The official blog of WTOP Sports.

    Bumgarner wins truck with ‘technology and stuff’ for MVP

    WASHINGTON -- Madison Bumgarner almost single-handedly won the World Series for the San Francisco Giants. He dominated both his starts, then delivered five innings of scoreless relief Wednesday night to preserve San Francsico’s 3-2, Game 7 win. He was, deservedly, named the series MVP.

    For his reward, Bumgarner received a brand new, 2015 Chevy Colorado truck. He also received an awkward 60-second presentation of said truck, featuring ‘technology and stuff,’ from regional Chevrolet Regional Zone Manager Rikk (yes, Rikk) Wilde.

    This one warrants multiple views, so that you can really focus on how each person in the shot handles the awkwardness as the presentation goes off the rails. And who knows, perhaps if this whole Regional Zone Manager thing doesn’t work out, Wilde can get a job as a motivational speaker, living in a van down by the river.

    Update: See Chevrolet's response to the speech on Thursday: http://www.wtop.com/209/3733029/Chevy-makes-the-best-of-execs-nervous-speech
    Bumgarner the MVP as Giants beat Royals, 3-2, to win World Series

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Madison Bumgarner was limbering up at Kauffman Stadium this week, getting loose with his San Francisco teammates near the dugout, when Tim Hudson and Michael Morse sneaked up from behind and playfully ruffled the pitcher's long, scraggly locks.

    That was way too hairy for Bumgarner. He quickly spun and playfully sparred with his pals.

    They were about only ones who could touch Bumgarner in this World Series.

    "Yeah, it was hopeless," Kansas City manager Ned Yost admitted.

    The 25-year-old Bumgarner capped off a performance for the ages and earned MVP honors Wednesday night, pitching five scoreless innings of relief in Game 7 as the Giants held off the Kansas City Royals 3-2.

    More here.

    LaVar Arrington lightens skin, goes as J.J. Watt for Halloween

    WASHINGTON -- Former Washington Redskin and current NFL Network host LaVar Arrington went on television in his Halloween costume Friday morning, dressed as Houston Texans defensive star J.J. Watt.

    In addition to a full uniform and helmet, Arrington sported eye black as well as a bloody nose and bandage, as Watt played through a broken nose in a game last September. He also wore face makeup, rendering his skin several shades lighter, albeit not as light as that of Watt, who is Caucasian.

    Arrington posted a photo of himself in costume to Twitter Friday morning, provoking some discussion as to its appropriateness, especially in the wake of Halloween costumes depicting Ray Rice, some with people donning black face paint.

    What do you think? Was Arrington’s costume offensive or in poor taste? Or are those who are objecting making too big a deal over nothing?

    Cubs fire Renteria, open door for Maddon

    WASHINGTON -- The Chicago Cubs fired manager Rick Renteria on Friday, officially opening the door to sign former Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon, a move expected to be announced Monday.

    Renteria was just one season into a three-year contract and had recently been endorsed by Cubs brass for the 2015 season, but Maddon’s sudden departure from Tampa Bay last week led to a change of plans.

    In a stunningly honest press release from the club, Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein admitted as much, in no uncertain terms.

    “Rick deserved to come back for another season as Cubs manager, and we said as much when we announced that he would be returning in 2015,” said Epstein in a written statement.

    And yet, they fired Renteria anyway, once Maddon became available.

    “We saw it as a unique opportunity and faced a clear dilemma: be loyal to Rick or be loyal to the organization,” the statement continued. “In this business of trying to win a world championship for the first time in 107 years, the organization has priority over any one individual. We decided to pursue Joe.”

    That’s cold-blooded. That’s like Hannibal Lecter complementing you on how your brain tastes as he eats you. But that’s the new reality in year four of Epstein’s five-year contract with the Cubs, during which the team is 200-286 so far.

    Tampa Bay had winning seasons six straight years under Maddon, including four postseason appearances between 2008-13. He compiled a 754-705 overall record in nine seasons with the Rays.
    Shorter NBA referees call more fouls

    WASHINGTON -- Better vantage point or Napoleon complex? While the reasons behind the findings are uncertain, a new study by the Journal of Sports Economics shows that shorter NBA refs call more fouls.

    Paul Gift and Ryan Rodenberg examined more than 4,000 regular-season games over four seasons and divided the average height of referee crews into three categories: short (under 6 feet), average (6 feet to 6 foot 3) and tall (taller than 6 foot 3). They found that the shortest tiered crew called 4.13 fouls per player per 48 minutes, compared to 4.03 for the tallest.

    This not may seem like a significant difference, but when applied to the full set of players on the court, the shortest crew calls 3.6 percent more fouls than the league average.

    We can’t wait for the study on technical fouls…

    Cowboys use unfortunate hashtag for trip to England

    WASHINGTON -- The Dallas Cowboys cross the ocean this week for a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in London. In celebration, the team’s Twitter account created a hashtag that truly everyone can get behind.

    Yes, that’s right: #CowboysUK. #CowboysUK all the way to England. Finally, a way for Redskins, Eagles and Giants fans to find common ground.

    The Cowboys may not really be America’s team, but we’re pretty sure everyone can agree with the sentiment: #CowboysUK.
    Nobody wants to see the Redskins play Tampa Bay

    WASHINGTON -- The Redskins are not very good again this year. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are, arguably, worse. The two teams are set to square off this weekend in Landover, and fans are understandably unenthused.

    A quick glance at ESPN’s listings for Week 11 NFL games shows that nearly 7,000 tickets still remain, more than twice as many as at any other venue in the league (next closest: 3,354 for the Vikings-Bears game in Chicago). Perhaps even more telling, though, is the price these tickets are commanding. On the low end, they are available from just $11.

    That’s a quarter the price of the next lowest ticket available, a $44 seat in Charlotte to watch the Falcons and Panthers. While the very cheapest Redskins tickets available are standing room only, there are lower level seats available for less than $14.

    That makes an NFL game just about the most affordable thing you can do in D.C. (well, Landover) this weekend.
    Metta World Peace is now The Panda's Friend

    WASHINGTON -- If this is all getting a little confusing for you, we understand.

    With the 16th overall selection of the 1999 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls took a 6-foot-7 forward named Ron Artest out of St. John's University. Despite his talent, he was most well known for "The Malice at the Palace," one of the more frightening moments in professional sports player/fan relations.

    Partially as a result, Artest later changed his name to the not unironic Metta World Peace, a name he has abided by until now. Now, Artest/Peace will be known as The Panda's Friend.

    It's hard to say if this is more than a marketing ploy at this point, but Artest/Peace/Friend is putting his money where his mouth is. Or at least, where his feet are.

    This is an actual photo, from an actual basketball game from China, where Artest/Peace/Friend currently plays, posted to his own Twitter account, in which he is wearing stuffed pandas on his shoes.

    No, your eyes are not deceiving you. This is really happening.

    Here, have another look.

    It's Ron Artest's weird world out there. We're just living in it.

    Browser extension removes ‘Redskins’ from your browsing

    WASHINGTON -- For those fans of the “Washington Football Team” that wish to remove the team’s nickname from their day-to-day web experience, there’s a web extension for that.

    As reported on Mashable, the product is called Redskins Web Skin, and it changes the nickname to a “more dignified term” of the user’s choice. Those terms include the Americans, Athletes, Thanksgiving Originators and Tribe. It is currently available for Google Chrome, with other browser options forthcoming.

    Looks like the Tribe is heading to the west coast this weekend…

    Watch classic footage of Manute Bol draining three pointers

    WASHINGTON -- Have you heard? The Philadelphia 76ers finally won! In celebration, let’s watch 7-foot-7 center Manute Bol go all Steph Curry on the Phoenix Suns in this unearthed footage from 1993.

    As any streaky shooter will tell you, once you get the swing of things, it feels like anything you put up might go in. With his team down big, the big man decided to fire one up from deep. He made his first two, and three of his first four, so he just kept shooting.

    There were some bricks, and even a travel in an attempt to get himself open, but it was all worth it. As a coup de gras, Bol hammers his sixth and final shot home from 30 feet, earning a high five from former teammate Charles Barkley, then playing for the Suns.

    It’s a fitting tribute for Bol, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 47. In addition to being one of the tallest players in basketball history, Bol was also a tremendous humanitarian, helping to build schools in his native Sudan after retirement.

    Thanks to Deadspin’s new offshoot Rabbithole for discovering this gem.
    The best ski line of 2014 is sheer insanity

    WASHINGTON -- This is nuts.

    The mere fact that such a chute even exists to be skied, much less a human being’s willingness to do so, is already extraordinary. But just watching this makes you clench your muscles and hold your breath.

    Cody Townsend is our powder-shredding, daredevil stunt-taking, Go Pro-wearing protagonist, as he basically straight lines down an impossibly carved chute in Alaska’s Tordrillos Mountain Range. Even though you know he’s going to make it, you don’t know if he’s going to make it.

    Townsend earned the “Best Line” at the 15th Annual Powder Awards (a real thing!) along with “Best Male Performance” and whatever “Full Throttle” is. Just give him all of the awards.

    The Seahawks are destroying everything in their path

    WASHINGTON -- Just a few short weeks ago, the Green Bay Packers looked like the top team in the NFC and the Seattle Seahawks looked like they would have to fight their way into the playoffs as a Wild Card. Well, all that has changed -- and quickly -- as the defending Super Bowl champs have reemerged as a sleeping giant.

    Sitting at 6-4 through 10 games, Seattle has won five straight, bookended by victories over former NFC West leader Arizona (really, the schedule was an NFC McDouble, with the two Arizona games as the buns, a pair of San Francisco patties and the Philadelphia, fittingly, as the cheese in the middle). The Seahawks' vaunted defense has allowed just 33 points over that span, an average of 6.5 per game. They’ve won each game by double digits, culminating in a 35-6 thrashing Sunday night in the desert.

    But it’s not just that Seattle has won by big, dominating margins, it’s how they done it. With Richard Sherman picking off passes and trashing his old college coach Jim Harbaugh. With Marshawn Lynch ripping off impossible touchdown runs and doing nothing more than thanking the media for their interest.

    Now, the '
    Hawks are set up with probable home field advantage, needing only a home win over the reeling Rams to force every opponent to travel to the Pacific Northwest for the duration of the NFC playoffs.

    Turn the Seahawks into the villain at your own risk. They’ll laugh all the way until the ride ends, probably back in the stadium where they put on their most dominating show to date Sunday night.
    Presidents as NBA players

    WASHINGTON – You could probably draw analogues from any sport, or really any organized group of people to compare to presidents. But Slate’s recent exercise in identifying an NBA player that represents every president was funny and inspired.

    They connect the sitting Commander in Chief with Derrick Rose of the Bulls – a figure surrounded by a ton of hope, which has been only somewhat fulfilled to this point (plus, you know, the whole Chicago thing). But from Dwight Eisenhower (David Robinson) to William Howard Taft (Charles Barkley), each matchup is well thought out.

    Take a look and pick your favorite.

    Rick Ankiel is your new “Life Skills Coordinator”

    Rick Ankiel: Life Skills Coordinator (Getty Images/Mike Ehrmann) 

    The Nationals announced their 2015 minor league staff Thursday, including one familiar face in an unfamiliar position. Rick Ankiel, who famously converted from pitcher to position player and spent the 2011 and 2012 seasons with the Nats, will join the organization in the newly created role of Life Skills Coordinator.

    Ankiel was a highly touted pitching prospect with the St. Louis Cardinals and won 11 games as a full time starter in 2000 at age 20 before suddenly losing control of his ability to control his pitches. Unable to correct his wildness, Ankiel converted to a position player and made a successful return to the Major Leagues as an outfielder in 2007. Ankiel was known for having one of the strongest outfield arms in the game, playing seven years as a position player before retiring after the 2013 season.

    If anyone knows about the psychological trials and tribulations of professional baseball, it just might be Ankiel. If nothing else, it gives us a chance to unearth some Ankiel highlights, and that makes today a good day. Enjoy.

    Rick Ankiel Highlights
    via YouTube
    Bid on the game-winning puck from the Winter Classic

    WASHINGTON -- Last week, the Capitals treated fans to an epic, last-second win at D.C.’s first-ever Winter Classic. Now, you can own the most dramatic piece of that victory – the puck from Troy Brouwer’s game-winning goal with just seconds remaining.

    The bidding opened at $100 and has more than doubled already. But you’ve got plenty of time to get yours in. The auction won’t close until January 27.

    Patriots, Seahawks fighting to see who can anger football gods more

    WASHINGTON -- Coming off their respective AFC and NFC Championship Game victories, the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks have spent Monday tempting the football gods and alienating themselves from football fans everywhere.

    Reports out of New England indicate that the NFL is investigating whether or not the Patriots deflated footballs used in their 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts. While it’s hard to imagine a bit of air being the difference in a 38-point blowout, the Pats have been charges with improprieties in the past, for videotaping sideline signals during a 2007 game against the New York Jets.

    Meanwhile, the Seahawks took their faux-pas off the field, tweeting the following photo with the caption “We shall overcome.”

    We won’t aim to speak for exactly what Dr. King had in mind when he spoke those words, but it’s safe to say it wasn’t in regards to a 16-point halftime deficit.

    It’s time for your annual bad NFL lip-reading video

    WASHINGTON -- This is yeoman’s work. It really is.

    No matter what team you’re a fan of, there’s some real hilarity here, from Jeff Fisher admitting he has flaps to Dez Bryant’s Funyuns rants. The player self-intros might be the best of all. Enjoy.

    Georgetown women host ‘Hail to Kale’ Night

    WASHINGTON -- We all know about kale -- the nutritious but bitter, leafy green that has become nearly ubiquitous among D.C. eateries. Now, the Georgetown women’s basketball team is celebrating it.

    The Hoyas will host a ‘Hail to Kale’ Night on Friday, February 13 when they take on Xavier at McDonough Arena on campus. Attendees whose names include the letter K-A-L-E will be admitted for free, with the first 100 fans to enter receiving a kale salad as well.

    For all others, tickets are just $5, and fans can sample a number of kale dining options at the concessions stand.
    Your sports word of the day: Olimpico

    WASHINGTON -- Olimpico [oh-lim-pick-oh] noun: A goal scored directly off a corner kick.

    Olimpicos, or Olympic kicks, are relatively rare in soccer. But USMNT midfielder Michael Bradley logged one in this weekend’s 2-0 international friendly victory over Panama, which gives us an excuse to talk about them, because they’re pretty cool.

    But wait, you may be saying -- didn’t Jozy Altidore head that ball in? While that may have been the original intent, the replay shows that, in fact, he did not.

    According to When Saturday Comes, the history of the gol olimpico dates back to 1924, when the kick was first made legal. Argentinian Cesareo Onzari logged one against Argentina’s fierce rival -- and defending Olympic champion – Uruguay.

    The Uruguayans had scored a similar such goal during the Olympics earlier that year, but the rule had not been changed at the time, and the goal was disallowed. The olimpico was made legal just in time for it to come back to bite Uruguay.

    RG3 announces his wife is pregnant on social media

    WASHINGTON -- Robert Griffin III took to his favorite platforms -- Twitter, Facebook and Instagram -- on Thursday to announce the impending birth of his first child. Griffin tweeted/Instagrammed the following photo(s) of him kissing his wife’s pregnant belly.

    BIG Thank You for making this Birthday a Special Day!!! This year's gift will change Our life forever!!! #BoyOrGirl #GodsGreatestGift
    by rgiii via Instagram

    CC Sabathia is in the best “shape” of his life

    CC Sabathia is back to his old self. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky) 

    WASHINGTON -- As any good baseball fan knows, every player shows up to Spring Training every year in the best shape of his life. In CC Sabathia’s case, that shape is round and oblong. Ovalish, if you will. Like a pinstriped egg.

    “I feel like this is a good weight,” Sabathia told the New York Daily News. “I feel my legs under me, being a lot stronger, and being able to push off the mound.

    After dropping down to 275 pounds last year and looking like a cartoonishly skinny version of his prior self, Sabathia is back up to his fighting weight of 305. He looks like his old self, but the question of whether the heft will help bring back the 34-year-old’s former velocity remains to be seen.

    If nothing else, it’ll bring a whole new competition to the classic AL East rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox.

    Maryland students execute epic flash mob prior to win over Wisconsin

    WASHINGTON -- Flash mobs can be dumb. They can seem forced, or excessive, or simply unnecessary. But what the Maryland students pulled off Tuesday night at Xfinity Center prior to the Terps’ huge matchup with Wisconsin was visually stunning and got the crowd hyped up for the big game (click in the lower right corner to blow the video up to full screen).

    Oh, right. Maryland also went on to notch their signature win of the season so far, knocking off the Badgers, 59-53. For more on what that means for their NCAA Tournament seeding, check out Dave Preston’s analysis on WTOP.com.

    While you freeze, Redskins players surf in San Diego

    WASHINGTON -- Kirk Cousins and Alfred Morris seem like nice enough dudes. They’re in the middle of their offseason, and therefore entitled to do pretty much whatever they want, so long as it falls within the bounds of the law and the NFL collective bargaining agreement.

    So they’re more than entitled to go surfing. In San Diego. Under cloudless, blue skies. But do they really have to rub it in while the rest of us are trapped under 6 inches of snow?

    Enjoy, guys. We’ll just be over here living vicariously through you until Spring.

    Monstrous gator crawls onto golf course

    WASHINGTON -- No, you can putt first.

    Myakka Pines Golf Club/Facebook 

    There are gators, then there's whatever this godless killing machine that crawled out of a lake by the seventh green at Myakka Pines Golf Club in Englewood, Fla. last week is. The club posted photos of the beast to their Facebook page. Seriously, that thing will eat you for a snack.

    Myakka Pines Golf Club/Facebook 

    The course is on Florida’s west coast near Port Charlotte, dozens of miles from the edges of the Everglades. Let this serve as a simple reminder to never go to Florida. 

  • Minor League team to wear ‘Full House’ jerseys

    WASHINGTON -- The Frisco RoughRiders are a Double-A team in Texas, but they’re using their native geography to do some Major League level trolling.

    As anyone from Northern California will tell you, San Franciscans hate it when people call their city Frisco for short. With that in mind, the RoughRiders are holding a Full House night, featuring these abrasive jerseys, and even hosting one of the show’s stars, Dave Coulier, for a celebrity appearance and meet and greet.

    San Francisco’s a beautiful city, so the jerseys are no doubt aesthetically pleasing. What’s that? They look like a third-rate art school student’s attempt at combining Andy Warhol-era art deco with poster boards from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air?”

    Those sure are rough, ‘Riders.

    NCAA reminds us all once again that they are just the worst

    NCAA President Mark Emmert. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) 

    WASHINGTON -- In its constant, back-and-forth battle with FIFA to establish itself as the worst organization in sports, the NCAA has sunk to new lows in establishing guidelines for March Madness watch parties. Let’s run through the eight rules one-by-one and see how they stack up on the scale of hypocrisy from 1 to Mark Emmert.

    1. No admission may be charged for admission to a party whose primary purpose is to view NCAA tournament games.

    So, you can hold a watch party, but you can’t charge a cover. As the Tournament is broadcast on network and basic cable, this seems kosher.

    Hypocrisy Rating: 1

    2. There should not be sale of food or beverages. Members of the organization are permitted to bring their own food or beverage (free of charge).

    One can see the idea here, but it’s not like the NCAA isn’t happy to let venues charge for food and drink for those paying to attend games, and it’s not like you can bring your own food in from the outside.

    Hypocrisy Rating: 4

    3. Sponsorship or commercial advertising is prohibited from being a part of a viewing party.

    Remember, only the NCAA can sell every inch of available advertising real estate to make money off the Tournament. Even if you’re putting on your own admission-free, no-refreshments-for-sale event out of the goodness of your own heart and your love for amateur athletics, you aren’t allowed to let anyone know that you’ve done so by advertising that fact.

    Hypocrisy Rating: Full Emmert

    4. Asking for donations in exchange for being part of the viewing party is prohibited.

    Donations can only be given to schools through official booster channels, which can then be used by the institutions at their own discretion. You are not allowed to take part in this racket.

    Hypocrisy Rating: 3

    5. Promotion of the event is limited to those affiliated with the organization. For example, if a church conducts a viewing party, it is able to promote within its own publications (e.g., church bulletin) to the congregation. However, any website promotion is prohibited.

    The NCAA literally doesn’t understand how electronic communication works. Posting to one’s own website is less of an advertisement than putting something in a bulletin, or a newsletter, or a mailer. Websites are like virtual telephone poles, places that people need to actively seek out information to find. This is idiocy, and completely backwards.

    Hypocrisy Rating: 7

    6. Please carefully review the NCAA Advertising and Promotional Standards, which can be found on NCAA.com/media and click on the “NCAA Advertising and Promotional Standards” link found under Broadcast and Digital Policies.

    Ok, I’ll follow your clickbait. Here’s the opening graph of that page:

    “The NCAA's advertising and promotional standards are designed to encourage those advertisements and advertisers that support the NCAA's ideals and exclude those advertisements and advertisers (and others who wish to associate with NCAA activities) that do not appear to be in the best interests of higher education and student-athletes.”

    You know, the best interests of higher education, like Coca-Cola, Capital One, Buffalo Wild Wings and Infiniti. There’s nothing like junk food, bars, banking institutions and car that no student-athlete can afford to support the virtue of amateur athletics. I’m sure none of them specifically do any of the things the NCAA says they should not:

    · Cause harm to student-athlete health, safety and welfare.

    · Bring discredit to the purposes, values or principles of the NCAA.

    · Negatively impact the best interests of intercollegiate athletics or higher

    Hypocrisy Rating: Full Emmert

    7. Commercial entities are not permitted to conduct viewing parties without securing a commercial cable subscription or commercial satellite license from their cable (e.g., AT&T Uverse, Comcast/Xfinity, Time Warner Cable) or satellite (e.g. DirecTV, DISH Network) provider.

    Hahahahahahaha. Reminder: The NCAA made $527 million for the 10 days of games from tournament TV rights deals last year.

    Hypocrisy Rating: Full Emmert

    8. All non-profit or for-profit (commercial) entities must comply with U.S. copyright laws. The U.S. copyright act addresses issues such as charging admission to view or watch events on television, size of the TV(s) or video screen(s), securing or holding the appropriate copyright license (commercial cable or satellite versus over-the-air), etc.

    Hey, the law’s the law. No problem here. Just with pretty much everything else.

    Hypocrisy rating: 1

    So, if you’re thinking of throwing a watch party, just remember that only the NCAA is allowed to squeeze every possible penny out of a product in which the actual participants are unpaid. For you to do so violates the spirit of everything the NCAA stands for.

    Heads up play, off head, leads to double play

    WASHINGTON -- Coaches often speak of using your head to make good plays. But almost never, outside of soccer, is it a good idea to actually use your head to make a play. The operative word here is “almost.”

    A pair of Mississippi high school teammates teamed up to make one of the more spectacular, bizarre double plays you’ll ever see, thanks to the literal use of one’s head. On a line drive, D’Iberville center fielder Travis Bender slipped trying to make a play, the ball ricocheting high off his head and to his right. Left fielder Jay Deshong was ready, though, catching to ball on the fly after about it traveled roughly 60 feet, then flipping it back to second base to double off the runner for an inning-ending double play.

    Mark that one 8-7-4 in your scorebook, and #1 in your heads and hearts.
    Phillies to make season more palatable by serving wine, liquor

    WASHINGTON -- The Philadelphia Phillies are pushing forward with the best worst idea ever, and will be serving hard alcohol and wine at games for the first time in the 2015 season.

    Cocktails and wine will be available on the main concourse at general concession areas, according to Philly.com. However, fans will not be allowed to bring their drinks back to their seats, and will instead have to finish their drinks entirely before returning to watch the game.

    On one hand, this should make what promises to be an insufferably bad season slightly more bearable. On the other hand, Philly fans slamming booze as quickly as possible between innings probably won’t help reduce their notoriety for abhorrent behavior, from heckling injured players, to chucking batteries, to intentionally vomiting on children.

    Opening Day is less than a week away!

    The Phillies are trying to kill their fans

    The Phillies' new Triple Triple Burger. (NBC10) 

    WASHINGTON -- The Philadelphia Phillies are going to be bad this year. They were bad last year, as well as the year before, losing 89 games in each season. But in 2015, they’ll be worse.

    That’s tough to take for Phillies fans. A once proud franchise just seven years removed from a title and only four years from a 102-win season may be the worst team in the league. As such, they’ve tried to draw attention for the upcoming season off the field.

    Those intentions may be pure, but the execution, well, it’s dirty.

    First, the Phillies made efforts to help numb the pain of what’s sure to be a dumpster fire of a campaign by serving wine and hard alcohol at Citizen’s Bank Park for the first time ever. While that may raise the mood at the ballpark a bit, the idea of Philly fans consuming higher concentrations of alcohol probably raises eyebrows among fans of any other team daring to make a road trip to the City of Brotherly Love.

    Now, the club has announced that they will wage full on warfare on their customers’ arteries in 2015. Behold the Triple Triple Burger, a nine-patty, nine-slice of cheese culinary abomination and edible heart attack squeezed between some decorative vegetables and two halves of a bun, which appear to be hanging on for dear life.

    What could possibly go wrong? Other than Cliff Lee’s potentially career-ending elbow injury. And Jonathan Papelbon trade requests. And Jordan Danks starting in right field on Opening Day. And Sean O’Sullivan, one of the 15 worst pitchers in MLB history, claiming a rotation spot. And Ryan Howard being owed $50 million more for the remaining two years of his contract.

    And Philly fans potentially literally eating and drinking themselves to an early death.

    The P-Nats are going to be stupid fun to watch this year

    WASHINGTON -- While the Washington Nationals have championship aspirations in 2015, those looking to take in some great baseball and get a glimpse of the future while the team is out of town have a worthy substitute nearby.

    The Potomac Nationals released their Opening Day roster Tuesday night. It features seven of the top 30 prospects in the system, according to Baseball America, including Spring Training darling infielder Wilmer Difo and fast-rising third baseman Drew Ward, still just 20 years-old. But it will get even better in a few weeks.

    That’s when Lucas Giolito, the top prospect in the system and eighth in all of the minor leagues, according to MLB.com, will arrive from extended spring training in Florida. Ever wary of innings burdens for their post-Tommy John pitchers, the Nats are artificially shortening Giolito’s season, after he threw less than 100 innings last year.

    But if Giolito’s showing at Low-A Hagerstown as a 19-year-old is any indicator -- he was 10-2 with a 2.20 ERA (24 ER/98.0 IP) and 110 strikeouts against just 28 walks -- you may have to fight the scouts for a seat. The same goes for Reynaldo Lopez, a 21-year-old who went 7-3 with a microscopic 1.08 ERA in 16 starts across two levels of the minors last year, having also undergone prior TJ surgery.

    So don’t fret when the Nats are out of town. There will be plenty of great baseball to watch in Woodbridge.
    Every team should have a win song like Oakland’s

    WASHINGTON -- After Sonny Gray nearly no-hit the Texas Rangers on Opening Night at the Oakland Coliseum, A’s fans prepared to hear and sing along with “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang, the long-standing tradition after victories in Oakland. Instead, they got this.

    That’s not “Celebration.” It’s a very, very different song. It’s a song by an indie band called The Phenomenauts, who you had never heard of before reading this sentence.

    And while change can be hard, this one was awesome. Because the song is called “Theme for Oakland,” and couldn’t be more civic pride-filled or jingoistic against the Giants, the Angels or the entire rest of baseball if it tried.

    Here’s the first verse, in all its poppy, four-beat glory, repeated twice for effect:

    Human kind calls our home
    Planet Earth, this we know
    But the greatest place to be
    On the planet of our birth
    Is Oakland, California
    The capital of Earth

    Then, the second verse:

    And wherever we may roam
    Far and wide, let it be known
    That whenever we say home
    It’s the place we think of first
    Oakland, California
    The capital of Earth

    Every team in baseball should have a battle of the bands to come up with a similarly amazing celebration song. The gauntlet has been thrown to the rest of Major League Baseball -- you’re on notice.
    Redskins preseason schedule released

    WASHINGTON -- The NFL has released it preseason schedule of matchups, though dates and times have not yet been set. The Washington Redskins' opponents will be as follows:

    Week 1 (Aug. 13-17)
    Washington at Cleveland

    Week 2 (Aug. 20-24)
    Detroit at Washington

    Week 3 (Aug. 27-30)
    Washington at Baltimore

    Week 4 (Sept. 3-4)
    Jacksonville at Washington

    For the complete preseason schedule, visit NFL.com.
    Weekend provides first great ejection of the baseball season

    WASHINGTON -- The baseball season is a week old, and already we’ve got our first solid ejection and tantrum from a manager. This one comes courtesy of Frisco RoughRiders manager Joe Mikulik on Saturday night.

    Without any additional context, Mikulik seems to have a pretty legitimate beef here. Major League rehabber Tanner Scheppers is pitching in the eighth inning, with his team down 4-0, and lets a 2-1 pitch sail behind the number nine hitter, shortstop Eric Stamets. With a runner at second, the top of the order coming up, and the game already nearly out of reach, there seemed no intent behind the pitch, especially as Scheppers was just working his first inning on the mound.

    And yet, first base umpire Bryan Fields tossed the Texas Rangers’ pitcher immediately. Incredulous, Mikulik stormed out of the dugout and was ejected shortly thereafter. But the manager got his money’s worth, going chest to chest with Fields, then kicking up the dust in both baselines, as well as his hat before finally retiring to the cluibhouse.

    Hooray for baseball, everyone.
    Bubba Watson is hitting trick shots in China

    WASHINGTON -- Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson was a non-factor at Augusta a couple weeks ago, but that doesn’t seem to have gotten him down. The 36-year-old Floridian was out playing some night golf in China over the weekend and took the time to record and tweet this absurd trick shot.

    He chipped a ball up to his caddy, perched on a light pole during a round of night golf. He then pulled a driver out of his bag and had the caddy drop the ball, connecting on the fly for a shot straight down the fairway.

    It was pretty impressive, and reminiscent of Tiger Woods’ Nike commercial from a few years back.

    As for whether it will make Watson any more likeable on tour, well…

    Georgetown announces basketball court design contest

    WASHINGTON -- Do you have a good idea of what you’d like Georgetown’s home floor to look like? Here’s your chance to design the Hoyas’ new hardwood.

    Submit your design between now and May 31 for a chance to win two season tickets and, of course, ultimate bragging rights at the game. According to the school, Coach John Thompson III will have the final say on the new design.

    Many schools have taken court designs in different directions over the past few years, with George Washington’s monument-heavy look following the lead of many newer looks around college. What can you come up with?

    While mocking NFL Draft, Sports Pickle accidentally nails first seven picks

    WASHINGTON -- The often too self-serious sports world opens itself up to be mocked frequently. Frequently enough, as it were, for sites like the Sports Pickle -- which exists solely to poke fun at the sports world -- to thrive.

    But sometimes, the planets align at the intersection of parody and reality, and leave us with a mind-blowingly perfect piece of commentary. Enter the Sports Pickle’s article “Pretty much every NFL mock draft ever” article published on Tuesday, two days before the first round of the NFL Draft.

    Follow along as the site nails the first seven picks of the Draft to a T.

    The actual NFL Draft went almost exactly according to form. (Sports Pickle/NFL.com) 

    #1 – A Quarterback

    As expected, Jameis Winston went first overall. No surprise there.

    #2 – Another Quarterback

    Marcus Mariota was long thought to be the safe money to go next, so again, not a huge limb to step out on.

    #3 – A Large Person Who Will Disappoint the Team’s Fans

    With DE Leonard Williams still on the board, the Jaguars took 6’3”, 261-pound linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr. It’s not a bad pick, but not thrilling, either. So far so good.

    #4 – Probably a Guy Who Went to Alabama

    The Raiders selected Amari Cooper, wide receiver, Alabama. Whoa.

    #5 – Another Really Big Person

    Washington snagged 6’5”, 319-pound tackle Brandon Scherff. Check.

    #6 – Value Pick

    At long last, the Jets took Williams, who Mel Kuiper, Jr. said was the top player on his board in the whole draft. Six for six.

    #7 – The Top Wide Receiver

    The Bears picked Kevin White, thought by many to be better than Cooper in the wideout class. Good enough.

    The Pickle finally misses at #8, picking “The Top Cornerback” while the Falcons took linebacker Vic Beasley. But the rest of the piece has plenty of truisms thrown around during draft weekend, and is well worth the time to scroll through.

    Cavaliers air oblivious in-arena spot promoting domestic violence

    WASHINGTON -- Yikes.

    One might think that -- given the year the NFL has endured for its tone-deaf response to domestic violence, given the backlash against Floyd Mayweather for his history of abuse convictions, given the evolving nature of the social conscience of the sports world in general -- someone, anyone would have had the presence of mind not to run the promo the Cleveland Cavaliers aired during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Chicago Bulls at Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday night.

    Before you watch the actual clip, it’s important to note that it appears to be not a direct spoof of Dirty Dancing, but rather of this commercial, which is itself a spoof of the film.

    Our Song Commercial | UnitedHealthcare :60
    by UnitedHealthcare via YouTube

    Seems harmless, enough, right? Just a little slapstick humor, no harm, no foul. Now, here’s the Cavs’ spot.

    Time Of My Life -- Cavs Playoff Skit
    by signaleatsnoise via YouTube
    The biggest difference between the two, of course, is that the woman’s fall is not accidental, or precipitated by her catching her significant other by surprise. Instead, she is thrown to the ground, where she holds her arms and legs in pain. Only once she has switched out of the Bulls shirt to a Cavs one, while holding an icepack to her head, does she regain the favor of her man.

    Great message, Cavs! The video, which had been uploaded to Vimeo, was removed Thursday morning.

    Giancarlo Stanton hit a ball clear out of Dodger Stadium

    WASHINGTON -- Too often, we hear a baseball fan tell us that a player hit a ball “out of the park.” We know, instinctively, that they merely mean “over the wall,” but it’s still annoying -- if you say “out of the park,” a ball should literally leave the ballpark.

    We also know that Dodger Stadium is very large. In addition to generally pitcher-favorable dimensions, it contains a double section of relatively steeply pitches bleachers, with a pavilion roof above. People don’t hit the ball out of Dodger Stadium.

    Well, some people do. Giancarlo Stanton became the first in 16 years and the fourth ever, joining Mark McGwire, Mike Piazza and Willie Stargell, who did it twice. Perhaps by the time that ball lands we’ll be able to add another name to the list.
    Ever wonder what it feels like to be in a race car when it crashes?

    WASHINGTON -- Technology allows us the opportunity to experience lots of things we never before would have a chance to see close up. One of those things is what it looks like from the driver’s seat as an Indy car loses control and flips upside down.

    On Wednesday, Helio Castroneves was training at the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval when his car locked up coming out of a turn, the back end spinning loose and shooting him up the track facing the wrong direction, into the wall. As he careened down the straightaway backward, the back end of the car lifted into the air, flipping him almost completely over before the back end of the vehicle caught on the track, seemingly defying gravity as it drug its way toward the next corner, before rolling and righting itself.

    At that point, Castroneves regained control, avoided any more walls, and somehow walked away, apparently unscathed.
    This is one of the best dunks you’ll ever see

    WASHINGTON -- The golden age of dunk contests seems to be past us. After all, the bounds of dunking creativity are limited to the handful of spins and alterations one can make while hanging in the air on the way to a rim 10 feet above the floor. There just don’t seem to be many innovations remaining.

    And then, along comes something like this from Canadian Jordan Kilganon.

    When seen from the initial angle, it’s not even immediately clear just what has happened, how exactly the ball traveled up to the rim. When viewed from other vantage points, we see that the 6’1” (!) Kilganon starts into a 360 on the way to the rim, then flips the ball behind his back halfway through. As he finishes the twist, he wraps that same hand around to slam the ball home, a self-alley oop that’s unlike anything we’ve seen.

    Is it the best dunk ever? You decide.
    Riley Curry stole Game 1 for the Warriors

    WASHINGTON -- Despite sweeping the Houston Rockets with four double-digit victories during the regular season, the Golden State Warriors found themselves down by 16 points in the second quarter at home in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals Tuesday night. They even needed a couple free throws from their MVP, Steph Curry, to ice the game in the waning seconds.

    But it was a different Curry that stole the show.

    In his postgame press conference, Curry brought his daughter Riley with him to the stage, resting her on his leg

    The “You the real MVP” meme is systematically overused on the interwebs, but this might be its most appropriate application.
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