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Weekly Awards/The Best Pro Sports Story Ever

Never got a chance to do the weekly awards last week with the Thursday night game and all, but figured we'd get back to the norm now. Fridays are a slow practice day, and not a lot of news going on, generally. I figured I'd take three suggestions from the blog. Post any other ideas for future categories, and I'll get to them down the line.
1. Best vocalization (screams) while bungie jumping: Got to be Antwaan Randle El. His voice is booming, he's a master of intonation and he has a bang-on Don Pardo impersonation.
2. Best jump shooter: I've heard Shawn Springs has serious game, but that was before he had this abdominal surgery. Going to be a while before he's back on the court.
3. Best matchup vs. Shaq: Andre Carter would be giving up 6 inches or so, but the dude is ripped, he sports size-16 shoes, and he's crazy athletic.

-0-

Got back to Baltimore last weekend and heard what must be my favorite professional sports story ever. And I promise that's not because it's soccer related, although it does speak to our conversation a week or so ago about what regular dudes a lot of MLSers are.

So former DC United player Santino Quaranta, who grew up in the same neighborhood in East Baltimore that I did (Highlandtown in the house), returned to RFK two weeks ago with the LA Galaxy, and a group of people from Baltimore rent a bus from The Angle Inn (a dive in Dundalk) to go to the game, with some of my buddies among them. Many in the group of about 40 are wearing LA jerseys with Quaranta's name on the back - some of you may have seen them in the lower bowl - and a bit of madness ensues in the stands, with plenty of beer flowing.

Everyone gets back on the bus after the game, sitting in the parking lot having a few more brewskies, when, just before the bus pulls off, the doors open up. Santino gets on, still wearing team gear (his pre-game warm-ups and the like), which in itself is odd. According to my cousin Todd, who was there, the lad must have changed quickly, thrown on one of those body sprays the kids are caking on like bug repellant on an African safari, and bolted to the parking lot.

Santino walks around the bus, shakes all the hand, they sign "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow," ... and he takes a seat in the front row with his parents, wife and kid. And he stays there. The door closes, and he rides back to Baltimore on the party bus, and celebrates the night away in Dundalk.

"I think he was wearing flip-flips with his warm-ups, but I can't say for sure," Todd says. "I don't think he could have had time to shower, and we thought he was just going to say Hi and run back to the locker room.. It was all pretty surreal."

Apparently, the Galaxy were not flying out of DC until the next say, Sunday, but still, in what was like his second week with the team after being traded from United and having some personal issues during his stint there, I thought it was a ballsy move. Maybe something like that happens in other sports - I could see Babe Ruth pulling it off nightly on a barnstorming tour back in the day - but I doubt it. That's Baltimore, baby. I love it.

By Jason La Canfora  |  September 8, 2006; 1:00 PM ET
 
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Comments

Jason
Those weekly rewards are terrific today - best reporting and reporter of the WashPost is right here (*wink*) Wilbon should take notes. Think Kornheiser will ever start a blog?

This Baltimore story reminds me of a similar experience back in 98 in Clearwater. After the game was over, I shuffled my way back to the tiki bar for a few cold ones with my lady when about half of the pro players/athletes come over to my table when my lady askes them for an autograph (Ok Ok me too). Then they pull up chairs and drink with us for a few hours. Being the huge fan, I pick up the tab for everyone since this was a dream come true - rubbing elbows and shooting the breeze with some of my favorite pro athletes. I have pictures too. The total bar tab back then came to $750 - ouch.

Posted by: X.Hog | September 8, 2006 1:44 PM | Report abuse

X.Hog - you should have made them pay bro. They got all the loot.
I just find the fact that he basically ran from the field to the beer bus with his uniform on to be priceless.
I was in New England for the Skins preseason game there that night, otherwise I would have seen it with my own eyes.

Posted by: Jason La Canfora | September 8, 2006 1:58 PM | Report abuse

Jason,

Any word about how/if the President's prime-time address (at around 9PM) on Monday is going to effect the broadcast/playing of the Skins game?

Posted by: PJ | September 8, 2006 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Jason:

Great blog!
A suggestion for the awards that I would like to know is: Who has the best culinary skills on the team? Which house do the players go to on days off to have good food?

Also, PJ--the game is on ESPN, which won't show the Pres... unless he is talking about sports.

Posted by: Silver Spring, MD | September 8, 2006 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Silence, please! It has just been reported that Erk Russell, the greatest pure football coach of all time, has died. Now is not the time to discuss other subjects. Let's spend this time reflecting.

Posted by: mart | September 8, 2006 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Don't be shy about the story of Gibbs calling you in his office. In my book, you cannot bring that up if you aren't going to provide details. NOT COOL!

if you are afraid Gibbs is reading this blog, rest assured he is too busy analyzing tape of Minnesota to give a damn. Seriously, give us something!

Posted by: C'mon Jason | September 8, 2006 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Too bad Santino was a huge punk and came over and consistently taunted the Barra Brava, Screaming Eagles, etc. after their goals. Granted the Galaxy waxed DCU but c'mon. The fans, especially Barra Brava, Screaming Eagles, etc., always show respect and love to all of our players and the first chance he gets, he comes back and shoves it back in all of our faces. For that, he's a punk as far as I'm concerned. I hope he has fun on a team that may not even make the playoffs while DCU continues to steamroll its way through the league.

Jason, how cool is this, few days ago my gf gets a call from someone working for DCU. He tells her that she won 2 tickets, airfare, hotel accommodations to the MLS Championship in November. I vaguely (after a good many black-n-tans)remember signing us up for the contest at RFK one night and thinking nothing about it. Hopefully DCU will come through and we'll be able to catch our hometown team in the championship game down in Texas. However, it does mean I may have to miss THE U (my favorite collegiate football team) as they come up to College Park tobeat up on the Terps (my alma mater).

Also Jason, you should ask Cooley about him doing his "Cooley Report for Elliot in the Morning. It seems somewhat odd, doesn't it, being that Elliot's show kinda blew the lid off that whole Cooley-cheerleading dealie. Who knows? Maybe Captian Chaos has moved on. Or maybe it's a great way to further market himself.

Posted by: Chief Clancy Wiggum | September 8, 2006 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Hey there.
The Gibbs thing is not a big deal, that;s why I mentioned it. I'm not scared of naygthing. I'd say at least 3-4 times in the two years we have talked privately at his request about a story, a quote, a general misunderstanding, or a breakdown in the communication of information to him via his own staff. Much of it is normal, incidental things that happen when you cover a team and sometimes further explanation is needed by one side or another.
Once was when LaVar went off about no one from the team reporting his second knee surgery, for example.
Nothing unusual.
Chief - I heard about some bad blood between Santino's people and the others at RFK. I think the busload from Baltimore might have got him too fired up. Good luck with that trip. WOuld be cool if DCU was playing.

Posted by: Jason La Canfora | September 8, 2006 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Once, in the days of my wayward yewf, I was in my familial ancesteral homeground of Carlisle, P. of A. asconce at the Carlisle Tavern, (getting hammered).

Greg Manusky, (ex Redskin LB). comes in and sits down next to me, says, "Damn they let children drink in here?", buys me a shot of Jack Daniel's and implores this piece of life wisdom on me -

"When you really gotta piss the whole world is a bathroom."

Who says athletes aren't role models?

Posted by: Castor | September 8, 2006 3:13 PM | Report abuse

I was hoping for more of a story involving St. Joe, a ruler, and Jason having trouble sitting down for a week. Oh well...

Posted by: P Diddy | September 8, 2006 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Quaranta went from the status of admired former member of DC United to scum and trash in the eyes of many hardcore DC United supporters that night.

Instead of playing his game, enjoying the fanfare that was associated with his coming back to RFK, and the applause and respect he was showed when he stepped back onto the pitch despite the fact that he was wearing one of DC United fans' least favorite uniforms, he chose to taunt and disrespect the DC United fan base. He made a point of taunting the Barra Brava and Screaming Eagles fan groups, and in doing so has lost any and all respect many of us held for him.

It's truly a shame for a player, particularly one from the local area, to decide to alienate those who held him in high regard, regardless of the jersey he or they wore.

Posted by: Rick | September 8, 2006 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Hey Jason, re: Portis - do you know where this guy is getting his info? Looky:

There's a fine line between what is an injury move and what is a coaching decision. A player says he's at less than 100 percent and the coach then has to decide if his backups are better options. That's the decision facing Redskins coach Joe Gibbs this weekend. Clinton Portis is reportedly assessing himself at about 75 percent, something my source calls "laughable -- none of his characters [i.e., people] is a doctor, I guess." Portis' shoulder is fully healed and ready to go, but the combination of Portis' value and the team's depth at running back gives Gibbs enough leeway to back off on Portis if he feels that's the right decision for his team. I'll be checking back on this one for my Sunday Morning Med Check on ESPN Mobile, but as of now, I expect Portis to -- pardon the pun -- shoulder the load come Monday.

Posted by: Andrew | September 8, 2006 4:00 PM | Report abuse

Re mart's comment---
Yes indeed, hats off to Erskine Russell. Go you hairy dogs!

Posted by: I'll 2nd That | September 8, 2006 5:03 PM | Report abuse

Chief Wiggum, You have lost all credibility in my book. I used to read your posts with great respect, as you had the rare combination of smarts and humor. But after you wrote: "THE U (my favorite collegiate football team) as they come up to College Park tobeat up on the Terps (my alma mater)." I can no longer respect your posts. HOW IN THE WORLD CAN YOU HAVE GRADUATED FROM UMD AND YET ROOT FOR MIAMI IN THEIR FIRST EVER MEETING IN COLLEGE PARK??? makes no sense at all. I dont care if you grew up in miami and loved them your whole life, you WENT to Maryland and therefore all previous allegiances carry no weight when playing against the Terps!

Posted by: Homer Simpson | September 8, 2006 5:41 PM | Report abuse

I had a cat named Snowball
She died! She died!
Mom said she was sleeping
She lied! She lied!
Why oh why is my cat dead?
Couldn't that Chrysler hit me instead?

Posted by: Lisa Simpson | September 8, 2006 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Andrew - Portis could be messing around, but he did put a harness on until today, never went thru one real hard practice in 5 weeks, and has a 16-week sked to play including a huge game at Dallas in 10 days.
That dude likes to have fun but also has is brutally honest. Gibbs has said repeatedly that it is up to Clinton; and Clinton's says no.
Is it a ruse? I doubt it but we'll find out soon enough.
Cheers.

Posted by: Jason La Canfora | September 8, 2006 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Jason,

You are a closet Ravens fan and it makes me sick!

Posted by: Richard Head | September 9, 2006 7:38 AM | Report abuse

Jason,
Really enjoy your coming into your own as a reporter this year and look forward to your achieving Bill Simmons-like stature.
Quick question: why is it that so many of the more gloomy Skins stories are broken by AP and other "out of town" sources? It seems ESPN often reports some scoop from AP and the Post and, dare I mention, Times catches up a day or two later. Can you explain how this all works?
Thanks!

Posted by: Justin | September 9, 2006 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Hey Justin. I'm not sure what you mean by "gloomy" stories and who broke them. I'm obviously biased here, but I think we own this beat.
The way things work with the web today, stories are essentially stolen and repackaged as "breaking news" by other cites. It's of like the Wild West and it's almost impossible to be the only paper reporting something in the mornign edition anymore, because things get posted on the net, then on message boards and before you know it it's all over the place, and everyone is cleaiming everything.
Our goal is to stay on top of everything at all times, and I think we do a very good job of it, but again, I'm biased.
Do you have an example of a particular story you are thinking of?

Posted by: Jason La Canfora | September 9, 2006 10:39 PM | Report abuse

Jason,
Great story today on Andre's feet-- and did your editor give you a frown after reading your write-up? You went nuts with the crazy vocabulary there-- or was that my imagination? Or, let me guess, you got it in 5 minutes before deadline? Anyway, nice story.

Posted by: Mike Barnes | September 9, 2006 10:56 PM | Report abuse

Hey Mike, thanks for the post. Glad you liked the story. Had fun putting it together.
That story was pretty much done before we had our vocabularly blow up last week, but subliminally - or maybe just liminally - a word or two may have sneaked into the final draft I submitted.

Posted by: Jason La Canfora | September 10, 2006 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Wait....Randle El is 27, and he has a 12-year-old son? Wait....what?

Posted by: Planned Parenthood | September 10, 2006 12:16 PM | Report abuse

www.wsws.org

A national disgrace: sick 9/11 workers left without medical coverage
70 percent with respiratory ailments
By Bill Van Auken, Socialist Equality Party candidate for US Senate from New York

9 September 2006

Thousands of rescue and recovery workers who responded to the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York City's World Trade Center are now suffering from chronic, debilitating and potentially life-threatening illnesses.

The report issued September 6 by Mount Sinai Medical Center substantiating this fact points to a staggering health care crisis.

The way these workers have been treated is nothing short of a national disgrace, implicating every level of government, the entire political establishment and the profit system itself. A government that has shamelessly exploited the events of 9/11 to promote criminal policies ranging from wars of aggression abroad to the destruction of democratic rights at home has largely turned its back on them, leaving thousands without medical coverage.

The Mount Sinai study found that some 70 percent of the 10,000 workers whose health it had monitored between 2002 and 2004 suffered new or substantially worsened respiratory problems while working on "the pile," as the World Trade Center site became known. More than 60 percent remained ill long after the site was cleared. Fully a third of these workers have diminished lung capacity. Many suffer from chronic illnesses that are only expected to worsen over time.

"There should no longer be any doubt about the health effects of the World Trade Center disaster," said Dr. Robin Herbert, co-director of Mount Sinai's World Trade Center program. "Our patients are sick, and they will need ongoing care for the rest of their lives."

"Sadder still," she added, "we continue each year to see new patients in the medical monitoring program who have either never been treated for their WTC illnesses, or who have received delayed or sub-optimal treatment."

Those affected are among the 40,000 workers who poured into the site after the Twin Towers were struck on September 11, claiming more than 2,500 lives. They included emergency responders--firefighters, cops and paramedics--who sought to rescue people from the buildings before they fell. They then participated in the desperate but largely fruitless effort to find survivors--and the grim task of recovering remains. Other public employees--transit workers, sanitation workers, etc.--joined in the effort, and many thousands of building trades, utility, telephone and other workers participated in the massive job of removing millions of tons of debris from the ruins of the demolished skyscrapers and restoring essential services.

Many worked until they dropped from exhaustion, breathing in an atmosphere that was a toxic soup of

For the rest go to:

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2006/sep2006/911-s09.shtml

Posted by: che | September 10, 2006 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Antwaan had an early start, let's put it that way.
I think that alone might make for an interesting story down the line once I get to know him a little bit better.

Posted by: Jason La Canfora | September 10, 2006 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Probably too late to add onto this stream, but wanted to follow up with you.
First, I think the Post's coverage is excellent, but I wondered if your (collective) need to keep things friedly and open with key personel on the team prevents you from stepping into the stories that make irk them. Example: I may be wrong but it seemed that AP broke the "Gibbs and Portis on different pages" story this week and then the Post followed up later. I wondered if you had that story before the AP guy, but were reluctant to go with it from fear of getting JG's cold shoulder for a few weeks. I have no experience in any of this, I just wonder if these issues affect the likelihood of "hometown" papers releasing less flattering news. We've all seen this at a larger scale with a certain guy in the whitehouse who says "give me good press or I'll never talk to you again."
Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Justin | September 11, 2006 2:48 AM | Report abuse

Well if UMD treated me, or any other non-student athlete, as if students weren't just a student id number and tuition check than maybe it'd be a different story.

Posted by: Chief Clancy Wiggum | September 11, 2006 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Homer: Also, as a youngster I rooted for the 'Canes because they were from the same state that my grandmother was in. As an 8-9 year old I figured to be even closer to my grammy I could root for a college team in her state. I picked THE U. Now, in the lovely words of the REAL Principal Skinner: "Well sir, if that's corny, then corn me up."

Posted by: Chief Clancy Wiggum | September 11, 2006 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Chief - That is the lamest excuse I have ever heard for being a front-runner. Why not pick Central Florida? FAMU? Dade County Community College? Let me guess - you loved the Bulls in the 90s because your mom's college roommate married a guy whose father once lived in Chicago. And the Steelers in the 70s because steel is your favorite mineral. Give me a break.

Posted by: Cletus the Slackjawed Yokel | September 12, 2006 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Hey there Justin, sorry about getting back to this so late and you may have forgotten buy now. The AP did not have anything we did not have on clinton, in fact, I was blogging update on this site before it hit the wire.
I like to think I am very fair in my coverage of the team, but my works stands for itself. I'm not shrinking violet, and if there is story out there worthy of telling ot exposing, trust me, we do it. We are nothing if not aggressive.
Cheers.

Posted by: Jason La Canfora | September 14, 2006 9:08 PM | Report abuse

WHY can't Joe Gibbs and the rest of his staff see that Burnell is not any good. I think they don't have a quarterback? If they do now is the time to start him. I think they have a good team but don't have anyone to deliver the ball. Mr Snider needs to get a quartetback. I know there is some one who can do better than we got. A faithful skin fan for65 years and for ever. Coach Gibbs is agreat coach and has aa good staff so get him a quarterback.

Posted by: Bill Severance | September 18, 2006 11:51 AM | Report abuse

the redskins are pitiful! i think gibbs should go back to nascar and take al saunders with him. the fans deserve better!

Posted by: john moore | September 18, 2006 1:00 PM | Report abuse

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