Archive for May, 2011

Toxic chemicals found in baby products; brominated flame retardants may be linked to autism

May 19, 2011

new study shows that 80 percent of products tested made for infants and toddlers contained toxic chemical flame retardants that can have harmful effects on health.  The products include items made with polyurethane foam such as car seats, mattresses, and changing pads.  Of the 80 samples in the study that contained flame retardants, 79 were either brominated or chlorinated.

Brominated flame retardants, or those based in the chemical element bromine, have been implicated as potential risk factors in autism spectrum disorders, cancer, and other health problems. Studies on brominated flame retardants have shown adverse developmental effects on animals.

Brominated flame retardants have increased in household products over the last 30 years because they make them less flammable. However, the toxins from these chemicals can leach from the products into the environment and accumulate in the body.  Fetuses and babies are especially susceptible to toxic chemicals.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Washington Post Bog’s Dan Steinberg: Will Wizards change name to Washington Monuments?

May 12, 2011

Washington Bullets Wes Unseld retro jersey. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

After a local sports blogger sent a tweet out asking if the Washington Wizards were thinking of changing their name to the Washington Monuments, the Post’s Dan Steinberg raised the topic on his Sports Bog.  Steinberg noted that the Washington Monument is featured in the Wizards’ new red, white, and blue uniforms and one of the logos unveiled Tuesday, and the name of the group that owns the Wizards, Caps, and Mystics is called Monumental Sports and Enterainment.

Steinberg is an often entertaining and sometimes informative writer. He regularly refers back to the original sources from which he gets his information. He’s an expert at scouring the internet and old sports archives to find out what was written years ago. That’s why I’m a bit disappointed that he didn’t credit me for originally mentioning the possible Washington Monuments name in an article I wrote for Examiner.com June 11, 2010, even after I emailed him about it yesterday. Maybe the Post doesn’t like to update online stories after they have originally been published.  Here’s an excerpt from that article I wrote 11 months ago.

“In an email Thursday to fans of Leonsis’ other major sports franchise, the Capitals, he wrote, “By now you have probably heard the news that my partners and I have completed our purchase of the Washington Wizards and Verizon Center and created a new company – Monumental Sports & Entertainment – that owns those entities as well as the Capitals and the Mystics.”

The Washington Monuments?

Could the Wizards change their name to the “Washington Monuments” in the future? Though Leonsis denied the possibility of any name change, the name of the new company could be a clue to a future franchise name. “Monumental Sports” is an awkward name, but “Washington Monuments” does have a ring to it. If Leonsis had mentioned a name change as a possibility, speculation by the media and fans could have taken away from the product on the court, so it was smart for Leonsis to deny the possibility of a potential future name change. Leonsis has said he doesn’t want to disrespect the wishes of Pollin, who stated that he changed the name from Bullets to Wizards because of the city’s gun violence, so a name change back to the Bullets would be a long shot.

The Washington Monuments goes with the Capitals theme, as the Washington Monument stands at the other end of the national mall from the Capitol. The name also identifies the team with something that is uniquely Washington, and the Washington Monument, like a basketball player, is very tall. There would also be no problem with franchises in other sports and leagues for rights to the name.

There’s no natural short nickname for Monuments like there is for the other local franchises – Skins, Caps, Nats, and United – but they could be called the “M’s” for short, as Seattle calls its Mariners. Or could the “Monsters” be a shortened version? The team could market the Monuments and the Capitals together, on the same shirt for example, with a scene of the Capitol and the Washington Monument.  The Verizon Center is also in fairly close proximity to the national mall.”

Anyway, for the record, while the Monuments name makes some sense, I don’t think it would be a good idea to rename the team “Monuments,” which would be the franchise’s third name in 15-20 years.  I still hold out hope, as most old Bullets fans do, that Ted Leonsis will rename the team the Bullets in a couple of years, because it never should have been changed in the first place. It’s probably a longshot, but longtime Bullets fans can only hope that Leonsis will at least consider the option.

As for Steinberg, he said in a video chat that he suggests the name “Justice like everybody wants.”  Wait, what?  Steinberg and his Post colleague Mike (un) Wise suggest “Justice,” but there’s no way that “everybody wants” that.  That would be a huge mistake.  The vast majority of fans want the team to return to its Bullets name.  Steinberg and Wise don’t care about the team’s great history, which includes an NBA championship in 1978, because they weren’t here then, and you have to do more than look up old articles to understand D.C. sports.

To read my D.C. sports articles on Examiner.com, click here.

Washington Wizards unveil red, white and blue uniforms, invoking memories of Bullets history

May 12, 2011

The Washington Wizards unveiled their new red, white, and blue uniforms Tuesday. The uniforms are similar to those of the old Washington Bullets.

“You’ve gotta be a fan of old D.C. to know what the Bullets mean to me.”

  Bullets Feverby Nils Lofgren, 1978.

Don’t look now, but something good just happened to a Washington, D.C. sports team.  The Washington Wizards unveiled their new, back to the future, red, white, and blue uniforms Tuesday at the Verizon Center.  While owner Ted Leonsis isn’t changing the name of the franchise back to the Bullets, the overwhelming majority of the fan base is happy with the retro look, if internet comments are any indication.

Leonsis promised the color scheme change last year and delivered, with a home version reminiscent of old Bullets uniforms, and a road uniform that is mostly red, with “Washington” on the front and the name “Wizards” conspicuously absent.

Wizards guards John Wall and Jordan Crawford modeled the home and away versions of the uniforms, while former Bullets greats Elvin Hayes and Bobby Dandridge stood on stage and helped unveil the new uniforms.

In addition to the Big E and Bobby D, more than 20 former Bullets were in attendance, including Phil Chenier, Kevin Grevey, Clem Haskins, Tom Henderson, Rick Mahorn, Gheorghe Muresan, Kevin Porter, Mike Riordan, Jeff Ruland, and Larry Wright. Former Bullets general manager Bob Ferry also attended the ceremony.

Leonsis has made a commitment to honor the team’s great history, as evidenced by the uniform change and the establishment of the Bullets/Wizards Alumni Association.  Leonsis changed the uniforms just one year after he took over the team, and the connection to the franchise’s old players is long overdue.  The Bullets’ historic past includes an NBA championship in 1978, three other trips to the finals in the 1970s, and 18 playoff appearances in 20 seasons from 1969 to 1988.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Mark Turgeon leaves Texas A&M to become the new Maryland Terrapins basketball coach

May 12, 2011

Mark Turgeon will leave Texas A&M to become the new coach of the Maryland Terrapins.  Turgeon will replace Gary Williams, who retired Thursday after 22 years as Maryland’s basketball coach.

Turgeon, 46, led the Aggies to the NCAA tournament all four of his seasons in College Station, getting Texas A&M to the second round of the tourney three times.  Turgeon also coached at Jacksonville State and Wichita State, where he led the Shockers to the Sweet 16 in 2006.

Turgeon played college basketball for Larry Brown at the University of Kansas. He was a backup guard on Kansas’ 1986 Final Four squad.

To read the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Maryland coach Gary Williams retires; who are top 10 Terps of Williams era?

May 6, 2011

Whoever replaces Gary Williams as the University of Maryland’s basketball coach will have huge shoes to fill.  The 66-year old coach announced his retirement Thursday, after more than two decades at Maryland that included a national championship in 2002 and a Final Four appearance in 2001.  Under Williams the Terps made 14 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, won three ACC regular-season titles, and captured the ACC Tournament in 2004. Williams had seven wins over top-ranked teams, more than any other coach. Williams, a former Terrapin point guard, was also the National Coach of the Year in 2002.

So who are the best Terps of the Gary Williams era?

  • Juan Dixon, shooting guard, ‘98-‘02.  Excelled at mid-range jumpers, three-pointers, defense, and steals and played with a lot of heart…Team leader brought Maryland to back to back Final Fours including its only national championship in ’02, and was named first-team All-American…Earned Most Outstanding Player honors at the ‘02 Final Four, averaging 25.8 points in NCAA tournament that year…Was Maryland’s all-time leader in scoring and three-pointers and second in steals…Averaged 20 points a game in ‘02…Led team to 109 wins in four seasons.
  • Walt Williams, shooting guard/small forward/point guard, ‘88-‘92. It’s not an exaggeration to say the “Wizard” saved the Maryland program when he decided to stay after the Terps were put on NCAA probation from ’91-‘93…In ‘92, Williams averaged a school-record 26.8 points per game, and also had 5.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 2.1 steals…Named All-American senior year when he scored more than 30 points in seven straight ACC games.
  • Joe Smith, center, ‘93-‘95.  Athletic center dominated the ACC his sophomore year…Won ‘95 College Player of the Year award…Averaged more than 20 points and 10 rebounds for his two-year career…Terps made Sweet 16 in both his seasons after five-year NCAA drought…Drafted number one overall in ‘95 NBA draft.
  • Keith Booth, power forward, ‘93-‘97.  Averaged 19.5 points as a senior, made more free throws than any player in Terp history and ranks sixth on Maryland’s all-time rebounding list despite being only 6-4 and playing power forward…Played a key role in Maryland’s resurgence to NCAA tournament after five-year absence…Decision to attend Maryland opened pipeline for other Baltimore players to play for the Terps.
  • Greivis Vasquez, shooting guard, ‘06-‘10.  Scored from inside and out, also an excellent passer and rebounder for his size…Only player in ACC history with 2,000 points, 700 assists, and 600 rebounds…Was voted ‘10 ACC Player of the Year…Maryland’s second all-time leading scorer…Only Terrapin basketball player to lead the team in points, rebounds and assists in a single season…Had triple double in win vs. eventual national champion North Carolina junior year…Scored 10 points in final two minutes of final college game, an NCAA second round loss to Michigan State.

For the complete list, and the rest of my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Washington Capitals and Alexander Ovechkin need more veterans to compete for Stanley Cup

May 6, 2011

For the fourth time in four years, the Washington Capitals did not live up to their seeding in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.  Alexander Ovechkin had 10 points in nine games, but he has been hampered by an injury all year.  The Caps’ best players are all forwards: Ovie, Nicklas Backstrom, and Alexander Semin.  But one of the problems with the Caps is that they are too young.  They need players who know how to win.  A look at the Stanley Cup champions from each of the past 10 seasons shows that all of those teams have multiple players over 30 who are either stars or major contributors.

The Caps have Mike Knuble, 38, and Jason Arnott, 36, but both have been banged up and Arnott only arrived in late February at the trade deadline.  It’s time for the Caps to make some changes and trade Semin or defenseman Mike Green for some veterans.  Owner Ted Leonsis’ extreme youth movement has led to good regular seasons, but the Caps have come up short in the postseason.  To read my article on Examiner.com, click here.

Lakers-Mavericks: I have no faith that the refs will call it fair

May 6, 2011

Because of the NBA’s poor history, in which the refs favor teams with stars, I’m doubtful that the refs will call the rest of the series between the L.A. Lakers and Dallas Mavericks fairly.  The Lakers have two tainted championships — in 2002 when the Sacramento Kings were the better team in the Western Conference Finals, and in 2000 when the Portland Trail Blazers were better.  In each case, but especially against the Kings, the refs gave the games to the Lakers.

This year, the NBA would probably prefer to see the Lakers play the Heat in the finals if they can’t face the Celtics.  So look for the refs to give the benefit of the doubt to the Lakers tonight and in the rest of the games against the Mavs.  I hope I’m wrong, but I have no confidence that the refs will call it fair if it comes down to a close game at the end.

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau’s wacky commercials: ‘I’ll need a big cup holder’

May 6, 2011

It was another early playoff exit for the Washington Capitals.  So what else is new.  It has been happening for 30 years now.  Will it happen for another 30 years?  Anyway, at least the Caps made it to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs before being swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning.  There is some good news.  Coach Bruce Boudreau won’t be fired, and his wacky commercials for Mercedes-Benz will continue.  To read my article on Examiner.com, click here.


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