Tag Archive | "Dave Trembley"

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Orioles officially improve year-over-year

Posted on 02 October 2010 by Domenic Vadala

You can probably make a lot of different analogies, but for the time being let’s just say that Buck Showalter is to Oriole fans what Optimus Prime must be to the Autobots in Transformers. Last season the Orioles finished 64-98, and most people (myself included) felt that the record would improve come 2010. When the O’s hit 2-16 in April, not only did that appear to be improbable, but the Orioles hitting 100 losses appeared to be money in the bank. Let’s be clear, there’s very little difference between losing 100 or 95 games; you still finish in last place. However I suppose that its one thing to have a bad year, but not hitting triple-digit losses is a standard by which most teams can still hold their heads up. Count the Orioles in that group.

Not only have the O’s guaranteed that they wouldn’t lose 100 games, but with yesterday’s sweep of the Tigers in a double-header, the O’s also clinched a better record than 2009. For this, most of the credit should fall onto Buck Showalter. Having said that, he’s not out on the field playing in the games, just as Dave Trembley wasn’t out there playing when the team was losing. However perhaps this group of guys needed a manager to kick them in the rear. This is not necessarily a poor reflection opon Dave Trembley, as there are plenty of teams that need a nurturing influence such as what Trembley tried to provide. However this group of guys weren’t cut out for that; Buck came in and provided instant results. Since he took over on August 3rd, the Orioles’ record translates to between 90-100 wins over a 162-game schedule. While I don’t want to come across as prematurely confident going into next year, perhaps it might be wise to not make any plans for next October.

After a monsoon canceled Thursday’s game, the O’s and Tigers played an old-fashioned single-admission doubleheader on Friday. Long story short, the Orioles swept both games. In game one Detroit led 1-0 against Chris Tillman before the O’s put across six runs in the fourth and three more in the fifth. There’s your ballgame. In game two we saw Jeremy Guthrie shut down the Tigers on the heels of a Nick Markakis homer. Markakis would later hit an Julio Lugo RBI-single in the seventh. Again, ballgame.

The scores and even the methods aren’t necessarily as important now, however to see this team playing the way they are is extremely refreshing. Whereas in the past few years the O’s have gone home in October coming off of a lousy second half, this year it’s the exact opposite. While the win total is still in the same vicinity, the means by which it was achieved was starkly different. This team will now storm into 2011 with momentum as opposed to limping into April. When I said that I expected this team to be improved in 2010, I figured it would be by more than a couple of games above last year’s margin. However, the fact remains that they’re improved.

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An Unfamiliar Role For the Orioles: “Spoiler” ….

Posted on 30 August 2010 by Rex Snider

As we reconvene for the start of another week, you can assume a few distinct guarantees on this beautiful summer morning …..

1) this is the final Monday of August ….

2) football season is just one day closer, and ….

3) for the first time in a LONG time, the Boston Red Sox flew into BWI during the wee hours of the morning, while wishing they could’ve been landing in the city of an easier punching bag, like Cleveland, Kansas City, Seattle or Los Angeles.

Indeed, they’re not encountering one of the typical Baltimore Orioles lineups of the last decade. This scrappy bunch of players is the same core group that dropped 73 of its first 105 games. However, they’re now playing a better brand of baseball under the demand of Buck Showalter.

They’re still a marginal cast of characters. But, they now BELIEVE …..

And, that’s a dangerous pedigree for any opponent to accept.

A few months back, I listened to Curt Schilling’s view of the Orioles from a Red Sox perspective. He said “we looked at them as a break in the schedule.” “It was an opportunity to sweep a series and pad a divisional lead or cut a deficit.”

I don’t doubt Curt’s blunt and painful examination of what a series against the O’s meant to him and virtually any other member of the Red Sox or Yankees over the span of these last 13 years.

But, I do question whether Terry Francona’s current bunch feels that sense of confidence, as they’re holed up in the Inner Harbor Renaissance.

Probably, not.

For one, the Red Sox are beyond the simple description of a “walking wounded.” Count ’em …. Ellsbury, Cameron, Youkilis, Dice-K, Pedroia and Varitek. They’re all injured and out of the lineup.

But, of equal importance, this Orioles team will not furnish the typical accomodations accustomed to a visting Red Sox team – or any other visitor for that matter. The days of laying down and simply pulling up the skirt are done.

Dave Trembley tolerated such an effort. So did Lee Mazzilli, Sam Perlozzo, Mike Hargrove and other field generals.

As we’ve learned over the last month, Buck Showalter will not accept anything close to resembling a half-hearted fight. One month does not make a season. But, such a relevant timespan can offer a vivid view of what’s expected from the team’s leader.

And, that’s the difference.

The Red Sox will have a spirited spat on their hands when the series commences tomorrow evening. Terry Francona knows that, and he’ll surely remind his patched together contender before they ever hit the field.

While this Boston team is assembled of a couple 4A players, like Darnell McDonald and Bill Hall, they’re still anchored by the likes of Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Jon Lester, John Lackey and Josh Beckett. They’re a more talented team than the Orioles, no question about it.

And, in some distinct ways, the Red Sox have played the same brand of overachieving baseball during the month of August. Some of their best young stars are done for the season. Yet, they’ve found a way to stay in contention with Tampa and New York.

That said, the fight might be nearly over.

After dropping two straight games at the ‘Trop, the Red Sox cannot afford to waltz into Camden Yards and get stung by the same surprising effort that shocked the White Sox, Angels and Rangers over these last 30 days.

Anything less than a sweep will further damage any chance of a miraculous return of postseason baseball at Fenway.

But, the Orioles will not resemble that same easy target described by Schilling. Not a chance …..

And, therein lies the opportunity for this 2010 Baltimore Orioles team, as October approaches and the Ravens assume nearly every single headline. The Orioles have a chance to play meaningful games in the realm of Major League Baseball’s immediate future.

They’ll get plenty of shots at the Red Sox, Rays and Yankees. They can have a VOICE in what happens in the A.L. East and ultimately, the playoffs and World Series.

I’ll concede it doesn’t equate into Camden Yards serving as the backdrop for baseball on chilly, October nights. But, it’s a start ….

The Orioles have a true opportunity to affect the finish in baseball’s most revered division. Yeah, the Rays, Red Sox and Yankees have experienced dogfights in the past, and they’ve all played the Orioles during the final weeks of the season.

But, this is different.

It’s a totally different Orioles team. For the first time in a LONG time, they’re led by a guy who won’t back down from bullies or settle for the “sure thing in the backseat of your car” effort. It ain’t happening …..

I’m actually looking forward to the final month of the season, and it begins tomorrow night.

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2010 Orioles: Failure or yet to be determined?

Posted on 30 August 2010 by Domenic Vadala

Going into the 2010 season, we all thought that ‘dem O’s would at the very least be better than they had been over the previous twelve years or so. Nobody was predicting that they’d be in contention for the playoffs at this juncture, or even potentially have a winning record. However I think that most people expected that they’d be above fifty wins to say the least (by now). As a fan, I predict the Orioles to win every game 1,000,000 to nothing! However analytically, I felt comfortable predicting at the beginning that this team would finish the year hovering around .500 (give or take ten games either way). Had the Orioles reached that plateau, I would have declared this season an overwhelming success in Birdland, as I think most people would have done.

However the fact is that this team isn’t going to finish anywhere remotely near .500. In fact, they’re probably going to finish with a worse record than they did in 2009. First off, mentioning the fact that the Orioles’ season was snakebitten nearly from the beginning by injuries is fair. That might come across as sounding like an excuse; maybe it is, maybe it’s not. However if it is an excuse, it’s also a fact. Had Brian Roberts, Felix Pie, Jim Johnson, Alfredo Simon, Luke Scott, Michael Gonzalez, and others not been hurt early in the year, perhaps things would have been a bit different. This isn’t to say that the team would have been churning out wins left and right, but I don’t think it would have been the disaster that it ended up being. (And I only mentioned a few of the injuries that caused guys to spend time on the DL; there were other players such as Miguel Tejada that missed several games in a row due to bumps and bruises.) I would submitt that the loss of Brian Roberts hurt this team moreso than did anything else, as the entire offense is streamlined down from him, as of course are those all-important double plays. As a result, guys batted out of turn for most of the season, and the O’s had a different lineup for each day of the week, which never allowed for continuity day-in and day-out.

So given the fact that the O’s were so uncompetitive for the entire season to date, is 2010 a grand failure? If you’re the type of person that chooses to live in ignorance and refuses to look past the tip of your nose, then yes I suppose it is. However I maintain that there’s always more than meets the eye, especially with regard to the fine line between success and failure. As I said, I would have been willing to say that the year was a success had they hovered around .500. However I don’t think that the season unfolding the way it has equates with failure. And I don’t say that because the Orioles are part of who I am and because I love them so much. I say that because we have to keep in mind that returning a franchise to glory in any sport is a “process.” The mistake that Andy MacPhail made was declaring phase one of the rebuilding plan over and done with. At the end of last season, he said that Dave Trembley would be judged more on wins and losses than in the past. Ultimately that’s exactly what happened.

Brian Roberts’ injury on April 9th set in motion a series of events that culminated with Buck Showalter taking the reigns. In my opinion, the writing was on the wall for Trembley as soon as Roberts hit the DL. However all of the other injuries probably accelerated that process. So when the season went south early, Trembley was relieved of his duties on June 4th, and replaced with Juan Samuel on an interim basis. The team continued plodding along throughout the summer with a few good things and many bad happening, until Buck Showalter came into town on his white horse to save the day. The team immediately began performing better, and thus we stand at that point today. I would submit that if in two-to-four years the team is competitive and perhaps in the playoff race, 2010 could be judged a success. I suppose it’s symbolic of life in a way in that when we come to an ends, we often have to look back at the just completed journey with a fond smile. That journey can sometimes be harsh while it’s going on, however when it’s completed and it’s solution brought to fruition we appreciate it even more.

Let’s be frank; this team has a long way to go. However if they manage their cards right and continue along this path with a solid coaching staff and quality players, this team might well contend down the road. Odds are that the Tampa Rays won’t have the financial assets to keep their team together after this season, and certainly the Red Sox have shown signs of breaking down the stretch as well this year. (The difference is that all Boston has to do is sign a check to maintain their status as one of the sport’s best teams.) So given those things, maybe this team will be competitive in a couple of years. And if that’s the case, I submitt that 2010 would be judged a success. Perhaps not in the vain which we expected, however in the grand scheme of things it would be a successful year. Having said this, the ultimate success of any season at this point would be Buck Showalter leading a victory parade down Pratt Steet, as the thundering roar from 34 came raining down on Oriole opponents.

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 26 August 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Thursday!

It’s a Happy Thursday for me because they have Moosehead on tap at the new Tilted Kilt in White Marsh, which is about 2 minutes from my house…


They are going to get so sick of seeing me there.

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. WNST.net’s Glenn Clark says Ravens LB Brendon Ayanbadejo expected to start season on PUP list

Which wouldn’t surprise you at all if you had checked out my “Mocking The 53” post Tuesday here at WNST.net. I took Brendon Ayanbadejo and Matt Lawrence out of the equation to make the roster, as I expected both to end up either on PUP or off the roster.

I don’t have anything definitive yet on Lawrence, but it remains a safe assumption.

The hope now is that Ayanbadejo can return to play sometime after the first 6 weeks. I’m still not totally convinced of that either, and wouldn’t be stunned if at some point the team was forced to come to an injury settlement with the LB/Special Teams whiz.

Special Teams will be where someone earns a roster spot with Ayanbadejo missing. Jason Phillips’ chances grow significantly; but David Reed, Edgar Jones, Davon Drew, Prescott Burgess, Prince Miller, KJ Gerard and Demetrius Williams could also stand to benefit by separating their special teams abilities.

Defensively, the Ravens will be without a player who had really settled in as a nickel LB and was very good at playing the pass. If you watched Donovan McNabb and Santana Moss Saturday night when the Ravens faced the Washington Redskins; you’d understand why that’s significant.

2. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says rookie DT Terrence Cody dealing with swelling in knee

And as I mentioned during one of our Ravens reports yesterday, there is no question that a man of Mount Cody’s size would be putting a significant amount of pressure on his knees.

The good news is that it isn’t necessarily structural damage (John Harbaugh pointed out there was a small cartilage issue) and Cody already told us he didn’t expect to miss a game because of the injury.

The bad news is that it is totally possible that the swelling and amount of pain COULD continue for Terrence as the season goes on.

It’s a little concerning, but certainly not frightening. You know what’s frightening? The look on Ray Lewis’ face in this ESPN The Magazine “Faces of the Game” photo…


3. Sporting News’ Dennis Dillon says back end of Ravens’ defense ‘shaky’

Anyone interested in arguing this point? Didn’t think so.

You know what DOESN’T look shaky? Karissa Gilham. (Thanks Maxim via The Smoking Jacket!)


4. The Sun’s Edward Lee says Demetrius Williams, Terrence Cody missed practice again Wednesday

And before we move on from the (on field) Ravens, a couple of things:

-The Ravens return to the practice field at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills today, with coordinators Cam Cameron, Greg Mattison and Jerry Rosburg scheduled to meet with the media. We will have coverage throughout the day on Twitter (@WNST), right here at WNST.net and with Ravens Reports at 12:30 (with Thyrl Nelson) and 4:30 (with Rex Snider) on AM1570 WNST.

-Did you miss Tavares Gooden’s OUTSTANDING chat with Drew Forrester this morning on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST? Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault today to check it out. Other things you can find in the Audio Vault include…

  • Jason La Canfora (NFL Network)-who went around the league with Drew this morning
  • Andy Behrens (Yahoo! Sports)-who got Drew and I ready for our own Fantasy Football Drafts this morning
  • Our Morning Reaction “Cheap Shots From The Bleachers”-as I took a shot at the new Bud Selig statue in Milwaukee and Drew took a shot at the Dave Trembley interview in The Sun this morning
  • Plenty of Audio from Owings Mills Wednesday-including John Harbaugh, Marc Bulger, Terrence Cody, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Cory Redding, Jarret Johnson and Tony Moll.
  • Frankie Piliere (Fanhouse/Former Texas Rangers scout)-who went around MLB with Thyrl Wednesday
  • Howard Balzer (Sports Xchange)-who checked in with Rex Snider Wednesday from the NFL Owners Meetings in Atlanta

It’s all in the Audio Vault, so once again I’ve planned your day for you. You can send Thank You cards right here at 1550 Hart Rd.

5. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Mike Duffy says team introduces “The Baltimore Fight Song” to the tune of old Baltimore Colts song

Here’s the song-as posted by WBAL on YouTube…

And here are the lyrics to the song…

Baltimore Ravens Let’s go

And put that ball across the line

So fly on with talons spread wide

Go in and strike with Ravens pride


Ravens dark wings take to flight

Dive in and show them your might

For Baltimore and Maryland

You will fly on to victory

It doesn’t come off as the type of song that will inspire a new generation of football fans, but it will CERTAINLY appeal to those who care about the legacy of football in Charm City.

There are some folks that would just as well have “I’ve Got a Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas played after the team scored. If it were “I’ve Got a Feeling” by The Beatles, I might not be opposed…

6. The AP says Matusz tossed gem, Brian Roberts homered as Orioles topped Chicago White Sox at US Cellular Field

I’d love to sit here and tell you that I was gripped to MASN2 to watch every pitch from the South Side last night, but I wasn’t.

Of course, during the pitches I was poking my head at on the screen in the corner of my eye-I was impressed. Maybe I should have been gripped to the TV.

Former WNST producer Chris Bonetti once printed out a Tweet from Ken Rosenthal (of FOX Sports fame) that still hangs on our bulletin board. It reads…

“A scout who caught his first look at Orioles LHP Brian Matusz: ‘I would trade virtually any guy on our staff for him. Boy, is he good.”

The guy who pitched last night…he was that guy.

7. The AP/WNST.net provide numerical evidence of win

Incredibly, you actually DO want to look at these numbers. Matusz went 7 innings, giving up just 1 run on 3 hits. He walked 1 and struck out 5.

Besides B-Rob’s homer, Matt Wieters went 2-3 with a double, 2 RBI and a run scored; and Felix Pie went 2-3 with a run scored.

Good things all around.

Of course, I can’t allow my system to be ruined-so go check out the numbers and then come right back to check out Miss Mexico Jimena Navarrete, who apparently won the Miss Universe pageant. I say “apparently” because there’s no chance in all hell I actually watched the thing. (Thanks Guyism!)


8. The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Mark Buehrle accused Felix Pie of stealing signs during Birds’ win over Pale Hose

And if he is….I DON’T CARE!!!

I just want Felix Pie to keep playing well. If stealing signs is somehow part of that, STEAL AWAY!!!

Obviously I’m just saying that-but in reality I’d take just about anything for Felix Pie to consistently play well. Whether it’s Buck Showalter, sign stealing, steroids or a deal with Rumpelstiltskin like in Shrek Forever After; just do it.

And maybe do it at the beginning of the season when the games still count…if it isn’t asking for too much.

9. Baysox.com says despite Joel Guzman’s 29th home run, Bowie fell to Akron Aeros on farm

And before we move on from the Orioles, a few things…

-Adam Jones was held out of last night’s game after being hit by a Gavin Floyd pitch Tuesday night. He’s not expected to miss an extended period of time.

-After a rehab stint in Bowie, pitcher Jim Johnson is expected to rejoin the O’s this weekend when they face the Angels in Los Angeles or Anaheim or Rancho Cucamonga or wherever the hell they play.

-He told me he was going to wait until after the season to talk, but Dave Trembley talked to The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec this morning. Nothing earth shattering, but might be worth the read. I’m sure he’ll talk to us soon…

-The O’s and White Sox play the rubber game of their weekday series tonight in The Windy City; Jake Arrieta faces Edwin Jackson. First pitch is at 8:10pm and the game can be seen on MASN2.

10. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Maryland having TE troubles, as Devonte Campbell now hurt as well

With Will Yeatman and Lansford Watson already hurt this preseason, this is troubling news for Ralph Friedgen’s team.

Of course, it ISN’T necessarily troubling news for Perry Hall High School alums like Glenn Clark, as this could very well pave the way for former Gators TE David Stinebaugh to see the field on Labor Day against Navy at M&T Bank Stadium.

Matt Furstenburg remains ahead of him, and Patrick would point out that walk-on Ryan Schlothauer is probably ahead of him as well-but I don’t care. If Stinebaugh somehow manages to catch a TD in Baltimore, I’m going to get kicked out of the press box for yelling GAAAATOOORRRSSSS!!!!! at the top of my lungs.

11. UMTerps.com says Terrapins RB Da’Rel Scott named to Doak Walker Award Watch List

And if I were Da’Rel Scott, the first thing I would do is call Krystal Forscutt and find out if this was the type of thing that impressed her. (Thanks NextRound.net!)


And finally, I leave you with this.

Deadspin (via Gawker) posted this yesterday, and it was pretty funny. It’s a horse race at Monmouth Park featuring horses named “My Wife Knows Everything” and “My Wife Doesn’t Know.” It’s a pretty good call…

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…


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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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Friday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 20 August 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Friday!

It’s a Happy Friday for me because my boy Mike Polk (who did the EXCELLENT Cleveland tourism videos) is back with another song that I’m sure will be a SMASH hit in The Comeback City. It has something to do with a guy who used to play for the Cavaliers. The language is probably NSFW-unless of course you work for me. In which case, the language is basically how I say hello. (Thanks Deadspin!)…

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. The AP’s David Ginsburg says Matusz sharp as Orioles dropped Texas Rangers at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Brian Matusz was MASTERFUL last night.

Masterful to the point that after the Orioles had scored one run, I almost pulled a Drew Forrester and declared the game ‘over’ on Twitter (follow us @WNST).

Here’s the question: can Brian Matusz pitch like that (or at least consistently good) over a consistent stretch of the season? If he can, he’ll be the pitcher that Orioles fans hoped for. In fact, he’ll be a pitcher that could have made even Dave Trembley look like a real manager.

It’s nice to see it every now and then, as it makes you think it’s possible. But until I see it with regularity, it’s actually just frustrating.

You know what ISN’T frustrating? Winning. That’s awesome. Let’s keep doing that.

2. The AP/WNST.net provide numerical evidence of loss

There’s plenty good to look at here…which is strange. Matt Wieters, Corey Patterson, Brian Roberts and Felix Pie were all solid at the plate-and Koji Uehara finished things off in the 9th.

All of these are good things.

So go ahead and look at the numbers today. After you do that-take a look at Alessandra Torresani; who apparently posed for FHM…and my heart. (Thanks Guyism!)


3. MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli says Ty Wigginton, Andres Blanco engaged in spat after play at third in Birds’ win

This is why I can never be a “baseball guy.”

The stupid “unwritten rules”, the “baseball stuff”, etc.

Ty Wigginton blocked third base-which seemed smart enough to me. He didn’t want the guy who had just crushed a double to be able to reach third base. I didn’t either. So I was happy that Ty Wigginton blocked third base.

The guy that crushed the double thought it was a bad move baseball-wise. There are probably a least a handful of folks who feel the same way.

The discussion is so ridiculous to me that we might as well be discussing someone’s VORP while we’re at it.


4. Washington Post’s Dave Sheinin says O’s believe there’s ‘no coincidence’ they started playing better when Buck Showalter showed up

I’m well aware that Buck Showalter didn’t come to Charm City, flip over tables, yell at everyone in earshot and threaten immediate firings if the team didn’t start winning games.

But there is no doubt in my mind that Buck Showalter’s arrival reflected a mentality in players that their roster spot wasn’t going to be guaranteed moving forward just because they were part of Andy MacPhail’s “plan.”

Unlike under Trembley (or Juan Samuel), it appears clear that Showalter isn’t going to keep someone on the roster come Opening Day 2011 just because Andy MacPhail wants to see what they have in the player. The best 25 guys are going to make the roster.

The pitchers who have shown signs of being good but haven’t been consistent (Brian Matusz and Brad Bergesen of course top the list) are going to have to prove that they’re amongst the Top 25.

That’s as good an explanation as any as to why this team has played better since Showalter arrived. The laziness of another losing summer has made way for an understanding that every man on the roster is going to have to earn anything they might get moving forward.

5. The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Robert Andino homered for Norfolk Tides in loss to Durham Bulls on farm

And before we move on from the Orioles, a couple of things…

-The Birds and Rangers continue their 4 game set tonight at OPACY; with Jake Arrieta facing C.J. Wilson. First pitch is at 7:05pm and the game can be seen on MASN2. Brad Bergesen and Kevin Millwood wrap the series for the Birds, they’ll face Cliff Lee and Tommy Hunter respectively.

-A reminder that tomorrow’s game is not on MASN or MASN2-but instead on FOX. That’s two straight Saturday FOX games for the Birds. Earlier in the year I would have preferred watching “That 70’s Show” reruns, but the Orioles have been downright watchable recently. I’d still prefer “That 70’s Show” reruns, but who wouldn’t???

6. WNST.net’s Luke Jones says Ravens coach John Harbaugh believes Lardarius Webb ‘very close’ to returning from PUP list

I’m really interested in exactly how this plays out next week in Owings Mills. Having Webb part of the 53 man roster is good for multiple reasons. First of all, it gives the Ravens DESPERATELY needed depth amongst their top corners. Secondly, it may help them avoid having to keep someone on the 53 man roster that they might not necessarily want to keep-like a Cary Williams or Prince Miller.

Now, Webb has to get on the practice field at 1 Winning Drive first-and then has to prove that he’s ready to play in a game. Even if the Ravens choose to hold him out against the New York Giants next week and the St. Louis Rams in 2 weeks; he has to prove that he’s game ready for September 13 against the New York Jets.

If he does that, everything about this roster improves.

7. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Mike Duffy says Ed Dickson, Mark Clayton expected to play vs. Washington Redskins Saturday night; Oniel Cousins unlikely, Chris Carr ‘unknown’

I expect to see at least a bit of Carr on the field at FedEx Field tomorrow night, probably about as much as we’ll see from Fabian Washington. It will likely be the Travis Fisher/Cary Williams/Prince Miller show in the secondary again-and almost no doubt there will be more of Chris Hawkins and Doug Dutch as well.

At tackle, expect to see plenty of Tony Moll tomorrow night. I’m a bit surprised the Ravens didn’t make a move to bring in an extra body this week at tackle. Even more surprised knowing Louisa Lytton is not currently on another NFL roster. (Thanks Don Chavez!)…


8. Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says record 112,000 fans attended Training Camp at McDaniel College in Westminster

And before we move on from the Ravens, a couple of things…

-The Ravens are walking through today, but you cannot see it live and in person as it is closed to both the media and public. They’ll face the Skins tomorrow night at FedEx Field in Landover (the city formerly known as Raljon), kickoff is at 7pm and the game can be seen live on WBAL11 and Comcast SportsNet (the CSN version is the DC broadcast). Luke Jones and I will be live at FedEx Field, hosting a “Purple Haze” chat here at WNST.net.

-Did you miss Le’Ron McClain live with Thyrl Nelson Thursday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST? Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault today to check it out. Other things available in the Audio Vault include…

  • Graham Gano (Redskins kicker and former Raven)-who joined Rex Snider Thursday afternoon to preview tomorrow night’s game
  • Audio from all around Westminster-including John Harbaugh, Chris Carr, Lardarius Webb and Dannell Ellerbe
  • Greg Aiello (NFL PR Director)-who joined Rex Thursday to discuss all things Roger Goodell
  • Tom Grieve (Rangers color Analyst)-who discussed Josh Hamilton and all things Rangers with Rex as well
  • All of the Baltimore sports media auditions with Nestor Aparicio on “The Morning Reaction” Friday

It’s all there in the Audio Vault, so you have your day planned. I’m really much too good to you.

9. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Maryland reserve LB Ben Pooler likely to miss season after tearing ACL in camp

While not necessarily devastating news for Ralph Friedgen’s Terps, it certainly isn’t good news either.

The Terrapins will need some LB depth, and I think Jacqueline Kirby might be the perfect choice. (Thanks Uncoached via Busted Coverage!)


10. LA Times’ Lisa Dillman says Michael Phelps failed to make final in 400 meter individual medley at Pan Pacifics

I’m not too terribly worked up by this, as this is not particularly easy.

In fact, it’s almost as tough as trying to remember the names of all of Antonio Cromartie’s kids. (Thanks HBO via Fanhouse and YouTube!)…

And finally, I leave you with this.

So apparently I was duped on “The Skinwich” yesterday. It ISN’T something KFC is planning on rolling out now or anytime in the future.

BUT…that doesn’t mean that all food in the world is healthy and NOT delicious. Thanks to The Smoking Jacket, I offer you some other ideas. One if IHOP’s Pancake Cheesecake Sandwich…


Another is Friendly’s Mac ‘n Cheese Quesadilla…


You know what, I’m going to need a minute here…

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…


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If Showalter wins now he’ll have the power in the offseason

Posted on 18 August 2010 by Rex Snider

I know its only been two weeks. But, as the games go by, this Orioles team has looked like a different breed of ballplayers.

Of course, you can overlook Luke French’s mastery of the lineup, last night.

It happens, right?

Let’s also be honest: regardless of who manages or who plays the corner infield positions, NO VERSION of the Baltimore Orioles can be expected to win 10 of 15 games over the course of an entire baseball season.

From a winning perspective, they’ve been playing over their heads. And, I’m okay with that. God knows for the first 105 games of the season, they played at a level well below their ankles.

If nothing else, Buck Showalter’s presence has proven this team is capable of playing at a level better than Dave Trembley and Juan Samuel could demand.

In a twisted way, part of that blame is on THEM. Yet, part of it is not. Big league ballplayers are paid handsomely for their overall efforts and proposed production. Through the first 2/3 of the season, these players failed the organization, and themselves.

But, lets put that in the rear view mirror.

We’re sitting here on August 18th and the team is 5 games over .500 under Showalter’s watch. And, that’s all that really matters when it comes to the new skipper’s leverage during the upcoming off-season.

We’ve all formulated a likely scenario for Buck’s first winter, in Baltimore, right?

Some of us believe he will really inspire the front office to make distinct, articulable moves in the direction of improving the Major League product. Of course, this is something Andy MacPhail has failed to do over the last few years.

Yet, some of us also believe that when the “pedal hits the medal”, Buck will ultimately be shown Andy’s blueprint for a SUCCESSFUL season, at Camden Yards. We suspect that plan doesn’t really include WINS or HIGH CALIBER TALENT, right?

However, it does seem that most of us believe Buck Showalter will not agree with the “MacPhail Mathematical Methods Of Orioles Baseball.” He’s in for a shock, right?

There is just one problem with this proposed falling of the dominos …..

Andy MacPhail probably didn’t think Buck would have this type of impact. In his wildest dreams, he really didn’t think the team might actually start winning games, right?

And, there lies the potential problem …..

If the Orioles maintain a winning record over the final 42 games, Buck Showalter carries a much bigger stick into the off-season. His presence and philosophies must be honored. If Andy (and ultimately Peter Angelos) resists him, this entire hiring of the ORIOLES SAVIOR could blow up in their faces.

Imagine the braintrust convenes for their November and December direction, when Buck proposes scenarios involving names like Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzales and other big name producers.

We’ve imagined he’ll be rebuffed, right?

Andy will try to explain “small-ball” to him …. or he’ll reveal a side that Buck did not expect to see, regardless of the warnings. That’s our suspicion, anyway.

Although, such a situation could occur, Buck’s clout might be able to rival these deeply entrenched practices.

Think about it …..

Buck Showalter can stride into November with the distinction of steering this team in the right direction. And, the resounding proof could be found in the win/loss column. It has been a long time since such a situation happened.

And, if it does, the Orioles manager could be afforded an instant OUT CLAUSE from his marriage to MacPhail/Angelos, without harming his reputation.

If Andy doesn’t live up to promises or assurances, especially as it regards the spending of money on talent, Buck could walk away with even higher stock than when he arrived.

When is the last time that happened with a departing Orioles manager?

Imagine the Orioles do what they always do and Buck gets frustrated …..

He could walk into Andy’s office on a December morning and say “this isn’t going to work for me” …..

Thus, he could resign and issue a blanketing statement that basically says “I want to thank Peter Angelos and Andy MacPhail for the opportunity to manage such a storied franchise. Unfortunately, our philosophies and ideals regarding the construction of a successful franchise are not in harmony. I wish the Orioles success, 2011.”

If that happens, who loses?

In one corner, you’ve got Andy MacPhail and his red sweater. And, in the other corner, you’ve got Buck Showalter, who just managed the worst team in baseball to a winning record over the final 57 games.

Buck wins that one.

His reputation would be intact and another team would gladly hand him its reigns.

Meanwhile, Andy MacPhail would be exposed as a fraud. His reputation would certainly take a hit …. in and out of Baltimore.

This Orioles team has 42 games remaining – and it’s a very tough September schedule. But, if Buck Showalter finds a way to finish just ONE GAME over .500, he’ll carry more swagger than Rex Ryan in the Jets media room.

Stay tuned, this could get good …..

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Can local media have a negative impact on sports?

Posted on 11 August 2010 by Domenic Vadala

I was recently watching one of those “greatest moments in history” movies with regard to the Washington Redskins. Naturally a big part of the film was dedicated to George Allen, and his over the hill gang in the 1970’s. As we all know, due in large part to Coach Allen and some of his antics, the Redskins’ biggest rival became the Dallas Cowboys. (Come to think of it, the Cowboys are one of those teams similar to the Yankees where you either love them or hate them; nobody’s just indifferent towards them.) Many years later, the  Redskins and Cowboys of that era met for a charity touch football game at Dallas’ Texas Stadium. Each side was coached by it’s respective leader; Allen, and Tom Landry of the Cowboys. During the game, George Allen jokingly commented “…can you imagine signing autographs before the ballgame?…now that’s what I call a distraction!”

In this age of big media, it seems that more and more outlets are starting to infringe upon the playing field immediately in the wake of, or even in some cases during sporting events. For both Oriole telecasts and those of the Washington Nationals, MASN features a “wired Wednesday,” where they actually interview the manager during the game from the dugout. In 2009, we’d see Dave Trembley giving in-game signs on numerous occasions during these interviews, and I would suspect that Manny Acta/Jim Riggleman did the same. MASN is far from alone in doing this sort of thing, as ESPN interviews both managers in-game on their Sunday Night Baseball telecast. In my opinion this trend started approximately ten years ago (give or take) when Monday Night Football, which was on ABC at the time, started having their sideline reporter interview one of the two coaches literally in the moments just preceding kickoff. Last time I checked, kickoff of an NFL game is sort of an important moment for a football coach, and odds are that most coaches weren’t happy with having to speak live on-air with a reporter at such an important juncture.

I watch almost every Oriole game, and contrary to some I firmly believe that MASN does a superior job in covering the team. I also think that it’s interesting to hear coaches’ perspectives during games. However I would hope that most fans would rather not hear the coach’s opinion at that moment if it was detrimental to the team. The other side of the coin is that the players and coaches play the games for the fans, and that the least they can do is to be open about things, even during the games. Be that as it may, does anyone not think that other teams didn’t watch some of those telecasts and catch onto Trembley’s signs at times?

I’m not blaming MASN for this, and as I said I think it’s interesting to hear their opinions while the games are going on. (Furthermore I highly doubt that MASN’s the only network that televises a major league baseball team that has a manager on live during the games.) The same can be said for ESPN; I don’t blame them for trying to make the “on-air product” better for the fans. However if it takes away from that coach’s concentration even for a moment, perhaps it shouldn’t be done. The networks are trying to maximize the viewing experience for the fans; however I think that ultimately the fans would rather the manager/coach concentrate on coaching the game in that moment rather than giving interviews.

So when exactly is it acceptable for the media to “infringe” upon the players and coaches? I suppose that I would say anytime that doesn’t affect the players or coaches preparing or playing the games. As an example, Johnny Holiday has interviewed Gary Williams in the moments immediately following each Maryland Terrapin basketball game for years. I don’t see a problem with that, because the game itself is over (win or lose). However coaches’ post-game press conferences have always served as manners by which they can explain themselves or their teams. NFL coaches are legendary for their post-game pressers, most of which are covered live on local television and radio. Baseball managers have started doing the same thing; I’ve spent many afternoons and evenings driving home from Camden Yards listening to Oriole managers giving their post-game pressers.

I don’t think that these kinds of things necessarily affect games, but I suppose that they could. Could anyone imagine Vince Lombardi or John Wodden subjecting themselves to interviews during the games? Again, I highly doubt that MASN and ESPN are the only networks that pull stunts like this. I would suspect that YES requires Joe Girardi to do something along these lines, and the same with NESN and Terry Francona. However as I said, I would hope that fans would accept this kind of media coverage going by the wayside if it meant a better effort on the field. Last week would have been Buck Showalter’s first “wired Wednesday” as the Orioles’ manager. (And if there’s anyone that understands media access, it would be a guy like Showalter who worked for ESPN for many years.) Gary Thorne taped the interview well before the game; I’m not sure if that was Showalter saying that he wouldn’t give interviews during games, or because he was new. One way or the other, if networks want to hear from coaches during games, that’s how it should be done (pre-recorded). George Allen seemed to indicate with his commentary that any media contact during the game is nothing more than a distraction. I would tend to agree.

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Orange crush and purple haze

Posted on 09 August 2010 by Domenic Vadala

I attended Oriole fan fest at the Baltimore Convention Center in January. As I drove down Russell St towards Pratt, I could still see the Ravens banners on the light poles on the road. Ironically, the Ravens had just lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL playoffs the week before, ending their season. I felt a bit odd driving to an event for the “boys of summer” while evidence of the NFL season was still very fresh in the hearts of the fans. That day the O’s had approximately 12,000 people attend fan fest, including yours truly. I suppose that at the time I felt as if I was in some sort of strange time tunnel in that the city itself appeared to be in between worlds. The wounds of the Ravens’ loss was still in the hearts and minds of most people, however the city was starting to paint itself orange in anticipation for the Orioles.

Now I suppose we find ourselves in the reverse situation, as the Orioles’ season begins to enter it’s doldrums, and the Ravens are beginning their assent to the forefront of people’s minds. In looking towards the NFL season, Ravens’ fans should most certainly feel a sense of excitement, as the team is looking to once again compete to be amongst the NFL’s elite. While Joe Flacco finished the regular season with a QB rating of only 88.9, he did have a completion percentage of 63.1%, and he finished with 3600 yards plus for the year. However we also need to keep in mind that the Ravens also had only one 1,000 yard plus receiver in Derrick Mason. Going into 2010, the Ravens have added Anquan Boldin (formerly of the Cardinals) to their receiving corps, which gives Flacco another big target with sure hands. Boldin’s presence will probably also force defenses to play more zone coverage against the Ravens, which will open up passing lanes underneath for Joe Flacco. Ultimately with two receivers such as Boldin and Mason, Todd Heap should have the opprotunity to cut open across the middle.

The heart of the Ravens’ team is still the defense, led of course by Ray Lewis. As they say on the street, ’nuff said. However they have sustained some injuries thus far in camp, as Domonique Foxworth is out for the season with a torn ACL. Cornerback Chris Carr also injured his hamstring, and Haloi Ngata left this morning’s practice with back spasms. The thing that’s exciting about the Ravens this season is that I personally believe that they’re a black horse candidate to win the AFC North. While the Steelers didn’t make the playoffs last season, that was probably due in large part to injuries. The Steelers lost Willie Parker when he signed with the Washington Redskins, and Santonio Holmes when he was traded to the NY Jets, replacing him with their old friend Antwaan Randel-El (formerly with the Redskins). Most importantly, Pittsburgh will be without Ben Roethlisberger for at least the first month of the season due to suspension (possibly six weeks). Does anyone see Byron Leftwich causing a quarterback controversy in Steel Town? Survey says: probably not. The Bengals are of course the defending AFC North champions, however needless to say I would think that T.O. will probably have that franchise in shambles by week five or six.

So as Baltimore’s purple clad warriors begin to gear up for the season, the boys of summer are still here playing every night. Needless to say, it’s been a tough year thus far. However I think that we have to view 2010 as two seasons; 2010, and 2010A. The 2010 portion of the season included a 2-16 start numerous injuries, poor play, and ultimately the firing of manager Dave Trembley in the beginning of June. Since then, Juan Samuel led the Orioles valiantly, however to no avail. On July 29th the Orioles effectively ended 2010 when they announced the hiring of Buck Showalter as the Orioles’ permanent manager, launching us into 2010A. Opening night was on August 3rd against the Angels…Brian Matusz pitched a gem for ‘dem O’s, who beat Anaheim 6-3. One week later, the O’s have played six games in their new “season,” and have a record of 5-1.

Unfortunately we all know that this truly isn’t two seasons, and that going into play tonight the Orioles have a record of 37-74 on the year. However if this past week is any indication, the future is still bright. Granted many people felt that the future was bright back in January at fan fest as well. However at the time the O’s were a franchise that had some pieces in place but lacked a true direction. Now that a bona fide manager is in place and many of the injured birds are returning, the Orioles look to finish the last two months of the season in a respectable manner. 2010 was always supposed to be about putting the ingredients together, and while it took a bit longer than people would have expected, that finally appears to be happening. Going into play tonight the O’s had played six games under Showalter, all six of which had been quality starts. Even pitchers such as Jake Arrieta (who didn’t end up getting a decision in their start) have pitched well. The team appears to be paying much closer attention to detail, which will ultimately win them games. If these O’s stay hot through the end of the season, odds are they’ll take that momentum into 2011, and the sky’s the limit from that point forward.

So perhaps one of these days people will drive down Pratt St to Oriole fan fest through a Ravens’ Super Bowl parade. It seems that sports fans in Baltimore have suffered for too long in that the city was dealt an unfair blow in losing the NFL for so long, and now for the past 13 years the Orioles have struggled. However perhaps that era of disappointment is coming to an end. So with that said, ain’t the beer cold?!

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Buck Looks Good, But How About Andy ???

Posted on 09 August 2010 by Rex Snider

Well, we’re six games into the Buck Showalter era and this Orioles team looks like a cast of players we haven’t witnessed in a very long time.

Adam Jones is hustling.

Felix Pie suddenly has a clue.

Matt Wieters is working the count.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish when a LEADER is in charge, huh?

I’m certainly not suggesting the Orioles will maintain a winning record over the final two months of the season. As much as we love this recent streak of intensity and success, better talent eventually wins out.

The Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays are better teams. End of story.

But, the Orioles are playing better baseball and they’re showing signs of the up and coming team many insiders and fans forecasted, back in February.

Perhaps, the missing link was the manager. Maybe, this team simply lacked the presence of a true leader in the dugout. After all, this nightmare has existed since Davey Johnson was shown the door, right?

Believe me, I’m not laying 13 years of losing baseball at the feet on anyone, specifically. It’s been a collaborative effort of dysfunction and disappointing production, on and off the field. Many hands have been part of making this storied mess – and it includes all facets of the organization.

Ownership certainly absorbs most of the criticism from fans and media sources. And, rightfully so. From meddlesome efforts by a primary owner who must’ve thought winning with a baseball team is akin to winning cases in the courtroom, to hiring “YES” men instead of the “RIGHT” men, Peter Angelos holds the origin of the Orioles downfall in his hands.

From hiring the Syd Thrift’s and Jim Beattie’s of the baseball world, to ignoring international scouting, overruling draft selections and slashing payroll for players, Mr. Angelos shoulders the significant culpability in the embarrassing fall of this organization.

He knows it. It’s the reason he avoids press conferences and environments where questions can be rightfully asked of him.

But, as I’ve said, Mr. Angelos doesn’t own the entire debacle.

In fact, his current custodian deserves some tangible blame, too. Of course, I’m referring to the President of Baseball Operations, Andy MacPhail.

To his credit, MacPhail strengthened the foundation of the organization with a couple trades during his first off-season. He has been applauded and recognized for those moves.

However, he has also procrastinated and taken a conservative approach to decisions that impacted the team with IMMEDIATE ramifications. To say he has been less than aggressive or proactive in pursuit of crucial fixes is just a sugarcoating of the truth.

I’ll be blunt about it …. Andy MacPhail is primarily liable for this DISASTER OF 2010. Heck, we can say he is also responsible for 2008 and 2009, too.

His hiring of Buck Showalter looks like a bonafide win. However, in being justifiably cautious, we’re just a week into this marriage. Buck hasn’t even slipped on his grey uniform, yet. And, his first off-season with the club awaits him in just a couple months.

We’ll know more about the legitimacy of the Showalter era, in April, 2011.

But, one reality is evident …..

This Orioles team, constructed as a youthful project, sorely needed credentialed, veteran leadership. This cast of inexperienced, immature and impressionable players needed guidance from a strong-willed personality, who demands respect through his reputation and qualifications, alone.

And, they needed a guy who would kick ’em in the ass if the situation called for it.

Andy MacPhail missed the entire picture when he initially tried to pin the tail on this donkey.

He hired Dave Trembley, and retained him for nearly three years. He entrusted the youth of the Orioles to a manager who couldn’t WIN the loyalty of his own players, let alone any games.

It’s not Trembley’s fault. He probably managed to the best of his abilities. And, he likely has no regrets.

That said, this team was entrusted to a manager who wasn’t capable of leading a diverse, young group of players, at the Major League level. And, the result was a 187-283 record; a .398 winning percentage.

The translation or spirit of this message is THIS SHOULD’VE NEVER HAPPENED. The Orioles were staked to the guidance of a manager who would ultimately fail. Dave Trembley was not going to succeed. What track record or past achievements led Andy MacPhail to reasonably assume his choice of Dave Trembley was the best fit for the organization?

I would love to know his answer.

As much as we would like to blame the past three seasons on incapable or illegitimate players, it’s just not true. Well, it’s not primarily true. While this roster is not built to contend in the AL East, they were certainly capable of playing better and winning more games. Buck Showlater has proven this reality in just a week’s time.

Can Buck truly engineer change and a winning philosophy? We shall see. He’ll need support from above and better player options to do it.

But, one thing is certain …..

The last three seasons are Andy MacPhail’s fault …. period.

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