Saturday, February 24, 2007

Red States and Orange States

I was reading the paper in the bathroom today, which might I add is one of my favorite things to do each day, and I saw Boswell had a column today. Boswell writes for the Post and is one of my favorite writers so I turned right to E1. Boswell was talking about the Baltimore Orioles and there chances for the upcoming season. No matter how their season goes I'm always going to love my Birds. Boswell's article brought upon the following blog.

I'm a Washingtonian. I always have, and always will be one. I'm proud to live in the vicinity of our Nations Capitol. But no matter how much I love being from DC I will not root for the Nationals. Now I don't hate the Nationals. I'm glad they are here and they are making alot of people happy. But 23 years ago when I was born there was only one team here and that was the Orioles. I was born and raised an O's fan and even though my town has a team, I will not be switching to the Nats unless Peter Angelos continues to run the franchise into the group which is noted as being one of the 20 rules of a sports fan by Bill Simmons...

Rule 19 part 5: The owner of your favorite team treated his fans so egregiously over the years that you couldn't take it anymore -- you would rather not follow them at all then support a franchise with this owner in charge.

Other than that, there is no chance I'm switching. I played baseball for one reason, to be like Cal Ripken. I still remember the feeling playing on a little league team named the Orioles and being number 8. I wish I could have had the jersey. Growing up everyone wanted to be number 8, play shortstop and bat 3rd. You ask anyone between the ages of 21 and 30 from the Washington area who is the best baseball player of all-time and most all will say Cal Ripken.

Each summer going to 33rd street watching games from behind a pole as the O's battled Team Steroid, the Oakland A's. I have seen Cal hit 15 of his 431 home runs. I went to 58 of his 2632 games he played in a row. When driving to the game we always knew Cal was playing.

Finally the O's moved out of 33rd Street to the best ballpark ever built, Oriole Park at Camden Yards. It's the best place to watch a ball game and yes Cal was still there, everyday. On my 13th Birthday, which The Don attended with me in the sky suite, Cal hit a home run.

Then there were other guys, Mike Mussina, whom I still love even though he went to the Yankees. Please note I began to hate Peter Angelos when he like my favorite pitcher go. I do not blame Mussina and I hope he wins a championship. In my later years playing baseball I wanted to pitch just like Mussina. I even wore number 35. I don't like the number but it was Mike's number. My best year pitching I wore number 35 in 8th grade. I went 23-2 with a 1.32 ERA. Yet I was not selected to the All-Star Team but I'm not bitter. In 1997, I was able to shake Mussina's hand and he gave me a baseball at a game. To this day I still trade for Mussina in my baseball video game and make him my number.

Eddie, Brady, Mike, Billy, Greg, Chris, Mora, Tejada, Roberts, Lowell, Markakis, Huff, Ray, Benson, Bedard, Cabrera, McDonald, BJ and the list goes on and on with past present and furure players of my team I will always love.

So you switched, that is fine. I don't care. I will admit, I do love National League Baseball. I wish the O's were in the NL cause then the Don and I could have another rivalry. Last year I was watching a Nats game on TV which is a rare site seeing them on TV and I told my dad "hey I like this Zimmermann guy. He is really good and I like how he plays." My dad followed with "you know he went to University of Virginia." After hearing that, it was done. No way am I even going to somewhat follow a team with a star from UVA.

But don't give me the crap about you can have an NL and AL team. As the Sports Guy says "What is this sports version of Bi-Sexuality? You can only have one wife and only one team per sport." Ask "the Factor" about what happens to people in New York City who root for both the Yanks and Mets.

So choose, O's or Nats. I chose 23 years ago.

Friday, February 23, 2007

America's Race

As the green flag dropped in Sundays Daytona 500, I could not help to think back to all of the previous Daytona 500s I have watched. My first 500 was 1990 and in one race I learned the history of NASCAR. Darrell Waltrip was the defending champion and he had tried so many year before winning his coveted 500 in dramatic style. They replayed the victory lane interview and Waltrips tears spoke the magnitude the race means to drivers. So I knew it was a big deal. Then all race long this black car just killed everyone. He too had never won and come oh so close so many times. Dale Earnhardt was poised to his first Daytona 500 as he rocketed down the back straight. Then I learned why this sport will break your heart. Earnhardt cut a tire in turn three falling off the pace and no name Derrike Cope drove past for his first career win in the Daytona 500. I remember running upstairs yelling to my dad how this guy who is the best but never won this race was going to win and in the 2nd to last turn after 500 miles lost. I couldn't believe it. But hey my driver finished 7th. And so it began, the tradition of Speedweeks each February.

For the 1991 edition, talk all speedweek was can Earnhardt finally win the 500. I learned even more about NASCAR during the race as they had cars representing all branches of the military. NASCAR is the most patriotic sports. Luck is one of the most important aspects in racing. Dale Earnhardt did not have any luck at Daytona. Just a few laps into the race, he hit a sea gull while leading. The damage hurt his car enough to where he was not as dominate and when the laps ran down he could not mustard enough speed to win the race, wrecking with a few laps left while in 2nd. I got my first sense of rage as Rusty Wallace, my driver, was leading with 13 laps left and then was wrecked out of the race. Boy I was pissed.

Recently retired legendary Washington Redskins Head Coach Joe Gibbs formed a NASCAR team and the buzz around the Washington area was his chances at the 1993 Daytona 500. This is the first time I can recall Washington showing any interested in racing. Another first was a rookie named Jeff Gordon making his first 500 start. Gordon won a Twin 125 qualifying race and started 3rd. But the story again was Earnhardt. Could he win. He came off his worst season in many years finishing outside the top 10 in points and was looking to rocket his way into 93 and a 6th Winston Cup Championship. Again Earnhardt led and led. But a new twist was added, Danger. With about 40 laps to go Rusty was showing a lot of strength running in the top 10 but disaster struck. Two cars made contact and Rusty went low but got hit in the right rear sending his car flipping through the air over and over again. When it stopped I felt sick and ran to the bathroom thinking I just watched my driver get killed. After throwing up Rusty got out of the car waved to the crowd like nothing happened. I could not believe it.

Anyway, as the laps wore down Earnhardt still led but Dale Jarrett, Joe Gibbs driver, was in 3rd. I really wanted to Earnhardt win but Joe was in second how cool is this I said. With 3 laps left, Jarrett moved high around rookie Gordon and going into turn 3rd of lap 199 he stuck his nose right under Earnhardts spoiler getting him loose. It's the last lap and they are side by side. Jarrett's father Ned is a race announcer for CBS giving him driving tips and Jarrett follows them as if he can actually hear his dad. Coming off turn 4 we hear those famous lines, "It's the Dale and Dale show as we come off turn 4, you know who I'm pulling for Dale Jarrett, bring her to the inside Dale don't let him get down there, he’s gonna make it, Dale Jarrett is going to win the DAYTONA 500!!!!!!!!!!!! All Right!!!!!!!!!!!" A great victory for Jarrett and great heartbreak for Earnhardt. With Gibbs winning the 500, NASCAR become not just a hobby but an obsession.

1995, same story different year. Rusty crashes and Dale finishes 2nd. 1996, Dale and Dale Show 2. Jarrett wins, Earnhardt 2nd, again. But Gordon finished last this race which made me quite happy and Rusty finished on the lead lap for the first time since I started to watch the Daytona 500.

1997 had a different feel to speedweeks. Earnhardt did not seem so strong and Rusty looked like a contender. Rusty was fast, finishing 2nd in the Bud shootout and running strong in the Twin 125s. Earnhardt got better winning a Twin 125 for the 8th straight year. Rusty looked pretty good at the start. He was in the top 15 when first out stops came around but Rusty never made it out. Blown Engine. I was pissed. Finally Rusty has a good car and the motor pukes. Well maybe Dale will win cause he is looking good today. That held true as Earnhardt was running second in the closing laps then disaster struck. Gordon got underneath Earnhardt pushing him into the wall and Jarrett ran into the back of the black number 3 sending Earnhardt flipping. Another defeat, 0 for 19. Worst of all Gordon passed race leader Bill Elliott with a few laps to go to win the race.

When 1998 came around, Earnhardt had not won in 59 races, Rusty had one win in 1997 and had 12 DNFs (Did not Finish). Speedweeks got off to a bang as Rusty won the Bud Shootout passing Jeff Gordon on a restart with one lap to go while being pushed by his brother Kenny Wallace to the win. To date, that was Rusty's only win in a Restrictor Plate Race. Then the Twin 125s came and Rusty and Dale were one and two most of the race. Dale won again and Rusty finished in the top 5. Race day came and I had mixed emotions. Rusty had a great car but Dale was 0 for 19. Well Dale took the lead early and that Blue Deuce rocketed to the front staying in the top 5 most of the race. After a set of pit stops Gordon took the lead and held it through the next round of stops. A four car breakaway had formed with Gordon leading Rusty Dale and Rusty's Teammate Jeremy Mayfield. While approaching lap traffic Earnhardt went high trying to pass both Rusty and Gordon. Side by side through turn three and Rusty locks in behind Earnhardt pushing the 7 time Cup Champion to the lead. After a caution Rusty is now in the lead. Rusty leading at Daytona I could not believe it. But he earned it. Rusty was quickly passed by Earnhardt and Dale set his sight in the checkered flag. 50 to go. 40 to go. 30 to go. 20 to go. 10 to go and still in the lead. 5 to go still in the lead and her comes a green rocket Bobby Labonte driving non other than Joe Gibbs cars. Labonte in 2nd with 2 laps to go I let Mike Joy of CBS Sports do the rest...

Mike Joy then said if your favorite driver could not win the Daytona 500, then you would ahve wanted to see this man Dale Earnhardt win and he could not be more right because I had tears in my eyes. A note about the race is I taped the race. It was the first time I taped any NASCAR race and man Dale finally wins.

So Dale wins finally now it’s Rusty's turn in 1999. Boy he was on a mission. I just knew he was going to win the race. All week he was lightning fast. The race started and no matter where his car went he was passing people. Rusty led 104 laps and was the best car. But a late caution came out and his crew chief told Rusty to stay out while everyone pitted. Big mistake. Rusty did all he could and with 10 laps to go Gordon went low and Skinner went high. Rusty in the middle all by himself still leading but he could only hold on so long. He fell like a brick in water finishing 8th. I was heartbroken. This is my most bitter race of all time. Also this is the reason I hate Valentines Day. Not because of women but because the race was on Valentines Day and Rusty should have won. And of all people to win, Jeff Gordon. This was my St. Valentines Day Massacre

The pit crew screwed Rusty out of another win in 2000. Bad pit stops led to a 4th place finish.

The 2001 Daytona 500: We've lost Dale Earnhardt

The 2002 Daytona was spent in the hospital. I collapsed my lung the week before the 500 and spent all week watching NASCAR 24/7. As for the race, Rusty was great but no drafting help got him in the back and he finished outside the top 10.

The 2003 Daytona 500 sucked. Rain caused the rain to end after only 107 laps. I'm still mad about that,

In 2004 I knew Rusty had no shot to win the 500. His car was awful so I wanted to see Dale Jr take it home. Running behind Tony Stewart for most of the race Dale Jr made his move passing Stewart with 17 laps to go. He held on winning his first Daytona 500 on the same day as his father did, February 15th.

Rusty's Last Call:
I knew the day had to come and it finally did, Rusty's Last Daytona 500 start. I wanted him to win so bad but just did not have enough car. Rusty was great all day running in the top 10 most of the race. A late race shuffle moved Rusty back to 10th but a top 10 in his last 500 was awesome. What was also great was the finish. # lead changes in the final 9 laps and after a horrible Dale Jr came out of nowhere to take the lead from Tony Stewart on a breath taking move to the outside. Unfortunately he did not win as Jeff Gordon won his 3rd Daytona 500.

The 2006 Daytona 500 did not really happen to me. I just missed Rusty too much.

Finally after more than a year I picked a new driver during Speedweeks 2007. Dale Jr is my guy. I have loved Jr since his first Busch win at Texas on a last lap pass. The green dropped and all race I was quite relaxed. Then the moment came. With under 10 laps to go Martin Truex was being shuffled out and instead of staying low, Dale Jr went high with his buddy and I screamed at the TV, "What the hell are you doing?" At that moment Bradford came out of the room and said "He's back, Dustin now has a driver", as I sit there in frustration knowing Dale Jr ruined his chances of winning the 500. As for the finish. I'll let you watch.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

New Driver

Here is the press conference of the unveiling of my new driver.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

NASCAR Matinee

Under threatening skies, a storm developed Thursday afternoon in Daytona Beach, FL as 61 drivers took the track at Daytona International Speedway to determine the 43 starters for the 49th running of the Daytona 500 held on Sunday. The rain held off but fast and furious was all around the speedway as drivers raced two and three wide at nearly 190 miles per hour. Tony Stewart won the first Gatorade Dual 150 and Jeff Gordon won the second.

Daytona never lacks drama as the big story so far has been Michael Waltrip Racing caught with having an illegal substance in the in-take manifold of the engine which is a huge no no in NASCAR. MWR was fined 100 points and $100,000 with Waltrip’s crew chief and director of competition were ejected from the speedway. The two time Daytona 500 champion had to start in the rear of his qualifying race but quickly made his way to front. He led some laps and was able to finish 8th guaranteeing him a spot in the Great American Race.

Waltrip’s run was not without incident. He clipped Dale Earnhardt Jr while racing for the lead spinning the 2004 Daytona 500 champion into the grass. Dale Jr did not hit anything and raced his way from last back to finish 2nd behind Sundays favorite Stewart. Stewart raced to the front and dominated the event posting his 2nd straight win of speedweeks including the Budweiser Shootout.

Breaking News, Jeff Gordon has failed post race inspection and has been disqualified. Gordon’s car was too low which allows the Chevy to run quicker. No word yet whether Gordon will be fined. As for the race, Gordon, which used is illegal car sliced through the field in the final 8 laps passing Kurt Busch on the final lap for the apparent victory. With the disqualification, Kurt Busch who finished behind Gordon will be awarded the victory. Gordon will start 42nd on Sunday bumping up all the even starting positions up one row.

Big Winners at the Duals:

-Boris Said: The road Racing Ace finished 11th in the first Dual giving him a spot in the 500 for the first time. The Said-Heads have something to look forward to because Boris finished 4th in the Pepsi 400 at Daytona last July.

-Michael Waltrip Racing: After and embarrassing start of speedweeks, the organization rebounded by having all three drivers make the Daytona 500 field. Waltrip raced his way in, David Reutimann got in due to Said’s finish and Dale Jarrett will take the past champions provisional.

-Mike Wallace: Brother of recently retired NASCAR Legend and former Champion Rusty Wallace passed Sterlin Marlin 100 feet from the finish to qualify for the big race.

-Joe Nemechek: He too raced his way in the 500

Big Losers:

-Jeff Gordon: He is a cheater

-Paul Menard: He is going to be a great driver but he barely missed the 500 for the 2nd straight year.

-Red Bull Racing: Both drivers missed the 500

Lastly I would like to mention I have a major announcement on Saturday. A Press Conference is scheduled for 2pm at University Park and will be broadcasted on YouTube. Be sure to tune in for the announcement.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Great Debate

Throughout life, we all make choices effecting our visions and attitude. I’m faced with one particular decision I have been scratching my head over for the last 30 months. Who will my new driver be in NASCAR since Rusty Wallace retired?

For the back story, I started watching NASCAR in 1989 and ever since my first race viewed on television I have been a Rusty fan. From the days in the 27 car to the black MGD car and finally to the Blue Deuce. Every Sunday I parked myself in front of the TV holding my breath as Rusty and 42 other drivers went 190 mph inches apart. No other sport can match the intensity one feels from the start to the checkered flag. Unlike other sports NASCAR does not have TV timeouts. Yes they have commercials but the race is still going on making ever commercial even more nerve racking. I’ve watched just about ever race from the mid 90s and on. If I could not watch live I would tape the races and starting in 1999 I taped the races even when I could watch them live. I got a lot of historical moments on video from NASCAR.

In late 2004, Rusty announced he would retire after the 2005 season. I knew he would leave one day but I was always in denial about it. 2005 was one of the best seasons I have ever watched. Rusty had a great year and made the chase. I went to both Dover races and saw Rusty finish 5th and 3rd. But the end finally came and I was stuck driverless.

Throughout the entire 2006 season I watched from a far but not with the same passion I once had. Unlike other sports where you pull for the team even when players come and go, NASCAR is all about the driver. I did not have one picked out last season and I still do not have a driver. Coming into the 207 season I knew I needed one so the great debate began for a new driver.
Dale Earnhardt Jr: I love Dale Jr, ever since I first saw him flip at Daytona in 98 during the Busch race. I watched his last lap pass at Texas for his first Busch win later in the year and have been a huge fan since. One would think it’s a slam dunk Dale Jr is the pick but it’s not as easy as it seems. Dale Jr has already made a name for himself. He is a star and going to Big Red would make me feel like a bandwagon jumper. I do own 17 Dale Jr diecast cars and he is a huge Redskins fan but I feel uncomfortable jumping on his train.

Tony Stewart: This cat can drive anything anywhere at anytime. Best driver other than Dale Sr. He even drives for Joe Gibbs who is the coach of my beloved Redskins. Once again, Stewart is already a legend. Two Cup Championships and many more Cup wins.

Clint Bowyer: A rookie in 2006 driver of the Jack Daniels Chevy. I like the way he drove. Calm smooth and when it got down to it, he got up on the wheel and drove hard. He showed he could drive on short tracks, aero tracks and the plate tracks. All around great driver and being young and not being a star yet, puts him as a guy I want to root for. Also JD is my favorite liquor and I got the jacket.

Paul Menard: A rookie in 2007. Drives for DEI so he has the Dale Jr connection. I like his number which is 15. I like his aggressive yet smooth driving style and last year in the march Atlanta race I was very excited watching him race to a 7th place finish. One thing I have noticed is during the weekend I have been quite nervous about him missing the Daytona 500. He is not locked into the field and I have not felt nervous in this way since Rusty last made a pit stop under green.

Those are the four and picking from one of them has been extremely difficult. I need a driver of my own but how can I ever replace Rusty. What do you think?

Saturday, February 10, 2007


Sports are a way of life. Every emotion humans experienced throughout a day, pours out during a sporting event. Hoping your team can pull it out. Excitement of seeing Gilbert Arenus hit a 3 for the win. the heartbreak of watching your team lose in the final sections. The uncertainty whether Dale Jr. made it through the big wreck at Daytona. And the love of your favorite player or team.

Welcome to Living the Moments of Sports. The blog will discuss a wide range of sports topics, profile events and give insight on sports in the everyday life. Everyone is welcome to read and comment on the material. Please try to keep all conversation civil; no ad hominem (personal) attacks. Feel free to question and disagree with me or any of the commenters posts but do not insult my guests or me. My goal is for readers to view sports in a personal way. To bring back all the great memories and to keep the excitment of future sporting events and topics.