Penn State vs. Youngstown State only 4 days away

#19 Penn State Nittany Lions vs. Youngstown State Penguins — can you feel it?!

Ya, me neither. I have never been this unenthusiastic about the kickoff of a Penn State football season. Ugh,these FCS games are terrible, but they are not going away even as the Big Ten looks to expand to 9 conference games (Patriot-News). As for Saturday’s game, the way I look at it — beating the Penguins is always a good thing. We don’t know who the quarterback(s) will be (CDT), but it shouldn’t matter. I think there will be a rotation between Kevin Newsome and Matt McGloin with Robert Bolden getting a look in the second half.

Here is what being a sacrificial lamb means to Youngstown StateThe Vindicator

Bob Flounders of the Patriot-News is chatting at 2 p.m. He wants Nebraska and Penn State to be rivals (Patriot-News). I’m on board, though Flounders probably should have mentioned he is an alumnus of Nebraska.

Speaking of the Cornhuskers, there is a great story on how Nebraska joined the Big Ten in the Omaha World-Herald today. Graham Spanier, a former Nebraska administrator, played a role.

Look for the transcript and hopefully video of Joe Paterno’s press conference later this evening.

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Ryan Zimmerman renames Marlins venue Sun Life Stadiu; Nats win 9-3

After lengthy delay, Nationals beat Marlins, 9-3
Sloppy conditions, clean performance
When I saw the twitpics of the standing water at Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Dolphin/Dolphins/Land Shark/SunLife Stadium last night, I went to bed assured that the Washington Nationals would be playing in a doubleheader today against the Florida Marlins. I was kind of looking forward to it actually.

It did not work out that way.

But it did work out.

Playing in conditions better fit for water-skiing than baseball, the Nats pounded the Marlins 9-3. Ryan Zimmerman hit a 3-run homer that broke the scoreboard Nationals Enquirer. The “m” in SunLife Stadium was a casualty, so from this point on, we’re calling it SunLife Stadiu. Adam Dunn homered for the 33rd time as well, 3 run shot to left-center.


Jason Marquis
continued his climb to mediocrity, winning his first game for D.C. in eight decisions. His ERA has plummeted to 8.13.

Game changer indeed

The Nats have won 4 out of 5.

Orlando Hernandez abruptly leaves the Harrisburg Senators, Washington Nationals
El Duque” walks away [updated]Nats Insider
Orlando Hernandez aka El Duque has left the Nats organization. When he found out he would not be a September call-up, he left the Harrisburg Senators. The half-brother of LIVAN!, El Dugue was expected by some to mentor another Cuban defector, Yunesky Maya.

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NPR I-95 series looks at Delaware travel plaza, Maine

James Lin's I-95 sign, circa 1995That’s No Rest Stop, It’s A ‘Travel Plaza’NPR
The second weekend of I-95: The Road Most Traveled features a look at the Delaware Welcome Center Travel Plaza that was recently reopened. The old service plaza was pretty bad and I only went to it a few times over the years. Typically, if I need to stop on that part of the journey I do so off Interstate 95 in either Newark, Del. or Elkton, Md. (wink wink). If I did stop at a service area, it would usually be the Maryland ones, Maryland House and Chesapeake House. Those, especially Maryland House, were better than the Delaware one. I blogged about upgrades to them in 2006.

The new travel plaza is operated by HMS Host. Liane Hansen was very disappointed there isn’t a penny crushing machine because HMS Host wanted the features to include human interactions. That may mean the arcade is gone too — I remember one of my cousins saying they always stopped there when they came down to visit us. I’ll see what I can find out Tom.

Rest areas with restaurants and gasoline stations have been banned since the 1960s because they discourage local business. They only appeared on toll roads like the turnpikes in Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, etc.

The report mentions that the stretch of I-95 in Delaware is the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway. Kennedy attended the dedication of the Delaware Turnpike and Maryland’s Northeast Expressway just a week before he was assassinated in 1963. In 1964 the roadway in both states was named after him, but Delaware has stuck to using “Delaware Turnpike” on signs. Also, the roads were toll roads because the Eisenhower administration got into a disagreement with the states over that part of I-95. In the long-run, I think both states are probably thrilled that the highway is tolled.

Northernmost Maine? I-95 Won’t Get You There
The original plans for what became I-95 in Maine had a highway running to the northern part of the state. However, when the interstate highway system showed up, that plan got truncated and I-95 ends at the Canadian border about 10 miles from the Trans-Canada Highway.

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Nats take 3 of 4 from Cardinals; extend Livan through 2011

Friday morning, the Washington Nationals announced that Stephen Strasburg would miss the rest of the season (more on that later) and probably much of 2010 due to Tommy John surgery. That had followed an exciting Thursday that saw Bryce Harper come to Washington and Jordan Zimmermann return to the majors from Tommy John surgery. While his outing was not the greatest, his teammates picked up the slack by beating the St. Louis Cardinals 11-10 in the 13th inning.

Friday was a frustrating 4-2 loss to the Redbirds. (The Post)

Saturday night turned out to be a wacky, entertaining game in its own right. Livan Hernandez started off poorly, giving up 3 runs in the first inning. He settled down though, blowing through the next several innings. The Nats bats were on fire; Adam Dunn had 5 RBI including a home run. Michael Morse also homered. In all, the Nats scored 14 runs (The Post), but it should have been 15 — Nyjer Morgan hit the catcher instead of crossing the plate. When his teammates realized it, they pushed him back to the plate, making him out. Manager Jim Riggleman kept Morgan out of Sunday’s game because he knew St. Louis would through at the centerfielder. Morgan’s home plate nonsense was a childish reaction and Riggleman did the right thing. Have fun at arbitration Nyjer!

Yesterday, John Lannan pitched well again and helped his own cause with a 2-run double. The Nats took 3 of 4 from the Cards with a 4-2 win. Morse homered again. Yes, Cincinnati Reds fans are already thanking me for given them some breathing room in the NL Central over the Cardinals. (The Post, Nats Insider)

Some other good news — ¡LIVAN! is signed through 2011! He’s been the most consistent all season — he should have about 4 more wins than he does.

Oh and Rob Dibble has not done a Nats broadcast in days and is not going on the road trip. The end is nigh!

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A Penn State grad’s view on Big Ten divisions and Ohio State vs. Michigan

I have been pretty nonchalant about the divisional alignment that the Big Ten will rollout for 2012 now that Nebraska is in the conference. I would like to see geography-based divisions, mostly so Penn State would have fewer chances of playing early games in the Central Time Zone. So, here is what it should look like to me:

DIVISION A
PENN STATE
Indiana
Michigan
Michigan State
Ohio State
Purdue

DIVISION B
Illinois
Iowa
Minnesota
Nebraska
Northwestern
Wisconsin

Off the top of my head, that breaks them down by time zone which would be too easy I guess. I am not going to get worked up about it though if they do something else. I’d also make Penn State and Nebraska protected interdivisional rivals. Oh and my trophy idea for that game: a two-sided Interstate 80 shield. One side with have Pennsylvania, the other will have Nebraska. I-80 is about 12 miles way from Happy Valley and goes right through Lincoln.

Of late though, there has been a great deal of anxiety in the Michigan and Ohio State fanbases about their rivalry. They have played each other at the end of the season since before the world turned from black and white to color. I have even dealt with it in my professional life. I remember in 2007 spending 8 days working on a special Web section at work for that game. About half an hour before I wrapped up, I got the call that “Bo Schembelcher just collapsed” and my wind-down was postponed. I got to post the news that Schembelcher had died.

I get the rivalry and while I don’t particularly care for either program, I would occasionally turn on that game if The Game, Yale vs. Harvard was at the half or something. The Buckeyes vs. Wolverines had its appeal back in the day — gray skies with maybe some flurries, grass and mud, plus great contrasting uniforms and Keith Jackson doing the play by play. Of course, the grass at both stadiums was replaced with rugs and Jackson retired so that fun is not what it was. I’d still like to see it played at the end of the season, but the more I see the reaction of both of those fanbases, as seen on Slow States, the more sympathetic/enthasiastic I am to moving it around.

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Nats: Why Strasburg is still worth $15 million

Stephen Strasburg ‘probably’ needs Tommy John surgery, will miss 12 to 18 monthsThe Post
Zuckerman: Strasburg Likely Needs Tommy John SurgeryCSN Washington
The sad news that Washington Nationals rookie starter Stephen Strasburg likely needs Tommy John surgery was revealed this morning. When I got the conference call invitation, I figured the news would be good: “why would they invite bloggers for bad news?” So, credit goes to the Nats, I guess, for letting us in with the good and bad.

Jorge Arangure wondered aloud on Twitter if teams would still pay for pitching in the draft. I suppose some feel that the $15.1 million paid to Strasburg was ridiculous, but for pitching it is actually a bargain. Jason Marquis, an average pitcher, signed for $15 million for two seasons. So far, he has exactly 5 fewer wins than Strasburg due to injuries and ineffectiveness. As for Marquis ineffectiveness — I haven’t seen someone lit up like that since Lakehurst, May 1937.

Marquis had averaged something like 10 wins a season previously — even a known quantity at the major league level isn’t a sure thing. So, even with a year of rehab and an uncertain future, the higher upside of Strasburg (and longer period under club control) compared with the cost of a middle of the rotation free agent , suggests that paying for pitching in the draft is still prudent for baseball teams. It is a tough sport, but the draft lets teams shoot for the stars on the cheap. Relatively.

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Redskins in burgundy at home in 2010

Redskins will wear burgundy jerseys at home in 2010 – DC Sports Bog, The Post
Through a Dallas Cowboys blog, Dan Steinberg has determined that the Washington Redskins will be wearing their burgundy jerseys at home for the 2010 entire regular season. While I prefer the traditional white jersey, burgundy pants combo, the burgundy at home has grown on me a little, especially when they are playing the New York Giants. But not when the Cowboys* come to town, that’s a major jersey foul.

Also, it will be interesting to see if the Redskins wear gold pants. GM Bruce Allen mentioned he was holding a pair back in the spring and that caused quite a commotion. The Redskins wore gold or yellow pants for much of their first 40 years in Washington, including the era that Allen’s father George was head coach. I suppose fans over 40 may be happy to see the gold pants because of nostalgia from their childhood, but the standard burgundy and white (and vice versa) look is superior. It was also the scheme that the Redskins wore during their glory days of the 1980s and early 1990s. I’ll take that over ketchup and mustard any day.

Of course, gold pants are better than the monochromatic look, especially the all burgundy look that has always ended in a loss.

*The Cowboys will not wear their standard blue jerseys once in the 2010 season, though they are wearing their stupid blue throwbacks on Thanksgiving.

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Nats beat Cardinals in 13; Harper, Morgan, Strasburg, Dibble

Jordan Zimmermann returns, Washington Nationals beat St. Louis Cardinals on Ian Desmond’s single in 13thThe Post
A day and night of ups and downsNats Insider
Jordan Zimmermann returned to the Washington Nationals last night for the first time since having Tommy John Surgery last year. He gave up 5 St. Louis Cardinals runs over 4 innings; one in the second, three in the fourth. The bullpen came in and kept the Cards off the board until the 8th. Meanwhile, without the benefit of a single home run, the Nats scored 8 runs and entered the 9th inning up 8-6. Drew Storen came in the 8th and recorded two outs on 3 pitches. The ninth did not go well at all though as he gave up two singles, a double, intentionally walked Albert Pujols and then hit Matt Holliday in the hand to force home the tying run. Two more runs crossed the plate.

In the bottom of the inning, Alberto Gonzales, hitting in Adam Dunn’s spot after the slugger was removed as a defensive replacement, lead off the inning with a single, sucking me back into the game. Ian Desmond struck out and was followed by Roger Bernadina hitting 2-1 pitch just over the right field wall to tie it. Four innings later, Desmond knocked in Nyjer Morgan to end it, a rare extra inning win for the Nats.

* * *

Nationals No. 1 overall pick Bryce Harper introduces himself to WashingtonThe Post
Confident Harper Puts On Show In D.C.CSN Washington

I cannot get excited about Bryce Harper’s successful batting practice and press conference like Thomas Boswell. That is great he hit several deep home runs, or “oppo boppos” in Harper-ese, but so could Wily Mo Pena. Harper’s confidence in himself will face quite a test against professional pitching. Hopefully, he is accurate in his assessment of himself and begins a major league career sooner than later. When it comes down to it, Harper is a 17 year old boy. Also, he has #34 for now, but surely he will want #7 when it comes available. Harper is a big Mickey Mantle fan and therein lies a cautionary tale.

* * *

When I heard that Nyjer Morgan threw a ball in the stands (Nationals Journal, The Post), I though, gee that’s something Rob Dibble did and shook my head. However, it has come to light that the throw was not in anger, but a playful toss. Also, it is not as if Morgan has shown an inability to make a big throw from centerfield.

* * *

Speaking of Dibble, despite playing in the major leagues and having access to the team he chooses to simply react to the proceedings with machismo rather than insight. Whether it is due to arrogance or laziness, it adds nothing to broadcast and often contradicts facts that are readily accessible to Nats fans. On top of that, his over the top reaction to fans in the social media sphere, antagonizes his audience. His decision to take two nights off was appreciated. A resignation would be even more appreciated. We know John Angelos, son of Baltimore Orioles/MASN owner, will not fire Dibble — they do not want the Nats to succeed.

Lastly, but not in our minds, is the results of Stephen Strasburg‘s second MRI of the week. The news will come out sometime this morning apparently. His plight, our plight is a familiar one as Joe Posnanski reminds us. Federal Baseball followed up with Posnanski too.

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Mr. Walk-Off comes 12 feet short; Nats fall to Cubs 5-4

Washington Nationals’ rally in ninth falls short in 5-4 loss to Chicago CubsThe Post
A chance for drama falls flatNats Insider
The table was set for another Ryan Zimmerman walk-off home run. He came to the plate with a runner on second, down by two in the bottom of the 9th. The Washington Nationals had come to life in the 9th, scoring three times on the Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Marmol. The Nats had the most prolific walk-off hitter of the last five years at the plate with two outs. Zimmerman connected with a Marmol pitch and sent deep to the right field corner, the opposite field. It was not deep enough though and Kosuke Fukudome caught it on the run. Another 12 feet and it would have cleared the fence and Natstown would have erupted in celebration. It reminds me of a previous Nats vs. Cubs game in 2005, the first meeting between the two teams. Down 6-3, Jose Guillen came to the plate the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. He hit a shot to just about the same spot in right, about 12 feet short of the RFK Stadium fence and the Nats lost. Had it gone over, I think we’d still be celebrating.

The Nats got in the hole courtesy of two bad John Lannan sliders that landed in the seats. Is there still a SINE SORIANO 1!!!!1! crowd? The could say “I told you so” after Alfonso Soriano, owner of the single finest individual season by a Nat (2006), hit a 3-run homer in the 2nd inning. He was on 1st aftera throwing error two innings later when Tyler Colvin put another slider over the wall.

Lannan’s opposite number, Carlos Zambrano was much more successful. Zambrano went 7 1/3 innings and struck out 8, allowing only one runner.

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