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If I Were In Charge Of The O’s

Posted on 04 May 2009 by Neal Bortmes

If I were in charge of the Orioles’ front office what would I do?  Well the Orioles are mired in a six game losing streak and have lost 14 of their last 18 games.  The precipitous fall down the standings has come about two months early this year and I for one would like to change that.

 

 

The first thing I would do is cut Adam Eaton and his 7.17 ERA.  Yes he did have that one good start against the White Sox, but as the saying goes a broken clock is right twice a day.  He is hardly the “veteran” presence that the O’s need when they eventually call up their pampered pitching prospects.  The second thing I would do is call up David Hernandez to take Eaton’s spot in the rotation.  Hernandez is a young guy who has been in the system a while and he deserves a shot, I think at worst he could post a 7.17 ERA and 1.73 WHIP.  And for those of you who are scared about hurting our young pitcher’s psyches it doesn’t appear that he is in the team’s long term plans for the future so seeing what he has to offer affords very little downside.  Right now Hernandez isn’t exactly tearing up AAA Norfolk but I guarantee you he can do better than Eaton.

 

 

As soon as Rich Hill proves that he is ready to return from the DL I would recall him and send Mark Hendrickson to the bullpen.  This move also has little downside because if Hill does not pan out the O’s didn’t really lose anything, but if he does regain the form that made him into a touted prospect he can help solidify the rotation.  I would say to cut Hendrickson but as he is owed considerably more than the $400,000 they are paying Eaton (1.5 million to be exact) he can serve out his term as a lefty reliever/mop-up guy and spot start in a pinch (he doesn’t have much arm left so blowing it out isn’t a concern).  This move of course would send Brian Bass and his 6.62 ERA to Norfolk to get some more “seasoning.”

 

 

The last pitching move I would make would be to replace George Sherrill as the closer.  Last season Sherrill showed signs of his inability to be the primary closer when he scuffled in the second half.  He has continued to regress this season from his All-Star worthy performance of a year ago.  I personally don’t care for the idea of a left-handed closer anyway.  With the game on the line I think the better match-up would be to have a right-handed power arm and it just so happens the Orioles have one of those in Chris Ray.  I think Ray will eventually round into form and reclaim the job as the season progresses but until then I would use a combination of either Jim Johnson or Ray (occasionally Sherrill) to finish games.  Let’s be honest with ourselves the Orioles will seldom be in the lead late in games this season so blowing saves will severely hamper the win total.  Sherrill is best in small doses as primarily a situational/set-up guy.

 

 

As far as the Felix Pie experiment I would have to call it a day for now and bring up Nolan Reimold.  Again Reimold has been in the organization for a few years and he deserves a shot with the parent club, especially the way he is tearing the cover off of the ball.  It would be a tough decision on what to do between Pie and Lou Montanez.  I would like to see Pie develop into something special but that day may never come.  He is a liability in leftfield, he runs the bases haphazardly like Melvin Mora, and he can’t pinch hit, so being the 4th outfielder is not really going to help him progress.  I have a feeling he may slide through waivers and if so I would send him down.  However if I thought he may be selected by another team I would have to send Montanez down just because of my desire to see Pie reach his promise.   As far as Ryan Freel is concerned I would try to trade him to the National League where he can get more playing time and not be such a distraction.  I don’t think he realizes that utility players batting well under the Mendoza line don’t play often in the American League.  If I couldn’t find a trading partner I would probably see if he would accept assignment because injuries could play a factor down the road and depth is something, as O’s fans we know all too well, is hard to do without.  Outright release would be the next option as far as Freel is concerned.

 

 

These are some of the moves I would definitely make if I were the in charge of the birds.  I would also like to address the Matt Wieters situation in more depth later because it is an interesting topic unto itself but obviously Greg Zaun isn’t cutting the mustard.  These are my thoughts what do you think they should do?  Post a comment so we can discuss.

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Unleash the fury…Harry Kalas and other “non-radio” tidbits

Posted on 29 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

First, I hope Ray Bachman has fun doing the show from 2 til 6 today. (He won’t admit it, but he really loves talking sports and doing the show. And he loves when I’m not there.)

I’m having a “business/strategy” day of respite and I’ve been catching up on sports since 11 p.m. last night when Bruce Springsteen walked off the stage at the Spectrum. (Set list here…)

I watched the Washington Caps win Game 7 on the DVR but only after someone in my life who will remain “unnamed” wrecked my evening by texting me the result while Springsteen was in the middle of singing “She’s The One.” (MAKE A NOTE OF THIS: DO NOT EVER TEXT YOUR FRIENDS A SCORE!!!! A simple, “Hey dude…do you want to know who’s winning?” would suffice. And, honestly, with the score of any game in the universe a click away on my phone why would I want you to wreck my midnight viewing by texting me the result. It’s just unacceptable!)

But, I digress…

Alas, I did watch the game in its entirety this morning (and it’s NOTHING like not knowing the result) and the Capitals are as lucky to be headed to the second round as the Ravens were to escape Nashville three months ago. That third period was amazing and the vibe at the phonebooth looked electric. I missed a pretty special evening, but these are the decisions and memories you create.

(Gotta admit, when Springsteen played “Fire” by request last night and was rocking “Land of Hope and Dreams” I wasn’t thinking about the Caps. And I had no idea someone would send me a random “Caps win” text.)

There’s nothing better in professional sports than Game 7 of a Stanley Cup series. Last night’s win was a memorable evening. These are the games the Caps have consistently lost for a whole generation.

As for the sport itself, I even got a few emails this morning from former “doubters” who watched last night’s game and are more “believers” than they were 24 hours ago. Hockey kinda does that to you.

I saw Brent Harris at Ravens Camp on Sunday. His beard is scraggly. The Comcast Sportsnet/Caps promotion for the beardathon is great. I wish I had participated in someway but I look beyond crappy with a beard. (Insert joke here…)

I’m monitoring the Orioles today as well. Mora comes back, gets three hits and Adam Eaton looked, well, like Adam Eaton and his 7.17 ERA. Let’s see how Koji Uehara does against the Halos.

****

One other note, my pal who is a Philadelphia sports fan dropped this one on me this morning:

Here’s his running commentary:

“The biggest mistake the Orioles ever made was getting rid of Jon Miller. What I’ve realized through this whole Harry Kalas thing is how badly they messed that up. Baltimore had its Harry Kalas and Angelos chased him off.

“The players all come and go. Harry Kalas is something that can’t be replaced by Mike Schmidt or Steve Carlton. He’ll live longer than Dutch Daulton or Lenny Dykstra or Curt Schilling. They’re all gone. Harry was eternal. I’ve got Harry Kalas on my ipod, man!

“Jon Miller should have been the Orioles announcer until he chose to die in the broadcast booth. Those days are done. Miller is the last of those radio guys.

(My pal didn’t mention Chuck Thompson, but I will…and Eckman and Steadman and all of those guys who Baltimore loved with their Orioles and Colts and Bullets and Clippers and horse racing and crab cakes.)

“No one listens to baseball anymore on the radio anymore. Kalas was only doing one inning a night on radio. He’d do the first three innings of TV, only fourth inning on radio and then the 8th and 9th on TV. Kalas was bigger than the radio or the TV. He was eternal.

“That’s the biggest mistake. No matter what happens to Nick Markakis or what he ever does, Jon Miller would’ve been there before him and after him.

“When you’ve got him, you’re guaranteed to have an ambassador for your team.”

Amen, Philly friend. Amen.

Clearly, Peter Angelos didn’t see it that way. And his vote was the only one that counted.

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The Orioles Weekend

Posted on 28 April 2009 by Neal Bortmes

Melvin Mora has been activated from the disabled list today which is surprisingly good news.  Ty Wigginton has been a butcher at third base so far this year and it may be because he needs to lose a little weight.  He rakes lefties but is much better suited to come off of the bench due to his lack of defense.  The return of Mora not only improves the infield defense but it also forces the Orioles to send Matt Albers down.  I think Albers’ slow start is due to choosing rehab for his labrum injury instead of electing to have surgery.  I still think that he is going to be a good reliever in the long run but he needs to get the surgery if he wants to return to form.

 

Over the weekend the Orioles lost a series against the Texas Rangers.  The Rangers are a team that contenders will routinely pound night in and night out because they lack pitching.  Losing 3 of 4 to the Rangers sums up the Orioles’ season thus far considering we hit well but couldn’t get anyone out.  I attended the game on Friday night and I was thoroughly impressed with the crowd.  The camaraderie in the stands was fantastic and it was evident that the town still loves the birds.  However, the strong showing probably had more to do with the great weather and ice cold beer than with Oriole magic, considering the amount of Yankee jerseys and apparel from teams not named the Baltimore Orioles seen around the yard.  There was a little too much alcohol flowing on this particular college night because a shirtless punk decided to run out onto the field, the game was delayed for a time but it was good to see the fans were at least paying enough attention to notice the idiocy. 

 

It is however apparent that George Sherrill is not a closer, he puts too many guys on base and he gives up too many hits.  Sherrill may have made the All-Star team last year but he is at best a situational closer as witnessed by his performance toward the end of last season.  Chris Ray needs to assert himself as the closer so that Sherrill can return to a more natural set-up role.  The fans deserve to leave the stadium in a good mood instead of departing with elevated blood pressure because Sherrill gives up a walk-off to Michael Young.  Having a lefty as a closer is tricky because they often face tough match-ups against good right-handed hitters at the end of the game and can be overmatched in that situation.

 

The offense is still clicking most nights which helps keep the game interesting especially if the Orioles are behind in the later innings.  How good is Adam Jones by the way, he is a complete stud and is rapidly approaching star status, his homerun on Sunday was only a harbinger of heroics to come.  I like the fact that we can slug it out with teams adept on offense, it’s truly a wonderful thing considering a couple of years ago Jay Gibbons was the power in the middle of the order.  But the truth is the O’s will not approach .500 until they get better effort from the starting pitchers.  I didn’t think I would ever say I am excited to see Rich Hill but I think he has a chance to improve the rotation when he returns.  Also, something appears to be wrong with Jeremy Guthrie and I hope that he does not have any residual effects from last season’s shoulder impingement.  Guthrie is no ace but he can pitch more effectively than what he has shown thus far.

 

The weekend didn’t go so well but hopefully they bounce back tonight against the Angels.  The birds have won all of their three game series this year so hopefully that trend continues.  Good luck to Adam Eaton, it would be great if he produced another miracle start just as he did on Thursday against the White Sox.  A sweep of the Angels would be nice in order to be in good standing heading into their match-up against Toronto. 

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Guthrie Continues the Orioles Winning Ways

Posted on 11 April 2009 by Nicholas Miskelly

Guthrie Continues the Orioles Winning Ways

 

Guthrie got off to a hot start tonight as he aggressively attacked the strike zone early in the count.  He quickly got ahead of the first three hitters of the game as he retired the side in order.  He was able to get all of his pitches working early as he effectively kept the Tampa Bay batters off balance by moving the ball from side to side while mixing in his fastball, slider, and change up.  His control was pinpoint accurate for most of today.

 

Unlike much of last year, Guthrie was able to enjoy early run support today.  The Orioles were able to capitalize on Nemann’s early wildness as they capped a five run first inning with Melvin Mora’s first home run of the season, a grand slam to left center field.

 

Taking advantage of the early run support, Guthrie was able to continue to attack the strike zone in the second as he got another 1,2,3 inning.  There is nothing worse than when a pitcher is handed a big early lead, then comes out and tries to nibble around the plate resulting in multiple walks which allows the opposition to get right back in the game.  Guthrie did not allow this to happen as he continued to look sharp with his mastery of the strike zone as he pitched 6 complete innings.  The key to his success today was the location and movement of his pitches as he successfully kept hitters unbalanced as he navigated through tough jams in both the 3rd and the 4th innings. 

 

In the end the Orioles bullpen finally pitched to their expectations as they worked 3 scoreless innings.  Walker came in and looked good in his 1 1/3 scoreless innings.  Chris Ray pitched the 9th using a sharp moving slider to strike out the side. 

 

I can’t wait to catch the game tomorrow to see if the magic continues as the Orioles send Adam Eaton to the mound and they look to sweep the defending American League champions right out of the yard.  

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Feel the Magic: The O’s are beating the AL East’s best

Posted on 11 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

So far, there’s not much to complain about. If the Orioles can just get a dozen more starts like Mark Hendrickson’s gem last night, this might turn into an interesting spring. There once was a time when beating Tampa Bay in April was meaningless. No mas…

As I watch the rain fall today — and I can’t believe that they’ll actually play this evening but the forecast is for a late afternoon clearing and an “ontime” start –  the pitching advantage certainly benefits the Birds tonight with Jeremy Guthrie taking the ball against Jeff Niemann. The Orioles are now 3-1 and have managed to hold on late in all three games, contests that in previous years might’ve gone the wrong way. And the bullpen has really kinda stunk all week, which usually means “death knell.”

Here’s all you need to know about the offense: Brian Roberts is hitting .438 and Adam Jones and Nick Markakis are stroking it at a .429 clip. The table is being set. I don’t love Jones in the No. 2 hole — he strikes out too much — but if he can continue to make contact and maybe even use his speed to bunt and hit behind runners (and Roberts will be on base plenty) there will be RBI opportunities for Aubrey Huff, Melvin Mora or whomever is in the middle of the order. And, of course, there’s always the mystery of where Matt Wieters will bat once he’s summoned from the Tidewater Basin.

The difference between the Orioles winning 65 or 75 games this year will depend on the pitching. Heck, Hendrickson just MAKING it into the sixth inning is a victory if he can do that every five days. Resting the bullpen, which no doubt will be taxed, is essential. Especially with Adam Eaton-up-innings looming on Easter Sunday.

They’re 3-1. It’s raining. Guthrie wants the ball. They’ll be wearing BALTIMORE grey sweaters on Monday night (please join us at Padonia Station for a combo “Billick-DeCosta” draft show and BALTIMORE viewing party at 7 p.m. as the Birds travel to Arlington to take on the Rangers). A split over the next 48 hours and they will have taken two series against  “elite” teams in the AL East to start the season. And the reasoning goes: if they can beat these teams, they can beat anyone.

One more thought for the weekend: WOW, Evan Longoria is solid. If Wieters is HALF this good it’ll be fun watching when he gets called up, no matter their record.

Rain, rain…go away! We gotta play the Rays today…

Hope to see you at the Blast game tonight! (I’m DVRing the Birds in “low def” on MASN).

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Orioles hold on again, beat Yankees 7-5 to start season with pair of wins

Posted on 08 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

It shouldn’t have been so close in the end, but tonight was another “Oriole Magic” kinda night as the Birds jumped out to a big lead over the Yankees behind a nice starting effort from Koji Uehara and eventually held on to win 7-5 before a split crowd of orange and pinstripes.

Nick Markakis got three hits and the bullpen got sloppy at the end, but the Birds are 2-0 and coming back to Camden Yards at 1:35 tomorrow with a chance to sweep the Yankees to start the season.

Here’s my running blog from the game. As always, feel free to comment!

9:59 p.m. — Geez, not much has changed with Dennis Sarfate. Brought on to basically do a ninth-inning mop up, he’s now pushed my American Idol starting time back another 10 minutes and has forced George Sherrill into a game they’d probably rather have not used him. As my Pop would say, “the walks will kill ya!”

The Yankees lineup is dangerous — as Derek Jeter just showed. Jim Palmer is railing about the 27th out. The crowd gave Teixeira the rasberries and he just poked an RBI double into the gap and this has gotten frightening. Johnny Damon scored and here comes Hideki Matsui with the potential game-tying run at the plate. It’s a ballgame.

9:41 p.m. — The Orioles continue to just mow down the Yankees. They can’t hit the ball out of the infield. Danys Baez has retired six straight. Brian Roberts is flashing leather. Jim Palmer is talking ply-o-metrics. I might be catching up on American Idol by 10 p.m at this rate. Great game. Great start to the season. The Orioles are three outs away from bringing brooms back to the ballpark in the morning for a potential sweep by 4:30 tomorrow.

9:30 p.m. — Danys Baez just dropped Mark Teixeira to 0-for-8 on the season and 8-for-8 in post at-bat jeers, curses and boos. The crowd is relentless. It’s really kinda fun to boo him, I think. I’m squarely behind the effort but it’s kinda mindless when you really think about it. It’s NOT Teixeira’s fault the organization has become a national disgrace and no player of his caliber would want to play here. It’s Peter Angelos’ and the ownership group’s fault for seeing him in pinstripes. To even imply it’s anything less than that is just foolish. In 1996 and 1997, I have a feeling Teixeira dreamed of being an Oriole and being Cal Ripken. The reality of 2009 is that “deal” and “dream” isn’t remotely available for him. He made the right call for him. Maybe the fans get it? Maybe they don’t? Either way, it’s kinda fun and it’s what he gets for being a Yankee. Even if he wasn’t willing to take $50 million less to play here and lose for the forseeable future.

9:26 p.m. — Instead of an extra base hit, Adam Jones literally Paul Blair’d a ball into the left center field gap while blowing a bubble with his gum and, like Sheriff Buford T. Justice, “In HIGH SPEED PURSUIT.” Nice play. Two outs instead of a double and a guy standing on second. Defense. Nice!

9:20 p.m. — Gotta love the early-season boxscores with averages and ERAs. First, we had the Chris Ray 52.00 ERA yesterday. And now, after going 3-for-3 so far tonight, Nick Markakis is hitting .714. Of course, Chian-Ming Wang isn’t going to like his 17.18 ERA for the next four days either.

9:12 p.m. — Koji Uehara’s final line is more than acceptable: 5 innings, 5 hits, 1 earned run and 1.80 ERA to start the season. Gimme 31 more of those.

With a six-run lead, for now I’ll forgive Matt Albers his sins.

8:55 p.m. — I’m sure someone will tell Gary Thorne it’s BUILD me up buttercup, not FILL me up buttercup. So I won’t bother him with it. He should be doing hockey games anyway! The Birds are rolling. My boy Don has been sending me texts about how much fun he’s having…

Oriole Magic, feel it happen!

8:40 p.m. — Damn…3 2/3 innings, 9 hits, 7 earned runs, 3 walks…a bed-wetting of biblical proportions for Wang. The New York tabloid headline writers are hard at work right now…

8:38 p.m. — Call me old school, but I like the sacrifice fly and the bunt and the “hitting the cutoff man.” After Melvin Mora kicked a grounder and a base-running gaffe earlier by Aubrey Huff, this inning has been contained some Orioles Magic. Doubles, sacrifice flies and a giant tater from Nick Markakis and the Yankees are staring up at 0-2 and the Orioles are flying high. It’s 7-1 and the pinstripers have gone to the pen in the 4th inning. The Yankees’ No. 1 and No. 2 starters have been drilled. The “shaky” Orioles rotation has delivered two big mid-game leads. Baseball can be crazy at times.

8:29 p.m. — I’m unabashed in my affection for Gregg Zaun, whose presence on the team alone makes me a much bigger fan of the 2009 Orioles. I’ve known Zaun since the beginning. He’s a great dude. I think he’ll be a manager one day. He’s an asset to the franchise and he just doubled in a run off the wall.

8:20 p.m. — Cody Ransom just came two feet away from tagging Koji Uehara for his first big-league dinger. Just when he was on the verge of getting into “quality start” area, it’s now a mini-threat. Young Brett Gardner gets his chance to be a hero and tie the game. He gets jammed and Uehara only gives up one run. Not bad. Let’s assess:

4 innings pitched, 1 run allowed. I’ll take this every night, especially against the Yankees. Let’s see how far he can go. My gut says, he’ll get to the 7th inning. My gut says a kid who leaves Japan to come here has guts and some fight in him, especially at 34 years of age. His stuff doesn’t look dominating, but if the Orioles had five of this guy we’ve seen over four innings, they might be the 80-win team some of the Kool Aid drinkers think they can be.

Gotta go listen to Ty Wigginton. He’s in line to be my “favorite Oriole of 2009.”

8:13 p.m. — OK, So Gary Thorne says there will be 20 million watching the game in Japan. I hope whoever is counting them isn’t the one who announces the Orioles home attendance. But it’s pretty hardcore in Japan for sure. I wish every American baseball fan could go to Japan and see the deal there. It’s a like a whole country of Red Sox fans. They’re into Bobby Valentine and that crazy Hello Kitty thing. Did anyone see the ESPN Valentine special last fall? Pretty spectacular show, really. It was a well done and “reality” in the truest sense of the word.

8:11 p.m. — MASN is going “behind the scenes” with the Japanese broadcast after this commercial. Funny I just wrote about it. But this oughta be pretty good…

DAMN…these MASN commercials almost make me want to DVR the game and skip them…they’re just dreadful, phony…eeeeeeeewwww!!!!

8:09 p.m. — I want Aubrey Huff to whack it!

7:59 p.m. — Political correctness is out the window. How about “O’s wing Wang’s number”?

It’s the third inning. The game has been interesting. A sea of empty seats. Lots of Yankees fans. Not too many O’s fans but the ones there are crushing Teixeira, which is officially a “tradition” now after 48 hours. And while all of the passion in the stadium is for Tex, the real story tonight is how many Japanese folks (literally MILLIONS) are watching tonight’s game with a nationalistic pride that we give to things like the 1980 Olympic hockey team. When Uehara and Hideki Matsui face off, the Japanese media are at a fever pitch. Tokyo is at a fever pitch. I had Jim Traber on tonight to talk about baseball and Japan. The videos I shot at Dodger Stadium two weeks ago are pretty cool. Thousands of hardcore Japanese baseball fans who care more about their national players than they do whether the Yankees or the Orioles win. It’s kinda cool.

Brian Roberts just drew a leadoff walk in the 3rd. Nice start. A little rally would be nice…

7:40 p.m. — I was one of the many screaming for MASN to finally get into the 21st century and deliver these games in HD. Especially given how the public was completely hoodwinked into having to pay the Mister Angelos and Sons Network a cool $2.60 per month for Hawaiian League Baseball and reruns of the 1970 World Series that I already own on pirated DVDs. (Thanks to the person who provided these…)

Melvin Mora just botched a pretty routine grounder with a bad grip. Jim Palmer is telling old Brooks Robinson fielding stories. I like Jim Palmer’s old stories. I like when Gary Thorne is calling the games, even though he should be doing hockey games next week, which God created him to do. But, I’m happy to have him.

Koji Uehara has made it through a leadoff walk to Jeter and a second-inning jam unscathed. All is well.

The one thing I didn’t consider with MASN HD was seeing so many freaking Yankees fans in HD behind home plate. Bring back Home Team Sports! Or Super TV!

7:27 p.m. — What the hell was Aubrey Huff doing? Trying to steal third? Yikes! Finally the Yankees fans manage a cheer. A substantial cheer, unfortunately, tonight. Mora’s single would’ve scored Huff. They gave a run away. With their pitching issues, giving runs away against the Yankees is not advised…

7:23 p.m. — Nick Markakis just one-hopped one off the wall after Adam Jones roped one off of Chian-Ming Wang, and the O’s are up 1-0. There is nothing more dramatic than seeing how empty the stadium is after so many people were there 48 hours ago. Kinda sad, especially when I remember the nights when the ballpark would be crazy full tonight and the city would be rocking. I drove through downtown an hour ago and it was barely like there was a game. This crowd is tiny and Aubrey Huff just added to the pop with a double to right field. It’s now 2-0.

7:20 p.m. — Damn, they’re booing Teixeira every time he TOUCHES THE BALL! He IS Larry Murphy! It might be worth going to a game when the Yankees come to town JUST TO DO IT! It’s like a new dance, or something!

7:14 p.m. — Koji walked his first major league hitter, Derek Jeter. Now Mark Teixeira is getting HAMMERED by the handful of Orioles fans in what appears to be a sea of Yankees fans. Prediction: this will be ugly forever. This is the beginning of what I’ll call the “Larry Murphy” rule. Once Murphy left the Caps and went to the Red Wings he got “whooooped” until the end of time. Teixeira will come to Baltimore roughly 60 times over the next six years (Yankee-Orioles playoff games not included…but then again, I’m not exactly holding my breath on that!). He will be roundly, doggedly booed for “sport” until his dying day as a Yankee. It’s kinda “caught on.”

Koji Uehara had a solid first inning after the walk and his ERA is markedly better than Chris Ray’s first inning of the season.

7:05 p.m. — Ok, this’ll be my first crack at a live blog during an O’s game. Since most of us tend to watch the game on TV and the game of baseball lends itself to “instant” observations, this will be a lot of fun. I’m not sure how much to write, or how much you’ll participate, but at least I get to speak my mind and have some fun.

And, it’ll beat watching the game “alone.”

So far, I’ve been watching MASN HD for the last 20 minutes and I’ve been subjected to a pimp-a-thon by Greg Bader about every upcoming promotion and Rick Dempsey talking about his nephew Gregg Zaun, which is just a little weird, even though I like them both very much.

Koji Uehara has taken the hill and his first pitch is a strike. Nice start…

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Tuesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 07 April 2009 by Glenn Clark

Yesterday was special. Great atmosphere, great game, etc. What a day. But there are 161 more; and let’s see how they play out before we get too hopeful. If we could have FIVE more days like yesterday this season, it will have been successful.

Let’s see what everyone else has to say……

Best of Monday’s WNST Blogs:

Drew Forrester will always remember Teixeira’s miserable day

Chris Pika says Rolle will fight for playing time with Carr, Foxworth

Nestor Aparicio had visions of Jeffrey Maier on Izturis’ homer

Chris Pika says Orioles provide nice distraction until we start talking Ravens again

Drew Forrester says Chris Ray has 54.00 ERA after first appearance

Nestor Aparicio offers picture with Haynie from Opening Day event

Glenn Clark thinks Inside Lacrosse event highlight of non-baseball week

Nestor Aparicio says ’09 could be ‘gloomy’ for Birds

Rex Snider happy Birds didn’t pursue Lowe

Keith Melchior doesn’t enjoy Opening Day atmosphere

Ed Frankovic says Caps growing beards

ORIOLES:

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Izturis homers, adds solid defense as Birds get Opening Day win over Yankees

The Official Site provides numerical evidence of win

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Biden’s first pitch amongst Opening Day highlights

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says Mora now cleans up, Huff drops to 5th

The Official Site’s Spencer Fordin says after day off, Uehara to make debut Wednesday

Yankees Official Site’s Bryan Hoch says Sabathia rocked in loss

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says record Opening Day crowd fills Camden Yards to see Birds topple Yanks

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says win over Bombers true ‘ballpark experience’

The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Mora hit cleanup for first time in career

The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Roberts, Jones reached base 9 times, scored 5 runs

The Sun’s Candus Thomson says Teixeira greeted with boos by O’s fans at every at bat

The Sun’s David Steele says O’s fans outshine Yankees fans on Opening Day

The Sun’s Childs Walker says ‘optimism’ was word of day at OPACY

The Sun’s Rick Maese says Rosenthal thinks all of baseball excited about Wieters, not just Orioles fans

The Sun’s Rick Maese says Tex would be Oriole in ‘perfect world’

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Tides tickets on sale now

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says Ernie Tyler spent 50th Opening Day with Birds

Carroll County Times’ Bob Blubaugh says Teixeira ‘failed to deliver’ for Yankees

Carroll County Times’ Josh Land says Guthrie gets win in first try for Birds in ‘09

Carroll County Times’ Rich Dubroff says even Angelos took in Orioles’ Opening Day win

The AP says Huff closed scoring with big two run double

Frederick News-Post’s Stan Goldberg says Guthrie’s performance quiets Spring Training questions

Frederick News-Post’s Stan Goldberg says Matusz headed to Frederick

Washington Post’s CJ Holley says Chris Ray ‘far from perfect’ in win

New York Post’s George A. King III says Yanks lost to ‘woeful’ Orioles team

New York Times’ Tyler Kepner says Brett Gardner’s play rare highlight for Bombers

Newsday’s Wallace Matthews says Teixeira’s Yankee debut ‘memorably bad’

Newark Star-Ledger’s Marc Carig says Sabathia, Teixeira held “Worst Day Ever” contest

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick thinks Yankees better off being away from tabloids, talk radio today

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says O’s fans had ‘no rational reason’ to boo Teixeira

SI’s Jon Heyman says fans were after Sabathia as well

Sporting News’ Stan McNeal doesn’t think Yankees should be concerned about Sabathia’s poor start

CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler says Sabathia thought he was ‘terrible’

RAVENS:

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Rolle returns to Baltimore with new 4 year deal

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy remembers ups and downs of Boller’s career in Baltimore

The Official Site says Draft success about ‘process’ for Newsome, Ravens

The Sun’s Ken Murray and Mike Preston say recent meeting with Newsome, Harbaugh paved way for Rolle’s return

The Sun’s Ken Murray says Ravens must wonder ‘what might have been’ with Boller

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Rolle’s deal worth $10 million total

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:

The Diamondback’s Greg Schimmel says 3 spring starters-Lamar Young, Justin Lewis, Demetrius Hartsfield-have never earned varsity letter

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says Baltz ACC’s top punter

ESPN.com’s Heather Dinich says Friedgen thought ‘positives’ came from scrimmage

Terrapin Times’ Keith Cavanaugh checks in with City prospect Coxson (must subscribe)

Terrapin Times’ Claire Knudsen profiles Draft prospect Barnes (must subscribe)

Terrapin Times’ Mark Clem says CB Carroll learning to ‘lock down’ (must subscribe)

Terp Center’s Seth Hoffman says DC Brown ‘pleased’ with scrimmage

TERRAPINS BASKETBALL:

Washington Post’s Josh Barr says Stoglin commitment shows Terps maintain high profile outside of area

TERRAPINS WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says Coleman, Toliver invited to WNBA Draft

The Diamondback’s Aaron Kraut says Toliver thinking about Thursday’s Draft; wishing she was playing tonight in St. Louis

TERRAPINS LACROSSE:

The Diamondback’s Michael Katz
says Terps need to find goals

LOYOLA LACROSSE:

The Official Site says Sawyer honored by ECAC

UMBC LACROSSE:

The Official Site
says Blevins honored by America East

HOPKINS LACROSSE:

The Official Site says April 27 game at Mt. St. Mary’s moved to 7pm

NAVY BASKETBALL:

The Official Site says former Mid Robinson headed to Basketball Hall of Fame

NAVY LACROSSE:

Inside Lacrosse’s Jon Brand says Tim Paul ‘questionable’ for Army game

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Paul dealing with sprained ankle

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Paul’s injury ‘not as serious’ as Mids originally thought

BLAST:

The Official Site says team auctioning jerseys on eBay

The Sun’s Kent Baker says Rampage advanced to NISL Championship Game with win over La Raza

HORSE RACING:

Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman says ‘no surprises’ yet in push for Derby qualifying

Thoroughbred Times’ Ron Parker says I Want Revenge popular Triple Crown choice

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:

-I like the depth that Samari Rolle gives the Ravens. If you questioned the Domonique Foxworth acquisition, Rolle gives the Ravens an insurance policy. Dom’s the starter, but Rolle can take a few more snaps than your typical nickel back would.

Talk to you tomorrow.

-G

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A gloomy forecast — today and for the ’09 Birds

Posted on 06 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

The sky is gray across the horizon in downtown Baltimore this morning as the Orioles kick off their 2009 campaign amidst a city full of Yankees fans and the inaugural appearance for Baltimore’s homegrown Mark Teixeira as a pinstriper. It was a dark day even before the clouds and scattered showers moved in from the south.

The Orioles, who haven’t played a meaningful game since October 1997, appear to be about to put another 162 insignificant games into the record books as the “dark era” of Birds baseball continues, the longest stretch of inepetitude in the history of the storied franchise. The Las Vegas oddsmakers have the Orioles “win/loss” total at 71 1/2, which means if the Orioles play just “18 games under .500″ you win the bet.

I’m not a betting man, but based on what I’ve seen for six weeks in spring training regarding their pitching, I’d be jumping at the “under” on this proposition. That said, I like this team, these position players and the quality of the character it appears Andy McPhail has assembled.

I want to cheer for Brian Roberts. I like Luke Scott and Adam Jones. I’m interested in Felix Pie, although I think he’ll probably be this year’s version of Jeff Stone. I think Aubrey Huff looked inspired for six months last summer and I’m not convinced he won’t rebound with another big year. I’m not sure what to make of Melvin Mora at this point in his career and I think Cesar Izturis will be fun to watch field the ball. And Nick Markakis is just a solid ballplayer, almost a throwback.

On the rare nights that the bullpen will be delivered a 7th inning lead, it’ll be fun to see if they’re as good as advertised.

Some things I’m watching for this season:

When will Matt Wieters arrive for good and how will he perform? It’ll be the biggest franchise mid-season debut since Ben McDonald, which was a very, very big deal.

Let’s be honest: these current starting pitching is a joke and if Jeremy Guthrie, Koji Uehara, Mark Hendrickson, Alfredo Simon and Adam Eaton are the real five starters we’ll use all season, this team is probably 10 games under .500 before Memorial Day and then it becomes a “what to do?” for McPhail.

How will Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen, Jake Arrieta and Chris Tillman do on the farm this year, especially before the All-Star break. If the current O’s veterans are as bad as we think they’ll be, which of these guys will be heatlthy, effective and ready to promote?

And will the Orioles start the M.L. service time on any of these kids with a summer call up? Or will McPhail allow the current veteran group to get their heads beaten in night after night? Or will Danys Baez or Brian Bass or David Pauley step in and perform? Or not?

That’s why we watch and certainly I’m poised to talk baseball every single day on WNST and AM 1570.

I just hope in these tough economic times, perhaps the people of Baltimore will return to baseball this summer and come to care again about the Orioles, if not in the stands perhaps on their TV’s around town. Of course, it would help if the franchise actually did its fair share and “came back to the people.” During the last six months, the team did exactly two events to promote their team. One of them was two days ago.

They continue to do foolish, selfish and mindless things that almost go unnoticed by the media that is in the business of making excuses for their sins so they can benefit financially.

Today’s starting pitcher — their No. 1 guy and big “hope” for the season — had his paycheck cut by 15% four weeks ago. Happy Opening Day, Jeremy Guthrie!

They continue to ban free speech, even daring their current players to not speak out about unsafe playing conditions in spring training.

We’ll see how much “progress” the organization has over the next six months. Let’s see how the puppies do on the farm. Let’s see how the young emerging stars perform in a mostly empty stadium and with starting pitching that no one can takes seriously as a team that will compete in the AL East in 2009.

But, let’s see how the season goes. My prediction: 65-97. Probably worse if someone doesn’t come in and save the rotation by July.

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Friday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 03 April 2009 by Glenn Clark

After hearing what David Cordish had to say this morning; I understand his desire to purchase Pimlico and Laurel MUCH more than I previously did. He is realistically hoping to subsidize his own investment by taking money from slots and putting it directly towards the tracks. Plus he wants to keep Preakness in Baltimore AND wants to upgrade the area around Pimlico. I like all of that.

He’s my leader in the clubhouse.

Let’s see what everyone else has to say….

Best of Thursday’s WNST Blogs:

Nestor Aparicio says even players disgruntled about Spring Training situation

Drew Forrester says Greg Bader pretending he knows more about baseball than Mora

Glenn Clark says future of Lorenzo Neal could bring Fiammetta, Beanie Wells, Andre Brown into play at Draft

Bob Haynie says Stoglin 114th rated player in 2010 class by Rivals.com

Nestor Aparicio says Orioles’ odds even worse elsewhere

Nestor Aparicio says American Idol’s Kris Allen dead ringer for Orioles’ Roberts

Nestor Aparicio says Thyrl Nelson, Chris Bonetti to host 6-8pm show on AM1570

Ed Frankovic says Caps sign defenseman Joe Finley

Ed Frankovic says Caps to hold Fan Appreciation Week

ORIOLES:

The Official Site’s Anthony DiComo says Eaton roughed up as Birds lose to Mets

The Official Site offers numerical evidence of loss

MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo says Trembley put Hendrickson officially in rotation, wouldn’t do same with Eaton

MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo says Birds like Andino’s defense, ‘versatility’

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly say Birds’ facilities in Ft. Lauderdale, Sarasota ‘unsafe’ for players (this is an absolute MUST read)

South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Mike Berardino says Wieters, Tillman, Arrieta could make season more bearable for O’s

The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Sarasota, Fort Meyers, Vero Beach, return to Lauderdale all Spring Training possibilities in ‘10

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Hammock sent down, Moeller to back up Zaun

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says O’s blow 8-0 lead in loss to Mets

The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Uehara, Birds take on Cabrera, Nationals today in Norfolk

The Sun’s Ray Frager thinks Birds should give Nestor credential

The Sun’s Rick Maese says Jim Johnson only real pitcher drafted by Thrift still in organization

The Sun’s Rick Maese enjoyed Camden Chat’s Pedro Martinez April Fool’s gag

The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Reimold likely to be Birds’ top minor leaguer

The Sun’s Peter Schmuck says Eaton finishes Spring with 7.29 ERA

Examiner Tony Wisniewski says Obando, Sosa, Belle amongst worst RF’s in team history

The AP says Scott proves ‘generosity’ with O’s

RAVENS:

The Official Site says Roy Anderson, Matt Weiss added to coaching staff

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Mason remains ‘staple’ in offseason conditioning program

The Official Site’s Mike Duffy says Landry signs tender, expected to start again in ‘09

The Sun says Anderson will be defensive assistant

The Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg says 52 probably not worth money he’s paying paid for on-field abilities

Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Ravens looking at Eastern Michigan Tackle T.J. Lang

ESPN.com’s James Walker says Ravens will get chance to face Cutler

ESPN.com’s James Walker says veteran minicamp May 8-10; rookie camp June 15-17

SI’s Don Banks mocks DHB to Ravens

CBS Sports’ Frank Cooney says Eagles, Vikings join Ravens as teams interested in DHB

NFL.com hosts chat with Matt Birk; who tells fans he needed ‘new adventure’ in Baltimore

TERRAPINS FOOTBALL:

Terrapin Times’ Keith Cavanaugh says practice gets more ‘intense’ for Terps (must subscribe)

TERRAPINS BASKETBALL:

The Sun’s Matt Bracken says ’10 Tucson PG prospect Stoglin commits to Terps

The Sun’s Matt Bracken says Stoglin didn’t know much about Terps growing up on West Coast

Examiner Steve DeClue thinks Stephenson ‘late in the game’ to re-open recruitment

Washington Post’s Matthew Rennie says Villanova’s Dwayne Anderson (Silver Spring native) has fond memories of Maryland winning title

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Dupree could be ‘odd man out’ with Terps

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens re-living “One Shining Moment” with Juan Dixon, Byron Mouton

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Arizona rumored to still be in picture for Stoglin despite commitment to Maryland

Terp Center’s Seth Hoffman says targets Roscoe Smith, Terrence Ross to participate in ‘I-95 Elite Challenge’

TERRAPINS WOMEN’S BASKETBALL:

The Sun’s Tim Wheatley (editor) not thrilled with “Tearjerker” headline after Terps’ Elite 8 loss

The Diamondback’s Aaron Kraut recaps up and down season for Terps

TERRAPINS LACROSSE:

The Official Site previews tonight’s trip to Navy

The Diamondback’s Michael Katz says Terps trying to move past Virginia marathon tonight vs. Mids

LOYOLA LACROSSE:

The Sun’s Edward Lee says Alex Peaty will start again in cage vs. Rutgers

TOWSON FOOTBALL:

The Official Site says Tigers practicing with just 6 healthy offensive linemen

HOPKINS LACROSSE:

The Official Site previews tomorrow’s contest with Albany

UMBC LACROSSE:

The Official Site previews tomorrow’s game with Binghamton

Inside Lacrosse’s Danielle Bernstein says Retrievers still ‘team to beat’ in America East

NAVY FOOTBALL:

Go Mids’ David Ausiello says Slotbacks coach DuPaix looking forward to facing mentor Ellerson at Army/Navy (must subscribe)

NAVY LACROSSE:

The Official Site says Andy Tormey finalist for Senior CLASS Award

The Sun’s Edward Lee offers instructions on how to vote for Tormey

Washington Times’ Patrick Stevens says Mids will stick with Tommy Phelan in cage

DC Examiner’s Kevin Dunleavy and Craig Stouffer say Phelan coming off 15 save performance vs. Georgetown

MT. ST. MARY’S LACROSSE:

The Official Site previews MAAC trip to Canisius tomorrow

MARINERS:

The Official Site previews Mariners trip to face Lions tomorrow night in Columbus

HORSE RACING:

Daily Racing Form’s Matt Hegarty says Cordish’s interest based in part by opportunity to ‘pay (himself) a fortune’

The Sun’s Hanah Cho says Pikesville’s Verstandig wants to bid on tracks; but only to tear them down

SOME QUICK THOUGHTS:

Here are some weekend picks….
-Maryland 9, Navy 7. The Terps will have the opportunity to shake off their marathon game a week ago; and Navy probably won’t be the team to try to get into a track meet.
-UMBC 12, Binghamton 7. The Retrievers were so impressive in their win over Towson Tuesday night; I’m not sure how I could even pick this game to be close.
-Loyola 9, Rutgers 6. I don’t care much for the Scarlet Knights; but I also hope the Greyhounds don’t have a hangover factor after their disappointment a week ago.
-Johns Hopkins 11, Albany 6. The Jays REALLY need this win.

I’ll check in at some point this weekend before a 15-7-0 Sunday.

-G

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Orange fireworks: Players and Trembley flip Peter Angelos “The Bird” today in The Sun

Posted on 03 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I’ve been saying for years that Fort Lauderdale Stadium and the Orioles’ sub-par Florida spring training situation is by far the biggest sin of all of their many sins and finally the folks over on Calvert Street are doing some “investigative journalism” with the orange birds. The club’s No. 1 promise to the public is that it’s doing everything possible to commit all of its resources to fielding a winning team.

That’s the goal in baseball: winning a championship. You always want to give your team the best chance to compete.

The Angelos family hasn’t done that for the entire tenure of their ownership in regard to the significance of spring training as anything more than a line item expense. The mere fact that they’re the only organization in the sport to have “two camps” in Florida that sit three hours apart is telling enough. It’s bad business. It’s bad baseball. It’s just inexcusable, unacceptable and dumb.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium is a dump. It’s a disgrace. It’s been a disgrace for the entire balance of the 15 years they’ve played there. I’ve worked many, many a morning and pulled many 12-hour days at Fort Lauderdale Stadium doing radio and covering baseball back when I was a “real” media member. I’ve spent 100 days of my life at that facility over the years before the team banned me from having a press credential.

Most of the fans here in Baltimore never make it there and it’s not like the team does anything to market having fans come south with their off season efforts. So it kinda goes unnoticed and when I bitch about it – and again, I think it’s probably the most obvious and lousy “white elephant” of all of their many sins – the fans don’t really care or “get it” but it’s so bizarre and so blatantly “bush league” in the eyes of anyone who knows anything about baseball from management to players to coaches to the locker room attendants that it defies description.

Just the mere fact that the visiting teams come in and see the situation and don’t lay down negative comments day after day is astonishing. Apparently, according to The Sun, the situation over at the minor-league camp is even worse. I haven’t personally been to Twin Lakes Park in Sarasota since 1995. It was “amateur” then, but not in disrepair. It was “minor league” but it wasn’t “unsafe” as several of the opposing teams indicated in contacting MLB and refusing to schedule games against the Orioles farmhands.

But the quotes in The Sun aren’t from Nestor. Or Drew Forrester. Or the glowing crap you’ll hear on MASN from Jim Hunter, Fred Manfra and the “boys club” who all take their paychecks from Peter Angelos.

They’re from the players themselves, who also take their paychecks from Peter Angelos. And it’s precisely these types of stories that makes Angelos ban a guy like me from having access. Because the players would be talking my ear off to get their message heard in the public eye.

Today’s whoppers and haymakers from their best people and players are “instant classics” and are sure to have the Angelos family in “flip out” mode on this Friday before Opening Day. It’s almost like all of the players just got together and decided to give the team’s ownership a rectal examination of unprecedented proportions.

This morning, it’s like Brian Roberts, Aubrey Huff, Melvin Mora, Dave Trembley and Jake Arrieta are on the front page of the local newspaper wearing FREE THE BIRDS shirts!

Here come the quotes:

Dave Trembley: “I think we’ve finally reached the point where it’s fish or cut bait. We’re in the business of developing players. What would enhance that development is a facility that is more conducive to us all being all together and being on an even playing field with the other clubs.”

Brian Roberts: “I think most of us would be lying if we said this is what any of us would expect from a major league organization.”

Aubrey Huff: “When you have a big-league team that has a weight tent with rented weight equipment located in the parking lot, that’s pretty sad.”

Melvin Mora: “That’s the worst field I’ve ever played on in my life and I’m from Venezeula.”

Chris Ray: “I don’t know what to say about the facility other than that it just needs to be leveled and rebuilt. It’s a shame. You draft someone, hype them up and then they go to that facility and they’re like, ‘Wow.’ I think that’s a little bit embarrassing.”

Jake Arrieta: “We’re all very blessed to be in the situations that we’re in, but it also comes with the territory that you expect to have nice facilities to work out in. Not that we’re tired of Twin Lakes, but I all think we deserve something better.”

And here is my favorite, from a minor-league farmhand named Mike Costanzo, who was given the “Nestor treatment” by the franchise: “We were told to not say anything about the field, but if nobody says anything, it’s never going to get fixed. It’s tough to get quality work in here.”

I guess Nick Markakis must’ve been in the shower or “unavailable for comment” on this one.

Costanzo’s quote is almost poignant to me because that’s EXACTLY what FREE THE BIRDS was all about.

“If nobody says anything it’s never going to get fixed.”

It almost brings a tear to my eyes. I’m a BIG Mike Costanzo fan all of a sudden. I’ll be monitoring that young man, who showed some big-league bravery for that quote but will undoubtedly be in the corporate “doghouse” for life after that one.

Aside from being quality journalism by Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly, it’s the kind of story in this economy that will piss off Angelos so much that you might even see the fireworks ads get pulled from the May editions. Mr. Angelos reads The Sun every day and will be ripe and randy today, no doubt about it.

I can hear him now…

“The insubordination. These ungrateful millionaires. How dare they speak this way about our franchise to the media!”

There’s one thing Peter Angelos hates the most and that’s hearing the unfiltered truth about how bad this franchise is in so many ways in print or in the media. Seeing his highest-paid employees flipping him the bird in the morning fishwrap – well, that’s gonna make for an interesting weekend.

Of course, Angelos and his son John declined to speak about the “Fort Lauderdale situation” in the media.

The worst part are the paper-thin and almost silly quotes from Orioles spokeperson and huge WNST fan, Greg Bader, who knows less about P.R. than any P.R. person I’ve seen in 25 years of doing journalism for a living.

Now, apparently, a baseball expert and groundskeeper, Bader officially deemed the field in Sarasota “perfectly safe and adequate” after a handful of visiting MLB teams refused to show up and play games there.

I’ve only met Greg Bader twice, but my guess is that he never played an inning of baseball in his life. Or pitched on unmeasured mounds? Or caught a two-hopper after it hits a rock in the dirt? Or had to work out to get into shape for a 162-game Major League grind that baseball demands.

(As an aside, the first thing I learned when I began doing sports radio in 1992 and hanging around baseball players was how HARD the job was. As a kid it sounds like a fun gig, but being a Major League Baseball player is HARD, HARD work. These guys make millions of dollars and if it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Baseball players live pretty difficult, complex lives from April 1st through October 1st. I have great respect for the work they do, which can only come when you see it first hand.)

Bader also said the club has “always had the urgency” to find a new home. That is just a stupid, silly thing to say. Urgency? They’ve had 15 years and roughly 80 percent of the MLB teams in South Florida have relocated or found better situations since the Orioles landed in Fort Lauderdale by sheer accident in 1996, after going several years in weird and bad situations in Miami and St. Petersburg.

They’ve been offered at least five sites that I can think of over the years – from Sarasota to Orlando to Vero Beach to Jupiter to Winter Haven — and have never done anything to rectify the combination of the major and minor league camps, which should have been done in 1997 or 1998 at the latest. No other team would DREAM of having a split camp and say they’re serious about a winning organization. It’s just unconscionable.

The 2009 season has already gotten off to a rocky, rocky start.

They have absolutely zero starting pitching. Jeremy Guthrie has been dreadful. Koji Uehera certainly bears watching but the rest of the retreads from Adam Eaton to Mark Hendrickson to Rich Hill to Danys Baez to the soon-to-be-celebrated Alfredo Simon are just arsonists of varying degrees at this point.

Brian Roberts isn’t healthy.

They’re still banning free speech in the media and being miserable and unprofessional to deal with at every level.

And now, every level of their organization from manager to players to minor leaguers are popping off in the morning newspaper about how “bush league” their ownership is in regard to spring training and a commitment to winning. It’s like a scene out of “Major League” but the Orioles have become the Indians.

Next Saturday’s game against Tampa Bay still doesn’t have a starting time and the Ravens are expecting 20,000 people at M&T Bank Stadium that morning and afternoon for an Inside Lacrosse doubleheader and no one in the city knows what the parking situation might be. The game is eight days away. You’d think they’d announce to the Tampa Rays, their season ticket holders and their employees when the game will be played. (Again, this kind of management is just unheard of in professional sports in 2009.)

Oh, and the Yankees are bringing 30,000 obnoxious fans into town on Opening Day to cheer for Baltimore’s greatest homegrown player in a generation as he takes the field at Camden Yards wearing pinstripes.

Oh, and advance ticket sales have been abysmal and they’re having a “Fan Fest” tomorrow that feels like a rumor around town.

Other than that, things are just fine in Birdland.

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