June 16, 2007 | Thyrl Nelson

In this decade long slump being experienced by the Orioles, Peter Angelos has certainly gotten his fair share of negative press, and deservedly so in most cases. Tonight I thought I’d take a second to play devil’s advocate and thank Mr. Angelos for the positive things that he’s accomplished during his tenure as O’s owner.
Mr. Angelos,
Thank You for holding my attention until the weather gets warm.
As a baseball fan I am an eternal optimist and can’t help but get caught up in the euphoria of each new season. Since the NBA seems to be getting worse and worse each year, I appreciate the diversion. But thanks for making sure that things are usually neatly wrapped up by mid June. I have really grown to appreciate relaxed summer nights over the past decade. Without baseball to distract me I am finding out that there are lots of fun ways to spend my summer entertainment dollars too.
Thanks for making tickets easy to get.
By your own admission, keeping prices low has prevented us from fielding a competitive team. Moving to Camden Yards was great, but tickets were much tougher to come by when we were good, and the stadium was new. I must admit that I enjoyed winning, but I also missed the old days when you could buy a ticket on game day. You have solved that old catch 22 and made getting tickets easier than ever. Thanks a lot for that one.
Thanks for not getting my hopes up.
Maybe as I am getting older, it’s better that I get an emotional break for part of the calendar year. After all I live and die with the Ravens and Terps, just like I used to do with the O’s. From a medical standpoint, the apathy that you’ve instilled in me as an O’s fan will probably add years to my life.
Thanks for bringing back Eddie Murray.
Seriously, thanks for that one. I don’t know how big or small of a role you had in it, but chasing Eddie out of town was possibly the worst gaffe in Baltimore sports history. Thanks for trying to make that one right.
Thanks for firing Davey Johnson.
Most historical catastrophes can be traced back to a single event, which marks the beginning of the end. Clearly firing Davey Johnson on the day he received manager of the year honors marked the beginning of the end for the birds. Props for providing historical perspective.
Thanks for the two headed GM.
Again, if you refuse to entertain us on the field, at least you keep it interesting off of it. The two-headed GM approach was comical all by itself, evidenced by the fact that so many other professional teams are doing it. But compounding it by giving neither real decision making power is pure comic genius. Big ups for Beat-Again and Dukee-gan.
Thanks for keeping Jim Palmer around.
Again, I am serious about this one. He is the one credible member of the organization who is still along for the ride. Palmer is an entertaining dude, and I swear he remembers every pitch he ever threw. I suppose it’s only a matter of time before he oversteps his bounds, as the reigns seem to be tightening at the warehouse. But for as long as it lasts, I appreciate you keeping Palmer around.
Thanks for alienating the media.
Again this goes back to entertaining us off of the field. For those reluctant to believe that things really were as bad as reported, you validated things by making yourselves look like a third class organization in yet another light. Again made funnier yet by the fact that local media have to go to visiting parks in order to be credentialed. You really couldn’t make this kind of stuff up; it’s too funny to believe.
Thanks for negotiating a minimum sales price for the team.
Those who really do love this team are looking for any ray of hope to grasp at, and the fact that you had the foresight to negotiate such an agreement at least suggests the possibility of you selling the team. As I said, when it comes to positives there is really little else to go on. I would thank you a million times more if you actually did sell the team, but thanks at least for indicating the possibility that this could happen.
And finally, thank you for not putting Baltimore on the road jerseys.
Or the hats or any other part of the uniform for that matter. This is not Baltimore’s team anymore; you have taken that from them. I cannot in my lifetime ever remember a time when there was virtually nobody in town who believed in the Orioles. This unresolved issue has been another very public point of contention for years, and illustrates another example of management’s lack of touch with the fan base. I used to think I wanted to see Baltimore on the jerseys, or a B on the hats or something, but this team is an embarrassment and not a reflection of the city at all. Thanks for not publicly parading our embarrassment with you on the road. Maybe you should put Angel-O’s on the jerseys.
Now If I might make one minor suggestion…………. Please SELL THIS TEAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


May 22, 2007 | Thyrl Nelson

Commissioner, Roger Goodell,
Is cleaning up the NFL.
If you want to play football,
You simply must obey the law.
Sadly these days our pro sports,
Are full of lots of shady sorts.
A big job awaits he who dares,
To baby-sit these millionaires.
It’s really very sad these days,
That DUIs are commonplace.
And hardly even make the news,
Compared to things like steroid use.
Cocaine, pot and other drugs,
Keeping company with thugs.
Fighting dogs and beating wives,
Shooting guns, endangering lives.
A change is needed there’s no doubt,
It’s time to get these gangsters out.
And what the ole Commish should do,
Is start with Marvin Lewis’ crew.
What happens when you compromise,
Character for speed and size.
What’s happening in Cincinnati,
Has got to drive the whole league batty.
Every team has got a few,
Guys with an issue or two.
The Bengals have a spree of crime,
Nine guys locked up in nine months time.
It’s sad because that team could win,
If they just had some discipline.
The funny thing is almost all,
Their troubles involve alcohol.
These guys are in an awful funk,
Of beating girls and driving drunk.
And failing routine urine tests,
And resisting their arrests.
The team is in an awful state,
Because they chose to tolerate.
Sadly many of these nine,
Have been arrested several times.
The message that the team has sent,
Is that they will be tolerant.
Of indifference to the law,
As long as you can play football.
If you’re producing on the field,
The team has been willing to deal…
With your many indiscretions,
Hoping that you’ll learn your lesson.
The team will only make real trouble,
For players who are on the bubble.
And give their stars slaps on the wrists,
And that’s why the Commish is pissed.
So now they’ve got the league involved,
Trying to get their problem solved.
Now we wait for the league to,
Do what the team was supposed to do.
Now the league must go take back,
The control the Bengals clearly lack.
And what the league should really do,
Is punish that front office too.
This team clearly needs to see,
The need to draft responsibly.
To not just measure times and reps,
To do a couple background checks.
This is inevitable,
When you bring in criminals,
The way to get the message sent,
Is through aggressive punishment.
Someone better turn this page,
Before all the Bengals wind up caged.


May 16, 2007 | Thyrl Nelson

The O’s are on a two game skid.
It looks like an occasion,
Where they beat themselves a few times,
Then go into hibernation.
Sam Perlozzo’s feeling heat,
And maybe rightly so.
But canning Sam is not enough,
To cure what ails the O’s
There’s lots of talent on this club,
Perhaps they need a shake up.
It seems they’ve lost a bunch of games,
Because they just won’t wake up.
Miggie’s been a quiet guy.
Is his frustration healed?
Or has it turned to apathy?
He’s been awful in the field.
Melvin Mora in the ninth,
Has made some awful gaffes,
His useless steal the other night,
Sure drew Jay Payton’s wrath.
It was kinda nice to see him hit the roof,
And watch him bark.
It’s kind of nice to see,
At least somebody has a spark.
Discouragement is commonplace,
And history’s the reason.
But this time it feels different,
We’ve played some real good ball this season.
Nine straight years of losing,
And a real good shot at ten.
But this year hurts me even worse,
‘Cause these O’s could contend.
The Jays are hurt, The Rays are bad,
The Yanks are on a slide.
It’s possible the Red Sox,
Might just run away and hide.
I don’t think the Sox are great,
Their lead is mostly thanks,
To beating up the Orioles,
The Jays, The Rays and Yanks.
Most believe that Angelos,
Is almost all to blame.
He took the ball club we all love,
And drove them down in flames.
Although I’ve tried and tried and tried,
I just can’t reason.
I know he also loves the O’s,
And I recall his first few seasons.
But Pete the Fan, has turned to Pete the troll,
To say the least.
Perhaps he’s given up,
On trying to win the AL East.
I hope that’s not the case,
‘Cause I believe that in the end,
The East is getting weaker,
And I think we could contend.
They’ll need to take advantage though,
Against teams like the Jays.
The hitters and the pitchers,
Have to show up on the same days.
Four games below .500,
After a quarter of a season.
And a brutal April schedule,
Is partially the reason.
But at times it’s like this team,
Is playing in a daze.
They’d be 8 over .500,
If they just made simple plays.
They’ll need to keep on fighting,
And they’ll need to wake their bats.
They’ll need to take advantage,
Of their six games with the Nats.
They really need to wake those bats,
Your chance is always iffy,
When most of the team’s averages,
Are right around .250.
They’ll need to close out one run games,
They’ll need to just not quit.
They’ll need to swing a deal or two,
Before the deadline hits.
Alas I am a realist,
And doubt they will contend.
At least they have me interested,
In O’s baseball again.
They’re struggling with injuries,
And struggling at the plate.
They’re struggling holding onto leads,
When games are close and late.
They struggle with the media,
They struggle with the fans.
It’s crazy when the Orioles,
Are playing to empty stands.
It’s early in the season still,
And hope should still abound.
They’re closer than they’ve been in years,
To turning things around.
I hope that this will be the year,
I hope to see the day,
But every year we seem to be,
A year or two away.


May 14, 2007 | Thyrl Nelson

Well another week has passed us by,
And I’m kinda out of sorts.
But I’ll try to do, a rhymed review,
Of the week that was in sports.
The O’s went 4 and 3 this week,
And played better than that.
You’ve gotta play 9 innings,
When you play those BoSox bats.
The O’s took care of business,
With a sweep of Tampa Bay.
Good teams will take advantage of,
Teams like the Devil Rays.
Nestor got a press pass,
And the O’s a win in Boston.
And really had a chance to win,
The two games that they lost in.
They need to get 5 wins this week,
The Orioles chance depends,
On beating up on teams they should,
Like the Jays and Sens.
It’s been another busy week,
For Comissioner Goodell.
Who’s on a one man mission,
To Clean up the NFL.
Ricky failed another test,
He can’t stay off that skunk.
And Steve McNair’s in trouble,
‘Cause he’s riding with a drunk.
Michael Vick has also been,
A busy guy this spring.
From secret water bottles,
To a pit bull fighting ring.
Pac Man Jones, the poster child,
For Thugs in NFL.
Was at the club the night before,
His meeting with Goodell.
Lots of NASCAR news this week,
You know your sports for real.
When the biggest news is not about,
What happens on the field.
Dale Jr. and his team it seems,
Are parting company.
And what will come of DEI
Next year without DE?
In Basketball it’s playoff time,
Yet no one seems to care.
And David Stern should be concerned,
His league has lost it’s flair.
Long gone are Jordan, Magic, Bird,
And all the marquee names.
Perhaps the stage is set,
For the arrival of King James.
Fundamental basketball is great,
But fans want flash.
It’s just too hard to sell the stars,
Like Duncan, Dirk and Nash.
Well that’s the week that just went by,
We’ll see how this one goes.
And hopefully next week’s poem,
Is the O’s go 6 and 0. 


May 12, 2007 | Thyrl Nelson


We are all sick of seeing players getting into legal trouble off the field. And I will admit that what happened with Steve McNair in Tennessee the other day probably wouldn’t even be a crime in half of the states in America, but I think that the Ravens should step up and take disciplinary action against McNair before the NFL even has a chance to consider it. Forget about criminality or legality, what McNair did was just plain stupid and not in the best interest of the team. In my mind it’s the equivalent of Ben Roethlisberger riding his motorcycle without a helmet or Kellen Winslow popping wheelies.

The Ravens should fine McNair and move on. It would send a message to the rest of the team that this type of behavior won’t be tolerated, and might keep the league from feeling the need to intervene. I doubt anyone would consider a suspension as fair punishment, but if it weren’t Steve McNair that we were talking about some might feel differently.

McNair is a guy who is paid to be a decision maker on the field for the Ravens, and earlier this week he blew an easy one. McNair is a veteran, but needs to learn a simple lesson and sadly if the Ravens don’t punish him, no one else probably will. I seriously doubt that the NFL or the Tennessee legal system will be very tough on McNair. Sooner or later someone is going to start holding guys responsible for knuckleheaded behavior, it should start with those who sign the checks.


May 11, 2007 | Thyrl Nelson

Whether winning or losing, the O’s have been a lot of fun to watch so far this season.  And today was one of those days when we might have needed reminding that we love sports for what happens between the lines. 
Remember when you could be a sports fan without having a law degree?  It seems these days that the sports pages read like a police blotter.  From illegal gambling to shootings in nightclubs, from DUI’s to dog fighting, from drugs for performance enhancement, to drugs for recreation and everything in between.  Too much of todays sports news focuses on social, economic and criminal issues, and not enough on the games themselves.
With that said, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to see that the Orioles are back on the winning track again.  A split with Cleveland and a sweep of Tampa Bay has the O’s back to within a game of .500 and in second place in the disappointing AL East, ahead of a couple of teams who had much higher expectations than the O’s this year.
This is a team that has battled against adversity all year, the injuries of Ramon Hernandez, Jay Payton, Jaret Wright, Adam Loewen etc., heartbreaking losses in a lot of close games, being defeated by late inning heroics.  And after a miserable end of April, the O’s looked to be finished already.  The team was playing flat, fundamentally weak, and seemingly uninspired baseball.  One could argue that the Devil Rays are an easy remedy for all of the above, but splitting with Cleveland is a noteworthy accomplishment, especially considering the miserable slide they were on prior to the Indians’ series.
A brutal schedule is as much to blame as anything, and the O’s have done a fantastic job of holding things together and could still be poised to make a move if the Red Sox begin to falter.  That probably sounds crazy, but consider that the teams that have beaten the O’s so far are the Red Sox (0-2), the Indians (3-4), the Tigers (1-5), the Twins (0-3), and the A’s (0-2).  The Red Sox lead the AL East currently and have beaten up on a lot of good teams, the Tigers lead the Central division and were in the World Series last year, and the Indians are just a half game behind them.  All three of those teams have winning percentages well above .600 right now.  The A’s are a game back in the West, and went to the ALCS last year, and the Twins are at .500 but have won their division 3 of the last 5 years, including last year and may have the biggest home field advantage in sports.
Now consider that the O’s are 2-1 vs. the Yankees, 4-1 against the Devil Rays and 3-0 against the Blue Jays and that they are 3-0 against the Kansas City Royals.  This means that for the most part we are taking care of business in our own division and beating up on the teams that we should be beating.  If this trend continues, the O’s will be a contender.
I can’t sit here and predict that this trend will continue, but I think that the schedule will bend our way a bit this month and think that we can realistically hope for 12-8 for the rest of May.  That would put the O’s at 29-26 and probably still in second place.  The rest of the schedule looks pretty balanced, until September that is.  The birds finish up with a heavy AL East schedule, as it should be; and they could take serious advantage of having 6 games against the Nats this year.  It’d be nice to get some type of benefit from our new neighbors.
Hang in there Birds fans, this team hasn’t given up. There may be a lot of reasons why they could have, but they are hanging tough so far.  I think we should do the same.  This isn’t a team that’s ready to contend just yet, but they are closer than they have been in a very long time, and they are the certainly fun to watch.  And they haven’t even played their best ball yet, hopefully.


May 09, 2007 | Thyrl Nelson

Diego “Chico” Corrales died on Monday night in a horrific motorcycle accident. Two years to the day, of the greatest victory of his career, in the greatest fight of this young century. On that night in 2005, when “Chico” Corrales squared off against Jose Luis Castillo, few could have anticipated the battle that would ensue.

For nine and a half rounds that evening, those two basically stood in the center of the ring and traded bombs. Corrales entered the tenth and final round either up or down by no more than a point or two depending on how you saw the fight. Corrales controlled most of the rounds, but Castillo flurried late in most rounds, and probably stole a few. Corrales was almost immediately knocked down to start the 10th, and then again just a few seconds later. To make things worse, he was penalized a point on the second knockdown for spitting out his mouthpiece. With his back against the wall, Corrales rallied and pulled off one of the most incredible knockouts ever, to take it out of the judges’ hands completely.

Corrales career took some sad turns after that fight. He lost a rematch with Castillo five months later, when Castillo didn’t make weight, and knocked out Corrales in a non-title fight. The “War to Settle the Score” was called off in February of ’06 because of a Corrales injury and again in June of the same year when Castillo failed to make weight for the second time. Sadly we will never get to see that fight.

After the Castillo debacle, Corrales went on to defend his lightweight title against Joel Casamayor, and ironically would have had to forfeit his title for not making weight himself, if Casamayor hadn’t won in a decision. In his last fight “Chico” went all the way up to welterweight and lost a decision early last month to Josh Clottey. In typical Corrales fashion, he pulled himself off the canvas in the ninth and tenth rounds before losing the unanimous decision.

Diego Corrales was a warrior and a champion who is gone before his time. His life was filled with violence and recklessness both inside and outside the ring. At the end of the day, it’s a safe bet that Corrales had more “cojones” than common sense, more will to fight than will to live. Perhaps it’s the same reckless abandon that caused him to get off of the canvas twice in the tenth round two years earlier in the very same city, that tempted to make a dangerous pass at a high rate of speed on a brand new high performance motorcycle. Hopefully Diego Corrales now has the peace that he was unable to find in his life. It is sad that on the anniversary of his greatest victory, we will be forced to also remember his greatest tragedy.


Here is a clip of the end of Castillo/Corrales I. Classic sports is bound to show this fight more than a few times this week. Record it and save it, we may not see another war like that for a long time.




May 08, 2007 | Thyrl Nelson

Regular season aside, the NBA playoffs have thus far shown me clearly who the league’s most valuable player is. Although the award will probably go to the Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki, Steve Nash continues to be the most valuable player in basketball, period.

Take a second and remember what the Phoenix Suns were before the arrival of Nash. They were a talented bunch of players who couldn’t put it together, much like this year’s Clippers or Kings. Few batted an eye when Nash decided to leave the powerful Mavericks and go back to Phoenix. And few could have predicted the turnaround that the Suns have experienced since his return. Nash seems to sit out for a week or two every season due to his back problems, and the Suns go into the tank every year during that stretch. But anyone who watched the last minute and a half of the Suns game with San Antonio on Sunday has to realize the value that Nash brings to the table. When Nash was forced out of the game with a bloody nose, the Suns went to pieces. They had no confidence, no swagger and no trustworthy ball handler or decision maker to run the offense. In short they were lost without him.

I believe that Nash will pull the Suns together, and finally walk away with the real trophy this year. To be fair, he has a lot more talent around him than Duncan does, and the Spurs would be equally as lost without the “Big Fundamental” in the lineup. But I think that this will be Nash’s year, and he does more to make the players around him better than anyone I’ve seen since Magic Johnson. Let’s not forget that the Suns played last year without Amare Stoudamire.

The playoffs so far have cemented in my mind, the reasons why Nash is the league’s most valuable player, whether he actually gets the hardware again or not. And what’s more is Nash’s game is infectious. It infects the rest of his team, and the fans and everyone. Enjoy this guy while he is around, because we might not see another like him for a very long time. Unfortunately we’ll be denied Mavs/Suns this year, but there is still plenty of great basketball to be played.


May 07, 2007 | Thyrl Nelson

The Orioles go into the week with seven games on the slate, and a real chance to get things going in a positive direction again. With one game remaining against the Indians, the O’s have a chance to grab three of four from the tribe and at worst will walk off with a split, before opening a three game set with the Devil Rays.

Looking at the season to this point, it is tough to pass judgment on the O’s just yet. Their miserable run over the last two weeks aside the O’s have been beaten by some pretty tough competition, and have held their own against the teams that they’re supposed to beat. This will be a critical two and a half weeks on our schedule. Tampa, Toronto, and Washington are all struggling mightily right now, and twelve of our next fifteen games are against these teams. There are a couple of tough series in May, but this is a real opportunity to position themselves for a run at the division if they can just win the games that they’re supposed to.

Pitching woes are the obvious theme of the coming week, but the bats seem to be coming around a bit too finally. The O’s have been doing better against lefties since the return of Ramon Hernandez and Jay Payton, and had a season high in hits yesterday against CC Sabathia. Although they weren’t able to capitalize and stranded more base runners than I care to count.

My prediction for the week is 5-2. I have them beating Carmona and the Indians on Monday, taking two out of three from the Devil Rays and two of three from the Red Sox. I think we lose to Casey Fossum on Thursday and Schilling on Saturday. I am also going to bet that the O’s deal both Josh Beckett and James Shields their first losses of the season this week.

The team is still fighting hard on the field, which is a pleasant surprise given their recent misfortunes coupled with their penchant for folding when times get tough. This team doesn’t look ready to go away, despite setback after setback, and I am not ready to give up on the either.

I think the front office could win a lot of fans back by pulling off a significant trade this season. It would sure be nice to see the front office operate as if we have a chance to compete, it might make the fans more prone to believe it too.