Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Nationals, Orioles Clinch Division Titles on the Same Night

"We are so proud of this organization," said Ted Lerner, managing principal owner of the Nationals. "Watching them clinch their second NL East division championship in three years means so much to our fans, our city and our family. [General manager] Mike Rizzo and [manager] Matt Williams should be commended for building and leading a championship club."
Washington Post:
The Nationals and Baltimore Orioles have become virtual locks to clinch division titles this week and gain entry into the Major League Baseball playoffs. Their combined might has given the region its best chance to host a World Series since the Orioles’ championship in 1983, even kindling thoughts of a Beltway World Series.

The Nationals and Orioles each made the postseason in 2012, too, but this fall carries more promise. In 2012, the Nationals were upstarts who won 98 games with a young roster that no one saw coming, and the Orioles sneaked into their first postseason since 1997 by virtue of winning a one-game playoff between non-division winners with the best records.

“I guess you could say that we kind of expect it a little more now,” Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “Two years ago, it was almost like — I don’t know if you’d call it a shock. But it was like, ‘Wow, we must be pretty good.’ Now, I think we’re a pretty established team.”

This season, the Nationals and Orioles have become teams to be feared by the rest of baseball as much as enjoyed by the region. The Nationals have the best record (86-63) and largest division lead in the National League, ahead of the Atlanta Braves by 111 / 2 games in the East. The Orioles had lapped the American League East, leading by 121 / 2 games with an 90-60 record, second in the league to the Los Angeles Angels.

Despite injuries that could have derailed their season, the Orioles have persevered behind one of the most powerful lineups in baseball and a patchwork pitching staff run by Buck Showalter, regarded as one of the brightest managers in baseball. Although the Nationals will not match their win total from 2012, a deeper lineup, better rotation and the presence of star pitcher Stephen Strasburg have put them in stronger position under first-year Manager Matt Williams.

“We’ve got different personnel,” Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth said. “We’ve got more depth. We’re a deeper team. We’re a better team. We’re more experienced. We’re going to have Stephen Strasburg versus not having Stephen Strasburg. I think we’re more well rounded. We were pretty raw in 2012. We’re a little bit more polished now.”

In 2012, the Nationals clinched the NL East at Nationals Park after a loss. Players spilled onto the field and sprayed champagne into the seats. The Nationals’ recent hot stretch coupled with the Braves’ collapse has all but ensured their party will come on the road this year. The Nationals can clinch by winning Tuesday night in Atlanta. The Orioles, meanwhile, can clinch at home with a win Tuesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays.

In 2012, the Nationals had the best record in the NL and opened the playoffs on the road because of a scheduling quirk: the one-game playoff had just been introduced, and MLB needed to shorten the number of travel days in the series, so the Nationals played two games in St. Louis before three in Washington. This year, all Division Series will have a traditional 2-2-1 format.

The Nationals’ and Orioles’ dual excellence, then, could lead to an early-October extravaganza, a weekend of baseball unlike any the region has experienced. As long as they both maintain one of the top two records in their respective leagues, four division series playoff games would take place from Oct. 2 to Oct. 4, with both Camden Yards and Nationals Park hosting playoff games Oct. 3.

The prospect may be too irresistible not to consider for a Mid-Atlantic baseball fan. But the Nationals have consciously blocked it out of their minds. Baseball players survive their marathon season with mental blinders, never straying from the day’s task. All-star pitcher Jordan Zimmermann said he did not pack protective goggles for a champagne celebration.

“When the time comes and we get closer, I’m sure someone will get a bunch of stuff,” Zimmermann said. “Right now, we’re not looking at that.”

After the Nationals beat the New York Mets three times in four games this weekend — while the Orioles were taking three of four from the Yankees in Camden Yards — Werth admitted a clinch “seems inevitable.” But he also stressed the importance of finishing strong to claim home-field advantage in the postseason by virtue of having the league’s best record.

Williams, who played in three World Series as a player, continues to react to any suggestion that the Nationals have ensured a playoff spot as if he swallowed a bug.

“It’s human nature to look ahead,” Williams said. “We cannot do that, and we must not do that. To concentrate on tonight’s game is key and important. For us to peek around the corner will do us no good. That’s what I’ve learned. I think these guys have the same mind-set. They’re all about today and winning today. We’ll move to tomorrow when it’s time to do that.”

Even while handling what General Manager Mike Rizzo described as “unfinished business,” the Nationals cannot help but sense the rhythms of fall baseball. Shadows creep across the infield. The sun sets lower and assaults outfielders’ eyes. Fans grow rowdier.

“You can definitely feel a good buzz in the ballpark,” Rizzo said.

“Everyone is excited to get to the field every day,” Zimmermann said. “We’re pretty close. We just need to keep playing the way we’ve been playing. When it happens, it happens.”

Friday, September 5, 2014

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Robin Hood of the Banks: Enric Duran

Enric Duran Giralt, also known as Robin Bank, Robin Banks or the Robin Hood of the Banks is a Catalan anticapitalist activist and member of the Temps de Re-volts collective. On September 17, 2008, he publicly announced that he had "robbed" dozens of Spanish banks of nearly half a million euros as part of a political action to denounce what he termed the predatory capitalist system.

From 2006 to 2008, Duran took out 68 commercial and personal loans from a total of 39 banks with no guarantees or property as collateral. He had no intention of repaying the debts, and used the money to finance various anti-capitalist movements. In 2008, Duran released both an online article entitled "I have “robbed” 492,000 euros from those who rob us the most, in order to denounce them and build alternatives for society" (translated), and an online video, each explaining what he had done and that he had left the country to view the reaction and consider his next move. This was also published in the free magazine Crisis, in Catalan, of which 200,000 copies were printed and distributed by volunteers throughout Catalonia. A second newspaper, We can! Live Without Capitalism was distributed on March 17, 2009, and a third, We on September 17, 2009.

Duran stated that he sought to create a debate about the financial system and the current capitalist system, proliferate protest actions against it and fund the social movements that seek to create alternatives. Duran called his action one of 'financial civil disobedience', and stated that he was prepared to go to prison for his actions. He planned for the anniversary of his declaration (September 17, 2009) to be an action day where people meet, both in Spain and abroad, to share alternatives to capitalism.

Duran was involved in the "Look for the abolition of debt" campaign(1999/2000), the "Global Resistance Movement" (2000/2002) the "Campaign Against the World Bank"(2001) and the "Campaign Against the Europe of Capital"(2002).

In April 2010, Duran began promoting the Catalan Integrated Cooperative as a practical example of the ideals detailed in We can! Live Without Capitalism. In 2011, the cooperative accepted responsibility for a former industrial complex, with a view to turning it into a centre for environmental activities.

Monday, August 4, 2014

David Wilson's Career is Over Due to Diffuse Cervical Stenosis

"I don't want anybody to feel sorry for me, or pity me," Wilson said in the team's release. "I lived my dream. A lot of people only get to dream their dream. I lived that dream. Now I have a chance to dream another dream and live that, too."
The promising career of New York Giants running back David Wilson appears to be over before his third NFL season.

The Giants announced Monday that two doctors have advised Wilson, 23, to stop playing football due to the condition of his neck and spine. The Giants placed Wilson on injured reserve, which means he will not play for them this season. And according to a team news release, Wilson appears to understand that his playing days are over.

Wilson injured his neck in a Week 5 game against the Philadelphia Eagles and missed the rest of the season. He had spinal fusion surgery in January and was not cleared for full contact until July 21, the day before the Giants' first training camp practice.

He was injured during practice a week later and spent a portion of last week being examined by doctors. Monday morning, he met with Frank Cammisa, who is the chief of spine services at the Hospital for Special Surgery and the doctor who performed Wilson's surgery in Januay. Cammisa and Giants team doctor Russell Warren then advised Wilson not to play anymore.

"David has diffuse cervical stenosis," Warren said in the team's news release. "He had a disc removed and a fusion in January. In light of last week's episode of symptoms, sensory and motor, Frank and I both told David he should not play football anymore. We let David know that by playing, he would be putting himself at risk for more episodes like last week or perhaps something more serious."

The Giants drafted Wilson in the first round of the 2012 draft out of Virginia Tech. He was a star kick returner as a rookie and opened the 2013 season as the starting running back. He fumbled twice in the 2013 opener and was benched while coaches worked with him on his ball carrying technique. He has 115 carries for 504 yards and five touchdowns in his NFL career, as well as six receptions for 42 yards and a touchdown. He also scored a touchdown on a kick return in 2012.

After his appointment Monday morning, the Giants say, Wilson returned to the team facility to meet with team officials.

"David and I had a great talk," general manager Jerry Reese said. "He's disappointed like all of us, but he's a strong young man and understands that he has a lot of life left to live and it's not worth to him, his family or us to put his health in harm's way by continuing to play football."

"I'm thankful that I can literally walk away from the game and that I am healthy and capable of doing the same things I have done all my life, except play football," Wilson said. "I always try to find the positive in everything. This morning, I didn't hear what I wanted to hear, but I expected what they told me could be a possibility. I had played out both scenarios in my mind."

The Giants will open the season with Rashad Jennings as the starting running back and back him up with Peyton Hillis, rookie Andre Williams and either Michael Cox or Kendall Gaskins.