Sunday, March 30, 2008

Nationals Park

The Washington Nationals officially open their new ball park tonight vs the Atlanta Braves. Last night there was an exhibition game between the Nationals and Orioles there. It was a test run to make sure things worked well. There was no public sale of tickets for this, only season ticket holders and guests of the team got to attend. I got these pics off the Terps Sports Message Board. As usual, click the picture to enlarge it.

You can see there is still work to be done around the ballpark. The last picture is from the Washington Post. It's an architect's rendering of a street near Nationals Park. Pretty cool.

I can't wait to go. I have tickets to three games and will have chances to get to many more games as the season progresses. I am excited that this stadium is here and I cannot wait to introduce Benjamin to baseball. A father, his son and a baseball game. What can be better?

My first game at the new park will be Saturday April 12, an afternoon game vs the Braves. One thing I need to do is bring a sharpie pen and christen my seat with my grandfather's initials. A little part of him needs to be there as he was a big baseball fan and I used to love talking baseball with him.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Like Father, Like Son

My sister Kim mentioned the picture below in an e-mail and I was able to dig thru the archives at Casa Benjamin and found this.

Daddy, age five and a half in Uncle David's car, Summer 1967

Benjamin, age two and a half in front of Uncle Marc's truck, Easter 2008

Monday, March 24, 2008

Virginia Beach

We celebrated Easter weekend in Virginia Beach. Here is a barrage of Benjamin pictures. Weather was great on Friday and Saturday and we did all kinds of cool things. Sunday was spent at church, then we had an Easter party before we headed home.

Friday afternoon, playing with Timber

Standing next to Uncle Marc's truck

Enjoying the day, soaking up some sun

Getting ready for the Easter egg hunt.
Benjamin's total: 12 eggs and $5.00!

Bubble time!

A little soccer practice

Snack time

Taking a well earned rest!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Geography Lesson

Benjamin has been enjoying puzzles lately and everytime I pick him up at day care, he's usually working on one. So I went to a toy store looking for a small map of the United States. All I could find was a 51 piece puzzle for kids ages 6 and up. Benjamin loves this puzzle. In the two weeks we've had it, he begs us to help him put it together. He's even learned the names of some states and where they go in the puzzle. He can identify where he lives, where his uncle, cousin Colton and where Grandma and Grandpa live. Pretty amazing how he loves to learn and we've recently started taking him to the library where we've used their computer and sat in for story time and checked out books.

He's asking a lot of questions about the outdoors and loves his books. We plan to take him to the zoo in the Spring.

Don't mess with Texas...

Cousin Clay lives here...

NCAA Tournament

I've entered several NCAA tournament pools and I'm making a promise not to be "that guy". You know, the guy who will always:

Complain non-stop about their bracket being busted after the first weekend.

Brag about how they "called" that upset.

Says "I knew that [result of game] was going to happen but didn't pick it in my bracket"

Hang out in someone's office saying "Who do you have coming out of the East? Well, I had [name school here] coming out but..."

Tell you his Final Four even though you did not ask.

Tell others how you're doing in "my other pool..."

One final thing: I don't plan on going up to any friends or co-workers and say "Hey, what happened to your [name school here]" when the team I root for was eliminated in the second round of the NIT.

Monday, March 17, 2008

New Camera

The Nikon Coolpix 7900 that I got on eBay arrived today and I took a few test shots, including one here of Benjamin before bed time. It's nice to have a working camera again. Since I got the same model, I now have two batteries and the seller threw in an extra memory card.

Friday, March 14, 2008

American University Makes the NCAA Tournament

Patriot League Championship
American University 52, Colgate 46

What a back and forth battle this game was. AU led at the half, 27-24 and the lead changed hands several times in the second half before AU took control for good with less than two minutes left.

Playing in their fourth Patriot League tournament final, AU finally won it all and as a result the Eagles earned their first ever trip to the NCAA basketball tournament. They have been playing NCAA Division I basketball since 1967.

Having fallen short in the conference final in 2002, 2003 and 2004, AU coach Jeff Jones was relieved to finally coach his team to a title. After the game ended, he was in tears as students and fans chanted "Jeff Jones!" during the postgame award presentation ceremony.

Congratulations to AU, I hope they get to play here in Washington DC at Verizon Center March 20th and 22nd.

Post recap here

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Benjamin's Trip To The Doctor

Benjamin's not been himself the past couple days. He's been playful, sure but he's been a little aggressive at day care and he has been waking up in the middle of the night this week complaining of a cough and ear ache. The daylight savings time change has messed up his routine a little so we have let him sleep in an extra hour before he goes to day care. Weena decided to take him to the pediatrician today just to get him checked out. Here is her recap.

When we got to the doctor’s office, it was very busy with about five other moms and dads with their kids waiting. For awhile, Benjamin was looking at two babies and then looked at me and said, “I love you mommy” way loud enough for everyone to hear. So I replied back, "I love you too". Then he said, “Louder mommy!” and by now everyone was looking at us. So I said back to him "I love you too Ben". And then he repeated it again and everyone had that big smile on their faces! Wow I’m so proud of our boy and very happy to know that he knows that he is very much loved!

Next: We were inside the patient room waiting for his doctor. As soon as the doctor came in, without me saying anything, he said “Doctor I have a bad cough” (in his sad serious tone) so the doctor asked him what else is hurting. Then he pointed to his right ear and said “Here this hurts”.

So the doctor was very pleased that Benjamin now knows what to say and points to what hurts. He was amazed how Benjamin was talking to him straight and how he behaved himself.

He weighed in at 33.4 pounds and his height at 36”

After his check up with the doctor, he had a big smile on his face too! The doctor said he must be doing well because we haven’t been to his office since his last check up in October last year. Turns out he has an ear infection and he’s congested but no pneumonia or bronchitis. He’ll be taking amoxicillin for a week and hopefully the infection will go away.

Benjamin said “Thank you Doctor” on the way out.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Olie Kolzig #300

Capitals 3, Flames 2

Alex Ovechkin scored his 55th and 56th goals and goalie Olie Kolzig earned his 300th win as the Washington Capitals beat the Calgary Flames 3-2 at Verizon Center. Ovechkin scored the game winning goal with 1:54 left. After that all eyes were on Olie as the seconds ticked off. When the final buzzer sounded, Kolzig became just the 23rd goalie to win 300 NHL games. He has earned every one of those in a Capitals uniform. Impressive. While I'm sorry he's never won a Stanley Cup here in Washington (he guided the Caps to the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals but they lost to Detroit), he's been a great Cap both on and off the ice, dedicating countless hours to charitable organizations. From the Caps Media Guide, I want to pay a little tribute here to a class act and future NHL Hall of Famer.

Is founder of the Carson Kolzig Foundation, named after his son. Is one of the co-founders of Athletes Against Autism, an initiative of Cure Autism Now.
Spearheaded the Capitals’ efforts to host Autism Awareness Night the last two years, including the first night of its kind in the NHL (12/27/05 vs Boston). Leads the Olie’s and Elliot’s Great Saves program, which benefits Athletes Against Autism, with Elliot Segal of DC101. Also leads the Olie’s All-Stars program, in which he purchases 12 season tickets to Capitals games and donates them to Children’s National Medical Center, The Children’s Inn at NIH and the American Special Hockey Association.

Read more about Olie here

PS-I know I've blogged a lot of sports recently. My Nikon 7900 Coolpix camera met an untimely demise and thus the lack of Benjamin pictures. Another Nikon 7900 Coolpix is coming as I purchased one on eBay tonight and hopefully within a week I'll have it.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Solid Effort By Elon

Davidson 65
Elon 49

The score says Davidson won by 16 but the game was a lot closer.

Playing their fourth game in four nights, Elon played a tough game but fatigue was definitely a factor and as a result, Elon's season ended. But it was exciting. With a little over four minutes left in the game, Elon was down by five points. Their hearts were in the game, you look at their bench during the time out when they were down five and you could see they believed they could pull off the upset. But they just run out of gas and a talented and deep Davidson team just took advantage.

Stephen Curry, the Southern Conference Player of the Year scored 26 points for Davidson, who won their third straight conference tournament. TJ Douglas had 18 points (6 three pointers) for Elon.

In the Colonial Athletic Conference tournament final, the George Mason Patriots return to the NCAA tournament after beating William and Mary 68-59. Like Elon, William and Mary was seeking their first NCAA tournament berth and was also playing their fourth game in four nights. William and Mary hung in there and at one point in the second half, they cut George Mason's lead to one. George Mason's experience just wore the Tribe out in the second half though and as a result, they get the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. This is the first CAA conference tournament title for George Mason since 2001. Hopefully George Mason can get their first round game at Verizon Center in Washington DC.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Here's Why I Love College Basketball, Part II

Elon 52, Furman 37
Elon 60, Chattanooga 57
Elon 75, College of Charleston 61

We go to Charleston, South Carolina for the Southern Conference tournament and my school Elon University, the tournaments 7th seed is playing for an NCAA Division I tournament bid tonight against Davidson (ESPN2, 9:00 PM). This is Elon's first tournament title game appearance since joining the Southern Conference in 2003. Elon finished the regular season 11-18. Not too impressive obviously but some of their losses came against (all on the road) Virginia Tech, Georgia, Virginia Commonwealth and Virginia. In the past, Elon has also gone against Georgetown, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, N.C. State and Stanford. They're trying to build a decent NCAA Division I program and while these losses to bigger schools may hurt the overall record, they go a long way to prepare the team for conference and tournament play. Plus games like these are excellent for recruiting.

Years...ok make that two and a half decades (!) ago when I was at Elon, me and my amigos used to watch the NCAA tournament selection show over a few beers and wonder out loud how cool would it be to see Elon's name picked one day. We all laughed of course because back then Elon was a member of the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) and was a doormat in the South Atlantic Conference. Over the years since I was there, the school has gotten bigger and made the jump to NCAA play (The Elon football team is currently NCAA Division I-AA). Should Elon make it in, I've got a few phone numbers of my friends and will call these guys to be sure to remind them to catch the selection show.

So the reward for winning three games in three days, Elon gets the #25 ranked team in the nation in Davidson. Beat them and they are in the NCAA tournament. It obviously won't be easy as Davidson owns the NCAA's (Division I) longest winning streak at 21 and has won their last 35 Southern Conference games. Elon played them tough this season though, losing 59-57 at home January 9 and 74-64 at Davidson on February 6. Both times Davidson was a heavy favorite. Ask any basketball coach and they will say one of the toughest things to do is beat a team three times in one year.

Elon-College of Charleston recap

Before the Elon-Davidson game, ESPN is showing the Colonial Athletic Association final. Weena's school, George Mason goes against William & Mary. William & Mary has also won three CAA tournament games in a row and is trying to do what Elon is trying to do. Win four conference tournament games and go to the NCAA tournament. This is what I love about conference tournament basketball, everyone has a chance. "Just survive and advance" is what the late N.C. State basketball coach Jim Valvano used to say.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Here Is Why I Love College Basketball

Take a look at the Patriot League Quarterfinal scores from tonight. Great, great action here. The Patriot League Tournament is held on the campus sites, unlike the big conferences where they take over a city for their weekend tournament.

Colgate 76
Lafayette 74

Final-3 OT
Bucknell 87
Navy 86

American 62
Holy Cross 60

Army 64
Lehigh 61

Semifinals, Sunday March 9th
Army at American University
Bucknell at Colgate

Final game is Friday March 14 and it is at the highest remaining seed. Why so late after the Semifinals? Answer: ESPN. This must kill whatever momentum a team builds up by winning its Quarterfinal tonight, waiting four days for their Semifinal and then another five days for the championship game. However, the ESPN exposure is too great, these schools need it and they'll do what they have to do to get the television time. Personally, I hope American University gets their first NCAA tournament bid. They showed me a lot of heart and guts when they came into Comcast Center and stomped Maryland last December.

Game Recap: Navy vs Bucknell

Game Recap: American vs Holy Cross

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Nationals New Ball Yard

Today was a big day for Nationals fans. First, they installed the big video screen and moved home plate from RFK Stadium to the new ball park.

More pictures here.

Second, single game tickets went on sale this morning at 9:00 AM. Your's truly was in what was called a "virtual waiting room" for thirty seven minutes as people all over town were trying to get tickets to Nationals Park March 30th opening night vs the Atlanta Braves.

All I wanted were some Sunday afternoon games and when I finally was able to purchase tickets, I got a pair to see the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 4, three to see the Baltimore Orioles on June 29th and three to see the Cincinnati Reds on August 3. I plan to take Weena and Benjamin to both the Orioles and Reds games. This will be Benjamin's baseball debut and definitely another Proud Dad moment in my life as nothing beats a father, his son and a baseball game.

Monday, March 03, 2008

An Epic Collapse

Clemson 73, Maryland 70

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Nope, someone already used that opening line. I could just direct everyone to my recap after the Wake Forest football collapse this past Fall and just be done with it. No, this is the basketball version of that collapse and I must vent.

The Maryland Terrapins had a 20 point lead at home against Clemson. It was Senior Day, the crowd was fired up. There were eleven minutes left in the game. They were dominating. They lost. Clemson roared back to a 73-70 win after Terrence Oglesby hit a three pointer with 2.3 seconds remaining. Game over. The Terps are now 18-12 (8-7 in the ACC) and an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament seems unlikely with just an away game at Virginia and the ACC tournament left.

This was worse than the famous Gone in :54 game vs Duke in January 2001 where the Terps blew a ten point lead at Cole Field House. Back then though, they rebounded and made it to the Final Four, where they collapsed again against Duke (blowing a 22 point first half lead then). That 2001 Final Four loss was the worst and the most painful Terp game moment for me. However, that collapse was used as a great motivator to the national title in 2002.

This loss to Clemson was inexcusable. Don't get me wrong, they are not a bad team at all. They are in third place in the ACC but you're up 20 at home, its senior day and you're playing for your post season. It was just sad watching it all unravel. They had that game won. They had their post season ticket to the NCAA tourney pretty much sealed up. But no.

Win at UVA and win a couple of ACC tourney games? Maybe that gets them in but the last time they won back to back games in the ACC tournament was 2004 when they won it all. Strange things happen in March though. Ask Michigan State, UNC, Wichita State and Connecticut about George Mason in 2006. Gather up some Georgetown alum and ask them about the 1985 Villanova Wildcats. I'm sure Houston Cougar fans cringe at the mention of Lorenzo Charles and that 1983 North Carolina State team.

Since this season has been and up and down like a yo-yo(Losses at home to American and Ohio, wins on the road against #1 North Carolina and Wake Forest), now part of me thinks the Terps will rebound and make it and another part of me thinks they will be in Fairfax VA facing George Mason in first round NIT action. And yes, if that happens I will be there. It's in my back yard, I support the athletes with my membership in the Terrapin Club and this Terp lifer can't turn my back on these guys.

Gary Williams said after the game that he'll remember the 73-70 loss to the Tigers for a long time, just as he'll remember the big wins. Us fans will too Gary. But there is still time to get it right and make the NCAA's. You know what you have to do. Can they rebound? I think so as they have a week to prepare. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Goodbye February

It's always been a depressing month for me. I can't put my finger on why it is. Perhaps it's usually the month I get hit with a nasty cold. I thought I was going to get through this month without getting sick until I started feeling ill on Thursday and had to leave work early. Sure enough, my temperature hit 102 Thursday night and I had the chills and I was sick enough where I stayed home Friday. The fever finally broke yesterday evening and I'm still feeling weak but hopefully in a couple days I'll be at full strength.

While resting in bed I got to watch the first two rounds of the PGA's Honda Classic, an exhibition baseball game between the Dodgers and Braves and a few soccer games off GOL TV.

Not wanting to get Weena sick, Benjamin slept in our bed and I went into Benjamin's room to sleep. I brought my transistor radio and would go up and down the dials looking for hockey or basketball games or sports talk radio. I used to do this as a kid each night with my Panasonic Tech 1000 so it brought back memories. Keep in mind when I was a kid, we didn't have the internet, ESPN and sports access 24/7 and the only way to get news, talk or other teams ball games was radio.

So February is history and March is here. March gives us tons of NCAA hoops action, exhibition baseball and hopefully warmer weather for Easter, which is March 23rd this year. The Nationals new ballpark opens March 29th for an exhibition with the Orioles and D.C. United opens MLS play on March 29th.