictures of Erin Andrews.

I’m not bitter, even though my Mexican cousin, Reynaldo, lost 100 bucks when he missed that putt that would have won him the title (101-to-1 odds on Thursday night).

I hurt for the man, who with the flick of a putter, turned back into a pumpkin right before our eyes.

I’ve got to admit, it was good theatre. I watched about six hours of golf on Sunday.

And that’s a lot.

Trophy Manager – a new addiction

July 13, 2009

Trophy Manager

I recently stumbled across Trophy Manager, a free online game in which you get to create a soccer club and try to take them straight to the top.

You buy and sell players, upgrade the stadium, find coaches and scouts, schedule friendlies – all the things you might expect to be doing if you were running the show at Arsenal or Real Madrid.

Again, it’s free to play. Now, if you want to unlock some additional (and cool) features, you can buy a Pro membership for three months for about $13.

Anyway, if you’re bored waiting for the Premier League to get cranked back out, check out the site here:

www.trophymanager.com/index.php?ref=811649

Wrong place, wrong time

July 9, 2009

I’ve been wanting to write this for a few days now, but I’m just now able to do so.

Andy Roddick’s loss to Roger Federer on Sunday at Wimbledon was tough for me to take.

Not because I hate Roger Federer. On the contrary, I think he’s a wonderful man and one of the finest tennis players ever to walk the earth.

It’s not even because I admire Andy Roddick, though I do.

He’s my second favorite tennis player of all time, right behind Pete Sampras. Before Sunday, many had questioned his heart.

Me? I prefer to remember his win at the U.S. Open in 2003 or his epic win over Younes El Aynaoui 4-6, 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4, 21-19, at the Aussie Open a few years back in the longest fifth set  in Grand Slam tennis history.

Or the fact that, until this weekend, he had played in 17 straight Davis Cup matches for his country.

No, I snapped off the radio coverage on Sunday on the BBC World Service (God bless XM Radio) seconds after the match ended for one simple reason.

Andy Roddick played the match of his life. He’s never been more fearless. More ambitious. More calculating, even, which isn’t exactly one of his strengths.

He raised his game to levels that no one that’s watched him play with regularity dreamed possible.

And he still lost.

Federer is a great champion and, 50 years from now, he’ll be remembered as one of the sport’s true greats.

Roddick will be a footnote, a guy that lost a handful of Wimbledon finals and a boat load of other matches to the Swiss mister.

My wife and I had a discussion recently, where I shared with her a few things I call life’s myths.

One of them is the concept of fairness.

I sumbit that the only time that the word fair is properly used is when the ferris wheel comes to town in October.

There is no fair. Because, if life were fair, the man who already had 14 major titles would not have withstood blast after blast from a man with one without flinching.

It would be 14 and two today, instead of 15 and one.

It was hard to digest.

But, in the end, I tip my cap to Federer.

And I take it off for Roddick.

Campbell releases its 2009 schedule

July 6, 2009

Campbell’s Vince Petrasso

Of course, I already had a preliminary copy. But here’s the official release from our good friend Stan Cole…

BUIES CREEK – Coming off its most successful season in 15 years, Campbell University will face one of the most challenging schedules in its men’s soccer history during the 2009 campaign. Not only will the Camels attempt to defend their Atlantic Sun Conference regular season crown and return to the NCAA College Cup, but Coach Doug Hess’ squad will square off against one of the toughest slates in the South and South Atlantic regions.

Dates with 2008 College Cup runner-up North Carolina, fellow Atlantic Coast Conference member North Carolina State and in-state rival Charlotte highlight the road schedule outside league play.

The Camels will entertain the likes of William & Mary, UNC Greensboro, Richmond and Davidson in non-conference action, while also pointing to a Halloween date in Buies Creek with Jacksonville for a re-match of last year’s A-Sun final.

“This year’s schedule is set up similarly to the last few,” said Hess, whose 2008 team finished ranked number-25 in the final Soccer America national poll and number three in the year-end NSCAA South Region listing. “We like to go on the road early and test our team’s mental strength right out of the gate. I will always hold strong to my belief that winning on the road is most important. While we struggled last fall on the early season road trips, the character we developed during that time I believe set us up for the amazing run our team had through October.”

The 2008 Camels became the first-ever A-Sun school to finish a men’s soccer season with a 9-0-0 regular season record. Despite a 4-3 loss to second-seeded Jacksonville in the A-Sun final at Buies Creek, Campbell earned its 12th conference final appearance since the Camels won their first Division I league title in the 1984 Big South tournament. Since joining the A-Sun in 1994, Campbell has reached the men’s soccer final five times.

Over the last four years, CU won two A-Sun regular season championships (2005, 2008), one A-Sun tournament title (2007), and made the school’s first appearance in the NCAA Division I College Cup (2007). In addition, CU led the conference in attendance for the third time in four seasons.

The Camels have been ranked in the South Region in each of the last four years and have compiled a 50-25-6 overall record (.654). The Camels also own the best A-Sun regular season record (25-4-4, .818) of all league members since the start of the 2005 season. In addition, the Camels received their first national ranking since 1988.

Non-Conference Opponents

CU once again opens the regular season with its most frequent rival in the school’s men’s soccer history when Campbell travels to UNC Wilmington on Tuesday, Sept. 1 for the 44th game in the series. Nine of the last 11 meetings in the series – which Campbell leads by a 24-18-1 margin – have been decided by one goal. Campbell has won the last four contests in the series.

In last year’s season opener at Buies Creek, Jason Keever and Khalil Johnson contributed goals in a 3-0 Camel victory. UNCW went on to win its first-ever Colonial Athletic Association regular season championship (10-9-1, 7-4-0) before dropping its first match in the CAA tournament.

The Camels then host William & Mary, which advanced to the second round of the 2008 College Cup, in their home opener on Saturday, Sept. 5. Last year, the Tribe rallied for a 3-2 overtime victory at Williamsburg on the way to an 11-7-3 mark, 6-4-1 in the CAA.

This year’s match will cap a busy Labor Day Saturday weekend in Campbell athletics. The Campbell football team hosts Methodist at 1:00 p.m., followed by a women’s soccer game against Appalachian State at 4:00 p.m., then the men’s contest at 7:00.

Campbell takes on the first of three Southern Conference opponents on the 2009 slate when it travels to Georgia Southern on Sept. 8 for a Tuesday afternoon (4:00 p.m.) kick-off. Last season, Khalil Johnson scored in a 2-0 Camel victory over the Eagles at Buies Creek. Georgia Southern finished 8-8-1 overall 4-3-0 in the SoCon.

CU meets in-state rival Charlotte for the first time since 2000 on Sept. 12 in a Saturday night trip to the Queen City. The 49ers narrowly missed out on an NCAA berth in 2008 after sporting a 12-6-1 overall record and 4-4-1 mark in the Atlantic 10 Conference. The Camels and 49ers have played only six times since 1990, when CU last defeated Charlotte (1-0).

North Carolina State appears on the Camel schedule Nov. 15 after a three-year hiatus. Campbell will travel to Raleigh for a Tuesday night contests against the Wolfpack, which finished 2008 with a 9-9-1 overall mark and 3-5-0 ledger in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Campbell has lost its last eight games against N.C. State, most recently a 2-0 setback in 2005 when the Wolfpack was ranked 12th in the nation.

Defending Southern Conference tournament champion UNC Greensboro visits Buies Creek on Sept. 23 for the 19th renewal of the rivalry between former Big South Conference foes. UNCG scored a 2-1 triumph last season in Greensboro and went on to advance to the third round of the NCAA College Cup despite finishing with a 10-11-3 overall record.

Richmond travels to Buies Creek for the first time since 1992 on Sat., Sept. 26 for a 5:00 p.m. contest that precedes Campbell’s women’s soccer A-Sun match against Belmont. Two seasons ago, the Camels won Richmond’s Nike Challenge by defeating the Spiders 2-1 in the final.

For the fourth-consecutive season, Campbell’s non-conference schedule includes the North Carolina Tar Heels. The Camels have won three-straight outings against the 2008 NCAA College Cup runner-up, including a 2-0 decision last year at Buies Creek when the Heels were ranked seventh in the nation.

Campbell travels to Chapel Hill on Tues., Oct. 13 to face UNC, which finished the 2008 campaign with a 15-8-1 overall record.

The regular season concludes on Tues., Nov. 3 when Davidson travels to Buies Creek to renew its rivalry with the Camels. Campbell has won the last two contests against the Wildcats, including a 2-1 decision in 2005 that marked CU’s first victory over a nationally-ranked program in 17 years

Including that win over then-23rd ranked Davidson, Campbell has won four of its last nine matches against nationally-ranked schools.

“We have a very strong out of conference opponent schedule and are hopeful that this will prepare our team for the grind that will lie ahead in conference play,” said Hess. “I believe I say it every year, but the Atlantic Sun is forever challenging. This past season saw close to 70 percent of the games decided by a goal or less (ties). While some may think our run through conference play was uncontested, I challenge them to look closely at the games—six of our nine wins were decided by a goal.”

Atlantic Sun Schedule

One year after becoming the first school in A-Sun history to fashion a 9-0-0 regular season record, the Camels open conference play on Oct. 1 at Lipscomb. The Camels will carry a 12-match (11-0-1) unbeaten mark in regular season A-Sun play into the contests against the Bisons, who set school records for overall (10-8-3) and league (5-3-1) wins last year.

Lipscomb is the last A-Sun school to defeat the Camels in the regular season – a 3-2 win Oct. 13, 2007 at Nashville, Tenn.

The Camels conclude their two-match swing through Music City with an Oct. 3 match at Belmont. Campbell has won five-straight against its league rival, including a 1-0 win during the regular season in 2008 and a 7-1 decision in the conference tournament semifinal when the Camels scored on four of their first five shots.

The A-Sun home opener follows on Thurs., Oct. 8 when USC Upstate visits the Eakes Athletic Complex for a 7:00 p.m. kick-off. Keever and Bryan Dornseif tallied in Campbell’s 3-0 win last year at Spartanburg. Since the Spartans joined the A-Sun in 2007, CU owns a 4-0 goal differential against its league rival.

East Tennessee State makes its first-ever trip to Buies Creek for men’s soccer competition on Oct. 10 for a 4:00 p.m. start. In their first varsity campaign, the Bucs fashioned a 6-10-1 overall record, but their 1-7-1 league slate included a 1-0 setback against Campbell.

Campbell’s Oct. 13 date at North Carolina is followed by three-consecutive A-Sun road matches, starting with an Oct. 17 clash at Mercer. Last year’s 3-0 Camel win at Buies Creek marked an end of nine-straight one (or fewer) goal decisions between the Camels and Bears.

The programs with the two best records in A-Sun regular season play meet on Oct. 22 at DeLand, Fla., when Campbell travels to Stetson. CU stands 5-1-1 in its last seven games against the Hatters following last season’s 2-1 triumph in Buies Creek, when Vince Petrasso set up Keever’s equalizer, then scored the winner.

Over the past four years, Campbell owns a 25-4-4 (.818) mark in A-Sun regular season competition, while Stetson stands 21-7-5 (.712).

Campbell concludes its two-game stretch in the Sunshine State on Sat., Oct. 24 at Florida Gulf Coast. Last year, Khalil Johnson scored twice and Petrasso secured the winner in a wild 3-2 victory at Buies Creek. During its first two years of men’s soccer competition, FGCU has produced a 14-20-3 overall record, including a 6-10-2 A-Sun mark. Campbell and the Eagles drew 2-2 at Fort Myers in 2007.

CU then opens a three-game home stand to end the regular year on Thurs., Oct. 29 against North Florida. Last year at Jacksonville, the Camels claimed a 3-0 victory behind Petrasso’s double and Keever’s strike. In the four-game series, the schools have alternated victories each year since its inception in 2005.

Halloween night features a re-match of the last two Atlantic Sun Conference finals when Jacksonville visits Buies Creek for a 7:00 p.m. game.

In 2007, the Camels and Dolphins played to a 1-1 before CU prevailed 5-4 in penalties at DeLand, Fla., to claim its first-ever NCAA College Cup berth. Last fall, Jacksonville rallied from a 3-1 half-time deficit to upset nationally-ranked and top-seeded Campbell 4-3 on its own field in the league title match.

Before that 4-3 setback, the Camels were unbeaten (6-0-1) in their last seven outings against Jacksonville, which advanced to the second round of last year’s College Cup.

“We have been fortunate to have success over the last four years, but by no means do I rest on that,” said Hess. “Winning in the past is never a birth right for the future. With the success we had last season, I am certain that we will play with a target on our backs.”

A-Sun Championship

The six-team Atlantic Sun Championship begins on Saturday, Nov. 7. The top two schools in the standings receive first-round byes into the semifinal round, which will be hosted on Thurs., Nov. 12 by the regular season champion. The third seed will host the sixth seed and four seed will host the fifth-seeded team at on-campus sites to determine the third and fourth semifinalists.

Nine of the 10 A-Sun members that sponsor men’s soccer will be eligible for the league tournament (and the champion’s automatic NCAA berth) as North Florida and USC Upstate join the mix following Division II transition requirements.

See the complete schedule here.

My MLB All-Star ballot

July 2, 2009

Since I’m never one to do things without the pressure of a deadline, today’s the final day you can vote for the players you want to play in the 2009 MLB All-Star Game in St. Louis later this month.

Wait. It’s July already?

Geez.

Anyway, I’m going to try my hand at a little Democracy. You know, the type of government we used to have before we became a Socialist state….

American League

Catcher: Joe Mauer, Minnesota– A surprisingly close call here, considering that Mauer is hitting .392 with 14 homers and 44 RBI. Victor Martinez is having a monster season, hitting .313 with 14 dingers and 57 RBI in almost 100 more at-bats.

First base: Justin Morneau, Minnesota– Yeah, Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis are 1-2 in the voting – thanks to the ballot box stuffing from Yankee and red Sox fans – but Morneau (.309, 19 HR, 64 RBI) is quietly having a better season than both of them.

Second base: Aaron Hill, Toronto– Ian Kinsler may end up winning the vote, but Hill (.301, 19 HR, 56 RBI) is having a tremendous season north of the border.

Third base: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay – Despite a nagging hamstring injury, there’s been no sophomore slump for this guy (.297, 16 HR, 63 RBI).

Shortstop: Derek Jeter, New York – His range might not be what it used to be, but the fact that he has only three errors means that he makes the plays he can. He’s also hitting .307 with nine homers, 32 RBI and 17 steals. Jason Bartlett (.362, 7 HR, 36 RBI) should be a reserve, though. He’s doing a good job down in Tampa.

Outfield: Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay; Ichiro, Seattle and Torii Hunter, Orange County Angels – There are a slew of worthy guys for these three spots, but these guys are carrying their respective clubs right now.

Starting pitcher: Zack Greinke, Kansas City – He’s 10-3 with a 1.95 ERA, 114 strikeouts in 115.1 innings and a string bikini small 1.02 WHIP. Yeah, he’s a beast.

National League

Catcher: Brian McCann, Atlanta – He’s seeing straight and he’s hitting (.310, 8 HR, 33 RBI).

First base: Albert Pujols, St. Louis – He plays quality defense and he’s got 10 steals as well. Oh yeah, did I mention he’s hitting .337 with 30 homers and 77 RBI?

Second base: Chase Utley, Philly – He’s hitting near .300 with 17 home runs and 52 runs batted in so far.

Third base: David Wright, N.Y. Mets – I almost voted for Mark Reynolds, whose massive power (20 HR) masks his Adam Dunn-like strikeout rate (105 in 285 at-bats). But Wright is hitting .340 with 20 steals, which makes up for his sudden drop in power (five homers).

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez, Florida– Here’s what’s wrong with the way MLB selects its all-star starters. Jimmy Rollins is probably going to start this game. But Rollins is barely hitting .200 while Ramirez is tearing the cover off the ball (.348, 13 HR, 58 RBI).

Outfield: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee; Raul Ibanez, Philly and Brad Hawpe, Colorado– This is a surprisingly weak outfield crop this year. Braun’s having a monster year, but Ibanez is hurt and Hawpe can’t field a lick. But, really, there aren’t any better options.

Starting pitcher: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco – He’s 8-2 with a 2.37 ERA. He also has 132 strikeouts in 114 innings. And he rocks a mullet.

Want to vote? Go here.