Brann...it's good for you.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Chadwick Stokes



It's been a LONG time since I shared any music new to me on here.  The Post had an article today on the Dispatch lead singer and solo artist Chadwick Stokes, who's been touring the country by stopping in fans' living rooms.  He'll be in DC next week.  I looked up some of his new stuff online, and this catchy one is definitely worth a listen or two (or more). 

Monday, November 24, 2014

A tale of two teams




George Mason men's basketball and Dallas Cowboys football are definitely a couple teams heading in different directions right now. 

Mason lost its third and final tourney game in Puerto Rico yesterday morning/afternoon to fall to 1-4 on the young season.  Mason had a chance to beat the CAA's College of Charleston with seconds to go, but Vaughan Gray decided to take a three-point shot instead of someone inside taking a two (you know...the place where we had a decisive rebounding advantage).  For the game, Mason was led again by newcomer Shevon Thompson, who finished with 12 pts. and 14 rebounds.  Holloway and newbie Porter each chipped in 11, and starting PG Moore added 10.  Mason's 17 turnovers didn't help their efforts.  


Hey, at least Mason got a free trip the islands.  The next team to beat us:  Manhattan, next Saturday at home (not so sweet anymore).

As for the Cowboys, they fought off the pesky Giants to pull out the win in comeback fashion in the NYC suburbs.  Stud WR Dez Bryant (above) pulled in the game-winning TD with about a minute to go.  For the game, Tony Romo led the way with 4 TDs, including another to Bryant.  DeMarco Murrary did what he's been doing all season long, with another 100+ effort.  

With the win, Dallas improves to an impressive 8-3 and sets the stage for a HUGE match-up with Philly on Thanksgiving.  Both teams stand 8-3 going into the first of their two key division match-ups in the next few weeks.  Since there's still a ton of other teams still in the playoff hunt (Arizona, Seattle, San Francisco, Green Bay, Detroit, etc.), winning the division is momumental this season.  Dallas needs to get this key victory at home sweet home.

From the Dallas paper:

That left the heroics to Bryant, to Beasley and the gimpy 34-year-old quarterback who can still maneuver his way around a field and a clock that’s winding down.

Philadelphia won rather easily Sunday against Tennessee, and for much of this New Jersey night, it appeared the Eagles would bring a one-game division lead to town for the Thanksgiving showdown at AT&T Stadium.

Keeping their unbeaten road record intact was no easy feat for these Cowboys. But their winning drive actually came rather easily given the stakes. Romo left the jaw-dropping highlights to the Giants rookie receiver, simply pocketed the win for his club and moved on about his business.

“Tony’s playing at a top level,” Jerry Jones said. “The way he’s working with his coordinator — that may be one of the top two or three things that make us different this year.”

 GO MASON.  GO COWBOYS.  Two teams...two directions:  At least right now.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Close...but, no cigar: Mason falls to the Lobos in P.R.

Well, at least it wasn't an embarrassment.  I think I'll be saying that mantra a lot this season...or maybe I hope so.

George Mason defeated by New Mexico 69-58 on Friday night in Puerto Rico in a game that was as close as five points in the 2nd half.  But, our attempt at a comeback wasn't enough as the Lobos eventually took over and earned their first win in the Tip-Off tourney.  Mason is 0-2 in P.R. with a match-up vs. the CAA's College of Charleston on Sunday morning at 11:30 am on ESPN3.  We need to get off the island with at least one win, especially against a "lesser" league team in C of C - especially the league we bolted for the A-10.

There was one bright spot in the game.  One of Hewitt's last signees was a JUCO transfer named Shevon Thompon, who has looked incredibly sharp since the season started.  He had his best game as a Patriot and Div. I player last night.  Thompson finished with 21 pts. and 19 rebounds (a tourney record).  He was the only Patriot to do anything; in fact, if he had a little help from guys like Holloway and Jenkins, this may have been a Mason win.  Thompson has his 2nd double-double as a Patriot.  I love seeing his lefty stroke, too.

I'll give credit to Senior Guard Corey Edwards, too, who chipped in 7 pts. off the bench.  He's no longer starting, but he's clearly a nice option to have behind Sophomore starter Marquis Moore.  Patrick Holloway, normally our leading scorer, was pathetic this game - he finished 3/17 from the floor.  Julian Royal, who followed Hewitt from Georgia Tech:  2 pts. on 1/5 shooting in 15 minutes. 

I'll give credit, too, to Freshman big man Trey Porter from nearby Potomac High School.  I love Porter's height (nearly 7'0), but he does eventually need to put on some muscle/weight.  He was 7/8 from the free throw line last night, which is a shock for big men at Mason.  Porter and Thompson make a nice duo down low; we just need Porter to start converting some baskets along with those free throws.  If Copes EVER comes back from ANOTHER injury, we could have an imposing front line of those three guys.

There were positives, but not a win.  At 1-3, we're about what I expected.  We have a chance to beat C of C, but the upcoming schedule isn't forgiving.  We have possible losses vs. Manhattan, ODU, No. Iowa, and even Iona coming before the holiday break.  This team will be a work-in-progress all season long.  It's not going to save Hewitt's job, so let's just hope the potential transfers aren't too painful.

GO MASON.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Mason is embarrassed and destroyed by WVU in Puerto Rico

Ugh.

Well, so much for Mason pulling an upset over West Virginia in the first game in a tourney down in Puerto Rico.

George Mason was destroyed by WVU 91-65 in a game that I turned off at halftime.  Based on the final score that I looked at later, my prediction of a non-comeback was accurate.

For the pathetic game, Mason turned the ball over 24 times, including 16 in the first half.  We were dominated in the rebounding department and 2nd-chance points.  The game was incredibly difficult to watch - we had no idea how to break their full-court press without turning it over.  This game looked like Kentucky playing my high school team.  

Mason was led by Patrick Holloway with 17 pts. and newcomer Shevon Thompson with 14 pts. and 6 rebounds.  The gimp, Erik Copes, was still hurt and could have been a factor in last night's bloodbath with his girth.  Or not.

Mason takes on New Mexico at 7 pm tonight on ESPN3.  I may be watching.  Or not.

GO MASON.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mason hangs on and beats Princeton for win no. 1




It was a tale of two halves, and Mason definitely was better in the 1st.  But, the Patriots held on on Sunday afternoon to defeat Princeton 63-60 and get the year's first win.  Tyler & I went solo to a basketball game for the first time together, and had a great time.  He even got to meet Mason legend Lamar Butler from the 2006 Final Four team on our way into the Patriot Center (I stopped Butler and told him Tyler and me had just watched the Final Four video this week, and Tyler commented how good Butler was on the team). 

For Mason, the team was led by guard Patrick Holloway with 19 pts.  Expect him to be the leading scorer nearly every game this season.  He was followed by PG Marquis Moore with 11 pts.  I was impressed by big man and Mason newcomer Shevon Thompson down low, who finished with 8 pts. (all in the 1st half) and 9 rebounds.  Hewitt played a ton of new guys:  Thompson, Lockett, Porter, and Jackson from this year's recruiting class all got a lot of minutes.  This is a very young team with plenty of potential. 

We have a lot of quality height that can be an advantage if used correctly.  Jalen Jenkins had an off game offensively (7 pts.), but still finished with 7 rebounds.  Erik Copes evidently hurt his shoulder in the first game vs. Cornell, so he was sitting out this game.  Shocker...Copes is hurt.  (Sarcasm intended.)  Marko Gujanicic, a feast or famine guy, barely played in this game after a lot of minutes as a freshman and sophomore.

With the win, Mason improves to 1-1 and takes on West Virginia this Thursday night in a tournament in Puerto Rico.  The game will be televised on ESPNU at 7:30 pm.  

GO MASON.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Another long winter looms for Mason hoops fans

Last night, Mason opened its 2014-15 season against a team who went 2-26 last season and only beat one Division 1 team.

We lost.

Mason was defeated by Cornell 68-60 in a game that wasn't that close.  Even though Mason had a decisive advantage down low, the Patriots resorted to launching outside shots that they missed.  Then, they missed some more.  

This was the first opening night game that I missed in a few years, and I'm glad I wasn't there.  Tyler and I are attending tomorrow's match-up vs. Princeton - who, unlike Cornell, is picked finish in the top part of the Ivy - and it could be worse than Friday night's travesty.  

For the game, Mason was led by Patrick Holloway with 22 points.  He will be the leading scorer in many losses this season.  In the paint, Mason was led by Jalen Jenkins with 10 pts. and newcomer Shevon Thompson with 10 rebounds.

From the Post:

The true measure of Paul Hewitt’s George Mason squad will not come until the Atlantic 10 schedule kicks into gear, but if the season opener Friday night was any indication, the Patriots and their impatient fans are in for a very long winter.

One year after a bruising debut season in the A-10, the Patriots began the 2014-15 campaign with a dreary performance. They lost. They lost at home. They lost to Cornell, which beat one Division I opponent last season. 

The Patriots led for only a few minutes during the 68-60 defeat before 6,007. They shot 31 percent from the field and 52 percent from the free throw line. Instead of taking advantage of superior height and strength, they launched 27 three-pointers (making seven) and scored just 18 points in the lane.
Favored to win by double digits, Mason trailed by 15 points before a futile late surge by junior guard Patrick Holloway, who had a game-high 22 points. 

The Big Red made 6 of 8 three-pointers in the first half and 9 of 18 overall to win the first meeting between the programs. Shonn Miller, who missed last season with a shoulder injury, had 21 points and 13 rebounds and Robert Hatter added 21 points. The duo combined to hit 7 of 11 three-pointers.
“I guess we just lost sight of what works for us, and that is throwing the ball inside,” Holloway said. “We got caught up in trying to match their threes, which is nearly impossible because they made nearly everything. That is when the lead kept going up and up and we started taking bad shots.”

Holloway and sophomore Jalen Jenkins (10 points) were Mason’s only effective players. The rest of the team shot 9 of 41. 

Ugh.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Copes piece in the Times


Mason Senior Erik Copes has never been one of my favorite Patriots.  Between injuries, lackadaisical play, and dumb suspensions, he's been a big disappointment considering his top 50 in the country status prior to entering Mason.

Copes was featured in Wednesday's Washington Times as a player seeking redemption in his final season in Fairfax.  Let's hope the article is true.  Mason needs him to be a leader and dominate inside.  He has the talent to average 15 ppg and 10 rebounds, but the numbers have never been close.  Paired with Mason Sophomore Jalen Jenkins, the two big men could be a godsend for a team that lost its two leading scorers from last season.

From the Times:

“I don’t think people are expecting much out of [Copes], but he’s had a great offseason,” Hewitt said. “I think he has a chance to fulfill a lot of the promise that he showed when he walked in the door here three years ago. … If he stays healthy, I think he can be as good as anybody in this league.”

ESPN ranked Copes the 56th-best high school prospect in the 2011 recruiting class. His senior year in Philadelphia, he led Imhotep Charter to a state title and earned first-team all-state honors. This resume created high expectations for Copes, which he has since failed to realize for a variety of reasons.

and...

He’s gotten in great shape,” Hewitt said. “He’s in much better physical condition than I think he ever has been. And because of his conditioning, I think he’ll be able to stay on the court longer, stay out of foul trouble and, overall, he’ll be a much more effective player.”
Copes not only showed off quicker feet, but also an improved jump shot this August as George Mason went unbeaten in four exhibition games in Spain.

“What we’re trying to do is get him to play the way that he played in Spain for the whole year because if he plays that,” junior forward Jalen Jenkins said, “I don’t see a big man in the A-10 that can stop him.”

But the pounds of sweat that Copes shed this summer won’t be able to reap rewards until the season starts. And when it does, no matter what the polls predict, Copes plans to compete for a championship, again.

“I don’t care what anybody says,” Copes said. “I don’t care if they got us picked 13th to win the league. … None of that stuff really matters. At the end of day, what matters is when the lights come on and the ball goes in the air, who’s going to bring their game and not their name.”

I like the confidence.  Let's see if it translates on the court, starting on Friday night vs. Cornell.

GO MASON.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Mason preview in the Post

It's hard to believe we're only days away from the start of Mason's 2014-15 college basketball season.  This is probably the least excited I've been since the early 90s, so I'm hoping things change with a good start or a better run in our 2nd year in the A-10 than expected.  

From the Post, a preview on Mason:

George Mason
season story lines
Improvement in Year 2?

For a program accustomed to success in the Colonial Athletic Association, George Mason’s ambitious move to the Atlantic 10 last season was a jarring experience. The Patriots finished next to last with a 4-12 conference record (1-7 at home) and lost to bottom-dwelling Fordham in the first round of the league tournament. Those transition problems, combined with the graduation of the top two scorers, have tempered expectations this winter. George Mason was picked 13th out of 14 teams in the A-10’s preseason poll. The Patriots have reason for optimism after being competitive in conference play last season: seven defeats were by six or fewer points, three of which came in overtime.

Ready for something new

It’s an important season for Coach Paul Hewitt. He is in the fourth season of a five-year contract worth about $700,000 annually and still is seeking an NCAA tournament berth with the Patriots. Hewitt will be hard-pressed to do it this season, but with seven newcomers, including Georgia Tech transfer Julian Royal, new Athletic Director Brad Edwards will want to see signs of improvement. Royal, a 6-foot-7 6-foot-8 junior, appeared in 54 games for the Yellow Jackets and averaged 3.2 points. An intriguing addition is Shevon Thompson, a 6-foot-11 center who averaged 11.2 rebounds for Harcum (Pa.), a junior college final four team. The freshman class includes 6-10 Trey Porter, an honorable mention All-Met from Potomac (Va.).
 
Look who’s back

Hewitt will need to compensate for the departure of Gs Sherrod Wright and Bryon Allen , who combined to average 31 points last season . Wright finished his career as the sixth-highest scorer in program history . As freshmen, PG Marquise Moore started 19 games and Jalen Jenkins led the team in rebounding with 6.0 per outing while averaging 7.2 points . Junior G Patrick Holloway is the leading returning scorer at 8.7 ppg with a team-high 51 three-pointers, despite starting just three times. Hewitt will also need senior F Erik Copes to finally fulfill his potential after a promising freshman season.

Cowboys return to their winning ways



Broken curfew or not, Dallas did quite well across the pond in London on Sunday.  Granted, I hoped they could beat a 1-win team and not falter, and they took care of business 31-17.  It helped to have Tony Romo back (3 TDs) and Dez Bryant playing like he's capable of playing (2 TDs).  Even Mr. Reliable, Jason Witten, helped by scoring the first TD of the game for Dallas.  

From the Dallas paper:

5.) Where do they go from here? If Romo is on the field for the next six games the Cowboys should be the favorites to win the division. It’s a two-team race with Philadelphia. The Cowboys finish with Chicago, Indianapolis, the New York Giants, Washington and two games against the Eagles. Philadelphia has Carolina on Monday, Green Bay, Tennessee, Seattle, Washington and the New York Giants to go along with the two Dallas games. I’ll take the Romo-led Cowboys over the Mark Sanchez/Nick Foles-led Eagles down the stretch.

The Cowboys are clearly in a position to right the wrongs of the last few seasons, but it comes down to them.  After a much-needed rest, the Giants and Eagles loom.  Both are capable, any given Sunday (or Thursday, or Monday...).  I'm hoping Dallas isn't satisfied with 7 wins.  We need more.

GO COWBOYS.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

GOP dominates in mid-year elections

It was a very, very good night for the GOP, who took back control of the U.S. Senate, dominated the House, and even took back a statehouse in a left-dominant state (Maryland).  The final Senate numbers are yet to be determined based on some recounts (including Virginia) and run-off elections in the next month (Louisiana).  Nonetheless, it is guaranteed that the resident on Pennsylvania Ave - B.O., if you've forgotten him...and many have lately - is a lame duck for the last two years of his office.  

From the Post:

Democratic candidates did all they could to distance themselves from Obama this fall. On Tuesday, 55 percent of those who voted said they disapproved of his handling of the presidency. But the 44 percent approval was on the top edge of where he has hovered all year. Meanwhile, 8 in 10 voters said they disapproved of Congress, and both political parties were judged negatively.

Slightly more voters said the country is seriously off track than in 2010. And more voters said they wanted to send a message opposing Obama than said they wanted to send a message of support. Those anti-Obama voters spoke with a roar.

It's time to start really thinking about 2016.   Could governors like Wisconsin's Scott Walker or Ohio's John Kasich - reelected on Tuesday night - be frontrunners?  We'll find out.  Bring it on.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Fall soccer comes to a close



Tyler's fall soccer season came to a close on a frigid and windy morning at Valley View Park in Nokesville.  His team scored two late goals to get a 4-4 draw, and Tyler scored his 7th goal on the season.  He had a hat trick last weekend.  Tyler showed a ton of improvement over the course of the season; I was impressed by his ability to take advantage of a goal-scoring opportunity when it came his way, and his tenacity going after the ball on offense.  He did a great job positioning himself on defense as well.  I look forward to seeing what he can do in the spring season.  

Next up:  His first ever season of basketball.  We're trying the nearby Upward league at the Baptist church in Warrenton,which will be less intense than the nearby Gainesville basketball league.  It is a little too preachy with the Christian spin, but I don't think our son will mind.  The season starts in January and runs through March. 

Happy Halloween, 2014






Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Halloween Safari



An annual tradition took place on Saturday night when we took part in the local Halloween Safari at Bull Run Mountain.  The conservancy has volunteers/employees dress up as animals and plants native to the mountain, and talk about their impact/contributions to the local area and the state of Virginia.  In addition, there's some folk singing and marshmallow roasting.  Julie's Girl Scouts troop always has a great time when they go. 

Enough said.

On Monday night, the Cowboys lost to the Redskins 20-17 in OT.  Their offensive line, still excellent at opening holes for DeMarco Murray (who had another 100+ yard game and now has over 1000 for the season), did not contain the Skins' pass rush successfully.  Losing Tony Romo for a period of time hurt, but I give credit to back-up Brandon Weeden (a former Yankees baseball prospect) for stepping in and doing a very good job of getting his team 10 points on the board.  

Enough said.

Next up:  The Cowboys (6-2, still in 1st place ahead of the Eagles) take on the tough Cardinals this weekend.  It's a big game for Dallas.  We'll see how they respond after their 2nd loss of the season.

GO COWBOYS.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Our visit to the North Star State






























Back in May, we took advantage of a special deal Frontier Airlines was offering when they started new service out of nearby Dulles Airport.  My family of four could travel to many cities in the U.S. for $120 - for the four of us.  We purchased tickets from Dulles to Minneapolis based on the Twin Cities being a very family-friendly city, and also having an opportunity to visit Julie's birth city of Duluth, MN (about 2.5 hours north).  

We left VA for MN last Wed. and returned on Sunday afternoon, and I'd recommend the state and cities we visited to all.  In Duluth, we visited the hospital where Julie was born and the street where she lived when her dad was stationed there for the U.S. Army in the early 70s.  We enjoyed the Canal Park area of the city and seeing massive Lake Superior.  In terms of eats, the Duluth Grill was excellent.  Looking back, we would have liked more time there.

Minneapolis/St. Paul has tons to offer families.  We spent one whole day at the Mall of America, which was a ton of fun.  Where else can you visit an amusement park in the middle of a gigantic and excellently-stocked mall?  The Science Museum of Minnesota was very impressive, as was the breathtaking Cathedral of St. Paul.  In terms of eats, I'd recommend Brit's Pub in downtown Minneapolis (very close to Target HQ).  We were lucky to eat outside on a beautiful mid-70s day.  I'd love to be there during lawn bowling season (which runs May - Sept.). 

I would go back to both areas; there's tons of outside activities up north on Lake Superior that we could do in the spring and summer.  We definitely needed more than a day (or less) in Duluth.  In the Twin Cities, I'd love to see a Wild game (there were traveling west while we were there) and see the Twins at Target Field in the summer.  There are also a lot more museums and restaurants that we didn't get to try this time.

Thanks for the hospitality, North Star State.  We'll be back, one day.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Cowboys improve to 6-1 with division win over the Giants



It was another good Sunday for Cowboys fans.  Dallas defeated the New York Giants 31-21 behind the record-breaking running of DeMarco Murray, precise passing of Tony Romo to a stable of talented wide-outs and tight ends, and a defense that's wreaking havoc.  Murray gained 128 yards on 28 carries (and 1 touchdown), passing Jim Brown and becoming the first RB in NFL history to gain over 100 yards in seven games to start a season.  Romo had another strong afternoon, finishing with three TDs to Gavin Escobar and Terrence Williams, and big plays all day to Jason Witten and Dez Bryant.  Lastly, how about that D?  What was supposed to be one of the league's worst has turned into the opposite.  They created turnovers in key moments on Sunday when the Giants were driving.  They're only getting better each week.

With the win, the Cowboys improve to 6-1 and they've now won 6 games in a row.  Next up:  Hated rival Washington on Monday, October 27.  Washington won its 2nd game of the season on Sunday, and is now starting a 3rd-string QB in Colt McCoy.  Dallas can't overlook anyone, but they really need to destroy the Skins and make a statement.  

Keep rollin', Boys.  I like what I'm seeing.

GO COWBOYS.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mason picked 13th of 14 in A-10 preseason coaches poll

Well, Mason hoops fans:  We have motivation.  It's a no respect year for George Mason basketball, and after last year's 11-win season, can you blame the A-10 coaches?  Mason was picked today to finish 13th of 14th with only Fordham (who beat us last year) behind us.  It's going to be a very, very long season in Fairfax if projections are correct...let's pray that they're wrong.

As expected, VC-phew was picked to finish no. 1 in the A-10 and they're expected to do good things nationally as well. The teams, 1-14, from the A-10 release:

The Rams, the 2013-14 Atlantic 10 Championship runners-up, garnered all 28 first-place votes to total 392 points in the poll. VCU, which finished 26-9 overall last year and 12-4 in the A-10, has two players on the Preseason All-Conference First Team and three total preseason honorees.

George Washington was picked to finish second with 343 points. Last year, the Colonials made their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007, finishing 11-5 in conference play and 24-9 overall. Dayton, which finished last season with a magical run to the NCAA Elite Eight, was picked to finish third with 339 points.

Massachusetts was selected fourth with 294 points, followed by Richmond in fifth with 261 points. Rhode Island was picked to finish sixth with 253 points, followed by La Salle with 221 points. Defending Atlantic 10 Championship Saint Joseph’s was chosen eighth with 201 points, and last year’s regular season champion, Saint Louis, garnered 181 points for ninth place.

St. Bonaventure (130 points), Duquesne (94 points) and league newcomer Davidson (84 points) were chosen 10th through 12th. George Mason and Fordham rounded out the 14-team poll, respectively.

Rounding out the 14-team poll...an afterthought.  That's what Mason has become eight years since a historic Final Four run...an afterthought.  

Well, Mason:  It's time to prove the doubters wrong.  Guys like Holloway, Jenkins, Copes, Gujanicic, and others should be itching to redeem themselves for last year's horrific season.  Newcomers like Jackson, Lockett, Porter, Royal, and others should be itching to show what they can do in the A-10.  There is talent on this team.  But, there's also a ton of youth.  This team may still be a year away from competing, but at that point, it may be too late to save Paul Hewitt's job at Mason.  If he goes, it's likely some talent will leave as well via transfer to other schools.  It's now or never.

Mason opens up with Cornell at home on November 14.  One month.  Let's shock the A-10, Patriots.  

GO MASON.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Could the Cowboys be for real?



Going into Sunday's match-up with the defending champion Seahawks, I didn't have high expectations.  I simply didn't want the Cowboys to be blown out.  Boy, was I wrong.

Dallas upset Seattle 30-23 in a game that wouldn't have been as close if not for a couple Dallas mistakes.  The Cowboys dominated in nearly every aspect on Sunday in Seattle's home stadium.  Leading the way again was the record-breaker above, Dallas RB DeMarco Murray, who tied a NFL record with the legendary Jim Brown by gaining over 100 yards in six straight games to start a season.  Murray gained 115 yards on 29 carries and scored the game's final TD.

The Dallas D is turning on to be much better than expected, too.  From the Cowboys website:

The Cowboys defense hassled Seattle at every turn, as the front seven limited the potent duo of Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch to just 80 rushing yards. Wilson tried on plenty of occasions to break containment on Dallas pass rushers, and he was repeatedly denied.
“It started with locking in and making sure that he didn’t control the game,” Garrett said. “I thought our guys did a good job of that for the most part”

When Wilson took to the air, the Dallas defense answered the call. 



Brandon Carr and Barry Church came up with goal line breakups, and Orlando Scandrick broke up Wilson’s fourth-down heave near the two-minute warning. The third-year quarterback managed just 126 passing yards, and his final attempt was fittingly intercepted by Rolando McClain.
“I’m so proud of them – all of our corners, man. We all made plays on the ball, we all fought to the end,”


Scandrick said. “We didn’t back down. I’m so proud of my group of guys.”

Seattle had time at the end of the game after Dallas went ahead by 3 to drive down the field and tie it up.  The Dallas D made sure this game ended.  With the win, Dallas improves to 5-1 (tied for 1st with Philly) and they've won five games in a row.  

Next up:  A NFC battle with the New York Giants, who just got their butts whipped by the Eagles last night and lost their top WR Victor Cruz to a season-ending injury.  Dallas can't get too confident or overlook anyone, though.  There's been too many seasons of collapses.  This one, for now, feels different.  We'll see.

GO COWBOYS.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Nats choke in October once again



On the national stage for the 2nd time in 3 years as the team with the best record in the NL (or the entire league: 2012), the Nationals once again fell short of advancing past the NLDS.  The Nats lost 3-2 to the San Francisco Giants last night in S.F. ending the series 3-1 and their 2014 season.  They lost every game in this series by one run.  For Washington, a slew of free agents could depart after the 2015 season, so the window is closing on DC being a title town in baseball.  No pressure, DC.

Last night's game came down to the crucial 7th inning.  The Nats and Giants were tied, after playoff sensation and 21-year old talent Bryce Harper hit a HR in the top of the 7th to tie up the score at 2-2.  

From the Post:


But Game 4, the finale, will be remembered for the way Williams tried to coax the Nationals through the seventh inning. After Harper’s blast pulled the Nats evenin a do-or-die game, Williams stuck to the same plan he would have used in a July affair against the New York Mets. He called on veteran Matt Thornton and Barrett, the rookie. 

“Because those are our seventh-inning guys,” Williams said. “That’s how we set this up. We had two lefties at the top of the inning, and if we got to the righties, we were going to Barrett. That’s what he’s done for us all year long. We’re certainly not going to use our closer in the seventh inning.” 

Against Thornton, Joe Panik smacked a one-out single to left. Thornton stayed in to face right-hander Buster Posey, who followed with a rocket to center. Suddenly, the go-ahead run stood on second, Hunter Pence walked to the plate and the Nationals’ season hung in the balance. 

Williams walked to the mound, turned to the bullpen and called not for Clippard, an all-star, or Drew Storen, who led the majors in relief ERA. He didn’t consider using Strasburg, whom he said was available before the game but afterward said would be used in “emergency only.” 

“Anything’s possible in a game like that,” Clippard said. “Stras had his spikes on. Who knows?”

Williams did not veer from his season-long plan. He summoned Barrett. 

“We have to have our guys there if we get a lead there,” Storen said. “We’ve had great late-inning success. Our hitters are still fighting. With the bullpen we have, I feel comfortable putting anybody in any situation.”

Barrett had been murder on right-handed hitters all season and had shown an ability to handle big moments — on opening day, in his major league debut, he pitched the ninth inning of a scoreless game. Barrett had not faced circumstances like this.

“It was a little more magnified than the other games, for sure,” Barrett said. “Since my debut, I came in that same situation, tie ballgame. All those outings that I’ve been through in those spots definitely prepared me for tonight.”

Barrett nibbled around the plate with his fastball and walked Pence to load the bases. The bullpen remained dormant, and so Barrett faced Pablo Sandoval — a hitter who flails against lefties but crushes right-handed pitchers. 

With a 2-1 count, Barrett dumped a fastball in the dirt that scooted past Ramos. Panik charged home with the go-ahead run.

“I didn’t make my pitches,” Barrett said. “The spiked fastball is the one that hurt the most. I got lucky with the wild pitch over the backstop. The bottom line is, I didn’t make pitches when I had to, and it cost us the game.”

Manager Matt Williams' managerial decisions when it comes to relief pitching during this series will be questioned for years. However, he did what he usually does last night and in the 18 inning affair this past weekend.  Both decisions didn't work in his favor.

The Nationals have the talent to win it all in 2015.  But, do they have the mental fortitude to come back from their latest playoff setback?  We'll find out starting in April. 

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Don't look now...but, the Cowboys are a solid 4-1 to start 2014



I'm no fool.  I know the Cowboys are the Cowboys...a good start to the season means little when the season's on the line in December.  BUT, I'll give credit to my football team for starting off 2014 with a strong 4-1 record,which includes a 20-17 nail-biting victory in OT today over the Houston Texans.  The keys so far are timely passing by Romo to Bryant and Williams; an incredible RB in DeMarco Murray, who is so far staying healthy (knock on wood) and running at a NFL record pace; and a a much-maligned defense in the preseason who's turning into something much better than the league's worst D.  

Next week's big match-up vs. the defending champion Seahawks will tell us a lot, but it may not since we're going to their place:  No one, not even the best teams, are expected to win there.  Let's pay more attention to the Giants game that follows, since that game is at home vs. a key division rival (who's also playing better football lately).  Dallas is currently tied with Philly at 4-1 for the NFC East division lead.

Keep it up, Cowboys.  It's a LONG season.

GO COWBOYS.

It's that time of the year again: Apple-picking








It's been a beautiful fall day in Northern Virginia, so we decided to take advantage of it by heading west for our annual pilgrimage to a nearby (an hour or less) apple orchard.  Today, we tried a new one to us:  Marker Miller Orchards in Warrenton.  It was definitely worth the visit.  It's only about an hour from Bristow/Gainesville, and has plenty of apples and family-friendly activities.  There's a very nice farm store on site as well.  

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