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Confessions of a lifetime of hatred for Pittsburgh from a real Baltimore sports fan

Posted on 12 January 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s a big, emotional week of football in Baltimore and the reason it’s so significant is because of our civic desire to have another purple parade at the Inner Harbor and the sheer nausea we all feel in the pits of our bellies about the fact that at 8 p.m. on Saturday night this could be the worse loss of our lives all over again.

Just like all of our January losses to the likes of Indianapolis and Pittsburgh and Cleveland and New York.

Or, it can potentially extinguish the 40 years of domination from the city of Pittsburgh, but specifically the Steelers and their arrogant, obnoxious fan base here in the region.

This is an epic throwdown between two cities that don’t like each other but a rivalry that is so embarrassingly lopsided that it makes the Roadrunner look like a winner.

I’m up to my eyeballs in rattlesnakes throwing parties, organizing bus trips and running WNST.net – 12 hours of radio, the daily newspaper, text service plus all of our social media endeavors on Facebook and Twitter that truly is Baltimore’s best and most comprehensive sports coverage in the world. And for those of you who know me, you know what a massive time commitment it is being a washed up sports talk show host and new media entrepreneur of the station that no one listens to but the website and social media that everyone in Baltimore seems to visit and read.

This whole “Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore” thing takes on such a personal, vitriolic part of my inner soul that it’s almost best that I not focus on it too much and keep my head down and wait for the game at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday to release that part of my energy.

But some jackasses from the “out of town media club” (which encompasses the greater part of the whole local scene outside of WNST.net) have written, said and defended their typically insensitive and uneducated remarks just to remind us how out of touch and clueless they really are about what this community is about and WHY the Ravens are important in the first place.

Nothing in the local sports community divides like Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh. The Colts thing, while far from dormant, is now a distant second place. And the “I Hate Washington Club” is shrinking because the Redskins and Nationals are weak and irrelevant and the Capitals are the fastest growing brand in Baltimore and I have statistics to prove it.

And the out-of-town media geniuses all talk about expertise, ethics and journalism while all taking a chunk of your Orioles/MASN money to hush up criticism of an oozing, open sports cancer in Baltimore while waving purple pompoms in January like they really care about the Ravens and like they invented Festivus.

To anyone with half a brain from Baltimore, it’s insulting.

I attended a Smart CEO event last Thursday night where I was summarily subjected to a pair of morning show faux sports imposters from Boston and New York standing in front of a room full of mostly Baltimore upper-crust businessmen and patronizing them

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As purple Festivus season is upon us, alas the real Grinch continues to be Peter G. Angelos

Posted on 24 December 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s been 51 months now since the initial “Free The Birds” campaign that we launched at WNST.net in “Year Nine of The Black Cat” and motivated more than 2,000 other brave souls who said “enough is enough” to Peter Angelos and the losing and nasty ways of the Baltimore Orioles.

The holiday results are in yet again for another sad orange offseason and I’m feeling pretty confident — as is Las Vegas — that the Baltimore Orioles will not be a playoff team in 2011.

And the real reason the team won’t win this year is the same as last year and the year before that: they won’t (or can’t) spend all of the millions of dollars they have managed to extract from this community via their incredibly wealthy and lean “regional sports network” called MASN.

Angelos

We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in direct profit that was allegedly to be spent on improving the baseball team for the community to enjoy. But instead of the $150 million payrolls that were promised to “compete with the likes of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox,” that previously earmarked U.S. money donated by Middle Atlantic cable subscribers is in the pockets of Peter G. Angelos. Along with about $20 million more each year since Andy MacPhail took over in 2007 and slashed the payroll, bought off the local media and preached “young” to the fans while winking “cheap” at the owner that he just made a cool, clean profit for and shared in the financial windfall.

And like any other billionaire businessman without a soul for the pride of his own company and what it represents in the community, all of a sudden it’s very hard for any of them to part with “guaranteed money in the bank.” Especially when there’s no financial upside to giving the likes of Carl Crawford or Adrian Beltre or Cliff Lee tens of millions of guaranteed money when winning is so far from being a reality in the AL East that even the once-prideful Angelos has clearly quit on trying to win for the fans of the Baltimore Orioles.

Adam LaRoche or Derrek Lee? This is what it’s come down to for the Orioles as Santa brings goodies and toys and playoff-caliber baseball elsewhere to even the likes of Milwaukee.

If you’re trying to be a .500 team signing the “leftovers” and “growing the arms” might be a strategy. But, really, is the bar a World Series title for Baltimore or is the bar set at being in third place and making $50 million in profit?

The Orioles are so grossly pathetic at this point that no credentialed Major League Baseball player with any other option this side of Pittsburgh will elect to come and play here. And the remaining few lost souls in the fan base are so desperate for any morsel of progress that they’ve even given Buck Showalter a hall pass for lying

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Funeral arrangements made for Mack Lewis

Posted on 18 November 2010 by WNST Staff

Here are the final arrangements for Mr. Mack B. Lewis:

Event 1: Public viewing for Mack Lewis

Date: Thurs., Nov 18, 2010

Time: 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Site: Vaughn C. Greene Funeral Home

Address: 4905 York Road, Baltimore, MD 21212

Event 2: Wake and Funeral Service for Mack Lewis

Date: Fri., Nov 19, 2010

Time: 10:00 a.m. (wake), 11:00 a.m. (funeral)

Site: Murphy Fine Arts Center (MFAC), Gilliam Concert Hall on campus of Morgan State University

Address: 2201 Argonne Drive, Baltimore, MD 21251

Notes:

1.       The Murphy Fine Arts Center is located on Argonne Dr. between Hillen Road and Harford Road across from Police Station.

2.       Parking: At the Murphy Fine Arts Center, parking is free in the “Y” lot. Access the “Y” lot from Argonne Drive. Turn onto McCallum Drive. Travel straight through 1st STOP sign, to reach the rear of the Murphy Fine Arts Center. Bear to right at 2nd STOP sign. See parking lot entrance on left.

Event 3: Repast

Date: Fri., Nov 19, 2010

Time: 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (meal service ends at 6:00 p.m.)

Site: Morgan State University Student Center

Address: 1700 East Cold Spring Lane, Baltimore, MD 21251

Notes:

1.       Parking: The University Parking Garage is centrally located on the campus.  The garage is adjacent to the Athletic Complex, Student Center, Ticketmaster’s, Bookstore and across from the Library. Hours of Operation: 7:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday. Normal Rates: First 30 minutes – Free, $.50 each additional hour, $4.00 maximum/day.

2.       Persons attending the repast may park in the garage for free on Fri. Nov 19, 2010 (with a voucher). Upon completion of the repast, call 410-299-0623 to get a voucher.

Event 4: Open House and Memorial Dedication to “Mr. Mack” at Mack Lewis Gym

Date: Tues., Dec 14, 2010

Time: 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Site: Mack Lewis Gym

Address: 901 N. Bond Street, Baltimore, MD 21205

Notes:

1.       This event is open to the public, including all former boxers of “Mr. Mack”.

2.       All are welcome at the gym for music, light refreshments, a DVD presentation and to witness the dedication of Broadway Street and Eager Street that will become Mack Lewis Way.

For further information, contact Mack Lewis’ nephew, Elmer Johnson at 443-865-8947 or Mack Lewis’ niece, Tamlyn Franklin at 410-299-0623.

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Hey Baltimore sports fans, it’s Twitter not Spitter

Posted on 10 November 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

The game is all set for Thursday night and I’m all set to jump a plane to Birmingham, Alabama and make my usual drive through the lovely eastern part of the South toward Atlanta for another Georgia Dome visit and a Thursday night date with Matt Ryan and my old pal Mike Smith’s Falcons. Now that Le’Ron McClain has been found innocent by Park Avenue, I suppose we can move the topic from “spitter” to “Twitter”.

If you are NOT “on Twitter” (as they say) let me make an impassioned plea for you to try it tomorrow night and follow along (or just follow from the front page here at WNST.net or in our LIVE CHAT) and see all the fun you’re missing by not getting completely caught up in the mobile fun of gameday with feedback.

Over the last 18 months, WNST.net has moved from a “little radio station” into the most-viewed and relevant Baltimore sports media site in the new media space. Come see what all of the fuss is about tomorrow night when we crush the coverage of the Falcons-Ravens game.

Along with Chris Pika and Glenn Clark, we’ll be in Atlanta. Thyrl will be at HighTopps in Timonium downing a few Bud Lights and surveying the purple suburban scene and Drew Forrester will be blogging, watching, Tweeting, chatting and hanging with Lucy on one arm and Ethan on the other.

It’s a brand new world of sports media coverage.

Follow us on Twitter on Thursday and find out what all of the fuss is about. You’ll see how good little WNST.net really is…

And if you’re already a Twitter, Facebook or mobile-enabled person already, please visit us as well and jump into the best sports conversation going on in Baltimore during the games at WNST.net…

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Since our radio station had a tree almost fall on it…join our LIVE CHAT here NOW at WNST.net!

Posted on 04 October 2010 by WNST Staff

As many of you know by now, our WNST AM-1570 signal is “off the air” and has been since 8:20 this morning. But, luckily for all of us, we have this website here with plenty of blogs, news, audio, video and coverage of yesterday’s big win in Pittsburgh.

BG&E is “on the scene” trying to get us back up and running. We had a series of trees fall on the power chords on our road and we do not have a generator. (If you’re a generator company, feel free to contact me: nasty@wnst.net).

And, instead of doing traditional radio, click HERE for a live chat beginning at 1 p.m. with Thyrl Nelson, Rex Snider and then Drew Forrester. We’ll also be attending the Joe Flacco (3:45 p.m.) and John Harbaugh 4 p.m.) press conferences with live reaction in our Purple Haze chat.

When rain falls, you build a boat. Our boat is this live chat. Please come and join us soon!

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A Glorious Festivus Day for Ravens

Posted on 10 January 2010 by Ed Frankovic

It was a super day for the Baltimore Ravens franchise as they put on a first quarter clinic en route to a 33-14 whipping of the New England Patriots on their home turf in the opening round of the NFL Playoffs. There were lots of firsts for the Ravens on Sunday, as chronicled by Drew in this blog, and a city that seemed a little bit skeptical of this team’s ability to win in the post season will no doubt be going purple crazy all week as Baltimore gets ready to head to Indianapolis. We have several days to analyze that matchup and as Glenn mentioned in his blog, there are things that need some correcting. However, for tonight, this blog is just going to primarily talk about the positives (my dad would call this the anti-Phil Jackman blog – and Phil you know I still love ya!):

– I don’t think I am going out on a limb in declaring this the best performance by the team all season. They defeated an elite club that has a one of the best QB’s in the NFL by lining up and just physically beating the Patriots in nearly every aspect of the game. New England had the deer in the headlights look after Ray Rice went 83 yards on the game’s opening play from scrimmage followed by the Terrell Suggs sack and fumble of Tom Brady that set up the Ravens second touchdown. It was smash mouth Ravens football, no doubt.

– After the game Ray Lewis, who was outstanding with 13 tackles and a sack on Sunday, praised defensive coordinator Greg Mattison for coming up with a great game plan. Mattison, however, said that it was not his schemes, it was the players execution that did the job. Whatever the case, the Baltimore defense was the most aggressive it has been all year and clearly that style fits the personnel. New England only had 196 total yards, wow! Charlie Frye threw for 180 yards on the Ravens in the 1st half alone in last week’s victory in Oakland. #52 talked in the post game about disguising the blitz until the last second for fear of Brady recognizing it and checking off, something the 3-time Super Bowl Champion excels at. Well today, #12 had no clue what was coming most of the time and he played like it. Mattison felt that the team could generate pressure rushing just four players and for the most part he was right. If there is one thing I would like to see less of, it would be the three man rush. The NFL rules are set up so much for the offense that if you give the receivers time to get open they either will or likely draw a penalty.

– Speaking of penalties, Baltimore only was flagged 3 times for a total of 15 yards! That was incredible focus and discipline by a team that has struggled to maintain its composure in several instances this year. Yes, the team was winning so it was easier to stay in control, but mentally that may have been the best the squad collectively has executed all year. Not a single personal foul or pass interference infraction was whistled on the Ravens today.

– Did the offense remind you a bit of the 2000 Ravens in Tennessee? Baltimore only threw the ball 10 times and Joe Flacco completed just four passes (but two were huge ones to Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton to keep second half drives going). But when you get an early lead after an 83 yd scamper why not keep pounding the ball like the Ravens used to do with Jamal Lewis? The rushing totals were 52 carries for 234 yards, a 4.5 yard per carry average. The backs were good and the offensive line was flat out dominant. It is clear that a healthy Jared Gaither at left tackle plays a huge role in offensive success.

– The much maligned secondary was superb today forcing 3 interceptions and holding Randy Moss to 5 catches for 48 yards (and most of those came in garbage time). Dominique Foxworth, Frank Walker, and Dwan Landry might have had their best games of the season. The pressure put on Brady certainly helped and having a healthier Ed Reed at safety contributed as well. Ravens fans can only hope that #20 continues to progress physically this week because they will need his smarts against Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, and company. Reed even had a good lateral today to Landry on his INT that put the Ravens in the red zone.

– Special teams were fairly solid. Tom Zbikowski’s 30 yard return after New England cut the Ravens lead to 27-14 put the ball near midfield and on the shorter grid the Ravens drove for the score that put the nail in the coffin in this one. Sam Koch punted well with two good kicks that pinned the Pats inside their own 20 yard line and even Matt Katula’s long snaps were better allowing kicker Billy Cundiff to hit on both of his field goals and all three PATs.

– The Ravens came out as healthy as you can be after 17 weeks of football and tight end Todd Heap’s back injury appears to be minor. So could a team that has been banged up so badly since starting 3-0 finally be getting healthier in some key areas (see Gaither and Reed)? One has to hope that is true and Flacco will likely have an easier time getting his aching hip loose in a dome instead of the freezing north east.

– All in all it was a very good day to be affiliated with the Ravens and somewhere heading south on I-95 at 1000pm on Sunday night there are two full buses of very happy people who decided to go on the WNST road trip to Gillette Stadium. Those people, and any other Ravens fan who attended the game in person, are truly great for showing such faith in a team that many thought would get beat today, including myself. As anyone that has traveled with WNST knows, WNST bus trips, whether to a Ravens game, a Caps or Bears hockey game, or to a horse race, is a ton of fun. I’m sure this weekend to Indianapolis will be no exception so sign up, if you can. By the way, it was great to hear Ravens Coach John Harbaugh mention and praise the support the team received from the Ravens fans who attended the contest today. So how about we more than double that for next week’s Saturday night contest and get at least five WNST buses going to Indy?

Happy Festivus! (que the Ravens Mania music now…)

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First aid & Band aids don’t aid Ravens’ Festivus run

Posted on 30 November 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

As a card-carrying, eternal purple optimist, I suppose today is a day when my lavender heart gets tarnished. I’m going to do the unthinkable and be rational in my observation of where the Ravens are and where they could be heading between now and Jan. 3 in Oakland.

After seeing how this works over the last decade, since the Ravens really became a competitive squad in 1999, I think the NFL really boils to one thing – talent not withstanding – it’s injuries.

And this is why I think the Ravens are doomed this year, why they aren’t a good bet to make it through this minefield of games against the mostly lousy NFC North:

The most injured team in December loses. The healthiest team – with talent and key positions in tact – in January wins.

Right now, after watching them the past few weeks and after walking into the Ravens locker room last night, my veteran sportswriter eyeball test tells me that any purple Festivus miracle this year is a major, major uphill battle.

Part of why the team stinks right now is because they’re battered and bruised and the locker room looks like the walking wounded.

And it’s not just the devastating Terrell Suggs, Brendon Ayanbadejo and Fabian Washington injuries, it’s more about the walking wounded right now who are playing at far less than 90% and giving it all they have but just can’t perform at a Pro Bowl level with a variety of limiting injuries.

Let’s address the gimpy infirmary, not to mention the other aged players like Matt Birk, Trevor Pryce and Derrick Mason on the Ravens:

The three best players on the Ravens – and I’ll take any argument here – are Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco and Haloti Ngata. Right now, they are the “Purple Hearts,” if you will.

Let be honest – the NFL is all about speed. It’s the most significant attribute any player can have and it’s universal. Why do you think they spend so much time on 40-yard dashes at the combine every year? Speed kills. If you don’t have it, you don’t win.

Ray Lewis has a bad foot. Joe Flacco has a bad ankle. Haloti Ngata has a bad leg.

Lewis has shown it less in his gait than Flacco or Ngata (and the naked eye can tell from just watching them take normal walking steps in between plays what’s going on there) but he’s just as bad off from what we can tell and his several days of missing practice last week would tell you all you need to know. Lewis LIVES for practice. He loves it!

Flacco just looks like a mess right now. He’s all heart, but it’s pretty clear he’s gimpy and he got rolled up on again last night. Planting, moving, having a busted play become a big gainer – all of that is questionable on any given play. It also looks like his throws are sailing because of these subtle adjustments he’s making on the fly with monsters trying to tear his head off.

Ngata, another one with a heart the size of his own giant girth, is only playing on select downs and is about as banged up as any guy I’ve seen in my years of doing this who is still going out there on Sundays. Kinda reminds me of the year Peter Boulware played with one arm. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison is mixing up the units and keeping Kelly Gregg, Justin Bannan and Brendan McKinney fresh, but there’s a major difference between a healthy Ngata and the rest of these guys – especially if you’re talking about 60-70 snaps a game.

This, my friends, is bad for the purple business and the Ravens aren’t going very far for very long with the trio of Lewis, Flacco & Ngata on the hobble.

How long will it take them to heal? Will they heal in the midst of five more games, three more roadtrips and 15 more hours of the physical hell the NFL game wreaks on the framework of these massive bodies?

We’ll see. But I wouldn’t take odds that any of these injuries are going to miraculously heal. They’re nagging, prolonged bouts.

It’s not that I don’t think the Ravens are “good” enough. Properly assembled and with less injured personnel, I’d think they Ravens would be a division winner – and that’s just if they had a kicker who was NFL-caliber the first half of the season.

But right now, at 6-5 with trips still pending to Green Bay, Pittsburgh and Oakland, the road is fraught with more bumps and bruises.

Coach John Harbaugh will downplay all of this. These guys won’t even address their injuries when we ask them on Wednesday’s media day. That’s fine. They shouldn’t talk about it.

But any astute observer would tell you that the Ravens are among the most banged up teams in the league and all at key positions. And banged up teams don’t fare well in the cold having to go on the road. And this is before we address the obvious shortcomings this 6-5 unit has as a whole.

They’re weak on special teams returns and magic. They’ve been previously weak on kicking and the team missed another 54-yarder that could’ve won the game on Sunday night. The offense has been nothing special and the wide receivers have been MIA some weeks. The pass rush has been less than we’ve known it for a decade and don’t get me started on the secondary, which is also playing with spare parts now that Washington is on IR and Frank Walker and Chris Carr continue to get exposed in key situations.

Sure Ray Rice has been explosive. And there have been times, especially early in the year, when the offense looked like it was in sync and could dazzle us with 30 points every week. But that’s not what we’ve seen in large part since September.

If Bill Parcells coined the phrase, “You are what you are!” than the Ravens of 2009 are the embodiment of that expression. They’re 6-5.

I want to believe. I’m going to pick them to win every week. I’m going to travel to Green Bay with a bus full of purple zealots on Sunday and Monday. We’re going to root hard and hope for the best.

But this injury thing, for me, it’s unshakeable. The late-season, winning NFL teams are usually much, much healthier than the Ravens appear to be here on Dec. 1.

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Sitting Big Ben Smart Move by Steelers

Posted on 28 November 2009 by Ed Frankovic

Ben Roethlisberger is out for tomorrow’s big Ravens-Steelers tilt on NBC despite being cleared to practice this week after he suffered a concussion in last week’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. If you are a Ravens fan you are happy about that because this pretty much guarantees a Baltimore victory on Sunday. If you are a Steelers fan, you probably are upset right now but if you stop and think about it, you should be very happy about the decision to not start #7 this week because it is absolutely the correct move for several reasons.

First and simply put, head injuries are not something to fool around with, just ask Steve Young and Troy Aikman about that.

Second, all you need to do is look at the Steelers remaining schedule and realize that this “must win” contest for the Ravens is not one for Pittsburgh. The Steelers, after tomorrow night’s likely loss to the Ravens that would drop them to 6-5, then have Oakland at home, are at Cleveland, return home to play Green Bay and Baltimore before finishing at Miami. If they were to play Big Ben tomorrow and he were to get hurt against a very physical Ravens defense they would be throwing their season away because they would be forced to go with their third string QB the rest of the way. However, if they sit Roethlisberger against the Ravens and let him get healthy for another week they are much more likely to wind up going 5-0 or 4-1 in their remaining five contests and easily make the playoffs.

Simply put, the Steelers season is in the balance if they risk putting #7 out there against a Ravens defense that is desperate. Add in a hostile stadium where crowd noise will be a major advantage for Ray Lewis and company and all it would take is for one missed Steelers blocking assignment to result in a big hit on Roethlisberger. A major blow that causes him to hit the artifical turf at M&T Bank stadium could force Roethlisberger to miss several more weeks. Surely Mike Tomlin and the Steelers have thought about this scenario and realize not playing Big Ben on Sunday night is the right way to go?

As much as Pittsburgh and their fans are going to hate to lose the battle to Baltimore this week, they should realize that they likely need to do this in order to have a chance at winning the war (i.e, make the playoffs and have a shot at the Lombardi Trophy).

As a Ravens fan, I am happy about this and will gladly wait to take my chances against Big Ben and the Steelers again later in December. After all, a Baltimore loss tomorrow likely has the Ravens thinking more about a draft pick than the playoffs. But if I were a Steelers fan, and thank goodness I am not, I would realize that the Pittsburgh organization is making the smart decision for this season and beyond by sitting one of the best QB’s in the NFL against a defense that must produce for its team on Sunday night and will not hold anything back.

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Hey John: You can’t be 4-4 and seriously talk playoffs

Posted on 09 November 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Just judging from the sheer volume of social media I consumed all day yesterday, the fan base here is in “quit on the 2009 season” mode. The lofty expectations following a rookie campaign for John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco that ended in the AFC Championship Game led all of us in the Charm City to feel as though this year would somehow be better.

Well, we’re halfway through the race and things haven’t gone according to the best laid plan.

The Ravens have lost four of their last five, including yesterday’s turd in Cincinnati. The team, overall, just hasn’t been as good as advertised in many ways. The Bengals have now embarrassed the Ravens twice in four weeks en route to sole possession of the AFC North lead and have earned the right to crow.

While yesterday’s loss certainly felt like more of a beatdown than the final score — and we’ll get to Steve Hauschka’s missed kick in a minute — the NFL only counts one thing en route to a playoff berth in the tournament: wins. And right now, at 4-4, this isn’t going to get it done.

I could make excuses for all of the other three losses — and losing in the waning seconds on the road to New England and Minnesota doesn’t make you a bad team. But the pair of losses to the Bengals has been illuminating, especially when you consider Marvin Lewis’ recipe for building a team with a 6-2 start.

The Bengals have just about everything you’d want — a world-class quarterback with a world-class wide receiver and a running back who runs like Jamal Lewis with a line that’s got a nasty streak. On defense, they’ve built through a young linebacking corps (sound familiar?) and a pair of first-round cornerbacks who allow the safeties and linebackers to play hardball with the pass rush. Oh, yeah — they also arguably have the best kicker in the sport.

The Ravens, as was in full display yesterday, are sorely lacking in various departments but especially the ability to get off the field consistently on 3rd down on defense. It’s been a defensive franchise for the better part of 11 seasons. All good things must end and the 2009 defense is not up to “Play Like a Raven” standards.

Is that Greg Mattsion’s fault? Is that because of the clear falloff at the cornerback position? Is it not having Rex Ryan? Is Bart Scott missed that much? Is Ed Reed OK? Will Haloti Ngata be injured all year?

The entire secondary was beaten in coverage during the first half and the penalties were dreadful. All over the field. Ray Lewis is still the Ravens best player when Ngata is not dressed and that speaks volumes.

The first three losses were “excused” in my opinion. Yesterday, however, did a lot to expose the Ravens as a team that’s pretty good but not a serious playoff contender, especially not with that secondary and lack of pass rush.

Sure, Haloti Ngata’s absence needs to be factored into the equation in the Bengals debacle, but the Ravens have sufficient depth at that position and I’m not sure Ngata would’ve been a difference maker in the outcome yesterday in Cincinnati.

As for the offense, Joe Flacco just was not good enough yesterday, nor was the offensive line, which played its worst game of the season. Penalties? All over the place and ill-timed. Productivity? How about making their first third-down conversion in the fourth quarter? That’s just putrid, unacceptable and not worthy of the NFL playoffs.

They didn’t run well. They didn’t pass well. They were out of sync all day and Flacco looked bewildered during his short stints in the first half. Flacco has now dropped five straight to teams led by Ben Roethlisberger and Carson Palmer.

Derrick Mason and Ray Lewis declined to comment after the game yesterday but I’m sure they’ll have something to say on Wednesday at The Castle.

Harbaugh did his usual tap dance around any tough questions from the media — (memo to John: denying that the team doesn’t tackle well is laughable at this point) — but it’s easy to do what you want when you’re in the AFC Championship Game and things are going better than advertised.

But when the team is a disappointing 4-4 at the turn and the one decision that’s truly pinned to Harbaugh’s special teams badge of expertise — the banishment of kicker Matt Stover in the offseason — costing the team team parts of two of the losses, the questions are only going to get tougher around the head coach and around Steve Hauschka.

This team was supposed to go to the playoffs. This team was supposed to be a Super Bowl contender. The “upgrades” of the offseason were well-calculated and the draft went well. The Ravens and the fanbase were not prepared to be swept by the Bengals and be 4-4 at the turn.

All eyes will now turn to Cleveland, where the Ravens most certainly will awaken eight days from now at 5-4. Right? We can only hope…

The Ravens have amassed four losses and haven’t yet seen the Steelers, the Colts or a frigid December night at Lambeau Field and a West Coast trip to the zoo in Oakland in early 2010. There’s a lot of football left to be played.

The Ravens will sort this out on the field. They need to go 6-2 to have a chance. They need to go 7-1 to be assured of a spot.

If they do it, they’ll be good enough. If they lose two more times to the Steelers, they’ll be playing golf on Jan. 4th and deservedly so.

And if that happens, John Harbaugh’s gonna have a lotta ‘esplainin’ to do at that postseason press conference while he sits next to Steve Bisciotti and the Steelers and Bengals are still playing football…

Things like:

What really happened in the decision to replace Matt Stover with Steve Hauschka?

What really happened with Chris McAlister and how did we get sold that Domonique Foxworth and Chris Carr are upgrades?

Why all the penalties?

Where is the pass rush?

Where is Willis McGahee?

Where is the urgency on offense when the team is down two scores with three minutes left?

Of course, Harbaugh doesn’t really like the tough questions but they’re coming. It’s a tough job. It’s been a lot of fun, this honeymoon of riches and a great start to his era in Baltimore. Getting to the AFC Championship Game as a rookie head coach indeed buys you a hall pass for a while.

I have a feeling a lot of that ended yesterday, with a sweep to the Bengals and a 4-4 record at the turn.

But, as Brian Billick would no doubt tell him, these Monday mornings aren’t a whole lot of fun when the town gets disappointed and the team plays poorly.

And someone has to answer the questions…

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Don’t ask…just click! Very, very funny…

Posted on 30 October 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I’m not one for cartoons, jokes, chain letters or general web stuff that I refer to as “spam.” (And for the 1000th time, NO, I don’t want to play Mafia Wars with you on Facebook! Stop sending me that manure!)

However, I got this link forwarded to me on Facebook (thanks, Tom!) and, well, it’s pretty freaking good.

It’s PG-13, don’t worry…thank me later!

Just click here…

Be ready to laugh…

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