A weekend of sports…

May 05, 2008 | Nestor Aparicio

For anyone wondering if John Harbaugh has the ear and the participation of his new team, his actions over the weekend proved his head and his heart are aligned.

While most of us were asleep on Saturday morning, Harbaugh covertly gathered virtually every member of the organization – players, coaches and front office staff — onto four buses and trudged them down to the Inner Harbor at daybreak to run a 5K race to benefit amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Running the race, inspired by former Ravens linebacker O.J. Brigance’s courageous battle against the disease, was a last-minute surprise for all but the participation was amazing. Many brought spouses and kids to run the race. See the videos at WNST.net.
 
Have the Ravens ever drafted a guy with more intrigue than Joe Flacco? Everyone wants to know more about the Div. 1-AA quarterback and whether he’s the savior of our purple Sundays. In the past nine days I’ve also had dozens of people mention their Blue Hen pride. Who knew there were so many Delaware grads around Baltimore?

The Orioles snuck into and out of town so quickly this week that, once again, no one seemed to notice. Three games were played downtown against Tampa Bay and it could be argued that less than 20,000 decided to come down and check out a game. That’s 20,000 – as in for ALL THREE GAMES combined! Looks like their cheesy commercials and “This is Birdland” campaign isn’t going nearly as well as the team’s fortunes on the field, where the progress has been noticeable.

Between the lines, it’s actually astonishing on a statistical level that the Orioles are hovering a tad bit above .500 at this point.

They have no one hitting anywhere near .300, Kevin Millar and Ramon Hernandez flirt daily with the Mendoza line and the team is without a legitimate major league shortstop. But, they’ve had a knack for getting big hits in big late-inning situations so the old “Oriole Magic” has also been witnessed.

But it’s always the pitching that leads the way for good teams and the problems on the mound are a constant gray cloud. Their Opening Day starter (Jeremy Guthrie) just got his first win late last week. The long-term health of their No. 1 prospect (Adam Loewen) is in doubt. Steve Trachsel stinks (as expected). Daniel Cabrera is the baseball equivalent of a box of chocolates.

So, it looks like it’s up to the trio of youngsters — Matt Albers, Garrett Olson and Brian Burres — to continue to look like junior versions of Maddux, Smoltz and Glavine in their prime if the O’s will stay interesting and in the hunt beyond Memorial Day. And let’s not forget the bullpen, which has also been solid for the most part and kept them in the hunt even when the starters have been shoved around.

Saturday night I felt like a man twice my age. In the same eight hour period, I actually watched horse racing AND boxing in the same evening for the first time in 15 years. Very 1972, very Howard Cosell, very much like my father, but still kinda fun.

What a shame about Eight Belles and the horror of watching the second-place filly get put down less than five minutes after Kent Desormeaux’s brilliant ride of Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby.

And Oscar de la Hoya made Saturday night interesting in a schooling of Steve Forbes, while tuning up for another huge payday and big fight with Floyd Mayweather in September.

Hockey has also been worth watching, as the battle of Pennsylvania is looming with the Penguins and Flyers battling for a Stanley Cup final berth. Just watching the highlights of the Rangers-Penguins game yesterday was wearing me out.

 

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