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Chapter 15: Dancing on The Edge of Chaos?

Posted on 26 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People are going to believe what they want to believe. It’s what I believe is best going forward for our offense and for our football team. That’s not to say anybody can’t do the job or didn’t do the job. Cam was doing a heck of a job here – doing a heck of a job here for a long time. Nobody knows that better than me, and nobody has stated that more times. I believe that. I also believe that right now at this time, the timing says this is the best thing, and this is what we’re going to do.”

– John Harbaugh (December 10, 2012)

 

 

THE SHORT RIDE HOME FROM Fed Ex Field after an excruciating loss was particularly disturbing for John Harbaugh. On the bus he started thinking about where the Baltimore Ravens would be in the coming weeks if things remained the same and this team continued to perform inconsistently. He’d been thinking about the end of this season since the end of last season. Harbaugh was a big picture guy with all of his assistant coaches. It’s the NFL – Not For Long. Change is inevitable.

But when exactly is the right time to make a glacial movement in philosophy? When, exactly, do you decide to decide to make a change in personnel? And how do you know if it’s the right decision?

“I was on the bus back from the Redskins game, and I just did it,” Harbaugh said. “I just decided this is what we needed to do.”

Twelve hours later, head coach John Harbaugh brought his longtime friend, former boss and current offensive coordinator Cam Cameron into his office in Owings Mills and fired him. Later in the afternoon, Harbaugh did his usual Monday press conference.

“We’ve replaced Cam [Cameron] with Jim Caldwell,” he began. “It’s been something that we went through last night and this morning and had a conversation with Cam real early this morning and then with Jim. And I just want to say that Cam Cameron has done an excellent job here over the last, almost, five years as our offensive coordinator. The record proves that. When you take a look at what’s been accomplished on offense for the last four years – the games that have been won, the points that have been scored, and really, by every measurement – Cam is a very good football coach. He is a loyal, hard-working guy. He’s a great friend. Obviously, it’s a difficult thing, personally, to do something and make a move like that with any coach, especially guys that you’ve been battling with for all these years, and Cam has been right in there battling. He has been a member of this team, and I’m proud of what he has accomplished here. At this time, the move is made to give us a chance to be the best that we can be. And that’s not saying anybody can’t do it, but it’s just an opportunity to try to get this thing going and become the best offense and the best team we can be, and we feel like it’s what is best for the team at this time. And, that’s why we made the move. There’s no more to it than that. We’ll go forward with that. So, Jim will take over. That started this morning. He’s working on the game plan with the rest of the staff. The rest of the staff is on board, and we’ll go to work like we always do and see how it plays out.”

In trying to piece together the story of how it had gotten to this point, this desperate place where Harbaugh felt he had no other option but to fire Cameron on the bus ride home from Fed Ex Field in Week 14 of the season, you have to go back to the biggest of big picture philosophies in Owings Mills.

“What gives us the best chance to win the Super Bowl?”

Much like when Bisciotti fired Billick nearly five years earlier, or when Billick fired his pal and offensive coordinator Jim Fassel during a bye week in 2006, this was as much about the team as it was any one or two issues, disagreements, or personal relationships.

The truth? It was hard to find anyone in the building who truly trusted, fully understood or had an ideal two-way communication

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Chapter 14: Family beefs and “Care”frontation

Posted on 25 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

“I’ve got a rule. I never, ever hold a grudge. And I kind of a have a rule that nobody else is allowed to hold a grudge, either. There are no grudges. We’re a bunch of guys. We don’t hold grudges. Right? We move on.”

– John Harbaugh (November 2012)

 

 

 

On Wednesday, November 28, 2012 the Baltimore Ravens reported to work in Owings Mills with a 9-2 record. No matter how unimpressive the results or statistics were on either side of the ball or how fortunate their fate seemed, it would be hard not to make the playoffs. One more win and the Ravens would have a seat in the tournament and a shot at the confetti for the fifth year in a row.

And in a strange quirk of NFL scheduling, once again the Pittsburgh Steelers were next up, the second meeting in 14 days between the bitter rivals. Once again it appeared that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would be unavailable with his shoulder injury but instead of Byron Leftwich, this time it would be 15-year veteran Charlie Batch lining up under center at M&T Bank Stadium for the black and gold. All of the obvious discomfort that Leftwich had 10 days earlier was the result of two broken ribs he sustained at the hands of the Ravens defense in Pittsburgh. Batch started for the Steelers in Cleveland and lost 20-14 while throwing three interceptions just a few hours prior to the Ravens’ 4th & 29 miracle in San Diego. The Steelers were fading at 6-5. The Ravens were 9-2 and on a four-game winning streak, including back-to-back road wins.Silver had been at the Ravens game on Sunday in San Diego and was a seasoned reporter who knew a good story when he heard one. Iconoclastic, inquisitive, and fully cognizant of all aspects of the coach-player-media privilege, as well as sourced throughout the NFL, Silver knows the difference between on the record and off the record.

Good journalism is all in the eyes of the beholder. One veteran sports reporter’s account of a behind-the-scenes confrontation a month earlier holds a lot of weight when no one is issuing denials, and everyone agrees it was unique and productive. Even when some personnel don’t want to put their names to quotes or information, it was clear there was substance and clarity in the story.

All was happy in Owings Mills during Steelers Week until Wednesday morning when a fascinating story appeared at Yahoo Sports. NFL columnist Mike Silver authored a piece that was widely shared via the web and social media.

Headline: “John Harbaugh kept Ravens on track despite near mutiny at meeting in October”

Harbaugh wasn’t necessarily pissed off that the story was written – Silver approached him after the joyous win and

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Nestor recaps tough day for Ravens in Denver

Posted on 14 September 2015 by Nestor Aparicio

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Flacco: “We just haven’t been good enough”

Posted on 03 November 2013 by WNSTV

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Flacco: Overreacting to a loss isn’t a bad thing

Posted on 06 September 2013 by WNSTV

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The Most Devastating Home Runs in Orioles History (my lifetime anyway)

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The Most Devastating Home Runs in Orioles History (my lifetime anyway)

Posted on 13 May 2013 by Dwayne Showalter

In no particular order, here are the home runs hit against the Orioles that left the worst taste in my mouth.  Feel free to add the ones that stick in your crawl.  Or if you don’t have the stomach…add some of your favorite O’s homers.  Think Tito Landrum!

 

Wednesday October 10, 2012.  Game 3 ALDS, Yankee Stadium

The Orioles had split the first two games at home and were now looking to put the Yankees on the ropes in a 5-game series.  Leading 2-1 headed into the bottom of the ninth, Buck Showalter went with the proven closer Jim Johnson (who had been lit up for 5 runs in the series opener) over the scorching hot Darren O’Day who had pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning.  Yankees manager went the other way, pulling a struggling star (Alex Rodriquez) in favor of Raul Ibanez with one out.  The second delivery was sent over the right field wall and the Orioles would have to scrap through another extra-inning game if they were to take the lead in the series.

Wednesday October 10, 2012.  Game 3 ALDS, Yankee Stadium

Fast-forward three innings to the bottom of the twelfth.  Ibanez leads off against Brian Matusz who had been throwing well.  First pitch.  Gone.  Upper deck.  Ibanez had done it again.  Two nights later, the Orioles magical 2012 season would end with an uneventful 3-1 loss.  The two homers were crushing but the Orioles bats only mustered 14 hits in the final 30 innings of the series.

Sunday October 3, 1982.  Regular Season finale, Memorial Stadium (attended by me)

Baltimore and Milwaukee entered the final regular season game tied with 94-67 records after the Orioles had swept the first three games of the series.  Momentum had been in the Orioles corner for weeks.  One more win and the Orioles would be advancing to the ALCS.  There was no division series in those days.  Momentum lasted one batter.  Second in the Brewers lineup was Robin Yount who blasted a Jim Palmer offering for a solo homer.  The mood in the stadium changed.  Yount homered again in the third putting Milwaukee on top 3-0.  The Orioles never led in Earl Weaver’s final game, falling 10-2.

Tuesday October 9, 1973. Game 3 ALCS, Oakland Coliseum

With the series tied at one, and switching to the Oakland, the Orioles rode an Earl Williams solo homer into the bottom of the eighth.  Joe Rudi tied it with a two-out hit off of starter Mike Cuellar.  Both Cuellar and A’s starter Ken Holtzman pitched into the 12th inning, unheard of in today’s baseball.  Unfortunately for the Orioles, Cuellar surrendered a lead-off homer to Bert Campaneris in the twelfth.  Two nights later, the Orioles 1973 season would end with an uneventful 3-0 loss.  Where have I heard that before?

Wednesday October 17, 1979. Game 7 World Series, Memorial Stadium (attended by me)

Leading the game 1-0 in the top of the 6th on the strength of a Rich Dauer solo homer, the Orioles were looking to avenge the series loss in 1971 to the Pirates.  Willie Stargell had other ideas.  His majestic 2-run shot into the bullpen in right field off Scott McGregor cast a pall over the stadium.  As the outs dwindled, the Pirates scratched out two more runs in the ninth and went on to win the championship.  Stargell was the MVP.

Thursday October 9, 1997. Game 2 ALCS, Oriole Park at Camden Yards (attended by me)

The 98-game winning Orioles seemed poised to take the first two games of the series with Cleveland leading 4-2 in the eighth.  Fire-balling setup man Armando Benitez was tasked with getting the game to the closer Randy Myers.  No one put a ball in play but the go ahead run came to the plate after two strikeouts and two walks.  Marquis Grissom sent a Benitez pitch far into the left field seats giving the Indians a 5-4 lead.  The O’s put a runner on via walk in both the eighth and ninth inning but never moved them along losing the game and eventually the series.

Wednesday October 15, 1997. Game 6 ALCS, Oriole Park at Camden Yards

In a win-or-go-home Game 6 matchup with Cleveland, the Orioles sent ace Mike Mussina to the hill.  He was perfect through four and allowed two hits, three walks and no runs over 10 innings pitched.  Charles Nagy got away with allowing nine hits in 8.2 IP.  Benitez came on again and retired Grissom and Omar Vizquel to start the 11th inning.  But Tony Fernandez took the first offering over the scoreboard in right to give Cleveland the lead.  After a two-out single in the bottom of the 11th, Jose Mesa sent the Indians to the World Series by striking out Robbie Alomar.

Wednesday October 9, 1996.  Game 1 ALCS, Yankee Stadium

Leading 4-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Armando Benitez (really?  The man gave up some bombs) faced a rookie shortstop who batted last in the order.  His name was Derek Jeter.  He lofted the first pitch with one out toward the short porch in right.  Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco backed up against the wall preparing to snare the ball just below the top of the fence.  He reached up but the ball never came down.  It was corralled from the field of play and into the stands by a young unmentioned Yankee fan.  The umpire missed the interference and allowed the play to stand against the Orioles protest.

And as Forrest Gump would say, “that’s all I got to say about that.”

 

 

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Ed Reed: “I’m embarrassed”

Posted on 16 December 2012 by WNSTV

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Flacco says lost opportunity vs. Steelers hurts

Posted on 02 December 2012 by WNSTV

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