Cleaning out the notebook on a busy week of sports in Baltimore and nationally as the Ravens are revving up and the Orioles are winding down …
Tough week for the Orioles: I would think that Dave Trembley is glad that he quickly signed his contract to take the interim off his title of manager this week – before the Orioles got pasted by the Rangers, 30-3 and 9-7 in a doubleheader on the same day at Camden Yards – otherwise the powers that be in the Warehouse might have changed their minds …
The current homestand has been a disaster so far with a 1-6 record and it seems the small gains the club made in Trembley’s first 53 games in charge (28-25 before the start of the homestand) have been given back. At the 105-game mark (start of play on August 1), the Os were just five games under the .500 mark at 50-55, but are 8-16 since then.
The good news in the short term is the club is off on Monday before three games with the Devil Rays, which they have dominated so far in 2007. In fact, the Orioles are seven games over .500 (27-20) against the A.L. East. Hopefully, Trembley and the Orioles will finish the season stronger than the recent play indicates.
A small step: The Orioles announced the creation of the Wild Bill Hagy Award, which will be given out each season as part of the club’s Hall of Fame ceremonies each year. The Orioles also announced that Hagy, who passed away at 68 last week, would be the first recipient.
I will echo Ken Zalis’ comment, that with all of the bad news and bad manners the Orioles have generated in recent years, someone must be listening and trying to get the key people in the organization to make better decisions. Will the award get people back out to the ballpark in droves? No, but it is a start to recognize the contributions of the fans who filled Memorial Stadium for several years and maybe even some of the key lifetime members of the Orioles Advocates – the group responsible for promoting the team and baseball in the area for over 40 years.
Baseball the way it’s supposed to be: The Little League World Series final between Warner Robins, Georgia and Tokyo, Japan earlier Sunday was a fun affair with the kids playing their hearts out into extra innings. When the Georgia team won on a walk-off homer in the bottom of the eighth, they shortened their celebration and immediately headed to the mound to console the Japanese players and especially the pitcher who gave up the homer.
It was sportsmanship at its’ finest and for a moment it was a chance to remember what sports is all about – not cheating NBA referees, dogfighting NFL stars and a steroid-scandaled MLB slugger – but pure joy in participating and the life lessons learned on the playing fields. It’s just a shame that those who have been in the news recently for the wrong reasons have forgotten those lessons.
Three games down, one to go: Turning to the football field, the preseason for the Ravens is winding down. Unfortunately, Saturday night’s game at the Redskins was washed out in the third quarter, so some of the backups who are trying for the final few spots did not get as much game action as they or the coaching staff would have liked.
By this point, the coaches know who the first set of cuts are going to be and probably 50 of the 53-man roster that will open the season. The only decisions are whether clubs keep an extra offensive or defensive lineman, etc. to balance out the gameday roster. Players, especially rookies, who can contribute at several positions (special teams, returners, etc.) stand a much better chance to make the club right now.
One other thing to keep in mind: An NFL general manager told me a few years ago that he tells players not to worry about who is on the depth chart at their position on their team, but who is on the depth chart of the other 31 clubs at this point of the preseason.
As the first round of cuts are made on Tuesday to 75 players, GMs and coaches will look to see if they can grab a player on another club who can help them more than the current players on the roster. That is the reality of the NFL in late August. Check the cut lists on Monday and Tuesday — there might be a future Raven there — at least until the final cuts are made next week.
The Ravens have one more preseason game on Friday in Atlanta and I will be blogging from the press box in the Georgia Dome as the club finalizes their work before the start of the season. It will be interesting to see if the Ravens will adjust playing times among the second and third team units because of losing the final 26-plus minutes to the bad weather on Saturday night.