Archive for December, 2010

Freidgen goes out a winner as Terps smash East Carolina 51-20 in Military Bowl; Leach to take over

December 31, 2010

Maryland's Ralph Friedgen got fired after leading the Terps to the greatest turnaround in ACC history.

The Maryland Terrapins sent coach Ralph Friedgen out as a winner in his final game, defeating East Carolina, 51-20 in the Military Bowl in front of  38,062 fans at RFK Stadium Wednesday.  Friedgen, the 2010 ACC Coach of the Year, was fired by Maryland Monday.

Senior running back Da’Rel Scott rushed for 201 yards including touchdown runs of 61 and 91 yards.  Redshirt freshman D.J. Adams added four more touchdowns on the ground, and Maryland’s defense held the Pirates to 38 yards rushing as the Terps (9-4) sent Friedgen off with a 5-2 mark in bowl games at Maryland. Friedgen got a Gatorade shower from his players on the sideline in the game’s closing minutes.

“It’s like everything else I did this week.  It’s the last time,” said Friedgen after the game.  “Maybe it’ll happen somewhere else but it’s the last time at my alma mater, so it’s meaningful there.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the fans coming out and supporting me, and the letters and emails and the texts I’ve gotten have been incredible.

“I didn’t know I was that important,” an emotional Friedgen said.  “It was pretty nice and pretty special today.”

That Maryland would fire its longtime coach after a seven-game improvement over last season is not only disloyal, but also highly questionable.  It’s uncertain whether a new coach will have significantly better results than Friedgen, who led the Terrapins to bowl games in seven of his 10 seasons.  In fact, a new coaching staff could result in fewer Terps playing in the NFL, which could ultimately hurt recruiting.

Friedgen, the 2001 National Coach of the Year, was fired despite improving Maryland’s record from 2-10 in 2009 to 9-4 this season, the biggest turnaround in the history of the ACC.  Maryland had only played in one bowl in the previous 14 years before Friedgen’s arrival.

Maryland is expected to hire former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, whose Red Raiders played in bowls for 10 consecutive seasons but was fired a year ago for allegedly mistreating a player.

For the rest of my article on, click here.


Holiday wishes for Skins, Nats, Caps, Wizards, Terps

December 31, 2010

In the spirit of the holiday season, here are some belated gift suggestions and wishes for the New Year for D.C. area teams and sports figures.

Mike Shanahan:  A one-way ticket to Denver to be head coach for his old friends, owner Pat Bowlen and probable new part-owner John Elway.  Or truth serum, or a job at Wikileaks.  (He can take Kyle too).

Albert Haynesworth:  A love for the game of football.

Donovan McNabb:  A new team he can take to the playoffs for three more seasons.

Redskins:  A quarterback, a running back, an offensive line, a starting wide receiver, a defensive line, a punter, and a kicker.

Maryland Athletic Director Kevin “The Grinch” Anderson:  A heart.

Maryland football:  Another program to hire Mike Leach so the Terps can rehire Ralph Friedgen.

For the rest of the article on, click here.


CDC says Washington, D.C. homes with partial lead replacements are at risk for high lead in water

December 13, 2010

A December CDC report states that nearly 15,000 Washington, D.C. homes that have had partial lead line replacements are at risk for high lead levels.  See the article here on

The problem started around 2000 when D.C. responded to a 1998 EPA mandate to reduce chlorine byproducts that could be carcinogenic.  Chlorine was used to disinfect the water supply, but then chloramine was used to reduce chlorine byproducts. However, chloramine caused lead pipes to leach into the water, and much of the city’s infrastructure was made of lead pipes. Lead causes irreversible brain damage to fetuses and infants.  After children tested high for lead from 2003 to 2004, two bad things happened.  First, both the city and the CDC covered up the problem, lying about it, claiming that the water was safe when they knew it wasn’t.  Second, the city embarked on a $100 million project to replace lead service lines with copper, but they stopped when they got to private property.  The chloramine caused lead to leach from the water, causing a temporary spike in lead levels, making the problem worse.

Congress came out with a report last spring that said CDC used false data to mislead the public in a 2004 report.  CDC then admitted wrongdoing, and two weeks ago published a report that stated that nearly 15,000 homes with partial lead line replacements were still at risk for high lead levels.  Those homes should be tested.

I think that’s it, but it’s pretty confusing.  Welcome to the D.C. lead in water fiasco, circa 2000-2010.  Makes the Redskins problems seem not so bad.

Also, here is an article from June about a congressional report that said CDC misled the D.C. public about the safety of drinking water, which had high levels of lead from 2001 to 2004.

Nationals sign Jayson Werth, but they should have kept Adam Dunn

December 6, 2010


Adam Dunn plays first base as Stephen Strasburg pitches for the Nationals last summer. Photo by Mike Frandsen.

The Washington Nationals signed free agent outfielder Jayson Werth to a seven-year, $126 million deal Sunday, a contract that is the 13th-largest in major league history and will end when Werth is 38.

Werth hit 27 home runs and drove in 85 runs last year for the Philadelphia Phillies.  He also hit .296, stole 54 bases, and had a National League-leading 46 doubles for the NL East division champs.  The Nationals had to overpay Werth to attract him to Washington, which has averaged 99 losses the past three seasons.

The move comes after the Nationals refused to resign slugger Adam Dunn to a four-year contract and allowed him to sign with the Chicago White Sox for four years and $56 million.  Washington offered Dunn a three-year deal and $35 million at the end of the 2010 season.

Dunn was a consistent power hitter during his two seasons with the Nationals, hitting 38 home runs each season with 105 and 103 runs batted in.  Dunn has more home runs over the past decade (354) than all but three major league players and hit 38 homers or more in each of the last eight seasons.

Werth is a good player, but the Nats should have kept Dunn.

For a franchise that has never had a winning season, struggled with mediocre attendance, plays games on a TV station that has no programming at all during certain times of the day, and features a vacant lot full of broken concrete instead of restaurants and bars across from its stadium, the Nats haven’t catered much to the wishes of the fans, who clearly wanted Dunn to stay.  Dunn wanted to remain a Nat as well.

Dunn will continue to chew gum, blow bubbles and use his relaxed swing to slam colossal home runs over the fence, but it will be in Chicago, not Washington.  Meanwhile, Werth will try to prove he is worth the Nats’ investment.

To see the rest of my article on, click here.

Read books with children with autism during play dates

December 4, 2010

One of the best activities to do with children with autism during play dates is to read books, as long as it’s done in an engaging, interactive way.  At a recent play date I facilitated, I brought a stack of books from my collection – books that I thought would be most likely to be big hits.  Then I let the kids choose which ones they were going to read.  To my surprise, they chose “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss and “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak, which were my favorite books when I was very young.  It turned out great.  To see the whole list of books that I brought (those about emotions, social skills, humor, etc.),  ones that didn’t make the cut, plus links to other articles about books for children with autism, click here for my article on