Tag Archive | "major league baseball"

Your Monday Reality Check-What a difference a week makes?

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Your Monday Reality Check-What a difference a week makes?

Posted on 11 June 2012 by Glenn Clark

Perhaps you’re not familiar with WNST.net MLB analyst Allen McCallum. Allen was once the Ballpark Reporter at WNST, covering the Baltimore Orioles on a daily basis. He’s remained with us in the years since then, appearing once a week in studio (currently with Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat”) to talk Major League Baseball and Baltimore Orioles.

Allen is a really good dude, but is decidedly un-American in my book. You see, Allen doesn’t like football. I don’t understand it either, trust me. I have every reason to believe he celebrates the 4th of July and enjoys a good slice of Apple Pie, but he loves baseball and just doesn’t care about our national pastime.

Despite this obvious flaw, I’ve maintained a level of friendship and (as much as is possible for someone who I have to imagine may be a communist) respect for Allen. I don’t dislike him, I just don’t understand how someone like him can exist in this country. You see, football is our beautiful game. It’s a game fathers play in the backyard with sons. Baseball is okay when there aren’t real sports to watch, but is clearly inferior to football in every way.

I’m kidding. Well I’m kidding a LITTLE bit anyway.

The reason my lede is about our resident purveyor of Orange Kool-Aid is because Allen likes to make a point during the course of baseball season that is relevant to both sports. As Birds fans have a tendency to freak out over the results of a couple of games (or one game…or a couple of innings…or a single at-bat), Allen likes to send out a reminder that “this isn’t football. There’s 162 games to be played.”

It hasn’t always been good news in Charm City that the O’s have to play 162 games, but the point he makes is relevant. During Ravens season we tend to overreact to one particular game, but we do that knowing that one game reflects roughly six percent of the season. While a NFL team can certainly recover from a stretch of two or three bad games, a bad streak can quickly spiral into killing a quarter of a football season. At the same time, a bad streak of three or four games during baseball season does not even represent the same six percent of the season that one football game represents.

Let me try to step away from math for a second. A single football game is more significant than a single baseball game. But you already knew that.

Seven days ago (which as I type this would have been June 4), there was reason for great concern amongst Baltimore baseball fans. After getting off to a 27-14 start, the Birds were mired in a streak that saw them drop 10 of 13 games. Sitting at 30-24, the Birds had appeared to already be well into their annual “June swoon” and seemed destined to find themselves on their way to the cellar of the AL East.

But something funny happened in the six games that followed. Instead of continuing their free fall, the Birds stabilized. They won two of three against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, then returned home to take two dramatic extra inning contests against the Philadelphia Phillies at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in front of thousands of stunned supporters who had made their way down I-95 from The City of Brotherly Love.

(Continued on Page 2….)

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Kill the Umpire

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Kill the Umpire

Posted on 05 June 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

They call him Blue because of the color that he wears (or wore) on the field, but the name Blue speaks to more than just that. You refer to him as Blue instead of by name because you don’t know his name, and shouldn’t care to. “Blue” speaks to his anonymity, as the best umpires are the ones that you never notice. “Blue” works on another level too, as (pun intended) when we do get to know their names it’s because blue, or more often blew, has entered the picture.

Fans don’t pay to see (or know) the umpires and generally when we learn Blue’s name it’s because he screwed something up. We remember Richie Garcia because of the call he blew in the “Jeffrey Maier Game” in the 1996 ALCS. We know the name of Jim Joyce for the call that he blew at first base as Armando Galaraga and the Tigers secured what should have been the final out of a perfect game. We know the name of John Hirschbeck because of the spittle (and whatever else) that Roberto Alomar blew at him on an ominous night in Toronto in 1996. And we know the name of “Cowboy” Joe West for the vocals he blew on his album “Blue Cowboy”. All things considered, fans would likely prefer that all 5 were simply anonymous “Blues” again.

 

The other funny thing about Blue is that, at the end of the day, he may simply be a remnant of a bygone era, a token who remains relevant and necessary simply because that’s the way that things have always been, and for possibly little other good reason. As the world calls Major League Baseball to task for its failure to take better advantage of the technology at hand and implement a more encompassing replay system, perhaps we can look at the whole matter as another symptom of baseball’s inability to get out of their own way or to simply embrace the present and take legitimate steps to make the game itself better…and more fair.

 

In an era of technology in which replay has pervaded the landscapes of nearly every major professional sport and sporting league, in an era where the NFL implemented, refined, scrapped, debated, revived and continues to refine their own replay policies, baseball finally and begrudgingly implemented an archaic replay policy of their own, specific only to home run calls, without uniform camera angles from ballpark to ballpark and one involving a parade of umpires vacating the field to convene in a secret room in the bowels of the stadium for the last month of the 2008 season and beyond. (Furthermore, in typical baseball fashion, the move was seemingly done in response to Alex Rodriguez being denied a homerun before his own steroid revelations, as baseball clamored for the day he’d write Barry Bonds out of the record books.)

 

So here we are, in the year 2011, with high definition technology in every ballpark, and a better view of the games from your living rooms (even without the benefit of replay) than you could possibly have from any spot amidst the action. Historically, MLB has seemingly always been a step or two behind the times, and in this case there’s no difference. As baseball looks squarely back into the barrel of the instant replay debate, it’s evident that they should already be way past that point. Baseball should, by now, be looking to get rid of the umpires altogether. The next time the huddle of umps retreats to the video room to look over a homerun call, someone should lock the door behind them and tell them to stay there. Let them stay there until they get it right, or so that they can get it more right more often.

 

The biggest, and most effective argument against replay seems to be that it will slow the pace of an already lethargic game to the point that even more fans will be put off by its lack of tempo. While that, especially under current practices, is probably true, it’s conceivable that eliminating the umpires altogether, or at least their presence on the field could and should actually speed up the game dramatically.

 

Start with the home plate umpire. Every umpire’s strike zone it seems is a little different, and old baseball logic says that as long as the umpire is consistent throughout the night the size of his strike zone shouldn’t matter, and hitters will adjust. How often though are umpires consistent throughout the night? QuesTec proved (to some degree) that cameras and computers could measure strike zones. Argue its accuracy all you like, but there’s little denying its consistency or its potential to improve. Every broadcast it seems has an instantaneous pitch tracker to show fans the arc and location of a pitch as it crossed home plate. While likely not perfect, they are consistent, which is all we ask of good umpires anyway.

 

Furthermore, pitch trackers, set up to a uniform standard in every ballpark will never expand or squeeze the strike zone based on human nature and game situations. The computer won’t be affected when pitchers or batters roll their eyes when close calls don’t go their way, and who in the hell is going to waste time arguing with the computer? (Which by the way makes about as much sense as arguing with an actual ump as they rarely if ever change those calls anyway.) It’s also unlikely that the computer would issue any 3-ball walks like we’ve seen on a couple of occasions in MLB this year, as the umpire in the control room wouldn’t require a coordination with the scoreboard operator, his counter could be the stadium scoreboard.

 

MLB could mandate video boards in uniform locations in every stadium that would relay calls made from the video booth and could easily add accompanying audio to play over the stadiums’ PA systems, as umpires really aren’t required to say very much anyway. Likewise uniform camera angles could be mandated to insure good replays of homerun and fair/foul reviews. Calls on the bases could be made in a similar way, on video boards with accompanying audio calls, “safe at first”, “out at second”, relaying calls made quickly, easily and much more accurately from the video room.

 

Once play is stopped and the ball is ruled dead, umpires could review any video of controversial plays, and in cases where calls are fixable without compromising the action or game situation (like the Joyce and Meals calls) they could fix them; all done quickly and without a parade of umpires retreating off of the field to deliberate.

 

If baseball really wanted to speed the pace of games, then they could require umps to enforce the 12-second rule in which the pitcher has to release his pitch from the time he receives the throw back from the catcher. Twelve seconds may be a bit quick, and therefore the rule is never enforced, and umpires have enough to look out for without putting the stopwatch on pitchers too. The computers though…

 

Since we’re already blowing the lid off baseball, albeit for the betterment of the game, and digitizing, mechanizing and computerizing the whole thing anyway, why not go for broke? Get ready for the blasphemous part for purists…a clock in baseball?!?!?!?!?

 

Put up a shot clock; make it 15 seconds, with a buzzer at the end if the pitcher is still holding the ball. If he steps off, reset it. If he steps off too much, warn him. If the buzzer goes off, call a ball. If the batter wants time out, he can raise his hand and wait for the audio/visual acknowledgment that timeout is granted. Once it is, put a 10 second clock on him too. When 10 seconds is up the pitcher is free to pitch. Pace quickened…problem solved.

 

At the end of the day it sounds pretty simple, and to some degree overdue. Will there be issues to consider? Certainly. That’s what spring training and Triple-A are for. Stage some of those games at big league ballparks, using the installed technology and test it out and refine it. The human element argument is past its time, and fixing these things would enhance the game, and it’s meaningful components without prolonging it. It could draw fans (if for no other reason, than simply for its inherent spectacle) and by insuring the attention isn’t focused on those who are supposed to remain anonymous anyway, might showcase the game in a way that would keep them.

 

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, as there are people’s livelihoods and an Umpire’s Union to consider here too, killing the ump doesn’t actually eliminate him, it simply removes him from view, and notice and scrutiny. It restores his anonymity and provides him a better means to be right more often. Manning the video controls is by no means a one-man job, and umpires would have specific call designations and areas of responsibility on which to focus. It’s also certainly not a practice that could be emulated at lower levels of baseball, and is only conceivable at the Major League level. They don’t get a fresh ball for every pitch at baseball’s lower levels either.

 

In the wake of the latest rounds of ump bashing, it makes sense for baseball to again begin to investigate ways to restore Blue to anonymity, as he’s supposed to be…and oh by the way, to try and make sure that calls are made more accurately in the first place.

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Roberts doubles for Baysox in win

Posted on 28 May 2012 by WNST Staff

BOWIE, Md. – The Baysox (22-28) shut out the Altoona Curve (22-27) 4-0 to win their first home series of the year Monday afternoon. It was the team’s third shutout win of the season and third win in a row.

The team was going on all cylinders as the Baysox pitching tied their season best by allowing just three hits and the Baysox offense continued to come through with big hits that helped build the team’s lead. Four of the team’s 10 hits were for extra-bases.

“Everything was in sync today,” said Manager Gary Kendall. “We got some big extra-base hits – they are huge because when we were in those ruts where we were losing five straight, it seemed like if we had six hits they were six singles. It takes away a lot of pressure when you are able to hit a home run, especially with a man on base. Things were falling into place and guys were able to manufacture runs because of that extra base.”

Baltimore Orioles Brian Roberts and Endy Chavez were both in the lineup for the Baysox Monday afternoon on Major League rehab assignments. Roberts finished 1-3 with a double and Chavez finished 1-2 with a walk.

Baysox right-handed starting pitcher Oliver Drake pitched six shutout innings for the Baysox Monday afternoon. He did not allow a hit through the first four and one-third innings of the game and allowed just one total hit while striking out three batters and walking three in the win.

“My sinker was moving and I was getting some ground balls and I was able to have them put swings on ball in counts that I wanted to,” said Drake. “It was able to throw all of my pitches for strikes today, which was nice. There were a couple times where I got a little erratic and fell behind a couple guys and walked them for the most part I was able to make them hit the ball on the ground.”

“I always used to hear managers say, ‘you get good karma when you get good starting pitching,’ and you aren’t going to get any better than that,” Kendall said. “[Drake] went out there and commanded his pitches. It was a good day.”

The Baysox jumped out to a rare early lead in the bottom of the third inning against Altoona starter Phil Irwin. First baseman Buck Britton hit a lead off double to center field and moved to third base when right fielder Josh Barfield singled to left field. Britton scored when third baseman Zelous Wheeler grounded into a double play to give the Baysox a 1-0 lead.

Bowie added to their lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Barfield hit a lead off single to center field and scored when Wheeler hit a two-run blast to center field to make the score 3-0.

“We have a runner on second base with now outs and I was just trying to get him over and I hit a home run,” Wheeler said. “It was a nice day to play the game and we had some good at bats today so it was nice to come away with the win.”

The Baysox added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning against Altoona reliever Mike Colla. Hoes hit a lead off double to left-center field and moved to third base on a sacrifice bunt by designated hitter Robbie Widlansky. Shortstop Manny Machado hit another sacrifice fly to plate Hoes and give the Baysox a 4-0 lead.

Right-handed reliever Robert Hinton pitched a scoreless seventh inning, allowing one hit and striking out one batter. Left-handed reliever Cole McCurry pitched a scoreless eighth inning in his first appearance out of the bullpen this season. Right-handed reliever Pat Egan pitched the ninth inning for the Baysox and allowed one hit, while walking one batter.

RHP Tim Bascom (3-2, 4.25) takes the mound for the Baysox tomorrow as they begin a three game road series against the Akron Aeros. He will be opposed by RHP Giovanni Soto (4-2, 4.07). The Baysox depart for Akron for a three game road trip beginning Tuesday, May 29 before returning to Bowie Friday, June 1 for a three game home stand against Reading.

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Britton allows 3H, 2BB over 5IP for Bowie in rehab start

Posted on 27 May 2012 by WNST Staff

BOWIE, Md. – With three Baltimore Orioles players in the line-up, the Baysox (20-28) rolled past Altoona (22-25) 9-6 Saturday night to end a four game losing streak against the Curve.

The Baysox offense scored their nine runs on just eight hits, but were able to take advantage of seven walks to get the offense going. In the team’s four run second inning, the offense recorded just two hits, but also drew four walks to get more runners on base.

“We took advantage of some walks to give us a lead,” said Manager Gary Kendall. “We also had one inning where we came through with a base hit and then we got a two-run home run. I thought we ran the bases well and we took advantage of some stolen bases – we will take runs any way they come.”

Baltimore Orioles left-handed starting pitcher Zach Britton made his season debut for the Baysox Saturday evening, pitching five innings and allowing two unearned runs on three hits while striking out six and walking two in the win.

“I think tonight was a successful start,” said Zach. “I got my pitch count up and I definitely threw a lot more breaking balls than I normally would, but I just wanted to get the feel for that. Towards the end I got a little tired, but overall I though it was pretty good.”

Baysox right fielder Buck Britton, the older brother of pitcher Zach Britton, had a strong game in support of his brother Saturday. He went 2-4 with a home run, two runs and two RBIs. This is the third season in a row that the two brothers have had some limited opportunities to play with each other.

“At that time in the game, I felt like we needed a big hit, the count went to 3-2 and I got a fastball over the plate and I put a good swing on it,” Buck said, “Last year every time [Zach] pitched I would hit a home run too. I don’t know what it is – I guess sometimes the Britton’s just get going.”

The Baysox also had two other Orioles players making Major League Rehab Appearances with the Baysox Saturday – third baseman Mark Reynolds and left fielder Endy Chavez. Reynolds finished the game 1-4 with a walk, two strikeouts and a fielding error. Chavez was 1-5 with two runs scored.

For the sixth time this homestand, the Baysox opponent scored first. Saturday night, Altoona struck first with two runs in the top of the second inning. With two outs, Miles Durham drew a walk and then moved to second base when Quincy Latimore reached on a fielding error by Reynolds. Elevys Gonzalez then singled to left field to score Durham and move Latimore to third when he scored on a wild pitch to make the score 2-0.

The Baysox jumped back into the lead in the bottom of the second inning against Altoona starter Nathan Baker. With one out, shortstop Manny Machado was hit by a pitch and catcher Caleb Joseph followed by drawing a walk. Buck singled to right field to load the bases and designated hitter Josh Barfield hit an infield single to score the first run. Chavez grounded into a force out and second baseman Jonathan Schoop followed by drawing a walk to score another run. With Reynolds batting, Baker threw a wild pitch that advanced all the runners and plated Barfield. Reynolds then drew a walk to load the bases and Baker was called for a balk with center fielder LJ Hoes batting to plate Chavez and give the Baysox a 4-2 lead.

Bowie extended their lead in the bottom of the fifth inning against Altoona reliever Kyle Cofield. Hoes drew a lead off walk and scored from first base on a double to center field by first baseman Robbie Widlansky. With two outs, Buck homered to center field to give the Baysox a 7-2 lead. Jeff Inman replaced Cofield on the mound to finish the inning.

The Curve got back in the game in the top of the sixth inning against left-handed pitcher Jake Pettit. Matt Curry hit a one out single to left field and Durham drew a two out walk. Latimore then hit a three-run home run to left-center field that made the score 7-5.

The Baysox again extended their lead in the bottom of the sixth inning. Hoes drew a two out walk and stole second base with Widlansky batting. Widlansky then singled to center field to plate Hoes and extend the Baysox lead to 8-5.

Bowie added another insurance run in the bottom of the eighth inning against Altoona reliever Vic Black. Chavez hit a lead off single to second base and scored on a Mark Reynolds double to right field after a throwing error by the right fielder to make the score 9-5.

Altoona mounted a last rally in the top of the ninth inning against right-handed reliever Kyler Newby. Elevys Gonzalez hit a one out double, but was then thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a triple. Robbie Grossman then hit a two out single to center field and scored when Brock Holt doubled to left field to make the score 9-6. Right-handed reliever Greg Burke entered to finish the ninth inning and record the save.

Pettit pitched two innings and allowed three runs on three hits while striking out two batters and walking one. Newby pitched one and two-thirds innings and allowed one run on three hits while striking out four batters.

Baker earned the loss for the Curve, pitching three innings and allowed four runs on three hits while striking out three batters and walking five.

RHP Bobby Bundy (2-7, 5.26) takes the mound for the Baysox tomorrow as they play the third game in a four game home series against the Altoona Curve.

The Baysox are home through Monday, May 28 for an eight game home stand. Baltimore Orioles players Brian Roberts, Mark Reynolds and Endy Chavez will be making Major League Rehab Appearances with the Baysox over the weekend.

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Former Ravens exec Bailey joins new USFL

Posted on 16 May 2012 by WNST Staff

San Diego, Calif. (May 16, 2012) — The United States Football League (USFL) announced today that Jeff Garcia, a four-time Pro Bowl quarterback during his 12-year NFL career, has been named to the USFL’s board of advisors.

Garcia will serve on the player development branch of the USFL’s advisory board. The Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. resident joins Pro Football Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff and former NFL and San Diego Chargers executive Jim Steeg – Chairman of the USFL board of advisors – along with former Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens executive vice president James Bailey and sports consultant/coach Terrell Jones on the board.

“We are thrilled to have Jeff involved and to be able to tap into his knowledge and experience in the professional football world as we look forward to re-launching the USFL in 2013,” USFL President and Chief Executive Officer Jaime Cuadra said. “Jeff’s extensive background and networks with professional football players will undoubtedly help carry out the USFL’s mission of helping our players live successfully and responsibly as positive citizens on and off the field.”

The USFL is planning to field eight teams for its inaugural 14-game season in 2013, kicking off in March and concluding with a championship game in June. The league has targeted a number of U.S. cities for franchises.

The USFL’s board of advisors will be responsible for guiding and advising USFL management on various areas of operations and, eventually, focus on identifying candidates and selecting the league’s commissioner.

Garcia began his NFL stint with the San Francisco 49ers in 1999 and went on to play with the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans. He led the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders to the 1998 Grey Cup championship and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, providing his springboard to the NFL.

Garcia, retired from football, is the owner of Beyond Wealth Sports, a company representing professional athletes on and off the field. It is focused on mentoring athletes and helping them prepare for the transition from sports to secondary careers. Garcia’s business practice is directly in line with the USFL’s long-term goals for its players.

The USFL is designed to allow players not drafted by the NFL, or those that have been released by NFL teams, an opportunity to play professional football under the same rules as the NFL. In order to maintain financial responsibility and sustainability, the USFL will structure itself under a single-entity business model. All player and coach contracts will be owned by the USFL, and each team owner will be a member operator of the league.  

The USFL intends to create a working relationship with the NFL by allowing access to its players and personnel. This relationship will be one of respect and collaboration, but the USFL will operate independently with a focus on developing its players and creating the best fan experience possible.

The USFL will also endeavor to prepare players for life after playing football by providing mentorship and counsel to expand the athletes’ awareness of opportunities inside and, especially, outside of football.  Additionally, the USFL wishes to enhance the fan experience by providing greater access to its players and employing technology to enhance the viewing experience for its fans.

Biletnikoff was a six-time All-Pro wide receiver who totaled 589 receptions for 8,974 yards and 76 touchdowns during his 14-year NFL career with the Raiders. He began his professional coaching career in the original USFL, coaching with the Oakland Invaders and the Arizona Wranglers.

Steeg is a 35-year veteran as an NFL executive and the former COO of the San Diego Chargers. Prior to joining the Chargers, Steeg was instrumental in the growth of the NFL’s Super Bowl, having worked for the NFL for 26 years, where he was Senior Vice President of Special Events.

Bailey was responsible for the management of all business, financial and legal operations in his 21-year tenure with the Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens franchise. He facilitated and oversaw the relocation of the franchise to Baltimore.

Jones, CEO and founder of TJones Group, LLC, has been involved in professional sports as a coach and consultant for more than 16 years. He has worked with the NFL, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Jones has successfully negotiated endorsement deals for his clients as well as sponsorship deals with major corporations, and will consult with the USFL on its business operations.

About The United States Football League

The United States Football League, LLC, a Delaware LLC, is a professional spring outdoor football league owned by EndZone Sports Management and is headquartered in San Diego, Calif. Jaime Cuadra is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the USFL. The USFL’s vision is provide a high-level competitive environment to help develop players for the National Football League, while preparing its players for succeeding as professionals and in life on and off of the field during and after their football careers. While the USFL initially operated from 1983-87, the new USFL plans to debut in the spring of 2013 by fielding eight teams nationwide to play a 14-game season, including a four-team playoff tournament, and providing fans with an exciting and innovative brand of football. The USFL plans to adopt all playing rules of the National Football League. For more information on the USFL’s 2013 launch, please visit the USFL online at www.theusfl.net and via social media on Facebook (www.facebook.com/TheUSFL) and on Twitter (@TheUSFL).

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Steroids Still Impacting Major League Baseball (Fans)

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Steroids Still Impacting Major League Baseball (Fans)

Posted on 14 May 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

Whether or not the steroid era in Major League Baseball is over is certainly debatable. Even if it is however, the shadow of the “steroid era” still looms large over the game. Roger Clemens is back on trial and Barry Bonds soon will be again. The reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun is generally considered to have used PEDs and to have escaped punishment on nothing more than a technicality. And if the “steroid era” taught us anything at all, it was that the cheaters are always one step ahead of those trying to stop them.

We were all made to look like fools once before and as a result we seem reluctant to celebrate anyone’s assault on the MLB record books. Having to acknowledge that Jose Canseco, of all people, tried unsuccessfully to warn us of the depth of the impact of steroids on the game, it’s understandable that we’d rather not revisit that particular brand of humility ever again. But to what end?

 

The ascendance of Jose Bautista has been met with its fair share of skepticism and cynicism, and in a week in which Josh Hamilton should have been carving out his place not only in the annals of baseball history, but in the romantic parts of our baseball memory banks as well, we’re again compelled to pause and reserve our celebration until we can be sure it has been earned.

 

Type Hamilton’s name into your Twitter search and you’ll find as many empty steroid accusations as you will congratulatory praise. What has Hamilton done to merit such accusations? Nothing other than hit homeruns at a rate like we’ve never seen before.

 

It’s not just Hamilton stirring up memories of an era not so far from our memories to remove the stench. A quick glance at the HR stats this season suggests that quite a few players could be in for seasons of 50+ homeruns…and the weather hasn’t even begun to get warm just yet.

 

For nearly 30 years after Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris topped 50 in the magical 1961 season no one in the AL matched the feat, and only 2 players in the NL (Willie Mays in 1965 and George Foster in 1977) managed it. Then came Cecil Fielder and shortly thereafter a barrage of juice induced super sluggers made the accomplishment common place.

 

Recent events have suddenly made the feat rare again, but still not completely uncommon. Still, only 6 players have gone over 50 HR since 2002. This year however, all bets may be off.

 

The degree to which the record books were rewritten during the steroid era has been especially troubling, as many of those records had stood for decades before being obliterated by PED induced sluggers. It therefore stood to reason that no one would be able to write them out of the books without some other type of assistance or historic shift in the game. So as Hamilton unleashes his assault, of course we’re prone to question it. I’m sure I’m not the only one this year who’s looking at Albert Pujols forearms as he begins this season in a prolific funk, and wondering if they look smaller or frailer then before.

 

The funny thing about homeruns though, is that anyone in MLB is capable of hitting one, at any time. We don’t point glaring fingers when pitchers or light hitting utility men hit 3 or 4 per season, but when the guys who we expect to hit 30 or 40 suddenly find themselves raising their frequency and challenging 50 or more…eyebrows (and suspicions) go up.

 

At a time when we’d like to believe that we should be celebrating the potential to have Bonds’ single season HR record erased by a “clean” slugger, we find ourselves instead questioning just how clean he is.

 

Indeed the steroid era is still taking its toll on MLB and our infatuation with its record book…and that’s before we start really debating the merits of the era’s achievers for the Hall of Fame.

 

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Some Free Advice for Showalter, D Reed, Ovechkin, more

Posted on 10 May 2012 by Glenn Clark

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Sporting MLB’s best record, Orioles welcome Rangers Monday

Posted on 07 May 2012 by WNST Staff

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Your Monday Reality Check-Umenyiora? Crabtree? Sure, make the call

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Your Monday Reality Check-Umenyiora? Crabtree? Sure, make the call

Posted on 07 May 2012 by Glenn Clark

As first reported by the NFL Network, the Baltimore Ravens hosted former Houston Texans WR Jacoby Jones for a visit Sunday.

Jacoby Jones became an interesting name for Ravens fans after the NFL Draft, as the Texans’ selection of DeVier Posey made it appear as though the veteran receiver could become expendable for the team. He obviously was, as the team took only days to part ways with Jones.

Perhaps adding Jones to the mix would be a good idea for the Ravens. He’s been in the league for five years, but has only spent the last three seasons getting significant reps as a wide receiver. His numbers aren’t spectacular (31 catches, 512 yards and two touchdowns in 2011), but they’re certainly serviceable for a complementary receiver. The Ravens clearly need depth, as behind starters Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin they have just four combined career receptions (all belonging to LaQuan Willams) from a group that also includes Tandon Doss, David Reed, Phillip Livas, Rodney Bradley, Patrick Williams and 6th round pick Tommy Streeter.

As much as the Ravens may have needed a playmaker type, they clearly needed depth at the position in general. Jones could bring that, and could also bring experience in the return game. Despite his two fumbles against the Baltimore Ravens in the 2011 NFL Playoffs, he has four TD returns (3 punt, 1 kickoff) in his career.

An even more intriguing name that has loosely been discussed amongst Ravens fans is the name Michael Crabtree. The San Francisco 49ers wide receiver has been a hot topic after the team drafted Illinois WR AJ Jenkins in the first round of the NFL Draft. In addition to Jenkins, the team has added veteran free agent receivers Mario Manningham and Randy Moss this offseason, leading to some speculation that the team could be prepared to move on from Crabtree after selecting him with the 10th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.

I want to reiterate that the rumors surrounding Crabtree have been thinly veiled. While a National Football League source told me he “wouldn’t be surprised” if the Ravens had interest in trading for Crabtree, no true source has been able to confirm that actual interest exists. However, in my chat with CBSSports.com NFL writer Clark Judge (who is honestly amongst the absolute best in his line of work) last Friday on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net, the Crabtree-Ravens conversation came up…

JUDGE: “Hey one other question for you, are you serious about taking that caller’s suggestion and trying to acquire Michael Crabtree?”

ME: “No, I don’t think that’s realistic at all. I was trying to play devil’s advocate.”

JUDGE: “The thing about Crabtree is that they would probably be willing to give him away because while he’s young, he’s an underachieving diva. A second rounder? I’d probably give him away for a fourth rounder.”

ME: “If they were willing to give him away for a fourth rounder, I’d be willing to have the conversation.”

JUDGE: “I wouldn’t want him on my team.”

It should be made clear that Judge didn’t report to me that the Niners were interested or willing to trade Crabtree away for a fourth round pick. He simply said that HE would be willing to do that if he were making the calls for San Fran. (The chat is available here in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault.)

I’ll say again what I said to Clark Judge. If the San Francisco 49ers were willing to trade Michael Crabtree away for a fourth round pick, I’d have the conversation. I’m aware that Crabtree has yet to fully live up to his potential as a Top 10 pick and has certainly had “personality issues” that stem back to his lengthy rookie holdout. I’m also aware that the former Texas Tech standout has become more and more productive in each of his three years in the league and his best year (2011) coincided with the year his quarterback (Alex Smith) finally moved into the “credible” category of NFL signal callers.

Let me stress, I’d have the conversation. But it’s important to point out again that this is not a fantasy football league. This is the NFL.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Your Monday Reality Check-We’d Be Defensive And We’d Be Wrong

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Your Monday Reality Check-We’d Be Defensive And We’d Be Wrong

Posted on 05 March 2012 by Glenn Clark

I’ll just say this up front and deal with the consequences of the comment at some other.

I know-as a fact-that at least one high profile Baltimore Ravens player has been involved with a “Pay For Play” scheme of some sort. That discovery was confirmed to me by both a current and former teammate.

This column isn’t about the details of that revelation, as I have not found the details to be particularly newsworthy. If that changes in the future, I will fully accept the responsibility of sharing them publicly. Instead I bring the note up only to make it known that such schemes are not so particularly unique and it is easy for others around the game of football to offer perspective and commentary.

I also share this to set the tone for an answer to a question asked many times since the “Bountygate” saga surrounding the New Orleans Saints and former Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams broke days ago.

“How would we react if it had been the Ravens?”

The question has been asked in the face of sharp criticism levied in the direction of Williams and company. National writers and local analysts alike have cried for severe punishment for both the individuals and the organization. Amongst the penalties suggested have been the loss of draft picks, six to seven figure fines, firings, suspensions and even the forfeiture of the Saints’ Super Bowl XLIV title.

We’ll find out reasonably soon what the actual penalties will be, but the down time between the release of the National Football League’s findings and sentencing has certainly allowed for sports media driven by the NFL to run wild with questions/comments.

There don’t appear to be great numbers of supporters of the Saints’ sins, but there certainly appears to be more than a few football fans who have been willing to suggest “everyone does this” or “injuries are a part of the game” as a response.

There is a sense of relevancy at least to the latter. There is an awkward nature about every football game played at every level. Every competitor in every game lines up knowing their chances of victory would be greatly improved if their opponents’ best players weren’t on the field.

It doesn’t mean players have regularly worked to ensure their opponents left the field early, it just means the thought is always very much in their minds.

It certainly doesn’t mean it is okay for a coach/organization to pay players as a bonus for injuring opponents.

The other question regularly asked by the small group of Saints defenders is “how would you feel if it was your favorite team?” As I’ve already noted, I’ve wavered on this since first being asked.

Here’s my gut feeling. If the circumstances were either the same (or at least in some way similar), Charm City would be likely to be supportive of the Ravens. If Gregg Williams was Rex Ryan or Chuck Pagano and Sean Payton was John Harbaugh and the players involved were actually Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and Jarret Johnson-we’d be much less likely to call for a death penalty-caliber punishment.

We’d be way more likely to be defensive of the persons involved, suggesting “the bounty wasn’t the reason the unit was successful” or reminding fans that bounties have existed throughout football history.

We’d do it for the same reason San Francisco Giants fans continued to support slugger Barry Bonds despite the escalating evidence suggesting Major League Baseball’s all-time home run king perhaps cheated en route.

I’m not suggesting a football bounty in any way compares to steroid use. I’m only suggesting that it is easier to support players/coaches from your own favorite team because even if you don’t agree with their methods at heart, you believe something more significant.

Those players were trying to help your favorite team win.

When a player accepted money from a Saints assistant to go after an opposing player (or for simple on-field achievement), they did so as part of an attempt to win. Not only were they successful, they were so successful they turned a perennially miserable franchise into a Super Bowl champion.

If the Baltimore Ravens were accused of something similar, it would be much too easy for us to just say “I don’t necessarily like it, but I’m glad they did whatever necessary to win.”

It does not in any way alter the actual facts.

The facts here are very simple. The New Orleans Saints broke the rules and perhaps risked permanently altering the lives of men who were friends, former teammates and simply “brothers” on the gridiron.

There is nothing that can be said that will ever make that acceptable in any way. I won’t attempt to tell you what sort of penalty that should bring with it, I will only tell you I too believe it should be significant.

I will also suggest again that asking “what would you think if it was your favorite team” is not a defense Saints fans should even consider in conversation.

I would probably be supportive. I would DEFINITELY be wrong.

-G

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