Tag Archive | "charm city"

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Baltimore Sports Quiz — for real Baltimore sports fans

Posted on 24 April 2014 by Tony Wisniewski

You can fake a lot of things.

People can have thousands of Facebook friends and fake popularity.  Men can wear a power tie and fake success.  Women can fake orgasms.

It’s just the way of the world.

But you can’t fake sports.  In fact, it might be the one true thing you can’t fake.  And if you want to know what “faking” sounds like while it’s happening, tune in and listen to a Cast-off New York Cop and the Smartest Guy in an Empty Bathroom bumble through their idea of local sports talk every morning.

Last night, at Buffalo Wild Wings in Owings Mills, as part of the Baltimore Sports Media Superstar Competition, WNST proved why it’s the only sports media outlet who has the right to call itself “real” Baltimore sports talk.

The quiz that Nestor and the crew drummed up was the type of stuff that would make even the most seasoned historians, like Bob in Parkville, shudder before going into one of his classic historic tirades.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that most of the sports media in this town wouldn’t come near any sort of respectable score on the WNST quiz.

I’ve taken a lot of local sports quizzes from outlets like The Sun–and I’ve aced them all without so much as breaking a sweat.  WNST’s was the toughest I’ve ever seen and I loved every minute of it.  It was exactly what you’d expect from real sports people.  The ones who don’t fake it.

In order to join in the festivities, I’m tossing out a quiz of my own quiz this evening.  If you can pass this with an “A,” you can call yourself a Baltimore Sports Fan.  If you struggle, well, I suggest you rectify your sins by taking a deep-dive into the past works of Steadman, Rosenthal, Eisenberg, McMullen, Aparicio, and Vecsey.  Ok–just kidding on the Vecsey thing; those of you who lived through and endured that horror will understand the sarcasm.

 

Here’s the Wiz Quiz–straight off the top of my head…

#1  In what year did the St. Louis Browns move to Baltimore?

#2  What was Rex Barney’s famous tag-line?

#3  What is the significance of Cubs GM Theo Epstein to Baltimore?

#4  Who was the first player to enter the Ravens’ Ring of Honor?

#5  Baltimore had three minor league hockey teams, what were their names?

#6  Baltimore’s USFL team’s nickname was?

#7  Which player won a Grey Cup with the Stallions and a Super Bowl with the Ravens?

#8  Who was the starting quarterback for the Baltimore Stallions during their Grey Cup victory?

#9  Who owned the Baltimore Stallions?

#10  Former Maryland Terps Basketball Coach, Bob Wade, has what significance to Baltimore?

#11  Which former Orioles’ pitching prospect had vanity license plates that read “24KTARM”?

#12  Which Orioles’ third baseman won Sporting News’ AL Rookie of the Year Honors in 1989?

#13  Cal Ripken Sr. wore which jersey number as a coach for the Orioles?

#14  Which two former Orioles make up two of only four members in MLB history to record more than 3,000 hits and 500 home runs?

#15  Which movie was filmed at Camden Yards?

#16  Which movie was filmed at Ravens Stadium?

#17  Which owner played a major role in Baltimore not being awarded an expansion team over Jacksonville and Carolina?

#18  Who was the owner of the fashion store Merry-Go-Round, who also played a key role in the  ”Give Baltimore the Ball” campaign?

#19  Which receiver holds the Ravens’ single-season record of 14 touchdown receptions?

#20  Who was “Zeus”?

#21  Who was “Full Pack”?

#22  Which Orioles’ favorite was known for eating Froot Loops before games?

#23  In the 1989 season, in the fateful series in Toronto to finish the season, what strange injury caused Pete Harnish to miss his scheduled start?

#24  Which former Oklahoma Sooners basketball star was once thought to be the heir apparent to Cal Ripken?

#25  Who was “Iron Hands”?

#26  Who returned the blocked Al Del Greco field goal for a touchdown in Tennessee, paving the way for the Ravens to move on to the AFC Championship in January 2001?

#27  Which Ravens’ defensive back fueled much of the Steelers-Ravens rivalry by stepping on Plaxico Burress’ head during a scuffle?

#28  What is significant about the Esskay sign in right field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards?

#29  Who is Len Burrier?

#30  Which long-time NFL punter went to Towson University?

#31  Which Dunbar standout played alongside of Joe Smith, Exree Hipp, Johnny Rhodes and Duane Simpkins?

#32  What number did Deion Sanders wear as a member of the Ravens, and why?

#33  What is it customary to hold up as visiting opponents’ lineups are being announced at the University of Maryland basketball games?

#34  Which former O’s pitcher lost 21 games in 1954, and went on to throw the only perfect game in World Series history two years later as a member of the New York Yankees?

#35  Why would a true Baltimore fan despise the number that precedes this question?

 

Do you know this stuff without Googling?  Have a trivia question for me?  Shoot a message or leave a comment on how you did.

Click here for the answers.

 

 

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On Halloween weekend, perhaps it’s fitting to have a schedule-gate horror sequel

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On Halloween weekend, perhaps it’s fitting to have a schedule-gate horror sequel

Posted on 02 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

The Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII will obviously go down as the biggest sports story of 2013 here in Baltimore. But for those of us who live in Charm City-we truly know the story that has actually been the most discussed.

The Ravens opened on the road in 2013-getting absolutely crushed by the Denver Broncos in the process-due to the fact that the Baltimore Orioles were previously scheduled to play the Chicago White Sox on September 5-a date that was traditionally held for the defending Super Bowl champs to open at home.

The debate that occurred between when the Ravens won the Super Bowl and when they played the Thursday night opener in the Mile High City was one of the historically contentious debates our city has ever seen. Instead of debating what was best for the city, the debate became more about allegiances. The common question was about whether you supported the Ravens or the Orioles-the National Football League or Major League Baseball-and who you thought the bad guys were in the process.

What was so rarely discussed was what was best for Baltimore and what needed to happen to ensure such issues wouldn’t occur moving forward. As I mentioned in a column this March, this issue wasn’t as uncommon as some wanted to paint it. I reported then that the 2012 Baltimore Marathon was dangerously close to being cancelled because the O’s could have ended up hosting Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS had they won the AL East. (They would have still needed to win the ALDS to host the first two games of the Championship Series, but the race would have been cancelled prior to that because of the possibility.)

As I reported in March, the Birds had the power to force such a cancellation because in their lease agreement for the Camden Yards complex with the Maryland Stadium Authority-they have been granted not only the first right to dates available, but they have essentially been granted ALL rights to dates available. They have the exclusive power to decide they want a date for a game (or an event), preventing the Baltimore Ravens or another entity from using the complex.

I told you then this situation wasn’t going anywhere. I told you then this was an issue that needed to be addressed in a bigger picture scope than just adjusting a football game. I wasn’t kidding.

The situation already looms as a factor twice in 2014. The Orioles are scheduled to be home against the Cleveland Indians over Memorial Day weekend-the same weekend the Ravens are scheduled to host the NCAA Lacrosse Final Four at M&T Bank Stadium. Then on Labor Day weekend the Birds are scheduled to be home against the Minnesota Twins-the same weekend Ohio State is scheduled to face Navy at the home of the Ravens. The scheduling complexities of that weekend have already lead to the cancellation of the Grand Prix of Baltimore for at least the next two years if not longer. No solutions have been determined for those events-instead the parties involved appear to simply be hoping those events will work out.

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Baltimore still loves to “hate” Hines Ward

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Baltimore still loves to “hate” Hines Ward

Posted on 23 September 2012 by WNST Staff

Apparently, former Pittsburgh Steelers WR Hines Ward is still persona non grata in Baltimore. With the return of NBC’s Sunday Night Football to the Charm City for Ravens vs. Patriots, Ward is in town as part of the pre-game broadcast crew.

He posted on his Facebook page yesterday that he has not received a friendly welcome here in Baltimore:

From Hines Ward:

I had to share this with all of you, my loyal fans:

Heading to Baltimore tonight to do the Ravens-Pats game and as I’m at the gate heading to Baltimore, a flight attendant comes up to me and asks me, “You are Hines right?” and I said “Yes.” He says, “I HATE you!” So… I’m on the plane and the guy next to me says, “Are you Hines?” I say “Yes”. He says “I HATE you!” I’m thinking I’m about to have to fight this guy. As I’m flying, I’m praying the good Lord above isn’t a Ravens fan (Haha). When I get off the plane in Baltimore, the fine people at NBC have the car service guy hold up a sign under an alias name because they don’t want people to see my name in Baltimore. I get to the hotel and the lady hands me my key to my room and says, “thank you for staying with us today Mr. Ward, and by the way I HATE you” (Haha). I go to my room and the cleaning lady recognizes me from DWTS. She congratulates me but says, “I still don’t like you” (wow). Now I love crab cakes. It’s one of my favorite foods and Baltimore is known for their awesome crab cakes. But I’m too scared to order any from room service because I don’t want to be poisoned or have someone spit on them. I’ll starve myself today I guess. Guess what Ravens fans: I HATE you too but I will miss you guys the most. I had a great 14-year run here and besides the Super Bowls, I will always cherish the Ravens-Steelers rivalry. THANKS for the great memories Ravens fan. But I’m part of a new team now, NBC. I’m even picking you guys to win tonight because I know how hard it is to play in the LION’s DEN. But come on, I really just wanted to taste some of your great crab cakes. Can’t we all just get along? (Haha) – Hines

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 18 June 2012 by Glenn Clark

Honorable MentionBoxing-Victor Ortiz vs. Joselito Lopez (Saturday 9pm from Los Angeles live on Showtime); WNBA: Washington Mystics @ Phoenix Mercury (Wednesday 10pm from Phoenix live on WNBA.com), Washington Mystics @ Seattle Storm (Sunday 7pm from Seattle live on WNBA.com); Pro Lacrosse: MLL Boston Cannons @ Chesapeake Bayhawks (Saturday 7pm from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium live on Comcast SportsNet); U.S. Olympic Trials: Diving (Wednesday 12am & 10pm Thursday 10pm Friday 11pm live on NBC Sports Network, Saturday 4pm Sunday 3pm live on NBC. All diving from Federal Way, WA); Track & Field (Friday 9pm live on NBC Sports Network Saturday 8pm Sunday 7pm live on NBC Monday 9pm live on NBC Sports Network. All track from Eugene, OR); Swimming (Monday 6:30pm live on NBC Sports Network 8pm live on NBC. All swimming from Omaha)

10. Earth, Wind & Fire (Thursday 6pm Pier Six Pavilion), Childish Gambino (Saturday 6:30pm Pier Six Pavilion); Rascal Flatts/Little Big Town (Saturday 7pm Jiffy Lube Live); Counting Crows (Wednesday 7pm Wolf Trap), Diana Krall (Tuesday 7:30pm Meyerhoff Symphony Hall Thursday 8pm Wolf Trap); Jill Scott (Thursday 7pm Verizon Center); LMFAO (Monday 7pm Patriot Center); Mr. Greengenes (Friday 8pm Power Plant Live); Tech N9ne/Machine Gun Kelly (Tuesday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage), Ice Cube/Wale/DJ Khaled (Wednesday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage); Deanna Bogart Band (Saturday 8:30pm Rams Head on Stage); The Hives (Tuesday 7pm 9:30 Club), Modest Mouse (Wednesday & Thursday 7pm 9:30 Club); Fiona Apple (Wednesday 8pm Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric); Stephen Kellogg & The Sixers (Friday & Saturday 8pm Jammin’ Java); Del Ray Music Festival feat. Pat McGee (Mt. Vernon Recreation Center Fields Alexandria); Ringo Starr (Sunday 7pm Meyerhoff Symphony Hall); Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle feat. Soul Asylum/Cowboy Mouth (Saturday & Sunday Pennsylvania Avenue DC); Smashing Pumpkins “Oceania” and Kenny Chesney “Welcome to the Fishbowl” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I like Donald Glover on “Community” (Six seasons and a movie!) and all, but I was always skeptical about him as a performer. But honestly, not bad (lyrics NSFW)…

Quick. Favorite Counting Crows song ever. I’ll go with this…

Wale and Kevin Durant have something in common. I like them both a LOT but would like them a hell of a lot more if they weren’t Redskins fans…

Fiona Apple is coming to town. Anyone remember their awkward feelings about seeing her in her underwear in the “Criminal” video? I can’t tell you how confused I was about myself watching it the first time…

9. Aziz Ansari (Friday 7:30pm Meyerhoff Symphony Hall); Paul Mooney (Thursday-Sunday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Jim Gaffigan (Thursday DC Improv); “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter”, “Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World” & “Brave” out in theaters (Friday)

If you don’t think Aziz Ansari is funny I don’t think this conversation is going anywhere and we might want to consider talking to other people…

Also, I think I AM planning on a midnight screening for ALVH Thursday night. I’m hoping to come dressed like this…

If you don’t go see this movie you’re a terrible American.

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Your Monday Reality Check-What a difference a week makes?

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Your Monday Reality Check-What a difference a week makes?

Posted on 11 June 2012 by Glenn Clark

Perhaps you’re not familiar with WNST.net MLB analyst Allen McCallum. Allen was once the Ballpark Reporter at WNST, covering the Baltimore Orioles on a daily basis. He’s remained with us in the years since then, appearing once a week in studio (currently with Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat”) to talk Major League Baseball and Baltimore Orioles.

Allen is a really good dude, but is decidedly un-American in my book. You see, Allen doesn’t like football. I don’t understand it either, trust me. I have every reason to believe he celebrates the 4th of July and enjoys a good slice of Apple Pie, but he loves baseball and just doesn’t care about our national pastime.

Despite this obvious flaw, I’ve maintained a level of friendship and (as much as is possible for someone who I have to imagine may be a communist) respect for Allen. I don’t dislike him, I just don’t understand how someone like him can exist in this country. You see, football is our beautiful game. It’s a game fathers play in the backyard with sons. Baseball is okay when there aren’t real sports to watch, but is clearly inferior to football in every way.

I’m kidding. Well I’m kidding a LITTLE bit anyway.

The reason my lede is about our resident purveyor of Orange Kool-Aid is because Allen likes to make a point during the course of baseball season that is relevant to both sports. As Birds fans have a tendency to freak out over the results of a couple of games (or one game…or a couple of innings…or a single at-bat), Allen likes to send out a reminder that “this isn’t football. There’s 162 games to be played.”

It hasn’t always been good news in Charm City that the O’s have to play 162 games, but the point he makes is relevant. During Ravens season we tend to overreact to one particular game, but we do that knowing that one game reflects roughly six percent of the season. While a NFL team can certainly recover from a stretch of two or three bad games, a bad streak can quickly spiral into killing a quarter of a football season. At the same time, a bad streak of three or four games during baseball season does not even represent the same six percent of the season that one football game represents.

Let me try to step away from math for a second. A single football game is more significant than a single baseball game. But you already knew that.

Seven days ago (which as I type this would have been June 4), there was reason for great concern amongst Baltimore baseball fans. After getting off to a 27-14 start, the Birds were mired in a streak that saw them drop 10 of 13 games. Sitting at 30-24, the Birds had appeared to already be well into their annual “June swoon” and seemed destined to find themselves on their way to the cellar of the AL East.

But something funny happened in the six games that followed. Instead of continuing their free fall, the Birds stabilized. They won two of three against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, then returned home to take two dramatic extra inning contests against the Philadelphia Phillies at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in front of thousands of stunned supporters who had made their way down I-95 from The City of Brotherly Love.

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Your Monday Reality Check-Shouldn’t Rice & Flacco deals have been done by now?

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Your Monday Reality Check-Shouldn’t Rice & Flacco deals have been done by now?

Posted on 04 June 2012 by Glenn Clark

It was as if there were some in the sports broadcasting universe that wanted to remind me that the Baltimore Orioles have been struggling mightily as of late.

Sure, they’re just one game out of first place at the time I type this, but the Birds sadly appear to be in a downward spiral that unfortunately most of us expected.

I’ve been a regular “Baltimore expert” for SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio since the channel’s inception, and I rotate having conversations with hosts about the O’s and the Baltimore Ravens. When I received a call last week asking me to appear on the channel, I assumed the conversation would go in the direction of the O’s, as I’ve made about four Orioles-related guest spots already this season.

But when the producer asked me if I’d be interested in talking some Ravens football, I was admittedly caught off guard. “It’s still baseball season” I thought. Just one night later I received a call from another producer on the channel, also asking me to make an appearance to discuss the Purple & Black.

So on both Friday & Saturday night of this past weekend I found myself talking Ravens football across the country on SXM. It was perhaps the single greatest reminder that in Charm City, a “June Swoon” is a great reminder that Training Camp isn’t particularly far away.

As the 2011 football season ended, there were two main narratives surrounding the defending AFC North Champs. One was surrounding the pending free agency of RB Ray Rice. The other surrounded the future of QB Joe Flacco, who was set to enter the final year of his rookie contract. The Ravens’ season ended 132 days ago in Foxborough (at least as of the time I wrote this) and yet seemingly little progress has been made regarding either situation.

It leads to the question (at least for me), “what’s taking so long to get this stuff done?”

ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio said in a recent appearance on “The Reality Check” (an excellent afternoon radio program on AM1570 WNST.net) that Rice’s agent Todd France was dead set on getting a deal similar to contracts given to Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (seven years, $100 million with $36 million guaranteed) or Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson (four years, $53 million with $30 million guaranteed). The Ravens are believed to be more interested in a deal similar to those recently given to Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy (five years, $45 million with $20.76 million guaranteed) or Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (five years, $43.5 million with $20.75 guaranteed).

On top of that, a source with knowledge of talks revealed to me in recent weeks the Rice camp has a desire to see the running back’s deal exceed the overall value of Flacco’s.

A Carroll County Times report this weekend indicated the Ravens “aren’t anywhere close” to getting a deal done with Flacco. Flacco’s negotiating ability has been limited by the fact that contracts signed by quarterbacks not named Peyton Manning this offseason have been less than overwhelming financially. Manning landed a five year, $96 million deal, but if he’s healthy the Denver Broncos believe him capable of being Peyton Manning. The highlights of other QB contracts this offseason have been San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith (three years, worth up to $33 million with with $16.5 million guaranteed) and Seattle Seahawks QB Matt Flynn (three years, $26 million with $10 million guaranteed).

Neither deal is helpful to Flacco’s agent Joe Linta, although despite all of the goofy conversation nationally about Flacco’s standing against other National Football League quarterbacks, there simply could not be any argument either of those two quarterbacks have accomplished as much as Flacco. Humorously, Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo’s deal is up a season after Flacco’s. There had been rumors the Chicago Bears were interested in getting a new deal done with QB Jay Cutler, a decision that could have been helpful in figuring out the parameters of a Flacco contract.

Remember when I asked “what’s taking so long to get this stuff done?” Yeah, I’m aware that I’ve essentially answered my own question.

In both of my chats on SiriusXM this weekend I was asked what expected would ultimately happen with these situations. It was remarkably difficult to answer.

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Your Monday Reality Check-Best team all season ending up winning title

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Your Monday Reality Check-Best team all season ending up winning title

Posted on 28 May 2012 by Glenn Clark

It’s a particular shame Monday’s NCAA lacrosse Championship Game was in Foxborough instead of right here at M&T Bank Stadium. It would have been a special celebration of a beloved game in Charm City.

Instead, Memorial Day became a special celebration of a deserving champion at Gillette Stadium.

I was at Ridley Athletic Complex Saturday, March 10 to see the Loyola University Maryland Greyhounds face the Duke Blue Devils. The Hounds had gotten off to a nice 4-0 start at that point in the season, reaching double digit goals in every game and holding their opponent to single digits in every game as well.

The issue at that point was the competition. Home wins over Delaware and Towson and road victories at Bellarmine and Michigan did little to convince anyone the Greyhounds were on the cusp of a breakthrough campaign.

It changed that day.

Star attackman and eventual Tewaaraton Award finalist Mike Sawyer put on an absolute clinic for Charley Toomey’s team, scoring six goals and leading the Hounds to a 13-8 win over the Devils. The Hounds were actually ranked ahead of the Devils in one of the recognized college lacrosse polls, but the victory still had the feel of an upset, as Duke was viewed as a legitimate national title contender.

From the opening whistle, it was apparent the Hounds were the more focused, determined squad. The 13-8 final didn’t even necessarily reflect the nature of the game, as Loyola held a 12-5 advantage after three quarters and appeared to let up late. The win came just after Toomey installed Jack Runkel as his starting goalie ahead of Michael Bonitatibus, a move that he would not have to reconsider at all the rest of the season.

On that day at Ridley Athletic Complex, the Loyola Greyhounds became more than just a team with a capable combination of scorers (Sawyer and graduate student Eric Lusby). They became more than just a fun team to watch. They became a legitimate threat to make a run to the Final Four.

Two and a half months later, they found themselves there. It wasn’t a fluke. It wasn’t a run of good fortune. It wasn’t about bad luck for other teams. It wasn’t about an easy schedule.

This Loyola team proved that for the 2012 NCAA lacrosse season, they were unquestionably the best team in the country.

In Monday’s NCAA Championship Game, the Hounds dominated the University of Maryland in a way that perfectly encapsulated their entire season. They showed an incredible ability to score goals at times, but also showed that their midfield unit was as capable as their attack. Their wings battled for balls when face-offs appeared to be lost. Their defense was SUFFOCATING, preventing even a single goal from Maryland for a stretch of more than two and a half quarters, stifling a unit that had tallied 16 just two days prior against those same Duke Blue Devils. On top of all of that, Runkel was spectacular for a second straight game.

They left no doubt not only about who was the best team on Memorial Day Monday, but who was the best team in the country. They were a deserving #1 seed and they worked to become a deserving national champion.

A deserving national champion that didn’t play a single game on television until the postseason.

They lost just one game along the way, an overtime heartbreaker to a fine Johns Hopkins squad. They won THREE games over ECAC rival Denver University, two of those wins coming in the Mile High City. They recorded a win over every team that reached Memorial Day weekend.

Lusby and Sawyer now have name recognition, but the work of Runkel, Scott Ratliff, Chris Layne, Josh Hawkins, Pat Byrnes, Davis Butts, Justin Ward, Joe Fletcher, Nikko Pontrello, Patrick Fanshaw, Kevin Ryan, Phil Dobson, Sean O’Sullivan, Dylan Grimm, Pat Laconi, Kevin Moriarty and J.P. Dalton were deserving of having their names typed in a column like this as well.

Loyola becomes the smallest school to ever win a national championship in lacrosse. The title is the first and only Division 1 title in any sport for the school. The team was unranked before the season started. Toomey was able to accomplish the feat after being on the losing end as a goalie in the school’s only ever run to the National Championship Game back in 1990. Lusby broke the record for most goals in a single NCAA Tournament in the process.

The word amazing keeps coming to mind.

The title drought continues for the Terrapins, as they have not held the trophy since 1974. John Tillman has been to the title game twice in his two seasons in College Park, but the inability to win the big one will now already become a topic of conversation for the Terps’ alumni and fan base. They were a remarkably young team this season and will likely be right back in the title picture a year from now. It won’t help the sting of a Championship Game loss, but they showed many signs of being a team on the verge of greatness.

Loyola however was the definition of greatness. They were exceptional. And perhaps they even earned a measure of revenge for the city of Baltimore on the field where the Ravens saw their season end months earlier in the AFC Championship Game.

Eh…they were the best lacrosse team in the country. We’ll be more than happy to have that in Charm City.

-G

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I hope contract helps Jones keep Birds accountable

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I hope contract helps Jones keep Birds accountable

Posted on 27 May 2012 by Glenn Clark

I’ve already used both space on Twitter (@WNST, @GlennClarkWNST) and on AM1570 WNST.net to opine about the significance of the Baltimore Orioles giving CF Adam Jones the richest contract in franchise history.

We now finally know all of the details and Jones is set to discuss those details Sunday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

I won’t be attending Sunday’s press conference. I would, but our WNST.net Ballpark reporter Luke Jones has been denied the right to ask questions at previous press conferences and I don’t want to run the risk of causing a scene at what should almost certainly be a day of celebration.

Adam Jones’ contract extension is as much an event to celebrate as almost anything we’ve seen in the last 15 years of baseball in Charm City. The Birds have perhaps addressed both their present and their future and made a major statement about their willingness to do things differently than they have for more than decade while losing many more games than they won.

I’m aware Jones perhaps took a hometown discount in signing the contract a season and a half shy of free agency. I’m aware the team still appears to need more pitching than they currently have to be an annual contender. I’m aware that the team now needs to shift attention to catcher Matt Wieters when it comes to contracts.

There was something bigger than jumped out at me though.

As I was given more time to dissect what Jones’ deal really means, I thought back to December 1997. For O’s fans around my age, Brady Anderson was about the coolest thing to ever happen to the Orange & Black. He had young female fans worship him and young male fans…well…basically worship him. He had it all. Sideburns, muscles, personality, charm, speed, defense and an amazing 50 home run season.

(I didn’t mention anything about performance enhancing drugs. You do what you want there.)

After Anderson’s 50 home run campaign in 1996 and the Orioles’ run to the ALCS in ’97, young fans like myself lived in fear of waking up one morning to be informed that Anderson had signed a major deal with the New York Yankees or Atlanta Braves or Cleveland Indians.

Anderson was certainly not the commodity at 34 that Jones would have been had he reached free agency at 28, but he still had market interest. He ultimately passed on shorter deals with more per season to accept five years and $31 million from Peter Angelos and the Orioles. Anderson’s best seasons were clearly behind him, but it still meant quite a bit for the franchise to make the move.

I also thought back to January of 2009, when Andy MacPhail locked up OF Nick Markakis for six years and $66 million, the richest contract extension the franchise had given to a player until Jones’ deal. (SS Miguel Tejada had received the overall most lucrative contract in team history until Jones.) While certainly not reaching superstar status, Markakis has given the Birds stellar defense and a mostly consistent bat.

But beyond the significant contracts, there is a more important similarity between the two players whose time has spanned much of the team’s “Rock Bottom Era.” The issue is that neither player was able to use his major contract to help keep the team accountable.

A baseball player with a rich contract is in a unique situation with the franchise paying the deal. Because the money is guaranteed, the player has the right to get away with certain things a player in another league might not be able to. In the case of the Orioles, they’ve really needed a player who has been willing to stand up and say “we need better” as the team suffered through losing seasons after losing season.

Allow me to be fair to the two players involved. Anderson was only part of the club at the very beginning of their lean years, and the team was still making at least some attempts to improve by bringing in the likes of Albert Belle and others. (Anderson however has become a well known defender of the Angelos regime in recent years, which has helped him find his way back into the organization.) Markakis has never been much of a vocal type, but he did publicly question the direction of the organization. His participated in a dinner with Angelos that season to discuss those very issues.

Perhaps there is an argument to be made that Markakis’ 2010 outburst DID lead to accountability, as two years later the Orioles have shown themselves (at least for two months) to be one of the better teams in baseball.

But moving forward, I hope it’s a role that suits Jones well. I hope the fire, drive, passion and determination to win that have made Jones an emotional figure in recent years will translate both on field and off. I hope that if the Birds make questionable decisions, he’ll call them out for them. It doesn’t need to be something he does publicly, just a statement made privately from the player slated to receive more money during his tenure than any Oriole before.

I hope Jones embraces not only the responsibilities of an on field leader and star, but as a bit of a caretaker for an organization that has so desperately lacked the right man for the role. I hope he puts pressure on the organization to make the moves necessary to stay in contention every season. I hope he never takes the easy way out and thinks “Mr. Angelos (or insert future owner’s name here) has made me a rich man. It’s not my place to stand up to him.”

I feel as though Jones can be a significant part of the solution for the Orioles. I hope he’s up for everything that comes along with the task.

-G

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Your Monday Reality Check-Horse Racing, Orioles in similar spot for three weeks

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Your Monday Reality Check-Horse Racing, Orioles in similar spot for three weeks

Posted on 21 May 2012 by Glenn Clark

I’ve attempted to put events I’ve attended into words for years.

Baltimore Ravens football games, University of Maryland football and basketball games, a multitude of local hoops and lacrosse games and even a press conference or twenty have quickly turned into 600-1400 words worth of type off my fingers.

Almost every time I’ve written something, even the columns I’ve been particularly pleased with, I’ve looked somewhere else on the web and thought to myself “damn, that person can WRITE” after reading what they had to say about the same event.

Such was the case again this weekend. I had already decided my Monday morning column would be related to the 137th running of the Preakness Stakes, but I hadn’t exactly decided what angle I was going to take. It only took me a trip to my friend Kevin Van Valkenburg (of ESPN The Magazine/Hug It Out Radio fame and late Baltimore Sun)’s Facebook page for me to once again utter the phrase.

It wasn’t because of something KVV had written this time though. It was one of his colleagues’ stories he had linked, and it made me say “damn, Jeff MacGregor can WRITE.”

MacGregor scribed this exceptional postscript to an incredible victory from Kentucky Derby champ I’ll Have Another, celebrating the excitement of an underdog champ at the coming buildup to a Triple Crown chance in the context of a fledgling sport.

Many commenters on ESPN.com and throughout social media however were turned off by the nature of MacGregor’s tone, most notably this line…

“None of which matters, because horse racing is dead.”

MacGregor didn’t really say anything we haven’t already accepted as fact, we’ve just been more apt to use a kinder term like “struggling” or “suffering” instead of flat out placing the industry in a black bag and shipping it to the morgue.

Horse racing HAS been troubled for some time. The depth of the fall has been particularly evident in the state of Maryland, where “the sport of kings” has been all but nonexistent for years. Sure, the industry shines for a few days each spring at Pimlico and each fall at Laurel Park, but even on the brightest day the problems in the industry are obvious.

Unlike some, I have no interest in fighting with MacGregor. I think he’s absolutely right. I just feel as though the potentially monumental turn for horse racing in the next month can be celebrated whether or not the sport is staring into the face of imminent doom.

I’ll Have Another’s charge to the wire Saturday was breathtaking. 14 days earlier we had no way to know that an unknown trainer (Doug O’Neill) and jockey (Mario Gutierrez) had a longshot in position to track down the exceptional favorite (Bodemeister) trained by the Hall of Famer (Bob Baffert) and ridden by a Hall of Famer (Mike Smith) as well. On Saturday we knew it was possible but found it no less amazing.

“There’s no way this can happen again.”

You definitely heard me make the argument for Bodemeister throughout the week. “There’s no speed horse to take Bodemeister out to a dangerous speed this time. The race is 1/16 of a mile shorter. There are nine fewer horses to crowd things at the front and push the favorite too much early. There’s just no way things can shape up for I’ll Have Another as perfectly as they did in Louisville.”

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Your Monday Reality Check-As Preakness week begins, I wish…

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Your Monday Reality Check-As Preakness week begins, I wish…

Posted on 14 May 2012 by Glenn Clark

Maybe I’m not the person to say this.

I probably won’t make it out to the Preakness Crab Derby. I doubt the Preakness Frog Hop is part of my week. I didn’t get to the Preakness Hot Air Balloon Festival. I’m going to miss my first Black-Eyed Susan Stakes in years. I don’t intend to get to Power Plant Live to see Buckcherry or Mr. Greengenes or Foxy Shazam.

Hell, I’m even thinking about going to Annapolis Saturday to check out Maryland-Johns Hopkins and Loyola-Denver in the NCAA Tournament at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. I don’t know if my girlfriend will go for it, but I’ve been leaning in that direction.

If you’re not aware, I made it down to Louisville again this year for the Kentucky Derby. (And how could you possibly NOT be aware when you were checking out pictures like the one below from the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs on my Facebook page during the trip?)

You fear that the rest of my column is going to be about how the Preakness isn’t nearly as good as the Kentucky Derby. Don’t. Everyone on the face of the planet knows that Preakness week isn’t Derby week. Despite how much breath you think I waste every afternoon during “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net, I don’t intend to waste more space here.

I don’t think Preakness week should be like Derby week. I think Preakness week should be the crowning moment of the entire calendar annually in Charm City.

At least…I wish it would be.

Drew Forrester and I used to try to figure out a way to correctly define the relationship between Preakness and the city of Baltimore when we would chat on “The Morning Reaction.” We would throw out terms like “the single biggest annual sporting event in the city” or “the most significant event the city hosts” or “the most important date on the sporting calendar every year” but never settled on one in particular. The truth is that based on attendance, Preakness is annually the single biggest event of any kind in the city. Economically, the Maryland Jockey Club has stated in the last two years that the event has an economic impact of $40-$60 million annually for the city and state.

Baltimore Orioles Opening Day has a significant economic impact for the area. Baltimore Ravens playoff games have significant economic impact for the area. The same can be said for the occasional NCAA lacrosse Final Four events. None have the impact of Preakness.

I wrote a similar column to this last year. Some of you were going to point that out. I’ll keep you from having to do just that by linking to it here. I hope you take a look if for no reason than to re-read the words of Newark Star-Ledger columnist Jerry Izenberg, who in 2010 described the relationship between Preakness and Baltimore so well the words should be engraved at Old Hilltop.

A year ago I was angry about how insignificant I felt Preakness had become in Baltimore. I’m not angry this year. I’m wishful. I wish it mattered more. I wish I was preparing to go out to Pimlico every afternoon this week to broadcast live. I wish my friends from around the country were calling me to let me know when they were getting in. I wish I had someone to blame for any of it.

I could blame the job the Maryland Jockey Club has done running the event and both Pimlico and Laurel Park. I could blame the city and state for not offering the level of support necessary to make the event the best it could possibly be. I could blame the sport of horse racing which has failed greatly to fully adapt to 2012 and in many ways still lives in 1942. I could blame us as Baltimoreans for spending too much time worrying about Washington’s pro hockey team and not enough time worrying about our own greatest event. I could blame area media for not treating the event with a level of reverence befitting an event that still annually involves the possibility of a Triple Crown winner.

(For years, the only conversation related to Preakness in Baltimore surrounded the concern that the race might leave the state for Florida. With that dialogue all but useless, area media members have been able only to fall back on “can (insert Derby winner name here) win the Triple Crown?”)

I’m going to talk to jockeys and trainers and horse analysts this week on my show. I’ll ask Kent Desormeaux (he’ll be riding Tiger Walk Saturday) about what it would mean to deliver a Preakness title to a Maryland group (Sagamore Farm). I’ll ask O’Neill about how the limited schedule for the Derby champ could keep his champ fresh for the second jewel. I’ll ask Mike Smith if a better ride aboard Bodemeister would mean the Bob Baffert horse would be coming to Baltimore with a chance to make history.

I’ll talk about horse racing like it mattered here. I’ll talk about the importance of the event to the city.

I wish I wouldn’t be the only one.

Carry on.

-G

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