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Zach Britton dishes on the best hitter he's faced

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Zach Britton dishes on the best hitter he’s faced

Posted on 03 June 2011 by Rex Snider

Yesterday’s edition of the Afternoon Drive served up an interesting and exciting cast of guests, highlighted by a conversation with Orioles rookie phenom, Zach Britton, as he promoted an upcoming event benefiting the Wounded Warriors Project.

And, of course, we talked a little baseball …..

Our conversation covered Adam Jones’ amazing catch during Wednesday’s game, the rigors of a west coast roadtrip, the butterflies experienced during the MLB draft and a commitment to winning.

However, it was my final question and Britton’s response that inspired me to reassess some of the latest rumblings we’ve heard about overrated and/or “over the hill” players.

Pointedly, I asked “who is the best hitter you’ve faced at the big league level?”

Britton qualified his answer by citing the amazing increase in talent among Major League hitters, in comparison to the lineups he faced in the minors.

Surprising to hear? Of course, not.

As for the best hitter he’s faced, Britton feels it’s Alex Rodriguez …..

In a very brief window, A’Rod has faced the Orioles southpaw just 3 times …. and he’s 3 for 3 in those opportunities. On an optimistic note, the hits were singles.

Ironically, Alex Rodriguez highlights a current Sports Illustrated article that reveals the “Most Overrated Players In Baseball”, in accordance with a survey of current players.

Hmmm …. Britton’s response has caused me to wonder how many American League starting pitchers were polled for the SI article. Perhaps, some envious positional counterparts were personal in their choices?

On the flip side, Britton’s experience on a big league mound is limited; he hasn’t faced a handful of the American League’s lineups, yet. He has yet to throw a pitch that counts to the likes of Miguel Cabrera, Joe Mauer or Jose Bautista.

In blunt honesty, I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. Zach Britton has struck me as a humbly modest, yet fiercely competitive individual. You can hear the interview in its entirety HERE

We are appreciative of Zach’s time and generosity in spending a few moments with us, especially on a rare off day; upon returning from the west coast.

To that extent, it’s only fitting to elaborate on the primary reason for yesterday’s conversation, which emphasized on Zach’s commitment to supporting military personnel and specifically, the Wounded Warriors Project.

The Orioles will be represented by pitchers Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta during an upcoming event at the Under Armour Warehouse, where they’ll participate in assembling backpacks of gear for injured soldiers.

It’s a fitting tribute and act of fellowship, as Britton and Arrieta have active and veteran military personnel among family members. The event is scheduled for June 7th, and you can learn more about it HERE

Lip service is a cheap and easy way to suggest support for our real American heroes. Yet, Zach Britton and Jake Arrieta are selflessly committing time to help those who have made real sacrifices, and that’s a refreshing reality.

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Could Post-Steroid Era Equal Yankees Demise?

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Could Post-Steroid Era Equal Yankees Demise?

Posted on 16 May 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

The Major League Baseball season has reached the quarter pole (more or less) and so far it’s been quite a ride and realization. The AL East, despite our sincerest beliefs to the contrary remains at this point very much up for grabs with only 3 games in the loss column separating first and last place. Orioles’ fans were expecting to be moderately encouraged and summarily frustrated with their team all at once and so far that’s been the case. Improved offense however hasn’t been the case for the O’s. It can be argued (and has) that statistically, this year’s team isn’t much better than last year’s version, if at all; and while the pitching has been encouraging, lights out hardly comes to mind when assessing the O’s, whose team ERA ranks 13th in the AL as of Sunday.

The fact that the Orioles remain competitive themselves is seemingly the byproduct of luck and timing (2 proven essentials in baseball success) more than any marked improvement from last year to this. While the expectation that the bats will eventually come around and bring with them even more chances at victories is feasible, recent history suggests that things could just as easily begin to unravel as the weather begins to warm.


Even without our modest hopes for a successful season, the respective struggles of the Red Sox and Yankees have added an extra layer of enjoyment to the season so far. Safe money might suggest that market corrections of sorts may be due for both of them soon too.


The Red Sox, despite their marked improvements from last year to this and the return of a healthy regime of incumbent stars have stumbled mightily out of the gates. While it’s conceivable that their sweep of the Yankees over the weekend and return to .500 could mark the worm turning for the Sox, there are still lots of questions and potential concerns surrounding a team that many had penciled in as the AL’s best to begin the year.


And while the Yankees have probably played above the expectations that followed their most disappointing off-season in recent memory, they too may have seen the worm begin to turn at the hands of the Red Sox last weekend. The Yankees have also, so far been the beneficiaries of an inordinate number of home games to begin the season.


After missing out on a few of their apparent earmarked bounties in free agency and while seeing the Red Sox make bold moves to improve themselves at the same time, the most disappointing part of the Yankees off-season might be the lingering contentiousness that they created in negotiations with Derek Jeter. Now that some of that contentiousness may have reached the locker of Jorge Posada too, it may begin to become a bigger distraction than the team would have invited.


The Orioles once went through a bit of this themselves. As much as we might point to the ambitious spending that followed the 1999 fire sale as the ultimate demise of competitive Orioles baseball, the devolution of the 1997 team into 1998 probably went much deeper than that. The “Ripken Rules” as they were described and his preferential treatment by the team had been earned no doubt, but surely there were times over the course of the Davey Johnson era where deference to aging superstars had to supersede the best interests of the team. Not just deference to Ripken as was much publicized, but to the wealth of stars past their primes on the O’s roster at that point. Maybe the Yankees too are now reaching that point.


While we all waited and hoped against hope that the Yankees and Sox might spend themselves under the table, perhaps it’ll be other market factors that could potentially contribute to their respective downfalls…or at least their returns to Earth.


Steroids and the steroid era certainly changed baseball, and they still arguably are changing baseball. If the dramatic effect that widespread steroid use had on the game has now been realized, then surely we are entering an era where the impact of their absence is beginning to be felt as well. How that shapes the next era in baseball is anyone’s guess, but whoever figures it out first, and positions themselves on the forefront of it will see the early benefits as a result.


While we can surely measure the impact of steroids and the lack thereof from game to game and intimate the return of pitching dominance to Major League Baseball, the more important impact of the absence of steroids in baseball from a team building standpoint is likely related to career longevity. Steroids not only enabled players to put up insane homerun numbers from year to year, but they also seemingly allowed them to do it at a much more advanced age than had been previously feasible. As a result the realization of value in free agent commodities went up and so did the standard length of free agent contracts.


If we go back to 1986 or so, after baseball got their billion dollar CBS contract and $3 million contracts became the gold standard, free agency in baseball was a risky proposition. Teams who endeavored into free agency thereafter, at higher and higher prices, did so at their own risk and more often than not seemed to come up short value wise. Before Randy Johnson with the Diamondbacks and Manny Ramirez with the Red Sox, the list of big named free agents who led their teams to the Promised Land was a short one. More often back then, successful teams were built through homegrown talent and astute trades, usually capitalizing on players trying to build their resumes for free agency.


After being controlled by their original teams for 6 seasons or more under baseball’s rules, free agents reaching the market at or near 30 years old likely won’t be seeing 6 and 7-year contracts once teams begin to realize the downside of these contracts and move forward more cautiously. Surely those players can no longer be expected to have primes that extend beyond the age of 35.


While the Yankees and Red Sox are unlikely to spend themselves under the table anytime soon, the compilation of aging players, and at times the deference to their years of service over their immediate impact on the team may lead the big spenders down an interesting path in the not too distant future. The Yankees may be halfway there already. While the values being realized between the contracts of both Jeter and Posada might be enough to sink most franchises, that’s probably not the biggest issue as the Yankees see it. The fact that both are feeling slighted by their treatment in this the twilights of their respective careers threatens to be a much bigger problem than simple economics for the Yankees.


Expect A-Rod to take them down a similar path before all is said and done, and Sabathia is poised to hold the team hostage for a contract that will pay him handsomely for far longer than he projects to be effective at season’s end.


Yeah…with or without genuine expectations for their own team this season, it’s sure shaping up to be an interesting season for Orioles fans anyway; and in some way, for the future of baseball.

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Orioles should try BEATING the Yankees instead of BEANING them

Posted on 24 April 2011 by Drew Forrester

After Alex Rodriguez hammered a 2-0 fastball 15 rows deep in the left field seats to make it 13-3 on Saturday night, Matt Wieters trudged out to the mound to offer a comforting word to pitcher Josh Rupe.

Rupe MIGHT have said this: “I’m so mad about that grand slam I could throw something.”

Wieters MIGHT have shot back:  “How about something that isn’t right across the middle of the plate?”

A-Rod’s 4-run tater was one of five dingers served up by Orioles pitchers on Saturday night, but it was another pitch thrown by Rupe in the 9th inning that had everyone stirred up.

Rupe, with his apartment in Norfolk ready for occupancy on Monday morning, hit Russell Martin in the upper back in the 9th.  Martin had two of NY’s 5 HR’s on the night, in case you’re looking for me to set the scene.  Then he was hit by a pitch.  Rupe said afterwards it was a mistake, the same way Judge Smails said “It was an accident…it slipped out of my hands” after he threw that club from the 18th green and hit the old lady eating lunch in the movie ‘Caddyshack’. 

It wasn’t an accident, of course.  Rupe hit the guy on purpose.  And then, with Mark Teixeira barking from the dugout, Rupe coughed up a 2-run HR to Brett Gardner to finalize the scoring at 15-3.  I guess the Yankees figured, “If you all still want to play REAL baseball and throw at guys when you’re down 10, we’ll keep hitting and we’ll keep scoring.”

I don’t know if Buck Showalter called for the intentional back-ball.  He wouldn’t say it even if he did. 

But I do know this. 

The Orioles need to start trying to beat these really good teams the old fashioned way…by scoring more runs and playing better baseball.

It was bad enough that Saturday’s bloodbath happened in front of 25,000 people in Yankee blue and 14,000 people with their tail-between-their legs in orange. 

Once again, it was Yankee Stadium South in Baltimore.

But I get that.  No one from Charm City REALLY wants to be there with 70% of those in attendance rooting for the other team.  It’s the classic catch-22.  Do I buy a ticket and try and change the environment at Camden Yards, knowing I really can’t change it and that I’ll be miserable by the time it’s 3-0 about 15 minutes into the game?  Or do I just sit home and watch the wreckage from my couch? 

Most watched it from their couch.

Me, personally, I stayed up for the whole thing, because I honestly thought something whacky might happen in the late stages as the Yankees ran up the score.

And I was right.

I don’t EVER advocate throwing at a player.  It’s gutless, really.  It’s one of the dumb things about baseball, these discreet, “didn’t-mean-to-do-it” efforts that almost always lead to *something else* happening at some point when the teams meet again.  And because pitchers don’t ever face their American League East counterparts at the plate, it’s likely some other guy on the Orioles will pay the price for the decision to throw at Martin on Saturday.  It’s one thing if Rupe says, “Eff this dude, I’m throwing at him and if they want to throw at me when I get up to the plate, that’s fine, bring it on.”  But Rupe doesn’t bat in the AL and, therefore, it’s likely to be Matt Wieters or Nick Markakis who gets one in the hip in New York the next time the teams do battle up there. 

I laughed this morning when I read some nitwits around town write and post stuff on various websites like, “I was happy to see Rupe throw at the guy.  I like seeing us fight back a little bit.  I like seeing the team not just lay down.”

Umm…”fight back a little” is better done when you’re losing 3-0 and you come back to take the lead, 4-3. 

Throwing at a guy when you’re down 13-3 because you couldnt’ get him out twice before…that’s NOT fighting back. 

In the old days of the WWE, Mr. Fuji would throw salt in his opponent’s eyes while the ref was arguing with Mr. Saito about coming into the ring too early.  Throwing salt in the other guy’s eyes was Mr. Fuji’s way of “fighting back”.  Get the message?  It’s dirty pool, just like throwing at someone is dirty pool and completely unncessary when you’ve been stuck in losing-gear for the last 13 years and haven’t sniffed a winning season since Clinton was the President.

Like I said, though, I understand that it’s all part of baseball lore and the “unwritten rule”. 

It’s stupid and cowardly and, frankly, stinks of desperation, but I get it.

Hopefully the Orioles will get their act together today and beat the Yankees in the actual game of baseball.  That would be a lot better than not only watching the team get squashed last night, but seeing them stoop to the lowest of lows…intentionally putting another player in danger because you weren’t good enough to beat them on the field.

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Baltimore Orioles vs New York Yankees

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Orioles Series Preview: Home vs. Yankees April 22nd – April 24th

Posted on 22 April 2011 by John Collingsworth

The Baltimore Orioles (8-10) host the New York Yankees (10-6) this weekend for a 3-game set beginning Friday night.

Last week, these two ball clubs were disrupted due to rain and one of the games has been postponed to a later date. But the extra inning loss to the Yanks last Thursday night in New York was like a bad hangover the Birds could not shake until this past Tuesday against the Twins.

As the Bronx Bombers bats are heating up in mid-April, the O’s are just trying to find some offensive consistency game-in and game-out. With the young starting pitching beginning to show signs of stability, and life from the lineup, the bullpen has to hold up their end. Perfect example was Monday nights loss to the Minnesota Twins. SP Chris Tillman went 6.2 IP and gave up 3 runs, good enough to keep the Orioles in the ball game. After a solid relief appearance by RP Clay Rapada for the Birds,  RP Kevin Gregg came in and gave up 2 runs in the top of the 9th, and the Orioles lost by 1 run. This has to change, and fast.

The New York Yankees have a problem of their own, and it deals with one of the fan-favorites, OF Brett Gardner. He has been struggling since the start of the season (15 Games / 47 AB / 1 2B / 0 HR / .128 AVG / 2 RBI ), so manager Joe Girardi benched Gardner in the final game of the Toronto series this week in favor of OF Andrew Jones.

No Transactions for either team in the last three days.

Well, I was right! The Orioles accomplished all THREE of my “Keys to the Series” vs. the Twins:

1. The offense has to come alive vs. the struggling Twins pitching staff. – CHECK

2. Britton must shine on national television Wednesday night. – CHECK

3. Buck needs to get the Birds back on track and find a team leader for this ball club. – CHECK

Here are the Orioles “Keys to the Series” vs. the Yankees:

1. Take last Thursday night’s extra inning loss personally and play with vengeance.

2. Silent the Yankee fans at Camden Yards quickly.

3. The young pitching has to shut down the hot bats in the Bronx Bombers lineup.

The official ‘WNST Weather Predictor’ this weekend vs. the Yankees

Friday 7:05pm : PM Rain – High 51 / Low 44 – With the likely chance of Friday night’s game being a rain out and Yankee fans coming down, look out for them doing this!!!!

Saturday 7:05pm : Scattered T-Storms – High 72 / Low 61 – As the weekend night game comes around, look forward to seeing this particular Yankees fan at Camden Yards!!!

Sunday 1:35pm : Scattered T-Storms – High 74 / Low 59 – Supposedly the sun breaking out in the afternoon, I’m hoping for this O’s fan to be in attendance!!!!

Baltimore Orioles vs New York Yankees

( 8 – 10 )                                                                                     ( 10 – 6 )

Friday April 22nd, 7:05pm EST

Orioles vs. Yankees- Camden Yards

Brad Bergesen (0-2, 3.38 ERA) vs. CC Sabathia (0-1, 2.52 ERA)

Saturday April 23rd, 7:05pm EST

Orioles vs. Yankees- Camden Yards

Chris Tillman (0-2, 6.16 ERA) vs. Freddy Garcia (1-0, 1.29 ERA)

Sunday April 24th, 1:35pm EST

Orioles vs. Yankees- Camden Yards

Jake Arrieta (2-1, 5.06 ERA) vs. Ivan Nova (1-2, 7.63 ERA)

Baltimore Orioles Projected Lineup & 2011 STATS

1. Brian Roberts- 2B

18 Games / 75 AB / 21 Hits / 3 2B / 3 HR / .280 AVG / 14 RBI

2. Nick Markakis- RF

18 Games / 69 AB / 14 Hits / 2 2B / 2 HR / .203 AVG / 6 RBI

3. Derrek Lee- 1B

18 Games / 67 AB / 14 Hits / 2 2B / 1 HR / .209 AVG / 6 RBI

4. Vladimir Guerrero

18 Games / 75 AB / 21 Hits / 2 2B / 3 HR / .280 AVG / 9 RBI

5. Luke Scott- LF

14 Games / 42 AB / 8 Hits / 2 2B / 2 HR / .190 AVG / 4 RBI

6. Adam Jones- CF

17 Games / 63 AB / 14 Hits / 1 2B / 3 HR / .222 AVG / 8 RBI

7. Mark Reynolds- 3B

18 Games / 59 AB / 11 Hits / 2 2B / 1 HR / .186 AVG / 10 RBI

8. Matt Wieters- C

16 Games / 52 AB / 14 Hits / 4 2B / 3 HR / .269 AVG / 11 RBI

9. Robert Andino- SS

9 Games / 25 AB / 8 Hits / 0 2B / 0 HR / .308 AVG / 0 RBI

New York Yankees Projected Lineup & 2011 STATS

1. Derek Jeter- SS

16 Games / 64 AB / 14 Hits / 1 2B / 0 HR / .219 AVG / 4 RBI

2. Nick Swisher- RF

16 Games / 55 AB / 15 Hits / 2 2B / 0 HR / .273 AVG / 8 RBI

3. Mark Teixeria- 1B

16 Games / 58 AB / 15 Hits / 4 2B / 6 HR / .259 AVG / 16 RBI

4. Alex Rodriguez- 3B

13 GAmes / 41 AB / 15 Hits / 5 2B / 4 HR / .366 AVG / 10 RBI

5. Robinson Cano- 2B

16 Games / 66 AB / 20 Hits / 6 2B / 4 HR / .303 AVG / 13 RBI

6. Andrew Jones- LF

6 Games / 16 AB / 4 Hits / 1 2B / 1 HR / .250 AVG / 2 RBI

7. Jorge Posada- DH

15 Games / 50 AB / 8 Hits / 0 2B / 5 HR / .160 AVG / 9 RBI

8. Russell Martin- C

15 Games / 51 AB / 16 Hits / 3 2B / 4 HR / .314 AVG / 11 RBI

9. Curtis Granderson- CF

16 Games / 55 AB / 15 Hits / 3 2B / 6 HR / .273 AVG / 9 RBI

If you are home or out this weekend and want the latest information during the O’s game from the experts, then head online and enter the Orange Crush Live Chat with Luke Jones this entire weekend!!!!

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50 words or less .... Thursday, April 21st

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50 words or less …. Thursday, April 21st

Posted on 21 April 2011 by Rex Snider

The birds’ bats have awakened and punished the Twins pitching staff over the past couple nights. Maybe, the sky isn’t falling after all. Ye of little faith !!!! And, just think ….. the BIG BOYS are coming to town over the next week …..

Maybe, Just Maybe

This Wieters kid is gonna be a big league hitter. After absorbing a lathering of criticisms from inside and outside Baltimore, is the Orioles prized catching prospect primed to “BUST” out in the right way?

If he does, I’m gonna remind Steven Goldman of Baseball Prospectus, every single day.

Keep An Eye Out

Starting today at around lunchtime, gawkers around the inner harbor will probably get occasional glimpses of baseball’s rockstars. My sources are telling me Derek Jeter will spend his off-day searching for Baltimore’s “fountain of youth”.

It gets better …. the Yankees obnoxious fans start rolling into town tomorrow.

Simply The Greatest, EVER

During yesterday’s AFTERNOON DRIVE, we devoted musical selections to female artists. I saved the best for last, and in my opinion there has never, EVER been a better voice than Karen Carpenter.

I’m not a huge fan of her soft melodies, it just means I can sacrifice my preferences and recognize talent.

Dodgers, Divorce & Dysfunction (BONUS – 100 word special)

Does Bud Selig have his hands full? In a word …. YES. And, his problems aren’t being caused by the poor-mouthed Marlins, Pirates and Royals. Nope, it’s much bigger …..

The Cubs can’t attract fans. The Mets have been investing with crooks. And the Dodgers have finally fallen victim to their owners’ aborted marriage. As of today, Major League Baseball is overseeing the business operations in Chavez Ravine.

I’m probably in the minority on this one, but there is a comfort in knowing the Orioles are not in financial ruin. The Dodgers could use Andy MacPhail’s fiscal discipline; yes, I said that.

Dude, Just Listen To Me …..

Have you noticed Justin Timberlake is not growing his hair very long these days? According to some notable published articles, the actor/singer is battling a thinning hairline.

It’s simple, he just needs to click on this TAB. I did it and six months later, I have never been happier.

Family First? Not According To This Guy

Perhaps, I was a little heavy handed in labeling Richie Whitt the “D-bag Of The Day” for his article regarding Colby Lewis choosing the birth of his child over pitching in a baseball game.

But, I still feel Richie is a D-bag. Decide for yourself – here’s the article.

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Orioles Series Preview: Away vs. Yankees April 12th- April 14th

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Orioles Series Preview: Away vs. Yankees April 12th- April 14th

Posted on 11 April 2011 by John Collingsworth

The Baltimore Orioles (6-3) battle against the New York Yankees (5-4) in a 3-games series beginning Tuesday.

These two teams have not a played a meaningful series in New York (in the Orioles eyes)… well… since This tragic moment in Baltimore history.

With the first full week of the MLB season in the books, it is still premature to make predictions, but the Orioles have impressed many around the league and may even break the 13-year consecutive losing seasons this year (who said it was too early to make predictions). Oh yeah, here is one more prediction… This ‘Already’ retired player will be the next to be linked to steroids… can’t you tell!!!

The Birds enter the mid-week series atop of the AL East, and the Pinstripes in second place. But with superb outings by their young starting pitching, timely hitting, and strong defense, it is no coincidence that the O’s have an early 1-game lead.

RHP Chris Jakubauskas joined the Orioles 25-man roster as the club sent RHP Brad Bergesen down to AAA-Norfolk Saturday. Jakubauskas is in the running to make his first 2011 start this Wednesday against the Bronx Bombers. He made only one start in 2010 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and went 6-7, with a 5.32 ERA in 35 games for the Seattle Mariners during the 2009 campaign.

SS J.J. Hardy is inevitably heading to the 15-day DL, mostly likely early Tuesday, with a strained left oblique, leaving INF Cesar Izturis and INF Robert Andino to hold down the position during his absence. Buck Showalter has said that the two will split time until Hardy returns. The club plans on bringing up another pitcher to fill the roster spot left by Hardy, many are speculating that RHP Brad Bergesen, who was just sent down to AAA-Norfolk, is the choice and the front-runner to start Wednesday’s contest.

(6-3)                                                                              (5-4)



Tuesday, April 12th 7:05pm EST

Orioles @ Yankees- Yankee Stadium

Chris Tillman (0-0, 3.38 ERA) vs. AJ Burnett (2-0, 4.09 ERA)


 Wednesday, April 13th 7:05pm EST

Orioles @ Yankees- Yankee Stadium

Chris Jakubauskas (0-0, 15.00 ERA) or Brad Bergesen (0-1, 4.91 ERA) vs. Phil Hughes (0-1, 16.50 ERA)


 Thursday, April 14th 7:05pm EST

Orioles @ Yankees- Yankee Stadium

Jake Arrieta (1-1, 8.68 ERA) vs. Ivan Nova (1-0, 6.10 ERA)



Baltimore Orioles Projected Lineup and 2011 STATS

1. Brian Roberts- 2B

.189 AVG. / 1 2B / 2 HRS / 8 RBIS

2. Nick Markakis- RF

.250 AVG. / 1 2B / 1 HRS / 3 RBIS

3. Derrek Lee- 1B

.219 AVG. / 1 2B / 1 HRS / 2 RBIS

4. Vladimir Guerrero- DH

.270 AVG. / 1 2B / 1 HRS / 3 RBIS

5. Luke Scott- LF

.167 AVG. / 1 2B / 0 HRS / 0 RBIS

6. Adam Jones- CF

.212 AVG. / 0 2B / 2 HRS / 5 RBIS

7. Mark Reynolds- 3B

.241 AVG. / 3 2B / 1 HRS / 8 RBIS

8. Matt Wieters- C

.192 AVG. / 1 2B / 0 HRS / 2 RBIS

9. Cesar Izturis- SS

.167 AVG. / 0 2B / 0 HRS / 1 RBIS



New York Yankees Projected Lineup and 2011 STATS

1. Brett Gardner- LF

.167 AVG. / 1 2B / 0 HRS / 2 RBIS

2. Derek Jeter- SS

. 206 AVG. / 1 2B / 0 HRS / 2 RBIS

3. Mark Teixeira- 1B

. 182 AVG. / 0 2B / 4 HRS / 10 RBIS

4. Alex Rodriguez- 3B

.321 AVG. / 2 2B / 3 HRS / 5 RBIS

5. Robinson Cano- 2B

.324 AVG. / 4 2B / 2 HRS / 5 RBIS

6. Nick Swisher- RF

.219 AVG. / 1 2B / 0 HRS / 6 RBIS

7. Curtis Granderson- CF

.172 AVG. / 1 2B / 2 HRS / 3 RBIS

8. Jorge Posada- DH

.138 AVG. / 0 2B / 3 HRS / 6 RBIS

9. Russell Martin- C

.300 AVG. / 1 2B / 3 HRS / 8 RBIS




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Top 20 moments in Camden Yards history: No. 11

Posted on 25 March 2011 by Luke Jones

As we move closer to the start of the 20th season at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I take a look back at the top 20 moments in the history of the ballpark. Selected moments had to relate directly to the action on the field at the time. No orchestrated events such as World Series anniversary celebrations or Orioles Hall of Fame inductions were eligible.

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Previous selections:
20. Wieters’ debut
19. Nomo tosses only no-hitter in Oriole Park history
18. Orioles rally from nine-run deficit against Boston
17. 30-3
16. Showalter takes the helm
15. Palmeiro homers in Oriole debut
14. Griffey’s Warehouse shot
13. Sparring with Seattle
12. Davis defies the odds

11. Hoiles’ dreamlike slam stuns Mariners – May 17, 1996

A unique moment in sports is occasionally so memorable that it takes on a life of itself.

An event where only several thousand were present gradually transforms into an occasion witnessed by hundreds of thousands, if only for its improbable nature and the euphoria its aftermath creates.

There’s nothing more cliched in sports than the boyhood dream of stepping to the plate in the bottom of the ninth with your team trailing by three runs.

Full count, two outs, and the bases loaded.

It’s the stuff of wide-eyed boys playing in the backyard on a July afternoon, dreaming of one day playing in the big leagues.

And it was the exact scenario presented to Chris Hoiles, who capitalized on that dream in one of the wildest games in Orioles history.


It was a typical slugfest that characterized the 1996 season. Both the Orioles and Seattle Mariners were short on pitching but could mash opponents into submission with an offensive onslaught — the two clubs hit a combined 502 home runs in 1996 — that wore out scoreboard operators around the league.

After jumping out to a 7-2 lead through five innings, the Orioles bullpen proceeded to surrender an inexcusable 11 runs in four innings of work. A grand slam by 20-year-old Alex Rodriguez off Alan Mills had given the Mariners an 11-9 lead in the eighth, and the lead grew to 13-10 as Seattle closer Norm Charlton worked in the bottom of the ninth.

Many of the 47,259 in attendance had gone home after the game had eclipsed the four-hour mark and appeared destined to be a deflating loss thanks to the ineffective bullpen. Even more at home had surely turned off the television set as the clock approached midnight.

Yet, what happened next would have many more thousands claiming they were there, or had at least hung on to watch the bottom of the ninth on TV.

The erratic Charlton — who would bring his high-wire act to Baltimore two years later to the tune of a 6.94 earned run average in 1998 — walked Roberto Alomar, allowed a Bobby Bonilla double, and issued a free pass to Cal Ripken in the process of getting the first two outs of the inning. Hoiles came to the plate with a chance to become the 20th man in major league history to hit a walk-off grand slam to erase a three-run deficit.

The count went full as the several thousand still in attendance rose to their feet with the imagined scenario playing out before their eyes. Then, Hoiles deposited the 3-2 pitch into the left field seats to give the Orioles an inconceivable 14-13 victory as the stunned Mariners walked off the field.

His teammates mobbed him at the plate as Hoiles became the only known player in history to hit his “ultimate” grand slam with a full count and two outs. The select fans who had stuck around Camden Yards that night had seen one of the most exciting moments in franchise history.

And thousands more would learn of it the next morning, kicking themselves for heading home early or turning off the tube the previous night.

Myself included.

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Trivial Thursday Thoughts ....

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Trivial Thursday Thoughts ….

Posted on 10 February 2011 by Rex Snider

Just a small list of stories and issues that we’ve covered on the “Afternoon Drive” over the past couple days …..

–  If you were among the 111 MILLION people watching the Super Bowl, there is a good chance you caught the shot of Cameron Diaz feeding A’Rod in a luxury suite.  Evidently, the Yankees star didn’t think it was very cool to televise it and he “flipped out” on Fox executives.

My blunt advice to A’Rod and other celebs – if you’re gonna take free tickets to sit in a suite, you’re fair game for any and every camera.  If you weren’t comfortable with such a reality, I know of at least 400 people who would’ve traded places …..

–  My latest on-air conversation with Allen McCallum regarded a plethora of different topics.  However, our most spirited conversation regarded “who bats 2nd in the Orioles lineup”.  Al and few callers like the prospect of slotting Adam Jones in the spot.

I can’t agree with the logic.  Jones carries a .319 career OBP, and he averages 124 strikeouts, per season, while only walking 30 times.  Show me a team with a #2 hitter meriting such numbers and I’ll guarantee you they’re a LOSER. 

Adam Jones simply lacks the eye and plate discipline of Nick Markakis – the obvious choice.

–  As you probably know, February is “Chick-Fil-A Month” at WNST.  Our friends at Chick-Fil-A are providing FREE BREAKFAST on Thursdays, throughout the month.  Everybody loves eating Chick-Fil-A, right?

Well, some of us LOVE the taste of Chick-Fil-A more than others.  In fact, some of us can probably be described as ADDICTS when it comes to the tasty menu.  This list would absolutely include Glenn Clark ….

During yesterday’s WNST Staff Meeting, I made the foolish decision of trying to eat a Chick-Fil-A breakfast sandwich in the presence of Mr. Clark.  For the first time in my life, I sensed what it must feel like to be a wildebeest in the world of a lion ….

It was “contentious” moment, to say the very least.  For a few moments, I was certain my Glock was going to make its first public appearance at the WNST studios.  The man is absolutely obsessed with Chick-Fil-A.

–  Admittedly, I’ve been a little surprised by the modest moaning and groaning over Vlad Guerrero’s age.  The newest Orioles designated hitter is 36 years old, and some fans want to hand him an AARP card.

Are they panicking in New York?  Alex Rodriguez will be 36 this season.  Are they panicking in Los Angeles?  Bobby Abreu will be 36, too.  Are they panicking in Boston?  Yep, David Ortiz will be 36, as well.

Give it a break, Vlad will be fine.  He is a consistent producer – period.

On yesterday’s program, former Orioles outfielder, Mike Young stopped by for a few moments and we chatted about his career.  One of the questions I asked regarded getting hit by a Major League pitch.

Mike was plunked 20 times during his career.  He couldn’t recall a specific incident that proved more painful than others.  As he said, “they all HURT ….”

But, this inspires me to ask, if you had to suffer one of these consequences, would you rather be drilled by an Aroldis Chapman fastball …..

Clocked by a Mike Tyson right jab …..

Or, sacked by a full speed version of Ray Lewis?

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Here’s My Hall of Fame Suggestion: Take Steroid Era Out of Writers’ Hands

Posted on 07 January 2011 by Glenn Clark

What a wild week.

The Ravens are preparing for an AFC Wild Card playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium.

Maryland football introduced former UConn coach Randy Edsall as Ralph Friedgen’s replacement after a very public flirtation with former Texas Tech Head Coach Mike Leach.

The Orioles (very unfortunately and tragically) saw pitcher Alfredo Simon turn himself into police as the main suspect in a Dominican Republic murder. This of course overshadowed their signing of reliever Kevin Gregg.

On top of that, we’re in the middle of BCS football games, the Washington Capitals won the NHL Winter Classic last Saturday night, and the Terps get their first crack at Duke this season Sunday night at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

In the sports media business, this is the type of week we love, as we spend much of the year looking for topics and storylines to write about and discuss.

Yet somehow this week, I’ve found myself captivated by the discussion surrounding the announcement of the 2011 induction class for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Much of my interest has to do with my personal affection for Roberto Alomar (the greatest Oriole I’ve been able to see play in my lifetime), but more of it has to do with my interest in the process itself.

(Photo courtesy: New York Times)

Former Houston Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell was up for induction for the first time this year. As someone whose height of baseball fandom (I’ve never hidden from the fact that I’m no longer a “baseball guy” at this point in my life) coincided with the peak of Bagwell’s career, there was no doubt in my mind that Bagwell was deserving of induction to the Hall of Fame.

He didn’t have the “can’t miss” numbers (2,314 hits and 449 home runs); but he was clearly amongst the dominant players of his era at his position (four time All-Star, six times a Top 10 finisher in National League MVP voting).

I couldn’t imagine Jeff Bagwell NOT being considered a Hall of Famer.

Yet when Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) voters made their decision, only 41.7% of them agreed with me; more than 30% less than the 75% needed for election.

Jeff Bagwell never tested positive for steroids and no positive link exists whatsoever. Yet the biggest reason Bagwell wasn’t elected remained…steroids.

Here’s what BBWAA voter Dan Graziano (who now writes for Fanhouse) said in his column explaining his decision to NOT vote for Bagwell…

“No, I didn’t vote for Jeff Bagwell for the Hall of Fame. Yes, it’s for the reason everybody loves to hate. I don’t know for sure that Bagwell took steroids or any other performance-enhancing drugs to help him attain his Hall of Fame-caliber numbers. I don’t have evidence, like we do against Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. But I’m suspicious. And this year, that suspicion was enough to make me send back my ballot without the Bagwell box checked. I’d rather withhold the vote based on suspicion than vote the guy in only to find out later that he cheated and I shouldn’t have.

Graziano explained his decision in further detail Wednesday morning during an appearance with Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST.

“I’ve decided not to vote for the steroid guys” said Graziano. “Bagwell we don’t know. He’s not in the Mitchell Report, he hasn’t tested positive like (former Texas Rangers & Orioles slugger Rafael) Palmeiro did. But there’s enough suspicion on my part that I’m holding back. The suspicion in my mind overcomes his credentials for me as someone who doesn’t want to put cheaters in.

“If it turns out that I’m wrong and he was innocent then he has my apology” Graziano added. “There are people (like SI writer) Joe Posnanski and other high profile people that have written about the Hall of Fame that will tell you ‘I’d rather put in 100 cheaters than risk keeping one innocent guy out.’ I feel exactly the opposite. I’d rather risk keeping an innocent guy or two out than put in a single cheater. And if I find out five years from now, 10 years from now that there’s a guy in there I voted for that I shouldn’t have, that would be my bigger regret.”

That tells me just about everything I needed to know about how voting is going to go in the steroid era.

The BBWAA is going to punt.

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The best seat...In the house (Wednesday Edition)

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The best seat…In the house (Wednesday Edition)

Posted on 01 December 2010 by Thyrl Nelson

Here’s a look at the night that was on Tuesday and the one that lies ahead on Wednesday along with a few random musings from the best seat in the house, literally, at home in front of the TV.

Yesterday, I speculated here that there was little chance that Pat Riley had any intentions of replacing Erik Spoelstra on the Miami Heat bench because their level of chemistry, commitment, and overall play, and the lack of assuredness that Riley himself would be able to get much more from this squad. With 24 hours to think on it, I might amend that line of thinking and say that Riley may replace Spoelstra, but he won’t likely jump back onto the bench himself. Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojinarski wrote this piece about how James’ me first act is a safe bet to wear thin pretty quickly, and speculates that it was James’ inner circle that began floating the “Spoelstra is panicking” rumors in the first place. With the Heat, and James headed to Cleveland on Thursday, the drama, and attention are bound to continue.


Speculation also abounds today that perhaps Roger Goodell’s main motivation behind not suspending Andre Johnson and/or Cortland Finnegan for their brawl on Sunday is because the Texans are playing on Thursday night. As it related to Johnson, Finnegan or even a possible James Harrison suspension (that won’t happen either), it would seem that the NFL’s appeals process would have allowed all 3 the chance to play this week, and every other until their appeals were heard. Maybe the NFL was afraid that Johnson would decline an appeal and serve his suspension to spite the league. I wonder if Goodell is compiling a manual of precedents for the punishments that the league is dishing out, seemingly at random, this season.


Jim Harbaugh, the Stanford coach, former Ravens’ quarterback and brother of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh projects to be one of the hottest commodities on the market as schools begin to make and fill coaching vacancies. Michigan seems like the natural fit, if they choose to part company with Rich Rodriguez, but some believe that Harbaugh would be crazy to leave Stanford, where success is measured in academics and his feet aren’t likely to be held to the fire anytime soon, even if his now successful program took a dramatic U-turn. I would be at least mildly surprised if Jim Harbaugh didn’t have at least one eye on the NFL if he has any desire to change jobs. It should develop into an interesting off-season story line.


With all of the purple towel resistance building before Sunday night’s game, crowd noise is becoming topical. Now there are talks of a “No means no” chant for Ben Roethlisberger. On the surface, it’s funny, hilarious actually, but that’s from my perspective. I’m guessing there’s another side of this issue that would find it tasteless and appalling. In other words, it might make the Steelers fans that are on hand a little more comfortable. Count me out on the “no means no” chant, but I’ll be listening, and laughing a little inside.


I have to say that no matter how the Derek Jeter negotiations work out, I am amused. I’m not sure what Jeter’s value might specifically be to the Yankees, but I’m pretty certain that 4 Derek Jeters wouldn’t be worth the kind of money that both sides are discussing to any other team. His legend is intact, his skill set is declining, and we’re talking about projecting him beyond his 40th birthday. The one thing that has never failed Jeter in his opportunistic Major League career has been his timing. From the ball hit to Jeffrey Maier, to the inexplicable flip to get Jeremy Giambi at the plate, to seeking out his last payday with hit #3000 on the horizon, Jeter’s always been the guy in the right place at the right time.  


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