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Close but no Cigar

Posted on 24 April 2010 by Brian Swoboda

Once again, the Orioles were competitive. Losing their ninth straight to the dreaded Sox. Guthrie pitched well in a losing effort, as he has all year. He hasn’t given up more than three runs in all his starts. It was a charged atmosphere in Boston which makes for a fun game to watch, but the O’s did the little things to help them lose. Errors on the basepaths and field, not to mention a bases loaded walk, all contributing to defeat.

On the positive side, they played with heart. Unfortunately, they also played Julio Lugo. I may be wrong, but I think Lugo is Spanish for loser. I don’t know why this guy is still on the team. Lugo is what I cough up in the morning. As for the rest of the team, Weiters ran into a double play at third, Markakis gets thrown out at second, but the mistakes were at least aggressive. Last year the O’s went 2-16 against Boston. 0-1 so far this year. I know this season seems like it’s in the toilet already, but in the next twelve games maybe we’ll learn something about this team we didn’t know. Whether that’s good or bad remains to be seen. Let’s hope for the good.

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Fire Dave Trembley Yesterday

Posted on 15 April 2010 by Jay Trucker

The Orioles may want to take a day trip to Malibu and ask Brady Anderson for a dose of his vitamins while they’re out on the West Coast. The O’s will play seven games out West in Oakland and Seattle, and things couldn’t be worse.

If I told you before the season that the Orioles would really miss Aubrey Huff’s speed, how would you react?

Yet, that’s the type of season The Birds have had thus far. On the day that Huff hit an inside-the-park home run for San Francisco, the O’s fell to 1-8. And this hasn’t been just any 1-8. This is a 1-8 start that includes an 0-6 opening homestand and a pile of heartbreaking late inning meltdowns.

It’s mid-April, and already the club has found a half dozen ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

That’s why Andy MacPhail, on the record for saying the O’s should be judged by wins and losses this year, should have fired Dave Trembley yesterday. Yet, while fans turn out by the dozen, MacPhail went on record to say that he would not scapegoat, indicating that Trembley’s job is safe for now.

In other words, he’s not about to fire the captain of the ship while it’s going down.

Dave Trembley is not to blame for Brian Roberts injury or
the Mike Gonzalez signing. He’s not the one in the field, on the mound, or at the plate. But he does have some accountability here.

Firing Trembley would be, in part, an effort to change clubhouse morale. This is the guy who said the following while the team was showering up after an 0-6 homestand:

“It’s not the end of the world.”
“We expect that we’ll play better.”

Sure, what is he supposed to say? Trembley’s comments weren’t delivered casually, but they sound like the words of a man who has grown accustomed to losing. Do you think Lou Pinella would say that if the Cubs went 0-6 at Wrigley?

That’s a rhetorical question.

To be sure, a Dave Trembley firing would not be merely symbolic. He is the guy making the lineup and the pitching changes. He’s the guy who has kept Nick Markakis in the three spot despite the fact that he is hitting .207 with a .410 on base percentage so far this season. Kakes has 10 walks to only 6 hits and 0 home runs. In other words, as most people have known for the last two years, Nick Markakis is a number two, not a number three hitter. And if you don’t think that makes a difference, tell me what you think the next time he comes up with two outs and a runner on second and stares at strike three while hoping to take a walk. And shouldn’t Adam Jones have a more clearly defined role in this, his third season with the O’s?

And then there is the pitching. At least three losses, both of Millwood’s and Matusz’s, can be attributed to Trembley leaving his SP out there one inning too long. In this way, the thing that the team has been lacking for nearly all of the last decade, quality starts, have been ruined by poor pitching management.

Of course, there are also bullpen management and base-running debacles to review. How many times does a reliever have to give up a rocketship or a hitter stretch a single into a long out before management takes responsibility? It’s not like the base-running issues are new. Do you mean to tell me there is no way to make professional baseball players stop running the bases like they’re playing in a Patterson Park rec league?

Trembley apologists say that a baseball manager’s job is in many ways symbolic. Unlike in football, for which the coach typically draws up each play, in baseball, the manager has only so much control over his squad. But if managing is largely symbolic, then it is time for a symbolic gesture. The Orioles are in dire need of a fresh start and the fans are more restless than ever. MacPhail should have let Trembley go yesterday and hoped the club could scratch out a few wins out West. They are in desperate need of a clean start before we’re 75 games into the season and the season is out of hand.

MacPhail already missed his first major opportunity. Let’s hope that if this downward spiral continues, the esoteric GM shows that he really does care about wins and losses, by firing the manager who has overseen the club’s worse start since 1988 and who says things like “it’s not the end of the world.”

Firings, like beheadings, should be swift and severe.

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NBC-TV is Betting on Colts

Posted on 15 January 2010 by Gary Quill

 

Over the past week, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) has been in the news with the Conan O’Brien-Jay Leno night time talk show controversy, but on Monday made more news. NBC Sports along with Churchill Downs Inc. announced a partnership to televise a half-dozen key prep races this spring leading up to the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1st 

 

Oh, you thought I was referring to the Indianapolis Colts… NOT! It’s the 3 year old thoroughbred colts.

 

The agreement calls for various one-hour broadcasts, including three on NBC and one on USA Network. The Derby prep races on the schedule are…

 

 

March 20th – Lane’s End Stakes at Turfway Park

 

March 27th – Louisiana Derby at Fairgrounds

 

April 3rd – Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita (duh!)
                 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct

 

April 10th – Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park
                  Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland

 

Each one-hour “Road to the Kentucky Derby” broadcast will feature the races and handicapping segments as well as lifestyle elements designed to broaden the audience.

 

Hence, NBC is betting on the fact that the thoroughbred horse racing fan base will grow thanks to the high profile victories of Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness and Zenyatta in the Breeder’s Cup Classic. This move is viewed has part of NBC positioning itself to win back all 3 legs of the Triple Crown…Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.   

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PlayLikeaRayRice

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Play Like a Raven – Week 14

Posted on 15 December 2009 by Derek Arnold

PlayLikeaRayRice

Was there any doubt that we would go back to “Play Like a Ray Rice” this week? Mighty Mouse could have been in Jamal Lewis/Adrian Peterson territory, had he played the entire game. Twenty-seven racked up 219 yards on 17 touches, a ridiculous 12.9 yards per. He unfortunately fumbled in the red zone for the second week in a row though, after not fumbling for nearly two full seasons – both were in terrible weather, but still, it’s something to keep an eye on moving forward.

Without further adieu, this week’s Play Like Ray Rice is…..

Played Like a Raven – Derrick Mason

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Reader Matt suggested the 2008 Draft Class here, as Rice, Joe Flacco, Tom Zbikowski, and Oniel Cousins all had strong days. Tough to argue with that, but I decided to go the other way – rather than honoring the young guys, I’ll give this week’s honors to the oldest guy on the team. The game was hardly a rout early, as the Ravens led just 3-0 after the first quarter, and a missed 45 yard FG by Jason Hanson was the only reason they were winning at all. Mason, though, got the ball rolling for good. He ran a slant on 3rd-and-2, kept his footing despite being sandwiched by two Lions’ defenders, and sprinted 62 yards to the end zone for the first of 6 B’More touchdowns on the day. It was Derrick’s 2nd-longest reception on the year, and one of the more unique plays that I can remember witnessing.

His 5 catches led the team (ho hum, nothing new there), and he needs just 53 yards per game over the season’s final three weeks to eclipse the 1000-yard mark for the 3rd consecutive season, and 8th time in the last 9 years. His first catch this Sunday against Chicago will be the 850th of his career, and his 3rd will move him ahead of Irving Fryer for #15 all-time.

Did Not Play Like a Raven – Troy Smith

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This one might be a little misleading. While Smith’s PLAY was just fine – 2/3 passing, 10 yards, 2 rushes, 14 yards, 1 TD in mop-up duty – the way he conducted himself WAS NOT. In the fourth quarter, when his 15 yard naked bootleg run put the Ravens up 48-3, Smith broke into a ridiculous “Look What I Just Did” dance in the end zone.

Now, I’m not one to hate on players celebrating. I love when Kelley Washington breaks it down. Chad Ocho Cinco cracks me up. I HATE that the league banned team celebrations. And I can’t stand it that Ocho Cinco gets fined more for putting on a sombrero for 10 seconds than Brady Quinn does for endangering Terrell Suggs’ career. The NO FUN LEAGUE stuff is ridiculous.

But, so is dancing around like a fool when your team is winning 48-3. Come…on…man.

The dance served no purpose but to show up a Detroit team that could have obviously not cared less at that point, and Smith should have gotten an earful from his coaches for it.

Despite not fitting the NFL’s strange definition of “unsportsmanlike conduct,” Smith’s actions late in Sunday’s game were what any rational fan would certainly consider unsportsmanlike.

Hopefully, the Ravens win their last three games in similar blowout-fashion, and #10 gets to see some more garbage time burn as a result. If so, let’s also hope he got whatever the heck that dance was out of his system for good.

Thanks to the Sun for the pics in this post

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Peyton Manning

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A Call to Harbs: Your Chance to Fix the Ravens

Posted on 10 November 2009 by Luke Jones

The sheer volume of opining, panicking, and lamenting jamming the airwaves, flooding inboxes, and littering message boards since 4:30 p.m. on Sunday has been impossible to escape if you’re a Ravens fan.

And it’s understandable with Sunday’s game clearly being one of the Ravens’ worst performances in recent memory.

Of course, the venting is part of the cathartic process of being a fan after a loss, but it ultimately does nothing to address the problem—or problems—and leaves you feeling helpless in the Ravens’ plight with a 4-4 record and two games behind Cincinnati and Pittsburgh in the AFC North.

Ultimately, “it is what it is” for us observers.

In reality, the frustration and second-guessing displayed by us all is falling on deaf ears, and for the most part, that’s a good thing. Who hasn’t made a bold proclamation—or several hundred—to their buddies but later felt relief that no one was really listening?

After all, I was convinced Peyton Manning would be the next Heath Shuler while Ryan Leaf would be the next John Elway, and we all know how that turned out.

Peyton Manning

So now that we’ve acknowledged our limitations and past gaffes in evaluating the NFL and its players, this is your chance to prove yourself once and for all.

The phone rings, and John Harbaugh is on the line asking for your astute opinion on the state of the Ravens. He doesn’t have time for personal attacks or whining; Harbaugh is looking for answers.

He’s willing to take three REALISTIC suggestions and implement them beginning in Cleveland on Monday night.

And the key word is REALISTIC.

Larry Bird and Kevin McHale are not—wait a second, wrong rant—Chris McAlister and Michael McCrary are not walking through that door. And if they did, their knees would be completely shot.

Bart Scott and Jim Leonhard say hello to the Charm City, but they’re perfectly content with Rex Ryan in the Big Apple. And the former defensive coordinator sends his regards, but his hands are too full with a rookie quarterback and the New York media to worry about the Ravens’ defensive woes.

Those Jets have long since taken off and aren’t coming back.

And like most of your kids’ Halloween candy, the deadline is long gone, so please spare us the trade proposals.

No matter how great they sound.

I don’t want to hear about officiating conspiracies either. It’s a defeatist attitude, and you’ll hear the same complaints in 31 other NFL cities. Well, maybe not Pittsburgh.

Steelers referees

Lastly, the Colts are more likely to return to Baltimore than Matt Stover is to play for the Ravens—at least until Adam Vinatieri returns from injury in a few weeks (How’d you like that middle-of-the-road remark? And no, I don’t think it will happen anyway).

So now that I’ve squashed 75 percent of the irrational suggestions running through our frustrated minds over the past 48 hours, you have THREE suggestions to offer to Harbaugh for the rest of the season.

And remember, Baltimore is counting on you.

No pressure, right?

I’ll go first.

1. A Nightmare on Russell Street

Yes, I know Paul Kruger does not play special teams.

I fully understand.

Harbaugh wants his reserves to be versatile, and it’s the perfect rationale when a team does not have any glaring deficiencies. However, the defense has struggled to pressure the quarterback from its base front, and Greg Mattison is reluctant to blitz due to a weak secondary—another issue entirely.

It’s clear Kruger is too small to take every snap as a defensive end in a 3-4 alignment and does not have the skill set to play as a stand-up linebacker at this point.

But this is the same player Jon Gruden described as playing like “Freddy Kruger” on draft day last spring.

Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens’ esteemed scouting department used a second-round selection on the defensive end from Utah, so it’s difficult to believe he cannot contribute to the pass rush in some form.

And don’t tell me it would be catastrophic to the team’s flexibility on special teams and other areas. This is the same team that carried two kickers on its roster for years. It’s not as though Danny Kight, J.R. Jenkins, or Wade Richey were contributing in more than one area during their days in Baltimore.

If we look at this from a different perspective, how many special teams players are consistently on the active 45-man roster on Sundays and fail to make any impact on offense or defense?  David Tyree, Prescott Burgess, and Demetrius Williams immediately come to mind.

In other words, there HAS to be a place for Kruger on a defense needing more pressure on the quarterback.

If even the threat of Kruger diverts a little attention away from a Terrell Suggs or a Trevor Pryce, it’s well worth it.

Let’s find out if the rookie can play.

2. Lost in Westminster

Speaking of Demetrius Williams, yes, he is still on the 53-man roster despite rumors of his abduction in Westminster back in August.

After a promising rookie season and two injury-riddled seasons in 2007 and 2008, Williams entered training camp as the team’s No. 3 receiver. Following the emergence of Kelley Washington and a nagging hamstring and knee that slowed him during the summer, the 6-foot-2 receiver has completely disappeared in Cam Cameron’s offense with the lone exception of a 17-yard catch in Minnesota.

But it became apparent during Sunday’s loss that Williams needs to have a presence in this offense.  With Joe Flacco trying to throw deep jump-balls to Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton, wouldn’t it make more sense to send Williams (the only receiver with both size and speed on the roster) on one or two of those patterns?

Yes, a stiff breeze is as likely to injure the wideout as a strong safety, but keeping him healthy on the sideline serves no purpose to this football team either.

Williams is and should be the No. 4 receiver on the roster, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be an option in the passing game, at the very least providing a bigger target in the vertical passing game.

If the coaching staff has no confidence in Williams, he should either be inactive every week (opening the door for Kruger) or off the roster entirely.

3. Waiting on Willis

Remember when Willis McGahee led the NFL in touchdowns after the first three weeks of the season with six?

It seems like an eternity ago.

It was clear Ray Rice had supplanted McGahee as the starting tailback heading into the season, but the veteran was entering the season healthy and revitalized after a rocky relationship with Harbaugh in 2008. McGahee was still figuring to be a major part of the running game.

Since carrying the ball 25 times in the first two weeks, McGahee has received 22 carries in the six games since. Unacceptable.

Rice is clearly having a tremendous season, but is it really what’s best for the team?

In the same way that Flacco could lead the league in passing yards if he threw on every down, is Rice producing such a large portion of the yards and being the only force in the backfield what’s best for the Ravens’ offense presently and moving forward?

With Rice putting up 732 total yards in the last five games, I’ll remind you that the Ravens are 1-4 during that stretch.

McGahee’s return to the game plan would serve two purpose for the Baltimore offense.

First, it would provide the Ravens with a legitimate threat to run between the tackles, something Rice does not provide. The 5-foot-8 back is more effective running from spread-out formations and getting into open space.

Two, it would improve the likelihood of Rice’s smaller frame holding up for the entire 16-game schedule. Though Rice carried the ball 380 times for Rutgers in 2007, that same durability cannot be guaranteed at the pro level. When you have another legitimate option at tailback, why take the risk in finding out?

McGahee needs to be more involved. No excuses.

***

If you’re sitting there thinking I didn’t address the secondary, kicker, or coaching questions, you’re absolutely right.

To be perfectly honestly, I’m not sure how to address the secondary at this point.

Do you blitz more, leaving your defense more susceptible to the big play, or play with more help in pass coverage, hoping for your front four to reach the quarterback eventually? Is rookie Lardarius Webb a better option than Fabian Washington?

As for the kicking job, would Mike Nugent or Billy Cundiff really be any better than Steve Hauschka?

Is Mattison in over his head, or is the talent holding this defense back?

All are questions for which I don’t have a definitive answer.

Remember, you only get THREE realistic suggestions.

Maybe that isn’t enough to fix the Ravens, but that’s all you’re getting.

Make them count.

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Ravens, Rants and Rankings – week 2

Posted on 22 September 2009 by kevinpb

 Ravens, Rants and Rankings – week 2

Ravens

 

Ravens 31 – Chargers 28.  We have witnessed a lot of defining moments in the career of Ray Lewis; his Super Bowl performance, his open field stick of Eddie George that knocked him out of the game, his interception and return for a touchdown in the playoffs against Tennessee, and now this destruction of the San Diego Chargers last play from scrimmage as they are driving for the go ahead score.  If you have the chance to see a replay of the game, check out Ray moving before the snap closing into the gap, really a thing of beauty. 

 

At this time, I would like to thank Norv (why does everybody think I am a good coach) Turner for choosing to run the ball on 4th and 2 at the 11 yard line.  The Chargers were gashing the Ravens like Freddy Kruger with the pass, and on the most important play of the game they go away from what they had success with all day.  I don’t have a problem getting the ball to Sproles, but get the ball to him in space and let him make a play for you.

 

Again special teams hurt the Ravens chance of putting the game away earlier.  After scoring to take a 21-13 lead with 2 minutes to go in the first half, they allow Darren Sproles to return the ball back over the 50 yard line.  Luckily, the defense was able to deny the touchdown, but giving up 3 points there changes it from a 2 score game to a 1 score game.  If you hold them without points there, you open the second half with the ball, then you have a chance to put them in a 15 point hole.  You don’t even kick the ball to Sproles in that situation.  The special teams have to get better.  Koch and Hauschka were very solid.

 

Defensively, the team showed a lot of heart, and you still can’t run on this offense, but the inability to get to the quarterback and our lack of ability to play physical and tackle at the corner position needs to be corrected.  With regards to Foxworth and Washington, I really did not see a lot wrong with their ability to stay with the receivers.  In most cases they were running stride for stride with them; but I didn’t get a sense that they wanted to compete.  By that I didn’t get the sense they wanted to make a play, when the ball was up in the air it seems that they were content to let the receivers make a play and then tackle them.  Fabian Washington can’t tackle at all.  I never want to see anyone get hurt, but we benefited by Frank Walker having to replace Washington at the end of the game.  I cannot believe I am praising Frank Walker…Geesh! 

 

The offense did not put up 500 yards like last week but was very effective.  They took advantage of the Chargers lack of depth on the front line and effectively pounded the ball with the run.  Willis McGahee was the more effective back on this day.  He ran decisively and with power.  Ray Rice did not have as good a game as the week before, he was bottled up as a runner bobbled the throw back pass late in the game which could have went for a big play.  Joe Flacco played a terrific game and the threat of him throwing the ball down the field keeps that 8th man out of the box and makes the running game that much more effective.  We didn’t throw the ball as much as the previous week but that was by design considering the bad shape the Chargers interior line was in.  You have to love the way Cam Cameron takes advantage of the defense’s weaknesses.

 

In any case we are 2-0 and it is Cleveland week.  This is a game at home that we should win.  Just don’t kick the ball to Josh Cribbs.

 

Rants

 

When an onside kick is not an onside kick – I have watched football for a lot of years but I was watching the Notre Dame – Michigan State game over the weekend and I saw something I have never seen and I am still not sure about the call that was made.  After scoring a touchdown, Michigan State kicked an onside kick from the 30 yard line.  The ball bound untouched just passed the 40 (the required 10 yards) and the next bounce it bounded backwards to the 38 yard line.  Michigan State fell on the ball and was awarded possession.  I guess that once the ball goes 10 yards it can go anywhere and it is still a live ball.  Interesting.

 

I am becoming a Boise State fan – Every year Boise State is a factor on the National Stage.  Chris Peterson, the head coach, is 37-4 in 4 years.  They consistently handle the teams in their conference and make a habit of beating “higher quality” programs.  They play an exciting brand of offensive football that puts a lot of points on the board.  I also find it interesting that ESPN routinely shows 3 or 4 of their football games on Friday nights throughout the college season.  This in effect makes them the only show in town as a kick off for each football weekend.  How long will it be before some big time school comes calling to hire Coach Peterson?

 

Tim Tebow is a terrific college football player.  He very well may end up being the most decorated college football player in history.  I love his passion and I love to watch him play, but he will never make it as a starting quarterback in the NFL.  The Jacksonville Jaguars have stated that they want to draft Tebow and feature him as their centerpiece on the team and in their marketing ventures.  That is a bold declaration and a terrific gamble for a player that most experts are still on the fence about being an impact player at the quarterback position in the NFL.

 

You went to St. Joe’s don’t embarrass me – Delonte West, who had the best game I ever saw a major college basketball player have, going 10 for 10 from the field and 6 for 6 from the foul line as St Joe’s beat Xavier in 2004, was arrested in PG County over the weekend.  He was arrested for speeding on a motorcycle when he cut off a police cruiser.  He was stopped and had a guitar case strapped to his back packed with 2 loaded hand guns and a shot gun.  Where was the guitar?  If you are speeding on a motorcycle carrying weapons in a guitar case, why would you even attempt to pass a police cruiser much less cut him off?  It was reported he was cooperative with the police…I guess so.

When the police asked him what he was doing, Delonte reportedly said that he was speeding because he was late to meet Lonnie Baxter down by the White House.

 

How long before the Terps basketball season starts? – That powerhouse Middle Tennessee State got Maryland again this year, beating the Terps 32-31 .  How long can this farce of a football team continue to represent a Major Division 1A University?  I was reading the reports of the game and press conference, and I cannot believe the things the head coach believes and is saying.  He stated after this loss, “we are going to do things the right way.” Gee Ralph, wasn’t that the idea from the get go?  You are an eyelash away from being 0-3 and you are now just going about doing things the right way.  Give me a break.  The good news is fans, that while Friedgen’s time may be limited (they have anointed James Franklin as his successor) the succeeding coach is already waist deep in the abyss known as Maryland football.  I don’t see that as a recipe for success.  Can Gary Williams coach football??

 

 

 

 

 

A real nice gesture – Vince Young, who has taken his share of criticism over the last 2 years, took time out of his week to show up at Steve McNair’s house to escort his sons to a father/son event at their school.  That is a pretty impressive and compassionate act.  Way to go Vince Young.

 

Who’s Number 2 – I don’t think there is any question that the Florida Gators are the best team in college football, but who is the next best team?  Is it Texas, a healthy Oklahoma, or Alabama?  It appears to me that the only team fast enough to play with the Gators is the University of Miami.  I am still not convinced that they have enough talent, but if they get through the next 2 weeks (against Va. Tech and Oklahoma), they can easily run the table in a weak ACC.  Are the college football fans ready for the 4th reincarnation of the Hurricanes?

 

No. 19 Forever – On Mike and Mike National Morning show on Tues. Sept 22, 2009.  There was a very open debate comparing Peyton Manning and John Unitas.  I think Peyton Manning is a wonderful quarterback, but he is able to do what he does, because of Johnny Unitas. While I think that comparisons like this are pretty ridiculous because of the different eras, there were certain aspects that came to light because of this debate.  First of all, I give credit to Peyton Manning for the class he showed in paying the proper reverence to John Unitas.  Secondly, the prevailing opinion of all the talking heads was that the records of the Baltimore Colts need to be separated from those of the Indianapolis Colts.  I know that such a distinction would have the overwhelming support of the people of Baltimore.  Maybe this debate will help further this cause.

 

Rankings

 

  1. New York Giants – There is a lot to like about this team.  Not the least of which is to go into Dallas and beat America’s team on their opening night.
  2. New York Jets – If you are going to talk the talk, you got to walk the walk.  This is not a bad football team.
  3. Baltimore Ravens – You got to give them their due, they were not perfect, but they got the job done.  Big time win for the 1st place Ravens.
  4. New Orleans Saints – easily the most impressive team of the early season, my only concern is that their 2 wins are against Detroit and a “McNabb-less” Eagles.
  5. Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons went into Carolina and beat a talented team that was utterly embarrassed the weak before.
  6. Indianapolis Colts – still a very dangerous team, get dominated by the Dolphins and they still find a way to win.  They had the ball less then 15 minutes for the entire game.
  7. San Francisco 49ers – This team is really starting to remind me of the old Ravens.  Run, run and run again, then play defense.  Tough minded football team.
  8. Minnesota Vikings – they may be better then this ranking, but they have only beat the Lions and Browns.
  9. Pittsburgh Steelers – how many times have I waited for Jeff Reed to miss kicks against the Ravens.  Let’s see how they like to do the chasing.
  10. Philadelphia Eagles – tough loss to a real hot team without their quarterback.  I can’t penalize them to much for that.
  11. Chicago Bears – Monsters of the midway? No, but pretty effective football team which now has a good quarterback.
  12. San Diego Chargers – Threw at will on the Ravens, God bless Norv Turner.
  13. Tennessee Titans – I think they are a good football team, but they are in a big hole.  They cannot win a shoot out with Kerry Collins.
  14. New England Patriots– there are problems here.  The defense is too inexperienced, but there is also tremendous offensive talent.  They will get better as the year goes on.
  15. Arizona Cardinals– I am going to give them a mulligan for the first week, because I think the 49ers might be pretty decent.  Warner looked great against Jacksonville.
  16. Dallas Cowboys – Played Giants tough and won the first week, but there is something not quite right here.
  17. Green Bay Packers – loosing to Cincinnati at Lambeau is troubling.  Keep an eye on this team.
  18. Denver Broncos – Defense playing well, but Kyle Orton is still the quarterback.
  19. Seattle Seahawks – Still like this team, but only when Matt Hasselback is calling signals.
  20. Houston Texans – I can’t get their first week stinko out of my head.  Beat a real sound football team in the Titans.
  21. Jacksonville Jaguars – I am afraid this team is on a slippery slope.  This is not a good way to build the fan base. 
  22. Buffalo Bills – Played New England tough and soundly beat the Buccaneers.  They will get better if the offensive line doesn’t get Trent Edwards killed first.
  23. Miami Dolphins – this is not a bad team, but they have a brutal schedule, starting off 0-2 will come back to haunt them.
  24. Washington Redskins – we are one more loss away from sheer chaos among Redskins fans.  The Rams game was an ultimate embarrassment.
  25. Cincinnati Bengals – dug themselves out of a huge hole with the win at Green Bay.  They have potential, but they are still the Bengals.
  26. Oakland Raiders – this team is one player away from being a respectable team, unfortunately that player is quarterback.
  27. Detroit Lions – they are going to win 3-5 games this year.  There is definitely good talent here, just not enough of it.
  28. Carolina Panthers – played respectably against the Falcons.  Still have a long way to go.
  29. Kansas City Chiefs – played better on the road against the Ravens with Brody Croyle at the helm, then at home against the Raiders with Matt Cassell at the helm…hmmm.
  30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – think they miss John Gruden yet?
  31. Cleveland Browns – Defense is not very good and offense is worse.  Will play next week like it is a playoff game, but will it be enough.
  32. St Louis Rams – the Kyle Boller watch has begun, and I am rooting for him.

 

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I hate you, Brandon Marhsall.

Posted on 09 September 2009 by CJ

I want to offer a little advice to anyone who accidentally clicked on this:  STOP TALKING ABOUT BRANDON MARSHALL.  Don’t call a sports talk show and tell some bimbo that the Ravens do/do not need this guy to win a game in the NFL.  Stop cluttering up Ravens message boards comparing the Ravens receivers to this guy.  Stop telling your friends, who probably can’t stand your opinions on football, that he was found innocent.  Or the team CAN fit him in the cap with Ngata and the other contracts that are coming due.  Don’t go off about how Ozzie constantly screws up this team by being pitifully inept finding offensive talent.

Just stop.  It’s not happening.  Say it with me….”HE ISN’T COMING TO BALTIMORE”.  What does a Brandon Marshall trade and Michael Jackson have in common?  They are both dead.

Look, anyone with a golf ball sized brain knows he is a young, talented, man-child.  I don’t care, and neither should you.   Here are but a few reasons why:

1.  The Ravens can’t fit him.  Do you want Ngata or Marshall?  You can’t have both.  I can hear it now…”They can restructure deals?”  Remember the salary cap purge a couple years after the superbowl win? That, imterwebs friends, is the long term ramifications of adding 10 mil a year on this guy. “Don’t you read?  There wont BE a salary cap!”.  Hi Jerrah Jones, nice try.  There’s about as much chance of that as you keeping your grubby hands off roster decisions.

2.  He’s a thug.  I said it.  He beats women.  You like that kind of stuff?  You don’t care?  I do, and so does Harbaugh, and so does Ozzie, and two of those 3 opinions count.  You don’t have enough fingers to count how many times this idiot has been arrested.  Yes, character matters.

3.  Anita Marks wants him here.  No further comment necessary.

4.  He drops passes.  Did you love Travis Taylor? 12 drops last year.  You want Braylon Edwards, too?

5.  He’s hurt, alot.  ’06, tore his PCL. ’07, Groin and Quadriceps. ’08, right arm (in one of those “incidents”).  ’09, Hip injury that is still bothering him.  He doesn’t condition well in the off season, maybe because he’s too busy beating women.

Look, we all liked watching the Air Coreal (if you were alive then) Chargers throw all over the place and score a bajillion points.  It’s fun to watch.  P.S., they NEVER WON A TITLE.  This guy is not what puts the Ravens over the top.  Line play, run game, and health is.  Remember that.

CJ is on twitter, not that you care. http://twitter.com/CJ_Johnson_

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Del Mar is open – FREE Online Handicapping Contest

Posted on 23 July 2009 by Gary Quill

To the small but loyal WNST.net horse racing blog reading community, it is my personal mission to keep you informed on some of the more obscure events available to you within the thoroughbred horse racing industry.

 

Even though the day after the Belmont Stakes up until the Breeders Cup (Nov. 6 and 7) could be considered the “off season” to the casual horse racing fan, those of us who are truly passionate about the Sport of Kings follow it year round. But for those who may fall out of the loop during this “off season”, there are plenty of opportunities on the web to help keep your interest.

 

For instance, Wednesday July 22nd was opening day at Del Mar race track (“Where the Turf Meets the Surf”). On their website (www.dmtc.com/contest/) they conduct a FREE Handicapping Contest that runs for the entire meet. I highly recommend it. It is easy, fun, provides FREE Past Performances for that days contest race and will help you stay connected to horse racing during the Dog Days of Summer. With the combination of a little luck and skill, you could win some scratch ($$$) to help support your short-term sports investing habit.

 

Del Mar has live racing Wednesday thru Sunday, concluding on September 9th. You do not have to play the contest every racing day, but it would behoove you to do so because it will increase your chances of winning.

 

Check it out… it beats grumbling about the O’s woes and will provide you a rooting interest leading up to your Fantasy Football League draft day and the start of the NFL regular season.

 

Discover the joy of watching and wagering on thoroughbred horse racing today!  

 

 

 

 

 

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Training Camp Preview: 5 Under-the-Radar Players

Posted on 21 July 2009 by Luke Jones

With only a week to go until the first practices for the Ravens’ quarterbacks, rookies, and select veterans, it’s time to consider what players flying beneath the radar could play a major part in the 2009 season.

Undoubtedly, injuries will occur, and the coaching staff will look to the next man waiting to step into a larger role.  One can simply look back to last season to see how critical it is to have these types of players.

Fullback Le’Ron McClain, safety Jim Leonhard (now with the New York Jets), and guard Chris Chester were little more than afterthoughts entering training camp but went on to make major contributions to an 11-5 season that ended with the Ravens coming up short in the AFC Championship.

Who are this season’s players currently flying under the radar that could be key contributors this season?

Here are five names to keep an eye on this summer:

1.  Chris Carr

Though this free-agent signing lacked the local appeal of Domonique Foxworth (Maryland and Western Tech) or the pedigree of Matt Birk (six Pro Bowl selections), Carr will play a critical role with special teams and the secondary.

The fifth-year defensive back provides exceptional return ability, an area in which the Ravens struggled outside of the departed Leonhard.  In his three seasons in Oakland, Carr became the Raiders’ all-time kick return leader with 4,841 yards (24.1 avg).  In 2008, his only season with the Tennessee Titans, Carr ranked fourth in the NFL with a 28.1 kickoff return average.

In addition to his return skills, Carr will provide more depth in the secondary, a plus considering the Ravens’ projected starters, Fabian Washington and Fabian Washington, lack the experience of last year’s Week 1 starters Samari Rolle and Chris McAlister.  Along with Rolle and Frank Walker, Carr can provide starting experience should Washington or Foxworth falter.

Carr recorded 31 tackles and one interception in 2008.

2.  Marcus Smith

With the sudden retirement of No. 1 receiver Derrick Mason and no major acquisitions imminent, the coaching staff will look to Smith to emerge in the passing game.  The 2008 fourth-round selection saw playing time in six games but did not record a reception during his rookie season.

Smith has good size—6-1 and 215 pounds—but will need to show more consistent hands to give the passing game a boost.  His experience playing running back at the University of New Mexico gives him more ability to run after the catch than most receivers, and his blocking ability is a strength.  He was also a solid contributor on special teams in 2008.

The coaching staff became more impressed with Smith’s efforts toward the end of OTAs this offseason.

Regardless of whether Mason returns in 2009 or follows through with his retirement, Smith will need to provide another option for Joe Flacco and the passing game.  With Mason, Mark Clayton, and Demetrius Williams all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents following the season, Smith has a distinct opportunity to secure a future role in the Ravens’ offense with a strong 2009 campaign.

3.  Antwan Barnes

After showing much promise in his rookie season in 2007, Barnes’ sophomore campaign was largely quiet, recording only five tackles from scrimmage and no sacks in 13 games.  The former Florida International standout missed the entire postseason with a shoulder injury.

Even before the injury, Barnes was receiving less playing time than the surprising rookie free agent Jameel McClain.  With McClain shifting to inside linebacker this offseason, Barnes will have the opportunity to contribute more in new coordinator Greg Mattison’s defense, especially as a rush end in passing situations.

With the Ravens’ selection of defensive end-linebacker Paul Kruger in the second round of this April’s draft, Barnes will need to show more versatility to fit into the team’s long-term plans.  Barnes has shown a good motor and an ability to rush the passer but has been slow to learn the other skills needed in a 3-4 outside linebacker.  Despite his one-dimensional play on defense, Barnes has demonstrated strong special teams play, recording nine special teams stops in 2009.

4.  Kelley Washington

After signing Washington after a tryout during OTAs, the Ravens hope the veteran can bring some depth to a thin receiving group.

Drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the third round of the 2003 draft, Washington has never realized the potential he showed at the University of Tennessee when he caught 70 passes for 1,080 yards and seven touchdowns as a 22-year-old freshman (he spent four years playing minor league baseball before enrolling at Knoxville).  A neck injury in 2002 hurt his draft status, and he has never shown consistent playmaking ability at the professional level.

Washington spent four years in Cincinnati and the last two with the New England Patriots, recording 73 catches, 896 yards, and nine touchdowns in his career.  His best season came in 2004 when he caught 31 balls for 378 yards and three touchdowns.

Largely forgotten as a receiver during his time in New England (only one reception in 24 games), Washington was applauded for his strong special teams play.

Much like Smith, the 6-3 Washington will have the opportunity to provide another receiving option for Flacco, especially with the unknown status of Mason.

5.  Brandon McKinney

A complete unknown when the Ravens signed the defensive tackle in October of last season, the massive McKinney was a strong contributor in short-yardage and goal-line packages, recording 19 tackles in 11 regular season games with the Ravens.  A fourth-year player originally signed by the San Diego Chargers, McKinney also played in all three postseason games, making three stops.

The Ravens have created a tradition of finding low-profile players who pay big dividends on the defensive line, including the likes of Lional Dalton, Kelly Gregg, and Justin Bannan.  McKinney can add his name to that list with another strong showing in 2009.

With Gregg, Bannan, and Trevor Pryce all 30 or older, McKinney brings youth and more size (6-2 and 324 pounds) to the Ravens’ defensive line rotation.

*****

WNST.net and AM 1570 WNST is your place to turn for full training camp coverage.  We’ll be providing live updates, interviews, audio, video, and blogs from McDaniel College.

luke@wnst.net

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Crabcakes and Home Run Scenes

Posted on 14 July 2009 by Patrick Staso

For those of you out there who feel self conscious about the faces you make when you exert physical energy…Yeah, you who feel the need to open your mouth as wide as you can, or stick your tongue out at obscure angles every time you catch a ball or attempt to make a layup. Rest assured you probably aren’t as bad as Rafael Nadal Nor is your face plastered over the internet with a title saying “Check out this guy’s goofy faces”

I took a quick browse around that same LIFE website and found a picture of this sport

It’s called Sepak Takraw. Tell me that’s not hardcore.  Here’s the wiki link because I can’t explain it better than a mix between a mix between volley ball, soccer and ninjutsu.

nextround.net posted a list of a few top 5 Home Run Scenes. I couldn’t find a video on youtube, but I’m kinda partial to the “homerun” from Problem Child.  Where Junior runs around bludgeoning people with his bat.

Any of you have input on your favorite home run scene? Or to broaden the subject a little bit, plot changing basket, touchdown, catch, goal etc scene. Post away please.

That’s all for today. Hopefully I’m going to answer calls again tomorrow. It’s a little more exciting than blogging.

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