With “The Morning Reaction” wrapping early this morning so Drew Forrester and I can go root for Team USA to top Algeria at Looney’s in Canton; I won’t have enough time to post a full Crabs & Beer update.
Instead, I figured I’d go “simple column” this morning. We’re on Day 3 of summer today, although it’s been hot enough to feel like each day lasts for 3 days this summer. Between now and September 22 when summer officially ends, there are some things I’d like to see…
10. 1 more game from Team USA in the World Cup
This is Number 10 because it’s the event closest to now. An appearance in the Round of 16 won’t really be all that historic for the Americans, as they’ve reached at least the round of 16 in 2 of their last 4 trips to the World Cup. BUT-here in town, having the Americans play significant games has been really nice in this area. We had a packed house in Bel Air last Friday for the Slovenia match, and Patriot Plaza in Towson was packed for the England match before that.
During matches, Facebook and Twitter have been wild with Team USA discussion. This area has really been galvanized by having a team that we root for play significant games. I don’t need to even begin to explain that it doesn’t happen in baseball anymore.
Selfishly, I’d like to see the Americans play two or even THREE more games before the World Cup ended. As close as we could get to the start of Training Camp would be really nice. That being said, I’ll be realistic. Just one more game would be particularly nice to keep folks in this area excited about…well…anything.
9. Robert Randolph in Baltimore
If you didn’t go to Artscape last year, you might not understand. The most electric night of the year in Charm City last summer was the night Robert Randolph rocked Artscape (see above). I guess you could argue that Bruce Springsteen playing 1st Mariner Arena in the fall was more electric because it was in front of a bigger crowd, but there was just something so unbelievably special about that night at Artscape.
It was the type of night that was unbelievably Baltimore. The crowd was as diverse a group of people as you could imagine seeing on a street corner. The show was as good as you would expect from Robert Randolph (and the Family Band), but it was BETTER because it was free, it was in Baltimore, and it was at an event that is attended by folks from all walks of life in town.
I have no doubt that Wale will play a great set at Artscape this year, as acts like Citizen Cope and The Roots have done in the past. There’s a chance that I might go see Robert Randolph in Philadelphia or Dewey Beach this summer as well. But it won’t quite be the same. What happened last summer was SPECIAL. I’d love to see a way that it could happen again in Baltimore this summer.
8. A tall receiver makes the Ravens roster
Honestly, I’m not entirely sure that Demetrius Williams, Justin Harper or Eron Riley (or even Rodelin Anthony for that matter) are any good. Williams and Harper have had their chances on the active roster, and have little to show for it. Harper has played in just two games (both last season), and Williams caught just 4 TD’s in his 4 year career.
That being said, in past years-the team has had no option but to let them on the roster. That’s not the case this season. The Ravens HAVE receivers. Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and Donte’ Stallworth are ALL going to make the team. Mark Clayton, Marcus Smith, David Reed and the receivers listed above are all in the mix to make the team as well. If one of the tall receivers makes the team, it’s NOT going to happen just because the team has no other choice. All of these guys are going to have to go to Westminster and make an impact at Training Camp.
The Ravens offense appears to be primed for their best season in team history. Joe Flacco, Michael Oher, Ray Rice and Anquan Boldin are enough pieces to have some pundits (like Bill Matt Williamson at ESPN.com) say that the team has the best offense in the AFC North. The only thing missing is a legitimate threat from a tall receiver. Hopefully one of these guys will separate themseves at McDaniel College and prove that they can be counted on.
7. Brock Lesnar beats Shane Carwin
I consider myself a UFC fan. Heck, I consider myself a fan of all Mixed Martial Arts in general. That being said, on a scale of 1-10, I’m probably a 6 when it comes to my MMA fandom. I attend John Rallo’s “Shogun Fights” events, I went to the UFC Pay-Per-View in Philly last summer, I watch “The Ultimate Fighter” on SpikeTV, and I even occassionally wander over to Hooters or somewhere that shows the fights for free.
That being said, the only time in MY LIFE when I have plunked down 50 bucks of my own money to watch a fight was last July when Brock Lesnar faught Frank Mir. I wasn’t the only one. In fact, the fight did 1.6 million PPV buys, making it the most purchased PPV event of the year. It was the biggest event in UFC history, and gave the sport some absolute juice.
What made the event better was the fact that despite it being headlined by a former WWE champion, it had real legitimacy to it. The fight was an honest-to-God fight for the UFC Heavyweight title between two deserving fighters. It wasn’t Kimbo Slice. It wasn’t Herschel Walker. The best thing for the UFC is to have more events like that in the future.
For that to happen, Brock Lesnar needs to beat Shane Carwin. I hope he does.
6. Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne get real chances to make NBA rosters
Greivis Vasquez is going to hear his name called Thursday night during the NBA Draft, and there’s no question in my mind that he will be on a NBA roster when the season tips off. (When does the season tip off, by the way?)
But the other two Maryland seniors aren’t nearly that type of sure thing. Eric Hayes and Landon Milbourne have each spent the last month or so traveling the country and trying to prove themselves capable of playing in the NBA. Teams like the Washington Wizards, Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers have given them looks, but it’s unlikely that either of them will hear their name called Thursday night.
That being said, I firmly believe both guys will end up in Las Vegas this summer playing in the NBA Summer League. I hope that after that, they each end up on a Training Camp roster with a REAL shot at making a team. Something tells me they’ll both end up in Europe eventually (I happen to think that Milbourne’s game is particularly well-suited for Europe), but I hope they both get a real chance to make it in the NBA first. Eric Hayes is NOT Steve Blake, but there’s a chance he could be Tim Legler.
These are both guys who were great competitors in College Park and made Terrapins alumni proud. They’re easy to root for, and I will absolutely be hoping for the best for both of them.
5. Maryland-Navy sold out on Labor Day, Inter Milan-Manchester City sold out in July
Despite the fact that some folks think I should change my middle name to Testudo, I’m not excited about Terps football this season. I have a bad feeling that there isn’t enough talent to win the close games that Ralph Friedgen’s team lost a season ago.
That being said, having attended the last “Crab Bowl Classic” at M&T Bank Stadium, there are few football games in the world that I would be as excited to attend this season as I am about the Terrapins and Midshipmen on a day that just so happens to also be my birthday. The atmosphere when these teams met in 2005 was unbelievably electric. It was quite possibly the best atmosphere for any college football game I’ve ever attended, with MAYBE the exception of the Boise State-Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.
Inter Milan-Man City this summer clearly doesn’t have the juice of last summer’s AC Milan-Chelsea matchup, despite Inter winning the UEFA Champions League this season. But the event is still a world class soccer match, and it will provide a gauge for how Baltimore is viewed as a viable location for future major soccer events in town.
I like having big, exciting sporting events in town. With only 8 regular season NFL games (the two exhibition games aren’t really big or exciting) and Opening Day for the Orioles providing real juice, it helps to have one-off events that generate a spark in the area. To continue getting those events, the events that do come here must be well attended. I don’t really think both of these events will sell out (heck, I’m not sure either of them will), but it would go a long way for getting more events like these in the area.
4. Someone…making SOME sort of progress on the arena situation in Baltimore
A lot of great things have happened in this state since Terry Hasseltine has been hired to get big events. Hasseltine has helped to bring the IndyCar Series to town, make strides in college football and soccer events, and make sure to keep the Preakness here in town.
That being said, there’s one area where NOTHING has happened that is unbelievably frustrating for sports fans in town.
24 months ago, the Baltimore Development Corporation reported that a new arena would be built downtown where the current 1st Mariner Arena sits. Since that time…ummm….well…have you heard anything new?
I’m not stupid. I don’t expect ground to be broken on an arena this summer. But it would be really nice to hear SOMETHING from Stephanie Rawlings-Blake or the leadership of the city about progress being made in the area. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
3. Andy Roddick playing on the 4th of July
This of course has EVERYTHING to do with the fact that I’m an obsessed A-Rod fan myself, but it is more than that as well. Tennis had a real chance for a resurgence in this country last summer when Andy Roddick took Roger Federer to the 5th set in the longest (game-wise) final in Wimbledon history. Roddick eventually fell short as Federer surpassed Pete Sampras to become the greatest grand slam champion in the history of the sport, but a Roddick win could have done wonders for the sport of tennis in America.
Andy Roddick has always played his best tennis in London. Despite having won his only grand slam at Flushing Meadows, he’s reached the finals three times at Wimbledon-having lost all three to Federer. The way he lost last year has to make you feel that if he REACHES the final again, he’d have a real chance to get over the hump.
He’s not a better player than Federer or Rafael Nadal. But if he can win at Wimbledon, it would lead to a much better American atmosphere surrounding the U.S. Open.
2. An acceptance that “The Plan” was a joke to begin with
I’m not going as far as to say the Birds should consider parting ways with Andy MacPhail. I just don’t want to hear any more about “The Plan.” “The Plan” has gone 19-51 this season, and there is just no reason to believe that the O’s will be any better next season despite the “young core” assembled.
I want to know what the team is going to do to WIN. And I want to know what they’re going to do to win in 2011. That was the promise all along, right?
I just don’t want to hear about “The Plan” ever again. Unless “The Plan” is no more than a plan to WIN.
1. A Ravens win Sept. 13 in East Rutherford
As I’ve told to anyone who would listen, I really believe the Baltimore Ravens are Super Bowl contenders. That being said, I also think the New York Jets, Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots and San Diego Chargers are Super Bowl contenders.
For the positive vibes to keep flowing, a win at the Meadowlands would go a long way.
Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…