Saturday, September 30, 2006

Capitals Practice

I went to practice today at Ashburn Ice House, which is two miles from Casa Benjamin and had a blast. It went on from 11:30 to 12:45 today. I stood behind the goal and got a lot of pictures of long time Capitals goalie Olie Kolzig. He has been in the organization since 1989 and is the last remaining player from the team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1998. Since I was behind the goal, my ears are still ringing from the pucks banging against the glass. They worked on a number of drills and even used foam rubber pucks for a portion of the practice to work on stick handling and shot blocking. Before the foam rubber puck drills, after they finished working on the power play, Ben Clymer had a slapshot and it hit Olie's wrist that was not padded so well. Olie banged his stick over the post in frustration and started cussing and screaming at Clymer. The reason was after the power play drill the players were lobbing wrist shots and Clymer decided to uncork a slapper. One of the assistant coaches skated over to Clymer and told him to chill.

It was a lot of fun seeing these guys up close. The Caps season starts October 5th.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

14th Annual Wood Acres Neighb Open

The 14th annual Wood Acres Neighb. Open was held today at Cross Creek Golf Club in Beltsville, MD. Cross Creek opened in 2002 and proved to be a very good challenge for our group with its bentgrass tees, fairways and greens. The course was very scenic with a lot of woods, some elevation changes and a couple of its holes being located in an old quarry area. I liked the course a lot and would definitely go back to play there again. As it matures, it will be one of the better public courses in the DC metropolitan area.

As my score below indicates, I scored high as I lost five balls. The woods gobbled up a lot of my drives and I left feeling I could have scored better than I did. Of course my game has turned to rust as golf has been very limited since I became a Dad. The time commitment to practice and play with the amigos just isn't there right now. So for me, today really wasn't about scoring low. It was about reuniting with old friends, laughing it up, kicking back and enjoying a Fall afternoon.

The Results:
1. Barry-79
2. Gus-86
3. Weess-93
4. Jamie-95
5. BC-96
6. Rob-97
7. Elwood-101
8. Bill-DC 103
9. Fred-105
DNS: Tim Dog, Tony

First win for Barry as he's had several near misses. Congrats buddy, well done and deserved. Anytime one in our group can bust 80 is impressive.

The pictures: Double click for a bigger shot

Gus, the defending champion.

A result of one of my tee shots.

One of my shots ended up in this guy's Neighb.

Yes, this is one drive that found the fairway.

Gus from the bunker on 18.

BC closing it out on 18.

Barry ends the drama on 18, holing
this putt for the title.

L to R: Gus, BC, Barry and Weess
after the trophy presentation.

Thanks guys, that was a lot of fun! To archive this grand event, I've set up a blog to the left under Other Favorites.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Big Golf Week Coming Up

The Ryder Cup between the US and Europe is this week. There are plenty of places on the internet for a preview of that little event. The staff of this blog is dedicating itself to the 14th annual Wood Acres Neighborhood Open (aka The Neighb. Open) this week. One thing I would like to see is this event take a tradition from The Masters and have the champion from the prior year host a dinner the night before. In checking my schedule, I'm free this Friday. Mortons or The Palm sound good to you Gus?

Here is an edited version of the e-mail we received from Gus, who as defending champion, is in charge of setting this mess up.

And so it is set. Saturday 1:30, 1:40 and 1:50 at Cross Creek Golf Club in Beltsville MD. The grand event that is the 2006 Neighb. Open is here.

A quick look at this year's confirmed entrants. Editors Note: Nicknames have been used to protect the innocent.

Gus: Two-time defending champ hopes to become the first golfer to ever win three straight Neighbs. Short, quirky Cross Creek design should be a plus (his only round there included a career-best 3 birdies in 2003). But rumors persist of a wayward driver and recent bouts of shanks on the range. Stamina and conditioning are always a potental problem considering Gus's questionable diet of hot dogs, cheeseburgers and beer. This guy makes Phil Mickelson look like Jack LaLanne.

Rob: Perhaps the most talent in the field. Has already taunted Gus by saying his "150 yard tee shots won't cut it.'' Yet he has a long history of crumbling vs. Gus in the clutch (last years' Neighb, '04 BC Batchelor Scramble, etc.).

Barry: How Barry hasn't won is absolutely inexplicable. Strange scoring controversies, late triple bogeys have all hurt and led to four second-place finishes. Last year was downright ridiculous when he lost a two-shot lead with three holes left when his second shot inexplicably disappeared on No. 16 at Hampshire Greens (double bogey), then his pal Weess screamed "Have you seen a 7-iron?" during the backswing of his final make-or-break pitch shot on No. 18.

Weess: Joining Gus as the only three-time Neighb winner, Weess has been reduced to folly lately as his game has crumbled. His latest suggestions include making a golf round only 14 holes while any sand not in a bunker on the course he deems "illegal" There have also been rumors of recent alcohol-induced mishaps around the house (falling down stairs, bumping his head, stepping on nails, etc.), which Weess denies. Still he has a history of rising to the occasion at the Neighb so don't count him out.

Bill-DC: Pronounced himself fit for Neighb after playing four holes last month at his Mom's home in South Carolina. Not exactly the work ethic of Vijay Singh, but the former caddy with the Arnold Palmer-swing figures to be good for many laughs.

Fred: Sure to fail the post-round drug test, Fred is known to save his best shots for the 19th hole. Most include bourbon and scotch. Was smart enough to ditch his Redskins season tickets, though.

Tony: Hopefully Tony will wear his trademark wide-brimmed hat. His game is questionable but again, another solid contender when the 19th rolls around. A lot depends on his pre-tournament preparation, which usually involves signalling the bartender for another round.

Tim Dog: Once mocked for playing with ancient hand-me-down clubs, Tim got some pity from his longtime drinking and softball pal Gus, who gave him his Nicklaus N1 irons. He claims to have last gone to the range in 2003. Yet no one is more creative with a scoring pencil. The foot wedge from the sand is his specialty shot.

Elwood: Civilizations crumble quicker faster than Elwood can line up a putt. Daylight is often an issue when he takes the course. No one has a better time out there though than Woody, who won this thing in '99.

BC: Former champ looking to get his second title. Last night's Redskins loss to the Cowboys and the 'Skins 0-2 start could affect his practice routine this week.

So there you have it. One more fact. There is no Butler Cabin or 18th green presentation of this trophy. It usually rides in the back of the cart of the defending champion, we pour a beer into it and hand it to the winner.

We really should change the name of this thing to the Otis Campbell Open in honor of the classic drunk on the Andy Griffith Show. You know the scenes when Otis stumbles into the police station and lets himself into the jail? That's usually the way this tournament ends.

I do plan on bringing my camera to capture this drama as it unfolds so stay tuned.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Benjamin's Week in Review

This picture of Benjamin was taken the moment Weena walked
in the door this evening after work. He's excited to see Mommy!

Are you ready for some football!
Benjamin watching the Redskins game this past Monday night.

Teeth and gum relief!

Not a bad week for our little guy. He's been crawling for awhile, but now he is raising his butt when scooting around. He's no longer doing the Marine crawl on his stomach. He's also standing up with the aid of a chair or couch and he's trying to figure out how his legs and feet work. Sort of like me after last call at The Dancing Crab in the '80's.

Today when I picked him up from day care, I was given an incident report. He had a little biting incident with a fellow playmate earlier in the day. Benjamin is teething and has four upper teeth and two lower teeth. He and another child were horsing around and Benjamin must have thought the other boy's arm was a chicken leg. The teacher's at the day care showed me the other child and he was unhurt. He was wearing a long sleeve shirt and there were no marks on the arm. My boy's first yellow card so to speak. We'll pack some teething medicine in his bag for next week and keep a frozen teether handy so those will provide some relief.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What Has Happened To Maryland Football?

Halftime as I write this. West Virginia 38, Maryland 10. This was over five minutes into the game. The Terps have been thoroughly embarrassed on national television once again. In reading the newspapers and message boards, there are questions whether or not Ralph Friedgen is the answer for Maryland. He did lead the Terps to three straight bowl appearances from 2001-2003, won the 2001 ACC Championship and a national coach of the year award. However, a majority of these players he coached were from the prior head coach, Ron Vanderlinden. After the Gator Bowl hammering of West Virginia, big things were expected from the Fridge and the Terps. The goal was to be a consistent top ten team and contend for a national championship.

However, back to back 5-6 seasons have set this program back. It's clear that Ralph and his staff are struggling to recruit the kind of talent into College Park that is needed to compete at the highest level. Remember, two of Maryland's chief competitors for talent in the state, West Virginia and Penn State were down when Fridge took over.

Now WVU and PSU are up again. Throw up and coming Rutgers into the mix and you have a lot of competition for Northeastern recruits. The three straight bowl games and ACC Championship are a distant memory. Today's recruits were in Junior High School when Maryland went to the Orange Bowl after the 2001 season.

Maryland should not even think about firing Ralph Friedgen. In my opinion, he's earned the right to coach at Maryland as long as he wants (unless he starts losing 7, 8, 9 games every year). This program had been to one bowl game in the fifteen years prior to his arrival. Byrd Stadium has been sold out the past four seasons. What to do? Change the coaching staff around? Miami’s Larry Coker has tried that this season and it will be interesting to see how this works out.

Looking ahead I think the window is all but closed for being the type of consistent top 10-15 program that it looked like they could have been pre-ACC expansion. I really think Maryland's best case scenario is getting to a point where they can win 7 or 8 games consistently and go to bowls most years.

I'm still going to be in my seats in Section 19 at Byrd Stadium rooting them on. I love college football and the University of Maryland has meant a lot to my Dad, so no way do I abandon ship.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Vikings 19, Redskins 16

Thanks John Hall!

Tough loss for the Redskins last night as they dropped their season opener 19-16 to the Minnesota Vikings. With the game starting at 7:00 PM EST, I was able to sit Benjamin down in the basement rec room and together we made noise during the first quarter rooting for the Redskins.

This was a very winnable game for the Redskins but they succumbed in the end on Ryan Longwell's 31 yard field goal. This was frustrating because on the last drive with time running out, they needed to convert a 3rd down and 6 and Antwaan Randle El got five yards. So the game came down to kicker John Hall trying a field goal from 48 yards to tie the score and send the game into overtime. He missed badly and the Redskins lost. Before they even lined up to attempt this, I sensed a miss from this guy. He's been horrible since day one for this team since they signed him from the Jets. The next clutch kick Hall makes will be his first one for the Redskins. In an offseason where decent kickers were available (Adam Viniteri, Longwell and Mike Vanderjagt to name a few), the Redskins opted to keep the oft injured and inconsistent Hall. Their failure to address this position could come back to haunt them.

Now at 0-1, the Redskins travel to Dallas to meet the hated Cowboys. This will be an angry Cowboys team. They lost their opener to Jacksonville and were swept by the Redskins last season. Should the Redskins lose this game, at 0-2 a playoff berth will be unlikely as roughly 15 percent of the teams that have started off 0-2 since 1990 have rebounded and made the playoffs. This game vs Dallas is HUGE.

Game recap

Michael Wilbon's column

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years Ago

Today is the fifth anniversary of the horrific terrorist attacks that took place on September 11, 2001 and forever changed our world. I was between jobs and woke up and was making some coffee when I heard on the Imus in the Morning show that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. At first, they were thinking there was a mishap with the plane. That was until the second plane hit. I turned on the TV and was speechless and in shock. Then there was a report about a plane crashing in Pennsylvania and the one that crashed into the Pentagon. I was stunned.

My sister called. She was working downtown and was able to use Metro to get to the DC/Maryland line. I drove up to Friendship Heights to get her and drive over to Mom's place. On the way over we saw my friend Jim's mom working in her yard. We stopped to talk to her. It was very helpful for the three of us to share our thoughts. As my sister said, it's her only real clear memory of that day five years ago. Later when we got to Mom's, I finally was able to get through to Weena, she was going home as her offices closed. We were concerned about Weena's cousin's fiancee Joe, a pilot for American Airlines who routinely flew out of Logan Airport. We found out that he was in Northern Virginia on vacation. My cousin Katie was supposed to be at a meeting at the World Trade Center that day around 11:00, but she got to Newark early AM and pretty much saw the events unfolding before her eyes. She wrote a thorough and detailed e-mail to all of us a few days after she got home that I wish I had kept.

I didn't think I would write anything about this anniversary, preferring to stay away from all news reflecting on this day, but as the day went on my mind kept racing back to five years ago. I had to post something. I know Benjamin will ask what we were doing and where we were as he gets older.

When we attend Mass, Weena and I pray for the end of violence and terrorism. We pray for peace among all people and all nations. We pray for the families who lost loved ones and we pray for those working for the end of violence and terrorism.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


We said "I do" in 2002. Incredible ride for Weena and I these last four years. The time sure does fly. Now we have our most important responsibility: Being parents to Benjamin. Hard to believe he will be a year old on October 25th. I've learned so much in this time from Weena and now Benjamin. Husband and Dad, two titles I'll cherish.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A Legend Says Goodbye

"The scoreboard said I lost today, but what the scoreboard didn't say is what it is I have found," said Andre Agassi to an adoring crowd following his third-round loss Sunday. "You have pulled for me on the court and also in life."

One of the more emotional farewells I've seen. Today in the third round of the U.S. Open tennis championship, Andre Agassi simply ran out of gas and lost to Benjamin Becker in four sets. We did get one more thrill from Andre this past Thursday night/Friday morning as he gave everything he had in a five set thriller over Marcos Baghdatis.

Deep down I wish guys like Agassi, Ripken, Gretzky, Palmer, Nicklaus could play forever, but they cannot. These guys will always be in their prime in my mind and I look forward to telling Benjamin their stories when he gets older. Part of the fun of being a sports fan is passing the stories on. For example, I learned a lot about baseball from my Grandfather, how much he loved the game and the players from his era. He was born in 1909 and loved telling me his stories and I loved hearing them. He saw Washington heroes Walter Johnson, Sam Rice and Bucky Harris play. He saw Ruth, Gehrig and the great Yankees when they came to play the Senators at Griffith Stadium. My biggest regret is I did not have a tape recorder with me. One of the reasons why I do this blog, so Benjamin can see just what was happening in the early years of his life.

What I saw today as Agassi said goodbye is something I won't forget. He showed class and grace before he left the court for the last time.

Goodbye Summer

The end of Summer is here. In my mind, Summer is over when the Labor Day weekend comes and goes. As a kid growing up, school always started after Labor Day. It was a pretty eventful Summer as Benjamin started day care and is doing well there. We also took some time off to spend at the beach recently. Benjamin's growing up big time as evidenced by his teeth coming in and him standing up with a little help. He'll be a year old on October 25th. What a great year its been! He's given our family a lot of love and joy this past year.