Friday, March 28, 2008

Sunday is JC's day , Hun

December 7th...a date which will live in the hearts and minds of all Ravens fans that is. Redskins fans are descending upon M&T on Sunday night in what will hopefully be our answer to what happened in FedEx against the Steelers. Let's not spend too much time there, since we are forced to admit that Steelers fans seem to be more plentiful on this planet than water and air, more omnipresent than even that awful "Saved By Zero" commercial for Toyota. Seriously, in this economy, with the current crisis in the automaking industry, and Toyota has the money to play that commercial every 5 minutes?

When the NFL steps up to a longer regular season schedule (and shorter preseason), they simply must allow teams like the Ravens and Redskins to play each other every year. It is unacceptable that we play each other once every four years. Even so, the seeds of a rivalry have been sown. We have heard it is a bit manufactured, but I just don't think it is so. Baltimore fans have a real hatred for Redskins fans. It seems to stem from when they lost their team in 1984. Apparently there was a big push to make Baltimore a Redskins town, and Colts' fans were having NONE of it. It backfired so bad that a resentment was born that has gotten more and more intense as the years have gone by. Having gone to college in Baltimore during the Grey Cup champion Stallions' days, it was crazy that I would regularly have to hear bashing when I sported my Skins jersey on Sundays. I never understood that. And it never left me. I will be at M&T on Sunday. I will be wearing my Skins jersy in Baltimore again, and I expect to hear plenty of bashing.

I hope the rivalry is and will always be cordial, affable, even amiable. No sense being hateful about a football game (don't read last post). But both towns love their teams. Both towns identify with their teams. And let's not gloss over the slightly more blue-collar nature of our kid sister to the north. It will be, and should be, a tough place to walk in as an opposing fan. I expect there to be a lot of tailgates with both teams represented. I expect there to be enough Skins fans to make it loud when the Ravens offense faces 3rd downs. And I expect our offense to come out of their funk against one of the stingiest defenses in the the the snow.

How We Will Win

The Baltimore offensive line is not much better than ours, if they even are. They have rushed about 100 more times this year than we have, most likely to help their rookie QB stay alive and upright, and are averaging a full yard less per attempt than the Skins. The Redskins give up 90 yds per game on the ground--the Ravens average 145 yds per game on the ground. We hold our side of 100, we win.

The Ravens have FIVE defensive touchdowns this season. Can't allow any of those this week.

The Ravens defense dominates us in turnovers and sacks--shocker. Going into a game like this, you want to say that you don't want ANY turnovers from your offense. But let's face it...the Ravens just seem to get them. Keeping them from being costly and untimely has to be the goal. How about we don't turn it over in the red zone? And we don't fumble while getting sacked? Achievable goals.

Suisham...this game comes down to your foot. If you can make a 46 yarder, ballgame.

Redskins 20
Ravens 18

Ratio of Redskins fans to Ravens fans: 30/70

Friday, March 7, 2008

Decision '08, Hun a hardcore sports rivalry has not yet fully materialized, but the fact of the matter is that there is enough fanaticism for local teams in both D.C. and Baltimore to envision a time in the not-too-distant future where one will exist. This inevitability has caused this writer to wonder: better sports town -- DC or Balmer? We are going to make some pretty hard decisions in the words and days to follow. Let me know how far off you think I am. And for those of you who are already saying, "You can't compare those two things" it. I can. And I did. In the first part of our hard-hitting series, we examine a few of the stadiums that have been dear to the respective city's residents over the years.

Old School Stadiums: Memorial Stadium vs RFK
Nestled on 33rd street, with a downtown yet still neighborhood kind of flavor, Memorial Stadium was a hell of a place to get to go to as a kid. I remember sitting with my back to the brick wall on the top row behind home plate watching the likes of Eddie Murray, Mike Flanagan, Jim Palmer, Rick Dempsey, and of course the Ripken family. As a structure, it wasn't the prettiest and the bench seats were hard to sit on for hours on end. No, it was what happened inside the confines that made Memorial Stadium the place it was. Rex Barney giving fans contracts (did you know he pitched a no-hitter for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1943), Earl Weaver getting in the umpires' faces, Rick Dempsey sliding across the tarp during rain delays, and of course, The Oriole Way. I always remember walking to and from the stadium as a small kid thinking that the folks who lived literally next-door to the stadium must be millionaires since I could not imagine any other way to secure such a sweet spot. Summer nights at Memorial Stadium were religious experiences for a kid who got maybe 1 or 2 of them per year.
RFK Stadium was another example of a magical destination that -- to most Redskins fans -- was more spiritual than the trip they made to church earlier that day or weekend. For me it was the Joe Gibbs era I got to witness first-hand, getting to go to maybe a handful of games as a young kid, before securing a job as a soft-pretzel vendor in high school. The stadium drew on the mystique of the Gibbs-led teams, but it had some flair of its own. The lid around the rim of the stadium had a way of funneling the sound back down around the field and fans. And let's not forget the bouncing section of seats, causing everyone in the stadium to wonder if the place was going crumble apart at any moment. The neighborhood along Benning Road may not have the Charm that Baltimore boasts, but it was/is D.C's stadium and the aura of urban life in the nation's capital has always been inescapable in and around RFK. Summer nights, orange tee-shirts, and O's caps were to Memorial Stadium what cold, wintry Sundays, 4 layers of clothes, and burgundy and gold knit hats with the little half burgundy/half gold puff on the top were to RFK. Though I am a far greater Redskins fan than Orioles fan, I can not distinguish between those great Orioles teams under Earl and those great Redskins' squads under Joe Gibbs. As a stadium though, RFK seemed to have a way of communicating that Memorial Stadium did not. The bouncing seats and deafening roar gave the stadium a voice that intimidated opposing teams for decades.
Edge: RFK

New Stadiums: Fedex Field vs M&T Bank Stadium
Disclaimer: Fedex Field is my home away from home. As much as any great homesteader in America's Manifest Destiny era did, I have claimed the area around F21 as my own personal land. Over the years a tailgate has developed, and it can honestly be said that the last tailgate of this past season was the greatest so far in a long line of increasingly great tailgates. I know the folks in my section because I have sat with them for 8 years now, and I know the folks in my section of the parking lot because they too have kept in constant pursuit of an ever-improving tailgate -- F21 called out to more than just me, and don't think we didn't all appreciate the seeming coincidence of the number given the year's tragic loss. Can I possibly be impartial in this category?
I have been to maybe 5 games at M&T, including a playoff game against the Titans about 3 years ago -- all with a group of guys who made an annual trek to the parking lot underneath I-95 to chug Jaeger-bombs and stumble into games by the 2nd quarter. The stadium is simply amazing. Where Fedex looms large as a hulking concrete giant along the capital beltway, M&T stands as a friendly, inviting structure as you enter into the city from the highway, a beautiful companion to Camden Yards that completes the view as you pan from the B&O warehouse to the 95 overpass. If you don't want to tailgate underneath a major interstate, there are the bars in Federal Hill, and of course Cross Street Market as well as.....a thousand corner bars in between and around all within walking distance. On the inside, the unavoidable video screens make this Redskins fan wonder which team boasts the bigger balance sheet -- we might as well have 13-inch screens in each endzone! The old-school Jumbotron/Diamondvision/awfulness at Fedex is a DISGRACE! Players racing down the sidelines in Baltimore for a score actually look up at the screen(s) to see how close defenders are to catching them! Players at Fedex look in that direction and they see a Budweiser sign. Seriously, what gives Danny?
Fedex packs more folks in, but I have sat in the farthest seat away from the action in both M&T and Fedex. Let's just say the difference in views is undeniable. The crowd noise is louder in Fedex on account of the extra bodies, which is very important to me. But M&T does not follow that far behind in this category. Snyder has done much to improve the utilitarian block of cement that Jack Kent Cooke paid to have built overnight, but M&T had Charm and flavor from conception. And those screens just do it for me.
Shocking edge: M&T

Up Next: Cal Ripken vs. Darrell Green; Baltimore Bullets vs. Washington Bullets; John Riggins vs. Ray Lewis

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ovechkin Now At Top of Tooth-Donor List

It seems that the best hockey player the nation's capital has ever seen wasted no time waving some of the record $100 million he recently signed for in front of a few faces. Or mouths, as it were. The Inquirer has learned from a high-placed source that Alexander Ovechkin is now next in line for a much-needed tooth transplant. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source expressed doubt that a man of Ovechkin's young age and abundant means would be so high of a priority that he would be the next in line. "Given the nature of the serious cases you will find at the top of the tooth-donor list, it is clear that this man has no business being next in line. I mean, Jewel and Steve Buscemi have been waiting for years for their transplants. This is a mockery of the process."

With that, the Inquirer was handed a list of folks waiting patiently for their tooth (or teeth) transplants. This list is maintained by The American Association For the Advancement of Cosmetic Enhancements (or AASSFACE).

Amy Winehouse


Steve Buscemi

Iron Mike

Hilary Duff

Kirsten Dunst

We have been informed that all of these individuals have spent years on the list. Without complaining. After all, it's not like they are rooting for that untimely event that will result in the availability of the grill of their dreams. When asked how teeth become available in this program

Flavor Flav

Head Oompa loompa

To think Ovechkin had the clout to overtake Flav is one thing, but Tom Cruise!? I'm in disbelief. Though to be fair, this would be Cruise's 3rd tooth transplant. The first came after filming "Top Gun", when he tried to bite into Val Kilmer's ass -- let's just say that Iceman rocks some serious glutes. The 2nd transplant came after filming "Jerry Maguire" when he tried to bite into Cuba Gooding Jr's ass. Cuba knocked him out -- he might like wearing Michael Jordan's underwear (on his face), but he doesn't stand for butt-nibbling Scientologists.

It is hard to root against Ovechkin getting whatever he wants, especially over the likes of Tom Cruise.