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Protect Your Data, And Never Mess With A Photoshop Master

Since Facebook has us all thinking about just how much of our personal information is out on the web, I conducted a simple experiment this morning:

I entered my name into Google

The first group of items that returned were no surprise: Links to articles I’d be quoted in, old stories on me from back when I was in the business world, who I am on Twitter, etc. I expected that.

But then came wave after wave of sites that claimed to have all the information on me going back to the time of my birth, and for just $49, they’d sell it all to you. Many offered teasers in the first paragraph, and after scrolling through them I saw not only my name, but how old I am, my address, my home phone, the names of my wife and daughter, every town I’ve ever lived in, the addresses and home phone numbers of those places, etc.

About the only thing I didn’t see was my cell phone number, social security number and blood type. The rest is out there. Most even offer you the opportunity to click on a link near my address so you can see an aerial photo of my neighborhood and directions for how to drive right to my home so as to not inconvenience you if you decide to stalk me.

This is more than Facebook. It’s like every credit card application, every company you’ve ever registered with, every time  you’ve interacted with the business world, someone has sold your information, and companies out there compile it in a database and try to sell it.

It’s like, why even try?

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It's Time To Answer The "Caps" Question...Again

It’s the Sunday after the final Washington Capitals regular-season game.

I have a decision to make.

Do I come to my senses, realize this relationship with the Caps is only going to get my hopes up every year, then crush my heart like a grape the minute it gets to the second round of the playoffs? Or do I lie to myself, saying what’s happened in the past doesn’t mean anything, and this is the season they go deep into the playoffs.

Yeah, I know. I’m going to lie to myself. Again.

I have scanned several newspapers in search of stories that would help me with the decision. But after reading the online versions of the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Columbus Dispatch, Richmond Times-Dispatch, New York Post and Philadelphia Inquirer in search of comforting information, I could find none.

I did find one story showing how the Denver Post put out a special edition for the opening of baseball season and managed to put on its cover a picture of the stadium – in Philadelphia. I mean, how do you do that, guys? If you’ve been to a game in a stadium – and all sports guys go to games – how do you not know what your own stadium looks like? Particularly (as you see in the picture above with a red arrow pointing at it) when the top of the scoreboard says “Phillies.” You don't have to be Woodward and Bernstein to see that's a big, big clue you’re not in Denver.

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Losing 4 Straight Isn't A Concern; Rendon's Ejection, However...

Now that a few hours have passed since the Nationals lost their fourth straight game, I can say via the benefit of a great meal and a power nap that the team has nothing to worry about losing four in a row.

But they do have something to be concerned about with umpiring crews.

First, the losing streak. Anyone with an ounce of common sense (which we as sports fans are not exactly known for) realizes that unless you go oh-for-April, losing early in the season doesn’t matter. The Nats will be just fine. The only thing that does give me pause is the fact the Nats looked unbeatable the first four games of the season, then turned on a dime and saw their bats fall asleep as they lost four straight.

In a best-of-7 series, avoiding the snoozing-bats-for-4-game syndrome is something Nats teams have not been able to accomplish in their playoff appearances of the past 6 years, so every time it happens, I do find myself thinking “aren’t we past this yet?” But as previously stated, there is plenty of time to figure this out, and better to have slumbering bats in April than October.

Now, to the umpiring. Yes, it was a terrible call on Anthony Rendon. Yes, Major League Baseball should discipline umpire Marty Foster for throwing Rendon out of the game despite Rendon not saying a word and only dropping his bat in frustration. No, that will not happen in a million years.

Which is the cause for concern.

In all my years of watching sports, I’ve never seen a stronger group than the umpire’s union in baseball. They just will not be disciplined. They will not be shown up. And they do not forget.

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He's Smart. Talented. Annoying. And Today, In The HOF

If you have followed sports in the state of Virginia, and spent any time in the western part of the state, you undoubtedly know the name Doug Doughty. Sometime later today, Doug – who has been writing for the Roanoke Times for 44 years – will be recognized for his great work and will be inducted into the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.

I’ve known Doug for over 40 of those 44 years. It would be an understatement to say I’m proud of my old friend, and that the honor is well-deserved. As is the case in such situations, there are stories in newspapers today listing all of his accomplishments over those 44 years.

I, conversely, will now tell a few tales that are NOT in those stories.

I knew of Doug when I was a student at Virginia Tech, but didn't really get to know him until one fateful night during the Richmond Times-Dispatch basketball tournament, where the Hokies and UVA were playing. It was the 70s, and I was working my way through school as a sportswriter for a weekly newspaper called the Blacksburg Sun. After the first round, everyone filed their stories and then went to the media room to imbibe in strong drink, strong stories, and needle each other. As a youngster, I went to watch the likes of Bill Brill, Bill Millsaps, Jennings Culley, Doug and the other top sportswriters in the state. As the hour wore late, however, my youth served me well and I outlasted just about everyone in drink and storytelling. 

I paid a hard price, and when I woke up in the hotel sometime after noon, I felt horrible. Knowing I had to work that evening, I forced myself downstairs to eat something. With my head on fire, I looked across the restaurant and only one other guy was there, wearing sunglasses, eating breakfast. At 3:30 PM. It was Doug, so I went over to his table, paid him a compliment of professional respect for surviving, and a friendship was born.

Six months later I would be invited to join the rest of the crew at the Roanoke Times when their metro sports editor (Bob McLelland) suffered a stroke and the paper needed someone to cover high school sports immediately. The desk I was assigned had me seated with Jack Bogaczyk on one side (who previously has been inducted into the VA Sports HOF), Steve Waid on another (he's in NASCAR's HOF) and Doug (three big reasons I was able to eventually develop into a somewhat decent writer).

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I'm Pulling For RGIII, But Not Because He's A Football Player

I have read with interest the news of Robert Griffin III signing with the Baltimore Ravens, because regardless of his missteps both on and off the field over the years, I like the guy.

His time with the Redskins were both amazing and frustrating, as he may end up being the most polarizing athlete to ever play in D.C. To fans that liked him, he could do no wrong; any other player who took playing time from RGIII – mainly Kirk Cousins – they gave zero credit to.

Perhaps it’s just the way things are in the current electronic village known as social media, but when there was the battle of Sam or Sonny for Redskins QB in the 70s, you liked one or the other; you were not required to like one and absolutely hate the other. But that was RGIII vs. KC in Washington.

I have always been in the camp of liking whoever makes plays and wins games, so I liked RGIII in 2012, and liked Cousins in subsequent years. But my reasons for really liking the Ravens giving Griffin a chance has nothing to do with either of those occurrences.

It has more to do with a warm October Friday night here in Ashburn (there's a fantastic picture of that evening above the headline by Marianne Thiede). Broad Run was playing a high school football game, and there was an event going on for breast cancer awareness called “Pink’d.” Griffin’s popularity was soaring, so students at Broad Run tweeted at him heavily asking that he make the short drive from Redskins Park over to Ashburn Road for the event. They even had a “Pink’d” T-shirt ready and waiting for him.

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WadeJohnson
My wife Becky, ran into him and his wife in Chesterfield Town Center mall. He had his hoodie up over his head obviously trying to... Read More
Monday, 09 April 2018 11:11 AM
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If Nats Aren't Careful, Spanky May Not Be In Our Gang For Long

I can’t help but watch Adam Eaton the first seven games this season and think “if the Nationals aren’t careful, we’re not going to have Spanky in our gang much longer.”

Eaton has started the season like a house on fire, and I get it. He wants to play every game, every inning, take every chance and do all the things he didn’t get to do last season. After major knee surgery, he had to sit and watch last year, and this year he’s going to make up for lost time.

But somebody has to stop him.

If you’ve ever had the type of knee surgery Eaton has had (I have), you work hard in rehab, you lift weights, you walk, you run and you get to the point where you can play sports. Your knee is structurally fine. But only a year later, it still hurts. You still occasionally limp. Midway through the second year, it finally feels normal, but for now,  you learn to deal with it, all the while telling everybody your knee couldn’t be better.

You can see this in Eaton. He’s getting big hits and running the bases, but late in games he’s favoring his good knee. He’s trying not to think about it, but I don’t see how you can avoid it. And this is where your manager needs to save you.

A veteran manager like Davey Johnson or Dusty Baker would have been taking Eaton out late in games and put someone else in defensively. Eaton would have also been rested a few more games than the one he sat out. I can imagine Eaton has fiercely rejected any overtures to play less and ease into the season because he wants to play, but vets like Johnson or Baker would have replied “tough. It’s for your own good.”

That doesn’t seem to be the case with new manager Dave Martinez. My guess is as a new manager, he’s not going to challenge a veteran who wants to play and is performing very well. Understandable.

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Recent Comments
Dave

Proving...

...that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn every now and then
Saturday, 07 April 2018 5:05 PM
Chris G.

So true

Great observation Dave, I noticed him gimpy right out of the gate. Need to treat him like Zimm and give him at least 1 day off pe... Read More
Saturday, 07 April 2018 2:02 PM
Dave

Or Bryce...

His explosion hasn't happened yet. But you know it's coming one game
Saturday, 07 April 2018 3:03 PM
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Eating Some Of These Sandwiches WILL Make You A Po' Boy

While waiting for the Nationals’ home opener to start, I found myself browsing through Twitter, reading of everyone’s experiences in the cold downtown near the Navy Yard. Over about a 10-minute timespan, the pics you see at the top were posted, and you couldn’t help but notice the contrast.

On the left are pics posted by The Washington Post’s Scott Allen, whose assignment today was to go around and sample all the new foods, with no worry of their cost. Today, it was good to be Scott Allen. But Scott, while giving his reviews of the culinary offerings, also posted signs that showed the prices. Scott posted another pic of his meal of a Nashville hot chicken sandwich and some mac and cheese, and while I’m sure it was wonderful, it looked no different than what I could get at Chick-Fil-A.

According to my math, Scott paid $22 for those two items. Usually when I spend that much for an entrée’ at lunch, they bring a steak knife and serve it with dishes like potatoes lyonnaise. Dire Straights must have been thinking about this meal when they sang, "Money for nothing and the (Nashville Hot) Chicken ain't free"...or something like that.

While these pics were coming over Twitter, the pic at right from Augusta National was posted. There is no more exclusive ticket on the planet than going to see The Masters. They could literally charge whatever they wanted and people would pay it. But they don’t. The make a fair profit and leave it at that. Just like when you would go anywhere in the South, a sandwich is 3 bucks. A drink is 2 bucks, etc., etc.

I get the whole paying more for convenience factor at sporting events. But there should be a limit of just how much of a premium you charge before it’s crossing the line. A soft drink should be $2. A hot dog should be $4. Charge all you want for the gourmet, free-range, organic, gently massaged chicken used in a specialty sandwich, but be realistic with the concession stand staples that are part of the ball park experience.

The Atlanta Falcons have done just that with their new stadium, and it’s a smart move. Folks are more inclined to spend more when they believe the prices are reasonable, and I’d rather make a $2 profit off an item and sell 10, then make a $5 profit off the same item and only sell 2. It also extends some good will for when the team is not doing so well, something Dan Snyder appears to have never learned.

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Just When I Thought I Wouldn't Be Needing A Snowblower...

Yesterday, I finally fixed my snowblower, which had choked on a large edition of a Washington Post I had accidentally run over two weeks previously. I jokingly said I needed it to snow one more time to see if I really had repaired everything.

Then I looked at The Weather Channel app this morning. And they did not seem to get the joke.

Their forecast (as you see above) says the high on Saturday will be 36, the low will be 26, and that there is a 100 percent chance of snow. No hedging, no small crack of escapability in the forecast, 100 percent. Dead. Sold. Certain.

How much? The Weather Channel is saying 5 to 8 inches. Not flurries, not the usual spring slushy mess that is over before it begins. Five to 8 inches. A real storm. And that evening, it’s like an infomercial on a cable channel late at night: Wait, there’s more! The chance drops to 50 percent, but it’s for an additional 1 to 3 inches.

So if my math is correct, The Weather Channel is saying we could have 6 to 11 inches of snow on the ground by Sunday morning. Which is the 7th day of April. This would break all records for snowfall in the month of April in Ashburn, Northern Virginia, and probably most of the Eastern United States.

I am usually very skeptical of any forecast that calls for large amounts of snow, no matter what time of year. Forecasts for big snows make money. They drive ratings in television, clicks on the internet and traffic to websites. Rarely are they true, although at least three times in the 18 years I’ve lived up here, the perfect storm has come together and dumped two feet of snow in my driveway.

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Chris G.

No Snow in April, I refuse to ...

February warmest ever, March colder with snow, now this in April---Kammerer just trying to drive up ratings. HAS to be global war... Read More
Wednesday, 04 April 2018 9:09 PM
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Yes Tim, I Know They Play 162, But Still....

I’ve slept on it, but this morning I have the same feeling.

Last night’s Nationals game kind of annoyed me.

It’s not that they lost to the Braves – the team was going to eventually lose some time – but it was the cavalier way they sort of gave it away. There were moves that could have been made that might have turned what ended up being a lost cause into something salvageable. But new manager Dave Martinez just sort of went with the flow. Which is the part that annoys me.

You can’t really blame starting pitcher A.J. Cole. He is what he is – a serviceable, at best average pitcher who at times can give you a couple of really good innings. But the Nationals keep believing if they keep sending him out as a starter, maybe one more chance is going to make a difference. As the noted philosopher Harry Callahan once stated, “a man’s got to know his limitations.”

His manager needs to know those limitations too. When someone told Oilers Coach Bum Phillips that his prized running back Earl Campbell couldn’t even finish running a mile, Phillips replied “when it’s first and a mile, I won’t give it to him.” Last night it was first and a mile, and Martinez still kept giving Cole the ball.

It’s only one game, and I have a dear friend named Tim who for 40 years has reminded me “they play 162” whenever I complain about a baseball team. He also says that when you say “good morning” or “you want a hot dog?” but you get the idea. Each game is just a small part of an entire season.

But I’ve also learned in baseball you respect a streak. The team had won 4 straight to start the season, something they’d never done in team history since the franchise moved to Washington. They’d never trailed this season in any inning this season. In the top of the first, they put up 3 runs and kept that streak going. You could see it in the dugout, that feeling of confidence and “we can take on anything” because up until the bottom of the first, they’d faced no adversity.

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