Tag Archive | "Derek Jeter"

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Dear Manny Machado: Don’t let the door hit you between 1 and 3 en route to City X via City Y

Posted on 19 July 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

Dear Mr. Miami:

I’ve written a lot of #DearOrioles notes this summer ­– with many more coming to everyone in management and some of your poor teammates who shall remain on the S.S. Angelos for at least three more hours of the tour – and I needed to move yours a little earlier in the batting order than I wanted.

Let’s face it, you might not be here by the time I hit “publish” on this old-fashioned love letter.

So, if I stray off into the future tense or refer to your Orioles sweater in the past tense, well, that’s just me keeping it real.

You indicated earlier this week that your bags are packed but your head has been in the future here for a long time, Manny.

I’m not really sure how much time you ever spent thinking about remaining with the Baltimore Orioles after 2018 – my guess is you didn’t lose a lot of sleep over it because it never was a reality in the moment or a “decision to make” because my other guess is that the Angelos family never really approached you with anything you’d take seriously.

That’s the Oriole Way. As you can tell from my #DearOrioles letters, I’ve been at this a long time.

I honestly had to look up your birthday to put it in perspective.

I didn’t realize the week you were born was the worst week of my life.

I was sitting in the Oriole Park at Camden Yards press box on July 1, 1992 when I took an urgent call that my father had a stroke in Dundalk. You were born on July 6. My Pop died on July 11, 1992. I was sitting in a hospital watching my father leave the planet as you were in one in Hialeah, Florida entering this crazy sphere.

It’s really weird that you were born AFTER Camden Yards opened. You’re a baby, bro!

There’s no way you can understand what my eyes have seen professionally here in Baltimore as a sports journalist.

I’ve seen, talked about, written about and heard about everything except the story where the future Hall of Fame franchise every day player – the modern day Cal Ripken or Brooks Robinson – walks off at 26 to a rival franchise leaving behind whatever remnants that a desperate July fire sale will bring a MLB team with a lame duck leadership group.

I thought I had seen the worst of Orioles tragic in those 14 years of losing that made up your life from age 5 until you walked on the field in Texas that night in 2012 as a 20-year old. And when you lost in Game 5 in New York in the ALDS, you probably thought the playoffs would be a pretty regular occurrence around here just like Ripken did in 1983.

But here we are six summers later, your timer is about to go off and the franchise is 40 games under .500 in the summer of 2018 and holding an open auction for eight weeks of your services.

And we all sorta know that by Opening Day 2019, you’ll probably wind up with the New York Yankees, which as you witnessed with Mark Teixeira will make you a “special” kind of visitor here in Camden Yards in the future.

But as you’ve learned, there’s no one “special” in the Baltimore Orioles organization except the owner himself. (Well, and maybe Chris Davis and Brady Anderson, but I’ll save their #DearOrioles love letters for long after you’re gone. They ain’t going anywhere.)

Manny, you’re unique – but you’re not “special.”

If I had my press credential and really knew you, we could talk all about the history of free agency and the decisions of Peter Angelos. I’ve only met you once – in the clubhouse at CitiField in New York before the 2013 All Star Game. You seemed like a decent, unassuming fellow then when I introduced myself. Like I said, a baby – you turned 21 that week!

Ten minutes later, Adam Jones asked me on the field why Peter Angelos hated me so much. It took me a book to explain it. It’s called The Peter Principles. You should check it out.

There’s certainly a lot of history in there that pertains to you as to why you’ve done what you’ve done and never been offered a couple of hundred million of Angelos money to stick around and be a part of something “special.”

I’m sure someone around there not named Brady Anderson has told you all about when Mike Mussina was invited by Peter G. Angelos very publicly to leave for the Yankees – and then Moose did! Mussina even refused a July trade, which is what Jonesey is gonna is going to be considering during his All Star break while you’re in Washington, D.C. figuring out the itinerary for the rest of your summer and fall plans for a rent-a-ring.

And, honestly, if these Orioles folks weren’t so crazy petty and vain and paranoid, you’d be wearing a Dodgers or Yankees or Brewers or Diamondbacks hat when you come out to tip it in D.C. next week. I’m betting the “over” on July 18th being your trade date.

The Orioles are gonna milk you for one more sideshow on the way out the door.

I don’t get it.

You are one rolled ankle or hamstring pull away from being a

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MLB Needs To End This All-Star Game Charade

Posted on 16 July 2014 by Peter Dilutis

Fast forward three months. Our Baltimore Orioles have made it to the World Series for the first time since 1983, matching up against the Atlanta Braves. It’s the situation that we all dream about when we’re kids playing catch in the backyard or taking batting practice on the neighborhood fields.

Game 7 of the World Series. Bottom of the 9th inning. Tied game. Bases loaded. Two outs. Full count. The fans are going absolutely bonkers. Baltimore is a ball four, walk, hit or error away from walking off with their first World Series win in 21 years.

And why is it they are in position to walk off with the win?

Because just three months earlier, Pat Neshek entered the All-Star Game, played at Target Field, home of the 44-50 Minnesota Twins, and gave up three runs to the American League, including a sacrifice fly from Jose Altuve, member of the 40-56 Houston Astros.

Wait…what?

It has absolutely nothing to do with what team had the better regular season record. Where the seventh game of the World Series is played has nothing to do with either of the teams participating in the series, unless of course members of those respective teams made an impact, positively or negatively, in the All-Star game.

Rather, representatives from all 30 teams, 20 of which will not make the postseason and 22 of which will not make it past the play-in games, determine where that legacy-defining Game 7 is played.

In what alternate universe does that make sense? You’re telling me that a bunch of millionaires in $25,000 suits got together, deliberated in a boardroom and came out with this solution?

Imagine if Luis Gonzalez’ hit over Derek Jeter’s glove in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series would have simply put the Diamondbacks up 3-2 rather than ending the game? What if history was re-written and that Game 7 had actually been played in New York? In 2001, the American League won the All-Star game. Under our current All-Star game rules, that legacy-defining game would have in fact been played at Yankee Stadium. How might that have changed the legacy of Derek Jeter? He could have six rings instead of five. Joe Torre would have another World Series under his belt. Even Mike Mussina could have a ring to display on his mantle had the location of the seventh game been switched to the Big Apple. Crazy stuff.

We’re talking about a game in which AL manager John Farrell admitted that his main objective was not to win, but to get as many players in the game as possible. And let’s be honest – why does John Farrell care who wins the game? His Boston Red Sox are 43-52, 9.5 games behind the Orioles and they’re more concerned with what kind of young haul they can get for Jon Lester at the deadline than what stadium they’re going to be playing in come October. We’re talking about a game in which Adam Wainwright admitted to grooving pitches right down 5th Avenue to leadoff man Derek Jeter in his final “farewell” All-Star Game sendoff. Jeter doubled in his first at bat and later scored. The American League went on to score three runs in the first inning.

Ultimately, they won the game by two runs, 5-3.

Had Adam Wainwright actually tried to pitch to Derek Jeter, the National League very well may have won the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, awarding them home field advantage in the 2014 World Series. Meaning, of course, that in my above scenario, a run would not walk the game off for the Orioles. Instead, the Atlanta Braves, or whoever their opponent would be in our dream scenario, would get one more at bat in the bottom of the inning with a chance to tie or win the game.

Hundreds of years from now, when all of us are dead and gone, the 2014 World Series winner will live in infamy in countless record books and libraries throughout the sports world. Legacies will be defined. Future contracts will be signed. Statues may very well be erected. Hall of Fame candidacy will be voted upon.

And all of that history could be changed in a flash – because of an All-Star Game played in July amongst members of all 30 MLB teams that served more as a spectacle and farewell tour to Derek Jeter than it did as a real game.

The NBA All-Star game is nothing more than a glorified dunk contest. Roger Goodell has threatened to put an end to the NFL Pro Bowl because the players just won’t take it seriously. And as we saw from Adam Wainwright on Tuesday night, major league baseball players don’t REALLY care about winning. Derek Jeter’s 4th inning moment yesterday was always going to more important than the end result of the game. Undoubtedly, more people know about that moment than know the end result of the game. The same thing happened last year at Citi Field when Mariano Rivera was paraded out in the 8th inning as Enter Sandman blasted over the speakers.

The All-Star Game is an entertainment spectacle. It is NOT a competitive game. Not even close.

By placing such a high importance on the result of a glorified exhibition game, Bud Selig and the powers that be within Major League Baseball are putting the integrity of this great game on the line. It may not seem like such a big deal right now. It’s hard to really understand the significance of something, whether we’re talking sports or life in general, until your life and/or interests are directly impacted.

But when you’re favorite baseball team is on the mound in the bottom of the 9th in Game 7 of the World Series, watching the opposing team walking off the field with a one run win in front of the home fans, perhaps you too will question the logic and integrity of the current All-Star Game format.

In the meantime, I guess all of us Orioles fans should be thankful that the American League won, right?

 

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Time to “Buckle up” — there’s Orioles Magic in air for Baltimore tonight

Posted on 06 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

All of these wins and hours of scoreboard watching for fans of the Baltimore Orioles – and finally – tonight the city will fill Camden Yards with the “magic” that only a Cal Ripken event can exert for the Charm City.

Alas, no scriptwriter in Hollywood or even a “Major League” movie redux could’ve dreamed up the juiciness that this unexpected Baltimore Orioles pennant run has facilitated this weekend.

Last week, the stands were empty as the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox came to town.

This weekend, with the New York Yankees on the ropes and the Orioles surging and trailing the Evil Empire by just one game in the AL East, Camden Yards will be buzzing with orange energy for the first time in eight years despite the “premium pricing” methods of Peter Angelos’ staff.

In the land of pleasant living, we call it “Orioles Magic.” Berthed in 1979 under Wild Bill Hagy with Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Rick Dempsey and Earl Weaver, brought to life by a World Series win in 1983 and resurrected duing the “Why Not?” campaign of 1989, the city’s enthusiasm and genuine love for the Baltimore Orioles has been dormant for the better part of 15 years at Camden Yards under the weight of last place and its own evil ownership regime.

But tonight none of that will matter because the Orioles can beat the Yankees and go back into first place in September.

Hard to believe it was 17 years ago tonight that Cal Ripken ran his victory lap amidst the confetti and “One Moment In Time.”

And make no mistake about it, a statue ceremony and a fancy giveaway item would’ve brought plenty of people to Camden Yards tonight no matter the record of the 2012 Orioles.

But what we’re going to witness – or in my case, be a part of – tonight should truly be “magical” for any longtime fan of the Baltimore Orioles.

Despite falling out of first place with last night’s loss in Toronto combined with a Yankees win in Tampa, tonight’s game once again has first place on the line and the 46,000 who are holders of these lucky tickets should be expected to bring full O-R-I-O-L-E-S voices tonight as Camden Yards should erupt with sound where previously it’s been a bunch of excuses and reasons for why the seats are empty.

I’m going to the game tonight. And, yes, I bought a ticket.

Other than “Free The Birds” events, it’s the first ticket I’ve purchased since 2004.

It’s worth going tonight to feel the civic energy and I’ll be bellied up to the centerfield bar soaking in the energy and enthusiasm that I wrote about in 2006 when WNST led the “Free The Birds” movement.

And in as much as some have twisted my words, I’ve never wanted anything more than what we currently have in Baltimore – a relevant baseball team that brings together the community for a common cause.

I’m not sure some fans are really prepared emotionally for what tonight will look and feel like inside Camden Yards.

Internally, many of the longtime employees certainly couldn’t have had any fire drills for this. And the players on the field – Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, the core guys who have only seen the stands full of Yankees or Red Sox fans over the years – should especially soak in the noise tonight because they’ve earned the right to Baltimore’s cheers with their solid play and the excitement they’ve filled our living rooms with this summer.

I think even Derek Jeter will be taken aback because he hasn’t seen anything like this since 1997. Usually, it’s 40,000 Yankees fans beating on the home team.

It won’t be that way tonight.

This is the Baltimore Orioles chance  – players, coaches, employees and ownership alike – to drastically move the needle on the fan

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Phelps makes way onto odd list

Posted on 27 June 2012 by WNST Staff

AshleyMadison.com asked women across America which athlete they would most likely cheat on their husband with. Over 13,500 women responded by picking their top three athletes which yielded the following results :

International Soccer Star and Sex Symbol David Beckham was the overwhelming winner with 43.1% of ALL women surveyed saying they would cheat on their husbands with him.

  • ·         Ultra-conservative New York Jet QB Tim Tebow was second with 19.6% of all women surveyed.
  • ·         New England Patriot and the most prolific QB in the NFL, Tom Brady was a close third with 17.9%. Brady is currently married to Supermodel Gisele Bundchen.
  • ·         Mark Sanchez may be the #1 QB on the Jets but only 8.1% of women said they would have an affair with him, well behind his back-up, Tim Tebow.
  • ·         MLB Future Hall-of-Famer and New York Yankee Derek Jeter led the way with 16.5% of women looking to hit a Home Run with him, edging out Yankee Third Baseman Alex Rodriguez, who garnered 13.2% of women respondents.
  • ·         In the battle of the Manning’s, Peyton edged out his younger brother Eli : 9.6% to 8.5%.
  • ·         NBA MVP and NBA Finals MVP LeBron James is the top NBA player amongst women looking to go to the hoop, with 5.8% of all women surveyed looking to cheat with the King. (Kobe Bryant came in second with 4.4%)
  • ·         Andy Roddick (5.6%) out volleyed both Rafael Nadal (4.6%) and Roger Federer (4.2%) to become the top tennis player chosen amongst women
  • ·         Michael Phelps was the leading Olympian with 10.5% of women ready to jump in the pool with him.
  • ·         Top 5 NFL players (are all QB’s): Tim Tebow (19.6%), Tom Brady (17.9%), Peyton Manning (9.6%), Aaron Rodgers (9.5%), and Eli Manning (8.5%). The top non-quarterback was Reggie Bush (6.9%).
  • ·         Top 5 NBA players: LeBron James (5.8%), Kobe Bryant (4.4%), Lamar Odom (3.7%), Dwyane Wade (3.6%), and Kris Humphries (3.3%)
  • ·         Top 3 MLB players: Derek Jeter (16.5%), Alex Rodriguez (13.2%), and Matt Kemp (1.6%)
  • ·         Top 5 non- NFL, NBA, and MLB athletes: David Beckham (43.1%), Christiano Ronaldo (11.0%), Michael Phelps (10.5%), Kelly Slater (9.2%), Lance Armstrong (7.4%)
  • ·         Top 10 athletes overall: David Beckham (43.1%), Tim Tebow (19.6%), Tom Brady (17.9%), Derek Jeter (16.5%), Alex Rodriguez (13.2%), Christiano Ronaldo (11%), Michael Phelps (10.5%), Peyton Manning (9.6%), Aaron Rodgers (9.5%), Kelly Slater (9.2%).  Tiger Woods came in 15th (6.1%).

**Note:  The percentages are based on 300% since each women picked three athletes.  You could also divide every number by three to get an accurate percentage based on 100%.

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It's time to name the GENIUS and JACKASS of the week .....

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It’s time to name the GENIUS and JACKASS of the week …..

Posted on 15 July 2011 by Rex Snider

Each Friday, Ryan Chell and I ponder the rosters of sports personalities that have made a GOOD or BAD impression throughout the week. We consider athletes, coaches, owners, media and just about anyone else with a connection to sports.

Fittingly, we call the segment GENIUS & JACKASS OF THE WEEK …..

Given the sparingly thin amount of sports action over the past seven days, I really had to dig deep for my current list of nominees. And, in keeping things fresh or ever changing, I have decided to list my potential recipients for your consideration:

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GENIUS OF THE WEEK

1)  Roger Goodell: by simply taking the high road and keeping his mouth shut regarding the James Harrison/Men’s Journal article, he merits support and a more positive image in the immediate future. And, God knows he needs it.
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2)  Vince McMahon: the dude has absolutely no shame and he’ll gladly be the butt of a joke or the proverbial “slapdick” when he walks into the rasslin’ ring in front of a national audience. This past Monday night, he emerged after months of seclusion to counter a good exchange with noted heel, but audience favorite, CM Punk. Do you think Vince knew he had some competition with the All Star Homerun Derby? Yep …..
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3)  Mark Reynolds: yeah, yeah, I know this incident actually took place last week, but we didn’t learn about it … OR the photo … OR the photoshopped images that would create such a buzz on the web, until just a few days ago. Say what you want, MILLIONS of people now know Reynolds wears #12 … and that he LOVES sunflower seeds.
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JACKASS OF THE WEEK

1) PacMan Jones: uh oh … you know what this means, right? Correct, PacMan ended up behind bars AGAIN. And, I know the world was shocked to learn he got arrested in a nightclub. After that, the story gets sketchy. Police say Pac’ resisted arrest. However, the Bengals misfit claims the cops are lying. Sure they are … and they probably fabricated the facts in the other 1,384, 277 incidents, as well.
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2) Steve Durham: I realize you probably don’t recognize the name, but he’s the federal prosecutor who entered prohibited evidence in the Roger Clemens trial. That’s correct, the long awaited perjury case ended in a mistrial during its FIRST WEEK. Hey, what’s a few million dollars of taxpayer money? We’ll see ya again, in September.
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3) Derek Jeter: the dude racks up his 3,000th hit while garnering adoration and accolades from an entire sports lovin’ nation, and what does he do to show his gratitude? He skips the freakin’ All Star Game !!!! Yeah, he’s nursing an injury. But, he looked fine, last weekend. I don’t care if he’s sore … he owed it to the FANS to show up in Arizona.
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Well, who would your choices be? You can find out my selections during today’s Afternoon Drive, which kicks off at 2pm …..

(NOTE: JAMES HARRISON IS BEYOND BEING A JACKASS; THUS, HE IS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR THIS AWARD)

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Yankees swindle a 23 year old kid who loves baseball .....

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Yankees swindle a 23 year old kid who loves baseball …..

Posted on 11 July 2011 by Rex Snider

Indeed, we are upon that time of summer when Baltimore’s baseball fans must start looking elsewhere for compelling storylines and boxscores.  I suppose spinning the recent Orioles vs. Red Sox series into a “beanball war” might drum a little interest, but do any of us really think the birds were a formidable opponent?

Of course not …..

But, as I’ve suggested, plenty of intriguing stories did result from a mid-July weekend of baseball.

Perhaps, the most notable was the goodwill gesture emerging from Yankee Stadium.  After weeks of awaiting the historical significance of Derek Jeter’s 3000th hit, it finally happened on Saturday night.

And, as if the moment was written from fictional lore, #3000 came in the form of a homerun. 

Oh yeah, it gets even better – schmoozier and more heartwarming …..

The fan who caught the ball, Christian Lopez, quickly came to grips with the most fitting destination for the historical baseball …..

Cooperstown?  Nope.

The Lopez family keepsake collection?  Nope.

A safety deposit box?  Once again, no.

Mr. Lopez decided the baseball was destined to be personal property of Derek Jeter, because “he worked so hard for it …. The ball should be his.”

I don’t deny, nor dispute Christian Lopez’s love for the game of baseball and the purity that accompanies being a fan of the sport.  But, I do question if he made the right decision and if the process in rendering such a quick conclusion is prudent for all parties involved.

That baseball is worth a LOT of money.  Conservative estimates by notable collectable experts valued it at a minimum of $250,000 or a cool quarter of a million bucks …..

That’s serious cash, huh?

Yet, in the spontaneous passion of the moment, the 23 year old man who coincidentally donned the same hat worn by Jeter, decided to hand the keepsake over to the Yankees shortstop.

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In exchange, he received tickets for the remainder of the season, along with articles of memorabilia.

Was it a fair deal?  That’s up to Christian Lopez …..

But, I’ll assert one very important consideration – it’s a deal and agreement that should’ve been discussed the following day.

Too many emotional and perhaps, personally inhibiting factors exist in the immediate moments following such a historical incident.

The fan is caught up in the massive celebration that accompanies the moment.  Such recipients are quickly sequestered from the ensuing bombardment of fellow fanatics.  That’s a good decision, because somebody will do everything in their power to steal that baseball.

I’m absolutely in support of ushering guys in the shoes of Christian Lopez away from the masses of gawkers, hawkers and stalkers …..

But, a more intriguing reason for getting the guy away from others is team officials want to “negotiate” or lean on them for a quick exchange of the ball for some trinkets and fodder.  Why not toss in a few bottles of whiskey and some beads, too?

After all, that’s the legitimacy and hoodwinking credibility that goes into such a transaction.

I’m not privy to Mr. Lopez’s financial status, although, he said he has plenty of time to make the money and he doesn’t really need it …..

Really?

How many 23 year olds (or thereabouts) do we know who couldn’t tangibly benefit from a $250,000 windfall?

Marston Hefner?  Taylor Swift?  Sam Bradford?

I look at a select group of young men who I would put into a situation just as Christian Lopez found himself on Saturday evening.  I’ll consider WNST’s Ryan Chell, Luke Jones and Glenn Clark …..

These guys love sports.  Heck, they eat, sleep and breath sports.  And, I can picture all three of them being caught up in a moment of significance at a sporting event.  Furthermore, I can reasonably picture each of them coughing up a valuable memento in the HEAT OF THE MOMENT.

They love Baltimore and the Orioles, for better or worse.

But, each of them could greatly benefit from $250, 000 …..

Better yet, $250,000 could and would impact their lives to a much greater extent than any gesture of gratitude from the Orioles or a legendary player.

Name it, buying a first house, paying off student loans or simply getting ahead in this dismal economy, each of these young men would be far better off by selling such a keepsake.  But, in the moments following their nabbing of history, I can envision them getting swindled – by a tugging of the heartstrings.

What are the chances Christian Lopez had a couple beers on Saturday evening – prior to the big moment?  I would reckon such odds are pretty good.  If so, a whole new can of worms opens up, if you get my drift …..

Let’s just call it like it is …..

The moment was a true piece of history.  That’s why Major League Baseball manufactured “special baseballs” when Jeter stood in the box for his 3000th hit.  That’s why a World Series atmosphere existed at Yankee Stadium on a muggy Saturday, in July.

The Yankees brass, like any other organization, knew the best chances of getting that baseball from the grip of Christian Lopez was RIGHT THEN and RIGHT THERE.  So, they took advantage of the circumstances.

In reality, and in legitimate surroundings, a “cool off” period should exist …..

The team should make contact with the fan and go thru the measurable steps to ensure the ball is secured.  They should even offer to put it in a safe deposit box for 24 or 48 hours.

If the fan really feels the player should have the ball, than so be it.  Will a “cool off” period change such heart driven feelings?  I wouldn’t think so.

What’s wrong with Yankees officials urging Lopez to talk with his parents?  Yeah, I know he’s an adult, but how many 23 year olds still seek the wisdom of a mother or father under such weighty situations?

Call it like it is, Saturday night’s festivities might appear to be one of those legendary fan and player symbolic exchanges.  But, the truth is the Yankees took every advantage of a 23 year old kid who loves baseball.

And, that’s wrong.

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The struggles of Markakis are becoming a national story

Posted on 04 June 2011 by Rex Snider

With each passing day, many of us are eagerly anticipating an awakening of the Orioles offensive attack. The production, or lack thereof, is becoming a predictable expectation for opposing teams and their followers.

Friday’s edition of the Toronto Star previewed this weekend series as an easier task than a few recent slugfests involving the Blue Jays, especially given the “light hitting” Orioles attack.

Truth hurts, huh?

I won’t suggest the birds clubhouse is brewing with finger wagging and varied versions of the blame game; plenty of accountability and resulting culpability exists among the ranks.

But, a sobering reality is the Orioles find themselves at 25-30 and in familiar digs; they’re occupying the cellar of the American League’s Eastern Division, as the final days of spring trickle into summer.

The seasonal change means there is a LOT of baseball remaining. Can this lineup awaken from a season-long slumber? Doubts are growing by the day, and a prominent name that usually evades criticism, locally and nationally, is starting to feel the heat.

Welcome to the current plight of Nick Markakis …..

I am making certain to police my views and opinions on this very subject, because I have been especially critical of Nick’s star power and value among Orioles fans. And, my strong assessment can be attached to prior seasons.

Do I think he’s a good ballplayer? Without question, YES. However, I have never subscribed to the belief he’s one of the best young talents in the game, nor have I thought he was a foundational player for the franchise.

That said, I think Markakis has displayed a consistency in his first five seasons that suggests he’s a dependable offensive threat. Through his big league career, he has rewarded normal expectations of a top of the lineup hitter.

Over the past 4 full seasons, he’s averaged: .299 avg, 45 doubles, 18 homers, .466 slugging

When such numbers are yielded with consistency, a resulting expectation ensues. That’s the deal, period. And, such accomplishments eventually translate into a more global sense of demand, specifically on the national stage.

So, when Sports Illustrated released yesterday’s figurative roster of baseball’s MOST DISAPPOINTING PLAYERS thru the first couple months, I was not surprised to see Nick Markakis as a prominent part of it.

He’s hitting .239, with 4 doubles, 4 homers and a putrid .311 slugging line. Do you realize how difficult it is to achieve such a low slugging percentage? Better yet, have you considered how difficult it will be to keep a player with such poor numbers at the top of a lineup?

For all his well publicized struggles in the first couple months, freakin’ Derek Jeter has a higher slugging percentage than Markakis. Yes, that’s how bad it really is …..

As I stated, there is plenty of “blame sandwich” for just about all of the Orioles hitters to gets a substantial bite, but expectations should not be ignored when it comes to the failures at the plate.

Mark Reynolds? He is exactly what last season evidenced …..

Derrek Lee? In 14 fewer games, most of his production exceeds that of Markakis …..

Yet, they’re the lightning rods for most of the scorn emanating from the impassioned souls of Orioles fans. Why is that? Well, as always, Markakis gets a notable “pass” with the baseball loving people in this city.

“He is the future”

Damn, if I had a couple bucks for every caller who made that statement.

Perhaps, we shouldn’t be shocked by lesser numbers and production from Nick Markakis – his doubles, homeruns and slugging percentage have flattened or decreased over the span of the last 3 seasons.

But, disappointment and frustration should exist given the lack of overall production, in 2011. Maybe it’s time to reassess the pedigree of Markakis. Better yet, it’s absolutely time to reevaluate the lofty reputation he’s garnered.

Don’t misunderstand my message, it’s not his fault that fans have overrated his abilities and true existence from a threat perspective. He’s not peddling “Nick Markakis” via Twitter or any other social marketplace.

He’s very much himself; a guy who doesn’t appear to say much or carry a leadership quality among teammates. Give him credit on this one – he’s not pretending to be a more demonstrative presence.

Lets just be honest about the season and the failures of the Orioles lineup …..

Nick Markakis is tasked with a responsibility to spark this offense, while also driving in runs. That’s why he gets paid the big bucks. That’s why he’s gonna get paid even bigger bucks, next season, and beyond.

A significant portion of the Orioles weak offensive production rests upon his shoulders. He needs to figure it out …. NOW. As I’ve said, I have never believed he’s as good as many hometown followers suggest. But, he’s not this bad, either.

Nick Markakis has been disappointing. And, I didn’t need a national publication to point it out.

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

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50 words or less …. Thursday, April 21st

Posted on 21 April 2011 by Rex Snider

The birds’ bats have awakened and punished the Twins pitching staff over the past couple nights. Maybe, the sky isn’t falling after all. Ye of little faith !!!! And, just think ….. the BIG BOYS are coming to town over the next week …..
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Maybe, Just Maybe
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This Wieters kid is gonna be a big league hitter. After absorbing a lathering of criticisms from inside and outside Baltimore, is the Orioles prized catching prospect primed to “BUST” out in the right way?

If he does, I’m gonna remind Steven Goldman of Baseball Prospectus, every single day.
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Keep An Eye Out
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Starting today at around lunchtime, gawkers around the inner harbor will probably get occasional glimpses of baseball’s rockstars. My sources are telling me Derek Jeter will spend his off-day searching for Baltimore’s “fountain of youth”.

It gets better …. the Yankees obnoxious fans start rolling into town tomorrow.
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Simply The Greatest, EVER
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During yesterday’s AFTERNOON DRIVE, we devoted musical selections to female artists. I saved the best for last, and in my opinion there has never, EVER been a better voice than Karen Carpenter.

I’m not a huge fan of her soft melodies, it just means I can sacrifice my preferences and recognize talent.
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Dodgers, Divorce & Dysfunction (BONUS – 100 word special)
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Does Bud Selig have his hands full? In a word …. YES. And, his problems aren’t being caused by the poor-mouthed Marlins, Pirates and Royals. Nope, it’s much bigger …..

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

I’m probably in the minority on this one, but there is a comfort in knowing the Orioles are not in financial ruin. The Dodgers could use Andy MacPhail’s fiscal discipline; yes, I said that.
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Dude, Just Listen To Me …..
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Have you noticed Justin Timberlake is not growing his hair very long these days? According to some notable published articles, the actor/singer is battling a thinning hairline.

It’s simple, he just needs to click on this TAB. I did it and six months later, I have never been happier.
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Family First? Not According To This Guy
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Perhaps, I was a little heavy handed in labeling Richie Whitt the “D-bag Of The Day” for his article regarding Colby Lewis choosing the birth of his child over pitching in a baseball game.

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

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Rougher waters loom for the Orioles young, depleted pitching staff

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Rougher waters loom for the Orioles young, depleted pitching staff

Posted on 06 April 2011 by Rex Snider

We are four games into the 2011 season and the optimism of a “brand new start” is resonating throughout this city. I suppose four consecutive wins, featuring solid pitching and good fundamentals will attract the wandering eye, huh?

In this span of just five days, the Orioles have garnered a splash or two on the national stage, as well. Such exposure also rallies the attention of many casual, local baseball fans who’ve lost interest over the past several seasons.

This renewed excitement is certainly noteworthy and even if it’s short-lived, the feeling is rekindling for many of us. I applaud the reborn enthusiasm, but I will also take this moment to serve as the cautious voice of reason …..

I’m not casting a conspicuous warning that 158 games remain on the balance of the schedule. Everybody can count, and we’re all aware of the slight fraction of a season that has expired. Plenty of good (and bad) baseball remains.

I have been pleased with a product that appears to be building on last season’s late success. However, I’m also very cautious about the immediate schedule of opponents looming directly ahead.

I’m not looking beyond the Detroit Tigers, as two games remain in this first series on the home slate. At some point, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Magglio Ordonez are likely to awaken to find the deliveries of Brad Bergesen and Chris Tillman appetizing.

But, starting this Friday, the action and potential threats to this young pitching staff will arrive front and center. In defense of their American League Championship, the Texas Rangers will become the kinda guests we won’t welcome for a weekend series to wrap-up the first homestand.

The Rangers are not the Rays.

Their lineup doesn’t expose an easy out, with combinations of power, speed and plate discipline clogging nearly every spot from top to bottom. They’re obviously the real deal and quite capable of knocking the Orioles young pitching staff down a couple notches.

If Zach Britton turns in a duplicate performance of last Sunday’s debut, one of the game’s lesser known legitimate rockstars will likely plant a “WELCOME TO THE SHOW” souvenir on the flag court:
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And if it’s not Nelson Cruz, it will be Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre’ or just about any other guy in that lineup. In truth, Britton was hit pretty hard, and he benefited from a bit of luck when it came to scorching liners finding gloves.

I get it …. Sunday’s game marked his first time on a big league mound and the “butterfly effect” was most certainly a factor. But, excuses won’t save the young phenom if he surrenders early counts in his favor, as he did numerous times against Tampa.

The same cautionary suggestions apply to Jake Arrieta if he deals the very hand witnessed in Monday’s home opener. He fell behind, while customarily wrestling with command and benefited from a less than patient approach by the Detroit lineup.

When the curtain comes down on the Texas series, the birds head to the Bronx for the first of three visits. The Yankees will pose a similar threat to the Rangers; they’re going to force these young pitchers to work and they’ll KILL mistakes.

Robinson Cano has emerged as the team’s best hitter and he feasts on poor pitching performances …..
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Mark Teixeira has started the season on a hot streak and the Jeter/A’Rod combination is not going to hit a substandard .270 again. Tillman will avoid the Texas bats, but he’ll be forced to protect Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right field against a compliment of 6 hitters from the left side of the plate.

It is what is, I suppose …..

The Orioles are manning an unblemished 4-0 record, and all of us understand its a bit of an aberration. Losses on the scoreboard await this team in the very near future and everybody who loves baseball comprehends the realities of a 162 game schedule.

Many of us have claimed that we want to see improvement, beyond anything else. And, while the win/loss record usually dictates success, I think the overall performances we witness from this impressionable pitching staff is just as vital.

In an ironic way, a pitcher’s statistical performance can be as misleading as a perfect 4-0 record. I’m not buying high, nor selling low, I’m just taking a wait and see approach with the likes of Tillman, Britton, Arrieta and company.

Some notable bumps in the road await each young arm in this rotation, and quite honestly, I’m betting a few of those bumps are just a few days ahead of us.

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My bold guarantees for the Major League Baseball season

Posted on 31 March 2011 by Rex Snider

With today’s official kickoff of the Major League Baseball season, I have decided to throw out my personal commemorative first pitch, of sorts. In fact, I’m throwing out SIX PITCHES, in the form of my half-dozen “locks” or guarantees for the upcoming campaign.

Nothing outrageous ….. such as the Pittsburgh Pirates making the playoffs.

Nothing obvious ….. such as the Pittsburgh Pirates missing the playoffs.

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Nothing cruel ….. such as being subjected to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

But, I do have a solid six hunches regarding the upcoming slate of regular season and postseason action. Will I be wrong? Nope, not a chance …..
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San Francisco Giants – One & Done

The defending World Champions were an aberration, if not a freak of the modern game. Dominant starting pitching, complimented by a stifling closer? Yep. But, the Giants lineup was pasted together with retreads, fill-ins and future contributors. Aubrey Huff led the team, across the board, in offensive production – and he gathered slightly above average numbers.

It won’t happen, again. They will be home when the playoffs begin.

Mr. November Nails 3,000 Hits During A Stellar Season

It’s hard to believe the New York Yankees do not have a member of the 3,000 hit club. As we know, that’s about to change, with Derek Jeter needing just 74 hits to become the 28th member of the prestigious group – and he’ll do it in near record time.

But, my bold guarantee is Jeter reaches his milestone during an impressive “Jeter-like” season, hitting over .300 and serving as a spark plug to the Yankees offense. He’s been written off way too soon.

Gonzalez, Santana & Beckham

No, I am not referring to Adrian, Johan or David. As the 2011 season comes to an end, names like Carlos Gonzalez, Carlos Santana and Gordon Beckham will be even more recognizable as the budding stars of the game’s next era. All three of these players will take a GIANT step toward such prominence, this year.

Brewers Prove An Ageless Reality

We’ve witnessed this mistake numerous times over the last 30 years. George Steinbrenner tried it; along with Tom Hicks, Drayton McLane, Gene Autry and a few other owners. Championship-caliber teams can rarely be built, or substantially comprised during a single off-season. But, that’s exactly what Mark Attanasio and Doug Melvin are trying, in Milwaukee.

With the certain departure of Prince Fielder, after 2011, the Brewers are ALL IN with additions, such as Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and most recently, the baggage-ridden Nyjer Morgan. Such teams lack continuity and are under an immediate pressure to win, on Opening Day. If they’re not in contention at the trade deadline, most assembled clubs are broken apart.

I expect the Brewers to be “sellers” as August approaches.

Top Rookies Are Not In The Majors

I have absolutely no idea who the American and National League “Rookies Of The Year” will be …. but, I’d be willing to bet neither player starts the season on a big league roster. It’s happened many times and will likely happen, again, in 2011. I suppose this is my way of suggesting some caution on hefty predictions for Jeremy Hellickson, Brandon Belt and Chris Sale.

Hall Of Fame – Class Of 2017 ???

As the 2011 season concludes, Jim Thome and Chipper Jones will officially go on the “Cooperstown Clock”. I’m more optimistic regarding Thome’s impact during the season, but it’s obvious both players are coming to the finish line of superb careers.

Thome will reach 600 homers, which virtually locks him in as a first ballot inductee. I think Jones is a much more debatable candidate. I’m tempted to include Ivan Rodriguez, but I can see him hanging around in 2012, especially if he’s above the 2900 hits plateau.

*** Tomorrow, I will cast a half dozen bold predictions for the Orioles

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