Marc Fisher’s final column

MARC FISHER: After 1,250 Columns, the EndThe Post
Fisher is moving on to an Metro editor position:

There are a million stories in the naked city, someone once said, and I told 1,250 of them here, and another 1,200 on the blog. I heard from readers 250,000 times and I tried to respond to all of them. I could stay on this road for years to come, I love it so. But this path feels worn and familiar, and the challenge now is to hack out a new one.

Newspapers are in a fight to survive, desperately searching for new ways to reflect the world to an audience that is less trusting, more distracted and diffuse. For many people now, digital connections seem to trump geography as the central definition of home. But those electronic ties don’t fulfill all our needs. Where we live still matters. Starting next month, I’ll be putting together a group of writers whose job it will be to tell the truths of Washington in compelling and essential ways, combining traditional storytelling with new forms that involve and engage the people who live here.

Sounds like it is worth a shot. Fisher was the best Washington columnist around and I will miss his columns and chats.

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Gov. Rendell still pushing for tolls on I-80 in Pennsylvania

Rendell: Congress should remove restrictions on tolling of interstatesPost-Gazette
There he goes again — Gov. Ed Rendell wants Congress to give Pennsylvania and other states the ability to establish tolls along highways. Interstate 80 which runs through the northern half of the state has heavy out-of-state traffic. This leads to people with no familiarity of highway funding to believe that out-of-state drivers do not contribute to the roads maintenance costs. This is fiction of course, since American motorists are responsible for 90% of interstate highway funding that is collected primarily through a national sales tax on gasoline. State gas taxes tend to fund the other 10%. in short, all American drivers pay for interstate roads. Politicians, like Rendell and a previous recent governor, Tom Ridge, apparently do not understand this either. Both called for tolls on I-80. I have even created a label called I-80 so you can follow along.

American motorists and taxpayers have paid for I-80 for over fifty years. If Pennsylvania wants to toll the road or any other previously “free” interstate highway, they should have to reimburse the highway trust fund for all costs associated up until this point. If that happens, I have no problem with them putting tolls up. I’d laugh and call Pennsylvania “the toll booth state” too. It is worth noting too that Pennsylvania got more funding from the Federal Highway Trust Fund throughout the 1990s than any other state. Of course, much of it was sent to the Altoona area by Bud Shuster, who ruled the powerful infrastructure committee that allocated highway funds. Congress shouldn’t give Pennsylvannia a free pass because they spent the money poorly. If Pennsylvania wants more highway funding, they ought to increase their statewide gas tax appropriately.

H/T Jeff Kitsko, on Facebook

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Athlon: Penn State #7

No. 7 Penn State Nittany LionsAthlon College Football
We are 99 days away from kickoff, but Athlon has had their Penn State preview up for a little while now. They rank Penn State #7, but have concerns about the offensive line, wide receivers and the secondary. Of those, the wideouts concern me the most, followed by the line and then the secondary. I think the last year’s DBs can be improved upon. Line play has gotten better over the last four seasons and while I don’t think that they will “reload” I think it will be okay.

Okay, no more previews after this one — I’ll wait until summer practice for any more.

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Nats Manny Acta might be a better manager if he wanted to keep his job

Acta Sees No Need for AlarmThe Post
By all accounts, Manny Acta is pretty good human being and this article does nothing to dissuade me of that notion. However, as great a guy as he is, I believe he is just too laid back about the way things are going. This is a team that needs a kick in a butt and not just “let’s just stay calm all the time” leadership. I am not suggesting Acta kick dust at the umpires every time he disagrees with them, but at least go out and plead your case. The players will appreciate it.

Also, Acta’s one big flaw comes out — he has no fear of losing his job because he knows another MLB job will be waiting for him. That is not a trait I want in a manager who is in last place for the third consecutive year.

I think Acta will be a good manager some day, but the odds of it happening in D.C. are so slim.

Acta: Managing to Stay Calm or Too Calm to Manage?The Post
Bos is chiming in:

Besides, the Nats have already gone the extra mile. The cliche says: “They fired the manager because they couldn’t fire the team.” The Nats have actually reversed that dictum. They have “fired the team” multiple times already, rather than can Manny. And it’s only May. So far, the Nats have had two full-scale bullpen purges, a center fielder exiled to Class AAA and a free agent starting pitcher released outright. Nobody has gotten that much support under fire in this town since Abe Lincoln backed Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.

That may be a bit much, Bos. Anyway, Bos does not really reach any conclusions. My conclusion — sadly, he needs to go. Preferably to the American League.

Acta discusses Nats’ present, futurenationals.com
More of the same in an Q&A with Bill Ladson.

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Jay Paterno blogs and is on Twitter

Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno may not be able to “download a jar of peanut butter,” but his quarterbacks coach and son, Jay Paterno is so Web 2.0. The younger occasionally blogs at The HD Journal and is on Twitter pretty regularly. Today’s tweet is how I knew it was 100 days until football season.

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Update on the Nats, Caps steroids allegations

On steroids and D.C.Sports Biz, The Wash. Times
Everybody is looking into it, denying any knowledge of Richard and Sandra Thomas and their allegations of selling steroids to the Washington Nationals and Washington Capitals. Both the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, working with U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement were surprised by the claims made by the couple.

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Paterno wants Big Ten to expand, but not with Notre Dame

JoePa wants expansionThe Morning Call (Allentown, Penna.)
At a Lehigh Valley alumni function, Joe Paterno again called for the Big Ten to expand, citing Pitt, Syracuse or Rutgers as candidates. He specifically said he would not be happy with Notre Dame being added because “they had their chance.” Yes, they did and the did not join because of their NBC contract. Good to see JoePa moved on from it.

I don’t see any scenario in which Pitt or Syracuse join the Big Ten. They are now basketball schoools, not football schools. There is no incentive for them to leave the Big East for the Big Ten in hoops. There might be even less incentive in football since they are already mediocre in a mediocre football conference and would get crushed in the tougher Big Ten.

Rutgers is interesting of course, because it would bring in the New York TV market, but they do not have a big enough stadium and have only recently become competitive in the Big East.

I think the Big Ten is stuck at 11 for the foreseeable future. I think I am done blogging about this too.

By the way, it is 100 days until Penn State’s season opener.

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Thomas Boswell chat 05.28.2009

Ask Boswell: Nats, Wizards and OriolesThe Post
“Washington Post sports columnist Thomas Boswell will be online Thursday, May 28, at 11 a.m. ET to take your questions about the the Nats, Wizards, censored, the latest sports news and his columns.”

Do you get the feeling they just pick a random grab-bag of teams to list? Anyway, Bos has a bit too talk about this week: video replays, steroid accusations, etc. Will he be bitter, defensive, optimistic or all three?

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Nats fall to Mets again as video review goes against them again

Second Look Doesn’t Help As Nationals Fall to MetsThe Post

But this latest loss — a 7-4 defeat against the Mets at Citi Field — played out like a bad sequel for reasons beyond that. By now, 33 losses into their season, the Nationals have proved themselves capable of replicating not just the results, but the sinister details. Same as Monday, a controversial game-changing home run was subjected to umpire review. Same as Monday, the Nationals were responsible for allowing, not hitting, said home run. Same as Monday, the Nationals didn’t like the call.

And, same as Monday, the Nationals didn’t have the wherewithal to overcome it. Their third loss in a row dropped them 20 games under .500. Even if they play .500 ball the rest of the way, they’ll finish with a 71-91 record.

Instant replay dooms Nats againThe Wash. Times

The situation: With no outs and a man on first, Murphy tagged a pitch from Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann deep to right. Adam Dunn took a couple steps backward but then turned around to watch the ball, which surely was headed into the stands.

But the ball somehow landed on the warning track and was ruled in play, forcing players from both sides to scurry back into action. Dunn retrieved the ball and managed to fire a throw to cutoff man Ronnie Belliard, who fired to the plate in time to nail Sheffield.

Umpire Larry Vanover and his crew, however, immediately huddled up and decided to review the play. The ensuing five-minute delay left the crowd of 40,171 nervously waiting and trying to get a glimpse of replays that appeared to show the ball glancing off an advertisement hanging some 30 feet above the right-field fence.

When Vanover emerged from underneath the stadium and singled home run, the crowd roared and the Nationals hung their heads, aghast that another borderline call went against them.

Things spiraled downward from there, with relievers Kip Wells and Jesus Colome combining to allow two more runs to score and give the Mets plenty of cushion to secure a series sweep and hand Washington its 15th loss in 18 days.

Another night, another video review call of a home run that goes against Washington. It is too bad too, the Nats tagged Johan Santana for three runs. For Washington, Jordan Zimmermann had eight strike outs over five innings, but gave up five earned runs, including that bad replay call.

Simply put, the Nats are not getting the breaks and they are not going to anytime soon.

Montz is happy to receive promotionThe Wash. Times
C Luke Montz, he of the .152 average in AA-Harrisburg is with the team now. C Jesus Flores should be back this weekend. Reliever Mike MacDougal, a former All-Star was promoted from AAA-Syracuse as well. His ERA is lower than Montz’s batting average.

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