2012 Redskins at Steelers Q&A and prediction with The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus

The Washington Redskins travel to the Steel City to face the Pittsburgh Steelers for the first time in four years. Western Pennsylvania native, Sam, also known as The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus

WFY: I was going to make a joke about how the Redskins usually beat the Super Bowl winner in the regular season (Giants and Packers are two recent examples) but the Steelers only have 3 wins, just like the Redskins. What in the name of Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala is going on at the confluence of the three rivers?

TMBCE: Technically, the Steelers are 3-3, but expect things to get worse very soon (spoiler alert!) Without Troy Polamalu, the Steelers are an average defense. Polamalu is out indefinitely, the defense has gotten older, and the younger defensive lineman they drafted haven’t stepped up. So in summary, the defense sucks. Add into the mix a crappy special teams unit, a team second in the league in penalties, a patchwork offensive line, and you have the recipe for a mediocre team. I expect them to finish 7-9. The only reason they are competitive is due to Big Ben.

WFY: Having until recently lived in Columbia, Md. area for about a decade and dealt with fanbases (Ravens, Redskins) regularly, how is it being just surrounded by Steelers fans? Has you perspective on Pittsburgh sports (or your native region in general) changed after being away for so long?

TMBCE: It is wonderful, although on days like today (Monday after a Ravens loss and a Steelers win), I miss being in Maryland and listening to a) how the referees stole the game from the Ravens, b) how the other team cheated and/or got lucky or c) its all Joe Flacco’s fault. The thing I miss the most is regularly listening to the Tony Kornheiser show (don’t flog me, I know you aren’t a big fan of his). My office has some non-Steelers fans as well (Raiders, Patriots and Eagles are all represented). I think I’m less of a homer than I used to be. When the team is playing bad, its easier to point out. Plus, the Steelers have been to 3 Super Bowls since 2005, so its hard to get too upset when they struggle. The main obvious benefit is not having to listen to Ravens fans when the Steelers lose, although I do miss the drama that always surrounds the Redskins.

WFY: What are the best and worst units on the Steelers?

TMBCE: The worst unit is obviously the defense, but specifically the secondary. The “best” cornerback is Ike Taylor, who either gets beat for a first down, touchdown, or holding call on just about every play. Without Polamalu to help cover up mistakes, they are extremely vulnerable. The offense is the best unit, but specifically the passing attack. We have a hall of fame quarterback in his prime, surrounded by 3 lightning quick receivers and a very underrated tight end (Heath Miller). The running game features Rashard Mendenhall (when healthy), but I haven’t liked him since he was at Illinois.

WFY: Who is the better coach, Mike Tomlin or Bill Cowher?

TMBCE: This is a point of serious contention in town. Right now, I would have to give a slight nod to Tomlin, but not by much. My Dad would vigorously dispute that, as he believes that Tomlin won a super bowl with Cowher’s players. I don’t dispute that, but Tomlin has gone to 2 Super Bowls in 5 years, while Cowher went to 2 in 15. Neither one strikes me as a great Xs and Os coach, as both seem to be more of the motivational “rah rah” types. For what its worth, both coaches had Dick LaBeau as the defensive coordinator, who is largely credited with being the brains by the exotic blitz schemes the Steelers run.

WFY: What Steelers gear do you own?

TMBCE: I have plenty of shirts, hats, sweatshirts, and memorabilia. But my two favorite Steelers possessions are my Hines Ward jersey, and the Terrible Towel. DOUBLE YOI!

WFY: Please order your favorite Pittsburgh teams for our readers.

TMBCE: Any discussion of my favorite Pittsburgh sports teams has to begin with the fact that I am a proud Penn State graduate, and they will always be first in my heart and mind. (Yes, I know they are in central Pennsylvania, but they are still #1). Ten years ago, the Steelers would be a clear second, followed the Pens and the Pirates bringing up the rear. Well, the Pirates are still in last, but I have the Steelers and Pens in a tie for second. Hockey mania has gripped this town, and most people younger than I seem to have the Pens 1st, and the Steelers 2nd.

WFY: Steely McBeam, discuss.

TMBCE: No Steelers fan takes Steely seriously, so he warrants no additional comments.

WFY: The turf at Heinz Field, best field in the NFL now or best ever?

TMBCE: The turf is awful, which I’m sure you know. I don’t understand why they haven’t called our alma mater for tips on a proper grass to use to build a better field. I’m sure doing so would irritate the Pitt faithful (which is an excellent reason to do it).

WFY: How is the Heinz Field gameday experience? I understand they have troughs in the men’s rooms. Is there anything you miss about Three Rivers?

TMBCE: I enjoy the game day experience, although I do not enjoy the beer prices. I usually take the shuttle boat over from Station Square to Heinz Field. It beats parking anywhere near the stadium and is much cheaper. I typically walk around the lower concourse and through the “Great Hall” exhibit, which is a must see for any Steelers fan (memorabilia, exhibits, pictures, Steelers history, etc). My goal is to see every NFL team play at Heinz Field at least once. (Note: I saw the Steelers beat the Redskins in a sloppy game in 2008), so I try to get to 1-2 games a year. Its worth noting that Quaker Steak and Lube wings and Primantis are sold at Heinz Field. The scoreboard is really nice, and from where we sit, you get a great view of the game and the river.

WFY: Who is Greatest Steeler of your lifetime?

TMBCE: Hmm….terrific question. There have been some great ones over the last 25 years (my timeline of watching Steelers football). I am not sure I could pick just one. The group would include Rod Woodson, Dermonti Dawson, Greg Lloyd, Big Ben, Hines Ward, Troy Polamalu, Levon Kirkland, Jason Gildon, and Jerome Bettis. If forced to choose…….I’d probably have to take Big Ben. The only super bowl victories they have since the 70s are due to him. Bonus question: You didn’t ask who is the favorite Steeler of my lifetime: Answer: Hines Ward.

WFY: What concerns you about the Steelers playing the Redskins?

TMBCE: The Redskins seem to have a pretty good offense, which is a concern because Troy isn’t playing and again, our defense sucks. (I am irrationally concerned and skeptical when it comes to the Steelers chances of winning any game that Polamalu doesn’t play). I think the best chance for a Steelers victory involves getting out to an early lead. The Redskins have just played two emotional games in a row, and may (I hope) come out a little flat. If the Redskins can stay in the game, they’ll have a shot to win in the end because our defense does not hold 4th quarter leads.

WFY: Last week our alma whipped Iowa Hawkeyes. I have noted a number of times that Iowa has better Steelers uniforms than the Steelers do at this point. Would you like to see them return to the classic block uniforms of the Chuck Knoll era? Also, the Steelers really need to wear black shoes all the time. Maybe the d-line can wear gold, but that’s it. Are you we going to see the throwbacks this Sunday?

TMBCE: We will be seeing the throwbacks this weekend, and I am not excited about it. The uniforms look like Bumble Bee, and are hideous in my view. I really liked the Steelers uniforms during the 90s, which are more similar to what they wear today. The 70s uniforms would be a better choice for a throwback then the striped uniforms they will wear Sunday.

WFY: Do you still listen with the sound turned down and the radio turned up (as Frank Herzog used to say during Redskins broadcasts) even though Myron Cope is gone?

TMBCE: No, those days are long gone. I enjoy the game on my flat screen tv. Plus, I flick over to NFL Redzone during commercials and get updates on all the game. (Note: I do not enjoy listening to Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, because the Steelers typically lose games they broadcast.)

WFY: Where do you get your Steelers coverage?

TMBCE: My favorite Steelers beat writer is Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, by far. However, I enjoy the overall coverage of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review better than the PG.

WFY: Would a Primanti Bros sammich and an Arn (Iron City) be the perfect accompaniment to a Steelers broadcast? Would “The O” be acceptable?

TMBCE: I am in a Sam Adams Octoberfest mood of late, so a Primanti’s sandwich with that would be ideal.

WFY: How much are the Steelers going to win by?

TMBCE: I do not assume that the Steelers will win. In fact, I am predicting a 34-31 Redskins victory for the reasons discussed earlier. The Bengals did not attack the Steelers secondary this week, but the Redskins will not make that mistake. It will be a high scoring game, but I just don’t think the Steelers defense will make the late game stop needed to win the game.

WFY: New feature!

In keeping with the spirit of Glenn Brenner’s original Guest Prognosticator series, I’m going to ask you to pick a winner of each NFL game this week (please just bold the winner).

TMBCE’s picks

Tampa Bay at Minnesota
Dolphins at N.Y. Jets
San Diego at Cleveland
Indianapolis at Tennessee
Jacksonville at Green Bay
Atlanta at Philadelphia
Seattle at Detroit
Carolina at Chicago
Oakland at Kansas City
N.Y. Giants at Dallas
New England at St. Louis
New Orleans at Denver
San Francisco at Arizona

WFY’s Picks

Tampa Bay at Minnesota
Dolphins at N.Y. Jets
San Diego at Cleveland
Indianapolis at Tenneessee
Jacksonville at Green Bay
Atlanta at Philadelphia
Seattle at Detroit
Carolina at Chicago
Oakland at Kansas City
N.Y. Giants at Dallas
New England at St. Louis
New Orleans at Denver
San Francisco at Arizona

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Redskins: The only thing worse than wearing the Steelers 1934 throwbacks would be losing to them

It is old news, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are wearing these on Sunday when they host the Washington Redskins:

Technically, those are “inspired” by the 1934 uniforms, back when they were the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL. To me, it makes them look like convicted bumble bees that broke out of prison and started running a 5K or something. Or this guy:


No te gusta indeed

Or is this just an elaborate homage to Christian glam metal band Stryper?


Still in rapid rotation on WDVE?

Of course, the only thing worse than having to wear that uniform or watch your team wear that uniform is watching your team LOSE to the team wearing those uniforms. So, don’t screw this up Redskins.

Q&A with guest prognosticator The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus coming up at 2 p.m.

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NHL Lockout: I’m blaming the owners, including Ted Leonsis; won’t buy any Capitals or Wizards tickets

Since I not expecting the NHL season to start on-time, I never did print out a Washington Capitals schedule and put it up in my cube, so I don’t know how many games have been lost by the latest lockout. I miss watching the Caps a few nights of the week and the hockey talk that we have had in my office. Until this year, there was more hockey talk than any other sport which is a bit surprising. I’ve always enjoyed having the regular seasons of baseball and hockey on the opposite ends of each other — they flow in nicely. When they have a season.

In terms of blame, I’m putting it on the NHL owners and commissioner Gary Bettman. This is the third lockout in less than 20 years, second in the last 8. The owners seem to want the players to take another salary rollback because owners can’t discipline themselves to stop spending so much, despite growing revenues. The NHL players already agreed to a 24% rollback after the 2004-2005 season was lost. Nothing but bad faith from NHL ownership, many of whom play in publicly financed arenas.

I’m including Caps owner Ted Leonsis as part of the blame. This is the second lockout of his Caps ownership tenure; third if you include the Washington Wizards of the NBA, which had a lockout last season. If owners like Leonsis don’t want to pay players they ought to sell their teams. I am disinclined from going to any Caps games or buy any merchandise during the season after the lockout ends. I’ll just watch the games on TV. I don’t want to directly reward bad behavior with my money. Furthermore, I think I’ll skip going to a Wizards game. I have tried to go to at least one game of the local pro teams (Nationals, Caps, Redskins, Wizards, DC United) but if he doesn’t mind not having games, I don’t mind not going to the arena he owns or buying team merchandise for me or my family when they return. That’s a drop in the bucket of course, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

MEANWHILE IN THE BOROUGH OF CHURCHES

Looks like the New York Islanders are giving up suburbia for the urbanized part of Long Island known as Brooklyn (The Times). Can’t say I’m surprised. I have not followed the Isles efforts to get a 21st century arena in Nassau County closely, but it seems like they tried. I figured when the Brooklyn arena was announced for the former New Jersey Nets that it would be a fallback option for the Islanders. Probably a gut punch for the season ticket holders on Long Island, but for the causal fan, not so much. They still get the Islanders on TV and can at least get out on weekends to Brooklyn and its transit accessible location. They have a bigger gripe than say, the Maryland Caps fans (who started the damn “O” during the national anthem at Caps games) who whined when the Caps left Landover for D.C. proper.

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Yale adds merit stickers to football helmets

Yale football helmet stickers
I noticed on Saturday that Yale is now putting little Bulldogs on their helmets, presumably for good play. This is the first time I can recall it. Since the photo is not as clear as I would have liked, here is a look at the graphic I believe they are using:

This is the logo Yale is using as a helmet sticker

Yale upset Penn, 27-13 at the Yale Bowl on Saturday. I watched the second half with my dad, an Old Blue. He’s not real excited about the helmet stickers.

OTHER IVY HELMET NEWS

Princeton reversed their colors on their famed winged helmet as well which was news to me. I prefer the black helmet with orange wings over the current version — orange with black wings.

PREVIOUSLY

Yale football helmet goes retro: “Y” no longer outlined

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2012 Redskins vs. Giants Game 1 Q&A & prediction with Brad

My friend Brad Stratton is back for some more guest prognosticating about his beloved New Yorker Football Giants who play the Washington Redskins this weekend in our native New Jersey.

WFY: I guess getting swept by the Redskins last year must have really upset John Mara — he was on the committee that fined the Redskins for breaking an unwritten rule (Pro Football Talk). Pretty weak stuff from him. Your rebuttal:

BMS: Yeah, it’s a shame we got swept by the Redskins last year. Wait a second, let me just pause my New York Giants Super Bowl XLVI Champions DVD. Honestly, if getting swept by the Redskins means we win the Super Bowl, sign me up for 0-infinity against the Skins in the regular season till the end of time.

As for the Redskins and Cowboys getting fined, they were among all the owners who agreed to not use the uncapped year to generate a competitive advantage, then still did it. They deserved to be fined for sheer pompousness alone! Now, was it collusion? Probably. Would Synder and Jones had won if they took the case to court. Likely. But the two were at least smart enough to know that suing the rest of the league probably wasn’t in their teams’ best interests.

WFY: Surprise! The Redskins are 3-3 because Robert Griffin III is already a game-changing QB. They score over 30 points a game. How concerned are you about them? Do you think the Giants can stop RGIII or merely hope to contain him? Is there anything else scary about the Redskins?

BMS: RG3 is quite a dynamic player (he’s on my fantasy team and helped me beat Sam last week), which was obvious by how badly the Redskins sucked after he got knocked out versus the Falcons. I doubt the Giants defense can stop him, but they had some success against Cam Newton and to a lesser extent, against Michael Vick, in forcing the quarterbacks to beat them with their arms, not their feet. So I hope they can slow him down some.

WFY: What are the best and worst units on the Giants?

It’s easy to say what the best unit is on the Giants. Quarterback. Eli Manning is a top 3 quarterback at this point. He’s cut down on interceptions, and even when he does throw them, he’s out their next series slinging the ball around again, the previous mishap now a thing of the past. Look how he threw three interceptions in the first half against the Bucs earlier this year. With most quarterbacks, they would have basically closed up shop after that. But instead, Manning leads a huge second half comeback, and falls four yards short of tying Phil Simms’ franchise record for more yard passing in a single game. The man is a leader. He makes his receivers so much better, which is something everyone also says about his brother. What has Kevin Boss done since he left? What has Steve Smith done? Meanwhile, Martellus Bennett is on pace for a career year at tight end, Cruz and Nicks may be the best one-two wideout tandem in the league, and guys like Ramses Barden and Rueben Randle is having big games.

BMS: The worse unit may be the secondary, which is been hit against with injury after injury. It really relies on the defensive front to generate pressure. But if the QB gets time, they can easily give up yards. Michael Vick has been a turnover machine all season, but without players getting in his face a few weeks back, the Eagles don’t commit a single turnover against the Giants.

WFY: Has Tom Coughlin passed Bill Parcells as best modern Giants coach?

Tom Coughlin just passed Bill Parcells last week in career wins as the head coach of the Giants. I think one more Lombardi will cement him surpassing Parcells’ legacy.

WFY: If the Giants are Big Blue, how come they have a white jersey with no blue on it, but lots of red? Do you like that jersey? What about the alt red jersey?

BMS: I love both Giants’ home and away jerseys. They are Big Blue, but their colors are red, white, and blue (so patriotic!), and to a lesser extent, gray. They haven’t worn the red jersey in years, and supposedly had retired it, although there was a rumor in the offseason that it might make a reappearance this season. I hate the red jersey. If they want an alternate home jersey, why not the Big Blue uniforms from the 80s, complete with the helmet with GIANTS in the side. Although I like the current jersey and helmet design the best.

WFY: What Giants jerseys and other gear do you own?

BMS: Of current players, I owe two Eli away jerseys (forgot I had the one and got a second), and two Eli home jerseys (one is an authentic jersey with the captain patch and Super Bowl XLVI patch).

WFY: Please rank the Giants rivalries in the NFC East. Are there any inter-divisional rivals that are more important to you than intra-divisional rivalries?

BMS: As for divisional rivalries, Giants-Redskins rank at the bottom, although some of that is due to the lack of success the Redskins have had over the years. Nothing beats Giants-Eagles. As a Yankees fan, I hate the Eagles more than the Red Sox. When Xander’s original first grade teacher tried to turn him into an Eagles’ fan, I had to inform him that Eagles’ fans hate Santa Claus, and that the Eagles hate puppies. Giants-Cowboys is in the middle. I really dislike the Cowboys. But i don’t hate them. I don’t feel ill when we lose to them.

WFY: Prediction?

BMS: The Giants are coming off a big win in San Francisco last weekend, and look ahead to a rematch with the Cowboys, so I can see the Giants giving a subpar performance and losing to the Redskins, But I think RG3 adds a lot of interest to this game, so I don’t feel it’s like a classic letdown game. My guess, the Redskins get a lead, the Giants come back. You’re never truly our of a game when you have Eli Manning, and I predict a late fourth quarter comeback and a 24-23 Giants victory.

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Old Dominion Drive was built on trolley right-of-way

A trolley to Great Falls

GREAT FALLS, Va. — While it had occurred to me that the design of Old Dominion Drive was atypical for Northern Virginia roads, I had not thought about it enough to hypothesize that it was actually railroad-grade. A visit to Great Falls Park this past weekend enlightened me to that and it all made sense.

Untitled

The Great Falls & Old Dominion Railroad Company was a subdivision of Washington & Old Dominion Railroad. The NPS explanation says that “light rail” was opened on July 4, 1906 to Great Falls Amusement Park. Within a year, 1.6 million trips went up the line.

Trolley mock-up

Virginia Secondary Route 738Virginia Route 309In 1934, the Great Falls line was discontinued and replaced by Old Dominion Drive which is mostly a two-lane road between Great Falls and its terminus in the Cherrydale neighborhood of Arlington. In McLean and near the Glebe Road intersection and Marymount University, Old Dominion Drive is four lanes, but I do not anticipate any additional widening. West of VA 123, the road is secondary route 738, east of it it is primary route 309.

Highway markers by Shields Up!

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Washington Pigskins? That kind of works

The CityPaper has become the latest publication to announce they won’t use the term “Redskins” anymore. They held a brief poll to rename the team and Pigskins won out:

Over the last week, 1,125 of you voted on which of five names we should go with, and Pigskins—a.k.a. Hogs, in a tribute to the team’s great offensive line of the first Joe Gibbs era—stiff-armed the competition like John Riggins did to Don McNeal in Super Bowl XVII. The name won 50 percent of the vote…

…One added benefit to the name: The ’Skins abbreviation still works. And even the team’s fight song can fit our new style, with only slight modification: “Hail to the Pigskins, hail victory, Hogs on the warpath, fight for old D.C.!”

That’s a good a compromise that will ever be found I suppose. Of course, since it is the CityPaper making the suggestion, it won’t fly with Dan Snyder. PETA won’t like either, so the name has that going for it.

Of course, Redbullets is awesome too.

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Just drop the “Corner” and make it Tysons already

Tysons Corner is unofficially dropping the ‘corner’ from its nameThe Post
Officials consider Tysons Corner name changeWTOP
I have been saying for years that they ought to just make it official and call the Tysons Corner area, “Tysons” and give it a mailing address. From The Post story a few weeks ago:

If it wasn’t clear before the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors was presented this week with a marketing plan for the new Tysons, it certainly was after. The logo of choice is just Tysons, and when the man presenting it misspoke, accidentally adding “corner” out of habit, he was quickly corrected.

“I thought we were dropping the ‘corner,’ ” one supervisor interrupted.

The decision has never been formalized by anyone, but those in charge seem to agree it’s for the best.

“It indicates more than what Tysons Corner has meant historically,” Caplin said. “We want people to recognize that something exciting is happening here.”

Having grown up in Vienna, dropping the “Corner” was the typical reference. Just for fun, I polled a dozen co-workers on how they refer to the area we work in. The results
Tysons – 8
McLean – 2
Tysons Corner -2

That’s not scientific, nor is this poll below:

Tysons or Tysons Corner?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

I’ve been inconsistent though, using the Tysons Corner category instead of just Tysons. Perhaps I’ll change the tag to “Tysons” and let the “Tysons Corner” category stay. I don’t even want to talk about the apostrophe…

I’ll have more on the Silver Line and I-495 Express Lanes project later in the month, both two huge construction projects that are underway and getting closer to completion. Also, a special taxing district is likely on the way to pay for the Tysons of the 21st century (The Post).

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R.I.P. Eddie Yost, former Washington Senators third baseman, coach

‘Walking Man’ Yost passes away at 86nationals.com
The “walking man” Eddie Yost, perhaps the greatest #1 in D.C. baseball history if not all D.C. sports history, died yesterday three days after his 86th birthday. A third baseman, Yost led the American League in walks four times during his playing days with the 14 seasons he played for Washington Senators. His on-base percentage with the Nats was .389. He never hit above .300. He finished his playing career with the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels.

Yost was a third-base coach with the expansion Senators from 1963-1967, managing a game in 1963 after Mickey Vernon was fired and Gil Hodges took over. Yost followed Hodges to the New York Mets in 1968 and was the third base coach there through 1976. His final job was with the Boston Red Sox through 1984. Yost was a native New Yorker.

OBITUARIES:
Eddie Yost, the Washington Senators’ ‘Walking Man’ of the 1950s, dies at 86The Post | Eddie Yost, Baseball’s Walking Man, Dies at 86The Times

RUSS WHITE:
My Friend EDDIE YOSTD.C. Baseball History
Long-time Senators beat writer remembers Yost.

Eddie YostBaseball Reference

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