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Orioles’ success mirrors their anchor in ninth inning

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Orioles’ success mirrors their anchor in ninth inning

Posted on 11 May 2013 by Luke Jones

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There was a time not long ago when many doubted that Jim Johnson held the right mindset or ability for the Orioles’ closer role.

The 29-year-old right-hander certainly doesn’t fit the description of most ninth-inning men. Not only does Johnson strike out fewer batters than the typical closer but he fanned fewer hitters per nine innings (5.4) than any regular member of the Baltimore bullpen last season.

But that didn’t stop Johnson from collecting a club-record and major league-leading 51 saves and being named to his first All-Star team in 2012 as the Orioles advanced to the postseason for the first time in 15 years. His heavy sinker that induces ground ball after ground ball has allowed him to convert 35 consecutive save opportunities, breaking Randy Myers’ franchise record in Friday night’s remarkable 9-6 comeback victory in 10 innings.

In many ways, Johnson’s success mirrors the Orioles’ prosperity as it was late in the 2011 season when he took over the closer role for good after mixed results in brief stints prior to that. The club finished that season going 14-8 in what’s now viewed as a precursor to the remarkable 2012 season. Since Sept. 7, 2011, Johnson’s 72 saves are the most in baseball and the Orioles have gone 129-91. Many have struggled to explain the success both have found, but that’s just fine with Johnson.

“I think it is more about knowing what kind of pitcher you are,” Johnson said. “I do it differently than other people. When I first started, I tried to be something I wasn’t. I tried to be a typical closer and strike guys out all the time and that is not who I am. Then, I reverted back to pitching how I normally do and good results followed.”

Johnson’s journey to become arguably the best closer in baseball hasn’t been a smooth one as it was only in 2010 when his career appeared to be at a crossroads. Struggling out of the gate with a 6.52 ERA in 10 appearances, Johnson was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk before it was discovered that he was dealing with right elbow inflammation.

It was during a rehabilitation stint in August of that season when Johnson first met new Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who had traveled to Bowie to see how the reliever was progressing. In one of his favorite stories to tell about his closer, Showalter explained how he saw Johnson give up a home run on a changeup that was clocked at 88 miles per hour.

Upon seeing his new manager when getting back to the dugout, Johnson asked Showalter what he thought. The manager quipped that he needed to work on that pitch, fully understanding the right-hander was working on his array of pitches during the outing against Double-A hitters who were otherwise overmatched. Even then as Johnson was just working his way back to form, Showalter knew he had something special to work with out of the bullpen.

“It was the first time I saw him,” Showalter said. “But that’s what [the good ones] look like.”

For years, the debate continued whether Johnson would be better suited to start or relieve as even Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Palmer believed his four-pitch repertoire — the sinker, a nasty curveball, an underrated changeup, and a four-seam fastball — would make him a successful starter. Coming up through the Orioles system as a starter, Johnson was named the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year as well as the Carolina League pitcher of the year for the 2005 season.

Showalter can’t help but draw comparisons between Johnson and future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera, whom he managed at the end of his tenure as Yankees manager. Rivera followed a similar progression in beginning his career as a starter before moving to middle relief and eventually closing out victories for a winning club. Before briefly reconsidering Johnson’s role two years ago, Showalter decided the ninth inning would be the perfect place for him.

“Jimmy’s been through all those same processes,” said Showalter in comparing him to Rivera. “I thought it was the best for him to stay healthy with a lot of the things that go on with pitchers. The biggest thing is his ability as a pitcher. He has multiple ways to get you out.”

The Orioles saw their faith in Johnson rewarded in 2012 as he saved 51 of 54 opportunities to become the first Baltimore closer since George Sherrill to make the All-Star team. He began his current streak of 35 straight save conversions on July 30 of last season, but it was his postseason failure that stung the most for Orioles fans after Johnson had been so outstanding all year.

In Game 1 of the American League Division Series, Johnson entered in the ninth inning with the game tied 2-2 before allowing the go-ahead home run to Yankees catcher Russell Martin and five runs total in the inning as the Orioles fell 7-2. Game 3 brought an even more painful result as Johnson came on in the ninth inning with the Orioles holding a 2-1 lead at Yankee Stadium and gave up the game-tying home run to Raul Ibanez. Baltimore lost the game in extra innings as it was the only time since Aug. 8, 2011 that the Orioles have lost a game in which they held a lead at the end of seven innings.

Johnson took full responsibility for the postseason struggles by waiting at his locker for reporters after both losses. Instead of dwelling on those failures and allowing the disappointment to linger into the 2013 season, the closer has converted all 14 save opportunities and entered Saturday tied for the major-league lead in saves.

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Orioles remaining optimistic despite Roberts’ trip to DL

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Orioles remaining optimistic despite Roberts’ trip to DL

Posted on 05 April 2013 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Opening their 60th season in Baltimore on Friday afternoon against the Minnesota Twins, the Orioles were hoping for the best for second baseman Brian Roberts as he underwent an MRI earlier in the morning.

Manager Buck Showalter remained optimistic in his pre-game press conference, but the Orioles summoned infielder Yamaico Navarro from Triple-A Norfolk with Roberts heading to the 15-day disabled list. Ryan Flaherty will start in Roberts’ place at second base in the home opener and newcomer Alexi Casilla will also be counted on to fill in for the 35-year-old infielder.

It was learned after the presser that Roberts ruptured a tendon in the back of his knee, an injury that will likely keep him out for two to four weeks. The good news is the injury won’t require surgery and it’s a tendon typically used for ACL repairs, making it inconsequential in the long run.

“Just because things are delayed doesn’t mean they’re denied,” said Showalter about Roberts’ injury that will likely send him to the DL. “It’s something that, regardless of what [the result] says, it will heal and he will play for us again.”

Right-handed pitcher Chris Tillman will be activated from the DL to make Saturday’s start, so the Orioles could have elected to wait a day with Roberts and go with a short bench instead while avoiding the need to make an additional move. Moving Roberts to the DL now means another one is coming on Saturday.

Tillman declared himself ready to go and will not have any limitations as he makes his first start of the year after dealing with abdominal soreness.

Right-handed pitcher Jake Arrieta will make the start in the home opener for the third straight season, but Showalter downplayed Arrieta’s strong spring that resulted in him winning the final spot in the rotation and the exceptional start he made last year against the Twins to begin the season.

“Minnesota answers those questions. His next start, those guys will answer those questions,” Showalter said. “It’s something that you like seeing him do well [in the spring] and he did well at it, but just because he had a good start last Opening Day at home doesn’t mean it’s going to carry over.”

Here are Friday’s lineups…

MINNESOTA
CF Aaron Hicks
DH Joe Mauer
LF Josh Willingham
1B Dustin Morneau
C Ryan Doumit
3B Trevor Plouffe
RF Chris Parmalee
2B Brian Dozier
SS Eduardo Escobar

SP Liam Hendriks (2012 stats: 1-8, 5.59 ERA)

BALTIMORE
LF Nate McLouth
3B Manny Machado
RF Nick Markakis
CF Adam Jones
1B Chris Davis
C Matt Wieters
SS J.J. Hardy
2B Ryan Flaherty
DH Nolan Reimold

SP Jake Arrieta (2012 stats: 3-9, 6.20 ERA)

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Ravens center Birk walks away after 15 NFL seasons, first Super Bowl triumph

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Ravens center Birk walks away after 15 NFL seasons, first Super Bowl triumph

Posted on 22 February 2013 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — After a 15-year NFL career and finally winning a Super Bowl earlier this month, Ravens center Matt Birk figured it was the perfect time and setting to reveal he was walking away from the game.

In lieu of a fancier press conference at the team’s Owings Mills facility next week, the 36-year-old offensive lineman announced his retirement on Friday morning while dedicating a literacy center at Battle Grove Elementary School in Dundalk. Wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “Finish Everything,” Birk couldn’t specify a time when he made his final decision but spoke to head coach John Harbaugh for roughly an hour last weekend and said he hadn’t made up his mind at that point. He phoned the coach and general manager Ozzie Newsome on Thursday afternoon to reveal his decision.

Taking questions from the Battle Grove students before opening up to the gathered media, Birk was asked why he was retiring. The quick-witted center didn’t disappoint in laying out his answer.

“Why am I retiring? I’m old, I have six kids, and it’s just time. I really enjoyed football. I got to play for a long time. I’ve been very fortunate, but I just feel like it’s time to do something else.”

Birk spent the last four seasons with the Ravens after playing for his hometown Minnesota Vikings for the first 11 years of his career. Named to six Pro Bowls in his career, the Harvard University graduate was selected in the sixth round of the 1998 draft and earned his first championship in being part of the Ravens’ 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3.

It was the perfect ending for a career that began with Birk struggling to make the Vikings’ 53-man roster in 1998 and ended with the grizzled veteran celebrating with teammates and his family on the turf of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans after finally reaching the pinnacle of the NFL for the first time.

“You can’t ask for anything more,” said Birk, who went to work out at the Ravens’ practice facility a final time Friday morning. “It is a great way to end it, but like I said, no one’s entitled to a Super Bowl. Certainly not me. I was just so grateful and fortunate that I was able to be part of this team. It is a special team and the run that we made — the championship that we won — is something that I’ll never forget. I was telling [Harbaugh], you get a reason to come back and get together and relive those days. You’re forever linked, and that’s pretty cool.”

Despite playing well this past season, Birk was expected by many to retire to spend more time with his family as the father of six children. He said Friday that his wife Adrianna had offered her blessing for him to continue playing if he wanted to return next season. Birk signed a three-year, $8.525 million contract after contemplating retirement last offseason, but the deal was structured in a way that many expected the longtime lineman to either retire or be released after the first year of the deal.

Asked whether he thought he had anything left in the tank to continue playing if he desired, Birk quipped that no one would be able to find out the truth.

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” said Birk as he laughed. “Anyone who wants to challenge me, yeah, I’ll tell them [I can still play] because there’s no way you’re going to find out. It was great. Last year, I felt great and that was a blessing. It’s a physical game; it’s a violent game. I was able to feel good about what I put out there on the field. It was just a good way for me to end.”

The Ravens will save $2.05 million in salary cap space with Birk’s retirement, which will provide some relief as they deal with limited space and hope to work out a long-term contract with quarterback Joe Flacco. Baltimore drafted Delaware’s Gino Gradkowski in the fourth round of last year’s draft with the intention that he’d eventually take over for Birk.

The retiring center expressed confidence that Gradkowski would be ready to take over at center in his second professional season.

“Gino will be fine. The biggest thing about football is it’s a character game because it’s hard,” Birk said of his 2012 understudy. “It’s different from other sports. Gino’s got that. He’s a great guy. Gino will do whatever it takes to be successful.”

Birk was named the NFL’s 2011 Walter Payton Man of the Year for his work in the community, which includes his HIKE foundation to improve literacy. His foundation’s goal is to “impact the lives of at-risk children by providing interactive programs and resources needed to guide a child through the key educational transitions between elementary, middle, high school and college.”

Several teammates expressed congratulations to Birk via social media on Friday morning as the veteran was considered one of the leaders in the locker room in a different way from the demonstrative and vocal leadership of Ray Lewis, who was the first member of the championship team to announce his retirement back in January.

Birk was touched by messages posted on Twitter from several teammates including Vonta Leach, Jameel McClain, and Torrey Smith.

“That means a lot,” Birk said. “You play the game for a lot of reasons, but the respect of your opponent and more so the respect of your teammates is probably the biggest thing you’re shooting for.”

Cognizant of player safety concerns in the NFL, Birk has said he will donate his brain to Boston University’s School of Medicine for research into concussions.

His post-football intentions remain unclear, but the Minnesota native predicted Baltimore hasn’t seen the last of him by any shot.

“I’ll continue to advocate for player safety and retired players’ rights — now that I am a retired player,” Birk said. “We’ll see. I don’t have any plans for what’s next. I certainly didn’t plan on playing football for 15 years. Kind of not having a plan has worked out for me so far. I’m going to stay with it.”

Making the difficult decision to leave the hometown team he grew up rooting for following the 2008 season certainly wasn’t part of any plan, but he was immediately impressed with Harbaugh’s vision for the Ravens despite the coach having only finished his first season in Baltimore.

It’s safe to say the gamble paid off in choosing a new football home after 11 seasons in Minnesota.

“At the time, I just said, ‘[With] the limited information I have about the Ravens, I’m going to bet on this guy and I’m going to come here,’” said Birk, who labeled Harbaugh a friend first and foremost. “I’m sure glad I did. From the beginning, the organization and the city just welcomed us with open arms.

“I don’t need to tell anybody what this team means to this city. It’s definitely a special connection. To have the honor of playing here for four years and playing under coach Harbaugh and his staff, it was truly an honor.”

 

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“The Reality Check” Final Regular Season Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Final Regular Season Power Rankings

Posted on 02 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Kansas City Chiefs (32)

Okay, so no Josh McDaniels. Umm…Marty-ball?

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (30)

Mike Mularkey: “Are you sure you didn’t want to fire me?”

30. Arizona Cardinals (31)

I cannot believe they’re really considering hiring Todd Haley. OH.MY.GOD.

29. Oakland Raiders (29)

Now they get ready for their Super Bowl…the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine.

28. Detroit Lions (28)

The problem for Jim Schwartz is that he’s a former defensive coach for a team that can’t play defense.

27. Philadelphia Eagles (27)

Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole tells us the Eagles could keep Michael Vick around if they hire Chip Kelly.

26. Cleveland Browns (26)

While the Browns’ first choice is the same Chip Kelly, no one’s first choice EVER has been the Cleveland Browns.

25. New York Jets (23)

QUARTERBACKS FOR SALE!!!!!!!!!!

24. Tennessee Titans (25)

Check back in with me in five minutes to confirm Mike Munchak still hasn’t been fired yet.

23. Buffalo Bills (24)

I think a Ken Whisenhunt/Russ Grimm combo would be a good fit there.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22)

Do you focus more on what went wrong? Or do you focus more on how to build off of seven wins?

21. Miami Dolphins (17)

At least they have a quarterback.

20. St. Louis Rams (18)

Are they as close as their record would make you believe?

19. San Diego Chargers (21)

If Peyton Manning isn’t in the AFC West, they win the thing and save Norv Turner again.

18. New Orleans Saints (16)

I’ll go ahead and assume they win 13 games next season.

17. Carolina Panthers (19)

By keeping Ron Rivera, they’d give up potential “most desirable location” status for coaches.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers (20)

If they had a healthy Ben Roethisberger for 16 games they would have won the division. Unless the Ravens had a healthy Suggs/Ngata/Webb/Lewis. I guess what I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter.

15. Dallas Cowboys (13)

What the eff do you do here?

14. Chicago Bears (14)

I’d want this job.

13. New York Giants (15)

“Hynocerous” is one of the Top 5 nicknames in football this year.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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The Reality Check Week 17 NFL Power Rankings

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The Reality Check Week 17 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 27 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Kansas City Chiefs (32)

Who’s a fit here? Josh McDaniels?

31. Arizona Cardinals (31)

At this point I have to assume Whisenhunt is gone. Players openly bitching there.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (29)

I can’t wait until they go 7-9 next year and somehow make the playoffs with Tim Tebow as quarterback.

29. Oakland Raiders (30)

I ASSUME Dennis Allen is safe, but you absolutely never know.

28. Detroit Lions (27)

But that was at least fun to watch Saturday night.

27. Philadelphia Eagles (28)

Nice of them to give Michael Vick a farewell show.

26. Cleveland Browns (26)

I honestly wouldn’t want the job of having to solve this puzzle.

25. Tennessee Titans (25)

Jake Locker gets another year before he’s fully labeled a bust.

24. Buffalo Bills (24)

I really have nothing to say about the Buffalo Bills.

23. New York Jets (20)

HIGH-LAIR-EE-USS.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (21)

I wish I had paid enough attention to the Bucs to know whose fault their collapse was.

21. San Diego Chargers (23)

“You think Jon Gruden would go there?” is the question you’ll hear most related to the Bolts in the coming weeks.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers (16)

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

19. Carolina Panthers (19)

Is the late push enough for Ron Rivera to keep his job?

18. St. Louis Rams (22)

They can finish ABOVE .500…

17. Miami Dolphins (18)

Please beat New England.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Duquette hoping lightning can strike same place twice

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Duquette hoping lightning can strike same place twice

Posted on 03 November 2012 by Glenn Clark

You are aware it isn’t true, right?

There is a well known idiom that says “lightning never strikes the same place twice.” The origins of the idiom are not fully known, although it has been attributed to writers like P.H. Myers and Mary Roberts Rinehart over the years.

Lightning can not only strike the same place twice, but could strike the same location an infinite number of times. There are no geographical laws for where lightning can strike, although we can certainly accept the notion that a lightning strike is more likely to hit a tall building than a sidewalk.

If for some reason you’re still REALLY interested in understanding this, here’s a little tutorial Accuweather put together to explain the phenomenon…

I went with this lede because I had to admit it was close to my initial response upon hearing the Baltimore Orioles believed the acquisition of 2B Alexi Casilla had solved their problems at second base.

In fact, I believe my quote was something like “does Dan Duquette really think lightning can strike the same place twice?”

If the Birds’ Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations had been in the room, he could have looked back at me calmly and said “well…it can.”

After claiming Casilla off waivers from the Minnesota Twins, Duquette declared second base to be addressed. He told team-owned entity MASN, ”I think we have enough people on our roster to man the position.”

The O’s second year man Ryan Flaherty at the position with Brian Roberts also perhaps a candidate to retain to the field after hip surgery. Veteran Robert Andino is also an option if the Orioles choose to tender him an offer. Omar Quintanilla is unlikely to return to the team after seeing very little time down the stretch and being left off the postseason roster. Touted prospect Jonathan Schoop may or may not be ready to come to Baltimore at some point in 2012.

Casilla comes to Charm City off a year in Minnesota where he hit .241 and got on base at a .282 clip over 106 games. He added 17 doubles and a home run, but his 21 stolen bases and .980 fielding position have been the saving grace for those applauding the acquisition.

I won’t mix words here. I don’t think much of the addition of Alexi Casilla. I would have preferred the Orioles acquire an actual legitimate major league second baseman this offseason, not another player to add into the mix with some hope it might actually work out. I’m aware the free agent market isn’t particularly deep at second base (Marco Scutaro, Kelly Johnson and Jeff Keppinger stand out), but I’d prefer someone from that group to a “by committee” scenario.

It’s further concerning because it reinforces the idea that the O’s aren’t going to suddenly become the “sleeping giants” of the offseason the way some (including ESPN’s Buster Olney) have suggested.

I instead believe it further reinforces what Dan Duquette said back in May during the press conference to announce OF Adam Jones’ six year contract extension. When our own Luke Jones asked if the $85.5 million deal was a sign that the team was more willing to spend money in free agency, Duquette declared “I don’t think the way to build a team is through free agency.”

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Orioles claim former Twins infielder Casilla off waivers

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Orioles claim former Twins infielder Casilla off waivers

Posted on 02 November 2012 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Friday that they have claimed infielder Alexi Casilla off waivers from the Minnesota Twins. Additionally, the Orioles have outrighted outfielder Lew Ford, infielder Steve Tolleson, and left-handed pitcher Zach Phillips to Triple-A Norfolk and reinstated right-handed pitchers Oliver Drake and Stup Pomeranz, left-handed pitcher Tsuyoshi, second baseman Brian Roberts, and outfielder Nolan Reimold from the 60-day disabled list.

Casilla, 28, played in a career-high 106 games for Minnesota in 2012, batting .241/.282/.321. He also stole 21 bases in 22 attempts.

Ford, 35, batted .183/.256/.352 with three home runs in 25 games for the Orioles in 2012, his first major league action since 2007 with Minnesota.

Tolleson, 29, batted .183/.227/.310 in 29 games over four stints with the Orioles in 2012.

Phillips, 26, pitched to a 6.00 ERA (6.0IP, 4ER) in six games with the Orioles in 2012. He made 42 relief appearances for Triple-A Norfolk, going 2-2 with a 3.17 ERA (54.0IP, 19ER).

Drake, 25, was recalled on September 29 and placed on the 60-day DL with right shoulder tendonitis. He made three starts for Double-A Bowie, going 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA (18.0IP, 3ER).

Pomeranz, 27, pitched to a 3.00 ERA (6.0IP, 2ER) in three appearances for the Orioles. He was placed on the DL on May 26 with a left oblique injury.

Wada, 31, had left elbow ligament replacement surgery, performed by Dr. Lewis Yocum, on May 11 and missed the entire 2012 season.

Roberts, 35, appeared in 17 games for the Orioles, batting .182/.233/.182. He ended the season on the DL with a right groin strain and had right hip surgery on August 2.

Reimold, 29, batted .313/.333/.627 in 16 games for the Orioles before being placed on the DL on May 1 with a herniated disc in his neck.

With these moves, the Orioles have 39 players on the 40-man roster.

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The Reality Check Week 7 NFL Power Rankings

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The Reality Check Week 7 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 17 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Kansas City Chiefs (31)

It was only a matter of time.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (30)

I STILL think they find a way into the bottom spot.

30. Cleveland Browns (32)

It must be a proud moment for whoever is actually going to still be around next year.

29. Carolina Panthers (27)

So…Ron Rivera thinks he knows what the problem is? I guess it will just be fixed tomorrow…

28. Oakland Raiders (26)

Perhaps Carson Palmer can start practicing tackling…

27. Indianapolis Colts (24)

I don’t understand. Should we have seen this coming?

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (28)

Calm down, they were playing the Chiefs. Everyone blows out the Chiefs, right?

25. Tennessee Titans (29)

We can’t thank you enough for that, Titans.

24. New Orleans Saints (21)

Market correction. I still think they’re on the way up.

23. St. Louis Rams (20)

Wait…Brandon Gibson?

22. Buffalo Bills (25)

I didn’t see that coming.

21. Miami Dolphins (23)

Best Dolphins quarterback since…Cleo Lemon, I guess?

20. New York Jets (22)

If they beat the Patriots…

19. Dallas Cowboys (16)

I probably dropped them too far. I don’t feel bad.

18. Cincinnati Bengals (14)

You can’t do that against the Cleveland Browns.

17. San Diego Chargers (13)

But at least it was hilarious.

(16-1 on Page 2…)

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The Reality Check Week 6 NFL Power Rankings

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The Reality Check Week 6 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 10 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Cleveland Browns (32)

But at least the folks in Cleveland have absolutely nothing else going for them.

31. Kansas City Chiefs (27)

They don’t have a very good quarterback, they don’t have a very good coach. They still nearly beat the Ravens.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (30)

What do you think the Jags’ elimination number is?

29. Tennessee Titans (23)

Would they really listen to trade offers for Chris Johnson?

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26)

But technically in second place.

27. Carolina Panthers (24)

Just like we all none of us saw coming.

26. Oakland Raiders (25)

They DID still beat the Steelers though.

25. Buffalo Bills (20)

I hate myself for ever giving them the benefit of the doubt.

24. Indianapolis Colts (31)

The whole “I’m pulling like crazy for Chuck Pagano” thing kinda outweighs the whole “I really despise Indianapolis” thing.

23. Miami Dolphins (29)

Kinda hard not to buy into Ryan Tannehill, isn’t it?

22. New York Jets (19)

Kinda hard to buy into ANYTHING about them, isn’t it?

21. New Orleans Saints (28)

The highest ranking a 1-4 team could possibly have.

20. St. Louis Rams (22)

I get a funny feeling that without Danny Amendola it will be hard to stay there.

19. Detroit Lions (21)

They’ll start winning soon, right?

18. Washington Redskins (16)

And Mike Shanahan still thinks the option is a good idea.

17. Seattle Seahawks (18)

Everyone in the NFC West is over .500.

(16-1 on Page 2…)

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Former MLB star Milton named Maryland interim coach

Posted on 28 June 2012 by WNST Staff

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Assistant coach Eric Milton has been elevated to interim head coach of the University of Maryland baseball team, director of athletics Kevin Anderson announced Thursday.

Milton, who played at Maryland from 1994-96 and had an 11-year Major League career, joined the Terrapin coaching staff as volunteer assistant in September 2011.

“I’m honored to accept this position and look forward to working with our players and recruits in the coming months,” said Milton. “My goal when I came here was to help develop our players for professional careers and build a winning tradition at my alma mater. That goal remains the same.”

“Eric’s knowledge of the game of baseball, as well as this institution, makes him the right person to guide the program at this time,” said Anderson. “In his 11-year Major League career and during his time as an assistant last season, Eric has proven his ability as an elite talent and teacher. We couldn’t be happier to have him serve in this role.”

With Milton serving as interim coach, Maryland will move forward with a national search for a head coach.

Milton was an American League All-Star for the Minnesota Twins in 2001 and won 89 games in his major-league career, also pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies, Cincinnati Reds and L.A. Dodgers.

In his career, Milton started 270 games, pitched over 1,500 innings and faced nearly 7,000 batters, giving him a wealth of experience at the highest level of baseball.

A first-round draft pick of the New York Yankees in the 1996 amateur draft, Milton made his Major League debut at the age of 22 for the Twins.

From 1999-2001, he averaged 160 strikeouts per season, ranking in the top 11 of the American League each year. He was an All-Star in 2001 when he went 15-7 with a 4.32 ERA and a career-high 220 2/3 innings pitched.

He won 41 games for the Twins from 2000-2002 and helped them reach the American League Championship Series in ’02.

Milton led the Philadelphia Phillies with a 14-6 record in 2004, when he topped the 200-inning mark for the fourth time in his career. He went on to pitch for the Reds for three seasons and finished his career with the Dodgers in 2009.

At Maryland, Milton racked up 236 strikeouts in his three-year career, which ranks third in school history. In his last season, 1996, Milton struck out 118, a mark that stands as the second most in a season in program annals.

 

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