19 points to ponder

May 19, 2008 | Drew Forrester

1. If you think Jeremy Guthrie has bad luck, check out the season Aaron Harang is having in Cincinnati. He’s made 10 starts, gone 6 or more innings in all ten, allowed 3 earned runs or less in 8 of his 10 outings – and he’s 2-5 with a 3.12 e.r.a. He’s one of the best kept secrets in the National League.
2. The Tampa Bay Rays are for real until the games REALLY matter. They remind me of a journeyman who leads the U.S. Open after two rounds. Eventually, when he realizes he’s in the hunt for the U.S. Open for the first time, the putts stop falling and the iron shots lose their crispness. Once Tampa Bay realizes they’re in the hunt, they’ll crack too. By August, Boston will remind you of Big Brown, pulling away from the field.
3. If anyone sees Danny Briere, remind him we have a 1:10 pm tee time at Mountain Branch today (Monday) if he wants to join us.
4. I don’t know what the Tigers did to wreck their team, but they sure wrecked it. Holy cow. 
5. If the season ended today, George Sherrill would be the O’s MVP. 
6. Sergio Garcia and Stuart Appleby are probably the two best players on the PGA Tour who haven’t won a major – and, until yesterday, I would have said Ryuji Imada and Camillo Villegas are the two best players on TOUR who haven’t won a tournament. But Imada won in Atlanta, leaving Villegas as the best winless player out there.
7. As gutless as the Celtics were in Game 6 against Cleveland, they showed a lot of heart on Sunday in Game 7. The Cavs threw everything they had at them, but Boston toughened up down the stretch to win. NBA games are generally really good or really horrible. Game 7 was really good.
8. Have you noticed how many previously bad – written off – teams are hovering around .500 through 40 games or so in MLB? Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and Texas are each hanging tough 10 weeks into the season. Florida leads the National League East and they pay half their team minimum wage.
9. A bird in a tree in Harford County who knows the situation very well tells me A.J. Burnett wants to sign in Baltimore when his deal expires in Toronto after 2010. Be on alert.
10. The May 31 “uniform change deadline” is rapidly approaching. Will the Orioles do the right thing this year? I just checked in with Vegas. They have the odds at 40-1 that the O’s make the (BALTIMORE) change for ’09. Yep, it’s a longshot. You’re not surprised, though, right? Yeah, me neither. Why do something to make the fans happy?
11. At the beginning of the season, I said Detroit and the Chicago Cubs would play in the World Series. I’m still liking my Cubs pick. I have a hunch the Detroit pick was a bad one. 
12.  If I were setting the wins-total betting line on the Ravens for ’08, I’d make it 8.  You want the over or under? I’d take the xxxxxx (wait until August for the answer).
13. So, I received a half-dozen e-mails from folks who walked up to OPACY on Saturday and endured long lines at the ticket windows. Two people who wrote me had to wait in line for 50 minutes to get seats to the O’s/Nats game. Why are you writing me? Write the Orioles. 
14. Why would anyone run their horse up against Big Brown in the Belmont? I guess some owners just like throwing away money, huh?
15. Barry Zito is now 0-8 in San Francisco this year. What a gigantic (expensive) steamer he’s dropped on the Giants in the last two seasons.
16. How’s Joe Girardi doing in New York so far? 
17. One of my well placed birds-in-a-tree at The Warehouse tells me the O’s are likely to give Matt Wieters a look-see this September…as long as he comes out of his Frederick Keys season in good health.
18. They had 112,000 at the Preakness on Saturday…that tells you two things: Baltimore likes a good party and the race is still alive and well here.
19.  Do you think we’ll get sick of seeing Magic/Bird highlights if the Lakers and Celtics eventually meet in this year’s NBA Championship Series? Yeah, by about Game 2, I’d say.

19 points to ponder…

May 05, 2008 | Drew Forrester

1. Steve Trachsel is starting to look like his “low fuel” light is on. I’d give him the ball three more times and if he keeps stinking up the joint, I’d promote Matt Albers to the starting rotation and let Trachsel operate out of the bullpen. Why not? The Orioles are “rebuilding” and Albers has been effective throughout the first month.
2. As much as it pains me to say it based mainly on the scandalous way they eliminated the Caps, I’d take Richards, Carter, Upshall and Biron from the Flyers on my team any day of the week. As for that pansy Briere – you can have him on your team.
3. The kid who won on the PGA Tour this week – Anthony Kim – will win a major title in ’08 or ’09. Don’t be surprised if he’s hanging around on the weekend at Torrey Pines next month in the U.S. Open. He’s played the course a lot in his life, sort of like the guy who’s going to be the favorite.
4. Brandon Webb is 7-0 for the Diamondbacks with a 2.49 e.r.a. – and he’s allowed 2 home runs in 47 innings. On the flip side, both C.C. Sabathia and Justin Verlander – realistic A.L. Cy Young candidates at the start of the season – are both now 1-5.
5. Just when it looked like “5-Walk” was going to battle Jon Garland down to the final out on Saturday in Anaheim, Cabrera walked one and hit another guy with a pitch and that opened the floodgates in the 3-1 loss. Perhaps it’s the arrival of Kranitz or the departure of Mazzone…either way, one could argue this has been Daniel’s best month – consistency wise – of his career. 
6. Jose Contreras was born December 6, 1971, making him 36 years old. Yeah, I’m with you – the dude looks 50…honestly.
7. How funny was it to hear Brendan Haywood – a guy who hasn’t won ANYTHING in the NBA – bellyaching about LeBron James during the Wizards ouster at the hands of Cleveland? The King should get hazard pay for having to carry that Cavs team around on his back all season.
8. The O’s loss on Sunday in Anaheim (6-5) smelled eerily similar to games they squandered LAST season. Bad baserunning was at the forefront, particularly Brian Roberts getting picked off first base in the top of the ninth.  How the hell can that possibly happen?
9. Big Brown’s last 300 yards was “cruise control” on Saturday at the Kentucky Derby. Let’s see how many people pony up the entry fee for the Preakness in two weeks. I’m betting the field is no larger than 9. Anyone else smell that? It’s the aroma of a Triple Crown winner.
10. I don’t know who those ruffians are pitching for Oakland on Monday (Dana Eveland) and Tuesday (Justin Duchscherer)…the O’s should win 2 of 3 in that series. 

11. Ya gotta admit, that kid Papelbon is a helluva pitcher in Boston.

12. Looking at their respective schedules, both the Redskins and Steelers are going to have a tough time winning 10 games in ’08. Wouldn’t that be a shame, huh? Washington lays a giant ’08 steamer and goes 7-9 to usher in the Jim Zorn era, while Pittsburgh throws up a nice, tidy 7-9 campaign punctuated by a couple of losses to the Ravens.

13. Some college golfer from Pepperdine made 9 birdies in a row last week in a tournament and shot 60…then came back the next day and shot 81. Same guy, same clubs, same course…you explain it.
14. If you asked me to rank “the coolest athletes” in all of sports, I think jockeys might just be #1.
15. Just think how ultra-lopsided the Tejada trade would look right now if Troy Patton hadn’t gone down with that shoulder injury and he was 3-2 with a 2.87 e.r.a. instead of Brian Burres.
16. Another spring, another early playoff exit for Jaromir Jagr. 
17. Speaking of the losers-in-maroon down in D.C., do you realize they haven’t been to the Super Bowl since 1992? 1992. 1-9-9-2. It sure doesn’t seem that long ago that they were good, but I guess it is…and they won’t be going to the big game anytime soon, so that streak will start to take on a life of its own in a couple of years. 
18. Every time the O’s feeble offense squeezes out 4 hits in a game, Mark Teixeira’s price tag jumps up $100,000.
19. Something tells me the worst is yet to come for Roger Clemens. I don’t know what other misery the man could have heaped on him, but I just have a hunch they’ll be another major news story involving “The Rocket” sometime soon. He reminds me of Patrick Dempsey’s character in the movie, “Can’t Buy Me Love”. Clemens went from “totally shic to totally geek”, in the snap of a finger.

19 points to ponder

April 28, 2008 | Drew Forrester

Baby Ethan kept me up from 11:30-2:30 this morning talking about the Ravens draft, so I wasn’t thinking very clearly at 6:07 am when we hit the air.  Otherwise, I would have used a handful of “rainy day” songs on The Comcast Morning Show today – including “Raining in Baltimore” (Counting Crows) and “It’s Raining Again” (Supertramp).

Here’s a rainy edition of 19 points for you – and you know what to do.  Read, Ponder and Reply.  Sort of like Lather, Rinse, Repeat, but better.

1. Here’s my overall review of the Ravens 2008 college draft. I can sum it up in seven words: I trust Ozzie, Eric and their staff. 
2. My old friend Walt Grabowski had a saying back in the old days when we chased the little white ball around at Mount Pleasant – “beware the bad drive” (because, it seemed, he always made birdies after hitting terrible drives). Someone needs to tell that to Ryan Moore. Adam Scott won the PGA Tour event in Dallas Sunday after dumping his tee-shot on the third playoff in a fairway bunker, then half-fatting it onto the green from 115 yards. Moore, meanwhile, hit it 308 off the tee and buzzed a 120-yard sand wedge to 15 feet. All Scott did at that point was drain the 50-footer for birdie to win the tournament. “Beware the bad drive…”
3. My hunch is Joe Flacco will play – at some point – during the 2008 season. 
4. Congrats to the Blast on winning the MISL title in Milwaukee on Saturday. I watched most of the game. How the hell did Monterrey get in the Championship game? I only saw about three guys on their team that could have played on the Blast’s team. 
5. The Bengals (Keith Rivers, USC) and Steelers (Rashard Mendenhall, Illinois) both made quality picks in the first round of the draft. And, here’s hoping none of the Redskins draft picks work out and they free fall to the bottom of the NFC East in ’08 (a likely scenario).
6. Maybe it’s me, but I swear hockey on TV is much, much easier to follow if you’re watching in Hi-Def. Watch a game in HD and tell me if I’m wrong. 
7. The Ravens did themselves a favor by not picking Keon Lattimore in the draft. Now, let’s hope they avoid the inevitable urge to invite him in as a free agent. That could cause nothing but trouble with #52.
8. The Orioles need two more bats – maybe three – and they could win half of their games. The starting pitching has been better than I thought, although “5-walk Danny” is always a candidate to go on a tear where he gives up 20 runs in 4 starts. Get a real shortstop, get a catcher than can hit (Wieters, I presume?) and get a first baseman/power hitter for the #4 slot and they might be a perennial contender for third place in the A.L. East.
9. I have to admit I didn’t really understand the Ray Rice pick, but that’s probably because I don’t pay enough attention to Rutgers Football. 
10. Speaking of being a perennial contender for third place in the A.L. East, the Tampa Rays might just fit that bill by next year if all this young pitching really pans out the way it looks like it might. Kazmir, Shields, Sonnanstine, Jackson, Garza…could be formidable if they all stay healthy for a season.
11. Someone might want to make a note of the fact that LeBron doesn’t react well when he’s called over-rated before a playoff series. I already have the ’08-09 Wizards promotional theme figured out…it will fit on bumper stickers, t-shirts, etc. Ready? Here it is: “Sssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhh”
12. While on the subject of the Tampa Rays, don’t forget they’re in Baltimore for a 3-game series this Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Evidently – I got this from a reliable source – there are plenty of good seats available for all three games.
13. I realize they have to utilize 20 different “talking heads” during all that NFL draft coverage because guys run out of things to say, but the on-air sniping between Kiper, Jaws, Mortensen and Todd McShay was a little uncomfortable for me – and I’m not even on the set. They all obviously value their own opinion and it doesn’t take much for one of them to say something that the other takes exception to and then it’s a back-and-forth snarl session until the next commercial break. Kiper probably feels the most slighted since he sort of half-invented the mock draft and all.
14. Anyone else out there seriously worried about Adam Loewen’s health besides me?
15. I don’t know a whole lot about their day two picks, but after seeing what they did on day one with Dorsey, Albert and Flowers, I’ll agree with all of the experts who say the Kansas City Chiefs “won” the ’08 NFL draft. At least for now, anyway. Three years from now if those guys haven’t helped the Chiefs make some noise in the playoffs, we’ll all forget about how good their ’08 draft was, right?
16. I realize the O’s haven’t played the Angels or Red Sox yet – and I KNOW it’s still early – but I haven’t seen one team so far that Dave Trembley’s team can’t compete with – including the pitching-fractured Yankees. I usually wait until at least 25% of the games are played to make an assessment, but either most of the teams aren’t as good as we thought they’d be or the Orioles are better than we thought they’d be. 
17. The marketing and “game presentation” at the Verizon Center last Tuesday night when Washington hosted Philth-adelphia in Game 7 of the NHL playoffs might have been the best I’ve ever seen. Music, movie clips on the big screen, everyone in red, text service during the game…it was very, very well done. Too bad the referees stole the game from the Caps.
18. In his first four starts of the season, Cliff Lee of the Indians has allowed 11 hits in 29.2 innings, surrendered 1 earned run and walked four people. Oh, yeah, he’s 4-0.
19. Anyone else hear the long awaited new CD from Counting Crows, “Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings”? I give it a B.

19 points to ponder…

April 21, 2008 | Drew Forrester

1. Frank Thomas in Baltimore? No thanks. The guy is a Hall of Famer and all, but there’s no sense in bringing him in here and taking at bats away from our power hitter. Wait, what power hitter? Seriously, though…the “Big Hurt” would just wind up being the “Big Disappointment”. The team’s moving in a new direction and F.T. wouldn’t fit in with it.
2. Shaq called Kobe Bryant “the best player in the NBA” in a playoff preview on NBC. Wow, talk about trying to soften a guy up in case you have to play against him later on in the post-season. If you gave Shaq that “Meet The Fockers truth-serum-needle-in-the-neck”, you know there’s no way in hell he really thinks Kobe is the best player in the league. 
3. Maybe this is the way it was supposed to be. After playing about two weeks worth of Game 7’s to close out the NHL regular season, the Caps now face a Game 7 situation tomorrow in “Philthy”…win, or go home. And, if they can win tomorrow night, the final game would be in Washington on Tuesday night. Nothing would be better than seeing the Flyers C-H-O-K-E away that 3-games-to-1 lead.   
4. Someone tell George Sherrill to fix the brim of his baseball cap, please. Sheesh…
5. Three weekend home games against the Yankees and NONE were sold out. Hmmm. Oh, I know: It was the weather.
6. Anyone out there who wonders why veteran football players aren’t keen on attending April mini-camps should see exhibit A: Quinn Sypniewski. 
7. Did you see the final 90 seconds of the Wizards Game 1 loss to Cleveland? Holy cow, LeBron is a wrecking machine. 
8. I’d take Derek Jeter on my team any day.
9. Boo Weekley hit a bad shot in Friday’s second round of the PGA Tour event in Hilton Head, SC and said (loud enough for the ground mic to pick up), “Aww, shucks, Boo, what kind of shot is that? You stink, son.” That was just a tad different than in this year’s Masters when Tiger hit a bad shot and said, “Tiger, you dumb ass.”
10. “With the first pick in 2008 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select…Chris Long, University of Virginia.”
11. Adam Jones can play a mean centerfield. 
12. So, this guy is on the beach in Hawaii and a mermaid washes up on shore and says to him, “I can grant you any wish in the world. Any wish. You just tell me and I’ll make it happen.” The guy thinks for a second and says, “My wife and I both have a terrible fear of flying and we just bought a condo here in Hawaii. I’d like for you to build a bridge from our home in San Diego to Hawaii, so all the people in the U.S. who have a fear of flying can drive from California to Hawaii and enjoy this great island.” The mermaid says, “I can’t believe it. I’ve granted over 10,000 wishes in my life but I’ve finally come across something that I physically can not do. There’s just too much involved. Too much engineering work…too much labor…too many structural issues…too much material. I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to make another wish.” The guy ponders it for a minute and suddenly lights up. “I know, my wife and I are diehard Washington Redskins fans. Would you see to it that they win the Super Bowl this coming season?” The mermaid thinks that request over for a second. “That bridge you were talking about….you want me to make that two lanes or four?”
13. I don’t have the stats in front of me. When’s the last time Aubrey Huff jacked one? 
14. Hell hath no fury like a team picking a quarterback in the draft with a history of not having good quarterbacks. If – and that’s still a big if – the Ravens pick Matt Ryan, he damn well better turn into something special. For his own sake.
15. No one is talking about it because it’s women’s golf, but Lorena Ochoa has won four LPGA tournaments in a row. No one does that.
16. I’m glad the Blast won their MISL Semi-Final series with Milwaukee in two games and that dumb “one-goal, mini-game” wasn’t necessary. I very familiar with travel expenses, arena rent, and all that stuff, but to decide a playoff series on one “sudden death” goal is just not very smart. Here’s hoping the Blast finishes it off in style next weekend in the Championship game.
17. If it is indeed a “competition” in training camp, I’m going to bet that Troy Smith beats out Kyle Boller. Why? Because I think the team wants Smith. The players are just like the fans when it comes to Boller. “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.” 
18. True story: A couple of years ago I was playing in the U.S. Open qualifier at Towson Golf and Country Club and I was paired with a journeyman PGA Tour/Nationwide Tour player named John “Jumbo” Elliott. He was 3-under par for the day and hit a great shot into #14, a 230-yard par-3. As he set his ball down to putt for birdie from about 6-feet, I said, “Knock it in, John.” He missed the putt. Walking down the fairway at #15, he said to me, “Hey, I’m not trying to be a d*ck or anything like that, but when I have a birdie putt would you mind not saying, ‘Knock it in’…I know you mean well and all, but it makes me think you really don’t want me to make it.” Wow. Talk about thinking too much. Then again, he played in two U.S. Opens in his career.
19. A bird in a tree tells me the Ravens are very impressed with Ryan Clady (OT) from Boise State.

’19 points’ to ponder

March 03, 2008 | Drew Forrester

It’s a Monday, so here’s that “19 points to ponder” blog you count on to get your week off to a great start. 


1. When you have a 20-point lead in the second half – at home – in a “must-win” game at the end of the season…and you don’t win…you don’t deserve to go to the tournament.  At least Jason McAlpin will get to play another home game.  Maryland will probably host someone like Niagara in the first round of the NIT, assuming they don’t win the MAAC.


2. If you and I both get an NBA expansion franchise and we’re each allowed to take just one player from a current club, I’m taking LeBron James and you can have anyone else, including Kobe, Dwight Howard or Carmelo. 


3. I’m aware that the Browns don’t have many draft picks in ’08, but as of today I think they have to be considered next season’s pre-season favorites in the AFC North.  The Donte Stallworth signing was a good one…and that rock-star pass catching duo of Edwards and Winslow Jr. now gives them three dangerous receivers. If only they’d put a logo on their helmet.  It’s hard to take a team seriously when they leave their helmets blank.


4. If I had a vote, my top three for Towson University basketball MVP in ’07-08 would be:  1) C.C. Williams   2) Junior Hairston  3) Jonathan Pease


5. I think the Michael Turner signing by the Falcons is a great step for them to get back into the thick of the NFC South race.  They need a QB, among other things (and, yes, I know, they just re-signed Chris Redman but he’s not the answer), but Turner should be a real force for them on the ground.  Tampa Bay was 4-12 in ’06 and rebounded to win the division title in ’07.  It’s not hard to go from worst-to-first (or first-to-worst) in the NFC South


6. Nice win for Ernie Els yesterday at The Honda Classic.  With Tiger not in the field, it should probably only count as a half-win in his official statistics.  Ernie can’t win when Tiger plays. 


7. Kevin Millar will hit the first home run of the season for the Baltimore baseball team.  It will come in the 4th inning of the home opener against Tampa Bay.  I can’t get much more exact than that.


8. I’m still saying the Ravens are taking USC’s Sedrick Ellis with the #8 pick in the draft.  I’ll let you know if that changes between now and then.


9  Kansas State only has 18 wins right now and they’re by no means a lock for the NCAA tournament, but if they get in, that kid Michael Beasley might score 50 points in a game. And he’s a freshman?  Better cut him open and check the rings.  K-State could be a tough out if they get in the big dance.


10. Why would the J-E-T-S pay that much money ($40 million/$21 million guaranteed) for Alan Faneca, an offensive guard?  The only guys who command that much money are guys who touch the ball or touch the quarterback (that’s an Ozzie-ism).


11. American League Division winners:  Boston, Detroit, Seattle (Cleveland, Wild Card)


12. Does our baseball team have a better chance of winning 55 games or 75 games in ’08?


13. I’m telling you, having the #1 draft pick in the NFL is a curse.  All those good players to choose from – and that’s great and all, but you also realize that you’re the ONLY team in the league that passes on every other player besides the one you decide to take.


14. The old Milwaukee Brewers logo with the “mb” in the shape of a baseball glove is still the best sports logo ever…the old New England Patriots logo with the patriot snapping the ball is a close second.


15. National League Division winners:  New York, Chicago, Los Angeles (Arizona, Wild Card)


16. Greg Norman could have easily won 10 major titles in his career.  Instead, he won two (both were British Opens).  We sure would look at his career differently if he would have won those 10.


17. It pains me to say it, but Duke will win the ACC tournament.


18. Cristobal Huet will be the Caps goaltender of choice down the stretch this season. If they make the playoffs, he’ll be a big reason why.


19. I tried to have an Orioles player or executive on the show today to give all of you an update on what’s going on with our local baseball team, but the team didn’t return my calls/text messages yesterday.  Might as well change the name of spring training games in Florida from Grapefruit League to Bush League.