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At 27, Don't Be A Knucklehead...But DO Chase Your Dreams

As my wife will tell you, I have a knack for remembering obscure dates. Can’t remember when my next doctor’s appointment is, but I can tell you the date of a memorable sporting event and every detail of it.

Today, there is a convergence of two dates that are bringing back warm memories. One was yesterday, when Ricky LaBlue celebrated his 27th birthday. As is always the case between two people at the two ends of the age spectrum, Ricky thinks turning 27 means he’s too old. I think at 27 he’s still way too young.

It’s why we get along so well. Yeah, I edit his stories and drive him crazy by rewriting every lead he’s ever put on paper (I confess I kind of do that to everyone), but it’s more than that. He also graciously allows me to bore him with stories of when I was his age, as I try to prevent him from doing the same knucklehead things I – and just about every other guy on the planet – did at that age.

His turning 27 reminded me yesterday of what I was doing in my 27th year, which leads me to the second date. Once out of college, I went into the field of journalism, working as a sportswriter for a relatively large daily called the Roanoke Times. I met my wife there and was doing OK, but then foolishly decided to leave and go to a newspaper that was about a tenth the size for no more money than I was making at the time.

Why? Because I wanted to cover ACC basketball. I couldn’t in Roanoke. I could in Martinsville.

“So,” my Dad said when I told him this. “You’re leaving going from one place to a smaller place for no raise in pay just so you can watch a basketball game that's on television any way? For less money than you could make driving a truck? What are you, some kind of chadrool?”

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Dave Fulton

27

I was 27 when my first daughter was born - scheduled for Christmas day, Gwyn couldn't wait for Santa and arrived on December 9. Em... Read More
Friday, 02 July 2021 12:24
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Now That 24 Hours Have Passed, Picture Becomes Clearer

When it was announced yesterday that Virginia Tech’s Tyrece Radford had entered the transfer portal, my first thought was “this can’t be related to basketball.”

Coach Mike Young and Radford have great affection and respect for each other. Young refused to throw him under the bus when Radford had legal issues with DUI and gun charges and was suspended from the team, vocally going to bat for him. That the two would part company because Radford wanted to play somewhere else didn’t make any sense.

Since the announcement, however, a picture of why the Hokies’ second-leading scorer (12.2 points per game, 5.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists) would enter the transfer portal has emerged. Will Stewart of Techsideline.com tweeted a screenshot of two court dates Radford has in August, and both are hearings on the possible revocation of the probation he received on his DUI and gun charges earlier in the year. The agreement that resulted in the probation allowed Radford to return to the team after missing a number of games.

One date lists an August 9 hearing at 10 AM for “SC/IMPOSE SUSPENDED SENTENCE” and the other lists another 10 AM hearing for “SC/REVOKE VASAP.” I have since learned VASAP is a program that includes restricting your driver’s license after having an incident involving drinking and driving, and includes an ignition interlock system attached to your car. It monitors a person so if the device monitors a blood alcohol level above a certain limit, the car won’t start.

Obviously, words like “impose” and “revoke” strongly imply that on August 9, a possibility exists where everything rolls back to the original sentence, which includes jail time. Radford was found guilty on Feb. 3, reached a plea agreement, and was sentenced to a 60-day suspended jail sentence, $1,000 fine ($750 suspended) and 12 months of probation. He was suspended from the team on Jan. 25, missed four games, and was reinstated on Feb. 23.

Mark Berman in the Roanoke Times offered even more evidence of that in a story today, talking to Radford’s attorney, Jimmy Turk. The uber-defender of Hokie athletes over the years, Turk acknowledged there was a positive reading on the ignition interlock system. Radford wasn’t supposed to have any alcohol, Turk said, and the device said he did.

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Orioles Better Not Be Thinking About Trading Trey Mancini

Don’t you do it, Mike Elias. Don’t. You. Do. It.

If Elias wants to completely alienate the fanbase — slow progress from the farm system is doing that already — then he should go ahead and trade Trey Mancini.

But if he does it, good luck keeping this O’s fan interested.

Mancini’s story has been well-covered at this point — the man lost an entire year of his life after being diagnosed with colon cancer, was forced to endure it during the COVID-19 pandemic and through it all, he’s back in Baltimore hitting homers and driving in runs.

Mancini is reliable as the day is long. Pencil him in the lineup and reap the benefits.

Obviously, Mancini’s prowess as a hitter — his OPS of .789 is above the league average and he’s hit 14 homers this season — isn’t translating to wins. Mancini and Cedric Mullins are the only two reliable O’s in the lineup and as good as they’ve been — both Mancini and Mullins might represent Baltimore in the Midsummer Classic — they can’t win games by themselves.

As the Orioles continue to call the AL East cellar home, the organization is clearly still in “tank mode.” But how far is the organization willing to go?

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Schwarber, Starting Staff, And The Status Of The System

Not long ago, the Nationals’ offense was starving for production from anyone other than Trea Turner and Juan Soto. The pro-Max Scherzer trade crowd was also gaining some legitimacy, and even the minor league system was barely treading water – providing no contingency plans for big league ballplayers that seemed to keep getting injured.

The season was slowly slipping away from them.

But all of a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere, Washington starting winning games left and right – 12 of their last 15, to be precise. In a lot of ways, it makes no sense, but in others, it’s exactly like it always goes: predictably unpredictable.

Clearly, the Nationals have transformed themselves into a different team recently. Is it sustainable, though?

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It Wouldn't Be Impossible. But It Would Require Perfection

The recent proposed move to 12 teams in the College Football Playoff has provisions to ensure at least one “group of five” team makes it into the field each season.

So with that in mind, what would it take for Old Dominion to claim that spot?

In short, it would take perfection, but it is possible. Berths are proposed to go to the top six highest-ranked conference champions, assumably in most seasons, the SEC, BIG 12, BIG 10, PAC-12, and ACC champs otherwise known as the “Power Five” conferences. The sixth would go to a “Group of Five” conference champ, either Conference USA, Sun Belt, American, Mountain West, or Mid-American Conference.

The move to a 12-team playoff is not official yet, but it is the first step in the conversations. The intention appears to be a playoff with 12 teams sooner rather than later, with it happening in 2022 at the earliest. 

With ODU in Conference USA, the first thing the Monarchs would need to do to obtain an automatic bid, or for that matter, an “at-large” bid, is win their conference. That alone may not be enough, as an 8-5 C-USA champ would never make it in. There would almost certainly be another G5 conference with a stronger record, so it’s not that simple.

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Dean Kremer Facing A Crossroad In His Career With Orioles

Two years from now, Dean Kremer will know a lot about real estate.

One way or the other.

The Baltimore Orioles pitching prospect found himself back on a flight to Norfolk for the second time this season Friday, fresh off the worst start of his major league career. Thursday night, Kremer retired just one batter, walking five and allowing two hits en route to six earned runs. Kremer’s bags were probably packed before he went to bed that night.

Putting it mildly, Kremer has been bad this season. After four starts in 2020, Kremer holds a 7.25 ERA through 49.2 innings in 2021. Conventional wisdom was that Kremer was turning a corner after consecutive solid outings when he returned to Baltimore on June 14. Instead, it looks like Kremer is in dire need of some pitching help.

He’ll get the help he needs at Triple-A Norfolk, but whether he heeds it or not is up to him. If he doesn’t, he’ll be out of the league selling real estate before he turns 30. If he does, he’ll remember that like real estate, pitching is about location, location, location.

Why is it all about location for Kremer? His stuff is actually quite good. Kremer’s velocity is a bit below league average in 2021, but his movement is well above average. His fastball, changeup and cutter/slider are above league average in both vertical and horizontal movement, while his curveball is well above the league average in vertical movement.

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Morrison, Mosley Emerge As Candidates For Wizards HC

So far, four NBA teams have hired a new head coach since their seasons ended.

The Washington Wizards, on the other hand, have been fairly quiet since moving on from Scott Brooks.

That was true until Friday. With Ime Udoka, Rick Carlisle, Jason Kidd and Chauncey Billups – all of whom were among my initial candidates for the job in Washington – each agreeing to terms as head coaches with other teams, the Wizards have reportedly ramped up their search. Scott Morrison of the Boston Celtics has interviewed with Washington (first reported by Peter Yannopoulos of Réseau des sports in Canada), and Jamahl Mosley (pictured at right) of the Dallas Mavericks has also received an interview request (per Marc Stein of The New York Times).

As recently as Wednesday, Sports Betting Dime viewed Sam Cassell, Wes Unseld Jr. and Kenny Atkinson as the frontrunners for the Wizards.

Interestingly, their odds closely resemble my initial predictions. Their top four were my finalists, and the only coach they included that I did not was Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing, a heavy long shot for the job.

This, however, was prior to the release of the news regarding Morrison and Mosley. It’s not entirely clear how seriously they are being considered, but the fact that they have received interviews should not be cast aside.

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To No One's Surprise, Keve Aluma Returns To Virginia Tech

Two days after Virginia Tech dropped a big hint that Keve Aluma would be returning by using his picture on a season ticket renewal graphic, Aluma himself made it official.

Today on Twitter, Virginia Tech’s leading scorer last season posted a picture of the back of his jersey along with the words “Round 2….Let’s run it back.”

Aluma had entered the NBA draft back in April, but did it in such a way where he preserved his eligibility at Virginia Tech so he could come back. It seemed apparent that Aluma wanted to see where he stood in regards to making it to the next level, and if he fell short, wanted to see the areas he needed to work on if he tried again next year.

That’s pretty much what happened, as he was one of 40 invited to the NBA G League Elite Camp, which was held last weekend in Chicago. While he did well enough to be invited to that event, he was not chosen to join the prospects who were invited to the NBA Draft Combine, which is where the elite prospects worked out for NBA scouts.

Seeing that, Aluma realized his chances of going undrafted were a distinct possibility, and also saw where he needed to improve his game.

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UVA Ace Abbott Has Had An Unusual Group Of Followers

Andrew Abbott has had an unusual group of followers as his Virginia baseball career comes to a close in the College World Series.

Abbott, a left-handed All-American pitcher who has been the ace of the Cavaliers' staff, is remembered by high-school rivals who competed against him in another setting.

"He swam at the South Boston YMCA and I know he swam all four years in high school," said Tyler Smith, a graduate of Patrick Henry High School in Roanoke.

"I did swimming and then cycling, and he did swimming and travel baseball. The best I knew him was when we were in middle schools."

Abbott's mother, Jeannette, coached the South Boston YMCA Sea Serpents. of which Andrew was a member.

Smith is a graduate of Virginia Tech who happened to stop by the Hokies' baseball game with visiting UVa earlier this spring.

"It was curiosity," Smith said. "I recognized him when I was on the mound. He did not know I was there. I wish I'd kept better touch with him but I didn't."

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Max Scherzer Gives Joe Girardi The Treatment He Deserves

Tuesday night was a fun sports night.

Besides the Orioles blowing another decent pitching performance from Jorge Lopez, there was a lot going on that caught my attention, and all of these topics relate in some way to Washington D.C. sports teams: 

Girardi Makes A Mockery of Baseball, Gets Mocked by Scherzer

At first, all I saw was Nationals star Max Scherzer mocking the hell out of Phillies manager Joe Girardi, which would amuse me in any situation as it is.

But once I found it was after Girardi had Scherzer checked three times for banned sticky substances on the pitching mound, it was even better.

Scherzer gave Girardi the treatment he deserved. If somebody accused me of cheating the game on three separate occasions, then I’d give them the death stare walking back to the mound as well. And for Girardi to take offense to it shows what kind of coward he is. If you’re going to wrongfully accuse someone three separate times of cheating, own it and sit down when you’re wrong.

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Virginia Tech Football Gets 6 Commitments In Last 7 Days

Anytime a school gets a handful of commitments in a single week, you should set aside some time to figure out who the newbies are.

Virginia Tech has added six separate commitments in the last seven days — running back Bryce Duke, offensive linemen Johnny Garrett and Jakson LaHue, tight end Matt Hoffman, defensive back Malcolm Jones and athlete Xavier Simmons.

Let’s take a moment to parse through each of these six commitments…

Running back Bryce Duke (5-foot-11, 196 pounds) — Leesburg, Va.

Duke - who played for Tuscarora here in Loudoun County - committed to Tech on Tuesday, giving the Hokies their first tailback in this cycle. He’s got average size and rates as a middle-of-the-road three-star prospect. 247Sports puts him 23rd in Virginia’s 2022 class.

Virginia Tech didn’t face stiff competition for Duke. Rutgers and Duke are his only other Power 5 offers, though the northern Virginia native also holds offers from App State, Cincinnati and Old Dominion.

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Ricky LaBlue

Ricky LaBlue

A longtime sports fanatic, Ricky is now channeling that passion into the world of sports media. Meet Ricky LaBlue.

Stephen Newman

Stephen Newman

The only things he loves more than following Virginia Tech and Washington sports teams are dogs. Meet Stephen Newman.

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