Backstage Raw 900 News: Trashing TNA, Katie Vick

Due to the recap on last night’s Raw 900th episode special, the term “Katie Vick” is number five on today’s Google trends list. The list ranks the top searched for terms on a daily basis on Google.

The reason WWE knocked the Jersey Shore last night was due to TNA using a Jersey Shore-related character.

And for much of the same reasons, WWE knocked the Fear Factor bit due to the Joe Rogan tie-in on Spike TV. Good lord.

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TV review: President Obama’s Oval Office address declaring end to Iraq war

In his live televised Oval Office address Tuesday night, President Obama dealt out a therapeutic, paternal sense of closure: The war in Iraq is over, in the sense that America is no longer officially fighting it. Our sacrifices have been made and honored.

A trillion-dollar investment, on which we are now closing the books. Which is not the same as closure, so much as transferring the balance. As Obama noted near the end of his 18-minute address (only his second from that location since taking office in 2009), the whole concept of war now is that it doesn’t end per se, at least not in a final scene: “In an age without surrender ceremonies, we must earn victory through the success of our partners and the strength of our own nation,” Obama said.

That’s a difficult conclusion to swallow, in an age so obsessed with images and symbols and Internet footage, but it’s true: When you pull down a statue of Saddam Hussein, you’ve got great video but the show’s not over. When you stride across an aircraft carrier under “Mission Accomplished” signage, you have the stuff of closure without real closure, as we painfully know.

But Oval Office addresses, in their stiff but reassuring formality, are really the best and most sober format for the news that we are calling it a day. It’s a tricky task, to go on TV and talk about a war we didn’t win, mainly because the invasion and occupation of Iraq didn’t fit any of the old definitions of war.

Sitting in his newly redecorated digs, Obama displayed the confidently telegenic delivery style that got him to this desk in the first place. You don’t have to believe a word of it in order to admire the moves, the tone — not unlike Glenn Beck’s calm, cool post-rally analysis of his “Restoring Honor” event on Fox News a day earlier. Calm is the new swagger.

Like the brocade on the drapes behind him, Obama’s address was an intricate pattern — in this case, designed to refute certain key criticisms that dog him daily. He reminded Americans just how much the war predates his term, and how much he values those who fought it — and even the man who started it. He firmly warned terrorists but offered the encouraging peace that diplomacy crafts. He mentioned that his grandfather fought in World War II — a few simple words interjected while touting the 9/11-era GI Bill — as a credibly sly way of asserting his own Americanness.

With Obama, a viewer never has to feel uneasy about tripped syllables and nervous blinking during a presidential address. But it’s that very same ease that causes such disbelief and even scorn. It’s perhaps too good, too “West Wing” scripty, too lofty while the economic and social muck is too deep. And so an official Obama address has become a fascinating exercise in covering all the bases: emphatic and sincere appreciation for all that America is, and this strange sense that he must always assert his place in it — the president!

Because I was watching the address on NBC, I was jarred, as others may have been, by the announcement of the shows that would immediately follow it:

“A Minute to Win It,” now in progress.

Followed by “America’s Got Talent.”

A minute to win it? Well, not exactly. Talented America? Obama gave every impression that he thinks we can be called that.

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Aroldis Chapman helps Reds beat Brewers

7:10 PM ET, August 31, 2010

Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio 

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Pirates’ Morton (1-0, 10.03 ERA) on pace for historically bad season

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — With slightly more than a month of the season remaining, Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton is threatening to have one of the worst years by any starting pitcher in major league history.

Despite spending nearly three months in Triple-A, Morton is 1-10 with a 10.03 ERA in 11 starts for the last-place Pirates. He has allowed at least five earned runs in all but three starts, although he hasn’t lasted longer than six innings anytime.

According to STATS LLC, Morton’s 10.03 ERA is the third highest by a major league starter going into September since the 1952 season. Only Roy Halladay of Toronto in 2000 (4-7, 10.63 ERA) and the Pirates’ Steve Blass in 1973 (3-7, 10.40 ERA) had higher ERAs with at least 10 decisions at this stage in the season.

“It’s been up and down, obviously,” Morton said.

According to STATS, the worst ERA in history for a starting pitcher who figured in at least 10 decisions was Halladay’s 10.64 in 2000. No other pitcher during the modern era that began in 1900 ended a season with a double-digit ERA and at least 10 decisions. Charlie Stecher had a 10.32 ERA while going 0-10 during his one and only major league season with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1890.

Since then, the only other pitcher to end a season with an ERA of at least 9.75 and at least 10 decisions was Blass, who went 3-9 with a 9.85 ERA only a season after he was the NL Cy Young Award runner-up in 1972. Blass, now a Pirates broadcaster, inexplicably lost his ability to throw strikes during that 1973 season and ended up retiring a season later when the problem didn’t go away.

No doubt Morton hopes his career eventually resembles that of Halladay or Blass. Since his 2000 miseries, Halladay has won 16 or more games seven times, and he threw a perfect game for Philadelphia earlier this season. Blass had seasons of 19-8, 18-6 and 15-8 and won Game 7 of the 1971 World Series for Pittsburgh.

Morton, acquired by Pittsburgh from Atlanta in the Nate McLouth trade in June 2009, can throw his fastball in the low to mid 90s, but often switches to his off-speed pitches when he gets into trouble. The Pirates want him to be more aggressive, and rely more on a fastball that he now throws only about 50 per cent of the time.

Morton, however, had location problems during several starts early this season when he attempted to stay with his fastball. He was much more consistent for Triple-A Indianapolis, going 4-4 with a 3.83 ERA in 14 starts.

Called back to the majors to start Sunday in Milwaukee, Morton repeatedly shook off signs from catcher Ryan Doumit while giving up eight runs in 3 1-3 innings of an 8-4 loss.

“He needs to trust his catcher a little bit more,” manager John Russell said. “He needs to trust himself a little more.”

Morton’s ERA is nearly twice as high as it was last season, when he went 5-9 with a 4.55 ERA in 18 games with Pittsburgh. He was 4-8 with a 6.15 ERA for Atlanta in 2008. For his career, Morton is 10-27 with a 6.27 ERA in 45 games.

Earlier in the season, Pirates management insisted Morton didn’t stay in the rotation for nearly two months merely to justify the team’s decision to acquire him from Atlanta.

For now, the Pirates are saying only that Morton will start Saturday at home against Washington, a performance that may decide whether he stays with them for the rest of the season. Morton is one of five Pirates pitchers with at least 10 losses, the first time since 1954 the franchise has had that many double-digit losers.

“At some point, we may feel like it’s better to do something else (with Morton),” Russell said.


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BYU football goes solo; other sports to WCC


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