On the couch with Caps, O’s & Masters…

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What a day to watch sports on TV!

Given the crappy weather (well, at least not as good as yesterday…and I did make it to the Nats game the new D.C. ballpark, rainy blogs and videos coming soon!), it’s a fantastic day to be a couch potato – the best one I’ve had in a while.

And I know many of you will write to talk about other basketball or NASCAR events the past few months, but for me it’s a “downtime” for fanaticism. The moment when the silver trophy gets raised on the first Sunday of February, it’s like sports goes off a cliff for me for a few months. I just can’t muster the same enthusiasm, but I do like March Madness and stay glued in without really having a rooting interest other than the underdogs.

But today, it ratchets back up a few notches.

The Orioles are not only interesting (the first time in a LONG time), they are in sole possession of first place in the AL East. They play the Rays at 1:35 today. Burres vs. Niemann (whoever he is).

On a personal/media note, it’s nice to see Tom Davis and Rick Dempsey work without looking constipated for a change. Every night last summer I sat and felt sick for those poor S.O.B.’s, having to find a way to dress up 30-3 losses and multiple-game losing streaks. It’s really more entertaining to watch them happy!

The Caps, fresh off of an incredible win on Friday night, take the ice again and look to put the Flyers in a 2-0 hole. Alexander Ovechkin is worth your time and attention, for sure. That game starts at 2. But it’s on NBC, which gives me the game in the HD, but I’ll miss Smokin’ Al Koken. The game’s not the same without him!

And, of course, the final day of The Masters promises to make it a long day of fun. And yes, I’ll be watching (it’s the one golf day of the year when I pay attention…historically!). And I have no idea who these guys are: Immelman, Snedeker, Flesch, Casey and a guy named Woods?!?!

I’m sure I’ll be learning about it all day as the “tradition unlike any other” makes for a slow and steady crescendo to what promises to be a fabulous day of couch potato glory!

I’ll hang onto the thread all day and post now and again. Just kinda check in, see how it goes. When I sit around and watch sports all day, it’s always more fun to write about what I see.

Anybody else out there watching and enjoying the day of sports with me?


4:41 p.m. — WRAPUP — Final rites for the Orioles and Capitals today:

The Orioles are now 7-5 and STILL in sole possession of first place! The weather looks bad tomorrow night, but I think I’m going to go to the game anyway, just to say I was there when they were in the first place. Tomorrow could be the last day. Who knows, right?

I’ll blog where/when the party begins tomorrow night before the game. I’m also going to do an event on Thursday night for the pale hose.

But here’s the bad news about the O’s 1-4 skid on the road:
Aubrey Huff is hitting .244 after his torrid start. And Tampa is off the schedule for a while.
Melvin Mora is hitting .227.
Kevin Millar is batting .227 with 4 RBIs in 12 games he’s their cleanup hitter.
Adam Jones is at .211 with 2 RBIs this season.

The Blue Jays, White Sox and Yankees are coming to town this week. The ballpark will be empty all week. And the Yankees fans will shout down the home team all next weekend. Adam Jones and Luke Scott will get to experience the bizarre fate of a home team that plays 19 games a year “on the road” in their own ballpark. That’s a full QUARTER of the home schedule.

The Caps, meanwhile, were just dreadful today, in losing 2-0.

Stupid penalties, selfish play and giveaways all day sealed their fate. Even at the end, though, they were scraping to get Ovechkin a late opportunity. I don’t think they have one other player who I would consider an “All Star” candidate. It’s a one-horse team.

Both of these teams are young (despite having Federov, Kolzig and those types in the fray), and it’ll be interesting to see how this series gets late in the week. This was a chippy Game 2 and it sets the tone for a tough, hard series of emotion.

The Capitals lost the mental game today, for sure, with the penalties and bad play.


How the young players handle the emotions (and their beards) in April always tells the tale.

It has been a pleasure to watch hockey again!

I’m watching The Masters. I see that Immelman has a two-shot lead after the 8th . He just bogeyed!

I don’t know enough about golf to blog about it accurately, so I’m gonna end this blog here.

But it’s been a fun day, watching, commenting, writing and rooting for the “home” teams.

Hope you join me at the Orioles game Monday night!


4:14 p.m. — In my channel flipped I made a mistake and went one channel too far south, and stumbled upon the San Antonio Spurs-Los Angeles Lakers game. Add one more game on my “watch.”

The Capitals look beaten, and if some of the other guys on the team don’t step up, it’s gonna be a short series and I’m not going to get to use my tickets for their fourth home playoff game.

Biron has been fabulous today, Ovechkin has disappeared and the Caps role players have looked overmatched.

The crowd is quiet. There are six minutes left for them.

Meanwhile, Tiger Woods looks constipated as walks across the hilly 8th hole at Augusta. That hole looks like a relief map!

I still think it’ll get great on the back nine.

Thus far, it’s been an “underwhelming” days for the home teams and for drama.

I’ve been blogging and eating lentil soup for three hours now and I haven’t cheered ONCE!

BTW: Check out the “theatre” look of the Staples Center for that Lakers game. It looks pitch black from the second row back, like a wrestling match at the old Baltimore Civic Center when Bruno Sammartino was in town!

The Orioles are losing 6-2 now in the 8th inning.

The Caps are AGAIN shorthanded and there’s 4 minutes left…Yikes!


3:45 — I’m back to flipping around the dial, but the NBC between-periods commentary is holding me firm. Mike Mibury has been great in breaking down what’s wrong with Alex Ovechkin today and talking about what a sensation he’s been for the franchise.

Meantime, I see that Tiger Woods is now 5 shots off the lead and going to the 8th.

I’ll be watching plenty of golf in about an hour. I have a feeling by 5 p.m. he’ll be two shots off the lead and that means trouble for these other guys I’ve never heard of before.

Orioles are losing 6-1. But as Jim Hunter just said, “Hayden Penn is pitching well in Norfolk today. Maybe he’s putting it all together!”

By the way: Hunter is doing the Orioles game. Where the hell is the greatest hockey announcer of our generation, the great Gary Thorne? What’s HE doing today?

Just a crime that Thorne isn’t doing Stanley Cup hockey. It should be an international law!

Caps need a quick goal to start the third period. One more mistake and the series will be tied 1-1, because I don’t think they can beat Biron three times today.



3:12 p.m. — I’m back to watching hockey almost exclusively (you can’t turn away once you get hooked!).

Color man Eddie O. had a great line at the end of the Capitals’ fruitless power-play barrage at the beginning of the second period: “That Caps line is going to be sucking dirty pond water looking for air after that long shift.”

The Caps are outplaying the Flyers so far in the middle stanza, but have nothing to show by some incredible saves by Martin Biron.

Speaking of goaltending: Saw Olaf Kolzig giving Cristobal Huey saw encouragement.

The Caps of 2008 are a strange bunch to me:

1.    Coach Bruce Boudreau was on the first Skipjacks team I ever covered in 1984. His name is in the first game story I ever wrote for The News American.
2.    Boudreau was also the coach of the Manchester Monarchs the night that I met my wife in New Hampshire at an AHL game.
3.    Strangely enough, Cristobal Huey was the goaltender that night in Manchester five years go.
4.    I was the first media member to greet Olaf Kolzig in 1989 when he was drafted by the Caps. Hard to believe he’s been there UNTOUCHED for 18 years!!!! That’s just CRAZY! I remember him and Byroe Dafoe fighting for playing time with the Skipjacks during that autumn.

Hockey has really been a big part of my life as I look at turning 40 years old this autumn.

The NBC crew is now saying that the Flyers’ fan representation is massive today at Verizon Center. A little different than Friday night, I suppose when you can drive down on Sunday morning and get back home tonight without missing work.

Just flipped over to the Orioles game in time to see the Rays up 3-0, and swear to god — first pitch I see is the B.J. Upton bomb into left field.

Looks the the Orioles are “sucking dirty pond water” right now in Tampa.

The Orioles are losing 6-0.

The Capitals are losing 2-0, and about to go two more minutes killing penalties.

Might be time to consider watching some more golf.


2:51 p.m. — Fourth inning in Tampa, and Luke Scott and Brandon Fahey almost collided in shallow left field, but once again good communication rules and Scott made the play. It seems to me that in previous years, one of those “uncalled” balls either turns into a physical crash or a “seeing eye” double.

Nice to see the team play good solid defense.

Also, you have to consider that they don’t have crowd noise as an excuse in Tampa.

The break in the Caps game as allowed me to switch over to CBS and the tradition unlike any other: The Masters.

Looks like a fabulous (and breezy) day at Augusta National. The course looks absolutely stunning in high def. (Unlike the garbage I’m watching from Tampa on MASN, which incredibly BRAGS about its HD features and I’ve yet to watch an INNING in HD this season.

I have no idea who these Trevor Immelman and Brandt Snedeker guys are but I have a feeling I’ll know their life stories by 7 p.m. so I’m not even bothering googling them.

Tiger Woods is teeing off on the 3rd hole.

I wouldn’t write him off.


2:34 p.m. — Flipping back and forth. Saw the Orioles newest outfielders retire the side in the 3rd against the Rays. Nice calloff by Adam Jones in center on Brian Roberts. Nice running grab by Luke Scott and a routine can of corn for the third out.

It’s a “different” feeling that every ball hit in the O’s outfield this year feels like it’s going to get caught and not turn into an adventure. I like watching these two kids play. I, like you, hope they don’t suck.

Flipped back the Capitals game in time to watch Mike Green give it away and see the Flyers take a 2-0 lead.

Nothing kills a playoff crowd like an early two-goal deficit. Caps don’t look so good today.

The play if quite chippy today. These teams are building up a nice little “disdain” for each other, which is sure to escalate over the next week.

Caps are going on the power play to end the period.

We’ll see…



2:15 p.m. — GAME ON!
I spent all day yesterday in Washington, D.C. I actually saw a LOT of love for the Caps yesterday. Many Caps hats and jerseys were visible at the Nationals-Braves game yesterday (again, I’ll write and do more on that experience later).

The building sounds electric and looks like a virtual “sea of red.” It’s nice to see a little passion for the Capitals. Especially considering that back in 1998 I sat in that building when it was DEFINITELY a “sea of red.”

Only problem was it was ALL for the RED WINGS. There were easily 10,000 Detroit fans in those seats for every game. And I also


Eddie Olczyk, who is doing the game for NBC, said, “They love their Caps here in Washington” to begin the broadcast. I almost laughed, but he’s right. The team has done some great marketing there over the past few years surrounding Alexander Ovechkin.

And they’ve even made great strides to have Baltimore sports fans involved in the recent months and I applaud them for their efforts.

This season, the Caps appear to have a true “home ice” advantage for the playoffs. Ed Frankovic, who writes a hockey blog here on WNST said the crowd was “99% red” on Friday night, a strange departure from the days when Flyers fans would take over the Capital Centre 20 years ago.

Yesterday, I scored tickets for Game 4 (not the one in Philly, it’s the fourth “home” game the Caps play). It could be a potential Game 7 of this series, which would be cool. Tickets were $50 and we’re on the roof, but we have some seats together and it’s going to be fun if the Caps can keep winning.

Just seen: a guy on the glass has a sign that had th GEICO logo and says: So easy, a Flyers fan can do it.

Gotta love the spirit of hockey fans!

Updated at 2:16 p.m. — Flyers just took the lead. Ouch!


2 p.m. — The MASN2 crew lost its audio for the beginning of the bottom of the 1st inning. But right after the word “BALTIMORE” appeared on the graphic for the lineups, Jim Palmer and Jim Hunter have reemerged.

I’m about to make the move to the Caps game a little more permamently. What can I say, it’s a tough afternoon to give any one event full attention.

By 5 p.m., it’ll be easy to just focus on the golf but the next few hours are gonna be hell on the batteries of the remote control!

The dome looks like a perfecftly miserable place to be this afternoon and if you’re wondering why no one is there, consider this: it’s 75 degrees outside the tent today in St. Petersburg, Fla.




1:45 p.m. — Thanks to those of you who caught my mistake calling the “Rays” the “Rangers.” My bad. Must be Freudian, or something weird because of the “Devil” being dropped.

I always feel bad for the good people of Tampa when I see their team. What a disaster baseball on the west coast of Florida has become.

I wrote a lot about it last year (click here) when I went to Tampa for the first roadtrip of the season last year and did a bunch of blogs.

The building is always empty. The heckler (who I sat with for a few innings and wrote about last year) is obnoxious is a good way. And now they’ve changed their jerseys for the 10th time and look more like the Padres than the “Devil” Rays.

Either way, most everyone believed that baseball in both Florida cities would work. The Marlins have won two championships and have about 2,000 people who really care about them.

The Rays are worried about things like the “Devil” affecting their marketing or luck.

BTW: Brian Roberts led off another game with a hit. He’s amazing!

Man do they HATE Aubrey Huff in Tampa. He gets LUSTILY booed by the 6,000 people every time he comes to the plate.







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