Tag Archive | "Boston Red Sox"

Friday Mud…please read responsibly

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Friday Mud…please read responsibly

Posted on 30 December 2011 by Drew Forrester

That’s it for 2011, huh?

Over already?

Wow, seems like just yesterday (or so) when I was in Sarasota with Glenn Clark, hunkered down in an outrageously posh satellite-trailer that served as a de facto media workroom in the parking lot of the Orioles spring training complex.  And that was March.

Here we are now, brushing up against January and preparing for (we hope) a Ravens Super Bowl run and, within 7 weeks if you can believe, discussion about pitchers and catchers as they prepare for yet another (losing) baseball season in Baltimore.

Time sure flies when you’re having fun.

Well, for five months a year, anyway.

I hope you all have a safe, enjoyable New Year’s weekend.  We’re obviously all going to be glued to the TV at 4:15 pm on Sunday to see the Ravens take on Cincinnati.

I assume you’ll be hungover.

I hope the Ravens aren’t.

Consider this edition of Friday Mud a tasty start to your holiday weekend.

And you don’t even need to drink a glass of warm milk two hours before you read it.

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>  Did you hear the great story about Oregon football player Mark Asper?  Wednesday night he and the Ducks were at a dinner as part of their Rose Bowl festivities and the father of one of Asper’s teammates started choking on a piece of meat.  Asper applied the Heimlich maneuver and dislodged the piece of meat and a health emergency was avoided because of his quick work.  Great story, huh? Anyway, several teams and colleges quickly sent along notes of congratulations and small gifts to show their appreciation for his life-saving work.  The San Diego Chargers sent a football signed by the entire team and a nice card with a personal message.  The Golden State Warriors also sent along a compliment-filled note and a team jersey with Asper and the number “1″ on the back.  The Red Sox provided a card with the words “Congrats on knowing the Heimlich, please USE THESE as often as you can in 2012.”

>  So…a listener from Timonium named Theresa reached out to me via e-mail last week and offered me a scathing keyboard-tongue-lashing about a few of the pictures I’ve posted recently here on Friday Mud.  “I can’t speak for everyone,” Theresa wrote, “but I’m appalled at your continued inclusion of those girls from Central Connecticut State as part of your Friday blog.  These are college girls — and they don’t deserve to be objectified in the manner that you’re doing it.  I respectfully ask that you stop including photos of those young women in your Friday blog.”  Well, I must be getting old…and soft…because I’m going to agree to not include any Central Connecticut volleyball players here.  Seriously. I’ll link a photo and I guarantee — in fact, DOUBLE guarantee, that it’s not a girl from Central Connecticut.  (I know what you’re thinking…”Drew, come on, we’re going to click on that photo and it’s going to be a girl from Central Connecticut.”)  Nope.  Not a chance.  Here you go Theresa, THIS RIGHT HERE is just for you.

>  Did you like the Ravens uniform combination last Sunday…the black pants and the purple top?  I gathered that a lot of folks didn’t like it.  I did.  You know what other color combination looks great, to me, anyway?  Royal blue and black.  For some reason, I’ve always thought those colors went great together.  Here, let me show you what it looks like and you tell me.  CHECK IT OUT and tell me…do you think it looks good?

>  Hey Theresa, you like apples?

>  I’d love to pick the Ravens to win this weekend.  Really, I would.  But I don’t trust them on the road.  Just when I get ready to type the words “I think the Ravens are going to win in Cincinnati”, I get visions of Jacksonville, Seattle and San Diego in my brain.  Too many road stinkers for me…too many lay-up games turned losses for my liking.  Sorry — Bengals 24 – Ravens 10.  I hope to hell I’m wrong.

>  The Philadelphia police have been very concerned about female Flyers fans speeding recklessly as they enter Broad Street off of I-95 and approach the Wachovia Center.  They’ve even gone as far as placing THESE WARNING SIGNS up on the roads leading into the arena to give the female fans a chance to slow down.

>  There are two ways to identify a Steelers fan.  One is…they always wear a yellow top.  The other?  Well, as you can see RIGHT HERE, this guy is definitely a Steelers supporter.

>  OK, the time has come to unveil the two finalists for my “Top 10 Winners of Professional Sports ” in the last 20 years.  I’m doing this a little differently than originally intended.  I was going to just list my #2…and then the following week, the #1.  Instead, I’m going to reveal the final two — and you decide who you think is #2 and #1.  Obviously, just by the fact that he hasn’t been listed yet, Michael Jordan is one of the finalists.  What can you say about #23 (and #45 for a year)?  He’s just a great winner, period.  But is there someone else who MIGHT (and I say “might”) be a better winner than Jordan?  I think the answer to that is yes.  Maybe.  This man is a 3-time champion.  And a 9-time All-Star.  He won more games than anyone who ever played his sport. If you wonder whether or not this guy is a winner, you’ll want to take a look at his playoff stats — and then you’ll get it.  So, no more delay. You want a winner?  A great one?  RIGHT HERE he is, folks.  Don’t think he’s great?  CHECK OUT THE STATS.

>  I hear the Orioles had a big sale last week prior to the Holidays, where they put most of their merchandise and novelty items out for fans to buy as gifts.  A friend of mine went to the sale and sent me THIS PHOTO to prove he was at Camden Yards.  Yep, sure looks like an Orioles sale.

>  The Shoot Section (the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth)

I don’t want to go into all the details here — I’ll save that for Monday.  But starting next Monday, I’ll have a 4-part “interview” up at WNST.net that was conducted by a listener.  I think you’ll find it interesting.  We covered a lot of territory…my history with the Blast, my move to WNST, the Orioles, the Ravens, “the lawsuit” and much more.  I went into it a little apprehensive, because the person who interviewed me has been both a listener, reader and critic of mine over the years, but he handled it all fairly and I think you’ll enjoy the series next week and learn some behind the scenes things that maybe you don’t previously know.  It all starts on Monday at WNST.net.

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Duquette speaks out about the Orioles — on a Boston station

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Duquette speaks out about the Orioles — on a Boston station

Posted on 19 November 2011 by Drew Forrester

Another day, another bizarre story from the wizards who make the public relations decisions with the Orioles.

The story isn’t all that unfamiliar, actually.

You’ll read it and say to yourself, “So, what’s new?”

Answer:  Nothing’s new.  And that’s the problem.

You’ll recall that Tuesday a week ago, Dan Duquette was introduced as the Orioles new General Manager at a press conference at The Warehouse.  If you listened to the Morning Reaction last week or read yesterday’s Friday Mud at WNST.net, you’re aware of the fact that during that press conference, WNST’s Luke Jones was intentionally ignored by the press conference moderator despite the fact that he sat in his chair and kept his hand raised for the better part of 15 minutes during the open Q & A session.

That’s bad enough.  It’s not only completely bush-league, it once again shows that nothing has changed with the ballclub, who continue to operate on the concept of “we decide what questions get asked of us” while the rest of the sports world simply says, “Does ANYONE have any questions?”

But the Luke Jones hand-in-the-air snub wasn’t the worst mistake the Orioles made recently.  Not even close .

This past Tuesday, Dan Duquette made an appearance on a Boston sports talk radio station, WEEI, and spent that time answering questions from the show’s hosts about the Orioles and his time as the Red Sox GM.

On the surface, the interview appearance looks rather benign.  After all, it’s Duquette talking to people in his old stomping grounds.  What’s so wrong with that, right?

Nothing, really.  Except for the fact that Duquette is not allowed to have that same conversation with the media in Baltimore.  He can, of course, have that talk with the two stations in town that pay the club, WBAL and 105.7.  But he’s not allowed to talk about his new job or the Orioles with WNST, WCBM, WPOC, 92-Q or anyone else in town.

Please understand this:  I’m not blaming Dan Duquette for any of this mess.  I’m about 99% sure he has no idea that his new employer is going to restrict him from talking to the Baltimore media.  He’ll find out at some point, I’m sure, but for now, 3 weeks into his job, he doesn’t really know how shameful his appearance was on WEEI.

I have no idea which member of the Orioles organization makes those decisions – you know, like the one two Tuesdays ago concerning Luke Jones.  I wish I knew…but you never, ever get any kind of straight answer from The Warehouse.  And I don’t really know which dinosaur over there who doesn’t have a clue about public relations would make a decision to NOT allow Dan Duquette to be interviewed by any Baltimore radio station that wants him…but yet an appearance on a Boston radio station is permitted.

Who makes that decision?  Is it Greg Bader?  Is it Bob Ames?  Is it Lou Kousouris?  I don’t know.  Bader is the guy that’s always quoted in the newspaper anytime something GOOD happens with the club, like new uniforms, a charitable donation or some other element of the organization that needs to be professionally polished for the public’s consumption.  He’s also the guy you NEVER hear from in matters like this, which clearly falls under his umbrella as “Director of Communications”.  Is it Bob Ames making the call to ignore Luke Jones and then, in the very next week, say “It’s OK” to have Duquette do an interview in Boston while ignoring the ticket holders of Baltimore?  Or was Kousouris the person who made that decision?  By the way, my Warehouse source tells me Peter Angelos is in no way involved in petty matters such as these…for those of you thinking this was all rubber stamped by the owner.

But no one over there will own up to the big question:  ”Which one of you people thinks it’s good for your business to not allow your new General Manager to be interviewed in Baltimore…but yet you see the wisdom of allowing him to talk to the folks in the Boston media?”

Baseball fans in Baltimore deserve better than this.

They’ve deserved better for a long time.

Andy MacPhail had zero interest in getting involved in the whole fuster-cluck.  He told Nestor and I at the Nick Markakis (see next page please)

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A Vote of (Relative) Confidence in Dan Duquette

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A Vote of (Relative) Confidence in Dan Duquette

Posted on 09 November 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…this 2011 baseball season in Baltimore.

Those still “on board” with the O’s (gluttons that we are for punishment) endured another season of dashed expectations and ineptitude and perhaps to an even greater degree than in seasons past frustration, because this Orioles team, the 2011 version looked capable (at least before the season began) of achieving the .500 mark that has eluded this franchise for now 14 years and counting. It seemed for once that as fans our embarrassingly modest expectations actually had a chance at being met.

 

Those of us who have simply accepted that what we are experiencing now is the new “Oriole Way”, those of us who have abandoned any realistic expectations of competitiveness and accepted the Orioles for the train wreck style of entertainment that they’ve now devolved into, those of us who have taken to the inherent drama and excitement unfolding season after season in other markets while hoping against hope that the O’s will someday be a part of it once again, were treated to perhaps the best baseball season in recent history.

 

The 2011 baseball season had a drama in spades. The Cardinals and Rays caught the Braves and Red Sox respectively to stage two of the greatest late season comebacks in the history of baseball. That episode in and of itself brought about 4 must see games to finish the season on its final day, and for O’s fan pining for some modicum of relevance, fortune involved our Birds, albeit indirectly at best, in the action.

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Friday Mud is the *true* Fall Classic

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Drew Forrester

Snow on Saturday?

They’re kidding, right?

Well, I’m heading to the Towson-Delaware game no matter what kind of weather arrives, but I certainly don’t fancy sitting at the stadium battling 35 degrees and a rain/snow mix.  But I wouldn’t miss this game, as Towson looks to continue their amazing run through the CAA schedule.  If you’re going out, “tweet me” (@WNST) and maybe I’ll let you buy me a hot chocolate.  Or maybe I’ll just stay in the press box where it’s warm.

Either way, I’ll be at Towson on Saturday night for the big showdown with the Blue Hens.

And, of course, I’ll be at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday to see if the Ravens can rebound from Monday night’s crusher in Jacksonville.

Just like you can count on Friday Mud, you can count on me to be somewhere in Baltimore watching and reporting on sports this weekend.  It’s what we do.  Better than anyone else in town.

Happy Friday.

Enjoy your Mud.  You don’t have to shovel it, either.

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>  I can’t keep track of all these Presidential candidates who are coming out of the woodwork and putting their names in the hat.  My guess is I’ll wind up not voting for any of them when the time comes, but that’s neither here nor there.  I figured I’d see what you all thought about another man who is thinking about running for office.  He’s been a leader in the past, so experience is on his side.  He’s worked under duress, which is an obvious strength for anyone who lives in The White House. Like any great leader, he’s able to delegate — he’s had as many as 25 men working under him at any given time.  What would you think, Baltimore, if THIS MAN wanted your vote next November?

>  By now I’m sure you’ve heard that LSU football coach Les Miles brought back three of his players who recently tested positive for synthetic marijuana.  I know, it’s an outrage, I’m with you.  It’s a complete joke.  The day the kids returned to practice, Miles went up to each one and slipped THIS in their pants pocket as they were entering the locker room.  How appropriate.  My guess is Miles has a desk full of those for any other miscreants on his team who break the rules.  Jerk.

>  Lost in the excitement of playoff baseball has been MLB’s annual “Miss Baseball” pageant, which gives every team in the majors the opportunity to put one of their fans in the contest that combines looks, their knowledge of baseball, and their individual ticket-buying support of their favorite team.  The three finalists are in for 2011 and here they are:  ”Miss Atlanta Braves” is a 25-year old PR professional who has owned Braves season tickets for the last 4 years.  I’d say THIS GIRL right here is definitely worthy of your vote.  ”Miss San Diego Padres” certainly has that west coast look going for her, as you can see RIGHT HERE.  Then there’s “Miss Boston Red Sox” — give THIS WOMAN a haircut and clean her up a bit and she might have a chance, too.  I’d say it’s a dead heat.

>  Good Joe Flacco and Good Cam Cameron show up this Sunday in Baltimore.  Make it 29 – 10 — Ravens over Arizona.  The only way I’d get excited at all about the Cardinals playing well is if Larry Fitzgerald has some sort of monster day with 115 yards receiving and 3 TD’s.  He’s on my fantasy team.  I’m always looking for a silver lining, ya know?

>  I got into a great pub debate a week ago with a few friends.  The question was:  ”If you could take one coach in the history of the University of Maryland sports and have that person coach one championship game – winner take all – who would you pick to coach the game?”  I didn’t hesitate.  I said, “Come on guys, you’d take the championship winning basketball coach…the best coach Maryland’s ever had.”  They disagreed with me, but I knew then I was right and I know now I was right.  You tell me. Wouldn’t you want THIS COACH RIGHT HERE on your bench?  Right.  Me too.

>  Poor Tim Tebow.  The dude has two wins under his belt this season and no one wants to say “well done”.  He’s so frustrated, he just got a personalized Colorado license plate.  Don’t believe me?  Well, HERE IT IS.  Believe me now?

>  This “Top 10 winners in team sports over the last 20 years” project has taken on a life of its own.  I started with a list of about 25, narrowed it down to 14, picked 10, then went back and thought of a few more…moved a guy out of the top 10, put someone else in, and now I just added another winner yesterday and had to remove someone else.  It’s tough.  So far, my #10 was Drew Brees and last week’s #9 was Greg Maddux.  Remember, there’s a difference between being a great player and “a winner”.  Alex Rodriguez will likely be in the Hall of Fame someday, but very few people would classify him as a winner.  I’m not 100% sure I’d classify Brett Favre as “a winner” but he’ll be in Canton someday too.  Winners are players you could remove from their team and put them in another city, on another team, and they’d help that new team win games.  Sifting through the names to come up with TRUE winners is more difficult than you might think.  But here we are…up to #8.  I thought long and hard where to put this next athlete.  Because his position isn’t over-analyzed with statistics, it’s not as easy to quantify his greatness, the way you might be able to with a quarterback or a pitcher.  But there’s no denying this man’s greatness and there’s absolutely no way you could ever say he was anything BUT a winner.  He’s the epitome of being a winner.  If you took him from his current team – in his prime – and dropped him off in 6-8 other cities, he’d immediately make them championship contenders.  Some will question his position in the rankings at #8, saying he belongs much higher, but this is where he ranks in my mind, fairly.  Take a look RIGHT HERE at one of the greatest winners of the last 20 years.

>  A bunch of Philadelphia Flyers season ticket holders have signed on to work part-time at McDonald’s.  Why, you ask?  Easy answer.  Good marketing on behalf of McD’s, as you can see ON THIS SIGN.

>  As you know, I’m a big fan of typing random phrases into Google search just to see what comes up.  So I typed in the words, “Are you freakin’ kidding me with this idiot coach of mine?” and THIS PHOTO APPEARED.

>  The Shoot Section (where I tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth…)

Starting next Monday, October 31, we’ll be starting our 2011 Holiday Charity Drive at WNST.  We’re calling it “Coats and Cans in memory of Fergy”.  Many of you who are longtime WNST listeners and supporters remember our friend Fergy Commodari from his countless calls to the show (“Fergy in White Marsh”).  He was not only an active caller/participant on the various WNST shows, but he was a major contributor to any of our charity fund-raising efforts.  Last December, for example, he brought 100 cans of food to our event at the Fullerton Pub.  Anytime we needed Fergy, he was there.  Sadly, Fergy was killed in a car accident back on July 5, 2011.  We at WNST have pledged to put this year’s holiday charity drive together in his memory.  There are THREE ways you can help us this holiday season.  From Monday, October 31 through Friday, November 18, we’ll be collecting canned food and non-perishable food items at WNST Radio (1550 Hart Road, Towson, MD 21286).  Those foods will be donated to the Canton Baptist Church for distribution to their network of food pantries in downtown Baltimore that feed the homeless — and to the Bea Gaddy Thanksgiving Day dinner.  Last year, we collected 2,400 cans of food.  This year, we’re hoping to do 5,000 cans and food items.  For those of you who can’t make it to the station to donate food, we’re asking you to pledge “a penny per can” (with a limit of 5,000…our goal) to a scholarship fund that has been set up for Fergy’s two young children.  If we reach 5,000 cans and you can spare $50.00 to go to their scholarship fund, we’d greatly appreciate it.  Then, from Monday, November 21 through Friday, December 16, we’ll once again be collecting coats and winter apparel that we’ll donate to the Helping Up Mission in downtown Batlimore, a facility that works with adult men who have encountered problems in their lives and are working their way back to their families through a wonderful program that is run completely by the men who are living in the facility. Last year, our listeners donated 400 coats and winter apparel items that were delivered to men at Helping Up just prior to Christmas.  We will take all of the items donated this year to the facility on Tuesday, December 20.  If you can donate canned food, coats and winter apparel this holiday season, we promise you they will all be put to great use.  And if for some reason you can’t donate any items but you’d like to help with the scholarship fund for Fergy’s children, we greatly appreciate ANY amount you can donate.  For more information or to have any questions answered, just email me (drew@wnst.net) or Glenn Clark (glenn@wnst.net) and we’ll get you all the details you need.  A special thanks goes out to Joe Enoch and his staff at Enoch Office Equipment for helping us with transportation for our canned food and coats/winter apparel delivery.  And thank you in advance to any of you can help us with our various charitable efforts this winter.  We can’t do it without you.

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What’s the hold-up with Orioles front office? MacPhail? Or could it be Showalter?

Posted on 05 October 2011 by Drew Forrester

October 5 has arrived and the Orioles, not surprisingly, are still plodding along without any formal announcement on the structure of their front office heading into the 2011-2012 off-season.

I know how it goes at the Warehouse.

Turtles move faster.

But there’s something going on over there — or, perhaps NOTHING at all going on over there.

It depends on whom or what you believe.  And what your gut tells you.

Here’s what I think.

First, let me reiterate what I said all the way back in early July.  It was then that I contended that Andy MacPhail wouldn’t return in 2012.  I suspected that Buck Showalter, frustrated at a number of things within the organization that have impeded the team’s progress both at the major league and minor league levels, would move into some sort of upper management position for 2012 and beyond.  I figured Buck would either try to double-dip and manage the club while being the team’s GM or perhaps he’d hand the managerial duties over to Willie Randolph.  Either way, I figured it was a near certainty that MacPhail wouldn’t return in 2012 and that Buck would INCREASE, not decrease, his duties somehow.

I kept asking the question:  Why would MacPhail come back?  What’s in it for him?

Other than a salary, why would Andy MacPhail return to the everyday grind of working for the Orioles?

He knows now, having seen it in hi-def for 55 months or so, that the team can’t win in the American League East.  They’re not BUILT to win in the American League East.  They’re not willing to operate in a manner necessary to compete in the American League East.  Surely Andy knows that, as he’s been one of the reasons why those limitations have been so obvious over the last 4+ seasons.

So why would he come back?

My answer:  He isn’t coming back.

Two weeks ago, I went on the air and offered another possible scenario, coming from a source directly associated with Showalter and the club who assured me that it might be Buck who wasn’t so sure he wanted to return in 2012.

“Some things will have to change for Buck to come back,” the source told me.  ”He’ll need certain assurances that his voice will be more respected.  He’s been disappointed in some of the promises that were made to him and were never followed through on.”

I talked about that on the air two weeks ago…that Showalter might not be a slam-dunk to return in 2012.

Today, I’m still hearing that.

“Buck wants to see this through, but he needs 100% assurance that when he’s told something’s going to happen that it winds up happening that way.”

There have been some reports this week from several local journalists who cover the team — and to be fair, they aren’t really REPORTS per-se, it’s more like “simple speculation” – that perhaps Andy MacPhail might actually return for the 2012 season.

I’d be surprised if Andy returned.  I ask again:  Why on earth WOULD he?

I’ve heard the Orioles would be interested in talking with former team exec Scott Proefrock (currently with the Phillies) about assuming MacPhail’s position and that Andy would serve as a consultant until the season started next April and he was able to turn Proefrock loose on his own.  Proefrock worked briefly under MacPhail in Baltimore and the two have respect for one another that could make that sort of transition-process go smoothly.

All of this, though, needs Buck’s approval.

I don’t know what to make of it all, because in typical Orioles fashion, the season has been over for one week now and not a word has been uttered by the club about the future of the organization.

The Red Sox were eliminated last Wednesday night and by Friday they were looking for a new manager.

But we’re used to it here in Baltimore…the feet dragging, the pedestrian pace, the maddening, methodical decision making process that always takes much longer than it should.

The key player in this remains Showalter.

MacPhail, naturally, could create quite an interesting scenario if he simply decided to return for at least one more year and Buck would continue in his role as the field manager and nothing more.

I don’t think that’s what Buck wants.

In fact, I’m quite certain it’s not what he wants.

And I don’t REALLY think it’s what MacPhail wants.

He knows the truth.

He tried to change the culture in Baltimore since June of 2007 and it didn’t work.

Why press on now, knowing what he knows?

Buck, meanwhile, wants the opportunity to fix the club.

As usual, though, confusion reigns supreme.

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“O” – How Sweet It Is

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“O” – How Sweet It Is

Posted on 29 September 2011 by Tom Federline

The Baltimore Orioles are not going to the playoffs this year………….and neither are the Boston Red Sox. Hallelujah! What the Orioles did last night will go down in the annals of Oriole history as one of those “Oriole Classics”. The O’s played a part in one of the more historical nights ever in Major League Baseball. The O’s contributed positively by providing losses to the “Greatest Collapse” of a first place team in MLB history. Hallelujah! Nice choke Boston Red Sox. Thank Youuuuuuuuu – Orioles for putting the final game of the 2011 season, “…in the WIN column.” Especially in such dramatic fashion. In my book, the Boston Red Sox and their arrogant fans have surpassed the New York Yankees in rudeness and greed. Last night made the Orioles year.

Terps beating Duke, Ravens beating Steelers and as it has been for the past 5 years for me, the Orioles beating the Red Sox. Maybe it’s because they are winning and the Orioles are not. Maybe it’s because of Roger “Steroids” Clemens. Maybe it’s because they ruined a perfectly good song in “Sweet Caroline” – (Neil Diamond). Maybe it’s because all the bragging in the world about their supposed famous Clam Chowda will never come close to good ole Maryland Crab soup with Old Bay. Whatever the reason, I get more fired up when Boston is in town than the Yankees. Maybe their it’s just been a given for so long to dislike the Yankees – it’s old hat. The Orioles contributed in preventing the Red Sox to going onto Post season play. If that is not music to your ears, stop reading now and move on.

I thought the Birds were cooked at the rain delay in the 7th. Driving up 95 in the rainstorm, knew it was headed to the Yards, did not know how long it was going to last. Men on 1st and 3rd two outs, Adam “supposed Oriole MVP” Jones up to the plate – Struck out. Nice MVP move. All I kept saying to myself was, “Not at Camden Yards”, you guys can NOT let Boston in with a loss at our home park. You might as well just open up the wounds and pour the salt in. The winter just got longer.  More Oriole disappointment. My orange Kool-aid was going to go bad. Woke up this morning, saw something orange in the sky, I believe they call it a sun. I had forgotten what it looked like, so I thought it was a sign that the Orioles had pulled off the improbable, low and behold it was a great day in Birdland.

Now, how about a little controversy? You know how I feel about the “Fix”. How about that Tampa Bay/Yankees game? I thought the game was over early at 7 – 0. Six runs bottom of the 8th, pinch hit home run in 9th to extend it, wait for outcome of Orioles game, 3 minutes later “Let’s Groove Tonight” – (Earth Wind & Fire) – “Here’ s one for ya Evan Longoria, you is in the playoffs!” Coincidence? There are no coincidences. You go Tampa Bay! Anybody but the Yankees or the Phillies.

One down side of the past few days, Adam Jones – the Orioles MVP as voted on by the Baltimore media. Are you kiddin’ me? Every single one of those numbnuts that voted for Jones instead of JJ Hardy, should be fired. More proof positive, in your face – lack of baseball knowledge, minor league journalism that the Baltimore area has had to put up with for many a moon. Ninety percent (90%) of the Orioles print media and broadcasts are not worth your time. My opinion of 2011 O’s MVP: JJ Hardy (unanimous), Matt Weiters, Jim Johnson, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and I am a Jonesy fan.

The Orioles contributed  in preventing the Boston Red Sox from going into Post Season play. Seize the Moment – we don’t have many. The Birds did not fulfill expectations this year, below .500 and last place again. So what? They ended the year with the sweetest win of them all. It’s gonna get better.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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Orioles win wasn’t meaningful, but it was fun to watch for sure

Posted on 29 September 2011 by Drew Forrester

Maybe I’m just getting old, but I didn’t like seeing the Red Sox lose on Wednesday night in Baltimore.

I did, however, enjoy seeing the Orioles win.

If that makes any sense.

I have nothing against the Red Sox organization.  Lord knows we’d all give our left ear to have the Orioles run their club like the folks in Boston run theirs.  I’d take a half dozen of their players on MY team any day of the week.

So I wasn’t rooting against Boston last night.  I don’t really care who gets in the post-season and who doesn’t once my team is eliminated, which, of course, is usually around July 25 for those of us in Baltimore who still follow the Birds.

That said – I’ve been critical of their fan base at times because I think they tend to march around (our) town like their you-know-what-doesn’t-stink, so it wasn’t hard to do a little fist pumping in the basement last night when Carl Crawford couldn’t come up with Robert Andino’s soft line drive to left field in the bottom of the 9th.

By the way…what the hell happened there?  How did Crawford – an outstanding defensive player by every account – NOT come up with that ball?  What did the replay show, you ask?  I WOULDN’T KNOW, the fine folks at MASN forgot to show a replay of the final hit, instead focusing their cameras on the grounds crew doing high fives near the first base line.

I’m not sure how Carl Crawford wound up on the ground looking like Felix Pie with the ball at his feet, but it would have been nice to see exactly what happened on the play that ended Boston’s historic collapse.

Anyway, the outcome was quite polarizing for the Orioles faithful in town. Some took great delight in ousting the Red Sox and their band of well-traveled fans who once again made OPACY seem more like Fenway Park South.  Lots of people in Baltimore talked about how great it was to have “meaningful” baseball back in the Charm City.  And others, like me, just watched the game with passing curiosity, jealous as hell that our team was once again finishing in last place and the OTHER GUYS were playing for their post-season lives.

If you think Wednesday’s game really was “meaningful baseball”, you’re as wrong as Brad Pitt was for s**t-canning Jennifer Aniston.

The game would have been meaningful ONLY if the Orioles were heading to Texas today for a Friday night post-season opener against the Rangers.  Had Andino’s hit pushed the Birds to the playoffs…now THAT, my friends, would have been meaningful.

The game was ONLY important because Boston was a win away from going to the playoffs.  If last night’s game would have been a season finale between the Orioles and Twins, 1,835 people would have been in the stands.

Look, I completely understand that we haven’t played a game of importance in Baltimore – baseball wise – since 1997.  And I also accept the fact that we’ve been agitated beyond belief over the years by the Boston fans who have invaded our city and our stadium and gone out of their way to poke fun at our losing ways.

And I don’t really care for those people, a fact I’ve talked and written about a lot — so much so, in fact, that one Boston fan in town tried to sue me over it earlier this year.

So it was fun to see those folks slither out of the stadium last night with their tail between their legs.

But last night’s game wasn’t really meaningful baseball.

It was FUN baseball.

It was EXCITING baseball.

But it wasn’t an important game for the Orioles.  It was ONLY important for the Red Sox.

We still haven’t seen an important game for the Birds since October of 1997 in that ballpark.

Someday, perhaps, we will.

For now, we have to be satisfied with wins like we saw last night, where a 9th inning rally sends everyone home for the winter with a smile on their face.

See you next spring.

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Orioles win wasn’t meaningful, but it was fun to watch for sure

Posted on 29 September 2011 by Drew Forrester

Maybe I’m just getting old, but I didn’t like seeing the Red Sox lose on Wednesday night in Baltimore.

I did, however, enjoy seeing the Orioles win.

If that makes any sense.

I have nothing against the Red Sox organization.  Lord knows we’d all give our left ear to have the Orioles run their club like the folks in Boston run theirs.  I’d take a half dozen of their players on MY team any day of the week.

So I wasn’t rooting against Boston last night.  I don’t really care who gets in the post-season and who doesn’t once my team is eliminated, which, of course, is usually around July 25 for those of us in Baltimore who still follow the Birds.

That said – I’ve been critical of their fan base at times because I think they tend to march around (our) town like their you-know-what-doesn’t-stink, so it wasn’t hard to do a little fist pumping in the basement last night when Carl Crawford couldn’t come up with Robert Andino’s soft line drive to left field in the bottom of the 9th.

By the way…what the hell happened there?  How did Crawford – an outstanding defensive player by every account – NOT come up with that ball?  What did the replay show, you ask?  I WOULDN’T KNOW, the fine folks at MASN forgot to show a replay of the final hit, instead focusing their cameras on the grounds crew doing high fives near the first base line.

I’m not sure how Carl Crawford wound up on the ground looking like Felix Pie with the ball at his feet, but it would have been nice to see exactly what happened on the play that ended Boston’s historic collapse.

Anyway, the outcome was quite polarizing for the Orioles faithful in town. Some took great delight in ousting the Red Sox and their band of well-traveled fans who once again made OPACY seem more like Fenway Park South.  Lots of people in Baltimore talked about how great it was to have “meaningful” baseball back in the Charm City.  And others, like me, just watched the game with passing curiosity, jealous as hell that our team was once again finishing in last place and the OTHER GUYS were playing for their post-season lives.

If you think Wednesday’s game really was “meaningful baseball”, you’re as wrong as Brad Pitt was for s**t-canning Jennifer Aniston.

The game would have been meaningful ONLY if the Orioles were heading to Texas today for a Friday night post-season opener against the Rangers.  Had Andino’s hit pushed the Birds to the playoffs…now THAT, my friends, would have been meaningful.

The game was ONLY important because Boston was a win away from going to the playoffs.  If last night’s game would have been a season finale between the Orioles and Twins, 1,835 people would have been in the stands.

Look, I completely understand that we haven’t played a game of importance in Baltimore – baseball wise – since 1997.  And I also accept the fact that we’ve been agitated beyond belief over the years by the Boston fans who have invaded our city and our stadium and gone out of their way to poke fun at our losing ways.

And I don’t really care for those people, a fact I’ve talked and written about a lot — so much so, in fact, that one Boston fan in town tried to sue me over it earlier this year.

So it was fun to see those folks slither out of the stadium last night with their tail between their legs.

But last night’s game wasn’t really meaningful baseball.

It was FUN baseball.

It was EXCITING baseball.

But it wasn’t an important game at all.

We still haven’t seen an important game since October of 1997 in that ballpark.

Someday, perhaps, we will.

For now, we have to be satisfied with wins like we saw last night, where a 9th inning rally sends everyone home for the winter with a smile on their face.

See you next spring.

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MSB Monday Market Watch

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MSB Monday Market Watch

Posted on 19 September 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

5 On The Rise

#1 – Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays took 3 of 4 from the Red Sox this weekend to close the gap in the AL Wild Card to 2 games with 10 games to go for each side. Whether the Sox can manage to hold off the Rays or not, they’re in trouble as injuries have taken another mighty toll on Boston this season. Still, after leading Tampa by 9 games as late as September 3rd, there will be no legitimate excuses for the Sox if they should somehow complete one of the worst late season collapses in modern baseball history.

 

If the Rays somehow find their way in, it’ll be to the chagrin of not just the Sox but of all of the AL teams who do make the playoffs too as the Rays formidable starting pitching has managed to keep them afloat as the bullpen and lineup have spent most of the year learning on the fly. Although it’s a small sample size, the Rays 11-4 record in their last 15 games suggests that they’re peaking at the right time.

 

Forecast: The schedule suggests that Boston is still in a pretty good place. Six of their 10 remaining games are on the road, but 3 of those and 7 overall of the last 10 are against Baltimore, against whom the Sox are 8-3 on the year. Their other 4 games are against the Yankees, who the Sox have owned to the tune of 11-4 so far this season. Tampa on the other hand has 6 of 10 games remaining at home and 7 of their remaining 10 against the Yankees, against whom they’re 5-6 on the season. Their other 3 games are against the Blue Jays, against whom they’re 10-5 so far.

 

With a magic number of 7 and 10 of their remaining 11 games against the Rays and Red Sox, the Yankees aren’t yet out of the woods either, igniting essentially 2 pennant races in the AL East when Yanks and Sox both appeared to be foregone conclusions just a couple of weeks ago.

 

 

#2 – The Atlantic Coast Conference – ACC fans have been waiting anxiously in the dark as the most recent round of Super-Conference manifest destinies began taking shape again. As all of the moves have seemingly been football driven, fans of the basketball first ACC sat hopefully expecting the conference to do it’s best to keep their 12-member alliance intact and maintain the status quo. Now it seems that the ACC may be on the fast track to becoming the nation’s first super conference as over the weekend news of the intents of both Syracuse and Pitt to join the ACC ranks began to spread.

 

At the very least, the 2 new members provide the conference with an insurance policy should the SEC come calling officially for Clemson and Florida State, but with UConn already rumored to be poised to follow, it seems but a mere formality that the ACC will add one more player to the mix and become an official Super-Conference with a giant TV network to follow. West Virginia, or on an outside shot South Carolina might be the best bets at #16.

 

Lost in the euphoria, but no less important this weekend, Miami upset #17 Ohio State, Clemson upset #21 Auburn and Maryland showed well (in the box score at least) against #18 West Virginia.

 

Forecast: So far so good it seems. Again, at the very least the ACC will be able to maintain 12 members should a couple succumb to the temptations of the SEC or some other budding Super-Conference and will be able to continue staging their own conference title games in football. At best, the ACC could win the race to 16 and become the first of likely many Super-Conferences. Keep in mind though that the most recent versions of ACC expansion didn’t exactly bring about the anticipated results or football credibility that seemed all but foregone at the time.

 

 

#3 – Cam Newton – The controversial Heisman trophy / National Championship winning quarterback turned controversial first round (first overall) draft pick of the Panthers unleashed his second straight 400+ yard passing performance en route to his second straight loss to begin his NFL career. Clearly he’d rather be winning and shining, but for now, he’s shining enough to have us all impressed, shocked and mesmerized. Shredding the suspect Cardinals defense in week 1 was impressive enough, that he was able to do it to the defending World Champs while keeping them against the ropes for most of the game after they had spent a week dissecting his tape is flat out amazing. If the youngster keeps playing like that, the wins will surely follow…as will more accolades.

 

Forecast: He’ll get a chance at the Jags next week and might be able to muster that elusive first win. After that, the schedule gets kind of hairy for a while. He’ll continue to sling it you can bet, and will learn some tough lessons along the way. The funniest thing may be that sooner or later teams will have to adjust to his ability to sling it all over the field, and when they do, Cam will get his chance to showcase the wheels that gained him so much notoriety last season at Auburn. It’s an unbelievable start to an NFL career, begging the simple question what will the kid do next?

 

 

#4 – Detroit Lions – The Lions picked up their second straight win to begin the season on Sunday and in so doing justified the faith of tons of pre-season prognosticators who thought the Lions to be on the rise. The interesting part of the Lions ascendance however is that so far it least it hasn’t been based on the brick wall that will be Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh when the rookie Fairley eventually gets onto the field; instead the Lions have been getting it done on offense with Matthew Stafford playing the part of polished veteran and Jahvid Best rebounding nicely from an injury plagued 2010.

 

Forecast: The Lions will have their work cut out for them in a contentious NFC North, and health has to be their biggest concern on the offensive side of the ball. When exactly the Lions official window might open is debatable, but for now they’re at least knocking on the door.

 

 

#5 – Robert Griffin III – He entered the season as a lightly regarded Heisman candidate from a lightly regarded Baylor program flying largely under the radar. He emerged from a week 1 shootout with TCU (on the back of 359 yards passing and 5 TD) as RG3 and at the forefront of the Heisman conversation. After a 15-day hiatus Griffin and the Bears returned to action on Sunday and RG3 backed up his performance with a 20 for 22 night for a modest 265 yards and 3 TD, while adding 78 yards on the ground for good measure.

 

Forecast: The Bears will be looking at the Big-12 portion of their schedule soon enough affording Griffin plenty of chances in the national spotlight. And while the Bears may not be able to hold their own against top notch foes (TCU would beg to differ) Griffin might, and the need to keep his foot on the gas could lead to some seriously gaudy numbers along the way.

 

 

5 On The Slide

 

#1 – Professional Boxing – The fact that Floyd “Money” Mayweather was fighting “Vicious” Victor Ortiz on Saturday night (for an outrageous pay-per-view price tag of $69.99) should be in and of itself another proverbial “black eye” for boxing. This is after all the 147 pound division, touted by most as boxing’s best, yet the best match-up they could muster on that night for the best boxer of his generation was a hard punching young southpaw just 2 years removed from quitting in the ring against a middling Marcos Maidana. That Floyd Mayweather has not yet fought Manny Pacquiao is an embarrassment to the sport of boxing and to the otherwise cleaned out by Mayweather 147-pound division. The action that took place in the ring…well that was kind of embarrassing too.

 

History will remember Floyd winning by a cheap shot, but that’s more likely as a result of our feelings about Floyd as a despicable human being than as a result of what actually happened in the ring on Saturday night. For 2 of the 3 full rounds Floyd landed easily and won decisively. In the middle round, Ortiz showed enough heart and offense to compel some to see it his way, but 2 of the 3 judges at ringside scored that one for Mayweather too. In the 4th Ortiz got aggressive, bullied Mayweather into a corner and then inexplicably charged him like a crazed bull with the crown of his head landing square in Mayweather’s face. That would be the fight’s only illegal shot, but not it’s last controversial one.

 

Immediately after butting Mayweather, as referee Joe Cortez attempted to step in and separate the fighters, Ortiz began apologizing to Mayweather. Ortiz hugged Mayweather and even kissed him on the cheek before being led to the center of the ring by Cortez to make the point deduction official. When the fighters got back together Ortiz again hugged Mayweather. Mayweather didn’t appear to reciprocate the hug and stood there arms out waiting to resume the action, which he did as soon as Ortiz backed away, landing a quick left followed by a crushing right that left Ortiz on the ground and unable to beat the count.

 

We’ll remember Mayweather’s cheap shot although his was legal, and forget too that he was dominating Ortiz in a way that suggested he’d end it sooner rather than later and that Mayweather may have been rightly enraged at Ortiz’ illegal and intentional head butt. What we won’t remember is a great fight or one that was worth the buy as neither was the case on Saturday.

 

Forecast: Mayweather will spend another year or so flaunting and burning (literally) the $25 million plus he made from this farce while we all wait anxiously for him to step in front of Pacquiao and into the beating that so many have been waiting to see him get. Mayweather will get paid again, likely beat Pacquiao too and continue to be a general A-hole. And we’ll keep giving him money.

 

 

#2 – Baltimore Ravens – The Ravens backed up their impressive week one domination over the Pittsburgh Steelers by being beaten in all three phases of the game by the Tennessee Titans and are now left to reevaluate their estimations of their own greatness.

 

Throughout the Harbaugh era these Ravens have been far too professional to overlook opponents, even when those opponents don’t seem to have much of a realistic chance at winning against them. Or maybe, as we look back at games like Carolina and Buffalo in 2010, perhaps Sunday was the first time that the Ravens paid the price for taking a second division caliber team lightly. Regardless, on Sunday the Ravens had their proverbial lunches eaten by the Titans and then were charged with cleaning up the scraps when their bully nemeses were through.

 

The Ravens will surely have to pick up those scraps quickly and put them to use against St. Louis as for now at least, the loss served to bring the Steelers back into a tie for the division lead (albeit only week 2). There are plenty of wins to be had on the Ravens schedule; the question may simply be whether the team is professional enough to go about collecting them.

 

Forecast: This should serve as the wake up call that a team as professional as these Ravens have been shouldn’t have needed in the first place. They’ll get St. Louis coming off of a short week before returning home for a slugfest with the Jets. The Steelers meanwhile get the Manning-less Colts next week.

 

 

#3 – Arian Foster – Last year’s improbable rushing champ started this season without the fullback who had cleared holes for him to run through last season and with company in the backfield in Ben Tate who the Texans envisioned as the starter before losing him to injury last year. He continued his trek by injuring his hamstring, calling fantasy owners concerned about his health for their own reasons sick, tweeted images of his MRI and proclaimed himself ready for week 1. He wasn’t.

 

Ben Tate though was, possibly compelling Foster to rush back to action this week against the Dolphins, where he rushed for 33 yards on 10 carries before re-aggravating the hamstring and coming out of the game for good. Ben Tate in the meantime has gone over the century mark on the ground in each of the Texans first 2 games and will likely remain a big part of the mix with or without Foster.

 

Forecast: The smart thing would seem to be to rest Foster until his hamstring issues are clearly behind him. More likely though, Foster, gamer that he is, will continue trying to rush himself back and struggle with the injury all season. Either way, Ben Tate seems to be a viable part of the running game for the foreseeable future and for now a better option than Foster.

 

 

#4 – Chiefs, Seahawks and Colts – The Manning-less Colts looked terrible again, this time at home against the Cleveland Browns. The already injury riddled Chiefs suffered another embarrassing defeat and in the process may have been hit with their worst injury so far, apparently losing Jamaal Charles for the season with an ACL injury. And the Seahawks although mostly healthy look like they may be the worst team in football without Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback.

 

All three playoff teams from 2010 are off to 0-2 starts and looking like long shots to get back there.

 

Forecast: Count all three squarely in the Andrew Luck Sweepstakes.

 

 

#5 – The NBA Season – With each passing day, the likelihood of seeing an entire NBA season or any part of a season at all get bleaker and bleaker. The more concerning part, for the league and its fans, should probably be that no one really seems to care very much. Unlike the NFL lockout, which had us spinning and clamoring for updates daily, everyone seems resigned to the expectation that here simply won’t be an NBA this year. Folks were missing football despite the fact that we never actually missed any football at all. Judging by the attention or lack thereof to the NBA’s labor issues, basketball…we’ll see you when we see you.

 

Forecast: This isn’t getting better anytime soon. Check back in February.

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Selig Should Deal A-Rod Out for a Year

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Selig Should Deal A-Rod Out for a Year

Posted on 05 August 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

Playing poker with Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio may sound innocent enough on the surface. That probably explains why fans, at least to this point, have been largely dismissive of the latest A-Rod indiscretions (if true) and are expecting them to blow over quickly with little or no consequence. But while some will see this as just further indication that in his heart A-Rod pines to be a Hollywood jet setter, others will see it as Rodriguez worst indiscretion to date and grounds for a tough penalty from Major League Baseball. Put me in the camp of the latter.

Baseball has a long and troubled history with gambling and the criminal element, and Rodriguez has apparently already been apprised by Major League Baseball once that his participation in these types of poker games is unacceptable. In addition to the star-studded cast of characters we know about, we can bet that games of that caliber are typically hosted, attended and protected by criminals and high stakes professional gamblers. Therein lies the biggest issue, and likely MLB’s greatest concern.

 

Professional sports gamblers, good ones at least, typically have particular areas of expertise. Often, these areas of expertise are fortified with “inside information”, well placed contacts who can give information to gamblers that the general public has no knowledge of, information that could influence the outcomes of games and therefore information that when in the right hands could prove quite valuable.

 

It seems unlikely that Rodriguez would intentionally feed this type of information to that type of element, but without intending to do so, gossip and anecdotes told over a poker table could potentially yield invaluable insight to an unsavory element clamoring to discern it. For baseball, that would be a big problem.

 

Additionally, and more importantly, it would seem that most tales of athletes or insiders gone awry because of gambling, find themselves at the mercy of criminals because of their inability or unwillingness to pay back big losses from card games, bets on other sports or other gambling losses. No matter how much a person makes, coming out of big money is never easy. Michael Jordan’s alleged $1 million plus in golf gambling losses became an issue not because he couldn’t pay it, we knew about it because he didn’t pay it. Coming off of a million bucks isn’t easy for anyone…even Michael Jordan…allegedly of course.

 

While it’s unlikely that an athlete who’s made in the ballpark of half a billion dollars in his career could find himself in that kind of trouble, there are plenty of guys making half a million per year or less that easily could. As the poker craze continues to grow, MLB is in a position where, like it or not, they’ll be setting a precedent going forward. They’d better make it a strong one.

 

Most but not all of those who have been banned from baseball for gambling were implicit in the fixing of games, but on rare occasions simply consorting with a criminal or gambling element has led to action from baseball. George Steinbrenner was banned for 3 years after consorting with criminal Howard Spira to get “dirt” on Dave Winfield. One year for A-Rod would probably suffice if the accusations against him are true.

 

There are literally thousands of elements to sports that we the public can appreciate, celebrate, even demand, but without integrity in the games themselves the rest of those factors and elements become meaningless and all sports become pro wrestling. While A-Rod is a bad example of someone who could or should find himself in a bad way to a bad element; in the interest of those who are compensated far less, he needs to be made an example of.

 

Begrudge athletes and their salaries if you’d like, but one fact relative to those salaries seems clear: High compensation for professional athletes is supposed to insure integrity in the games. Gambling is a big enough business that gamblers would make athletes rich if their teams didn’t. That the teams do, is supposed to keep players (and officials) above those types of temptations and problems. And like it or not, in addition to the most insane top end salaries of any sport, baseball also seems to have more guys in important roles making half a million dollars or less per season than any other professional sport too. Surely they don’t want those guys sitting down and playing “Rounders” with actual whales, sharks and other sea creatures with unsavory intentions.

 

Speaking of “Rounders”, even if I’m wrong and baseball lets this whole episode blow over, I’d hope at least a 10-game suspension would come down from Yankees brass for losing his money to high profile Red Sox fans Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

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