Circling the Bases

September 03, 2007 |

So the Birds are in a race after all.

In case you’ve stopped checking the standings (probably a good idea right now), the Orioles lead Tampa Bay by just 4 games for fourth place in the AL East. And the way things are going for them, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them finish south of 70 wins this year. Ouch. When and where and how will this misery end?

I put myself through watching Buchholz’s no-no last night, and all the signs were there for another deflating finish to the season. No emotion besides Tejada looking like he was throwing the finger at Pedroia on that defensive gem; poor pitching, both from the starter (Olson) to the ‘pen yet again (hello there, Rocky Cherry – looks like you’ll fit in perfectly out there); and of course, Melvin Mora sulking, but this time from the bench.

Seriously, what would YOU do if you had “one voice” and the opportunity to TRULY run the baseball operations? Is it time to totally clean house, as quite a few callers advocated? Is there any chance at attracting one or two quality free agent hitters to Camden Yards (and yes, I can hear the laughter)? What about Bedard, now that he’s likely finished for the season? I think we can all agree that Bedard, Roberts, Tejada et al. would prefer a “change of scenery” (remember that quote from 2 offseasons ago, Miggy?). If ever there were a time to consider MAJOR changes to the 40 man roster, this offseason is it.

Good luck, Andy MacPhail. God knows you’re gonna need it.

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In other baseball news….With all due respect to my boy Rex Snider, the Yankees haven’t quite sewed up that playoff berth yet. In case you’ve totally stopped paying attention to baseball, and, here in Baltimore that’s totally understandable and acceptable, the Yanks lost 2 of 3 at home to Tampa Bay this weekend. So as for Rex’s schedule contention, that they’re going to fatten up on the likes of Tampa, K.C. and Baltimore, may I simply offer this: That’s why they play the games. To put it in terms that Franchise would understand, “It a’int over ’til it’s over.” And the ONLY way in for the Yankees is via the wild card. Seattle comes into the Bronx for a three game tilt beginning tomorrow, and while the M’s have lost an Oriole-like 9 in a row, they’re still just 2 games back of N.Y. for the wild card (and even more importantly, only 1 GB in the loss column). So keep an eye on doings up there in the Big Apple early this week, and go show your M’s love by summoning the powers of Alvin Davis, Edgar Martinez and Jay Buhner. Go M’s!

Shifting to the NL, I spoke about this yesterday, and it bears repeating here. If you’ve forgotten just how crazy, magical, amazing and fun the game of baseball can be (as I have – thanks again, Mr. A), I hope you at least caught some of the highlights from Philly’s 4 game sweep of the Mets last week. Big homers, 35 foot RBI singles, aggressive base running and an intensity that’s clearly missing here. I’ve got to admit, the Phillies are starting to get my attention – and affection. Ryan Howard is unreal, Chase Utley would be prized by any team, Jimmy Rollins is having an unbelievable season, and they’ve battled numerous significant injuries without complaint. This is a fun team to watch and cheer for, baseball fans.

I’m never going to give up my first baseball love, the Orioles. But just like a failing marriage, those Phillies are looking smokin’ hot from a distance. And I’m looking for some action! Yeah, baby!

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It’s disappointing to hear about Josh Portis’ suspension from the Maryland football team due to a violation of the school’s academic honor code. Portis will now miss his entire sophomore season to this, but it appears from all the quotes coming out of College Park that it’s an honest mistake and all parties are moving on with the season. It’s just too bad for Terps fans who were anxiously awaiting watching Portis play. Now it’s another year. On the bright side, Chris Porter gets an unobstructed chance to supplant Jordan Steffy as the Terps’ QB. And Steffy can breathe a little easier now that there’s just one guy behind him, not two.

While I’m here, kudos to Keon Lattimore for his excellent opening game last night. Anyone who had the pleasure of watching him play locally here at Mount Saint Joseph’s has to be happy for him and his development. I think he’s going to have a big year. Now let’s just get some Maryland football on TV, please. Somebody? Anybody?

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Eight days until the fun begins! This week, I’m going to blog all my NFL predictions for the regular season, including Division Champs, Conference Champs and Super Bowl Champs. As I do, I’d love to get your’s as well. Who knows, maybe I can get one of my sponsors to pony up a gift certificate for the overall winner. Email your picks to me at mark@wnst.net and I’ll save them. We can have a good laugh about it in February!

One last thought: Keep an eye on this Rodney Harrison/HGH story. It’s the result of a large investigation by several states and federal authorities. It bears watching.

Somehow, though, the timing is perfect, because the season kicks off in 4 days, and after the first week, ALL the talk will be about the games. Not the guys who play the games and admit to using “things” like HGH. Mark my words.

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