Tag Archive | "Mike Gonzalez"

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Orioles’ early-season slumber could lead to nightmarish awakening

Posted on 10 April 2010 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Dave Trembley and the Orioles continue to repeat the same cliches.

It’s early.

There are 162 games in the season.

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

And they’re still right on all accounts, but with each passing loss, the frustration is beginning to show. It was a very somber clubhouse following Toronto’s 3-0 win on Saturday night, and while everyone continues to say the right things, it’s clear this team desperately needs a lift.

David Hernandez continued the same pattern of his fellow starters—sans Brad Bergesen—the first time through the rotation: good, but not great. The 24-year-old right-hander pitched six solid innings, giving up two runs, striking out five and walking four. The problem is Hernandez could have been perfect over nine innings and still wouldn’t have been in line for a victory.

“Hernandez went out there and threw a good game,” said centerfielder Adam Jones. “We put up
a doughnut for him. We didn’t really go out there and swing the bats the way we normally do.”

Toronto starter Dana Eveland stifled the Baltimore lineup over 7.1 innings, surrendering just five hits. The same lefty that posted a 7.16 ERA last season in Oakland—a pitcher’s haven—shut out the Orioles at Camden Yards, picking up his second career win against the team in the process.

In 14.1 career innings against the Orioles, Eveland has not allowed a run while surrendering just eight hits.

While Mike Gonzalez’s struggles have grabbed the early headlines, the Orioles’ inability to capitalize with runners in scoring position is a bigger reason why this team stands at 1-4 and needs a victory on Sunday to avoid a sweep in their first home series.

The Orioles hitters are just 8 for 46 with runners in scoring position, a .174 batting average. Last year, the Orioles finished second in the American League with a .284 average in that category. The opportunities were few and far between against Eveland, but it doesn’t take a math major to see an 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position won’t get it done against anyone.

“We haven’t gotten big hits when we needed them,” Trembley said. “And some games that we obviously could’ve won, we haven’t won them.”

The loss of Brian Roberts—who is day-to-day with an abdominal strain and did not play in Saturday night’s loss—sets a trickle-down effect on a lineup already lacking a genuine cleanup hitter in the middle of the order. Julio Lugo or Felix Pie or Cesar Izturis cannot bring what Roberts brings to the lead-off spot. You simply don’t replace 56 doubles no matter who you put at the top.

It’s too early to panic or call for anyone’s head (even Gonzalez’s), but this is the supposed easy part of a brutal April and early May schedule in which the Orioles play 16 games before their first day off and 21 of their first 28 against the American League East. With the expected dominance at the top of the division from New York, Boston, and Tampa Bay, aren’t the Orioles supposed to beat the Blue Jays, a team picked to finish last in the division?

Following Sunday’s finale against the Jays and a three-game set against the Rays, the Orioles travel to the West Coast for seven games against Oakland and Seattle, never an easy task.

But wait, it gets worse.

After finally getting their first day off on April 22, the Orioles then begin a stretch of 12 consecutive games against the Red Sox and Yankees. Baltimore went 7-29 against the two baseball powers in 2009.

So when you see a 1-4 record that should be 3-2, you only need to look ahead to see why this team needs to be concerned. If the Baltimore bats don’t awaken from their early-season snooze, the results will resemble a nightmare later this month.

It’s probably not the time for a players-only meeting or for Trembley to ream out the team behind closed doors, but it is time to stop hitting the snooze bar and finally wake up for the 2010 season.

It’s cost them at least two or three games already, a margin of error they simply cannot afford in this division.

Rise and shine, guys, or you’ll have a nightmare to deal with very quickly.

– Matt Wieters threw out Jose Bautista trying to steal in the top of the third inning for the third out. The second-year catcher has now thrown out four of five attempted base stealers this season.

– The Blue Jays hit five doubles in Saturday’s game, a season high allowed by the Orioles.

– With Toronto scoring on a Adam Lind RBI double, the orioles have now allowed at least one run in the eighth inning or later in every game this season.

– The 3-0 loss was the first game this season in which the outcome was decided by more than one run.

– The paid attendance was 21,148 after setting an Opening Day attendance record yesterday.

Check out the final box score here.


Good evening from Oriole Park at Camden Yards as the Orioles are set to take on the Toronto Blue Jays in the second of a three-game set at 7:05 p.m.

Dave Trembley just spoke to the media and told reporters Brian Roberts will not play tonight after suffering an abdominal strain in the first inning of yesterday’s 7-6 loss. Roberts injured himself stealing second base and came out of the game after scoring a few moments later.

Julio Lugo will start at second base in his place and will lead off for the Orioles.

The other piece of significant news is the status of closer Mike Gonzalez. Trembley and Rick Kranitz spent much of last night and this morning studying tape of Gonzalez with the Atlanta Braves last year and have discovered some mechanical issues. The lefty is throwing from a different arm angle and falling off the mound much sooner than he did last season, according to Trembley.

Gonzalez will not be the closer this evening, due in part to the amount of work he received in the first four games and his mechanics. The struggling pitcher will work on his mechanics with Kranitz in the bullpen, but Trembley also said this wouldn’t prohibit him from being used in save situations while he works with the pitching coach.

The manager would not reveal who he would use in a save situation tonight and then went on to say he would never reveal who is available or unavailable to pitch before a game. That’s funny, because Trembley said yesterday that situational lefty Will Ohman would be unavailable for Opening Day, but I digress.

So for those of you dreading another Gonzalez appearance, you at least have a one-night reprieve.

Here is tonight’s lineup for the Orioles:

2B Julio Lugo
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
3B Miguel Tejada
DH Garrett Atkins
C Matt Wieters
LF Nolan Reimold
1B Ty Wigginton
SS Cesar Izturis

SP David Hernandez (4-10, 5.42 ERA)

And for Toronto:

2B Mike McCoy
RF Jose Bautista
DH Adam Lind
CF Vernon Wells
1B Lyle Overbay
3B Edwin Encarnacion
SS Alex Gonzalez
LF Travis Snider
C Jose Molina

SP Dana Eveland (2009 stats with Oakland: 2-4, 7.16 ERA)

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates throughout the evening and please join us in our Orange Crush chat, the newest way to watch a game in town!

Check back for updates (time-stamped) leading up to the first pitch when I’ll be shifting over to the Orange Crush chat.


6:55 p.m. — Adam Jones just received his 2009 Gold Glove award and gave a big hug to coach John Shelby in the process. Congratulations to Mr. Jones.

I’m still not convinced Jones was very deserving of the award, but any positive recognition for the Orioles cannot be taken for granted.

5:50 p.m. — While most attention centers around the health of Roberts and the status of Gonzalez, we’ll get our first look at right-hander David Hernandez tonight. The 25-year-old won the fifth starter spot, beating out top prospect Chris Tillman in spring training.

Of course, Hernandez got his feet wet at the big-league level last season, going 4-10 with a 5.42 ERA in 19 starts. The soon-to-be 25-year-old has a power fastball and showed much better commander of his slider in the spring. After walking 46 batters in 101.1 innings in his rookie season, Hernandez walked just three batters in 15 spring innings, a major factor in nailing down the final spot in the rotation.

Many still feel Hernandez is best suited for a late-innings role in the bullpen due to command issues and questions of how deep he can go into a game, but now is the time to figure out whether or not he can be a middle to back-of-the-rotation starter before you slide him to a relief role.

As for Tillman, hopes are still high, but he’ll have to wait it out in Norfolk.

5:30 p.m. — Following up on the Gonzalez news, Trembley brought up the early-season struggles of George Sherrill last season when the closer was temporarily stripped of exclusive closer duties after blowing his second save in three chances against Toronto on May 2. At the time, Sherrill was 4-for-6 in save opportunities with a 5.06 ERA.

After May 2 and until being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Sherrill was 16-for-17 in save chances with a 1.47 ERA.

While certainly a far cry from Gonzalez’s struggles in his first three appearances, every closer struggles from time to time—even Mariano Rivera or Jonathan Papelbon—but those struggles will clearly stand out on a new team during the first week of the season.

Does that mean Gonzalez will eventually straighten himself out? No, but it’s far too soon to give up on the guy entirely.

At the very least, it’s encouraging that the coaching staff has discovered flaws in his mechanics, if they have indeed found them and it isn’t a front to buy some time for the left-hander.

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Orioles, Gonzalez again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory

Posted on 09 April 2010 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The good vibes of Opening Day and the first week of the season are one of the few occasions when Orioles fans are typically allowed to feel good.

Spring is in the air, the Orioles are back in town, and the standings look a little better—at least for now.

However, as Mike Gonzalez walked off the mound following another terrible performance and his second blown save in three chances, optimism quickly transformed into ugly frustration as Baltimore fans pounded the left-hander with a chorus of boos only reserved for former Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller in recent Baltimore sports history.

It was a troubling display from the home crowd, regardless of how lousy Gonzalez has been in his first week as an Oriole. Twelve years of losing will do that to you.

The Orioles and Gonzalez have to be looking at themselves with utter disbelief. A team fully expecting—or at least saying so anyway—to be improved now finds itself with a 1-3 record when it very well should be 3-1, or could be 4-0.

But they’re not, and therein lies the rub with the fans at Camden Yards.

Couple that with the comments made by general manager Andy MacPhail to USA Today about competing in the American League East, and this season already feels just like the previous 12.

So much for feeling positive on Opening Day.

Gonzalez continues to claim he isn’t injured, and it’s a matter of simply trying too hard. At this point, Orioles fans might prefer he not have the chance to try at all.

Whatever the case, it’s hard to recall a newcomer with relatively high expectations that struggled as much as Gonzalez has in his first three appearances. You almost had to feel for the guy as Dave Trembley pulled him from the game after Jose Bautista hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly, essentially throwing Gonzalez to the wolves and exposing him to the jeers of an angry crowd.

“I think more than anything right now I just have some built up energy. I want to go out there and get it done,” Gonzalez said after the loss.

Dave Trembley was clearly irritated with his closer’s performance but appears committed to sticking with him in the ninth inning for now. The manager reiterated the frustration of failing to close another game that was theirs for the taking.

“You should win this game today, and we didn’t do it,” he said. “The game is ruined because we don’t close it out.”

As frustrated as fans might be, we’re still in the middle of the first week of a 162-game marathon. Every team in the big leagues, from the Yankees down to the Nationals, will lose three out of four at least a few times this season.

Still, the way in which they’ve lost has destroyed optimism in even the most apologetic of fans. And it only figures to get worse with the always-challenging west-coast trip and 12-straight games against the Yankees and Red Sox looming over the next few weeks.

Gonzalez and the Orioles still have plenty of time to right the ship and start playing better baseball to avoid the 90-plus loss plateau, but they better start very soon.

It might only be four games, but it’s already feeling just like the last 12 years.

– Brian Roberts left the game in the top of the second inning with a strained abdominal muscle. The Orioles second baseman was injured stealing second base and came out of the game after scoring on a Miguel Tejada single.

Trembley had no update on Roberts’ status for Saturday night’s game.

– In his return to Baltimore after spending two seasons with the Houston Astros, Miguel Tejada drove in four runs on Friday, his first four-plus RBI game since July 28, 2009. Tejada’s two-run homer in the fifth inning tied the game at 5-5.

“I’m honored to come back here and try to do the job for the fans,” he said.

It was Tejada’s first home run as an Oriole since September 21, 2007.

– Brad Bergesen was not sharp in his 2010 debut, giving up five earned runs and eight hits in 4.2 innings and becoming the first Baltimore starter to not get out of the fifth inning.

“Bergesen didn’t have a lot of sink [on his pitches],” Trembley said. “I thought his tempo was really slow today.”

– The Orioles have now allowed at least one run in the eighth inning or later in each of their four games this season, giving up a total of six runs in that span. It was also the third game in which they gave up the tying or go-ahead run in those innings.

– With Friday’s loss, the Orioles fell to 37-20 overall and 13-6 at Oriole Park at Camden yards in home openers. This was the first ever home opener against the Blue Jays.

– Today’s paid attendance was 48,891, which set a new record for an Orioles Opening Day crowd, surpassing the 48,607 mark set against the Yankees last season.

– The Orioles will send David Hernandez to the mound against Dana Eveland on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. Check back right here at WNST.net for all of your Orioles coverage this season.

Check out the final box score here.


Good afternoon from Oriole Park at Camden Yards! It’s Opening Day (the home variety anyway), and the Orioles (1-2) are set to take on the Toronto Blue Jays (2-1) at 3:05 p.m.

Here is the starting lineup for the Orioles this afternoon:

2B Brian Roberts
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
3B Miguel Tejada
LF Luke Scott
C Matt Wieters
DH Nolan Reimold
1B Garrett Atkins
SS Cesar Izturis

SP Brad Bergesen (2009 stats: 7-5, 3.43 ERA)

And for the Toronto Blue Jays:

RF Jose Bautista
SS Alex Gonzalez
DH Adam Lind
CF Vernon Wells
1B Lyle Overbay
C John Buck
3B Edwin Encarnacion
LF Travis Snider
2B John McDonald

SP Brandon Morrow (2009 stats with Seattle: 2-4, 4.39 ERA)

I’ll be providing updates and tidbits throughout the afternoon leading up to the first pitch at 3:05. Just scroll below the break for the latest updates (time-stamped for your convenience). Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates and join us in the Orange Crush chat, hosted by Nestor Aparicio!


3:54 p.m. — Our Orange Crust chat is in full force, but just wanted to pass along some injury news. Brian Roberts left the game in the top of the second inning with a strained abdominal muscle.

Just when it looked like the second baseman was getting into the swing of the regular season, he comes down with another injury.

Tough news for the Orioles.

2:40 p.m. — Opening Day festivities are underway and not surprisingly, Cito Gaston received an unfriendly welcome. It’s hard to believe the 1993 Mike Mussina All-Star Game snub was 17 years ago.

Don’t forget to join us in the Orange Crust Chat during the game. Nestor Aparicio will be your host, and I will be chiming in with in-game thoughts throughout the afternoon.

And remember to follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for musings and analysis as well.

2:15 p.m. — The Orioles and Blue Jays split their 18 games in 2009. Baltimore was 8-1 at Camden Yards and 1-8 at Rogers Centre. Pretty interesting breakdown right there.

With the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays expected to be three of the best teams in the American League, the Orioles must take care of business against Toronto this season if they hope to approach the .500 mark. We continue to hear the Orioles are an improved team—and they are on paper—so they need to beat up on the rebuilding Jays.

2:05 p.m. — Matt Wieters is clearly off to the best start of any Oriole regular, and it’s clear Trembley and pitching coach Rick Kranitz have more confidence in the second-year catcher to handle the pitching staff, leading to the decision to keep Craig Tatum as the backup catcher in lieu of veteran Chad Moeller.

Wieters is now calling pitches on his own, and Trembley credited the tutelage of Gregg Zaun and Moeller to prepare the young catcher for that responsibility.

“It’s helped him a lot with the experience he got last year,” he said.

In just three games, Wieters is hitting .500 with a home run and two RBI, including the game-tying single in last night’s big four-run sixth inning. He also became the first catcher in club history to open the season with three consecutive multi-hit games.

1:55 p.m. — As we inch closer to the pre-game festivities, we begin to turn our attention to the Toronto Blue Jays. Most preseason prognosticators have picked the Orioles ahead of the Blue Jays in the American League East, but of course, both teams are considered afterthoughts after the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays.

The Blue Jays, managed by Cito Gaston, won their opening series of the season against the Rangers in Texas. Toronto earned the series win with a 3-1 comeback victory yesterday.

Brandon Morrow takes the hill for the Jays in his first start since being acquired from the Seattle Mariners in the off-season. The 25-year-old right-hander shuttled back and forth from the starting rotation and the bullpen in Seattle, but it appears Toronto is committed to making him a starting pitcher. He will be on an 85-pitch limit in today’s game, according to Gaston.

You may remember Morrow’s name in the Erik Bedard trade discussions a couple years ago before Andy MacPhail settled for a package of Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, George Sherrill, and two others.

1:05 p.m. — Despite a tough turnaround after playing the series finale against Tampa Bay last night, Baltimore’s Opening Day starter shouldn’t have any issue with fatigue. Bergesen flew home early to prepare for this afternoon’s start against the Blue Jays.

While some fans have debated whether Brian Matusz should have received the nod for the home opener, Trembley never considered it, telling the media he told Bergesen three months ago that he’d be getting the ball today.

Of course, those plans became uncertain after Bergesen famously injured his pitching shoulder filming a MASN commercial in the off-season.

“He really caught up in a hurry,” Trembley said. “I think he’s the right guy to represent us on Opening Day.”

12:35 p.m. — The Orioles are currently taking batting practice, and the Opening Day festivities are scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m.

Manager Dave Trembley said in his pre-game press conference that Felix Pie is closer to returning to the lineup after battling a tender throwing shoulder in the opening series in Tampa Bay.

“He’ll play in this series, and you’ll see him start in this series.”

Trembley also mentioned in his pre-game presser that closer Mike Gonzalez will be available today if needed despite throwing 26 pitches—only 12 of them for strikes—in last night’s nerve-wracking 5-4 victory at Tropicana Field.

The skipper also mentioned he preferred to rest situational lefty Will Ohman after the newcomer saw action in all three games of the Tampa series. The other left-hander in the pen, Mark Hendrickson, has yet to throw a pitch this season.

In injury-related news, Trembley had no update on the status of Koji Uehara who is on the disabled list (hamstring) and still in Florida at extended spring training. It is believed that Uehara has not thrown off a mound, so it doesn’t appear his return is imminent.

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Gonzalez quickly sculpting unnerving image in Baltimore

Posted on 09 April 2010 by Luke Jones

If we can take anything from the opening series of the 2010 season, we know it’s going to be interesting in the final inning.



Hold on for dear life.

New closer Mike Gonzalez atoned for his Opening Night debacle by preserving the first win of the season Thursday night, but the performance was anything but routine in the Orioles’ 5-4 victory over Tampa Bay.

After striking out the first two batters of the ninth and appearing poised to retire the side in order, Gonzalez loaded the bases before finally enticing Ben Zobrist to fly out to right, thankfully ending a 26-pitch, 12-strike inning as Orioles fans finally breathed a sigh of relief and somewhere Earl Weaver burned through an entire pack of cigarettes. At least that’s the rumor.

Gonzalez made it very clear he was anxious to return to the mound following his blown save on Tuesday night, and to his credit, he got the job done, but it couldn’t have been any shakier. It’s quickly becoming pretty apparent why few teams were beating down Gonzalez’s door last December to sign him up as their fireman.

With just 54 career saves, Gonzalez had rarely been used as a primary closer in his first seven seasons in the big leagues. The 31-year-old lefty went 10-for-17 in save opportunities for the Braves last season and had saved no more than 24 (2006 with Pittsburgh) in any season.

But it was enough for Andy MacPhail to ink Gonzalez to a two-year, $12 million contract, designating him the replacement for George Sherrill and ending the short-lived Jim Johnson experiment at closer.

Gonzalez battled tightness in his back and hesitated to go all out in his spring outings, insisting he would be in top form for the regular season. You have to wonder how much that’s impacted his shaky start. For better or worse, Gonzalez is Dave Trembley’s closer. There is no other viable option in the bullpen.

The Orioles will live and die in the ninth inning as violently as Gonzalez delivers his fastball.

Few players have made such an impression—good or bad—in their first two appearances as an Oriole. It’s scary to think what the crowd’s reaction might have been at Camden Yards on Friday had he blown a second straight save and the 0-3 Orioles limped home to Baltimore for the home opener.

I’m guessing Aubrey Huff probably would have placed a call from San Francisco to offer moral support—hopefully without sharing his thoughts on the city.

But Gonzalez nailed down the victory, protecting Brian Matusz’ first victory of the season and allowing the Orioles to return home feeling better about themselves after the disappointment of dropping two winnable games against the Rays.

There’s no doubting his talent—chaotic mechanics and all—and a 2.63 career ERA shows he’s had plenty of success at the big-league level. Even Sherrill came to the Orioles as a little-known setup man with four career saves before becoming an All-Star closer.

In fact, when you look at the franchise’s history of closers, Gonzalez’s early tightrope act fits right in with a plethora of characters.

Don Stanhouse didn’t earn the nickname Fullpack for 1-2-3 innings but still managed to make the 1979 All-Star team.

Randy Myers may have set a club record for saves in 1997, but anyone following his career knows it wasn’t a Myers outing unless at least one man reached base in the process.

And Sherrill’s two seasons were anything but routine as he racked up 51 saves in two years for the Orioles before being dealt to the Dodgers last summer.

However, Armando Benitez, Mike Timlin, and Jorge Julio sit on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Need I say more?

It’s too soon to determine into which camp Gonzalez will ultimately settle, but the early return suggests fans might want to stock up on the Rolaids and Pepto-Bismol—or maybe something stronger—this summer.

At the very least, he should keep things entertaining.

***Don’t forget WNST.net is your source for Opening Day coverage as I’ll be at Camden Yards for all Opening Day festivities. Follow us on Twitter (@WNST) for the quickest updates and join us every game for our Orange Crush live chat to talk Baltimore baseball.***

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Let The Bashing Begin …..

Posted on 07 April 2010 by Rex Snider

Well, it’s almost 7am …. on the morning following the Orioles first defeat of the season. No worries, there will be plenty more wins that “slipped away” before we tuck the 2010 season away in mothballs.

No, I’m not throwing in the towel on my prediction of 76 wins – I still think the birds will have a pretty decent season, as they continue in another chapter of Andy’s Rebuilding Project. But, last night’s game was a tough pill to swallow …..

Ugh, I’m also operating on two hours of sleep. I couldn’t get a wink, last night.

No, I don’t take Orioles baseball that seriously. I’m just excited to talk about last night’s pain, along with some renewed hope, this evening. After two months of bantering back and forth about incidental, debatable topics and vanilla-laden spring training updates, Ray Bachman and I finally have some real substance to discuss, at 2pm.

I’ll imagine many area baseball fans are chomping at the bit to complain about one thing or another. In fact, I’ve purposely steered away from Drew Forrester’s show (which KILLS me), because I don’t wanna hear any of the callers whom we share between both programs.

I’m sure some fans wanna blame certain members of the lineup – who failed to drive in 11 of 12 runners in scoring position …..

Fair enough, but that’s gonna happen. In fact, there will be nights when the very same lineup drives in 9 of those 12 runners.

Watch and see.

I’ll also agree the Orioles lineup is vulnerable with hitters ill-fitted for their spot in the order. I get it – but, it’s not the reason they lost last night’s game. They held a lead entering the bottom of the 9th, PERIOD.

Mike Gonzalez MUST eat this one, all by himself. He’s the guy who cannot surrender runs. His job is clearly defined and it pays quite handsomely for a reason – it takes composure and veins of “ice water,” as some old school insiders would suggest.

Regardless of what the guys swingin’ lumber do, a 9th inning lead must be protected. If not, the team and FANS are in for a season of gut-wrenching disappointment, and walk-off losses.

Look, as much as I’ve hated the last 12 seasons, I’ve understood the meaning behind 9-3 losses with box scores revealing the Orioles were beaten in every aspect of the game. Those are the easy losses to absorb – just chalk it up to playing a much better team.

Last night, Mike Gonzalez didn’t do his job. And, that has seriously destructive consequences …..

Wanna blame Miguel Tejada? Fine ….. he can go 0 for 5 and strand 6 runners. How about Brian Roberts, you wanna hang it on him? He can boot a couple balls and also strand a handful of runners. Yet, the team can still win if that stuff happens.

But, if Mike Gonzalez does not accomplish the ONE THING for which he’s employed, this team will lose each time he fails. Okay, they might pull a couple out …..

But, you get the point.

Last night’s observations of Gonzalez were stressful. He was clearly overthrowing and lacked poise. It appeared he was bent on dispelling the rumors regarding his supposed loss of velocity, in spring training.

While I was impressed by the quick strikeout of Pat Burrell, I also noticed Gonzalez fed him 3 straight fastballs of 91, 94 and 93 miles per hour.

He started off the next hitter, Sean Rodriguez, with another fastball. And for the record, all 4 of those pitches were above the knee caps and over the plate.


And, while we’re at it, lets point out the back to back hits, by Shoppach and Crawford. Mike, you can’t get by with “BOOBIE HIGH” fastballs in the American League. Where is that famed slider …..

I understand and sympathize with the concern over the Orioles hitters leaving so many runners stranded in scoring position. And, yes, that stuff will eventually come back to haunt them – but, saying “if we would’ve scored more runs, we would’ve won,” is ridiculous.

The Orioles lineup provided enough runs to win. Mike Gonzalez couldn’t provide enough outs to ensure it.

Yeah, the situational hitting must improve. And, it will. I wouldn’t be surprised if this lineup looks much different when July rolls around. Maybe it will take a little longer, but Adam Jones and Matt Wieters are gonna inherit the #3 & #4 slots in the lineup. Making such a switch will provide the freedom to move Tejada down to 5th or 6th, while also moving Markakis up to the #2 spot.

I know most fans think Markakis is the best hitter on the team. He’s not. He’s not the best outfielder on the team, either. And, seeing him draw those walks with such a disciplined eye, last night, really reinforced my hope for seeing him set the table for the bigger sticks.

It’s just one game, but stranding runners cannot become an epidemic for this team. And, I do think getting the better bats into the heart of the lineup will aid in downplaying such situations. They’ve gotta score runs.

But, make no mistake about it ….. Mike Gonzalez held last night’s game in the palm of his hand and he dropped it.

I’ll talk to you, this afternoon.

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Orioles let first one slip away to Tampa Bay 4-3

Posted on 06 April 2010 by Luke Jones

The Orioles’ two biggest pitching acquisitions insisted they would answer the bell for the regular season after struggling in the spring.

One did while the other could not as new closer Mike Gonzalez surrendered a two-run single to Carl Crawford in the bottom of the ninth, and the Orioles fell to the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Night at Tropicana Field, 4-3.

Kevin Millwood wasn’t brilliant but was certainly good enough in his Orioles debut, pitching five-plus innings and giving up two earned runs before leaving the game in the sixth with a 3-2 lead. The 35-year-old scattered nine hits but struck out five in his seventh career Opening Day start.

The Orioles appeared poised to start the season on a positive note behind Millwood and three solo home runs from Adam Jones, Luke Scott, and Matt Wieters. And despite lingering questions about the bullpen, Matt Albers, Will Ohman, and Jim Johnson tossed three outstanding innings of relief, putting the Orioles in prime position to win their opener before Gonzalez took the hill in the ninth.

It promptly fell apart from there as the 31-year-old could record only one out and loaded the bases before Crawford singled down the right-field line to win it for Tampa Bay.

After battling a stiff back and downplaying the significance of his decreased velocity in the spring, Gonzalez received his first save opportunity of the season—and a chance to silence any doubters—but couldn’t deliver. The velocity may have been there, but the command and results were not. It couldn’t have been a worse debut after Andy MacPhail signed him to a two-year, $12 million deal in December.

In Gonzalez’s defense, the Orioles had opportunities to add to the lead but went 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position, including stranding runners at 2nd and 3rd with none out in the fourth when Rays starter James Shields retired Garrett Atkins, Cesar Izturis, and Brian Roberts. Baltimore left 10 men on base in the game.

Simply put, it was the type of game good ball clubs win—the kind the Orioles haven’t won nearly enough of in the last decade. The Orioles were better than the Rays for eight and a half innings, but they couldn’t put them away despite several opportunities.

So they lost.

Of course, as disappointing as it might seem, this IS only the first of 162 games. Perhaps Gonzalez will save 35 games this season, and this will only be one of a few blips on the radar for the new closer. Maybe Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Matusz toss gems the next two nights and the Orioles still take the opening series of the season.

On the other hand, it’s impossible to ignore the sense of déjà vu seeping into our collective consciences. That “here we go again” mentality has been burned into our collective sports souls over the last 12 years. Time for year 13.

Win or lose, everything is magnified on Opening Day, especially when you’re coming off 12 straight losing seasons and looking for a shred of optimism on Day 1.

A win on Tuesday night wouldn’t have turned the Orioles into an instant contender or changed anyone’s mind about their fortunes in 2010.

But—for one night anyway—it sure would have felt nice.

**Check out the box score right here, and don’t forget to join us every night for our Orange Chat, the newest way to watch the game and interact with your favorite WNST personalities!**

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Orange Chatter: 10 Questions for 2010 (Part 2 of 2)

Posted on 03 April 2010 by Luke Jones

In Part 1 of my 10 Questions for 2010, we pondered the health of Brian Roberts, the status of Jeremy Guthrie and Chris Tillman, and the platoon of Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold.

Here are my second five of 10 questions entering the 2010 season:

6. Is the bullpen up to par?

Following the trade of George Sherrill last summer, it was clear the Orioles struggled in the late innings with Jim Johnson better suited in his previous role as a setup man. Andy MacPhail responded by signing free agent closer Mike Gonzalez to a two-year, $12 million contract, the club’s largest signing of the offseason.

Gonzalez has 54 career saves in a seven-year career, including 10 last season in Atlanta. While the lefty seems capable of closing games–keep in mind Sherrill was never a closer before the trade to Baltimore–Gonzalez battled a stiff back and appeared hesitant to cut it loose in Sarasota until recently. He closed out the spring with a perfect outing against the Mets on Saturday, striking out two and lowering his spring ERA to 5.14.

Gonzalez is joined in the bullpen by two mainstays in Johnson and lefty Mark Hendrickson, who thrived in the bullpen (3.44 ERA) after being moved out of the starting rotation (5.40 as a starter) last season.

However, after these three, the bullpen becomes a bit murkier, especially with Koji Uehara on the disabled list (hamstring) to begin the season. Cla Meredith had a tremendous spring (0.84 ERA) and pitched well in Baltimore after being acquired from the Padres last season but is certainly not a household name with a track record. Newcomer Will Ohman figures to provide plenty of laughs, but Trembley would like to see him evolve into an effective left-handed situational arm (a career 4.25 ERA in seven seasons).

And with three pitchers 25 or younger in the starting rotation, the club will go with two long men in Matt Albers and Jason Berken. Albers was very effective in 2008 (3.49 ERA), but a shoulder injury (torn labrum) and questions surrounding his conditioning led to an abysmal 2009 season in which he pitched to a 5.51 ERA and was demoted to Triple-A Norfolk on three different occasions.

Berken shifts to a long-relief role after starting 24 games last season (6.54 ERA). While the 26-year-old lacks the stuff of an effective starting pitcher, Trembley will look for him to eat innings should a starter be knocked out early. Of course, Berken could find himself back in the starting rotation should there be an injury or two over the course of the seaosn.

A player to keep an eye on at Norfolk is Kam Mickolio, a hard-throwing righty (part of the Erik Bedard trade with Seattle) who appeared to have a good chance of making the 25-man roster before a groin injury limited his opportunities in the spring. He projects as a late-inning man with closer potential.

As is the case with any bullpen on any team, the starting pitching will ultimately decide its fate. If starters are unable to reach the sixth or seventh inning on a consistent basis, this bullpen will inevitably wear down as we’ve seen just about every summer over the last 12 years. Improved starting pitching will hide the weaknesses in the bullpen and allow more opportunities to finish games.

7. Will Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins prove to be capable stopgaps?

The corner infield positions were two of MacPhail’s biggest priorities to address in the offseason, and he responded by adding two veterans accustomed to playing different positions than they will in 2010.

Tejada’s return to Baltimore was a controversial decision, but his ability to adjust to third base will be critical to the infield defense and pitching. Most seem to think Tejada will become a capable third baseman, but it’s hard to forget the initial struggles of both Cal Ripken and Melvin Mora when they shifted to the hot corner. One would expect Tejada to struggle in the first month or two of the season before settling in to be an average third baseman.

Tejada will also be asked to handle the cleanup spot in the order, at least until Matt Wieters is ready to grab the reins. While no longer capable of hitting 25 home runs per season—he hit just 27 in two combined seasons in Houston—Tejada led the National League with 47 doubles in 2009.

Across the diamond, Atkins shifts to first base after primarily manning the hot corner in his seven seasons in Colorado. Atkins has played 105 career games at first, so the transition should not be as drastic as Tejada’s.

The acquisition of Atkins was a curious one with the 30-year-old coming off the worst season of his career (.226, 9 home runs, 48 RBI) and safer options such as Adam LaRoche available. The club hopes Atkins can regain his pre-2009 form when he averaged 25 home runs and 110 RBI over three seasons.

Neither player figures to be in the fold when the Orioles aim to contend in the next few years—both signed one-year deals—but with prospects Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder likely a year away from the big leagues, Tejada and Atkins will be depended on for offense and steady defense on the corners. At the very least, neither contract will come back to haunt the club should either player prove ineffective.

8. How good will Brian Matusz be?

Though the hype hasn’t rivaled the insane expectations for Wieters, Matusz appears set to contend for the 2010 American League Rookie of the Year after starting eight games down the stretch, going 5-2 with a 4.63 ERA.

His 2009 minor league numbers look like something out of a video game, as he went a combined 11-2 with a 1.91 ERA at Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie. In fact, Matusz was even better after being promoted to Bowie, going a perfect 7-0 record with a 1.55 ERA in eight starts.

Matusz was fantastic in the spring, finishing with a 2.59 ERA while striking out 21 and walking just three in 24.1 innings.

There’s a reason why he’s on every top-10 prospect list you’ll find this spring. Though Matusz would be hard-pressed to match Mike Mussina’s numbers in his first full year in 1992, don’t be shocked if he’s the Orioles’ best pitcher by mid-season. He might be already.

A scout was recently asked about Matusz in Baseball Prospectus: “He might have been the best pitcher I saw all spring, and I’m not just talking about prospects.”

Need we say more?

9. Is Dave Trembley managing his last season in Baltimore?

While many wondered about Trembley’s job security as the Orioles collapsed down the stretch last season, which included a 13-game losing streak that nearly pushed the club past the 100-loss mark, MacPhail retained Trembley while also declaring the 2010 season would be judged more critically on wins and losses.

It’s clear Trembley has had a near-impossible task trying to win with inferior talent in the AL East, but the skipper cannot expect a free ride either. Baserunning gaffes, poor fundamentals, and questionable bullpen management were major issues in 2009, regardless of who was on the field. It’s no secret the Orioles lack the talent of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays, so playing fundamentally-sound baseball is an absolute necessity if the club wants to improve in 2010.

Trembley’s supporters continue to claim he hasn’t had a chance to compete in his three seasons as manager, but the lack of talent cannot excuse some of the problems witnessed in 2009. Having bad players doesn’t mean you’re a bad manager, but it doesn’t mean you’re a capable manager either.

It’s imperative for the club to make significant improvement in 2010, or Trembley will be shown the door at the end of the season—if not sooner.

10. Will the Orioles make it an unlucky number 13?

Twelve years.

Twelve painful, long years.

The Orioles begin the new decade after closing out the first 10 years of the century without a winning season, their last winning campaign coming in 1997.

But unlike most of the last 12 years, it really looks as though the team will improve from where it was a year ago, though it’s difficult to go any direction but up after a 98-loss season. The problem is even a 15-game improvement–a tremendous accomplishment—would only create a 79-83 mark and a 13th straight losing season.

If the Orioles have any hope of a .500 season, they not only have to thrive against the AL Central and West but must find a way to avoid the utter embarrassment experienced last year against the Yankees and Red Sox.

The Orioles were 5-13 against the Bronx Bombers, and the results were even worse with the Red Sox, as Baltimore was an egregious 2-16 against Boston. Another 7-29 mark—far and away their worst record against the two AL East powers over the last 12 seasons—is unacceptable, if not unfathomable.

Forget about money, competitive imbalance, or recent history. A .194 winning percentage over 36 games against the Yankees and Red Sox should never happen.

When it all adds up, the Orioles can make significant improvement in 2010, but it looks like a 13th consecutive losing season is almost inevitable.

A record in the neighborhood of 77-85 will not rejuvenate the fan base immediately, but it would be a sizable step in the right direction.

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Orange Chatter: 10 Questions for 2010 (Part 1 of 2)

Posted on 02 April 2010 by Luke Jones

With a brutal, record-setting Baltimore winter thankfully in the rear-view mirror and a beautiful start to April upon us, we now turn our attention to spring and another season of baseball.

Despite a 64-98 record (the club’s worse since 2001) and a second straight last-place finish in 2009, the Orioles appear to be inching closer to respectability, and optimism has grown with a promising collection of young players–both at the major and minor league levels–not seen in these parts in quite some time.

Still, the cold reality of playing in the American League East leaves the possibility of contention as nothing more than an impractical daydream. Even with sterling seasons from the likes of Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Brian Matusz, and Brad Bergesen, the stronghold of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays at the top of the division leaves the Orioles overmatched in the toughest division in baseball.

With that said, Andy MacPhail has made it clear the 2010 campaign will be judged on wins and losses after acknowledging his first few seasons in Baltimore were nothing more than developmental years. The pressure will be levied on Dave Trembley after compiling a 172-244 record in his three seasons as skipper of the Orioles.

Substantial improvement is an absolute necessity in 2010, both in continued player development and results on the field. If not, mass changes will be in order, and the absolute confidence bestowed upon MacPhail since arriving halfway through the 2007 season will need to be reconsidered.

But before significant progress can be witnessed in 2010, a plethora of questions must be addressed. Here are the first five of my 10 questions for the 2010 season (click here for Part 2):

1. Will Brian Roberts’ back hold up over the next six months?

Back issues are bad news for any athlete, but when it’s your 32-year-old leadoff hitter and starting second baseman, it’s hard to envision Roberts’ herniated disk in the lower back as an injury that won’t resurface at some point this season.

After receiving an epidural injection in Baltimore in mid-March, Roberts returned to Sarasota, playing in five games and hitting .214 through Friday. All reports indicate the Orioles second baseman is feeling good, but 14 at-bats in sunny Florida is a far cry from the rigors of a 162-game season. Trembley will certainly need to monitor Roberts’ playing time, especially in the cooler climate of April.

MacPhail did provide a nice insurance policy in acquiring middle infielder Julio Lugo from the Cardinals earlier this week. An upgrade over Robert Andino, Lugo would figure to get the nod at second base when Roberts rests.

Even with Lugo in the fold, any extended absence from Roberts would wreak havoc on the balance of the lineup with Lugo, Felix Pie, or Adam Jones being far less attractive options at the top of the order.

2. Will the real Jeremy Guthrie please take the hill (or do we want him to)?

After going 17-17 with a 3.66 ERA and establishing himself as the Orioles’ top starter in the previous two seasons, Guthrie struggled mightily last year, losing 17 games, pitching to a 5.04 ERA, and surrendering a league-high 35 home runs.

With the Orioles acquiring veteran and Opening Day starter Kevin Millwood in December, Guthrie slides down to the No. 2 spot, but his performance in Sarasota has only raised concerns of a hangover from his forgettable 2009 season.

Guthrie is 0-4 with a 7.40 ERA and has surrendered four bombs in his six spring starts. Whether you subscribe to the validity of spring training performance or are willing to overlook it, the veteran no longer appears to have a rock-solid grasp on a spot in the rotation with Chris Tillman waiting in the wings at Norfolk.

It’s imperative for Guthrie to get into the sixth or seventh inning with three young starters in the rotation and a shaky bullpen behind him. In 2009, Guthrie was unable to make quality pitches in tight spots, and American League hitters made him pay.

Trembley will certainly give his best starter over the last three seasons the benefit of the doubt, but the soon-to-be 31-year-old (his birthday is April 8th) must pitch better than he has over the last 12 months, or the club will need to look in another direction.

A best-case scenario would be for Guthrie to regain his pre-2009 form, allowing MacPhail to shop him at the trade deadline this summer. If he cannot rebound, expect Guthrie to eventually settle into a long-relief role.

3. Will Matt Wieters take the next step toward stardom in his sophomore season?

Not even Superman could have fulfilled the impossible expectations thrown upon Wieters in 2009, and, contrary to popular belief, Wieters does not write for The Daily Planet.

After completing one of the finest seasons in the history of minor league baseball in 2008, Wieters was anointed the savior in Baltimore months before debuting against the Detroit Tigers at the end of May last season.

After a few pedestrian months in the big leagues, Wieters caught fire in the month of September, hitting .333 with four home runs and 17 RBI in his final 29 games and flashing signs of his immense potential without the aid of extravagant–and humorous–Chuck Norris-type jokes.

All spring reports point to a more comfortable Wieters, who will not only be depended upon for huge offensive contributions but will also handle a talented, and young, back-end of the rotation.

The club will try to temper expectations by assigning Miguel Tejada (and his 27 combined home runs in the last two seasons) to cleanup duties to start the season, but the 23-year-old switch hitter would figure to settle into the No. 4 spot if indeed “the sun rises when Matt Wieters decides to wake up.”

4. When will we see Chris Tillman on the hill in Baltimore?

In one of the most surprising stories out of Sarasota this spring, David Hernandez beat out the highly-touted right-hander, sending Tillman back to Norfolk after he had started 12 games and pitched to a 5.40 ERA in 2009.

With an increased emphasis on wins and losses, it’s clear the club thinks Hernandez is more likely to succeed in the major league rotation right now. Hernandez will also be 25 in May, and the club needs to find out whether he can stick in the starting rotation before potentially moving him to the late-inning relief role that many insiders project for him. He outpitched Tillman in the spring (a 3.00 ERA with 20 strikeouts and just three walks in 15 innings), but the jury is still out whether Hernandez’s improved command with the breaking ball will remain when the club heads north.

In his short stint in Baltimore, Tillman struggled to command his fastball, so this will clearly be a focal point for the righty in Triple A. Tillman did not pitch poorly this spring, but his nine walks in 16.1 innings indicates command is still an issue for the talented pitcher.

Whether it’s an injury or ineffectiveness from Guthrie or Hernandez, one would fully expect Tillman to be recalled by late May, if not much sooner. If Tillman is truly the tremendous talent so many claim him to be, this temporary demotion should not have any negative effect on his development.

Whenever he does get the call, hopefully he’ll be ready to stick for good.

5. Who will be the starting left fielder when the dust settles in September?

It’s a far cry from John Lowenstein and Gary Roenicke, but a left-field platoon appears to be surfacing once again in Baltimore.

Nolan Reimold appeared set as the left fielder of the future after a successful rookie season in which he hit 15 home runs and slugged .466 in 358 at-bats before ending the season on the disabled list with a left Achilles’ tendon injury, an injury still bothering him this spring.

On the other hand, Felix Pie reaped the benefit from injuries to Reimold and center fielder Adam Jones late in 2009 after a miserable first half in his first season with the Orioles. Hitting just .240 on August 1, Pie reestablished himself as a legitimate starting candidate after hitting .290, clubbing seven home runs, and driving in 19 runs over his final 41 games before suffering a quadriceps injury in the final week of the season.

Both players have battled ailments in spring training (including Friday when Pie left the game after being hit in the lower right leg by a Mariano Rivera pitch), but Pie has been the offensive star of the spring, hitting .351 and slugging a whopping .676 in 37 at-bats.

With the Orioles starting the season on the turf of Tropicana Field, Trembley has named Pie his Opening Day left fielder in order to protect Reimold’s heel. However, it will be interesting to see how the manager distributes at-bats to the two in the early stages of the season.

Reimold provides more pop but lacks the defensive prowess and all-around ability of Pie, but Pie’s poor instincts have irked Trembley–not to mention just a few Orioles fans–on more than one occasion.

And of course, Luke Scott is currently on the roster and figures to serve as the team’s primary designated hitter. If Reimold and Pie both perform and stay healthy–a major question mark at this point–MacPhail could try to move Scott to clear the designated hitter spot for Reimold.

Regardless of who emerges as the starting left fielder by season’s end, it’s certainly refreshing to have two promising candidates in left field for the Orioles after watching retreads such as Jay Payton and Marty Cordova in the last decade.

***Click here for Part 2 of my 10 Questions for 2010 where I ponder the effect of the offseason acquisitions, Dave Trembley’s future, and whether the bullpen will hold up in 2010.***

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Gonzalez is a good sign

Posted on 20 December 2009 by dansoderberg

I’ve been very critical and skeptical of the Orioles over the past few months, but I’m willing to give credit where it’s due. The Orioles signing of relief pitcher Mike Gonzalez was a good one and significant for a number of reasons.

1) The fact that the team spent some money and a draft pick on a free agent closer rather than selling us on the idea of “Koji for closer” signifies that they are at least attempting to be relatively competitive in 2010.
2) The Orioles forfeited the rights to their 2010 2nd round draft pick to the Braves as compensation for signing Gonzalez. I’ve heard some people question the wisdom of giving up a second rounder to sign a closer to a team that just lost 98 games. I understand that reaction at first glance, but upon further review if the Orioles weren’t concerned about losing the pick then the fans shouldn’t be either. The team has gone over MLB’s slot recommendations to sign draft picks over the past 3 years and we shouldn’t expect the 2010 draft to be any different. The Orioles can afford to lose a 2nd rounder for Gonzalez because they’re developing a reputation for drafting and signing top talents to above slot contracts.
3) The 2010 Oriole bullpen figures to be stocked with power arms. Jim Johnson was often a man on an island last season, especially after the trade of George Sherill. Add Gonzalez to Johnson, and sprinkle in youngsters Kam Mickolio and David Hernandez (who figures to be converted to a reliever) and you have 4 legit power arms. A finesse bullpen will be eaten alive in the AL East, as we’ve seen far too frequently over the years. The combo of Gonzalez, Johnson, Hernandez and Mickolio features the kind of pure stuff that can get out of any jam.

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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (12/17/09)

Posted on 17 December 2009 by Jack McManus


Sean Salisbury now makes his weekly appearance. Salisbury begins by talking about his former team the Cowboys. He thinks his preseason prediction of 9-7 may end up being accurate. He bemoans the team’s annual December swoon. He states that we might as well face the fact that the team does not perform late in the season. He also says that he believes that if Dallas does not make the playoffs, Wade Phillips will no longer be head coach. Salisbury next talks about one of the more confusing teams in the NFL, the Denver Broncos. It appears as though the Broncos will be able to sneak into a wild card spot. Salisbury has been impressed with how the team has rebounded after their losing streak. He calls them a team that could be very dangerous in the playoffs if they get hot. Sean next compares Tiger Woods’ situation to his own confrontation with Deadspin.


Glenn and Drew discuss the Orioles for a few minutes. The team signed two players last night. Mike Gonzalez is a lefty reliever and Garrett Atkins is a 3rd baseman. There are also rumors floating around about the Orioles’ interest in free agent outfielder Matt Holliday.



Dan from Fallston calls in with some questions about the horse racing issue. He talks about how the politicians in the state have cost the people. By delaying slots, blame has been shifted to the sport of horse racing for the lack of revenue generated.


Mike Gathagan from the Maryland Jockey Club is next up. He is on to continue to talk about the hot topic of horse racing in Maryland. He talks about how Maryland has tried to continue to compete with neighboring states that allow slots. He also states that if slots are put at Arundel Mills, Laurel Park will be hard pressed to remain open. Moving on to the horse racing schedule, Gathagan explains that the next meet will start On January 1st. He also states that it is in his best interest for the slots bill in Anne Arundel County to not pass.


Ed Joyner, coach of the Hampton basketball team is now on with Drew. The Pirates will face Towson in a couple days. He talks about his team’s poor record at the start of the season. Hampton has lost many close games early in the year. Joyner emphasizes the importance of improving before the MEAC schedule starts. He next talks about how he and the team have attempted to deal with the tragic loss of one of their players before the season.



Brian Billick is next up. He states he is excited to be calling the Ravens-Bears game this weekend. He also says that he thinks the Ravens have a great shot at the playoffs. Brian next discusses the possibility of the Steelers giving up on the season before their game against the Ravens. Drew quickly mentions the breaking news that Vinny Cerrato has resigned from the Redskins. Brian talks about now that the general manager is gone speculation about Jim Zorn’s job will increase. Drew asks Brian what he would do if he was the coach of an undefeated team. Brian explains that he would do whatever maximizes the team’s chances of going to the Super Bowl. This could vary from team to team. On the other hand, some fans clamor for teams to purposefully lose games at the end of the season when eliminated from the playoffs. Brian emphatically states that in all his years of coaching no one has ever suggested that a team not give 100%.



Merton from Indianapolis joins Drew before the Colts play tonight. He reminds us all that the Colts-Jaguars game tonight has a large impact on the Ravens’ playoff chances.



Drew follows that up with a shot at the people who complain when horse racing is discussed on the air. He explains that he has received many e-mails asking why he is talking about racing. Drew makes it clear that he cares about horse racing in Maryland. Without racing in the state many jobs and a great deal of revenue will be lost. He states that you must be “smarter” than to say that no one cares about horse racing in Maryland.


Glenn kicks off “Cheap Shots From the Bleachers” by calling out Time magazine for not putting Chesley Sullenberger on its list of possible Men of the Year. Sullenberger was responsible for the moment of the year when he landed a plane in the Hudson River and saved 150 lives.

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