Lions around the dorm

Two of Around The Dorm’s inaugaural ramblers return to ATD this week, as staff writer Ray Lodato and WTSR News Director Pat Lavery do battle with newly christened staff writer and ATD newcomer Kristina Shemming. The trio will argue over the legitimacy of Carlos Zambrano’s no-no, who got hurt the most by Gilbert Arenas’ most recent injury and the struggle for power in the NFL. Sports Editor James Queally shows them what’s up and/or judges.

1. Last week’s Astros-Cubs game was held in Milwaukee’s Miller Park instead of in Houston due to Hurricane Ike. Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano pitched a no-hitter with support from the 23,000 Cubs fans who made the trip to Milwaukee. Was this location fair and was Zambrano’s no-no legit?

KS: If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around, does it make a sound? Of course it does. So, if Carlos Zambrano throws a no-hitter and no one is there to watch, it still happened, right? OK, so 23,000 people isn’t quite “no one.” Regardless, the venue was definitely fair. Last time I checked, neutral means neutral. Saying it’s an unfair location is like the Patriots saying they lost the Super Bowl because Arizona’s air was just a little too dry. It’s like somebody saying the WNBA is a success. The real fact of the matter is Zambrano completely baffled the Astros and was one walk away from a perfect game. He deserves all the credit he gets.

RL: Getting Miller Park was a tough draw for the Astros. Cubs fans obviously made the trip en masse, giving Zambrano a pretty friendly canvas to paint on. But is it unfair, and is his no-no legitimate? This is a natural disaster being compared to a baseball game, so unless Mother Nature is a Cubs fan and had money on the under, I wouldn’t call it unfair. I mean, these are professional athletes; they should be able to get it done wherever, whenever, especially when the season is on the line. I can’t see how his no-hitter is any less convincing either. If anything, just being in Milwaukee should’ve given him a contact buzz. The only thing the fair denizens of Milwaukee like more than Brett Favre is drinking. This is less a case of a cosmic bad break for the Astros and more a case of the Cubs being a far superior ball club, which they’ve shown all year.

PL: With apologies to the Church Lady … “Let’s break this down, shall we?” The available National League stadiums last Sunday were: Atlanta, Chicago (obviously not eligible), Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, San Francisco, St. Louis and Washington. I’m just assuming the National League wanted this game played in an NL park. Because the Cardinals are the Cubs’ fiercest rivals, St. Louis – though closest to Houston – probably wasn’t a popular choice. So Milwaukee, 90 miles outside of Chicago, was picked. The location was fair because if Cubs fans came that far to see their team, why didn’t Brewers fans come in droves to root against the team that was leading Milwaukee in the division? A no-hitter is tough enough to accomplish. It doesn’t matter where Zambrano pitched; he could have played on the moon for all I care. He was untouchable on Sunday, and the league should let it stand.

JQ: You all hit the nail on the head. Zambrano would have rocked the Brewers’ world, regardless of the stadium. But was the location fair? The Brew Crew have been dead weight in the NL Central for a while now, so it’s obvious even the Brewers fans who showed up would have been cheering for the Cubs, since the Astros were nipping at Milwaukee’s heels at the time of the game. Pat gets the 3 for mentioning Milwaukee was the only real destination for the game. Ray and Kristina: Yikes. Ray lost me at binge drinking, and Kristina spent too much time scribbling similes and not enough arguing. Ray, the Cubs are better, but I’m still confused. You get 1. Kristina, you’re going to get your dose of rookie hazing on this question with a big fat 0.

2. With Brady out, the Colts struggling and the Cowboys squeaking by the Eagles in Week 2, who do you think is the best team in the NFL at this point? Are there less dominant teams this year than last?

KS: They call them America’s team for a reason. Not only do they make for an exciting HBO special, but their roster is loaded. Quarterback Tony Romo has too many options, from tight end Jason Witten to Public Enemy No. 1, Terrell Owens. Marion Barber is not only the man from inside the five-yard line, but also enjoys a nice classical piano session. Teaming this star-studded offense with a defense that has played nowhere near its potential after the acquisitions of Adam “Don’t Call Me Pacman” Jones and Zach Thomas, and the Cowboys should run through the NFL.

RL: I literally want to take a step back and punch myself in the face for saying it, but, at this point and time, the Cowboys look like the best team in football – and not just on paper. The Cowboys-Eagles Monday nighter was easily the best football game of the season so far – both college and professional – with both teams taking each other to the brink in a wildly exciting shootout that showed exactly how potent each team is. Obviously it’s early and there’s still plenty of time for the Cowboys’ potentially volatile mishmash of personality and talent to cave in like a house of cards (I hear the strip clubs in Dallas are lovely this time of year) but so far, so great. As far as the rest of the league looking less dominant: Relax, it’s early. There’s a reason “midseason form” has become the overused colloquialism it has. Nagging offseason injuries (Colts, Jaguars) and bogus penalty calls combined with bad breaks (Chargers) have taken the league’s elite down a few notches. They’ll be back.

PL: After just two weeks, I can tell there are definitely fewer dominant teams this year. It’s hard to differentiate 2-0 from 0-2 sometimes, especially when the Cardinals and Chargers, respectively, own those records, but many teams have played not only outside of expectations – some above, some below – but also inconsistently. Picking the “best” from the 2-0 squads, I’d say that Dallas is still No. 1. Green Bay, Pittsburgh and the Giants have each played one mediocre game (Green Bay needed a disastrous fourth quarter from Jon Kitna to beat Detroit). The team that could challenge Dallas is Denver; though they were extremely lucky against San Diego, Jay Cutler and the coaching staff have all shown guts.

JQ: I like the idea of Ray punching himself in the face, but I love the fact that he told sports pundits to shut the hell up for a minute. It’s Week 2, people. The Giants were 0-2 last year. Anything can happen. 3 points for you, sir. Kristina goes with the safe-but-solid argument I’ve made so often this year: The Cowboys have more offensive weapons than some Third-World countries. On paper, they have to be the favorites. Congrats rookie, you’ve got 2. Pat, my dear friend, where did you go wrong? Denver beat the Raiders, which is like Major League Soccer in the United States (see: meaningless), and they needed Ed Hochulie’s eyesight to fail in order to beat a superior Chargers team. Uno.

3. After signing a $111 million, six-year contract in the offseason, Washington Wizards All-Star Gilbert Arenas recently announced that he will be out until December with another knee surgery. Was the re-signing a good decision for the Wiz? Is this news worse for Arenas or the team?

KS: Well, things could be worse. Remember a few months ago when Arenas wanted the Good Samaritan award for taking $15 million less to stay in the nation’s capital? He could have signed for more than $125 million in Golden State, but made sure to let the media know what a good guy he was for re-signing in D.C. for less. The Wizards couldn’t possibly pass on re-signing the face of their franchise at a discount price of $111 million. Without him, they are a sub-.500 team in the pathetic Eastern Conference. But with Agent Zero, the Wizards have a chance to contend by teaming him with Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison. Obviously, Arenas’ injury is worse for the Wiz than for Arenas, because either way the man is going to make his money. All Wizards fans can hope for is the team hanging around until mid-December to make a late-season playoff push.

RL: Lucky for Agent Zero, he didn’t hesitate on spending that hard-earned paper – Gilbert paid a cool $1 million for an in-ground pool and grotto with built-in fish tanks, so he’ll have plenty of time to rehabilitate that knee in an environment that’s aesthetically pleasing. Speaking of which, what’s the likelihood Gilbert’s knee scope that cleared out a bit of debris is all just a grand rouge to get him more leisure time with Gilbert’s grotto girls? I mean, we’re talking about the same guy that was banned from Xbox Live last year for cheating at Halo 3 in his downtime – and then blogged about it. He’s clearly living the high life. Moving up from Halo 3 to “Perfect 10s” in string bikinis is like that first time when you were in sixth grade and figured out that if you play with it enough you’ll.

PL: First off, any time a player of Arenas’ caliber is injured for an extended period of time, it’s worse news for the team. While no player can win every game for you, the loss of such an important player affects team strategy and chemistry. By contrast, at this point Arenas’ focus has to be on rehabbing his knee the best he possibly can so he can return to the Wizards and immediately make a contribution; he cannot be concerned about how the team will perform in his absence. As for his new contract, the Wizards knew full well Arenas had knee problems. That being said, when Arenas is healthy, he is one of the better point guards in the league, so I don’t have a problem with the signing.

JQ: Rookie, you impress me once more. Kristina is the only one to answer to entire question here by addressing the signing and the fact that the Wizards would be even more mediocre without Agent Zero. 3 for you, young one. Pat, I like your argument, but team chemistry doesn’t apply here. The Wizards have been the No. 5 seed sent packing by the Cavs in round one for the past two years, once with Arenas, once without: 2 points. Ray, you made me laugh, you made me cry – you alluded to masturbation? Next time, answer the question before trying to be a comedian. 1 point.

Pat wins in a dismal showing by all 6-5-5