Tag Archive | "kansas city"

Our Ravens/Chiefs “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Chiefs “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 07 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 9-6 win over the Kansas City Chiefs…

Glenn Clark’s Pats…

5. Dennis Pitta

4. Paul Kruger

3. Justin Tucker

2. Cary Williams

1. Ray Rice (Pat on Both Cheeks)


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Ravens near full strength for road test against Chiefs

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Ravens near full strength for road test against Chiefs

Posted on 05 October 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Having 10 days between their fourth and fifth games of the season, the Ravens continue to find themselves very fortunate in the injury department as their entire 53-man roster practiced again on Friday.

Making final preparations for the Kansas City Chiefs, offensive lineman Jah Reid was the only player limited and was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game on the final injury report of the week.

The favorable report continues an excellent trend for the Ravens through the first five weeks of the regular season. Aside from Reid — who continues to work his way back from a calf injury originally suffered in the team’s mandatory minicamp in June — the only player to miss a game due to injury was linebacker Paul Kruger, who sat out Baltimore’s Week 2 loss against the Philadelphia Eagles.

“What we have to focus on is the things that we can control and I think our guys do a good job of taking care of themselves,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We have a strong team, physically. Obviously, [head trainer Mark Smith] and [strength and conditioning coach Bob Rogucki] do a great job, but the focus [is] on how we play right now. That’s what we think about and that’s how we’re spending our time.”

The only other player listed on the Ravens’ injury report all week was wide receiver Torrey Smith, who is dealing with a mild ankle sprain suffered in the Week 4 win over Cleveland. However, the second-year wideout has been a full participant all week in practices and will play on Sunday.

Conversely, Kansas City dealt with a plethora of injuries all week and has already ruled out starting defensive end Glenn Dorsey, running back Peyton Hillis, and wide receiver Devon Wylie.

Two other defensive starters, inside linebacker Derrick Johnson and free safety Derrick Lewis, are listed as questionable.

Here’s the final injury report for the week:

BALTIMORE
QUESTIONABLE: OL Jah Reid (calf)
PROBABLE: WR Torrey Smith (ankle)

KANSAS CITY
OUT: DE Glenn Dorsey (calf), RB Peyton Hillis (ankle), WR Devon Wylie (hamstring)
DOUBTFUL: CB Jalil Brown (hamstring)
QUESTIONABLE: LB Derrick Johnson (groin), S Kendrick Lewis (shoulder), DE Ropati Pitoitua (elbow)
PROBABLE: WR Jon Baldwin (hamstring), CB Brandon Flowers (heel), G Ryan Lilja (back)

Offensive line keeping tabs on Hali

Looking to rebound from a rough performance against the Browns, the Baltimore offensive line is cognizant of Kansas City’s pass-rushing duo of outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.

While Houston is still developing in his second NFL season, Hali is a two-time Pro Bowl selection and has accumulated 54 1/2 sacks in his seven-year career. The Ravens will pay close attention to where he lines up before the snap as head coach Romeo Crennel likes to find various matchups in which Hali can thrive.

“Obviously, that guy’s a hell of a player,” guard Marshal Yanda said. “They want to get mismatches on him so they’re going to move him around a little bit. We’ve seen him inside, they’ll put him on the guards too, right tackle and left tackle. They’re going to move him around as much as they can because the guy is who he is.”

With cornerbacks Brandon Flowers and Stanford Routt using press coverage, the Chiefs will rely on the two outside linebackers to force pressure on quarterback Joe Flacco as the Ravens wide receivers try to gain separation off the line of scrimmage.

“That front seven is outstanding,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “Those defenses, historically, have fed off the crowd. I know they’ve gotten behind in a couple of their home games so far, but when the game is tight, that defense feeds off the crowd.”

Odds & ends

The Chiefs have not enjoyed a lead during a game all season. Their only win came in Week 3 when kicker Ryan Succop booted a game-winning field goal in overtime over the New Orleans Saints. … Chiefs feature back Jamaal Charles and Baltimore running back Ray Rice rank first and second in the NFL in yards from scrimmage through the season’s first four weeks. … Baltimore has a league-leading eight touchdown drives of 80-or-more yards this season, including two of 90-or-more yards. … The Chiefs have three players who formerly played in Baltimore, wide receiver Terrance Copper, linebacker Edgar Jones, and center Bryan Mattison. Ravens safety Bernard Pollard was selected by the Chiefs in the second round of the 2006 draft and spent three seasons in Kansas City. … Pete Morelli will be the official for Sunday’s game at Arrowhead Stadium. … Sunday’s forecast in Kansas City calls for temperatures in the mid to upper 50s and clear skies.

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Morning Reaction Picks and Comment – Week 5

Posted on 05 October 2012 by Luke Jones

Here are this weekend’s picks as Drew Forrester and Luke Jones will pick every NFL game as well as local college football contests this season. And as a special treat, they pick their respective high schools’ games.

Drew Forrester finished 12-3 last week while Luke Jones was 11-4 in Week 4. Forrester is 38-24 overall and Jones is 41-21 after four weeks of play. Official standings are only kept based on the NFL picks.

(Editor’s note: Drew picked a 27-20 Rams victory on Thursday night while Luke incorrectly chose an Arizona 20-17 win.)

To hear their full explanations, click HERE.

Orioles at Rangers (AL Wild Card play-in game): Texas 8-5 (Drew), Baltimore 5-4 (Luke)
Ravens at Chiefs:
Baltimore 34-13 (Drew), Baltimore 24-14 (Luke)
Falcons at Redskins:
Atlanta 31-17 (Drew), Atlanta 27-20 (Luke)
Eagles at Steelers:
Pittsburgh 20-17 OT (Drew), Pittsburgh 24-20 (Luke)
Packers at Colts:
Green Bay 30-19 (Drew), Green Bay 27-16 (Luke)
Browns at Giants:
New York 33-17 (Drew), New York 31-14 (Luke)
Titans at Vikings:
Tennessee 28-21 (Drew), Minnesota 27-21 (Luke)
Dolphins at Bengals:
Miami 23-20 (Drew), Cincinnati 27-17 (Luke)
Seahawks at Panthers:
Carolina 28-24 (Drew), Carolina 24-17 (Luke)
Bears at Jaguars:
Chicago 24-13 (Drew), Chicago 21-16 (Luke)
Broncos at Patriots:
New England 34-24 (Drew), New England 28-20 (Luke)
Bills at 49ers:
San Francisco 31-7 (Drew), San Francisco 25-13 (Luke)
Chargers at Saints:
New Orleans 33-17 (Drew), New Orleans 31-27 (Luke)
Texans at Jets:
New York 24-20 (Drew), Houston 20-13 (Luke)
Wake Forest at Maryland:
Terps 21-19 (Drew), Terps 20-14 (Luke)
Towson at James Madison:
Tigers 28-25 (Drew), Tigers 24-21 (Luke)
Navy at Air Force:
Falcons 38-10 (Drew), Falcons 27-13 (Luke)
Morgan State at Savannah State:
Bears 28-12 (Drew), Bears 21-10 (Luke)
Glen Burnie at Chesapeake:
Gophers 23-18 (Drew), Cougars 21-20 (Luke)
Susquehannock at West York:
Bulldogs 41-8 (Drew), Warriors 14-13 (Luke)

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Ravens passing attack preparing for physical Chiefs secondary

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Ravens passing attack preparing for physical Chiefs secondary

Posted on 04 October 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Seeing the Ravens among the top offensive teams in the NFL is enough to make you blink twice after years of riding the coattail of the defense, but it represents a changing of the guard in Baltimore.

Through the first four games of the season, the Ravens rank second in total offense and fifth in points per game while their defense has slipped to 23rd overall in yards allowed this season. Much of the offensive improvement falls on the shoulders of fifth-year quarterback Joe Flacco, who is on pace for his first 5,000-yard season when he has yet to even throw for 4,000 in a season.

However, Flacco would be the first to tell you his expanded set of weapons in the passing game has helped him immensely as the addition of the speedy Jacoby Jones and the improvement of 2011 second-round pick Torrey Smith have led to a more dynamic passing game, which ranks fourth in the league in yardage. Baltimore leads the league with 26 plays of 20-or-more yards this season, with 24 coming through the air.

“[Defenses] definitely have to decide how to play us,” Flacco said. “They’ve tried to take those guys away, and sometimes they’ve left them one-on-one out there. In either situation, I think we’ve done a good job of running routes underneath and winning underneath.”

The one week in which the Baltimore receivers seemed to be outmatched came against the Philadelphia Eagles as cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie played press coverage with a single deep safety for much of the afternoon. Ravens wideouts were held to just six catches for 85 yards, with Jones catching a 21-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

Flacco attempted 42 passes against the Eagles but only targeted wide receivers 12 times as he instead looked at tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson and running back Ray Rice. He averaged only 5.5 yards per attempt in the Ravens’ 24-23 loss.

Possessing the league’s 13th-ranked pass defense, the Kansas City Chiefs will employ a similar defensive style with their 3-4 alignment as opposed to the Eagles’ 4-3 scheme.

“They are playing bump-and-run Cover 1, a lot of single-high coverage,” offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. “They feel good about their inside linebackers’ ability to cover. They like their ability to get edge pressure to help their secondary. So, I like the way they’re aggressive. Most teams that can play bump-and-run man-to-man play Cover 1, they can give you some problems.”

Comparatively speaking, cornerback Brandon Flowers brings a physical presence similar to Rodgers-Cromartie while Stanford Routt is more of a speed coverage back like Asomugha. Neither is as talented as the tandem in Philadelphia, but the Chiefs also have one of the best young safeties in the league in Eric Berry to offer assistance in coverage.

Going back through the last few seasons, receivers have struggled to beat press coverage and gain separation against more physical defensive backs and it’s a strategy the Ravens will once again encounter in Kansas City. If Flacco cannot find open targets, he will face heat from outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston coming around the edges.

The Kansas City defense showed its potential last season in handing the 13-0 Packers their only loss of the regular season as they sacked quarterback Aaron Rodgers four times and held him to only 235 yards passing on 35 attempts while holding their talented wide receivers in check.

“You better be able to run through those seven yards, get yourself free, get yourself clean, get some separation so Joe can get the ball out,” Cameron said. “These guys do an outstanding job rushing the passer. You saw last year when Green Bay went in there undefeated and they got a ton of pressure on Rodgers. The combination of their coverage and their pressure is the toughest part.”

Pollard not feeling sentimental

Strong safety Bernard Pollard began his NFL career in Kansas City where he was a second-round selection in the 2006 draft.

Playing for then-coach Herman Edwards, Pollard spent three seasons with the Chiefs and amassed 189 tackles, three interceptions, and one sack in his time there. However, the seventh-year safety says he doesn’t view the game with any special significance.

“It’s not about me. A lot of guys on this team have been on other teams,” Pollard said. “It’s not about that individual. It’s about us as a team going into a hostile environment and getting a win.”

However, Pollard went on to discuss how many of his former teammates remain in Kansas City, including running back Jamaal Charles as the two spent the 2008 season together before Pollard wound up in Houston a year later. That year, Charles was a rookie from the University of Texas.

The Baltimore defensive player credited his former teammates for hanging tough in Kansas City after a rough start to the 2011 season that included season-ending injuries to Charles and Berry and the dismissal of head coach Todd Haley. Pollard is anxious to face the talented Charles, who ranks second in the NFL with 415 rushing yards.

“It’s going to be fun being able to see him,” Pollard said. “Just to see him become the player that he is. When they drafted him in the third round, just to see him now, the guy is a very talented player. That’s what Herm wanted. You look at a lot of players that they have, Herm drafted a lot of those men that are key athletes on their team.”

Injury report

CONTINUE >>>

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Ravens’ eyes wide open over potential of turnover-laden Chiefs

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Ravens’ eyes wide open over potential of turnover-laden Chiefs

Posted on 03 October 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — As the Ravens prepare to travel to Kansas City to take on the Chiefs Sunday, they don’t see a 1-3 team fighting for its life in the AFC West.

Instead, they remember the team from two seasons ago that gave Baltimore everything it could handle in the first half of play before an injury to running back Jamaal Charles crippled the Chiefs and led to a 30-7 win in the Wild Card round of the 2010 playoffs. New head coach Romeo Crennel has replaced Todd Haley since then, but many of the players from that division-winning squad remain in Kansas City.

“Not a lot has changed with the personnel there, so we know what they are capable of,” running back Ray Rice said. “That’s a very dangerous team with a lot of weapons. Like I said, I never really get into a team’s record. I go into every game just preparing for the opponent.”

On the surface, the comments sound polite and standard when a good team is playing an inferior opponent, but the Ravens have made it clear they’re not taking a road trip to Kansas City lightly. In addition to Arrowhead Stadium being one of the more challenging venues in the NFL in which to play, the Chiefs have the league’s fourth-ranked offense and the second-best rushing attack in the league.

Charles is second in the NFL with 415 rushing yards after missing most of the 2011 season with an ACL injury and is known as a dangerous runner in open space. The Chiefs complement his speed with power backs Peyton Hillis and Shaun Draughn.

Kansas City also has the 17th-ranked passing game with wide receiver Dwayne Bowe ranked fourth in the AFC with a team-high 342 receiving yards and three touchdowns.

The Chiefs do not rank as favorably defensively — sitting 13th overall in yards allowed and 31st in points allowed per game — but still possess talent in pass rushers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston as well as talented young safety Eric Berry.

So, why exactly have they dropped three of their first four games?

“They’re a very talented football team,” Harbaugh said. “When you look at the statistics, they’re way out in front in every statistical category except one — and that’s turnovers. And they know that. So, I’m sure they feel like if they can get that part of it cleaned up, they’ve got a great chance of winning football games.”

Kansas City sports the NFL’s worst turnover ratio at minus-13 with the next-worst team sitting at only minus-7 (Dallas). Quarterback Matt Cassel has been the main culprit in the turnover department, throwing seven interceptions and losing three fumbles to account for 10 of the Chiefs’ 15 turnovers through four games.

The Baltimore defense sees the potential in the offense they’ll be facing on Sunday, but the 23rd-ranked unit will try to continue Kansas City’s trend of making mistakes. The Ravens have forced eight turnovers this season, which is tied for third in the AFC.

It begins and ends with rattling Cassel, who’s been sacked 13 times already. However, Crennel has left the door open regarding the possibility of backup Brady Quinn replacing Cassel if his poor play continues.

“[Cassel's] got a lot of weapons around him, all the way around him actually,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “They added a lot of new pieces, and I just think they’re doing a great job. You take away the turnovers and things, [and] they’re doing an awfully great job with their offense.”

Reed the ball coach?

Safety Ed Reed has spent plenty of time discussing his future in recent months, but the comments he made Wednesday had nothing to do with a desire for a new contract or a feeling of being slighted by the organization.

The 34-year-old talked about life after football and his desire to become a coach after his playing days are over.

“Right now, it’s just high school because I want to be around my son,” said Reed, who lamented losing so much time away from his family while playing at the University of Miami and in the NFL. “I would love to coach at this level probably at some point, maybe even college because I feel like you can get the kids while they’re young and still give them information.”

Always a vocal leader in the secondary, Reed has received praise from coaches and teammates alike this season for taking an even bigger role in helping to prepare teammates for opponents as well as offering advice on how to take care of their bodies.

“He is making sure we know exactly what we are doing so we can go 110 percent,” cornerback Lardarius Webb said. “He is in it this year. All the other years, he would teach us a little something here and there, but this year, it’s all 110 percent. He is teaching us everything that he can possibly know, and I am happy for it.”

Reed’s six-year contract that was signed in 2006 expires after the 2012 season.

Injury report

BALTIMORE
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: T Jah Reid (calf)
FULL PARTICIPATION: WR Torrey Smith (ankle)

KANSAS CITY
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Jon Baldwin (hamstring), CB Jalil Brown (hamstring), DE Glen Dorsey (calf), CB Brandon Flowers (heel), RB Peyton Hillis (ankle), LB Derrick Johnson (groin), DE Ropati Pitoitua (elbow), WR Devon Wylie (hamstring)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: S Kendrick Lewis (shoulder), G Ryan Lilja (back)

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Ravens benefit from extra rest as attention turns to Kansas City

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Ravens benefit from extra rest as attention turns to Kansas City

Posted on 03 October 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Benefiting from the back end of last week’s Thursday night game against the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens appear to have taken advantage from the extra three days of rest as they begin preparations for the Kansas City Chiefs.

All players were present and working during the portion of practice open to the media on Wednesday as quarterback Joe Flacco and wide receiver Torrey Smith seem to be recovering well from the minor ankle sprains sustained in the 23-16 win over Cleveland. Cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee) and safety Ed Reed (hamstring) were also practicing after coach John Harbaugh mentioned each as individuals who were dealing with nagging injuries last Friday.

“We wanted to use this time as like another bye,” running back Ray Rice said. “If  you have a long weekend and played the amount of games that we played in that short period of a time, you want to use the extra couple of days like a bye weekend. That’s what we did. Coach Harbaugh did a great job taking care of us.”

In the Harbaugh era, Baltimore is 2-0 in games the week after playing on a Thursday night. The Ravens played four games in an 18-day stretch to begin the season but now embark on the portion of their schedule in which they play three of their next four games on the road.

In other news, the success of the playoff-bound Orioles was a popular topic of discussion as Flacco, Rice, and Reed all sported the popular “Buckle Up” t-shirts to recognize manager Buck Showalter and the other professional sports team in town.

“They’ve just been playing huge, playing big,” said Reed, who has frequently posted about the Orioles on his official Twitter account in recent weeks. “Finishing right now is the key. Today is the last one, so I hope those guys finish on a good note going into the playoffs and win this thing.”

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 01 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

Honorable MentionGolf-PGA Tour Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals For Children Open (Thursday-Sunday 4pm from Las Vegas live on Golf Channel); Champions Tour SAS Championship (Friday-Sunday 7:30pm from Cary, NC on Golf Channel); Soccer: MLS-DC United @ Toronto FC (Saturday 1pm from Toronto live on Comcast SportsNet); College Soccer: Virginia @ Maryland (Friday 7:30pm from Ludwig Field live on Fox Soccer Channel); Howard @ UMBC (Tuesday 7pm Retriever Soccer Park)

10. Animal Collective (Tuesday 6:30pm Merriweather Post Pavilion), Virgin Mobile Freefest feat. Jack White, Alabama Shakes, Ben Folds Five, M83, Skrillex, Nas, ZZ Top (Saturday 11am Merriweather Post Pavilion); Snoop Dogg (Thursday 9pm Rams Head Live), Mutemath/Civil Twilight (Saturday 8pm Rams Head Live); Cris Jacobs Band (Thursday 8pm 8×10 Club); The Ataris (Friday 7:30pm Ottobar); Sixpence None The Richer (Tuesday 8pm Rams Head on Stage), Herman’s Hermits (Saturday 6pm & 9pm Rams Head on Stage); Diamond Rio (Thursday 8pm Rams Head Center Stage); Switchfoot (Wednesday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Waka Flocka Flame (Saturday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Disco Biscuits (Saturday 7:30pm Baltimore Soundstage); Jon Spencer Blues Explosion (Friday 7pm U Street Music Hall); Mint Condition (Saturday 8pm Howard Theatre), Emeli Sande (Monday 8pm Howard Theatre); Robin Thicke (Saturday 8pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall); Raveonettes (Saturday 9pm Black Cat); Muse “The 2nd Law” and Van Morrison “Born to Sing: No Plan B” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I mean, I hope Jack White doesn’t walk off stage a few songs into his set Saturday at MPP like he did this weekend in New York. Although in fairness, this is hilarious…

This song kicks ass…

Also, Alabama Shakes…

And if I’m not in Columbia Saturday night (or at ALDS Game 1), I hope to be at RHL…

You may have heard me play the new Muse track a couple of times on the show. Listener Bobby described it as “hot fire”, but I thought that was reserved for Dylan Dilinjah…

9. Maryland Renaissance Festival (Saturday & Sunday Revel Grove); Jim Florentine (Thursday-Saturday Magooby’s Joke House), Tom Papa (Thursday-Saturday DC Improv); “Taken 2″ out in theaters (Friday)

You’re thinking “why would someone take another member of Liam Neeson’s family”, but then again…

Also, here’s a preview of the film…

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Orioles Magic and 666: The Number of The East

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Orioles Magic and 666: The Number of The East

Posted on 27 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s been six years and six days since we launched the “Free The Birds” campaign to speak out about the awfulness that the Baltimore Orioles had become under the stewardship of Peter G. Angelos. Coincidentally, today the Orioles “magic number” to clinch a playoff berth in the American League is 6.

It’s absolutely astonishing that we’re going to the Ravens’ fourth game of the season tonight and the Baltimore Orioles are playing meaningful baseball games every night. It’s almost awkward and overwhelming, the energy we’re all feeling for sports in our community.

So as 70,000 gather downtown and bring the purple love for the 2-1 Baltimore Ravens on national television, has all been forgiven and “fixed” according to the customers of the Baltimore Orioles?

If you’re counting the tens of thousands of empty seats this “Orioles Magic” show has played for over the last month you’ll see that the franchise and the 2012 Orioles still have a long way to go to undo the untold damage to the psyche of its own fan base. Even worse, there are many potential baseball fans who are unaware – or uninterested – in coming back to the ballpark and soaking in the love of Birdland, which right now is just about the happiest place on earth.

Fill in any reason you’d like: price, distance, inconvenience, HDTV, love of Jim Hunter, blah, blah, blah.

Bottom line: it ain’t a tough ticket.

I’ve never stopped going to Orioles games. I’ve been to eight games a year every year since 2003 when they proved to be awful business partners and 2006 when they took away my press pass (I’m the only person in history of Baltimore media to be “banned” from Orioles games). People give me free tickets and I use them.

I’ve flown to Sarasota twice to see them play in spring training. I’ve seen the Orioles play in New York three times a year every year for 8 years. I’ve seen them play in Boston, New York, Cleveland, Tampa, Philadelphia.

I’ve been going back to the ballpark this month and I’ve reached into my wallet to do it.

I purchased two tickets for the Cal Ripken Statue Thursday night extravaganza. I bought four tickets for this Monday’s DH for $4 each. I checked the credit card receipts. I spent $18.80. Because of the scarcity of the Ripken tickets, it cost us $47.80 for a pair of standing rooms that we turned into sitting rooms in the back row of Sec. 380.

My total investment in the Orioles so far in 2012? That’s right: $66.60.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter or @WNST on Twitter, you know that I’m at the ballpark because I’m sending up pictures, observations, analysis and some dark humor.

I turned down offers for free tickets the past two nights because I had other obligations for work.

I woke up early on Saturday morning and chased down a pair of tickets to every postseason game the Orioles could play this October. And then I realized that I’ll be in Kansas City for the Ravens’ game next weekend.

And I have to ask myself the same question many Baltimore sports fans are asking themselves – am I a bigger fan of the Orioles or the Ravens? And if I had to pick just one…???? Hmmm…

I’m asking Baltimore sports fans these questions all month here in our GREAT BALTIMORE MEDIA SURVEY. Take it for a chance to win a trip to Cleveland in November!

For me choosing between the Orioles and the Ravens is like picking between whether you love your

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Your Monday Reality Check: Aw hell, why not?

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Your Monday Reality Check: Aw hell, why not?

Posted on 13 August 2012 by Glenn Clark

If I understand the way the math works, the Baltimore Orioles’ magic number to clinch an American League Wild Card spot currently sits at 48.

I really felt the need to tell you that because for some goofy reason I sat and worked on it Sunday while I was supposed to be watching the Baltimore Ravens practice at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.

Congratulations Birds, you’ve successfully gotten me to take attention away from the Ravens and place it on the orange and black. The moment has actually occurred. I’m blown away.

The magic number is 48.

That means that if the total combination of O’s wins combined with losses (individually) from any other team in the Wild Card race reaches 48 before the end of the season the now 15 year playoff draught will officially be over.

It means the Birds will be playing on Friday, October 5 as part of Major League Baseball’s first ever Wild Card play-in games.

I honest to God can’t believe I’ve just typed all of this.

It’s time to cue the music.

I feel like it’s safe to say that I’ve been as reluctant (if not more reluctant) than anyone in town to accept this as an actual, realistic possibility. And if truth me told I would still say “no” if an assailant questioned my belief that the Orioles make the playoffs with a gun pointed to my temple.

It might seem like a four game split with the Kansas City Royals at home would be an odd time for me to suddenly stand and pledge allegiance to the “Why Not?” bandwagon, but…you know…Machado and all.

My original idea for my weekly “Reality Check” column was to write about the realities of 3B Manny Machado’s hot start (6-16, 3HR, 7RBI in four games). I had planned to say “I hate to be the bad guy, but let’s remember that the most likely scenario is that Machado won’t be able to continue this success for the rest of the season or likely even for the rest of August.”

I had intended to say something along the lines of “American League pitchers will likely end up catching up with Machado, who also won’t have the benefit of facing Kansas City Royals pitching every time out.” I was going to add thoughts along the lines of “let’s not forget that even OF Xavier Avery collected 10 hits in his first eight games after getting called up to Baltimore earlier in the season.”

I probably would have mentioned that in the coming week Machado would have to go up against veteran pitchers like Red Sox starters Josh Beckett (albeit a Beckett that has struggled mightily in 2012) and Clay Buchholz as well as reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and MVP Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers. It’s a bit more legitimate than a group of KC starters that included Will Smith, Luke Hochevar and Bruce Chen.

I also think I would have mentioned that Machado had not hit .300 in a single month while playing in the Eastern League this season, making a market correction from a very hot start to August seem likely at some point.

That’s what I WAS going to do. But for some reason, it just didn’t stick.

As we’ve repeated ad nauseum during the 2012 Orioles campaign, there is no statistical explanation for why the Birds have won 62 of their first 115 games. Those of us who have been watching understand that the team has benefitted from an incredible bullpen, a number of home runs, great success in close games and expert guidance from AL Manager of the Year candidate Buck Showalter.

That’s why I couldn’t write the Machado column. I didn’t have it in me.

Maybe there IS a chance Machado can continue to make significant contributions as a 20 year old in a lineup that has been seeking an additional spark. The Birds don’t have a full season .300 hitter in their lineup, but they’ve managed to get continued contributions from unexpected places.

Career journeyman INF Omar Quintanilla is batting .328 in just 20 games sense being acquired in a deal with the New York Mets. Veteran (and by “veteran” I mean “washed up”) OF Nate McClouth has eight hits in his first 24 AB’s since being called up from the Norfolk Tides. Even the miserable bat of Mark Reynolds (.211 and just nine home runs in 289 AB’s) provided what proved to be the game winning RBI in Sunday’s win over KC.

I don’t think it can be sustained. I didn’t think it could be sustained two months ago. I was wrong then. Maybe I’m wrong now. I don’t think I’m ever going to understand exactly how all of this has happened this way this season.

So can Manny Machado keep contributing to an Orioles team pushing towards an appearance in the postseason?

What the hell?

Or…why not?

-G

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monday morning

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This Year, We All Should Embrace The Mid-Summer Classic

Posted on 09 July 2012 by Big Chee

It is Monday Morning. If you are like me on the first day of the work week you are probably trying to ease the depressing realization that the weekend is over and you have the five day grind ahead of you. For me at the 9-5 desk job I am spending the first hour(s) of my day meticulously analyzing my fantasy baseball team and catching up on sports stories I might have missed during the pregame Friday & Saturday night.

The anxiety could be even higher this week, and I may have to spend the beginning of my day reading about how bath salts turn humans into zombies and why Scientology ruined the marriage between Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise. Baseball is at its All-Star Break. Wimbledon is over. The Olympics have yet to begin in London. Football, basketball, and hockey have yet to begin. Might I actually have to start “working”? Ugh, this could get brutal. I better drink another Espresso double shot. Embrace yourselves everyone; we are about to experience the worst sports week of the year.

I mention the All-Star Break for baseball, for the past ten years I have taken a dissenting attitude towards MLB’s mid-summer event. That differs in my apathetic stance towards the Pro Bowl, NHL & NBA All-Star Games, where I can watch the highlights on SportsCenter and live with myself.  In 2002, Bud Selig and the MLBPA transformed the event from casual to competitive. I used to hate it. It baffled me that home field advantage in the World Series was indicated by which All-Star Team’s pitchers brought their best stuff during the one inning each of them would get on the mound. It drove me nuts that traditional cellar dwellers like the Royals, Pirates and Orioles (sorry everyone) had at least one player on the All-Star Team, even though there was a better shot of Anna Kournikova coming out of retirement to beat Serena Williams to win the Wimbledon than any of those teams winning the Fall Classic.

This year, I have decided to cave in and embrace the All-Star Game, and I suggest all of you fellow sports fanatics do the same. This year, forget about them ludicrous reasons I mentioned in the previous paragraphs. If you love sports, chances are you are someone who craves competitiveness in sports and life alike. Plus this week, you don’t really have a choice, right? The 4th of July relaxed attitude around your office is over. Daily stresses are back and we are on the full five day work week again.

If you are a Baltimore Orioles Fan, as most of you reading on WNST.net probably are, this is the first time in more than a decade that this game has some real meaning to it. Let’s call a spade a spade, does anyone reading truly believe that the O’s are ready to make a push to play in the World Series? I did not think so. However, heading into the All Star Break, Baltimore is six games back of the Yankees, six games above .500. If the season ended now, the first year of expanded playoffs would open with Baltimore at the Los Angeles Angels for the one-game AL wild card. The guys representing the resurgent O’s this year in Kansas City, Matt Wieters, Adam Jones and Jim Johnson, make up a trio that marks the first time since 2005 that the Orioles have sent multiple players to the All Star Game.

“It’s pretty cool,” Jones said of the group the Orioles will send to Kansas City. “For the last seven years, it’s been one player. You have to win to get more than one player nowadays. Representing the Baltimore Orioles, it’s a tremendous accomplishment for us as a team, also.”

Wieters, who was the Orioles’ representative in last year’s All-Star Game also added, “It makes it even more fun that you get to share something with your teammates that you’re battling the whole year with.”

Comparing baseball’s All Star Game to the other major sports in the United States, one cannot forget the fact that just because it is an exhibition game, the play of the field does not change. For example, in the NBA’s ASG, there is little to no defense played. There is an open lane almost every time when either squad comes down the court. While alley oops and monster dunks are cool, when it occurs every possession, it can get old very quickly. In baseball, the matchups do not change. When Clayton Kershaw comes to the mound and faces Adam Jones, do you think he is going to toss a 75 mph meatball for Adam Jones to crank towards the fences? Not a chance. He is going to bring it just like he would during a regular start for the Dodgers.

I mention those All-Stars facing each other as just one example of a potential matchup that makes for a great watch. How about the 23 year old phenom Steven Strasburg going head to head with legend Derek Jeter who is 15 years his senior? How cool would it be to see RA Dickey, the arguable front runner for NL Cy Young, tossing his knuckleball and trying to fool slugger Josh Hamilton? And 2012 will be the last All Star Appearance for eight time all star and surefire Hall of Famer Chipper Jones, who is retiring after this season. It will certainly be weird without him in Atlanta next season that is for sure.

Back in February of this year, I explained to Mike Huber on XTSR Towson Radio why I believed that the second calendar month was the worst sports month of the year. The football season was over. Pitchers and catchers report in the middle of the month, but baseball was still months away from beginning. Basketball, both college and professional, was still in their respective regular seasons. Same applies to hockey.  Not to mention on the East Coast, February is typically a cold, dark month (but after this torturous heat wave, I sure would not mind a 35 degree day.) Now we approach arguably the worst sports week, not entire month, of the year. I hope my words give you something to look forward to when it’s quitting time on Tuesday.

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