Wednesday, February 28, 2007

JUST SAY NO TO THUGS


The NFL is considering a three-strikes-you’re-out policy. But what constitutes a strike? How many at bats do you get? If you graduate from West Virginia, do you get two at bats? Three?

Chris Henry and Pacman Jones represent the extreme minority in the NFL but if these players are still extended the privilege of playing professional football and reaping the rewards, what message does that send aspiring NFL players in college and high school?

Jones and Henry are thugs. They are an embarrassment. They take advantage of their employers, their teammates and their team’s fans. When does it end? When a stripper’s head doesn’t bounce off the dance floor but splatters instead?

Last year the Ravens really made a concerted effort to draft good football players who were also good guys. And it worked. Let’s hope other teams are paying attention. Just say no to thugs and send a message to players like Jones and Henry who entered the NFL draft with red flags.

When did Marvin Lewis become a martyr? When was he anointed with healing powers for the chronically corrupt?

No one asked me but since this is my blog, I’m blogging it….a strike should be a legal infraction that results in an arrest regardless of the court verdict. How many times can a player be in the wrong place at the wrong time? And again, no one asked me but if there is more than one offense during a single arrest, each offense should count as a strike.
Look, if you worked at McDonald's and you were arrested three times and missed work, do you think you'd keep your job? I DON'T THINK SO! You'd get McGrilled and so should the three count offenders.

Here’s to Commissioner Roger Goodell doing his best Nolan Ryan impersonation when taking on these losers.

RAVENS FANS GROW UP


The Ravens loss to the Colts left a gaping wound for many fans in Baltimore. To make matters worse, the healing process has been a challenge as more disheartening news regarding the Ravens seeps into the wound like salt.

First there was the announcement that AD would leave the nest for greener pastures. Now we hear the self-made solid tackle and all-around good guy Tony Pashos will sell his services to the highest bidder. And then today, Jamal Lewis was released.

In the past such inactivity on the Ravens part would draw the scorn of fans. Yet that isn’t the case in the Land of Pleasant Living. Baltimore fans have matured. They now realize that you have to look at the big picture and judge an offseason in its totality – not four weeks into. And they have also come to the realization that no matter how much their patience is tested while awaiting some measure of good news, the Ravens front office is pretty darn good and it’s probably best to embrace the mantra, In Oz We Trust.

Otherwise, it could make for a very long offseason for fans whose favorite team is bumping up against the cap like a docked vessel in turbulent waters.

But no worries, the Blackbirds are starting soon, as are the Orioles. The NFL Draft is 8 weeks away, March Madness is right around the corner and I just saved a bundle switching to Geico.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Sports Talking Heads By Nature Are Smarter Than Fans


Now isn't this title a crock of Heinz Field turf?
I’ve been asked before by fans and members of the media, “Do you consider yourself a journalist or a fan?” Without hesitation I enthusiastically reply, “Fan!”

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines journalist as a person engaged in journalism. (Gee that’s helpful.) It further describes a journalist as a writer or editor for a news medium; a writer who aims at a mass audience.

Hmm, maybe that shoe fits.

Wikipedia describes the j-word as a person who practices journalism. (Wow, equally as enlightening!) And then describes journalism as the gathering and dissemination of information about current events, trends, issues and people.

So now I have two shoes that fit…

But call me a fan first. Want proof? Ask me for one of my business cards. There it is right there, Tony Lombardi, Fan.

Interestingly enough, I hear some radio talk show hosts refer to fans in a way that is reminiscent of the way folks in Ruxton might label natives of Dundalk. In other words the opinions of fans and their respective cerebral capacities are somehow less relevant and they look down their "journalistic" noses at fans the way a Boys Latin grad might view a Patapsco alumnus.

Go ahead give it a try. Spend some time listening to WJFK and WNST. I’m not saying that this is a universally held opinion by the talking heads of each of these all sports radio frequencies or even a majority opinion, yet it won’t take you long to realize that certain on air “talent” clearly hold their own opinions, views and overall sports acumen on a much higher level than the lowly fans.

But why?

Just because they are given a microphone powered by 5,000 watts (in some cases) and an internet feed, that they somehow know more about sports? Sorry, it only works that way in the minds of the insecure few who sit behind a microphone and view fans as the sporting world’s indigent population.

Why are they any better?

Because they can cut you off on air at the touch of a button?
Some might know more than you. Some more than me. Some less than both of us. But that isn't the point of sports talk radio in my opinion. You see the objective of these orators of sport should be to deliver information and to act as a point guard of sorts to encourage the open exchange of ideas and opinions. Just because someone has media credentials doesn't make that someone an authority. Just like an informed fan, the journalist has to work at it.

Those credentials aren't the equivalent of the Scarecrow's diploma. If some radio DJ were to come along and be hired as a TV sports anchor, would that suddenly make him or her an authority?

I don't think so!

Now I will admit that objectivity can be clouded by fandom. I once asked a couple of highly respected and journalistically decorated members of the local sports media if they were fans of the Ravens. Begrudgingly they came clean and admitted that they were yet they view it as a creed of the profession to check that bias at the door when they whip out their notepads and Sharpies.
(Mine is purple.)

Another highly respected journalist who covers the Ravens daily told me that he flat out is not a fan of the team and that makes it easier for him to cover them without bias.

These conversations have stuck with me and they inspire me to do my best to remain objective.

But every now and then, (think Al Pacino in Godfather III) just when I think that I’m straight with this, my passion as a fan pulls me right back in!

I suppose I’m somewhere in the middle – somewhere between the media and a fan. Call me the median.

And that is pretty much what this site is all about anyway. Think of us as fans with access. And if you can marry the two together successfully, isn’t that the equivalent to governing for the people and by the people?

You know, like you and me.

I want to share a funny story before I finish this thing – which for the moment I’m not sure if it’s a column or a blog entry (I’m sure a real journalist would know).

I was once a spotter for the Baltimore Colts during their final two seasons here in B’more. As a then recent college grad, I was situated up in the press box and my job was to record time of possession, scoring drives and third down efficiency. In the press box, it is sort of understood that you cannot be partial to either team. Well let’s just say I had a “misunderstanding” – several times.

The press box is sterile that way. The members of the media are asked to check emotion at the door the way a doctor detaches him or herself emotionally from a patient so as not to cloud their judgment.

That never really worked for me.

Twenty years later, I had the opportunity to sit in the press box for a couple of seasons. I did that exactly twice out of 20 opportunities. I had a hard time playing doctor, opting instead to sit in my seats with my son, fiancé and friends.

A fan I am…sometimes a median.

People try to put us d-down
Just because we g-g-get around
Things they do look awful c-c-cold
Yeah, I hope I die before I get old

And for me being old is not being a fan.

That’s my “generation” baby!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

BROWNS FANS PREPARE FOR ANOTHER PITY PARTY


No wonder they whine so much in Cleveland. Their football team really does have some bad luck…

Not that I feel any pity for the city of Cleveland – I don’t. I'm tired of their cry me a Lake Erie pity party. I do however feel for the players and the massive amount of bad luck that they’ve had as a team – except of course for Tim Couch. Remember him waving bye-bye to the crowd at M&T back in December of 2002.
Little did he know that he was waving his sorry career goodbye!

But think about the Browns players for a moment and then imagine that the Browns were your team. Maybe we'd be as whiny as Clevelanders.

But look what the Browns have endured as an organization and as players:

Carmen Policy…bad hair, highly overrated executive who made millions taking credit for things he didn’t do in San Francisco…

Dwight Clark…except for the catch and a solid career, see above. Plus he helped to chase Brian Billick to Baltimore…

Chris Palmer…in over his head from the start as a head coach

Butch Davis…one of the sorriest head coaches ever. I miss him on the Browns’ sidelines…

Romeo Crennel…along with his One a Day vitamin, he asks himself, “What the &(&^ was I thinking?”

Phil Savage…hasn’t lived up to expectations and nearly bailed out on Cleveland last year…

Al Lerner…the wonderful philanthropist and Browns owner unfortunately passes away…

Offensive Coordinator Maurice Carthon…fired in October, 2006

No. 1 Pick Kellen Winslow, Jr. misses most of his first two seasons with injuries, one after an Evil Knievel impersonation on a crotch rocket…

No. 1 Pick Braylon Edwards misses significant time in his rookie season…

Free agent Gary Baxter plays a total of 8 games out of a possible 32 due to injury and his career is in serious jeopardy…

Free agent LaCharles Bentley has yet to see the field in any type of game as a member of the Browns and his 2007 season is now in doubt because of his surgically repaired knee that has failed to respond to treatment due to a staph infection that apparently has polluted the Cleveland Browns training facility.

And that’s what I can remember off the top of my head….I know there’s more…

This staph infection fiasco is now being addressed by the Browns. Why wait until now? Why wasn’t it taken care of earlier? Did they not have the medical proficiencies on staph to detect the problem earlier? If not, why not? If they did, then why are they only now addressing the problem? How long has this been going on and has it affected the health of other Browns?

Cleveland…you have a problem! A very big problem.

FREE AGENTS BEWARE!!!

What exactly is a staph infection you ask? For that I went to MedicineNet.com:

Staphylococcus is group of bacteria, familiarly known as Staph, that can (and do) cause a multitude of diseases. Staph bacteria can cause illness directly by infection (such as in the skin) or indirectly through products they make such as toxins responsible for food poisoning and toxic shock syndrome.

Staph infection can be simple and localized, such as with impetigo of the skin. It can, however, become widespread, by infecting the blood. It can thereby seed to various areas of the body, such as the bone, kidneys, or heart. This spreading occurs more commonly in persons with abnormally suppressed immune systems.

Scalded skin syndrome is a potentially serious side effect of infection with the Staph (Staphylococcus) bacteria that produces a specific protein which loosens the "cement" holding the various layers of the skin together. This allows blister formation and sloughing of the top layer of skin. If it occurs over large body regions it can be deadly (just like a large surface area of the body having been burned).
That is a very, very serious problem.

The Browns are said to be ready to jump into the free agent pool and that they will aggressively look to spend their $30 million in available cap money this off season.

The question is, “Who wants it?”

Jump in the pool all you want Phil but what free agent will want to jump into your toxic cesspool of futility?
It must suck to be a Browns' fan.

Friday, February 16, 2007

RAVENS ARREST BALTIMORE'S CHANCE TO HOST THE POLICE



Are you kidding me? Tell me this is a joke.

The promoters for the long awaited Police reunion tour call the Ravens to arrange for The Police to play at M&T Bank Stadium and the Ravens for all intents and purposes say, “Sorry, we have a practice game schedule for that day.”

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

The promoters were interested in have Sting and his deputies play on August 4 but the date conflicted with an as of yet unconfirmed preseason scrimmage or intrasquad session.

This from a team that on the drop of a dime can pull an outdoor summer camp practice at McDaniel College indoors at Owings Mills. Why not play the scrimmage at McDaniel where it had much more charm anyway?

Driven to tears…driven to tears.

Am I being too cynical here to suggest that the only reason that this won’t happen has to do with money? Somehow the Ravens must make more cha-ching on this lame scrimmage than The Police promoters are offering.

Martin O’Malley, surely you are a fan of The Police! Can’t you step in here? C’mon, maybe even the promoters will let you play guitar with them for a song. Whaddaya say Marty?

Maybe The Police can even dedicate a few songs to the Ravens if they move their “all important” scrimmage date:

You’ll Be Wrapped Around My Wallet
Every Breath You Take I’ll Be Charging You
DUH DUH, Do, Do, Do..DUH, DUH, Da Da
Profit by Numbers, 1 million, 2 million, 3

Lose to the Colts, Rex and AD could be leaving and now no Police. Since January 13, Everything They Do Is Tragic, Everything They Do Just Turns Me OFF!

Help I need somebody!!!

Oops sorry, wrong band….

Thursday, February 15, 2007

FEBRUARY: THE MOST MISERABLE TIME OF THE YEAR


February is by far the worst month of the year. It serves up the very sobering thought that the NFL season is over, college hoops just seems so mundane for the moment, there’s no baseball yet and the weather sucks. And then there’s the fake holiday of Valentine’s thrown in there just to force you to dip into your pocket a bit deeper or suffer the wrath of a woman slighted by the lack of love in the air.

Thankfully the month is only 28 days long. Unless of course you consider leap years and they add that extra day in there. What’s up with that and what does a leap have to do with anything. They act like they’re doing us a favor sticking that extra day in there.

Why not make the month shorter?

Wouldn’t that make it easier to leap over?

I sure do hope this Arena Football League takes off here in Baltimore. Remember the days of The Blast during their heyday? That mistake on Howard Street (aka First Mariner Arena) was packed and it helped to bridge the days between football and baseball and it helped to occupy our wintry blasted minds until March Madness.

Of course in those days we didn’t have a NFL team of our own and we actually had a baseball team that was still in the race at the All Star break.

Thankfully there’s the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

Hey, maybe we should do one of those here on 24x7.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

THINGS THAT MAKE ME GO HMM...


Marty Schottenheimer’s firing is the big news today. I’ve been told that Bill Parcells and A.J. Smith, the Chargers’ GM, are pretty tight. Hmm, you thinking what I’m thinking? Parcells, like Nick Saban and basketball’s Larry Brown are quite the gypsy kings now aren’t they?

If Parcells does come out of retirement, not even 30 days into it, expect Jerry Jones to demand compensation. And to provide such compensation, my bet is that Michael Turner will be traded for as much as the Chargers can get. He will have no higher value than he has at the moment. Next year Turner will be an unrestricted free agent.

Some are wondering if Edwin Mulitalo will be back. I think he’ll be back, I’m just not sure about Mike Flynn. I’m equally unsure about Jonathan Ogden.

Questions & things that make me go hmm…

* Ever wonder who Jim Fassel pissed off?

* Have you ever thought about what Musa Smith might do if he could stay healthy just one full season AND be given a chance?

* Do you think Edgerrin James is upset?

* While watching Carson Palmer throw picture perfect deep passes in the Pro Bowl, I wondered what it might feel like to have a franchise quarterback like that.

* I wish Brian Billick would have simply said, “I stunk up the joint against the Colts and it won’t happen again!”

* The Ravens are boasting that there will be no ticket price increase in 2008. Why should there be? They hit us up for the ’07 and ’08 price increases in one year.

* Is there a bigger waste of money than Game 4 of the NFL preseason?

* I was fooled by the media build up to the announcement of Orioles pitcher Kris Benson’s injury. I actually thought there was going to be something more significant to report. Like the injury to Ravens’ mascot Poe who was hit in Hawaii by a car while he was riding on the back of a golf cart. FYI...the injured bird escaped with just a bruised talon.

* I guess the real news regarding Benson’s injury for some is that his wife Anna won’t be “playing” in any parking lot nearby you.

* Amber Theoharis is now on WHFS (105.7) Monday through Friday from 7-9PM. Her show is called the “A List.” Since we’re on opposite her Fridays on AM 1300, are we considered the “B List?”

Saturday, February 03, 2007

IRVIN IN THE HALL...MONK STILL ON OUTSIDE LOOKING IN


One day after The Commish Roger Goodell delivers this gem, "We are raised to a higher standard in the NFL. We must make sure the players are more accountable and our clubs are more accountable", Michael Irvin is elected to the Hall of Fame.


Meanwhile Art Monk is on the outside looking in.


Perhaps I'm mistaken...did they mean Hall of Shame?


No?


What a joke!


Tums anyone?

Friday, February 02, 2007

PEYTON, PEYTON, PEYTON


PEYTON, PEYTON, PEYTON!

Peyton Manning this, Peyton Manning that. If the Colts win, it’s all Peyton. If the Colts lose, it’s all on somebody else.

Look, Manning is great for the game, seems like an ok guy, loves Johnny U (even tried to wear high tops to honor No. 19), is great in commercials (but does there have to be so many) and he’s one helluva quarterback. He works hard, studies, is an upstanding member of the community and for all intents and purposes, he’s an exemplary role model.

And to think there was an actual debate back during the 1998 NFL Draft as to who was better, Manning or Ryan Leaf!

But I am sick to death of Peyton Manning. Win or lose, he’s not going away.

If the Colts win (God forbid) there will be a man crush epidemic to include but certainly not limited to Chris Berman, Steve Young, Sean Salisbury, Phil Simms and Jim Nantz. We’ll have to hear about the Colts and Manning over and over and over.

If they lose (please God) we’ll hear about Manning’s place in history and how it will be defined by him not winning the big game. Have the Colts run their course or can they find a way to get back to the big show?

Blah, blah, blah, blah-blah!

At least Option 2 will give me a measure of satisfaction.

And if Option 2 takes shape, count on Manning blaming somebody else. Last year he threw his offensive line under the bus. This year, it was the rushing defense, the receivers, the offensive coordinator and the wind in the RCA Dome. Well ok, maybe not the later but you get the picture.

His whining during times of adversity is reminiscent of Dan Marino who was never wrong on the field and was often seen laying into his offensive mates.

At least he bought them Isotoners for Christmas.

Come Sunday I’ll be a big Bears fan. Oh you better believe it Kurt!

Besides, I think I like Rex Grossman better. He seems like a great kid. Very humble and his handling of the massive amounts of pressure and criticisms is really remarkable. I’ll trust Lovie Smith on this one. He seems to be a man that keeps his eye on the big picture despite the short-term chaos that has gripped him at times this season.

I’ll also trust in the players. While they might not be happy with Grossman’s performance, there haven’t been signs of a mutiny or any divisiveness in the locker room. They genuinely seem to like Grossman and they’ve supported him. With all that is at stake, that means something.

Many will say the pressure of the Super Bowl will eventually cause Grossman to crumble. I think he’s used to the pressure now and I think he’ll respond and perform decently.

But will it be enough?

I am hopeful for Option 2 above and some measurable satisfaction.


But at the end of the day, I think it will be a Rolling Stones song for me!

And PEYTON, PEYTON, PEYTON!