Archive for June, 2011

Washington Wizards draft Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, and Shelvin Mack

June 24, 2011

Shelvin Mack (1) watches Pitt's Gilbert Brown shoot a free throw during Butler's NCAA tournament win over the top-seeded Panthers last March at Verizon Center. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

The Washington Wizards drafted an athletic European forward, a tough defender from the ACC, and a solid combo guard who played in back-to-back national championship games Thursday.  In Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton, and Shelvin Mack, Washington hopes it has three players who will be able to contribute immediately.

With the sixth overall pick, the Wizards selected Vesely, a 6-11, 240 pound forward from the Czech Republic who helped his team, Partizan Belgrade, to the Serbian championship last season.  Vesely, 21, is known as an athletic dunker, and when ESPN’s Mark Jones suggested he could be the “European Blake Griffin,” Vesely responded, “Blake Griffin is the American Jan Vesely.”  After being picked, the crowd at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. cheered wildly after Vesely kissed his longtime girlfriend.

In Belgrade, Vesely regularly played in front of crowds of 22,000.  One of his teammates in 2011 was former Maryland Terrapin James Gist, also known for high flying dunks.  Gist spoke about Vesely to Frank Lawlor of Euroleague.net last February.  “He is the most athletic player I have seen in a while, and it’s great to play with a guy like that,” Gist said of the Czech star.  “It helps to have someone like him. If for some reason I can’t get the crowd going, he’s right there behind me to do it.”

For the rest of my article on examiner.com, click here.

Jim Riggleman resigns as Washington Nationals manager in contract dispute

June 24, 2011

This makes me sick.  Jim Riggleman is right that he deserves an extension, but it would have been better if he had just stayed.  It’s too bad.

Washington Nationals manager Jim Riggleman resigned Thursday after the Nats beat Seattle 1-0 at Nationals Park.  The shocking move came as Washington won for the 11th time in 12 games, and surpassed the .500 mark for the first time this late in a season since their inaugural season of 2005.

In a post-game press conference, general manager Mike Rizzo said that Riggleman, who has worked on one-year contracts since taking over the team in 2009, told him before the game that if he did not get a contract extension he would resign after the game.

“Jim told me pregame today that if we wouldn’t pick up his option he wouldn’t get on the team bus today, ” Rizzo said.

Jayson Werth, who was called out at home in the first inning trying to tag up on a Zimmerman fly ball in a controversial call, was unfazed by Riggleman’s resignation. Werth was quoted by the Associated Press after the game as saying, “It’s not going to change anything in here. We’re the ones that have been making the pitches and hitting the balls and winning the ballgames, so we’re going to keep going.” Werth, who called for changes on the Nats in May, is hitting .235 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI.

Werth makes approximately $18 million per year, which is about 30 times more than Riggleman’s $600,000 salary.  Werth, Strasburg, and 18-year old phenom Bryce Harper are all clients of agent Scott Boras.

I’m not saying that’s the whole reason but it’s part of it.  To read the rest of my article on examiner.com, click here.

Washington Post fails to mention 25th anniversary of death of Len Bias, ignoring biggest D.C. sports story ever

June 19, 2011

The Washington Post has ignored the 25th anniversary of the death of Maryland basketball star Len Bias.  It’s only the biggest D.C. sports story ever.  A few days ago they ran a story by Dave Ungrady urging Maryland to put Bias in its athletic Hall of Fame, but other than that, the Bias story barely got a mention here:

“Today is Sunday, June 19, the 170th day of 2011. There are 195 days left in the year. This is Father’s Day.”  They proceed to mention one sentence about Bias.  Then they mention today’s birthdays.  I love how they say “there are 195 days left in the year.”  Thanks.  This is what radio stations in Podunk, Iowa do.

The Post’s sports page used to be great.  They still have good beat writers, and Jason Reid is an excellent columnist who writes clearly and strongly, without name dropping or using “I” 100 times per article like Mike Wise.  But for such a good paper the sports page is lacking.

Whatever happened to the Washington Times sports page with great writers like Thom Loverro, Dave Elfin, Dick Heller, and Dan Daly?  You could always count on them.

Anyway, maybe they did something on Bias and it’s just impossible to find.  But I think it shows gross negligence to completely ignore the 25th anniversary of Bias’ death.  Though Mike Wilbon got very arrogant in the past few years, he would have probably done an article if he were still employed by the Post.  And where is John Feinstein? It’s not too late for him to do something in the next week.  All these guys have become big stars – that’s part of the problem.

The Post’s coverage of Bias’ death was excellent. A quarter century later, they are asleep at the wheel.

To see my Examiner.com article on the death of Len Bias, published today, click here.

25 years ago Maryland basketball player Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose

June 19, 2011

The grave of Len Bias. Photo by Mike Frandsen

Twenty-five years ago today something happened that was so shocking that it was hard to fathom that it really took place.

On June 19, 1986, University of Maryland basketball player Len Bias died of a cocaine overdose.

The scene that morning, as documented in news reports, was surreal and tragic as family members and teammates learned the news after gathering at Leland Memorial Hospital in Riverdale, Maryland.

Kirk Fraser recounted the story of Bias’ death in an ESPN documentary, 30 for 30: Without Bias.

It was like a nightmare that seems so real and then you wake up.  Only this was real.  It haunts Maryland fans to this day.

Bias was not only the best player ever at Maryland, he was the greatest player in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference. He was better than Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, David Thompson, and Ralph Sampson. Bias was a power forward with the strength of a center, the quickness of a small forward and the touch of a shooting guard. But that doesn’t come close to telling the story.

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

Has Michael Wilbon jumped the shark?

June 9, 2011

Is Michael Wilbon going the way of Keith Olbermann?  With his fame he has become progressively more arrogant on the air.  Today on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, he told Tony Kornheiser, “How pathetic.  A New Yorker slurping a five-year old Washington D.C. franchise? Pathetic.”  Wait, what? Both Wilbon and Kornheiser have spent more than 30 years in D.C. and are constantly disassociating themselves from the city and talking about how they love their hometowns, Chicago and New York.  But at what point do you become a Washingtonian? Kornheiser has spent more than half his sports fan life in D.C., because you don’t really become a fan until you’re at least around 7. Wilbon has spent about 30 of his 45 years as a sports fan in D.C.   Wilbon, you have it wrong.  Anyone can like the Yankees (i.e. fair weather fans). You get more respect when you root for a perennial loser rather than jumping on bandwagons.  And all Kornheiser did was mention that it was the anniversary of Stephen Strasburg’s major league debut.  It’s weird seeing Wilbon up there on NBA panels with experts like Jon Barry and Magic Johnson.  Why isn’t Jalen Rose up there instead of Wilbon?  He thinks the more you yell, the more accurate your opinions are.  It’s a shame, because Wilbon and Kornheiser both used to be good writers.  June 9, 2011 – Wilbon jumps the shark.

Scientists say chemicals are linked to increase in autism, Safe Chemicals Act proposed

June 9, 2011

Decades ago the medical establishment insisted autism resulted in the coldness of the mother.  Obviously that was 180 degrees wrong.

Just a few years ago they insisted autism was almost all genetic.  That was largely wrong because autism is very much environmental.

Now, as autism continues to increase, those in the scientific establishment are finally admitting that environmental causes play a major role.

Some scientists, parents, and advocates have been ahead of the curve for many years, insisting that toxic chemicals and other pollutants are major factors in autism.  Some of those experts spoke Tuesday on a conference call.

Some of the suspected culprits are endocrine disruptors such as brominated flame retardants, pesticides, BPA and phthalates. Mercury and lead are also known neurotoxins.

Many of these chemicals are ubiquitous in household products and even toys, and unfortunately, most people don’t know about it. The law that is supposed to provide protection against dangerous chemicals is 35 years old and has virtually no restrictions on chemicals, which don’t need to be tested before going to market.

To read my article on Examiner.com, about this, click here.

Here are some of my related articles:

Scientists say rise in autism may be linked to toxic chemicals in environment

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/scientists-say-rise-autism-may-be-linked-to-toxic-chemicals-environment

Toxic chemicals found in baby products; some may be linked to autism

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/toxic-chemicals-found-baby-products-some-may-be-linked-to-autism

Toxic Chemicals Safety Act to be on 2011 Congressional legislative agenda

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/toxic-chemicals-safety-act-to-be-on-2011-congressional-legislative-agenda

Health advocates rally at Capitol for chemical safety bill; some chemicals linked to autism, cancer

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/health-advocates-rally-at-capitol-for-chemical-safety-bill-some-chemicals-linked-to-autism-cancer

Landrigan calls for more research into pesticides, toxic chemicals, environmental causes of autism

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/landrigan-calls-for-more-research-into-pesticides-toxic-chemicals-environmental-causes-of-autism

Congress: CDC misled public about Washington, D.C. lead in water crisis, lead was toxic for some

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/congress-cdc-misled-public-about-washington-d-c-lead-water-crisis-lead-was-toxic-for-some

Autism advocate Lyn Redwood discusses mercury vaccine controversy, chelation, treatment and recovery

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/autism-advocate-lyn-redwood-discusses-mercury-vaccine-controversy-chelation-treatment-and-recovery

CDC: 15,000 Washington, D.C. homes may have dangerous levels of lead in water

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/cdc-15-000-washington-d-c-homes-may-have-dangerous-levels-of-lead-water

Interview with Dan Olmsted, Mark Blaxill: ‘Age of Autism-Mercury, Medicine, and a Manmade Epidemic’

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/interview-with-dan-olmsted-mark-blaxill-age-of-autism-mercury-medicine-and-a-manmade-epidemic

Jennifer VanDerHorst-Larson on vaccines, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, treatments for son with autism

http://www.examiner.com/dc-in-national/jennifer-vanderhorst-larson-on-vaccines-hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy-treatments-for-son-with-autism

News reporters spotted in Bethesda

June 9, 2011

Over the last few years I’ve seen a bunch of news reporters in Bethesda.  Ok, it’s not Hollywood, but we do get a bunch of TV news people here.

Here’s an incomplete list:

Howard Fineman, Huffington Post reporter and MNSBC regular – the Apple Store

John King, CNN, the Apple Store

Mike Viqueira, MSNBC – Fitness First

David Gregory, Meet the Press, MSNBC – Starbucks and Bethesda Avenue.

Tony Kornheiser, PTI – Bethesda Avenue, going to Landmark movies?

Lisa Sylvester, CNN – Bethesda Avenue

Greta Van Susteren, FOX – Capital Crescent Trail

Chris Matthews, Hardball, MSNBC – Landmark Theaters

Cokie Roberts, NPR – Regal Theaters

Wolf Blitzer, CNN – the Pines of Rome restaurant

George Smith, ESPN – Bethesda Avenue

Michael Wilbon, ESPN – Cafe Deluxe

David DuPree, sportswriter – Bethesda Avenue

Chris Gordon, local TV reporter – Bethesda Avenue

Tim Brandt, sports reporter – Bethesda Avenue

Years ago, not in Bethesda:

George Stephanopoulos, Austin Grill, Glover Park

Tim Russert, Cafe Deluxe, Glover Park

Chick Hernandez, Comcast Sportsnet – Chadwick’s in Chevy Chase

Laura Evans, FOX 5 News – Clyde’s in Chevy Chase

real celebrities?

the list is pretty thin – all I can think of is Sandra Bullock, 2000, Atomic Billiards, Cleveland Park, and another bar in D.C. around the same time, and Gary Sinese, Old Ebbitt Grill, 2011.

I guess our celebrities are the news people.  Next – sports figures.

Shaquille O’Neal retires: Is Shaq the most overrated center of all time?

June 3, 2011

Shaq retired today, upstaging the NBA finals.  He is one of the most overrated players of all time.  No other great player got to play with so many all-time greats – Penny Hardaway, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Steve Nash, LeBron James, and at the end, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett though that doesn’t really count.  Has there ever been a player in the history of the NBA who played with more great players?  Shaq could have never won a championship without an all-time great next to him.  Hakeem Olajuwon was better – he got two titles with a worse supporting cast, and swept Shaq’s Magic in the finals.  Wilt Chamberlain dominated the game much more than Shaq.  Bill Russell won more titles and was a better defender and shot blocker.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was a much better scorer, wiht an all-time move (the sky-hook) and won six titles, though he did have Magic and Worthy.

Shaq simply didn’t have many offensive moves at all and didn’t rebound as well as you would expect for someone so big and athletic.  He was often out of shape and injured.  He was one of the worst free throw shooters of all time.  Moses Malone was just as good, though no one admits it.  David Robinson was almost as good – Shaq benefitted from his sheer size.  And Shaq got the benefit of many calls from the refs.

Yes, he was great, four titles, excellent scorer, lots of numbers, but I would have loved to have seen how he would have done with the teammates that Patrick Ewing had.  Probably the same – no titles.  At least Ewing won an NCAA title.

And I’m tired of hearing about how outgoing he is.  That shouldn’t be considered in how great of a player he was.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.