Derrick Mason & Jeremy Guthrie

July 14, 2009 |

I thought early July was supposed to be a slow period for sports/news. Most of the media- types take off in July and I thought I’d take a page from their book. I’d go to the beach and come back recharged and ready to go for the Orioles big push for respectability and the Ravens flight to the Super Bowl. So much has happened in the week and a half I was away.

 

Derrick Mason  

When I got the text from WNST about Mason announcing his retirement I was shocked. After stepping back and thinking about it for a while it actually made sense to me.

 

Last year was the second season he played in the NFL without Steve McNair as a teammate. Now, he can’t even talk to him. The man is hurt and grieving. I don’t believe it is a ploy for a better contract.

 

He has lost one of his best friends. He worked out and found no joy in training yesterday. He went home and looked at his wife and kids and said I don’t need the hassle. I’ve got enough money and my shoulder is killing me. Do I really want to be away from my family for 8+ months just to play football?

 

Today, the answer was no. It will probably stay that way until sometime in August. Then, after he has started to heal the competitor in him will come out. What better way to pay tribute to his fallen brother, than to win the one game that has eluded them both. Mason will come back to try to win a Super Bowl for Steve McNair.

 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FE56V04f28k[/youtube]

 

I won’t guarantee he will be back but I think it’s better than 60/40 he will be return for at least one more season. After taking some time off to clear his head and talking to Ray Lewis, Mason and the Ravens will dedicate the season to Steve McNair.

 

Mason’s retirement has left the Ravens with a huge question mark. If he doesn’t return, who will step up and be the #1 receiver? I don’t see a block buster trade on the horizon. Every team knows we’re in need and will want a pound of flesh for an average WR. The list of available free agents WR is unimpressive. See Luke Jones’ blog for a run down.  http://wnst.net/wordpress/lukejones/2009/07/13/let-the-wide-receiver-speculation-begin/

 

I’ll pick 2 players on the roster who I think could help and no one is mentioning as potential replacements for Mason.

 

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a huge Ray Rice fan. I think he is primed for a big year. He isn’t the big burning receiver we have longed for but he is quick and showed he can catch the ball. I’ve said before he can be our modern day version of Lenny Moore. I rather use him like Brian Westbrook and occasionally in the slot but we need to be creative if Mason stays retired.

 

Eron Riley is a RFA from Duke who I think has great potential. He’s 6’3” and 200 lbs. He needs to add weight and get stronger. He has one thing that you cannot teach: a sub 4.4 in the forty. He was a good player on a very bad team. Surround him with talent equal to his own and he could be a very good. If we are lucky he may turn into a monster.

 

Together Rice & Riley may be the dynamic duo that replaces Mason as Flacco’s favorite targets. I’m not saying Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams can’t step up. They’ll have to for the Ravens to be successful. History hasn’t been on their side so far. Training camp has become that much more important for Flacco and his flock of receivers. Only 13 days and counting until the first snap in Westminster.

 

Orioles

I have to defend Jeremy Guthrie. We all know he has not pitched well this year. He may have injured himself in the World Baseball Classic or are his problems related to his frame of mind?

 

A long time ago the O’s had a young SS named Kiko Garcia. He was supposed to be the replacement for Mark Belanger. He was good player who got better every year. He could have won the World Series MVP in 79 if the O’s had beaten the Pirates. He went into salary arbitration with the O’s and he was never the same.

 

The Orioles showed film of all of his errors. They talked about his lack of RBI’s and low batting average. They said he wasn’t one of the better SS in the American League.  The O’s had groomed him to be their SS of the future. They had told him he was the man. Then they said he was terrible.

 

Garcia didn’t know which story to believe. Was he the O’s future or a piece of garbage? He lost confidence and regressed. He never lived up to the Orioles’ expectations.  The Orioles won the arbitration battle but lost the player development war. We know how much talent the farm system produced after that. One position player for 20 years, some guy named Cal Ripken Jr.

 

The O’s have done the same thing to Guthrie. For the last 2 years he has been the best “Hard Luck” pitcher in the American League. Over the past 2 years he started 56 games and had an ERA under 4. He had no run support and pitched for 2 bad defensive teams.  He was the Orioles best starting pitcher by far. How was he rewarded? His pay was cut by $120,000.

 

I don’t know about anyone else but this would affect me and my opinion of my employer. Human nature tells you you’re not going to have the same drive if you’re mistreated. I think the Orioles planted seeds of doubt in Jeremy Guthrie’s mind. Do they really want me on the team? Could I be that bad?

 

Guthrie deserved better from the O’s. He actually wanted the ball and didn’t want to come out of games. He never complained, made excuses, or hid after losing a game. He set the kind of example that young pitchers need to see. The O’s were short-sighted in deciding to cut Guthrie’s pay. Once again the Orioles are reaping what they have sown.

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