Ravens-Redskins meeting shows promise, if earlier in preseason

September 01, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

IT MIGHT BE one of the most entertaining games of the year ... if it mattered.

The Ravens and Washington Redskins close out the preseason tonight in what might be a pretty attractive matchup if both coaches weren't more concerned with keeping their marquee players out of harm's way than getting a leg up in one of the NFL's closest regional rivalries.

Ravens coach Brian Billick all but admitted yesterday that he already is focusing on the regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts, but he's very much in favor of making the Redskins a regular exhibition opponent - especially if the rivalry game can be scheduled a little earlier in the preseason.

"I hope we can keep this up," he said. "If we could meet them in the second or third game, it would be even better as far as the fans and their passion for it. But in the final game, our priorities have to be our priorities."

The middle two games of the four-game preseason schedule are played more like regular-season games than the opener and finale. Both teams will give their key players a few tuneup series - and the Ravens will get a first preseason look at Jamal Lewis and Todd Heap - but the real intrigue will take place at the other end of the roster, because there will be a final round of cuts this weekend.

If you are an eBay aficionado, you might want to check out the "Genuine Rafael Palmeiro Earplugs - Complete Set," which were put up for bid by Paul Cascio of Bristol, Conn.

They aren't actually the earplugs used by Palmeiro in Tuesday night's game at Rogers Centre (the former SkyDome). In fact, they appear to be cotton balls, but Cascio makes that pretty clear in his tongue-in-cheek auction to bene- fit the Red Cross Flood Relief Fund.

Here's the description: "Raffy swears he never put these in his body, so they may not be genuine. But I believe otherwise and I'm sticking by my story, until I tell my real story, which I can't do just yet on the advice of my lawyer."

Nobody had to worry about the volume during Canadian Football League telecasts the past two Saturdays, because a labor dispute (or labour dispute if you're reading this in Canada) forced the Canadian Broadcasting Co. to air the games without play-by-play commentary.

Which leaves us with just one question: Who would want to watch a CFL game on television without broadcasters?

Surprising answer: More people than were watching with broadcasters. The ratings actually were above average for both games.

Somewhere, Jim Hunter and Fred Manfra are simultaneously spitting out their coffee.

Former Minnesota governor and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura has taken a principled stand in favor of online gambling.

Ventura is something of a libertarian, but I'm guessing his support of BetUS.com is based more on an economic principle. He is getting paid handsomely to be the spokesman for the sports betting company, which is licensed in Canada and Costa Rica.

Once again, this is absolutely true: Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome spotted new Sun columnist Rick Maese at the club's training facility yesterday and stopped to introduce himself.

"You're the new guy," Newsome said.

"Yes, Ozzie, I'm Rick Maese," Rick replied, extending his hand.

"Well, you look just like Doogie Howser," said Newsome, and walked away.

So, I'm not the only one who has noticed that Rick has a certain boyish quality, but don't let that fool you. He's a fine writer who was in very high demand. In fact, the Orlando Sentinel was so determined to keep him that it countered The Sun's offer with a package that included a lifetime pass to Disney World.

(Editor's note: That's ridiculous. Peter Schmuck is just a bitter - though surprisingly good-looking - middle-aged guy who clearly is envious of Rick Maese's youth and talent. Please disregard the previous comment.)

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