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Ravens Play Great Team Game

Posted on 10 January 2011 by Michael Schwartz

The NFL’s best running team in the Chiefs versus a stout Ravens defense. The Chiefs offense had a early touchdown in the first when Jamaal Charles broke a 41 yard run. The Ravens knew going into this game that they needed to stop Jamaal Charles and the Chiefs rushing attack. After this play the Ravens knew if they didn’t make adjustments it would be a long day. After that the Ravens didn’t let the Chiefs score again. The defense shut down the Chiefs run game and pass game. Cassell threw for 70 yards and the Chiefs ran for 108 yards. Their total net yards were 161, and that is less than half of their season average. The Ravens defense forced 5 turnovers, 3 interceptions and 2 fumbles. The Ravens defense sacked Cassell 3 times and another thing the Ravens defense did well was holding the Chiefs on third down conversions. The Chiefs were 1/8 on third down. The Ravens defense got after the quarterback and that is because Greg Mattison dialed up the blitz. It is something that he hasn’t done all year but he did it and it worked. The Chiefs definitely weren’t expecting the Ravens defense to dial up the blitz and stopping the passing game. Dwayne Bowe didn’t have one reception and that is something that the Ravens emphasized. They were putting Ed Reed as a deep safety on Bowe’s side. The defense had a great plan on how to contain Bowe and the whole Chiefs offense.

The Ravens offense played great in all aspects of offense. Joe Flacco didn’t throw any interceptions, but he fumbled when Tamba Hali came off the edge and stripped it. This led to the Jamaal Charles touchdown but that was the only mistake Flacco made. The Ravens were not running the ball particularly well, but they still had the Chiefs biting on the play action. Todd Heap was unstoppable, he had 10 receptions for 108 yards. The Ravens finally got Anquan Boldin involved. He had 5 receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown. He is going to have to do the same next week if the Ravens want to win. Ray Rice caught 5 balls out of the backfield for 42 yards including a touchdown on a third and 2. The offense possessed the ball for more than 40 minutes and that kept the defense fresh and it showed because the were able to force 5 turnovers. The Ravens offensive line allowed 4 sacks and the Steelers have a much better pass rush than the Chiefs and the Ravens will need to protect Flacco a lot better. The Ravens played a great game overall and have a good chance against the Steelers if they can play the same offense they played versus the Chiefs.  The Ravens played this game for Ed Reed and the Ravens linebackers coach who lost a family member this past week.

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Caps Blasted By Rangers, 7-0

Posted on 13 December 2010 by Ed Frankovic

And the hits just keep on coming. The Washington Capitals losing streak is now at six games as they were practically run out of Madison Square Garden, 7-0, on Sunday night. It was the 4th time in the last 13 games the Caps have been shutout, although they did hit four posts in this tilt. Washington was playing their third game in four nights and some of the players, who have been battling the flu, clearly had nothing in the tank. The Rangers, on the other hand, had no problems taking out their frustrations on the Caps. The Capitals record now stands at 18-11-3 and they have a three and four point lead on the Tampa Bay Lightning and Atlanta Thrashers in the Southeast Division, respectively, but both teams have two games in hand on Washington.

Here are the mostly lowlights and analysis from this ugly Caps performance in Manhattan:

- The biggest problem in this game was the Caps defense. The Rangers struck first when Tom Poti misplayed the puck behind his own net and then he compounded the error by deflecting the puck by his own goaltender on an attempted cross crease pass by Brandon Prust. That was the only goal of the first period, one in which Washington and the Rangers played fairly evenly. But then things went bad fast with three goals in three minutes and 31 seconds early in period two. First, Scott Hannan got caught backing in on an Artem Anisimov rush and the Russian, in Alexander Ovechkin style, used #23 as a screen to beat Semyon Varlamov and make it 2-0, Rags. 14 seconds later Hannan’s night got worse as he was whistled for holding. The Blueshirts then capitalized on the bad penalty when Poti was out of position on the penalty kill and Marian Gaborik made a super deflection of a Marc Staal shot five hole on Varly. Then came the dagger as Brandon Dubinsky skated in the Caps zone and Hershey d-man Brian Fahey gave him far too much room and #17′s wrister beat Varlamov (13 saves on 20 shots). At that point Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau normally would have made a goalie change but thanks to the post game work of Corey Masisak and Brian McNally we now know that Michal Neuvirth is the latest to get hit with the flu bug and could not have played. #30 apparently came down with his ailment on Sunday afternoon, which was too late for a recall (again h/t @cmasisak22 & @bmcnally14).

- Between the flu bug and the injuries to Mike Green (flu and possibly shoulder) and Jeff Schultz (fractured thumb), this Capitals team is spread pretty thin right now on the back line. In addition, as Boudreau said after the game, some of the players are “quick to feel sorry for themselves.” Part of that phenomenon is likely the zapping of the energy they feel from their illnesses. It is very apparent that Nicklas Backstrom is not close to 100% and he had another lousy outing (-3). Alexander Semin, who was fined and not suspended for his cross checking major against Colorado on Sunday night, also was bad (-3) and it was his poor decision to pinch with the Caps on a power play midway through period two that led to a Rangers 2 on 1 odd man rush and the fifth goal by Staal. John Carlson was the d-man on that play and he did not do a good job of cutting off the pass, which allowed Staal to have an easy route to beating Varly.

- One of the few positives on the evening was the play of Ovechkin, who had seven hits, four shots on goal, and also fought Dubinsky when it was 4-0. The Great #8 had just laid out Dan Girardi with a clean hit and it was clear #17 was coming his way so Ovie dropped his mitts and had a spirited bout with the big Rangers winger. Afterwards Ovechkin motioned to his bench as if to say “Let’s go.” Immediately the team came to life and drew a penalty but then Semin’s miscue ended that short momentum burst for Washington. It was Ovechkin’s first bout since December of 2006, when he was given five for fighting with Paul Gausted of Buffalo (h/t Dan Rosen of NHL.com)

- Ovechkin, despite his team trailing 6-0, continued to work hard and it literally ended up hurting him as Semin hit the winger inside the right leg with a shot as the Great #8 was trying to screen Henrik Lundqvist (31 saves). Alexander the Great fell to the ground and many Rangers fans loudly cheered his injury (lack of class there, much like Philly fans with Michael Irvin or the idiot Ravens ones who cheered when Kyle Boller got hurt in 2005). Ovechkin did not return to the ice and he sat on the bench as the clock expired. But Ovechkin is fine and Boudreau told Masisak, McNally, Ted Starkey (@TedStarkey), and the other media assembled, that the Great #8 could have played had the contest been competitive.

- Overall, it was a bad loss but the effort was stronger than the other blowouts against Atlanta and New Jersey earlier this season. There are some who are calling for Boudreau’s firing but to me that is a knee jerk move at this early a juncture in the season. The head coach has some bonafide excuses for the team’s poor play and based on what I’ve seen from GM George McPhee I don’t see him hitting any panic button. Need I remind fans once again that he told us point blank at media day that he does not care about the regular season that much and is focused solely on a long playoff run. If the team continues to struggle after this ailment and injury bug is over, then the GM will either look to make trades or examine the status of the bench boss, but I would be shocked if something happens any time soon. After all, the team is 11 points up on the ninth spot in the Eastern Conference so they are comfortably a playoff team at this point in time.

Notes: It was hard to find a Caps best d-man on this night but I would have to give it to Karl Alzner who had five hits in over 21 minutes of work…Washington won the faceoff battle, 32-24, with Boyd Gordon winning 9 of 11 draws and Mathieu Perreault going 10-4…Backstrom hit two posts while Semin and Perreault hit one each as well. When the breaks are going against you those bounce out, unlike the off the pipe shot that Ryan Callahan put by Varlamov…the Caps next game is Wednesday at the Verizon Center against the Anaheim Ducks. Hopefully the flu bug is gone and Green can return as the team really misses him when he is out. Unfortunately, Schultz is out for four more weeks.

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NFL Blackout Rule: Stupid

Posted on 16 September 2010 by CJ

The NFL does a lot of smart things.  Without a doubt, the league is the most successful sports cartel in America.

One thing they absolutely do not get right is the archaic “blackout rule”.  Essentially, the rule states that games not sold out within 72 hours are subject to not being shown on tv within a 75 mile radius of the home team’s city.

Last weekend, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were subjected to the first blackout of the season, in their home opener…week 1.  This week several teams, including the San Diego Chargers…a team that has 48 consecutive sellouts, faces a blackout over 8,000 general admission seats being unsold.  Some teams, like the Cincinnati Bengals, managed to barely avoid a blackout by selling their remaining few thousand tickets.

Last season, the NFL blacked out a total of 22 games.  Now, I don’t keep stats on such things, but that is an awfully high number.  22 games is an awful lot of fans being prohibited from even attempting to garner interest toward their team.  That’s a lot of local television revenue not being produced in the form of commercials.  I don’t even want to count how many bars and restaurants suffer in this oh so wonderful economy we have.  And by the way, NFL, we the people generally subsidize the stadiums your teams utilize, not to mention police scheduling, road improvements, and all of the other things pumped into ensuring your 8 home game money makers go smoothly.

The premise of the rule is to encourage fan attendance.  This probably made sense when bell bottoms were a fashion statement.  Now, it is not a viable argument.  Television contracts are the driving force of NFL revenue now.  You know, the games they put on TV, except when all the tickets aren’t sold?  So let me get this straight:  The NFL can not only rake in billions from TV money, but can then arbitrarily disallow the games from being shown?

Let’s break down the costs an average Joe and his family of 4 pays to attend one of these events.  First, if you want to guarantee seats, you have to buy a PSL in most NFL cities now.  To be kind, we will take a low range PSL, say $1,000 (I paid $500 when the Ravens announced their pricing, but I digress.  Then, of course, you pay for your season tickets.  We will make it easy to do math and say…$50.00 per, or $200.00 for the family, per game.  Parking? $20.00, or we can be cheap and take the MTA…oh wait, it is all contracted now and just as expensive, but that is another story.  Throw in about $100.00 for concessions (again, another story for another day).

$200.00 + $20.00 + $100.00 = $320.00 x 10 (remember, pre season!) = $3,200.00 for a family of four in the CHEAP SEATS. Your actual expenses will vary and these are rough estimates, but you get the idea.

Even $300.00-ish for a single game is alot of money now.  Yeah, rabid football fans can and will pay, but it does not negate the fact that there are many, many fans who simply cannot afford today’s NFL while clerking at Wal-Mart, bussing tables, etc.

Average Joe aside, it just no longer makes good business sense for fans to be “deprived” from seeing their team.  Let’s face it, if you have a 50″, 1080P TV, catching the Ravens at 1pm and forking up $50.00 for Redzone on your FioS while eating your home made nachos and slurpin’ down a few (Insert this station’s latest beer sponsor here) brews is a hell of a good way to spend a Sunday.  I had upper deck, endzone seats at M&T, in the 6th row behind the goal post.  Let me tell you, it is a good way to watch a game.  It’s Madden 11 in real life.  It is NOT as good as watching a game in high definition, full surround sound, with timely instant replay.  It just isn’t.

Fans across America seem to agree.  Anyone notice the ratings for opening weekend?  They were through the roof.  The NFL is ridiculously popular, and that will translate to even more revenue from the networks in the next deal.  But, how can struggling teams capitalize on this ever growing popularity if its fan base? Does the NFL subscribe to the archaic principle that “absence makes the heart grow fonder?”  No, absence makes you at best watch other teams.  More likely, absence makes you not give a damn.

Cut the crap NFL, embrace the era of satellites and 1080P.  You have the best marketing team on planet earth.  Let Joe watch his team.

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Showalter and Harbaugh: Taking Baltimore Back to the Future

Posted on 10 September 2010 by Domenic Vadala

The two main coaches in Baltimore right now are Buck Showalter of the Orioles and John Harbaugh of the Ravens. Both are with their respective teams for various reasons, both have different backgrounds and levels of experience, and both are at different stages of their lives. However they have one thing in common, and that’s Baltimore. To expound on that a bit, they’ve both inherited a rich tradition and lineage in that there’s greatness behind them. While the Orioles have been in a state of malaise for thirteen years, we all know the history and traditions that are associated with them. Showalter inherits the legacy of Earl Weaver, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, and Cal Ripken Jr. In the case of the Ravens, there’s a twelve-year span of time where there was no football in Baltimore, which stands in stark similarity to the most recent stretch of Orioles baseball. However Harbaugh is now taxed with stroking the legacy of Don Shula, Johnny Unitas, Alan Ameche, Raymond Berry, and Ray Lewis (who of course is still on the team).

Again, the common link between these two men is Baltimore, and thus the Baltimore fans. One of the reasons that I love Baltimore so much is because of it’s legacy as a survivor. Let us not forget that Baltimore was attacked by Brittish forces in August of 1814 (during the war of 1812). The resulting Battle of Ft. McHenry gave us our beloved Star-Spangled Banner, which essentially celebrates the fact that the city of Baltimore never fell to the Brittish forces that night. The city (and thus the nation) “survived.” How does that translate to the O’s and Ravens? Baltimore’s rich football legacy was hijacked in 1984 Robert Irsay and the Mayflower moving vans. However for twelve years the fans kept the legacy of Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts burning in their hearts, in hopes that one day the NFL might see fit to return to one of the places that helped to make it so great. Eventually those efforts paid off when in 1995 Art Modell announced that his Cleveland Browns were moving to Baltimore to become the Ravens.

The Orioles last contended in 1997 under the leadership of Davey Johnson, one of Earl Weaver’s former players. Since Johnson rode out of town on the heels of going wire-to-wire in first place and winning manager of the year, it’s been lean times in Birdland. Seemingly everything that this franchise has done has been wrong. We all remember the Albert Belle debacle, which might rank up there with the Glenn Davis trade as one of the worst moves in team history. Speaking for myself I’ll never forget the year that they lost Rafael Palmeiro and BJ Surhoff to free agency and/or trades, and then tried to market Delino DeShields as their big free-agent pickup the next year. They even tried bringing Palmeiro (who was always a fan favorite) back, however that blew up in their faces when he tested positive for steroids. Ultimately, a long series of poor management decisions by Peter Angelos and the people around him have led to these thirteen losing seasons, marred by embarassments and NY/Boston fans taking over our beloved stadium.

While some people would argue that Angelos is still mismanaging the team, I would tend to believe that through the hiring of Andy MacPhail and Buck Showalter, this team is on the right track once again. In the past few seasons they’ve drafted well and made some good pickups (although they should have gotten a big bat this past off season, as has been admitted by Andy MacPhail). I suppose my point is that through all of that, the Baltimore fans still stand by the team. Some would laughingly say that drawing 9100+ on a weeknight is hardly having people stand by you. However anyone that’s attended a game since Showalter’s shown up in August knows what I mean. The fans are into and behind this team. When people think of suffering fans, those of cities such as Cleveland, Boston, and Philly come to mind. However not having football for so long combined with the Orioles’ rocky thirteen years has put Baltimore fans in a similar category. Yet they’re still there, as resiliant as ever. So Buck Showalter and John Harbaugh are tasked with taking the traditions and memories of the past, and turning them into the future. I suppose that I’m reminded of the closing scene of Back to the Future III; as he lifted off in his new time machine, the Doc told Marty and Jennifer:

Your future isn’t written yet. Nobody’s is! So make it a good one…both of you.

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Ty Wiggington: Al comeback player of the year?

Posted on 08 September 2010 by Domenic Vadala

Ty Wiggingon has been as valuable to the O’s in 2010 as any player to any other team. In the first third of the season, Wiggy was one of the only rays of blonde sunshine on a team that seemingly had perpetual storm clouds over it’s head. Wiggington was unsure of his status coming out of spring training in that it appeared that Dave Trembley was going to platoon him at various positions (including DH). However with all of the injuries to various players at the very beginning, Wiggington all but guaranteed himself a spot in the lineup in some capacity day in and day out. The running joke with Wiggington coming out of spring training was that he wanted to make it difficult for Dave Trembley to not put him in the lineup. While Wiggington did more than enough to earn his share of playing time, he also proved his worth through his play.

Ironically, if you compare Wiggy’s numbers year-over-year, you get a mixed bag of results. Wiggington’s played in nine more games thus far in 2010 than he did in all of ’09, however that’s also the result of the fact that Aubrey Huff was a Baltimore Oriole last year. Wiggington’s hit better this year, although that’s proportional to the added games and at-bats. While he’s struck out more, he’s also drawn 2o more walks than he did in 2009. His strikeouts are up, but again that also has to do with the fact that that he has more games than last season.

So it seems that his stats aren’t such an imrovement over last year. Then why would I argue that he should be considered for comeback player of the year? As I said, Ty Wiggington was the one ray of sunlight for the Orioles when they were struggling so much at the beginning of the season. Perhaps it wasn’t the number of hits or homers that came off his bat as necessarily as it was when those hits came. As an example, on April 19th Wiggy had a homer and four RBI to lead the Orioles over the Oakland Athletics 8-3, snapping a nine-game losing streak. The next night in Seattle, he hit his third home run in four games, although the O’s lost to Seattle. On May 1st he hit his seventh and eighth homer of the season, helping to lead the Orioles to a 12-9 win over Boston in a donnybrook that was attended by me. The following day he hit a walk off double in the 1oth to give the Orioles a 3-2 win over the Red Sox, and their first series victory of 2010.

Wiggington has always been a solid major leaguer. He was never a superstar or a guy around which you might build your team, however he’s always been solid. He reminds me a lot of former-Oriole Jeff Conine in that he’s always been a consistent hitter, and a better clubhouse guy. The Orioles did most of their big time struggling in April, when they went through and above-referenced stretch where they lost nine of their first ten games. Ty Wiggington finished the first month of the season hitting .308 with six homers and 12 RBI. While he’s fallen back to earth a bit since then (especially in June when he hit .209), he’s been one of the only Orioles that’s consistently produced all season. The key word for me there is consistent, or consistency. Lots of players can be one-hit wonders in that they have their one brief shining moment, only to fade into the sunset after it’s over. Ty Wiggington has always been a consistent player that’s consistently produced for hs team.

So again, why should he be considered for comeback player of the year? What has he had to come back from? If Wiggy’s not to get this award, that’s probably the reason why he wouldn’t qualify. Last season he hit .272, which is hardly a shabby year. However I would also submit that he wasn’t brought to Baltimore to have the role that he’s seen He was brought here to be a platoon player at various positions, perhaps at times only playing for three days or so each week. He’s done that and then some. Although he wasn’t injured or miss any signifigant time during the season, he has outdone himself and what the Orioles wanted for him when they brought him in.

Admittedly I probably didn’t make the case for Wiggington very well in this column. Basically all I outlined was a guy that stepped in and performed admirably when his team needed him. However as bad as the Orioles were during that stretch of time, imagine where they would have been without  Ty Wiggington. It’s my understanding that Wiggy wants to return to the Orioles in 2011. My only question would be why the Orioles haven’t gotten a deal done to this point? He seems like a great teammate, good clubhouse guy, and a consistent player. How can you go wrong?

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The Road to XLV

Posted on 07 September 2010 by Joe Giglio

As the football fans of America slowly get football fever for NFL Kickoff ’10, I will kick off Baltimore Chops coverage. Here are XLV predictions/thoughts/anecdotes on The Road To XLV:

I. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. The New York Jets will not fulfill their self imposed expectations of winning a Super Bowl. Rex Ryan’s crew will struggle early with or without Revis, will come on during a soft mid season schedule, but ultimately will not have enough to garner a trip to Dallas. Mark Sanchez needs more seasoning, Shonn Greene has to prove health and fumbling issues are behind him, and this team needs to prove they can play with a bulls eye on their back. The Jets will be good, but not Super.

II. Brett Favre’s latest return will be for naught. The Minnesota Vikings will be the disappointment of the 2010 season, starting with a Week 1 loss in New Orleans. Sidney Rice will be sorely missed during the first half of the season and Percy Harvin isn’t a lock to play any week with persistent headaches. I believe the bend over backwards for Brett attitude of this organization will doom them. And letting Chester Taylor walk to Chicago was a mistake. This team has done nothing to improve, and has actually taken major steps back. The 12-4 darlings of the NFC North in 2009 will limp to 8-8 in 2010.

III. The NFL rule changing where the umpire lines up before the snap has already begun heated debate in league circles. Peyton Manning has already spoken out about how much it will effect the Colts and any team running the no huddle offense. The referee has been moved from around the spot where the middle linebacker would stand on the defensive portion of the field to 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage and the offense. Spotting the football and running backwards is going to test umpire conditioning and the patience of offenses. *The old rule will be in effect for the last two minutes of each half, so true two minute drills should not be altered.

IV. The central theme of the 2010 season will be the lack of confidence in what, or if, a 2011 season will look like. Every indication from players and owners is that a war is on the way and not much progress is expected to be made. The lack of a salary cap, holdouts, expensive stadiums, and the ludicrous rookie contracts have created a dividing rod for the owners and players association. It is no surprise that teams have been unwilling to hand out multi year deals with loads of guaranteed money this off season due to a lack of perspective on the future collective bargaining agreement. Enjoy this season, NFL fans. It might be the last of the NFL as we know it.

V. Attendance and blackout issues will extend its reach past just bottom feeding teams such as Jacksonville and Cleveland. Both New York teams recently had to put single game tickets on sale to satisfy NFL demands for sell outs and avoid embarrassing blackouts. The recession that has landed over 15 million people out of work, along with egregious PSL’s, will cause attendance to decline for the third straight season. Eric Grubman, executive vice president of NFL ventures and business operations, predicted overall ticket sales will drop 1% to 2% this season. USA Today reported today that at least 11 teams have consulted league cooperation on dealing with blackout issues for the upcoming season. The NFL has priced out the average Joe, and the entire league is suffering.

VI. Another factor in the sinking attendance numbers has to be attributed to the change in the way and preference we have in watching out football. The invention of the Red Zone channel, HD televisions, instant replay, and fantasy football have made the NFL more enjoyable from the comfort of your living room. Fans would rather save thousands of dollars, track their entire fantasy team, and not miss a touchdown from around the entire league by not going to the stadium. A recent USA Today poll asked where most fans prefer to watch games. The results don’t lie: In the stadium 10%, At home with my HD TV 81%, Sports bar 9%.

VII. Never has the NFL been more about the QB position than right now. You need to have an elite quarterback to be taken seriously as a contender. Gone are the days where a mediocre quarterback can take you to a Super Bowl on the back of a good defense and running game. Rex Grossman and Neil O’Donnell are no more. If you don’t have one of the top 15 signal callers in the game, forget any dreams of going to Dallas in Feb. Teams pass more than ever and they do it more efficiently than ever. Drew Brees can match wits with Peyton Manning in the big game, but Kyle Orton can’t.

VIII. Speaking of QB’s, here are my Top 15 signal callers in the league right now: 15. Jay Cutler 14. Carson Palmer 13. Matt Schaub 12. Matt Ryan 11. Donovan McNabb 10. Joe Flacco 9. Brett Favre 8. Tony Romo 7. Aaron Rodgers 6. Phil Rivers 5. Ben Roethlisberger 4. Eli Manning 3. Drew Brees 2. Tom Brady 1. Peyton Manning

IX. The most interesting quarterback controversy involves two players that are no longer teammates. Kolb or McNabb? McNabb or Kolb? The Eagles decision to trade the best quarterback in franchise history to a division rival speaks volumes about what they think Donovan has left in the tank/how good they think Kolb is ready to be. Andy Reid’s coaching career will be defined by this move. If Kolb flops, Reid will be looked at as the guy who was carried by Donovan. If Donovan flops and Kolb leads Philly back to the postseason, Reid will be hailed as a coach who has a system that will work despite the signal caller.

X: As the forward pass continues to dominate offensive philosophies around the NFL, the influence of the spread will grow more and more. Mouse Davis should smile wherever he is because the spread he helped to devise has entrenched its way into our Sunday living rooms. What team doesn’t trot out 3 or 4 receivers on most passing plays? How many teams actually use anything more than a 5 step drop? Tons of receivers, quick and efficient passes, and no huddle attacks leaving the defense gasping for air? Yup. The spread is now part of the NFL landscape.

XI: Pete Carroll was the most interesting and fresh coaching hire by any NFL team. The circumstances surrounding his departure from USC get murkier by the minute, but at least he brings some energy into a franchise that has been zapped of it in recent years. Is he a better coach after all his success in the collegiate game or will this be the same Pete was saw over a decade ago? Either way, he makes the Seahawks a fun franchise to watch in the coming seasons.

XII. 2010 will be the last chance for Raven greats Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Todd Heap to bring another title to the city of Baltimore. Lewis has a ring from his dominating 2000 season, but Reed and Heap where both drafted after the Super Bowl year. All three have led the Ravens through a decade of great success, but have not added another trophy to the case in M&T Bank Stadium. 2010 could be their last year together as Lewis is on his last legs, Reed is oft injured and set to begin the year on the PUP list, and Heap’s replacement(s) were selected in this past April’s draft. Three of the most popular Ravens in history have one more chance to do something special together. It’s now or never.

XIII. The Oakland Raiders will win the AFC West. No, I’m not kidding. I believe the 5-11 team from a year ago, the same team that hasn’t had a winning year since 2002, will find away to beat out San Diego for the division crown. Tom Cable has been my guy since the day they hired him and no one can tell me those guys don’t play hard for him. The defense is going to be one of the most underrated in the entire league. Rolando McClain and LaMarr Houston were brilliant picks to team with Richard Seymour and Nnamdi Asomugha. The trade for pass rusher Kamerion Wimbley may turn out to be the steal of the off-season. And don’t forget the quarterback. Jason Campbell isn’t great, but he is good enough to win close games, unlike JaMarcus Russell. Just Win Baby!

XIV. Most improved team: Detroit Lions. I’m sticking with my pick from last year to make even bigger strides in year two of the Jim Schwartz regime. I love the 1st round picks of Ndamukong
Suh and Javid Best. Look for Matthew Stafford to cut down on his INT’s and become far more efficient in the red zone. Completion percentage will never be his strong suit, but he can get the ball downfield to a streaking Calvin Johnson with the best of them. Jim Schwartz is starting to put the pieces of a defense together. Suh and free agent signee Kyle Vanden Boesh will give the Lions a pass rush for the first time in over a decade. 5-11 might not look like much improvement, but look for this Lion team to walk into to 4th quarter with a chance to win in more than half their games.

XV. Biggest step back: Buffalo Bills. How does a team that hasn’t seen the postseason since the Clinton administration take the biggest step back? Tough question, but this team might be that bad. Chan Gailey was about as uninspiring of a hire as you can imagine. The division boasts three potential double digit win playoff teams that should beat them up soundly in all six division games. C.J. Spiller was a great pick and could turn out to be an explosive NFL player, but the offensive line and quarterback position stink. The defense will struggle to adjust to a 3-4 scheme and this team will be thinking about if Ryan Mallett or Jake Locker is worth the #1 overall pick by early November.

XVI. Darrelle Revis will prove to be worth all the headaches and money it cost to keep him happy and in a Jets uniform. Holdout, nomad existence, and lack of practice isn’t enough to derail the leagues best defensive player. Revis is the most gifted corner the league has seen since Deion Sanders. Sean Gilbert’s favorite nephew is now paid like the big time corner he is. He and the Jets defense will tested early and often with games against Baltimore, New England, and Miami. Rex Ryan thought that Revis has the greatest season for a corner in the history of the league last season. He is going to need to duplicate that production for the Jets to be as great as they have the potential to be.

XVII. Offensive lines will be the key to several potent offenses living up to their potential. Cowboys, Giants, Jets, Patriots, Chargers, Bears, Eagles and just about every other possible contender have question marks heading into the season at one or several line positions. All those teams also boast quarterbacks they believe in and a multitude of talented skill players. In order for those QB’s to get the ball into the hands of the guys that can make plays, those offensive lines must produce at a high level consistently.

XVIII. Circle your calender for Week 15. San Francisco @ San Diego, New Orleans @ Baltimore, Philadelphia @ NY Giants, NY Jets @ Pittsburgh, Green Bay @ New England, and Chicago @ Minnesota will all have playoff implications.

XIX. Joe Giglio’s No Excuses Must Watch Game of the Week: Busy? Working? Getting married? Unless you are on fire, these are the games you can’t miss for each week of the season:

Week 1: Baltimore @ NY Jets
Week 2: NY Giants @ Indianapolis
Week 3: Atlanta @ New Orleans
Week 4: Washington @ Philadelphia
Week 5: Minnesota @ NY Jets
Week 6: Baltimore @ New England
Week 7: NY Giants @ Dallas
Week 8: Green Bay @ NY Jets
Week 9: Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati
Week 10: Baltimore @ Atlanta
Week 11: Indianapolis @ New England
Week 12: New Orleans @ Dallas
Week 13: Dallas @ Indianapolis
Week 14: Miami @ NY Jets
Week 15: Green Bay @ New England
Week 16: NY Giants @ Green Bay
Week 17: Cincinnati @ Baltimore

XX. Don’t sleep on Tom Brady. While I don’t believe this version of the Pats have enough around him to add a fourth ring to his impressive collection, Brady is as formidable as ever. He had a 2009 (28-13-4398) off of knee surgery that is better than a career year for 90% of the league. Two years removed from surgery will make Brady even closer to his greatest form of ’07. Moss, Welker, and the addition of physical tight end Rob Gronkowski make Brady someone that commands the respect of the best. The Pats aren’t great, but their quarterback makes them dangerous.

XXI. Trent Dilfer is the best NFL analyst ESPN has to offer. But instead of giving us as much Dilfer time as possible, they World Wide Leader will continue to trot out Chris Berman’s overplayed Two Minute Drill.

XXII. Network Broadcast Rankings: 1. CBS 2. NBC 3. FOX 4. ESPN…Football Night in America is becoming the best three hours on television.

XXIII. 2011 NFL Draft Top 5 Mock:

5. Cleveland- Marcell Darius, DT, ‘Bama
4. Carolina-Robert Quinn, DE, UNC
3. St. Louis- A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
2. Jacksonville- Jake Locker, QB, Washington
1. Buffalo- Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas

XXIV. A.J. Smith’s arrogance is going to cost San Diego a chance to be a special team. I have long thought that this guy is one of the more underrated executives in the NFL. Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeil are vital cogs to a team that was a Super Bowl favorite heading into last postseason. Now? They are either suspended and/or awaiting new well deserved contracts. Smith makes himself bigger than the team. He did it with the Brees tenure, Rivers/Manning fiasco, the Marty firing, Tomlinson’s ugly divorce from the team he resurrected, and now with two current franchise stapes. A.J. is overrated, and because of him, so are the 2010 Chargers.

XXV. Tim Tebow will be the Denver Broncos starting quarterback in Week 17 vs. San Diego. The Broncos are going to stink and they will want to take a look at their future, regardless of the fact they presented Kyle Orton a contract extension a few weeks ago. Josh McDaniels drafted Tebow to eventually be his guy, and the NFL is a now league. Tebow has too much of an upside and the Broncos have way too much invested for this kid to sit the bench in meaningless late season games.

XXVI. Won’t but could: Bears and Titans. I have both these teams pegged for 7-9 campaigns,
but if there are teams that can crash the playoff party in each conference, they reside in Chicago and Tennessee. The Bears added Julius Peppers, Chester Taylor, and Mike Martz to a group has one more shot to make the postseason before ownership tears this group apart. If the offensive line can block for Jay Cutler, this team has a chance. If not, Lovie and Co. are going to joining the millions of unemployed in this country. A friend and I recently had a conversation in which he asked me what I thought of the Titans. My response? “They could be good…or they could stink.” This team has the best running back in the sport, the leagues most tantalizing quarterback, and a high quality coach. Yet, they started 0-6 last season, before finishing 6-2. If they can be consistent, they have a shot.

XXVII. Players on the verge of a breakout year: Jermichael Finley, Hakeem Nicks, Harry Douglas, Shonn Greene, Chad Henne, Rashard Mendenhall, Lardarious Webb, Dashon Golden

XXVIII. Players destined to take a step back: Steve Smith (NY edition) and Steve Smith (Carolina edition), Brett Favre, Matt Schaub, Fred Jackson, Marion Barber, Joey Porter, Hines Ward

XXIX. Coaches on the hot seat: Eric Mangini, Gary Kubiak, Jack Del Rio, Josh McDaniels, Tom Coughlin, Brad Childress, Lovie Smith, John Fox

XXX. AFC East order of finish: New York, Miami, New England, Buffalo

XXXI. AFC North order of finish: Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Cleveland

XXXII. AFC South order of finish: Indianapolis, Houston, Tennessee, Jacksonville

XXXIII. AFC West order of finish: Oakland, San Diego, Kansas City, Denver

XXXIV. NFC East order of finish: Dallas, New York, Philadelphia, Washington

XXXV. NFC North order of finish: Green Bay, Minnesota, Chicago, Detroit

XXXVI. NFC South order of finish: New Orleans, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Carolina

XXXVII. NFC West order of finish: San Francisco, Seattle, Arizona, St. Louis

XXXVIII. AFC Wild Cards: Miami, New England

XXXIX. NFC Wild Cards: Atlanta, New York

XL. Offensive Player of the Year: Ray Rice, RB Baltimore

XLI. Defensive Player of the Year: Patrick Willis, MLB San Francisco

XLII. Coach of the Year: Tom Cable, Oakland

XLIII. Rookies of the Year: Offensive ROY: C.J. Spiller, RB Buffalo. Defensive ROY: Ndamukong Suh, DT Detroit

XLIV. MVP: Aaron Rodgers, QB Green Bay

XLV. Last, but far from least. Feb. 6, 2011 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas: Ravens over Packers.

Rodgers vs. Flacco. McCarthy vs. Harbaugh. Lewis and Reed vs. Woodson. This season will come down the play of the quarterbacks (what else did you expect?), and Rodgers and Flacco have shown that they are ready for prime time. In a re-match from a December Monday Night Football game from ’09. Flacco and the Ravens will take home the trophy. The game will be a cooronation for the two gifted signal callers and quite possibly the changing of the guard at the top of the league for many years.

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Laurel Mini-Meet Begins July 31st; Twilight Racing on Fridays

Posted on 19 July 2010 by Gary Quill

The Maryland Jockey Club and Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association (MTHA) have agreed to the dates for a 2010 Laurel Park Summer mini-meet.

 

After a 10-week break, live racing will return to Maryland on Saturday, July 31. It will be an 11-day meet that appears to be modeled after the current Monmouth Park meet, racing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. First Post will be at 3:35pm on Friday’s and 1:10pm on weekends. 

 

Lve racing dates for the stand are: July 31- Aug. 1, Aug. 6-7-8, Aug. 13-14-15 and Aug. 20-21-22. A pair of Maryland-bred stakes races will be featured during this meet, The Jameela Stakes (Aug. 14) and Mister Diz (Aug. 21).

 

During this mini-meet, I will provide a Best Bet, Longshot and SHOW Parlay Play of the Day. For more of my selections at Laurel Park and other thoroughbred horse racing tracks across the country, go to… https://www.mypicksonline.com/default.aspx?seller=0D21D9C4-9481-4D35-9E46-8E6014DC1C57  

 

At the conclusion of the Laurel mini-meet, live racing will shift to “The Big T” (aka Timonium Fairgrounds) for a 7-day state fair meet. The Laurel Park Fall meet will begin after the Labor Day (Sept. 6) holiday.

 

Nationally, Del Mar opens on Wednesday (July 21). If you want to shake off the summer doldrums of insignificant races, you might want to consider participating in the FREE Del Mar online handicapping contest (http://www.dmtc.com) for a chance to win entry in the National Handicapping Championship XII in Las Vegas January 28-29.

 

See ya at the betting windows!

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U.S. stays alive with gritty 2nd half comeback and 2-2 tie with Slovenia

Posted on 18 June 2010 by Drew Forrester

Two games, two ties.

Two games, two points.

But if a tie is like kissing your sister, this tie by the United States National Team today is like kissing Jessica Biel.

Make no mistake about it, the United States survived to play another day by earning a 2-2 draw with Slovenia on Friday, but there’s lots of work to do for Bob Bradley’s team before they can book a trip to next weekend’s knock-out round of the World Cup.

The U.S. next plays Algeria on Wednesday, June 23.  Anything less than a win won’t be good enough for the Americans, who were favored against Slovenia but failed to deliver a victory for the second straight game after falling behind 2-0 at the half.

The game started in dreadful fashion for the Americans, as a host of players fell asleep in the midfield and Slovenia’s Valter Birsa caught goalkeeper Tim Howard flat footed with a 30-yard shot in the 13th minute.  Jose Torres, who coughed up the ball as much as he kept it in the first half, lost his man after a turnover and Michael Bradley watched a give and go that caught Oguchi Oneywu by surprise. When none of those three could make up the necessary space to close down Birsa, he simply pegged a left-footer past a shocked Howard and it was 1-0 — and an easy 1-0 at that.

After Torres nearly knotted the game on a well hit free kick from just outside the box, the unattentive American defense was again exposed late in the first half, as Jay DeMerit lost his man in transition and Onyewu failed to step up and close down his man, giving Zlatan Ljubljankic the opportunity to finish off a nifty one-two.  Ljubljankic buzzed in uncontested and slid the ball underneath a late charging Howard at the 42 minute mark to put the U.S. down 2-0 heading to the locker room.

At that point, it certainly didn’t look good for the U.S.

Bradley made two changes to his 2nd half lineup, inserting Maurice Edu and Benny Feilhaber and sending the wobbly-Torres and the obviously overwhelmed Robbie Findley to the bench.

Findley, much to Bradley’s private delight, I’m sure, drew his second yellow card of the tournament in the first half and is suspended for the Wednesday encounter with Algeria.  That’s one tough talk Bradley won’t have to have with one of his young players.

The second half started precisely the way the U.S. wanted it to, as Landon Donovan took advantage of Slovenian defensive miscue and poured a shot into the upper part of the net from the right doorstep in the 48th minute.  Both teams had chances thereafter, although the Americans controlled most of the play from goalbox to goalbox.  Jozy Altidore, who put together a rock-star 90 minutes, nearly tied the game with a shot from 15 yards out but it was expertly gobbled up by Slovenia’s outstanding netminder, Samir Handanovic.  At that point, it wasn’t a matter of whether or not the U.S. would score ONE goal to tie it, but who would account for the 2nd goal that would win it?

Answer:  Maurice Edu would score the third goal.

Sort of.

Before Edu’s clinical finish that should have given the U.S. an improbable victory, Michael Bradley tied the game at 2-2, completing a chance in the 82nd minute that was nodded in his path by Altidore, who has supported Bradley’s faith in him by turning in a good game (England) and a very good one (Slovenia) in group play.  Bradley’s effort on the game-tying goal epitomized the Americans’ second half grit, as he worked his way through traffic and read the play perfectly before sliding into the ball and one-timing it past Handanovic.  The game-tying marker was set up by a world class deep ball from Donovan, who atoned for an otherwise forgettable performance against England by leading the 2nd half charge on Friday.

The Bradley tally set the stage for what will be talked about for days, maybe months and years, depending on what happens next Wednesday against Algeria.

On a set-play in the 86th minute, Donovan curled a bullet into the box and Edu stepped in between pedestrian Slovenian defenders and re-directed it past Handanovic to put the Americans up 3-2.

Initially, the announcing crew assumed that Bradley had been called offsides, but in the post-game press conference, FIFA disclosed that the official called Maurice Edu for a foul on the ball that was sent into the box.

Well, OK…if they say so.

There will be plenty of discussion about the whistle and the foul or the offsides call or whatever it is that happened.  The replay showed there were probably five fouls occuring at that point, every guy grabbing and jostling with the man he was next to…it’s like the NBA…every single trip down the court, there’s a foul.  On every occasion a ball is sent into the box on a set-play, there’s a foul.

Did Edu create a foul in the box?  Perhaps.

Is soccer becoming a tougher and tougher game to officiate?  Without question.

Based on scrambling around like amateurs in the first half and falling behind 2-0, the U.S. probably ONLY deserved a 2-2 tie on Friday.

But they sure gave us all plenty to be proud of in the final 45 minutes, as they stared defeat and elimination in the face, spit at their opposition, and rebounded passionately in the second half to earn a point and stay alive for five more days, at least.

That’s all we could have asked for at the intermission.

And next Wednesday against Algeria, if they can put together 90 minutes of passionate soccer, the U.S. just might make its way to the second round of play in this 2010 World Cup.

Here’s my player-by-player review of the Americans in the 2-2 tie with Slovenia.  The 1 (low) to 10 (high) scale is as follows:

Tim Howard (6) – Suspect on the first goal and unable to come up with the big save on the 2nd goal, but he rebounded with a strong second half and dominated the box on a number of occasions to hold Slovenia off the scoreboard in the final 45 minutes.

Jay DeMerit (6) — Like Howard, had a much better second half.  Got nicked on the 2nd goal and watched his man slip a breakaway past the American GK.  Responded with a gritty second half.

Carlos Bocanegra (5) — A complete liability in the first half, he was partially responsible for the first goal when he failed to track back and mark Birsa after a turnover by the U.S.  Looked fatigued and out of place throughout the 2nd half but none of his mistakes were costly.  One of his worst performances in recent memory.

Oguchi Oneywu (4) — Clearly turned in the worst performance of any American on Friday, failing to close down the lane on Birsa’s goal and then failing to read the give-and-go quickly enough on the 2nd Slovenian tally.  One step up and he would have created an offsides situation, but his lack of attention allowed the play to be completed.  Subbed in the 75th minute.

Steve Cherundulo (7) — Another positive performance for the diminutive defender, he was pesky going forward and did his work on the flanks to keep the Slovenians from attacking the U.S. on the outside.

Clint Dempsey (6) – Would have had the assist on Donovan’s first half goal that was expertly cleared by Brecko, but other than that, he didn’t do much for the second straight game.

Michael Bradley (7) — Costly dive-in helped start the counter-attack that led to the 2nd Slovenian goal, but his energy and work rate sparked the American comeback in the second half, which he completed with a stunning one-timer.

Jose Torres (5) — Had a decent first 20 minutes, but lost the ball throughout the latter part of the first half and was pulled at intermission.  Nearly scored on a free kick, but wasn’t able to match the midfield pace and earned the hook after just 45 minutes.

Landon Donovan (8) — Nothing in the first half, but a spectacular 2nd half that included a world-class goal and a terrific floating ball to the head of Altidore that set up Bradley’s game-tying effort.  He also set up the Edu goal that was waved off.

Robbie Findley (5) – Had one bright moment when he made a good decision on a counter attack and slipped a pass to Dempsey that nearly turned into a first half goal, but otherwise he was once again like a fish out of water.  Earned a seat on the bench after 45 minutes, the second straight game he’s been subbed for.

Jozy Altidore (7) — Was outstanding in the second half, but once again had a terrific chance that was belted right at the goalkeeper in the 60th minute.  Still, he was a beast in the box and nodded the ball into Bradley’s path for the game-tying tally.  Unlike Findley, his play has improved over the two games.

Subs –

Maurice Edu (6) — Would have been an instant hero had his goal counted.  Played well defensively and might have earned a start vs. Algeria with his effort on Friday.

Benny Feilhaber (5) — Didn’t do much.  No mistakes.  But not much contribution in his 45 minutes.

Herculez Gomez (5) — Had one half-decent chance but it was blown off due to a foul.  Other than that, his name wasn’t called in 15 minutes.

Coach Bob Bradley (7) – Gambled on Torres (a move I liked, frankly) and lost, as he didn’t control the ball well enough to warrant the playing time.  To Bradley’s credit, he made instant changes at the intermission and sat Findley (out of his element) and Torres and played the veteran Feilhaber and the growing-in-confidence Edu.  But he kept them intact and focused at intermission and earns a high mark for helping to rescue the U.S. from a Cup-ending defeat.  I thought he waited too long for the Gomez substitution, but it all worked out in the end.

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 06 May 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Thursday!

It’s a Happy Thursday for me because 1-The Phoenix Suns won last night; putting the whole “Los Suns” thing to rest; and 2-After 2 weeks of missing it, I finally get to update “The Greatest Song of All Time This Week.”

The good news here is that had I known this song existed before I left for Louisville, “The Luckiest Dang Gal on the Face of the Planet” may have broken up with me out of frustration because I insisted on keeping the song on repeat on my iPod…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_f8EiNTuh8[/youtube]

I miss Nappy Roots so much. This isn’t TECHNICALLY Nappy Roots (it’s actually rapper KD with two members of Nappy Roots), but you get the point. You DO get the point, don’t you?

“My Old Kentucky Home” gave me goosebumps when I heard it at the Kentucky Derby. “My Kentucky Home” makes me bop my head shake my ass. They’re similar feelings really.

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. The AP’s Rick Freeman says Yankees roughed up David Hernandez early en route to sweeping Orioles

Of course, don’t tell that to our buddy Demsey’s Army; or @DempseysArmy via Twitter. He said…

“David Hernandez may never be very good but he certainly has balls. Unflappable.”

Unflappable, unsuccessful…they’re very similar thought processes.

Of course, DA was the easy choice this morning from “The Great Arbitrator” Drew Forrester for “Apologist of the Morning” on AM1570 WNST’s “The Morning Reaction.”

Hernandez was brutal yesterday, but the O’s were at least able to make it interesting once Andy Pettitte was forced to leave the game. The Yanks might have a real issue on their hands dealing with their older players. Of course, I’d gladly take that issue myself if I could have the players on their team.

7-21. There we go.

2. WNST.net/The AP offer numerical evidence of sweep

Since I wasn’t in Baltimore this weekend, I will be forced to admit that I’m starting to wonder if the sweep of the Red Sox really ever did happen.

If I had seen it with my own eyes, it would be easier to believe, but I will admit that I’m starting to wonder if it was nothing more than a cruel civic prank that every last one of you was in on.

Credit the Orioles’ bullpen for 4.1 innings of relief without giving up an earned run. The bullpen HAS pitched well of late, although there still isn’t a closer and I’m not sure the team even still remembers what the defined roles were for each pitcher back when the season started.

By the way, how funny was it to see Rick Kranitz get tossed early yesterday? It gave me the feeling of “What the hell am I going to do here anyway?”

Funny stuff.

3. WNST.net’s Jay Trucker says Uehara set to return, Alberto Castillo to be sent down

Jay makes a lot of very good points about Uehara, who represents a lot of the frustration those of us who aren’t in the “Andy MacPhail can do no wrong” camp.

The Orioles gave Uehara 10 million dollars. 10 million dollars. Not a single other team in Major League Baseball thought he was a legitimate starter, and the Orioles gave him 10 million dollars.

Maybe Koji Uehara CAN help the bullpen, but it’s frustrating to even think about him being on the roster. Some people think he should be the closer, but I’m not sure it’s in his makeup.

You know who DOES have it in their makeup? Simone Starr! (Thanks Guyism!)

simonestarr

4. Fanhouse’s Tom Fornelli says Andy MacPhail threatened to send Birds’ struggling bats down to Norfolk

Kudos to Orioles fans for their almost unanimous reaction to the news. I pulled some highlights from the Baltimore Sun’s comment section after Jeff Zrebiec first posted the story…

-“I find this kind of funny from the man who assembled this mess. Threats don’t motivate players; better talent does, and MacPhail has failed miserably with his “grow the arms and buy the bats” philosophy.”
-“I didn’t notice anywhere in the article where Andy took personal responsibility for selecting the players on the team. Is it too much to ask that he say he is personally responsible for the failures on the team instead of just pointing the finger?
-“He should have said, “Sometimes you have to take into account I have complied a team that looks like an expansion roster.”"
-“How about he send himself to Norfolk for assembling this crap-tastic team. Lets see, we needed a SS, Clean-up hitter, and top of the rotation starter when he first got here….and we still need a SS, clean up hitter, and top of the rotation starter years later.”
-“So, is MacPhail basically saying, “I crapped the bed this offseason?”"

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

If MacPhail is angry about how the lineup has performed, maybe he should ask himself why the lineup didn’t have any real power hitters/run producers.

You know, amongst the other things he should ask himself.

5. The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Steve Johnson, Caleb Joseph had big night on farm for O’s

And before we move on from the Orioles, a reminder that the Birds now head to Minnesota for their first ever series against the Twins at Target Field. Game 1 is tonight at 8:10pm, and can be seen on MASN2. Brad Bergesen (gulp) is scheduled to face Carl Pavano, and we’ll be chatting about it in our “Orange Crush” at WNST.net, which I believe will be hosted by the great Bob Haynie.

I’d be more excited about the game tonight, but Iron Man 2 comes out at midnight. Priorities, people.

6. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says Ed Reed had offseason hip surgery

As I wrote yesterday, don’t get worked up about this. Ed Reed had an injured hip/groin that forced him to miss four games. Like other players who miss time due to injuries, he decided to have offseason surgery.

Really a “nothing to see here” type of story.

Ed has told anyone that will listen this offseason that he’ll be back on the field this season as long as he’s healthy enough to be out there. John Harbaugh, Ozzie Newsome, etc. are all working under the assumption that Reed will return.

Nothing about that changed with this “news.”

7. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Mike Duffy says Ravens installing new “Momentum 51″ field at M&T Bank Stadium

Apparently the field will be in place for the NCAA lacrosse Final Four on Memorial Day weekend.

So…that’s the extent of what I can tell you about that.

I mean, really-it’s a new field. I’d love to be excited about it and give you more information about it, but it’s a field.

So…instead let’s take a look at a picture of Julianne Hough, which was posted yesterday at BarStool Sports. It’s MUCH more interesting…

hough

8. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Matt Hughes scored 3 goals for Towson as Tigers beat UMass in CAA Tournament semifinal

I wandered over to Unitas Stadium just in time for the 3rd quarter last night. By the time the 3rd quarter was over, I was ready to begin my Cinco de Mayo festivities.

It was an impressive performance in the 2nd half last night for Tony Seaman’s club. Seaman will join Drew Forrester tomorrow morning at 8:05 to preview Saturday’s CAA Championship Game, where Towson will host Delaware.

And in no world do I believe that a HEN is capable of beating a TIGER.

9. UMBCRetrievers.com says lacrosse season over after 11-7 loss to Albany in America East Tournament semifinal

Tough season for Don Zimmerman’s club.

We can lament, or we can look at these pictures of Cassie Keller, who is apparently starring in some rip-off video called “Miss Gruber” that Playboy put together. I support everything about it, and thank Busted Coverage for the discovery…

missgruber

Don’t bother asking me which one is Cassie. I don’t know, and it doesn’t matter.

10. Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman says Nick Zito horse Ice Box will skip Preakness, begin preparation for Belmont

I really think there was an issue with Ice Box’s knees last week. He had them wrapped on Friday morning, and Zito didn’t appear happy. He ran particularly well, especially considering the bad trip he got, having run into traffic twice coming down the stretch.

Given that the Preakness is a BIT shorter, I don’t know that Ice Box was necessarily going to be a favorite at Pimlico-but he would certainly be amongst the favorites.

And to appease Chris Bonetti, here’s a picture of “Ice Box” from the movie Little Giants now all grown up…

icebox

And if you missed Kentucky Derby-winning trainer of Super Saver Todd Pletcher on with Drew Forrester this morning, check it out in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.

And finally, I leave you with this.

Everyone in the world has posted the Bobby Cox/Bobby Cocks cake picture, but it’s STILL funny. Well played United States Senate.

cocks

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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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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