Tag Archive | "Boston Red Sox"

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Does all work and no play keep the victories away?

Posted on 24 August 2010 by Domenic Vadala

When Dave Trembley managed the Orioles he put a large emphasis on professionalism and respect for the game. As a fan, analyst, or whatever you’d like to call me, I have to say that I agree with him 100% in that regard. No one player, coach, or even fan is above the game, regardless of the sport. “Respect for the game” transcends playing well or even winning and losing; it means that you try your best to play the game the way it was supposed to be played, have respect for the opponent, etc. All games have unwritten rules, however none moreso than baseball. You’re not supposed to steal if you’re up by five or more runs after the seventh inning, you’re not supposed to bunt during a no-hitter, you’re supposed to always maintain the image of professionalism in that baseball’s a stoic game, etc. As bad as they were early in the season, the Orioles generally did that and thus showed respect for the opponent. However, did they do too good a job of that?

I’m a firm believer in the above-mentioned unwritten rules, along with those of the other sports as well. (As an example, if the Patriots are killing someone and Tom Brady’s still in the game come the fourth quarter, I see no problem with telling my middle linebacker that I want Brady out of the game…) I would never suggest that professionalism be sacrificed, however can that be taken too far? I routinely see teams that in my opinion break those unwritten rules or throw professionalism to the fishes succeeding in sports. The Tom Brady example is valid in that sense; Bill Belichek has often said that it’s not his responsibility to stop his offense. I routinely see the Boston Red Sox stealing bases and moving runners into scoring position when they’re up big in later innings. Furthermore, the Red Sox seem to enjoy jumping and celebrating every little hit or run that they score. I suppose I’m cut from the “act like you’ve been here before” ilk. Either that or I’m just a party pooper. However as I said, baseball’s always been a stoic game. If you win a game in walk-off fashion or you’ve won the World Series, it’ acceptible to act like that. Not after a run is scored. (Message to Kevin Youkilis: perhaps if you didn’t celebrate like a school girl when your team scores people wouldn’t throw at you and you wouldn’t have to get all bent out of shape when that happens.)

Instead, teams such as the Orioles are extremely professional in how they go about their business. Even in losing efforts, you’d never see much difference in when players would do something good or bad. I’d see players hit home runs or drive in RBI and come back to the bench with a blank stare on their faces after going through the routine high five line. Let me be clear…I respect that kind of attitude. Baseball’s always been about putting your head down and doing the job at hand. However, does that have a negative effect on players? When I look at players such as Ted Williams, I see people that love the game they play and that play it with a passion. However Ted Williams also violated that “stoic game” concept almost everytime he ran the bases. To use a more contemporary example, I would point to Maryland’s Grevis Vasquez. Granted that in basketball showing emotion is more accepted than it is in baseball, however I would suspect that if you asked Vasquez to just play the game without all of the antics, he wouldn’t be the same player.

To use a further example, look at the “battle of the beltways.” As I said, the Orioles are a very professional team in terms of how they behave on the field. The Nationals are a bit more emotional in their demeanor during games. Prior to this season’s three-game sweep of the Nats at Camden Yards, most of the “moments” in the series belonged to Washington. Ronnie Belliard hit a walk-off homer against the O’s one year, the Nats swept the O’s at Oriole Park another year, and of course earlier this season Josh Willingham hit a walk-off homer against the Orioles. Instead, when the O’s beat the Nationals they sort of plug through nine innings and outscore them; so the Nationals’ flair for the dramatic could well endear casual fans to them moreso than they would the O’s.  (This is all part of why the sweep of the Nats this season was so sweet; watching the few Washington fans that came to the series walk out of our stadium with that blank stare on their face knowing they had been punked was priceless.)

Ultimately, I suppose there’s a difference between being bush league and wearing your emotions on your chest in sports. I still respect teams that just handle their business and move on, but I suppose that if celebrating a bit on the field is going to help a team to win, maybe it’s not such a bad thing. However I would caution teams such as the Boston Red Sox that tackling and wrestling in the dugout after something positive happens isn’t the way that baseball’s supposed to be. When ESPN ran their special a few years ago on the greatest football game ever played (the 1958 NFL championship game), they made a point of talking about how Johnny Unitas turned and calmly walked off the field after Ameche scored the winning TD. When asked why he didn’t even raise his hands to celebrate, Unitas said that the game was over so he just turned and walked away.

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It's A Beautiful Weekend In Baltimore ... With $10,431 Collected So Far !!!!

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It’s A Beautiful Weekend In Baltimore … With $10,431 Collected So Far !!!!

Posted on 18 July 2010 by Rex Snider

We’re nearly 20 hours into our “Curing Cancer …. One Call At A Time” 24-Hour Marathon, at WNST.net, and we’ve been blown away by the kindness of our listeners.

With the night’s darkness vanishing and the sun brightening the sky, we are very proud to announce that we’ve broken the FIVE DIGIT threshold. As of 7am, we’ve collected $10,431 !!!!

I cannot begin to describe how this makes me feel. Your generous gestures of giving are symbolic of a community that cares about BALTIMORE. This is such a wonderful morning for everyone.

But, be assured, we’re far from hitting the finish line. We’re rocking the marathon until NOON. So, please …. if you have not made a donation, consider giving whatever amount possible. Regardless, of the donation – 100% of each amount will be donated to Harbor Hospital’s Cancer Center.

You can give by clicking here DONATE NOW

We’ve also received a very kind offer from our good friends, Curt and Shonda Schilling. They graciously gave $1000 to the cause. And, they promised to give an autographed, authentic “Curt Schilling Red Sox” jersey to anyone who matches the $1,000 donation …..

Once again, please just click on the above link to donate online at WNST.net …. OR feel free to drop off your donation (check or cash) at the WNST Studios, at 1550 Hart Rd., in Towson. As always, your donation is 100% tax-deductible and Harbor Hospital will provide a receipt.

We’re talking sports and collecting donations thru NOON today. It’s the “Curing Cancer …. One Call At A Time” marathon.

It’s all about helping people. It’s all about fighting cancer. It’s all about Baltimore.

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Trading For Prospects Does Work .....

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Trading For Prospects Does Work …..

Posted on 09 June 2010 by Rex Snider

I’ll be the first guy to admit that Nick Markakis has no clue of my existence on this earth. But, if he did, what would his opinion of my OPINIONS be ???

While he seems like an aloof, free spirit, Nick also gives me the impression that he’s a straight-shooter and capable of an honest appraisal of his personal efforts.

Thus, I really do wonder how he sees himself and his overall contributions, as he settles into the thick of his fifth full season in the big leagues. Is he satisfied with his overall achievements? At 26, does he feel his game is still improving? Does he feel that he’s living up to the $66 million contract?

These are fair questions.

I’d bet his honest impression is that he expects more from himself. Indeed, this is one of those situations where the fans are less critical of the player’s contributions. But, as we know, Baltimore fans love themselves some Markakis !!!!

If he’s so indispensable, why hasn’t Nick been an All Star ….. on such a crappy team full of “stopgaps” and “never were’s” ??? Where are the Gold Gloves ??? How about the occasional vote for MVP ??? Better yet, has he led the American League in ANYTHING ??? Yep – games played, in 2009. Congratulations …..

Of course, I’m being sarcastic. Nick Markakis is a good, durable ballplayer. He is not the problem for this team.

However, I still stand by my argument that his value can be a marketable commodity for a team that must start taking chances and calculated risks.

And, no, I don’t buy into the EXCUSES regarding a lack of bats surrounding Nick Markakis. The whole “they’re pitching around him” argument is an overblown consideration.

If opposing pitchers were truly pitching around him, he would be piling up the walks, right? He undoubtedly has the best eye and most disciplined stick on the team. Yet, throughout his career he’s only walked 294 times in 2908 plate appearances (-37 SAC, HBP, etc.) …..

Yup, the math says that’s a blistering 10% of the time. But, to be fair, he’s walking in 14% of his plate appearances, in 2010.

What does this suggest? PITCHERS ARE NOT PITCHING AROUND NICK MARKAKIS. In fact, they’re pitching to him !!!! He’s seeing plenty of pitches to hit …..

He’s Nick Markakis ….. not Albert Pujols.

Got it?

Once again, he’s a damn good ballplayer. He’s a nice complimentary member of a lineup. But, he’s far from being untouchable. His value should be gauged during the upcoming off-season.

In last week’s blog, I was clear on my feelings – any deal for Nick Markakis must yield “Major League Ready” prospects, not kids getting their feet wet at the AA level.

A few remarks by readers suggested that acquiring PROSPECTS “equates to setting the ballclub back.” Really? Are they on the verge of contention?

the common thought among many fans is trading for prospects is a GREAT UNKNOWN. While I think that’s partly true, the risk is certainly minimized by ensuring the prospective players have utilized tools and succeeded at every level.

No, I’m not gonna drop the “Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee” trade, again. But, here’s a few more STARS FOR PROSPECTS deals that worked out …..

2005 – Josh Beckett & Mike Lowell for Hanley Ramirez & Anibal Sanchez

This is one of those deals that has certainly benefited both teams. Beckett and Lowell helped deliver a World Series Championship and have been part of making the Red Sox a consistent contender.

Meanwhile, Hanley Ramirez has quietly become one of the game’s best players.

And, Anibal Sanchez is one of the National League’s most impressive young pitchers.

Who got the better end of the deal? In the long term, and if they keep the players, it looks like the Marlins probably realized the greater return. But, the Red Sox have their World Championship trophy. Regardless, the Marlins clearly benefited from dealing Beckett and Lowell.
1991 – Glenn Davis for Curt Schilling, Pete Harnisch & Steve Finley

Still hurts, huh? Some folks actually wonder about the long term damage this deal had on the Orioles. Imagine Curt Schilling spending his career in an Orioles uniform. Sorry, the vision we’ll all remember is far for damning …..

Glenn Davis is still a bad topic for discussion in this town.
1992 – George Bell for Sammy Sosa & Ken Patterson

Regardless of all the drama surrounding Sammy Sosa’s steroids usage, he became a bonafide slugger with the Cubs. He put hineys in the seats and made the Cubbies a contender.

On the flip side, the White Sox wanted a slugging outfielder and Bell seemed to fit the bill. Umm ….. bad move.
1982 – Ivan DeJesus for Larry Bowa & Ryne Sandberg

When the trade occurred, DeJesus was one of the best shortstops in the game. Although, he was the prototypical “Pre-Ripken” player. But, the 22 year old kid with “Sandberg” across his back would end up being the steal of the deal. He switched to 2nd base and today, he’s got a plaque in Cooperstown …..

Do you think Phillies fans stil regret losing Sandberg? Well, just ask “Mike in Chase”.
2003 – AJ Pierzynski for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano & Boof Bonser

The Twins swallowed their pride and traded the 26 year old Pierzynski, following three full seasons of a compiled .301 batting average and 30+ doubles. Not bad for a young backstop, huh? Pierzynski did not disappoint and he’s had a very solid Major League career.

Nathan and Liriano, on the other hand, have become dominating pitchers. Joe Nathan saved ONE GAME before joining the Twins. And, Francisco Liriano, is now fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and nearing the explosive arsenal witnessed during his rookie campaign, in 2006 ….

How is the TRADING FOR PROSPECTS idea working out for the Twinkies ???
2008 – Erik Bedard for Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Tony Butler & Kam Mickolio

The O’s parted ways with one of the American League’s best starting pitchers during Andy MacPhail’s first off-season. At 28, Bedard has lived up to his fragile makeup and “soft heart” while spending most of his Seattle tenure on the disbaled list.

Meanwhile, Adam Jones has emerged into a starting centerfielder for the Orioles. Yeah, say what you want about Jones, but he’s exhibited the characteristics of a formidable big leaguer. Sherrill was an All Star for the Orioles, and Tillman is still regarded as a prime prospect. Of the handful of players, I still think Jones will have a very nice career …..

2007 – Mark Teixeira for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus & Matt Harrison

On the surface, you might think “the Braves HOSED the Rangers”. Well, if you’re just considering Saltalamacchia, who appears to be a BUST, I can see the point. However, the Rangers hauled in much more …..

Neftali Feliz has emerged as the Rangers closer, converting 15 saves, with a 2.73 ERA and ultra impressive 0.94 WHIP, along with 28 strikeouts in 26 innings. Feliz throws extremely hard (has hit 100+) and benefits from a power breaking ball and nice changeup. Oh yeah, he’s 21 years old.

The other prime contributor from the trade is Elvis Andrus. He seized the starting shortstop job as a rookie, in 2009. He’s currently hitting .311, with 18 stolen bases. Like Feliz, Andrus is only 21 years old, as well.

When this trade took place, Rangers owner, Tom Hicks, defended it by insisting he couldn’t afford to re-sign Teixeira. Well, just 3 years removed, the Rangers are bankrupt and being operated under the domain of Major League Baseball. I guess Hicks wasn’t lying, huh?

As for Teixeira, the Braves turned around and dealt him before the 2008 non-waiver deadline. And, the Angels let him walk after the 2008 season. While I don’t argue his legitimate presence in a lineup, the Rangers got a good return for him.

So, what do these trades have to do with Nick Markakis? Well, they represent PROOF that acquiring legitimate, blue chip prospects for proven Major League players does work more often than on an “occasional” basis.

Once again, I don’t want to do anything rash regarding Markakis, but he might just bring a nice package of young guys (and I don’t mean Josh Bell types) to play here for years to come. Then again, a proposed deal might fail – plenty of those trades exist, too.

But, the Orioles are a miserable 16-42 – NOTHING should be off the table.

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Orange Crush Chat: Orioles going for rare sweep of Red Sox

Posted on 02 May 2010 by Luke Jones

Join us right now in the Orange Crush chat!

BALTIMORE — Good afternoon and happy Sunday from Oriole Park at Camden Yards as the Orioles (6-18) find themselves in an extremely rare position against the Boston Red Sox (11-13) this afternoon.

After taking the first two games of the series, Baltimore can complete its first three-game sweep of the Red Sox in Baltimore since Sept. 1974. This happened nine years before I was born to put it in perspective. The stat is a bit misleading considering the Orioles completed a four-game sweep of the Sox in July 1998, but nonetheless, it’s an impressive feat for a franchise that is just 30-67 at home against the Red Sox since 1999.

Here are this afternoon’s lineups:

SS Marco Scutaro
2B Dustin Pedroia
RF J.D. Drew
1B Mike Lowell
DH David Ortiz
3B Adrian Beltre
C Jason Varitek
LF Darnell McDonald
CF Jonathan Van Every

SP Josh Beckett (1-0, 7.22 ERA)

CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
2B Ty Wigginton
3B Miguel Tejada
DH Luke Scott
LF Nolan Reimold
1B Rhyne Hughes
C Craig Tatum
SS Julio Lugo

SP Kevin Millwood (0-3, 3.38 ERA)

As we do for every Orioles game, please join us in the Orange Crush chat at 1:30 p.m. to discuss this afternoon’s happenings from Camden Yards. For the quickest updates and analysis of tonight’s game, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@WNST).

Continue to check right here for more updates (time-stamped below) leading up to first pitch at 1:35 p.m.


1:15 p.m. — Just a few notes to pass along from Dave Trembley in his pre-game comments.

Mike Gonzalez began a throwing program yesterday to continue to rehabilitate his injured left shoulder. Trembley did not know any timetable for the length of the program or when he would return from the disabled list.

The other interesting piece of information came after a question about Norfolk pitcher and Orioles prospect Jake Arrieta. The young right-hander is 2-1 with a 1.16 ERA and appears on the cusp of being ready to make his way to Baltimore.

However, with the starting rotation performing well for the most part, what would you do if either Arrieta or Chris Tillman—who pitched a no-hitter last week for the Tides—are fully-developed with nothing left to prove in the minors?

Surprisingly, Dave Trembley wouldn’t rule out the possibility of a bullpen role for any young starting pitcher with nothing more to work on in the minors but no spot open in the rotation. It was a common practice by many of the great teams in the glory days of the organization.

“It’s only a matter of time before Arrieta will be in the big leagues,” said Trembley who reiterated there were no immediate plans or specific date in mind. “I can’t wait, but he’ll let us know [when he’s ready].”

Of course, injuries and ineffectiveness in the starting rotation will always change any plans, so it’s hard to read too much into Trembley’s comments.

All things considered, I’d be shocked to see either young prospect recalled for a bullpen role in Baltimore.

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Orioles, Red Sox: Your Weekend Previews and Predictions

Posted on 30 April 2010 by Jay Trucker

It feels like it was just last weekend that the Orioles were facing their AL East rivals in Boston.  That’s because it was last weekend that the Orioles were facing their AL East rivals in Boston.  They’ll host the BoSox at Baltimore’s Camden Ya..I mean Fenway South this weekend for their second series of the year.

The Birds have yet to win a series in 2010, limping to an abysmal 4-18 record as April concludes.  Boston, too, has had a disappointing start by their standards.  They’re currently 11-11.  They’ll look to move over the .500 mark this weekend against the woeful O’s.

Let’s take a look at this weekend’s matchups

Friday, April 30 at 7:05 pm: Hernandez (0-3, 4.84 ERA) vs. Lackey (2-1, 5.09 ERA)

Hernandez started for the O’s in their matinee win over Boston last Sunday.  He has had a decent year to date and does well against AL East competition.  The Orioles will have to give him some run support if he’s going to earn his first win.  Thus far in 2010, John Lackey hasn’t looked like the ace the Red Sox need him to be.  His ERA is more than a full run higher than his career average.  The O’s knocked Lackey around for 10 hits last week.   I’m guessing history repeats itself. 

Bold Prediction: Orioles 6, Boston 2

Bonus Prediction: Manny Ramirez won’t be high-fiving the fans in the bleachers tonight.  And you can take that one to the bank!

Saturday, May 1 at 7:05 pm: Bergesen (0-2, 12.19 ERA) vs. Matsuzaka ( 2010 Debut)

The good news is Brad Bergesen is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA.  The bad news is that those are his AAA Norfolk stats.  Bergy struggled in three starts for the Orioles before getting sent down to find his mojo.  The twenty-four year-old hurler doesn’t have overpowering stuff.  He works fast and relies on pitch placement for his success.  When his placement is off, he gives up runs in a hurry.  Dice K Matsuzaka is making his first start for the Red Sox this season.  He’ll probably do what he always does: walk a ton of players but not give up many runs.  Coincidentally, getting on base but not scoring is the Orioles’ specialty.  It’s a perfect storm.

Bold Prediction:  Boston 5, Orioles 1

Bonus Prediction: The bottom of the lineup will load the bases against Dice K in the second inning.  With two outs, Adam Jones will come to the plate with an opportunity to knock in several RBIs.  After working the count to 2-0, Jones will strike out swinging on three consecutive pitches low and out of the zone.

Sunday, May 2 at 1:35 pm: Millwood (0-3, 3.38 ERA) vs. Josh Beckett (1-0, 722 ERA)

My guess is Kevin Millwood would easily win an arm wrestling match against Josh Beckett.  Beckett has a poet’s goatee, and Millwood is a grizzled veteran who looks like he eats nails for breakfast.  Unfortunately, they will be pitching rather than arm wrestling on Sunday afternoon, and though Millwood has pitched significantly better than Beckett thus far in 2010, Beckett plays for the better team.  Look for Beckett to put his terrible April behind him with the help of the Red Sox bats.

Bold Prediction: Red Sox 7, Orioles 3

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Blog & Tackle: Tripleheader chat starts at 6 pm

Posted on 23 April 2010 by Chris Pika

It’s day two of the 2010 NFL Draft, and our Purple Haze On Draft live chat for the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft will begin at 6 pm. And, as an added bonus, we two other events going on at the same time – the Red Rocks as the Caps try to close out the Canadiens in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Orange Crush as the Orioles try to break out of a 2-14 start with the first of four games at the Red Sox.

You get all three of these events at one time in just one place: The WNST.net Live Chat room, starting at 6 pm. The WNST/WNST.net cast of hosts & bloggers will check in, and you will get the most up-to-date information from Twitter feeds for the NFL, Capitals and Orioles.

Tell your friends, and join us at 6 pm for the Purple Haze On Draft/ Red Rocks/ Orange Crush chat by clicking here.

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Orioles, Red Sox: Your Weekend Previews and Predictions

Posted on 23 April 2010 by Jay Trucker

Things have gotten bad in Birdland. How bad? The club’s new closer is on the DL with a case of severely wounded ego, their leadoff hitter is facing potentially career-shortening back issues, their talented young left fielder is out for three months, their cleanup hitter is hobbled, and their All Star center fielder looks lost at the plate. Lou Montanez and Ty Wigginton are hitting at the top of the lineup and have been two of the team’s only respectable contributors this season

Like it or not, there are still 140-something games to play this season, eighteen of them against the Sox, against whom the Orioles have often played the role of Washington Generals in the past several years.

And so the team begins its first trip to crumbling, err, I mean historic Fenway Park. Let’s take a look at this weekend’s matchups.

Friday, April 23 at 7pm: Guthrie (0-2, 3.15 ERA) vs. Lester (0-2, 8.44 ERA)
While both teams are underperforming thus far, Guthrie has pitched well in his first three starts. Lester, meanwhile, has struggled in April. He will look to rebound at home against the woeful Birds. The O’s have often been the cure for what ails Lester, who is probably totally stoked about facing the Orioles. In 12 career starts against the O’s, Lester is 10-0. Said the lefty tosser, “I am totally stoked about facing the Orioles.”

Bold Prediction: Boston 5, Baltimore 1 run, 5 lazy fly balls, 4 weak grounders, and 2 errors.

Saturday, April 24 at 7pm: Matusz (2-0, 4.34 ERA) vs. Lackey (2-0, 5.63 ERA)

Brian Matusz is on the record for 100% of the Orioles wins this year. The Rookie of the Year candidate has 23 strikeouts in his first three starts. He’ll look to battle the veteran John Lackey, who has logged two solid outings since a limp 3.1 inning regular season debut. Expect both pitchers to fare well in a contest that will likely be soccer-like in scoring, but with a lot less running. Not a particularly strong student of history, Dave Trembley will leave his young ace on the mound one pitch too long. That one pitch will be a three run home run, probably blasted by Dustin Pedroia, who already has five dingers on the year and whose power numbers are clearly a result of a pact with Satan.

Bold Prediction: Boston 4, Orioles 2

Sunday, April 25 at 1:30pm: Hernandez (0-3, 4.67 ERA) vs. Wakefield (0-1, 6.38 ERA)

Tim Wakefield was a sophomore at Florida Tech when David Hernandez was born. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything but thought I’d mention it nonetheless. This is a classic matchup of the power pitcher vs. the knuckleballer. While Wakefield’s experience gives him a certain advantage, Hernandez’s ability to throw over 68 MPH gives him the edge overrall. Look for Hernandez to struggle early before settling in and for the O’s bats to come alive for the first time since last Sunday.

Bold Prediction: Orioles 7, Boston 4

Bonus Prediction: Nick Markakis comes alive, for one single, one double, and his first home run of 2010. In Markakis’ last at bat, Gary Thorne will note that the right fielder is a triple away from hitting for the cycle. Jim Palmer will chuckle lightly before launching into a three minute story about talking to Markakis during BP. Markakis will then walk on a 3-2 pitch low and outside.

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Blog & Tackle: Purple Haze On Draft Live Chat tonight

Posted on 22 April 2010 by Chris Pika

You know the drill if you are a fan watching the NFL Draft. Keep the remote close to flip back and forth between ESPN and NFL Network, have plenty of food and drink on hand and maybe a few football-crazy friends. Well, add opening your laptop to the list. Tonight, we will have the first of three Purple Haze On Draft live chats starting at 7:30 pm.

Purple Haze On Draft Live Chat

All of the WNST/WNST.net crew (hosts and bloggers) will be in the chat, and we will have at least 20 Twitter feeds from national media streaming in with the latest picks, trades and rumors. But most importantly, your comments are a big part of this. Let us know what you think the Ravens should do with their first-round pick, and which players you want to see in purple this fall.

Friday at 6:30 pm, we have a tripleheader on tap with the second and third rounds of the NFL Draft, the Orioles’ series opener in Boston and the Capitals trying to close out Montreal in the first round of the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs. Saturday, the NFL Draft finishes up, and the Orioles take on the Red Sox.

It’s easy to be a part of the Purple Haze On Draft live chat. Just click here to enter, and starting at 7:30 pm, we will give you a new way to watch the NFL Draft with us at WNST.net.

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The Bar Stool Blogger Police Have Arrived .....

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The Bar Stool Blogger Police Have Arrived …..

Posted on 11 April 2010 by Rex Snider

Whether I’m sitting in front of a microphone and our respective WNST audience, or a keyboard in the WNST.net blogs, I’m hardly ever at a loss for words.

Yet, I’ve been searching for a proper means of summing up my disappointment in Orioles fans, who booed Mike Gonzalez as he departed Friday’s home opener against the Toronto Blue Jays.

It’s been a frustrating challenge …..

How do I admonish fans, while not letting Gonzalez completely off the hook? I’ve agonized over the complex circumstances and even considered letting it go …..

But, I finally found my inspiration – right here at WNST.net

That’s right, just one glance at Barstooler Erich Hawbaker’s “Gonzalez Has To Go” blog has provided me with the fitting angle for delivering my message …..

Don’t misunderstand me, Erich is not the guy who gave up Friday’s 9th inning lead – that would be Mike Gonzalez. And, Erich is not the guy who took a BAD on-field situation and made it far WORSE – that would be Dave Trembley.

But, I do think Erich embodies the typical Orioles fan, who’s allowed years of frustration to consume a rational reaction to the struggles of one player, over the course of 4 early season ballgames. And, unless he could honestly tell me something to the contrary, I’d assume if Erich had a seat at Camden Yards, he would’ve joined the chorus of boos when Gonzalez walked his first batter in the home opener.

In his blog, Erich wrestles with the Orioles decision to sign and annoint Mike Gonzalez the team’s CLOSER, because “I haven’t seen anything yet that would lead me to make the same decision.”

Really? Look, Erich is an an educated guy – attending Shippensburg University and employed as a banker. But, in reading his bio, I didn’t see any mention of baseball scouting and experience. Is there something we should know?

Enlighten us …..

I’ve got an idea. Perhaps, we can snatch a BIRD-BRAIN to fly up to the ‘ole bank and tell Erich about interest rates and financing …..

Better yet, maybe “Joe Schmoe” (everybody knows him) can examine Erich’s pile of recent decisions to see if anything questionable stands out.

I think it’s fair to suggest Andy MacPhail has been pretty conservative with the dollar during his 34 months, in Baltimore. Thus, something must have inspired him to give Mike Gonzalez $12 million, over a couple years time.

Here’s a suggestion …. instead of looking for Gonzalez’s “CLOSER” qualities in just 4 appearances, how about taking a look back at his career? While I’ll concede he’s blown saves (as EVERY closer does), he’s also compiled an impressive strikeout/walk ratio and overall WHIP.

If you examine Gonzalez’s past, it’s pretty logical to surmise his brief stretch with the Orioles is uncharacteristic of his resume’. Indeed, 3 appearances doesn’t really paint an accurate picture of a guy who’s spent 8 years in Major League Baseball.

Erich has also questioned the legitimacy of Dave Trembley defending decisions to use Gonzalez in the 9th inning, because “he’s the CLOSER.”

That’s the deal, bro. They’re not paying him $6 million, per season, to pitch in the 7th inning. He’s succeeded in high-pressure situations and he’ll do it, again. If you honestly think he forgot how to pitch during the 696-mile drive from Atlanta to Baltimore, let me know …. I’ve got a beautiful Canton rowhome, on the NORTH side of Patterson Park to sell you …..

Interestingly, Erich feels the the Red Sox and Yankees wouldn’t “put up with this.” Really? The “Blown Save Fairy” has never wandered into the depths of Boston or New York?

If given a choice would you prefer your CLOSER to blow a couple early season games, or the most important game of the postseason?

That’s right, Jonathan Papelbon blew the lead when it mattered most. He surrendered 3 runs in last season’s playoff finale’ against the Angels. The Red Sox held a 2 run lead and he couldn’t hold it.

Let me guess, Mike Gonzalez is not Jon Papelbon? You’re right – Papelbon is DEFINITELY expected to deliver in such situations.

And, Mike Gonzalez also has NOTHING to do with 12 years of pitiful results for Orioles fans.

Yet, on Friday afternoon, his ass paid the freight.

A tormented and jaded crowd leveled their overwhelming frustrations upon a guy that has nothing to do with 12 years of LOSING BASEBALL. That’s right, he pitched poorly over the last 3 days !!!! What the hell was I thinking …..

In truth, I’m not trying to beatup on Erich Hawbaker. I just expect him – and all WNST.net bloggers to be accountable. I do think a responsibility is attached to WNST.net blogs. This isn’t some salacious message board. Writers should deliver and defend their work. Thus, I’ll address the theme of Erich’s blog …..

“Gonzalez Has To Go”

Where do you want him to go, Erich? I’m certain a banker understands and appreciates the significance of a $12 million investment. Would you just cut the guy loose? I can hear Andy now, “here’s your money, Mike, best of luck with the Yankees or Red Sox.”

He’s MIKE GONZALEZ – owner of a career 2.67 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 333 strikeouts/133 walks in 282 innings. He’s lefthanded and throws in the mid-90’s.

If the Orioles just “let him go,” he would be free to sign with any team for the Major League minimum salary. And, the Orioles would be obligated to pay the remaining portion – which adds up to $11,200,000.00 over a couple seasons.

Where do you think he would go, Kansas City? Better yet, he’d choose a return stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates, right? He’s making the same money, regardless of where he goes. Might as well win, right?

And, consider this situation – the Yankees have one left handed reliever …..

Damaso Marte !!!! He’s 35 years old and compiled a 9.45 ERA, in 21 appearances for the Yankees, in 2009. Do you think they would take Mike Gonzalez for $400,000 ???

He’s not being released – BET YOUR LIFE ON THAT.

So, if “Gonzalez Has To Go,” how will the Orioles make it happen?

Will they trade him? Let me know when you find a team that will gladly eat the contract, while knowing the O’s are desperate to dump the guy.

While you’re at it, find Jen Aniston and see if she’ll accept an invitation to my Roman Shower …..

I know …. Andy MacPhail can package Gonzalez, Garrett Atkins and an autographed Eddie Murray baseball to the Milwaukee Brewers for Prince Fielder.

Should I make the call?

Why am I solving this problem? I’m not the guy who thinks “Gonzalez Has To Go.” And, I’m not one of the umteen thousand buffoons who acted as if Mike Gonzalez was making his debut on WWE’s Monday Night Raw, at Camden Yards, on Opening Day.

This is Erich’s shot at credibility. Who knows, maybe he can get Andy MacPhail out of this awful dilemma.

But, I do have to ask “where was Erich Hawbaker on December 17, 2009?” In fact, I’m curious to know where every disgruntled fan, who’s bent on GONGING GONZALEZ, was on December 17th?

Did you picket the warehouse?

Did you voice displeasure on any talk shows? Did you email the Orioles? Did you, AT LEAST, disparage Gonzalez by using an anonymous screen name on some message board?

Of course, not. But, I’m sure those very message boards are burning up, right now.

I’m not defending Mike Gonzalez. He must turn his game around – or else. And, I’m not defending Dave Trembley. In fact, he’s probably the guy who deserves most of the blame for the current Orioles crisis.

He allowed a pitcher, who struggled through Spring Training, to report for duty – when something was definitely wrong. And, Dave Trembley worsened the entire situation when he figuratively carried a GAS CAN out to the pitchers mound and totally enflamed Gonzalez’s fragile reputation with the fan base.

Yeah, I’m sure Trembley just wanted to win the game. But, I wonder if he thought about the resounding treatment Gonzalez would receive when he walked to the dugout, without his teammates.

I’m not trying to sensationalize the rough treatment Gonzalez received from fans, on Friday. But, it didn’t help the situation. Lets remember, the booing started when he walked his FIRST BATTER. I’m not trying to suggest booing from ANYONE gets into his head, either.

In fact, if booing or anything from the seats affects him, Mike Gonzalez would not have the emotional complexion of a big league ballplayer, let alone a CLOSER. But, don’t think that treatment has no effect, at all. I’d imagine Gonzalez privately has some choice thoughts for Baltimore’s fans, right now.

And, you can bet his teammates have his back. As if another potential divide between players and fans is needed !!!! The booing was wrong – it’s unproductive and in a roundabout way, such crowd reaction diminishes the homefield advantage.

Be assured, I’m not openly criticizing Mike Gonzalez, Dave Trembley or the fans.

And, in reality, I’m not criticizing Erich Hawbaker – provided he’s accountable for his work.

This is his chance.

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Wednesday's PM Crab Cakes and Light Beer

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Wednesday’s PM Crab Cakes and Light Beer

Posted on 31 March 2010 by Chris Bonetti

The Swinging Bunt

Eagles falling apart in Philly.  You know, I guess I can understand the Eagles’ hesitance in trading Donovan McNabb.  Over the last decade the Philadelphia Eagles have been, if nothing else, one of the most consistent franchises in the National Football League.  Coming off a 3-13 record in ’98, team owner Jeffrey Lurie finally put in place the integral pieces of a puzzle that would result in 5 NFC East Titles, and 8 Playoff births over the next 12 years.  He hired Andy Reid as Head Coach, who in turn hired Jim Johnson as Defensive Coordinator, and the organization selected Donovan McNabb with the #2 overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft.  By 2001 Brian Westbrook was an undrafted rookie making an impact and the Eagles were on their way to 5 NFC Championship Games.  On January 18th, 2008 it seems the Eagles franchise officially began their rebuilding faze.  They lost 32-25 to the Arizona Cardinals that day in the desert and a tumultuous two year time span has ensued.  In the summer of ’09 Jim Johnson, after 40 years of service to the game of football, passed away after a bout with cancer and Brian Westbrook, due to continuous concussion issues, was released by the team this off-season after 10,000 yards and 66 TD’s combined rushing and receiving.  Andy Reid is still the head coach; and yes, he and McNabb are still attached at the hip… for the moment.  But as rumors, speculation, and proposed ‘front’-runners’ for McNabb’s services continue to emerge, it seems all the more likely his football marriage with Philadelphia appears headed for divorce.  It’s a shame, too.  If Jeffrey Lurie hadn’t decided to bring Michael Vick back into the league as his third-string quarterback and paid his $1.5M roster bonus this off-season, McNabb might stand in a better position with the only team he’s ever played for.  But as it stands now, Jeffrey Lurie, the man who facilitated bringing in the foundation of Reid, Johnson, McNabb, and Westbrook in the first place, may now have to hammer home the last spoke to break apart the final two, all by trading the best QB in Eagles franchise history.  Must be a tough trade trigger to have to pull.

Suggested Reading

Pittsburgh Post Gazette: “Steelers are no better than the Bengals.” Strong headline from Ron Cook, who’s not talking about talent, or even winning games, on the field.

Deadspin: Editor Will Leitch takes a look at Baltimore’s very own Orioles in, “The Stacked Deck.” While the title gives the impression of a very positive, upbeat write-up, Leitch comes to this by the end, “Is this what this new plan is leading to? A 78-win season in 2013? That’ll sell some tickets.”  Haha.

SI.com:  Thirteen Sports Illustrated Baseball Experts give their predictions for the 2010 season in their very appropriately named, “2010 MLB Preseason Predictions.” In case you’re wondering, Matusz was named as A.L. ROY on 7 of 13 ballots.

New York Post:  More Tiger details from David K. Li in, “The naked truth on tomcat Tiger.” Apparently we’ll have a long ‘Vanity Fair’ cover story on Tiger’s mistresses coming up very soon.  The Post scoops in for a preview.

Deadspin: Barry Petchesky looks at, “The (other) Least Desireable Gig in College Basketball.” I gave St. John’s a hard time, but it seems they ended up doing decently for themselves with Lavin.  Who does DePaul turn to?

Video of the Day

Who doesn’t love ‘Ridiculous Shots That Don’t Count’ videos?  Here’s Flip Murray’s from last night… pretty incredible.

Tweets of the Day

WNST Comcast Morning Show Producer, Glenn Clark – WNST

GMC: #Ravens vs. #Carolina 8/12 on #ESPN; @ #Skins Aug. 20 or 21; vs. #Giants 8/27 or 8/28; @ #Rams 9/2 in preseason

WNST NFL Correspondent, Chris Pika – WNST

Chris Pika: Former #Maryland hoops player/asst. coach Dave Dickerson is out as #Tulane head coach after 5 seasons, according to media reports.

New York Times College Basketball Columnist, Pete Thamel – PeteThamelNYT

Theme song from Indy: “Its the end of the world as we know it.” Jim Delany (Big Ten Commissioner) tells USA Today that expanded tourney “probable.”

ESPN College Basketball Insider, Andy Katz – ESPNAndyKatz

News conference at Pitt this afternoon to announce coach Jamie Dixon — getting an extension. Not leaving for Oregon as expected.

D1scourse Blogger, Patrick Stevens – D1scourse

So, if Carolina wins tomorrow, will the banner in the Dean Dome read “NIT champion” or “A-10 semifinalist”?

Baltimore Sun National Baseball Writer, Dan Connolley – danconnollysun #Orioles getting clubbed in 5th inn by Red Sox, 9-1. Lester has allowed 2 hits. Maybe both clubs are ready for the season

ESPN NFL Insider, Chris Mortensen – mortreport

Next QB Class: Washington’s Jake Locker, Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett could all be top 5 picks in 2011.

ESPN NFL Insider, Adam Schefter – Adam_Schefter

Waiting on Donovan McNabb gives us something to do while we’re waiting on Brett Favre.

Sports Illustrated Soccer Columnist, Grant Wahl – GrantWahl

Wayne Rooney out 2-4 weeks w/ankle sprain. Could impact ManUtd in Prem/CL, but not England for WC. http://bit.ly/9sIbeJ

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