D-Span: Nats get Denard Span from Twins for prospect Alex Meyer

Since time immemorial, Washington Nationals general managers have craved a centerfielder who could lead off. Why GMs Jim Bowden and Mike Rizzo were so insistent for those two skillsets combined is a mystery that may never be fully understood. That led to experiments with the likes of Nook Logan, Lastings Milledge and Nyjer Morgan. Now, Rizzo believes he has acquired the player once thought to be an impossible dream. Denard Span (Baseball Reference) is coming to D.C.

Span, previously with the Minnesota Twins, was actually born in the nation’s capital(Nationals Journal, The Post) when his mother went labor earlier than expected. Speaking his mother, he hit her with a foul ball in spring training once (Nats Enquirer). She was fine (twinsbaseball.com).

Naturally, the newest Nat will be known as D-SPAN. It is probably only a matter of time before Brian Lamb is asked to comment.

Denard Span - D-SPAN

Back to the field, the ramifications of Span’s arrival are many and let’s just say, if you were looking forward to Michael Morse and Adam LaRoche playing together again, you will probably be disappointed. Morse won’t be a starting outfielder with Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper manning the corners and Span in center. That means he has to supplant LaRoche at first or be sent elsewhere. LaRaoche is unsigned at this point, but the Nats still want him. This, and what losing another pitching prospect in Alex Meyer, means is explained well here: Ripple effects from the Alex Meyer-Denard Span trade (Nationals Journal, The Post). It seems like a solid trade that screams the Nats are in “WIN NOW” mode which is a pretty good sign.


Rizzo: Span will “come into his own” in WashingtonCSN Washington

TWITTER REACTIONS

HOW TWITTER WAS WON TONIGHT

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The 2012-2013 Mid-Atlantic ski season begins today

Over the weekend, a number of resorts within driving distance of Washington, D.C. have fired up the snow guns (DC Ski).

EARLY OUTLOOK

The real stuff has been falling as well with about four inches in the Poconos yesterday after flurries throughout Pennsylvania last weekend. It is still early though and warm weather is expected in BeltwayLand in early December, according to Capital Weather Gang. I don’t know how much impact that will have for the resorts north of here, though CWG thinks we could be in for a colder, snowier winter. The Pocono ski areas are expected to open about two weeks earlier than last year with Jack Frost/Big Boulder are planning on opening this afternoon, according to yesterday’s Pocono Record. Camelback is planning on a Saturday opening, while Shawnee and Blue Mountain are aiming for that as well. Hunter Mountain is New York State is aiming for December 8.

UPDATE: Seven Springs and other ski resorts in Western Pennsylvania are forecast to get more snow than normal according to Pittsburgh’s WPXI-TV.

LAST YEAR

Last year was the winter of discontent for skiers, snowboarders and snow-lovers. My plan of going skiing three times became once and I was lucky to get that one in. If not for a couple of inches of snow falling at Blue Knob during the day, the conditions would have left a lot to be desired.

NEAR-ISH SKI AREAS

Over the last several years I have been to several ski areas, all in Pennsylvania and I have blogged about those trips: Big Boulder | Blue Knob | Camelback | Jack Frost | Whitetail. I’m hoping to get up to Hunter this year to ski in New York State for the first time. West Virginia will also be under consideration.

GETTING READY

As always, I’m getting ready with daily exercises, specifically wall-sits. I can’t emphasize enough how helpful just a few minutes every day improves both the experience and my ability. This year, I started off by watching the Franz Klammer Gold Medal run at Innsbruck for inspiration.

Another thing, if you don’t own your own equipment, rent locally. There are two big advantages of renting your skis near where you live:

1.) Renting in advance allows more time on the day you go skiing. Doing the paperwork on a weeknight in an empty, warm ski shop is better than doing it packed, chilly ski area. It is probably cheaper too.

2.) Your boots are warm when you put them on, as opposed to putting on the ski area rentals that have been sitting in a room that is 45°.

Also, wear a helmet. it keeps your head safer and is nice and warm.

THE ONLY COACHING YOU NEED

FURTHER READING

DCSki is a great resource for Mid-Atlantic skiers. I did a Q&A with it last winter.

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Verizon Center switching to Pepsi

Throwbacks
Verizon Center to switch from Coke to Pepsi products – DC Sports Bog, The Post
The best news out of Ted Leonsis’ Monumental Sports & Entertainment since Game 7 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs is that Pepsi products will soon be the official soft drinks of Verizon Center. Coke drinkers are not taking the news well which isn’t surprising.

Of course, it is going to be a while before I get my first Verizon Center Pepsi. I’m boycotting the teams there because Leonsis is presiding over his third lockout – second in hockey and second in consecutive years (Capitals now, Wizards last year). Hard to cheer for a team and sport when ownership doesn’t want to play.

Pepsi was sold at Washington Nationals games when they were at RFK Stadium. I think that is still true for DC United. Nationals Park and FedEx Field both sell Coca-Cola products.

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Happy Thanksgiving 2012

My favorite holiday is a day away — Thanksgiving! Family, food, football fire in the fireplace — what’s not to love? Thanksgiving is why America wins, on points.

NOTHING CELEBRATES GIVING THANKS LIKE LITTERING

If the listening of “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” (I insist on the full name<) isn't one of you traditions, it should be. DC101 plays it annually and I typically hear on my way into work. Yup, I work on Thanksgiving -- time and half plus the holiday. Not bad and I don't miss dinner which is much more reasonable than the retailers who insist on opening on Thanksgiving night.

FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!

First fire of the season

Thanksgiving is pretty much a mandatory day to build a fire in the fireplace if you have one. Gas fireplaces don’t count.

HAVE SOME TURKEY BEFORE YOUR TURKEY

I always have my turkey before my turkey
A shot of Wild Turkey in a snifter with just a drop of water is a great reward for building the fire. That’s real Wild Turkey too, not the harsh 81 proof stuff.

TRIUMPH OF THE UNCLUTTERED MIND

Football is a big part of the holiday too. The NFL is sending the Washington Redskins head to Texas to play the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday which is November 22, because 49 years ago a DC delegation going to Dallas worked out so well.

DC is 0 and 6 in Big D (or more accurately, Irving) on Turkey Day. The most memorable of course was 1974, so we might as well get Clint Longley out of the way:

Longley hasn’t been heard from in decades – sucker punching Roger Staubach will do that to you. DC Sports Bog provides a strong take on that memorable game that took place before we were born.

The Cowboys are probably wearing their stupid fauxback blue uniforms. This annoys me, Thanksgiving is a traditional game — wear the traditional uniform! The Redskins will probably wear white over gold which probably hasn’t been done down there since the Cotton Bowl days.

In the early game, the Detroit Lions will host the Houston Texans and almost certainly lose to them. The Lions also need to fix their uniforms. The New England Patriots visit the New York Jets in the night cap. Shouldn’t NEW ENGLAND be hosting on Thanksgiving? Seems like a no-brainer to me. Also, what took the NFL so long to add a third game on Thanksgiving?

By the way, I’m predicting the Redskins pull this on out, the Lions play valiantly and lose to the Texans and the Patriots roll over the Jets.

THE BIRD

“We’d always have walking-bird on Thanksgiving, with all the trimmings: cranberries, injun eyes, yams stuffed with gunpowder. Then we’d all watch football, which in those days was called baseball…”

Abraham Simpson

Mom's turkey

Turkey is to be cooked on Thanksgiving, not the day before and NOT CHICKEN, like I once had to endure.

Here is how you carve it:

OVERFILLED TURKEY FRYER = CHINA SYNDROME

LATE IN THE COWBOYS GAME

Back when we had a social contract, the commercial that Ed McMahon wished “you and yours the very best this holiday season” with the Clydesdales in the snow was the official beginning of the Christmas season. Then Ed’s narration was replaced in the mid-1990s and now that beer has been made even blander by the multinational conglomerate that owns it. Boo.

I don’t seem to be able to have a turkey leg on the couch during the 4th quarter anymore, but if you can, go for it.

BLACK FRIDAY

Sleep in. Go to work. Clean up. Just don’t go to the damn mall or sprawling big box development.

I THOUGHT TURKEYS COULD FLY

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MUST SEE: John Riggins: A Football Life at 8 p.m. on NFL Network

Tonight, the NFL Films series “A Football Life” features Washington Redskins great John Riggins. It is absolute must see viewing for any Washingtonian, whether they were a fan or not, and of course all football fans.

Twelve minutes of the documentary are already up at ‘John Riggins: A Football Life’ – Sneak Peek. It is really good, even though it is mostly information that isn’t new, but with Riggins describing some things.

The NFL Films producer Dave Douglas told DC Sports Bog – More on the NFL Network’s John Riggins documentary all about it:

In my 35 seasons here, this has been by far the most enjoyable show I’ve ever worked on,” Douglas told me this week. “It’s not even close. Not even close. It’s not just John’s material and stories. Once you talk to him, and meet him, and have a couple beers with him, you realize how wonderful and real he is.

I can’t wait to see the whole thing. I’m half-hoping that some of the myths surrounding Riggins are elaborated on. One of them was he partied too hard before a game and asked his linemen, the Hogs, only to block well enough for him to get about 3 yards — he didn’t think he could run any farther. Naturally, they didn’t listen and he ran for something like 150 yards. From what I gathered, it was in January 1983 during the playoffs, the game he bowed to the crowd. Then again, “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

Transplants to Washington, this is part of the reason people still love the Redskins and have put up so much from Dan Snyder. Hopefully, Snyder will see this documentary and go make peace with the Redskins and “get him back in the family.”

When I was a kid, I met Riggins in the Vienna Mister Donut (RIP). I got his autograph, complemented him on his preseason game analysis. He was shy, but accommodating to an autograph request. That was probably at least five years after he stopped playing and he still looked like he could play.

Here is another Riggins feature, probably from around 1988 or so, some of the clips are used in “A Football Life”

Another one:

Oh, look at this:

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Penn State gets an old rival back: Maryland to Big Ten; Rutgers likely

Getting B1Gger: Maryland, Rutgers to join Big TenExaminer.com
Look at this! I’ve come out of my Penn State blogging slumber. Sort of. More of that someday, but today the big story is that Penn State has (a) new neighbor(s) in the Big Ten Conference.

The University of Maryland has accepted an invitation to the Big Ten Conference, press conference at 3 p.m. The Terrapins will begin playing in 2014-2015. The Terps used to play the Nittany Lions in football annually. And get beat. Often badly.

Rutgers University is expected to join the conference tomorrow. Another old football opponent/doormat for PSU. Right now, the State University of New Jersey is having a strong season, ranked in the Big East.

These new additions are blatant money grabs for the Big Ten, anything else is secondary. The Big Ten hopes that having these two will get Big Ten Network on basic cable in the Washington D.C., New York and Baltimore television markets. Those are a lot of eyeballs. I don’t think BTN will break into basic cable in New York City, but certainly has a shot in North Jersey which is significant. A good portion of Maryland will likely put BTN on basic cable too. There will be battles over it, but it will eventually be sorted out. Being on the Sports Tier isn’t too bad either and I anticipate greater adoption of that for BTN.

If you are a Penn State fan (or Big Ten fan in the Mid-Atlantic for that matter) this news is bit mixed. Having two “traditional rivals” back on the schedule is good if the Big Ten is too Midwest centric. It is also good news because Penn State dominated those series. Both schools are on the Northeast Corridor and far closer than any of the existing Big Ten schools, especially for all of us who live near Interstate 95. The downsides — potentially and particularly in light of the NCAA sanctions (speaking of blatant power grabs) is that Penn State doesn’t have the argument of a stronger conference than the ones Maryland and Rutgers were in. Also, Maryland and Rutgers may get TV priority, so that could mean fewer Penn State games on ABC/ESPN/ESPN2 though I don’t see that being that big a problem. Penn State is a bigger draw, even now, than those and tends to play in the later timeslots. That’s probably not that big a deal.

I anticipate the Big Ten will now break down strictly on geography for divisions, though I was joking they ought to have to divisions:

RED
Indiana
Maryland
Minnesota
Nebraska
Ohio State
Rutgers
Wisconsin
NOT RED
Illinois
Iowa
Michigan
Michigan State
Penn State
Purdue
Northwestern

By the way, if you want to be “subway alumni” here are the directions from the College Park UMd. Metro station to Byrd Stadium:


View Larger Map

A bit of a hike, but doable. Rutgers is not too far from Amtrak Northeast Corridor/NJ Transit either:


View Larger Map

2.8 miles — I don’t know New Brunswick/Piscataway, so I don’t know the practicality of walking from the train station. It is a nice idea though.

Really, I’ll write about Penn State football again sometime before the bowl game

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2012 Redskins vs. Eagles Game 1 Q&A and prediction with Kevin McGuire

Once again, Kevin McGuire has returned to answer some questions about a Philadelphia team: the Eagles are in town to take on the Washington Redskins. This season, McGuire is a local football blogger for CBS Philly.

WFY: What in the name of Marion Campbell is going on in the City of Brotherly Love?! How hot is the seat that Andy Reid is sitting on? Does he just have to prepare the team better?

KMc: Andy Reid’s seat has never been hotter after dropping five straight games for the first time in his lengthy career. Usually I would be wiling to give a coach an excuse when his offensive line has been decimated by injuries and the starting quarterback has been banged up as much as he has, but ultimately what it all comes back to is Reid has failed to do what he always says he has to do, which is put the team in a better position to win.

WFY: Reid’s failures have stretched beyond preparing the team with X’s and O’s. The problem extends to player management with poor talent evaluation in the draft and free agent signings either running out of steam or just not bringing back the return expected. It also has to do with a struggle to fill the coaching staff with coaches capable of helping out with the management of the team.

KMc: Reid is quickly running out of excuses and scapegoats, which has me seriously thinking anything short of a miraculous Super Bowl run will lead to a coaching change in Philadelphia this off-season.

WFY: Is Michael Vick still expected to be out on Sunday? How much of a factor has he been in the Eagles decline from a “dream team” to the current situation? Is Nick Foles ready or will it not even matter since rookie QBs always beat the Skins?

KMc: All signs point to rookie Nick Foles getting his first start this weekend. Vick was held out of practice on Tuesday and the team continues to monitor his status while preparing Foles to lead the offense with first team reps in practice. Vick has done himself no favors with turnovers, but I also point the blame on an offensive line that has given him no protection all year long. Vick does hold on to the football too long, but that could be because he has to run for his life as well. As far as I am concerned, it does not matter if Joe Montana, John Elway or Sonny Jurgensen is under center because there is no protection from the offensive line. Until that is fixed, it does not matter who is the quarterback.

WFY: I understand from a previous Q&A that the owner’s now-ex wife was a proponent of the midnight green look. Is there any talk that a return to the true Eagles look of kelly green and silver happening? Seems like the end of the Reid era would be a great time to go back.

KMc: That has always been the story I have heard when it comes to the change to midnight green, of course it had plenty of marketing and financial influences driving the change as well. Unfortunately there has not been any talk about a return to the Kelly green despite the wishes of many fans in the area (myself included). Personally I agree, a change in color scheme with a return to a more traditional look would be great to see as a new era gets underway.

WFY: Sports radio is bad everywhere, but from what i understand, it is really bad in Philly, so I like to think that the callers are arguing over which of Buddy Ryan’s sons needs to be hired. Am I on to something there?

KMc: You still get a knucklehead from time to time who wants nothing more than a head coach like a Ryan brother to fire up the team the way Reid does not, but I think fans have finally come to grips with the reality that the Ryans just are not great coaches. Instead we are hearing names like Jon Gruden and Chip Kelly starting to be mentioned more and more from fans. Bill Cowher has his name mentioned occasionally as well. I have even heard the name Bill O’Brien – yes, THAT Bill O’Brien – mentioned couple times by fans this week. Oh boy…

WFY: Best part of being an Eagles fan? The worst?

KMc: The best part is, when the team is winning, the passion and glee shared by fans who may not even know each other. The season that saw the Eagles head to Jacksonville for the Super Bowl was a blissful time for the region. If and when the Eagles finally bring home a Super Bowl, this city will erupt in euphoric fashion. The Phillies estimated 1 million people attended the 2008 World Series parade. I think despite being in February, an Eagles Super Bowl parade would match it.

The worst is obvious. Having to deal with negative fan stories, one after the other. Eagles fans will never be able to hear the end of the Santa Claus story or the booing of Donovan McNabb at the draft or the Michael Irvin injury. In fairness, some stories have been exaggerated but all have cast a rightfully dark image of the fan base as a whole.

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

KMc: Robert Griffin III. The Eagles have a weak secondary and struggle to bring pressure to the quarterback. Against a mobile quarterback with an arm and footwork like RG3 should be very scary for Eagles fans this weekend.

WFY: Which team do you think has a brighter future, the Eagles or Redskins?

KMc: Right at this moment the Redskins have a brighter future just based on having a player who may be the franchise quarterback for years to come (I am a huge RGIII fan). That said, depending on who the Eagles end up hiring as head coach, I think that could sway me back to the Eagles just because I find it difficult to buy in to Dan Snyder’s management of the Redskins.

WFY: Who is the #1 team in Philly right now, Eagles, Phillies, Flyer or 76ers?

KMc: Things are rough right now. The Eagles stink. The Sixers are awaiting the eventual debut of injury-riddled Andrew Bynum and fans are losing patience with them in the meantime. The Phillies ended the season on a disappointing note (congrats to your Nationals of course) but could be back in 2013 with a healthier core. The Flyers would be the best team right now, if only they were playing hockey.

For the time being I would suggest the Phillies are still on top, only because the Eagles have squandered an opportunity to take over the top spot in the meantime.

WFY: Prediction for Sunday’s game?

KMc: I think the Eagles have to win a game at some point but I see nothing to instill any confidence in picking them to win on the road this week. Everything I would bet against is found on the Eagles. An imploding offensive line, a non-threatening defense that lacks the ability to tackle and a rookie quarterback making his first start, and doing so on the road.

I’m not exactly big on what the Redskins bring to the game either, but until the Eagles win a game to snap this losing streak I just cannot say they should win any game they play until something changes.

KMc: Redskins 20, Eagles 17

WFY: Redskins 24 Eagles 16

In keeping with the spirit of Philly native & Phillies minor leaguer 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).

KMc’s picks:

Dolphins vs Bills (posted before the game)

Browns vs Cowboys

Buccaneers vs Panthers

Bengals vs Chiefs

Packers vs Lions

Jaguars vs Texans

Jets vs Rams

Cardinals vs Falcons

Saints vs Raiders

Chargers vs Broncos

Colts vs Patriots

Ravens vs Steelers

Bears vs 49ers

WFY’s picks

Dolphins vs Bills

Browns vs Cowboys

Buccaneers vs Panthers

Bengals vs Chiefs

Packers vs Lions

Jaguars vs Texans

Jets vs Rams

Cardinals vs Falcons

Saints vs Raiders

Chargers vs Broncos

Colts vs Patriots

Ravens vs Steelers

Bears vs 49ers

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