Archive for May, 2008

East Liverpool High School Wrestling

May 31, 2008

Has been beset with controversy over the past few months.  Thursday night the school board sought to turn the page by replacing Todd Smith as coach with Jimmy Savage.

This has been a story where its been tough to tell what is really going on.  I know several wrestlers in the program have been unhappy with Smith, charges of unprofessionalism and some quit during the season, which is generally not a good sign of health.  Nothing substantiated has ever made the papers, and worse charges of mean and denigrating behavior were levied last fall against the football coach and he still has his job (despite going 0-10 and being completely non-competitive in most games).  I think a lot of people were unhappy upfront two years ago with the Smith hire because he didn’t wrestle himself in high school in the mid-90s.  But a lot of guys coach a sport without ever having played that sport at that level themselves.  You can know how to do something and be able to teach it without having the athletic skill to have done it yourself.  To my knowledge no one had complained when Smith coached the middle school program (based on performance fairly successfully) the prior couple seasons.  And I should say, to the extent I know Todd (I graduated high school with him) I’m not sure I can visualize him being unprofessional.  He would certainly be more likely to pal around with the players than be a strict disciplinarian type, and paling around can lead to the perception of favoritism.  But I don’t think Todd would ever intentionally hurt anyone.

At any rate, the program moves forward with Coach Savage.  I don’t know him, but he has deep ties to Potter wrestling and Potter athletics in general, being basically the driving force behind Potter Sports Online and the ELHSAA website for the past decade+.  I hope he is able to build a successful program and put some of this turmoil in the past.

Wings Take Command

May 31, 2008

By winning Game 4 by a 2-1 score.  Pens scored in the first few minutes of the game on a Hossa power play goal.  Hossa had another shot a few minute later hit the crossbar, and that might’ve been the turning point in the game.  Later in the 1st the Pens failed to clear the zone when a stick broke, the ensuing Wings possession led to a power play, and while Detroit did not technically score on said power play, they did within a second or two of the penalty ending.  It staid tied until early in the 3rd when the Pens again were weak in clearing the zone and it led to a Jiri Hudler goal.  The Pens had a 5-on-3 power play in the middle of the 3rd period for over one minute but it went down the crapper and Detroit hung up for the win.

Its been a great season for the Penguins either way, and coming back to win this series will be very difficult.  There is still a chance, though.  The key is Game 5 in Detroit Monday night.  I fully expect the Wings to come out blazing with the Cup in the building.  If the Pens can overcome that and win Game 5 (which will of course take scoring a goal in Joe Louis Arena), then Game 6 is back home and if they can even it up and force Game 7 all bets are off.  The Pens have done this before in franchise history, but coming back from 3-1 down to win, two of the three on the road, doesn’t count as much when you are playing the Washington Capitals.  This will be tough.  But, nothing worth doing is easy.  And, if they fall short, still a great season.  Go Pens!

Can We Please Agree that Rachael Ray is Not a Terrorist

May 30, 2008

Sometimes you hear a story and swear that is the dumbest thing you have ever heard and you will never hear anything dumber.  Usually, something dumber comes along.  Usually in the form of Michelle Malkin.

I hate to even marshall facts to refute this whole dumb story.  Its just so dumb and obvious.  But to my great distress there are people in this country that not only read Michelle Malkin, but actually nod their head in agreement when the anchor baby of Filipino parents goes on an angry screed against Latino immigrants.  Or against Arabs.  So, here goes:

1. The kaffiyeh is not a terrorist symbol just because Arafat always wore them.  That would be like saying anyone who wore a Fedora was a gangster because Al Capone wore a Fedora.

2. A lot of Arabs wear kaffiyehs and not all Arabs are terrorists.

3. Ray’s scarf was not, in fact, a kaffiyeh.  It was a scarf with a paisley pattern.

4. Rachael Ray is not a terrorist.  Unless you want to argue that she terrorizes us with incessant perkiness.

My greatest anger really isn’t even with Malkin.  I expect her to be an ass.  Its with Dunkin Donuts for caving and pulling the ad.  Yes, Malkin being an ass and her cohort following along like brainless dittoheads meant the ad would not be seen as simply a vehicle for getting people to buy their iced coffee.  But when you pull the ad, the idiots win, and I don’t like seeing the idiots win.  By running the ad, perhaps even increasing the online ad buy or making a TV version, it would’ve got tons of free publicity and no rational person would’ve thought Dunkin Donuts was supporting terrorism.  But they decided to be spineless.

For fuller detail:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/29/AR2008052903514.html?wpisrc=newsletter

Why Does Gasoline Cost So Much?

May 30, 2008

Excellent article in yesterday’s Salon newsletter (sorry in the delay I am behind in my e-mail reading) breaking down the cost of gas:

http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2008/05/29/price_of_gasoline/index.html

To summarize, don’t demonize Big Oil and don’t blame environmental regulation of refineries.  Just pray that, like the internet bubble and the housing bubble before it, the crude oil bubble will go pop.  Just don’t expect it to deflate to $1 gas.

NFL Sunday Ticket 2008 Season Prices

May 29, 2008

DirecTV has released the fee schedule for NFL Sunday Ticket for its subscribers.  It does include one noticeable change; customers that had the package in 2007 and let it autorenew for 2008 will be billed in 6 monthly installments instead of the 5 month system used last season.  It’ll be $41.50 per month from the statement generated in July through the one generated in December.  That works out to $249 for the full season.  Customers that purchase the package for the first time this season, and do so before the end of July, will get the early bird price 5 installments of $53.80, which is $269 if billed in one lump sum (also an option).  That is a $20 savings over purchasing it new after July, though I have not seen a breakdown on how many installments the $289 would be split into (I assume 5 installments of $57.80).

As is customary, customers being auto-renewed will be sent a notice with their statement generated in June and will have the option to cancel anytime before the season starts on September 7th.  If already billed for an installment or two before cancellation, that would be credited, but expect the DirecTV CSR to transfer you to a retention rep that will try to re-sell Sunday Ticket before agreeing to cancellation.

MAC Expanding to 14 Teams in All Sports?

May 29, 2008

Apparently there is serious consideration of promoting Temple to full member (and not just football) and adding Western Kentucky:

http://sports.aol.com/fanhouse/2008/05/29/expanding-mac-madness-to-14/#cont

I agree with the columnist in not seeing why Temple would want to do this.  Why leave the Atlantic 10 and the natural rivalries they have within that league, most notably in men’s basketball?  Or, for that matter, make the step down in prestige in conference?  Would certainly boost the MAC, though.  And Western Kentucky definitely seems to make sense across the board for the conference and the school.  Personally, I would say if Temple does what is frankly logical for them and remain an associate member football only, I would suggest the MAC could add W. KY giving them 14 in football, and then look for an associate member in basketball and other sports, maybe poach someone decent from other midwest-centered conferences.  Off the top of my head I am thinking Cleveland St., Detroit, Butler, Valparaiso, IUPUI, or somewhat less attractively Youngstown St. or Duquesne.

Pens Get Game 3

May 28, 2008

That might have just been the most entertaining hockey game I have ever watched.  Irregardless of the fact my team won, which obviously does brighten my perspective, that game just had so much action.  It was what NHL hockey is supposed to be.  Fast skating.  Hard clean hitting.  A couple skirmishes but no brawls.  Skillful play with and without the puck.  Loud crowd (I loved them taunting Osgood right after he gave up the first goal in 3 games).

The key to this game letting the Pens get the win was that they were able to get bursts of sustained pressure and did a better job finding space to operate.  They fed off the crowd and got an extra burst in their step.  That all being said, the icebreaking first goal was off of a mistake, a bad pass turnover by the Red Wings in their own zone and then a blocked shot landing right on Crosby’s stick.  A power play goal by Crosby followed by an insane individual play by Franzen made it 2-1 after two.  Adam Hall got a flukish goal putting it off Osgood’s backside in the net to re-establish a two goal lead, and the Pens were able to survive the last 7 minutes of the game being all Red Wings.

I found it rather bizarre that the Wings were so slow in pulling Osgood.  They had a good chance with roughly 75 seconds left and the play controlled in the Pens zone, but he didn’t leave the ice and the Pens eventually got the puck down in the other end and killed time until the Wings didn’t have much left to work with.  Frankly, I think that was a gaffe, whether by Babcock in not pulling the trigger, or in him trying to and Osgood missing the signal.  Not to say they score if its 6-on-5 for that possession with around a minute left, but their odds probably improve.

One thing that does concern me, in same ways more than the first 2 games did, is that the Pens played great and totally fed off the home crowd energy, just to eke out a one goal win.  On the other hand, I don’t know if Osgood can continue to play this great (he made several great saves tonight).  I guess we’ll find out.  Game 4 Saturday night in Pittsburgh and Game 5 loses the “if necessary” asterisk; it will be Monday June 2nd in Detroit.  Go Pens!

Former Press Secretary Throws Bush Under the Bus

May 27, 2008

Scott McClelland in his memoirs does not pull many punches:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/politico/20080527/pl_politico/10649

Good luck getting invited to any barbecues at the Crawford Ranch now!  Its an unusual level of candor or negativity from someone that left the Adminstration, to our knowledge, under positive circumstances.  One suspects he was feeling a bit used by Bush and his senior advisors when he wrote the book.

Just How Desperate for Cash is Jose Canseco?

May 27, 2008

Apparently very:

http://msn.foxsports.com/other/wcStory?contentId=8118850#story=8181262

Hooray!  We have a Vai Sikahema sighting!  He and Ali Haji Sjeik (sp?) were my favorite kick/punt returners of the late 80s and early 90s.  They and former place kicker Donald Igwebueke (sp?) were just great names to say out loud!  But, um, what the hell is Vai doing here.  What the hell is Jose doing here?  If his house is being foreclosed I seriously doubt 5 grand is going to rotate his fortunes.  Maybe he should just stick to shaking down Magglio Ordonez.

Wings Claim Game 2

May 26, 2008

By a 3-0 score over the Penguins.  Another great defensive effort by Detroit as the Pens were unable to get any sustained offensive pressure except on power plays, and even those shots were generally from the edges.

I didn’t realize Chris Osgood was so good at diving.  The last good chance the Pens had at pulling even in this game came on a mid-3rd period power play while down 2-0.  Said power play was immediately cancelled out on a bogus goaltender interference call on Ryan Malone.  For one thing, he didn’t just barge into Osgood, he was pushed into the crease by a Red Wing.  Secondly, he barely touched Osgood but the Wings goalie acted like he was just bowled into by Jack Lambert.  I assume “diving” is a call that can be made on a goaltender too?  It created a 4-on-4 and Vilfilla scored on a great move on a pseudo-breakaway and whatever chance the Pens had to win was ended.

Game 3 will be in Pittsburgh Wednesday night as the series coverage shifts to NBC.  The Pens should get a lift from the home crowd.  They’re going to need it.  I am somewhat reminded of a similar situation for the Cup winning Pens.  1991 they lost the first two games of the Wales Conference Finals @ Boston.  The Bruins were a veteran team that mostly dominated those first two games.  The Pens came home and won the next two on their way to winning 4 straight and getting to the Cup Finals.  Hopefully a similar situation plays out here.