News item: Longtime Orioles umpires attendant Ernie Tyler, who worked for the team for more than a half century and ended his own O's iron-man streak at 3,769 games to attend Cal Ripken Jr.'s Hall of Fame induction, has died at the age of 86.
My take: It's hard to express what Ernie meant to the organization and everyone who worked regularly at Memorial Stadium or Camden Yards. He was a truly fine gentleman who was as kind and good-hearted as anyone I have ever met — and not just in the baseball business. His dedication to the franchise is well documented, but he was a terrific family man who made everyone feel like a member of the already large Tyler tribe. My heart goes out to Jimmy and Fred and the rest of Ernie's children and extended family. Just a great guy who will be sorely missed.
Bonus take: Godspeed, old friend.
News item: The Orioles report to Sarasota, Fla., this weekend to begin pitcher and catcher workouts at their newly renovated spring training facility.
My take: The Weather Channel predicts that temperatures will be in the 70s by the middle of next week. Dress appropriately.
News item: Gary Williams passed John Wooden on the all-time college basketball wins list with Wednesday's lopsided victory over Longwood.
My take: Williams has had a terrific career and still has a long way to go, but he was rightfully humble in the company of one of the true icons of college sports. Wooden's 10 NCAA titles in a span of 12 seasons will never be matched.
Bonus take: In fairness to Williams and the rest of the great coaches in the game today, Wooden coached UCLA in a different era and a much different recruiting environment. He didn't have worry, for instance, that Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) or Bill Walton would bolt to the NBA after one college season.
News item: The Ravens likely will place the franchise tag on All-Pro defensive lineman Haloti Ngata, which could cost them more than $12 million for the 2011 season.
My take: Of course, that's just a temporary measure. Ngata will get his giant, long-term contract after the labor situation is resolved, and it will be well-deserved.
News item: Despite a series of positive statements by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell leading up to the Super Bowl, negotiations with the NFL Players Association have ground to a halt with less than a month remaining before the owners are likely to order a lockout.
My take: Nobody was fooled. If we've learned anything from the sports labor disputes of the past, talk is cheap and nothing in collective bargaining happens before things get scary.
News item: Quarterback Aaron Rodgers added a championship ring to his resume and emerged from the shadow of Brett Favre with Sunday's victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 45th Super Bowl.
My take: And the game was better than the commercials this year, which — if you're a true sports fan — is really all you can ask.
News item: Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis confirmed Wednesday that he will return to play at least one more season.
My take: Like you're surprised.
News item: Federal prosecutors have reduced the number of charges pending against Barry Bonds from 11 to five, though he still faces the same potential jail time if convicted on any of the counts related to his grand jury testimony in the government's long-running investigation into the illegal use of performance-enhancing drugs in professional sports.
My take: Bonds and prosecutors appear determined to take this case to the limit, but the outcome seems apparent from here. He'll be convicted on a couple of counts and receive a short jail term — probably less time than personal trainer Greg Anderson will end up serving for refusing to testify against him.
News item: The Washington Wizards play the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night in what some are calling the worst NBA game ever.
My take: Tough to argue when the Wizards have lost 25 straight games on the road and the Cavs entered Friday night's game against the Clippers with an NBA-record 27 consecutive losses.
Related news item: Former Cavaliers star LeBron James said this week that the game should be nationally televised.
My take: Stay classy, big guy.
News item: Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has filed a defamation lawsuit against the Washington City Paper in response to a negative personality profile by one of its columnists, and his lawyer intimated in a letter to the paper's owners that Snyder will attempt to bankrupt the struggling paper with a long and costly litigation.
My take: Stay classy, little guy.
Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon Fridays and Saturdays and check out his blog, "The Schmuck Stops Here," at baltimoresun.com/schmuckblog.