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Orioles sign former Cy Young winner Santana to minor-league deal

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Orioles sign former Cy Young winner Santana to minor-league deal

Posted on 03 March 2014 by WNST Staff

The Baltimore Orioles came to an agreement on a minor-league deal with two-time former Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana on Tuesday.

The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training in Sarasota and is worth $3 million plus performance bonuses upon making the major league roster, according to CBS Sports insider Jon Heyman.

Santana is coming off a second shoulder surgery that cost him to miss the entire 2013 season. The Mets chose to buy him out after the season, making him a free agent.

Santana had previously missed the entire 2011 season and went 6-9 with a 4.85 ERA for the New York Mets in 2012 between surgeries, including the first no-hitter in franchise history. Santana was brilliant from 2003-2008, winning the American League Cy Young Award twice with the Minnesota Twins and being named an All-Star four times in his career between the two teams.

For his career, Santana is 139-78 with a 3.20 ERA and 1.132 WHIP.

Originally signed by the Houston Astros as an amateur free agent in 1995, Santana was acquired by Minnesota via Florida at the 1999 Rule 5 Draft. He will wear No. 57 with the Orioles.

Rumors/reports of the deal began midday Monday when the lefty was spotted at the Birds’ Spring Training facility in Sarasota by multiple media outlets. Top pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez posted the following picture of himself with Santana on Instagram.

Santana recently threw for MLB scouts and reportedly topped out with a velocity of 81 MPH. Many believe he would not be available to pitch until well into the 2014 season.

A report from MLB.com suggested the O’s could view Santana as a left handed option out of the bullpen. The Birds have again been looking at reliever Brian Matusz as a starter during Spring Training and have no options left with fellow lefty Zach Britton. Additionally, lefty reliever Troy Patton will miss the first 25 games of the season after testing positive for a banned substance.

The Orioles recently acquired veteran starter Ubaldo Jimenez and Korean pitcher Suk-Min Yoon. The team was still in talks with free agent starter Ervin Santana as recently as last week.

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Orioles to make multiple Sunday Night Baseball appearances early in season

Posted on 15 January 2014 by WNST Staff

Multiple Appearances by World Series Champion Red Sox, NL Champion Cardinals, Dodgers, Yankees & Orioles

Stars in Action: Miguel Cabrera, Yasiel Puig, Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen

Dan Shulman, the voice of Sunday Nights, leads new team with John Kruk, Curt Schilling & Buster Olney 

ESPN’s historic 25th season of Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell – Major League Baseball’s exclusive, national game of the week – will showcase baseball’s most exciting teams, best rivalries and brightest stars throughout 2014. The season will begin with an exclusive presentation of MLB’s Opening Night on ESPN presented by Scotts – Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres – on March 30 at 8 p.m. ET.  Baseball Tonight will precede the telecast with a special 90-minute pre-game show at 6:30 p.m. hosted by Karl Ravech.

The early season schedule will include three appearances each by the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox, National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles. In addition, the game’s brightest stars, including Miguel Cabrera, Yasiel Puig, Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen and more will take center stage on Sunday Night Baseball.

Dan Shulman, in his fourth season as the voice of Sunday Night Baseball, will lead a new team, with new analyst Curt Schilling, returning analyst John Kruk and reporter Buster Olney. Sunday Night Baseball airs every week at 8 p.m.  and is available on ESPN, ESPN Radio (with Jon Sciambi and Chris Singleton), ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio and via WatchESPN.

ESPN’s 25th Sunday Night Baseball Season

Date Game
March 30 Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres telecast presented by Scotts
April 6* San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers telecast presented by Taco Bell (ESPN2)
April 13 Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees telecast presented by Taco Bell
April 20** Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Soxtelecast presented by Taco Bell (7 p.m.)
April 27 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at New York Yankees telecast presented by Taco Bell
May 4 TBD
May 11 St. Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates telecast presented by Taco Bell
May 18 Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox telecast presented by Taco Bell
May 25 St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds telecast presented by Taco Bell
July 13 New York Yankees at Baltimore Orioles telecast presented by Taco Bell
July 20 Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals telecast presented by Taco Bell

   *ESPN2 telecast

  ** Special 7 p.m. start time

The Sunday Night Baseball game selection for May 4 will be determined and announced in the next few weeks. Additionally, selections for June games and for July 6 and July 27 will be made three weeks in advance, while selections for August and September games will be made two weeks in advance.

More Sunday Night Baseball highlights:

  • The Boston Red Sox will host the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park for a special telecast the night before Patriot’s Day – a Massachusetts state holiday one year removed from the Boston Marathon tragedy in 2013;
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates return to Sunday Night Baseball for the first time since May 19, 2002 against the Houston Astros;
  • The schedule includes several rivalry games: San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Dodgers (April 6), Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees (April 13), St. Louis Cardinals at Cincinnati Reds (May 25);

Sunday Night Baseball background:

  • Dan Shulman is entering his fourth season as the voice of Sunday Night Baseball. He debuted in 2011;
  • John Kruk is celebrating his 10-year anniversary at ESPN and his second season in the Sunday Night booth (he joined ESPN in 2004);
  • Curt Schilling, who has served as a Baseball Tonight analyst since 2010, makes his Sunday Night Baseball debut;
  • Buster Olney is entering his 12th season as an ESPN MLB Insider. He joined ESPN in 2003 and has served as Sunday Night reporter since 2011;
  • John Kruk and Curt Schilling re-unite as a “team” two decades after being teammates on the early-1990’s Philadelphia Phillies, who won the National League pennant in 1993.

Sunday Night Baseball history

ESPN’s inaugural Sunday Night Baseball telecast aired April 15, 1990. That night, the Montreal Expos defeated the New York Mets 3-1 at Olympic Stadium. Expos catcher Nelson Santovenia hit a home run off of Mets pitcher Ron Darling and Tim Raines drove in a run to lead the Expos to victory. John Miller and analyst Joe Morgan provided commentary.

Baseball Tonight’s 25th Season

In its 25th season, Baseball Tonight – ESPN’s baseball news and highlights studio show – will preview Sunday Night Baseball each week with one-hour telecasts at 7 p.m.  Karl Ravech will serve as host with analysts from ESPN’s deep roster of MLB commentators, let by Hall of Famer Barry Larkin.

Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN Radio

ESPN Radio – in its 17th MLB season – will continue its coverage as the exclusive, national radio home of Sunday Night Baseball. Play-by-play commentator Jon Sciambi and analyst Chris Singleton will return for their fourth season together calling Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN Radio. ESPN Radio’s weekly coverage starts at 7 p.m. and is also available on ESPNRadio.com and via the ESPNRadio app.

ESPN Deportes’ 11th Season of Sunday Night Baseball

ESPN Deportes will enter its 11th season as the Spanish-language home to Sunday Night Baseball. Commentators Ernesto Jerez and Luis Alfredo Alvarez will provide commentary throughout the season.

ESPN International coverage of Sunday Night Baseball

Sunday Night Baseball is available across Latin America, Caribbean and the Pacific Rim.

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Backstrom, Grubauer Lead Caps Over Rangers

Posted on 28 December 2013 by Ed Frankovic

So much of sports can be described as a “Game of Inches.”

On Friday night at the Verizon Center, that was definitely the case as the Washington Capitals received a late goal from Eric Fehr to defeat the New York Rangers, 3-2. Fehr’s tally, his 6th of the season, was on a snap shot down the right side after a nice feed from Nicklas Backstrom (1G, 1A). Immediately before that goal, which came in a four on four situation, Dan Girardi hit the far post behind Philipp Grubauer (38 saves) after a Washington giveaway. If that puck is an inch to the right, it’s a 3-2 Rangers lead. But that’s the way it goes, and remember on Monday, if Alex Ovechkin’s shot from the slot is an inch lower than the Caps tie the Ducks late in regulation. As they say, “That’s Hockey.”

This victory improves the Caps to 20-14-4 (44 points) and puts them six points ahead of the Rangers, who they will only face one more time again this season, at Madison Square Garden.

The biggest difference in this game tonight was between the pipes. Grubauer was excellent for the Caps while Cam Talbot gave up some questionable goals. I know Talbot has been hot, but Henrik Lundqvist owns the Caps, and for some reason Alain Vigneault chose to go more with recent form than historical stats in his net minding decision. I can tell you I was certainly thrilled to not see King Henrik manning the cage for New York, so one would think the Capitals players were happy too?

The shot attempts in this contest ended up 71-55 for New York, but it was a fairly even game when it comes to quality chances. The Rangers shot attempts in the opening frame were primarily from the perimeter and it was really only the second period where they dominated play, and most of that was when the Caps had either their 4th line on the ice or their 3rd defensive pair on the blue line.

In the final period, after the Rangers got a quick tying tally on Carl Hagelin’s shorthanded goal, the Capitals carried more of the play. Coach Adam Oates did a nice job of shifting the ice time to his top two defensive pairs and limited the 3rd pair to just three and a half minutes. The difference was clearly noticeable and with the Rangers short a defensemen due to Anton Stralman’s in game injury, the Capitals seemed to wear the Rangers out more in that final frame.

Another positive was that the Caps did a better job on the back check on Friday after misreading two situations on Monday and allowing the tying and winning goal to the Ducks. Oates said that his team was better, but he also said the Rangers are a different type of team than Anaheim, which indicated it was an easier chore for his club against New York. However, Karl Alzner told me that Oates showed some video clips on back checking and King Karl said that the breakdowns on Monday were more of an individual thing. Whatever the case, Washington did a much better job in defensive zone coverage when the Rangers came up the ice on the rush.

Alzner said the team has been working more on their “end zone.” #27 said that the key to a solid back check and defensive zone is that when the puck is in the offensive zone there is always a third guy high. Some coaches require their center to always be that third guy (this is how Bryan Murray ran things for the Caps in the mid 1980′s) but many just let each shift play itself out and have the third guy be a read by the forwards themselves. From what I can gather, Oates’ system looks to be a “read and react accordingly” on the back check. So any of the three forwards could be the first player back. One thing the team is working on, according to Alzner, is more than just the third guy coming back strong because he said the coaches have pointed out it usually has been the third or even the fourth guy on the opposition that have been getting the quality chances against Washington this year.

It’s encouraging to see the focus of the team on these things and there is no doubt that practice time helps the reads and the communication, which is vital, on the ice.

As for Backstrom, he continues to dominate and any smart hockey person will tell you just how good #19 is compared to others in the league. The media may not be all over him from a publicity standpoint, but those in the game know just how good the center is and he is arguably as important to the Caps as any other player. On Friday night, Backstrom, along with Grubauer, were the primary reasons the Capitals stopped their two game losing streak.

Notes: John Carlson led the Caps in ice time with 26:38. Mike Green (1G) played 19:10…the Rangers wore their top three d out with Girardi logging 27:35, Ryan McDonagh getting a game leading 29:53 and Michael Del Zotto playing 24:37…next up for the Caps are the Buffalo Sabres on the road on Sunday at 5pm.

 

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Roberts reportedly agrees to one-year deal with Yankees

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Roberts reportedly agrees to one-year deal with Yankees

Posted on 17 December 2013 by WNST Staff

After spending his entire major league career with the Orioles, second baseman Brian Roberts is apparently on his way to New York.

The 36-year-old has agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with the Yankees after a 13-year run with the Orioles, according to a FOX Sports report. He became a free agent at the end of a four-year, $40 million contract that he signed before the 2010 season. He’s a two-time All-Star and a career .278 hitter.

New York was in the market for a second baseman after Robinson Cano signed a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Seattle Mariners earlier this month and will reportedly offer incentives in the agreement.

Battling an array of injuries over his final four years with the Orioles, Roberts hit .249 with eight home runs and 39 runs batted in in 77 games this season. He was the club’s supplemental pick in the 1999 amateur draft and the longest-tenured player in the organization.

Earlier in the day, the Orioles signed former Nationals first-round pick Chris Marrero to a minor-league contract. The 25-year-old first baseman never panned out after eight seasons with the Washington organization.

In 125 major league at-bats, Marrero has hit just .232 and is a career .282 hitter in the minor leagues.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 10 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Women’s College Basketball-Delaware State @ Maryland (Saturday 7pm Comcast Center); Golf: PGA Tour Franklin Templeton Shootout (Friday 3pm live on Golf Channel Saturday 4pm Sunday 3pm live on NBC. All golf from Naples, FL); Boxing: Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana (Saturday 8pm from San Antonio live on Showtime); High School Football: Baltimore Touchdown Club Senior All-Star Game (Saturday 1pm Archbishop Spalding)

10. John Mayer (Saturday 7pm Baltimore Arena); Robin Thicke/Fall Out Boy/Paramore/Miley Cyrus (Monday 7pm Verizon Center); Jimmy Eat World/Diamond Youth (Thursday 8pm Rams Head Live), All That Remains/Asking Alexandria (Friday 7pm Rams Head Live), Lupe Fiasco (Sunday 8pm Rams Head Live), Twenty-One Pilots/The 1975/MS MR/NONONO (Monday 8pm Rams Head Live); Mint Condition (Sunday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage); Rick Springfield (Tuesday & Wednesday 8pm Rams Head on Stage), Marshall Tucker Band (Thursday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Wilson Phillips (Friday 8pm Rams Head Center Stage); Sara Bereilles/Gavin DeGraw (Wednesday 7pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Steve Winwood/Cris Jacobs (Thursday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring), Gary Allan (Friday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Ginuwine (Friday 8pm Howard Theatre), Ja Rule (Saturday 11:30pm Howard Theatre); The Hives (Tuesday 7pm 9:30 Club), The Pietasters (Saturday 8pm 9:30 Club), Ms. Lauryn Hill (Sunday 6pm 9:30 Club); Mannheim Steamroller (Thursday 8pm Modell Performing Arts Center at The Lyric); Straight No Chaser (Thursday 7:30pm Meyerhoff Symphony Hall); Backstreet Boys (Friday 6:30pm SECU Arena); Childish Gambino “Because the Internet” and Neil Young “Live at The Cellar Down” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

My most embarrassing admission of 2013? I saw John Mayer the first time he ever played the Arena. My second most embarrassing admission? I kinda enjoy the song he did with his girlfriend.

I had a friend who used to have a Jimmy Eat World beanie. I tried to steal it from him 100 times.

This song will end up in my Top 10 of 2013.

It is NEVER embarrassing to be caught singing along to this.

9. Andrew Dice Clay (Sunday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Gilbert Gottfried (Thursday 8pm Magooby’s Joke House);  The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” and “Saving Mr. Banks” out in theaters (Friday); “Despicable Me 2″ and “Fast & Furious 6″ available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday)

And instead I’ll encourage you to watch Kay & Peele attempt to break the record for impressions in one minute.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Contender or pretender: Sizing up the AFC wild-card race

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Contender or pretender: Sizing up the AFC wild-card race

Posted on 03 December 2013 by Luke Jones

For the Ravens and a number of other AFC teams who’ve plodded along with a .500 record or slightly worse through the first three quarters of the 2013 season, the final sprint is here in determining who will grab the coveted second wild-card spot as Kansas City is all but guaranteed the No. 5 seed.

Of course, coach John Harbaugh and his team still hold hope that their Week 17 meeting with the Cincinnati Bengals will provide an opportunity to play for the AFC North title, but the Ravens will need their division counterpart to slip up to reduce the deficit to just one game entering that final contest at Paul Brown Stadium on Dec. 29. In the meantime, the Ravens simply must focus on winning games and securing their current grip on the No. 6 seed in the AFC as their 6-6 record equals the Dolphins — and an Oct. 6 victory over Miami gives them the tie-breaking nod.

Following this Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings that concludes the current three-game homestand, the Ravens have the most difficult path of any of the wild-card contenders over the final three weeks in playing three teams projected to land in the postseason. Baltimore figures to need to win three of its final four games in the final month for a good chance to maintain its grip on the No. 6 seed, meaning the Ravens will likely need to win two of three against Detroit, New England, and Cincinnati and only the Patriots game will be played at M&T Bank Stadium in Week 16.

The Ravens’ 6-4 conference record stacks up well with the rest of the field, but the outcome of their two remaining AFC games will loom large should they find themselves in a number of tie-breaking situations.

Here’s a look at the rest of the field as I determine who the contenders and the pretenders are:

MIAMI (6-6) – CONTENDER
Conference record: 5-3
Remaining schedule: at Pittsburgh, New England, at Buffalo, New York Jets
Skinny: It would have been unsurprising to see the Dolphins fold in November with the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin situation hanging over their heads, but Miami has rebounded from an embarrassing loss to Tampa Bay to win two of its last three. The Dolphins are in the best position to challenge the Ravens mathematically, but their next two games will make or break them as they go to Heinz Field before playing the Patriots at home. Just one win over the Steelers or New England would put incredible heat on the Ravens over the final two weeks against difficult opponents. Of course, the Dolphins’ Week 5 loss to Baltimore continues to doom them if those two teams finish tied for the No. 6 spot with no one else in the mix.

TENNESSEE (5-7) – PRETENDER
Conference record: 4-5
Remaining schedule: at Denver, Arizona, at Jacksonville, Houston
Skinny: Their current record and remaining schedule still suggest the Titans have a slim chance, but the season-ending injury to quarterback Jake Locker last month and two losses to a vulnerable Indianapolis team in their last three games have all but sealed their fate. Backup Ryan Fitzpatrick had been playing well before an awful performance this past Sunday, but the next two games figure to be the final nails in the coffin to the Titans’ playoff hopes. Tennessee started fast this season, but only two wins since the start of October clearly scream pretender in an already-mediocre field.

PITTSBURGH (5-7) – CONTENDER
Conference record: 4-5
Remaining schedule: Miami, Cincinnati, at Green Bay, Cleveland
Skinny: Many eulogized the Steelers’ season following the Thanksgiving night result, but Pittsburgh could still be the biggest threat in the wild-card race with three remaining home games. A normally-intimidating trip to Lambeau Field in Week 16 to take on the Packers could also be easier should Aaron Rodgers be shut down for the rest of the season as some are speculating. A Steelers win over the Bengals in Week 15 would help the Ravens in their quest for the division title, but Baltimore’s season split with Pittsburgh creates a more complicated tiebreaker that could come down to division record or even record in common games. Perhaps more than anything else, Ravens fans begrudgingly know it’s never a good idea to count out Ben Roethlisberger, meaning the Steelers still have a shot.

SAN DIEGO (5-7) – PRETENDER
Conference record: 3-6
Remaining schedule: New York Giants, at Denver, Oakland, Kansas City
Skinny: The Chargers’ home loss to Cincinnati on Sunday not only failed to do the Ravens any favors in the AFC North race but landed Mike McCoy’s team in the pretender category. San Diego has arguably looked better than any of the other wild-card contenders — the Ravens included — when playing at its best, but inconsistency has once again plagued the Chargers as it seems to annually. They have three remaining home games, but the Chargers have already lost three games at Qualcomm Stadium and are just as likely to lay an egg against the Giants or the Raiders than to pull off an upset over the Broncos or the Chiefs. Their abysmal conference record won’t do them any favors in a tie-breaking scenario, so San Diego’s only real hope is to run the table.

NEW YORK (5-7) – PRETENDER
Conference record: 2-7
Remaining schedule: Oakland, at Carolina, Cleveland, at Miami
Skinny: Only two weeks ago we were talking about the Jets holding the No. 6 spot in the conference, but they’ve crashed and burned since then with a road loss to the Ravens and an embarrassing home defeat to Miami by 20 points this past Sunday. Their quarterback situation is the worst of any of the teams still vying for a wild-card spot as Geno Smith hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since before Halloween. The Jets’ remaining schedule isn’t awful, but they appear far more likely to lose their four remaining games than to go on a run necessary to land the No. 6 seed. New York was still better than many expected this year, but a dysfunctional offense has finally sunk the Jets after some impressive wins earlier in the season.

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Ovechkin Wins It In OT After Backstrom Tied it Late

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Ovechkin Wins It In OT After Backstrom Tied it Late

Posted on 30 November 2013 by Ed Frankovic

Wow, what a finish, and I’m not talking about Auburn-Alabama.

The Washington Capitals, who could’ve put the game away in the second period by burying some golden opportunities, looked dead to rights after the Islanders took the lead with 1:51 left in the third period and then Mike Green was correctly whistled for an interference penalty just 41 clicks later.

But the Caps showed some serious resolve and mental toughness as Karl Alzner made a great pinch on the left wing boards to get the puck behind the net to Jason Chimera and then #25 hit a streaking Nicklas Backstrom in the slot and #19 one timed it by Islanders goalie Anders Nilsson with 49 ticks left in regulation for an unlikely shorthanded game tying tally.

The Capitals would then kill off those final 49 third period seconds of the Green infraction and then 50 more into overtime. Over a minute later, Alexander Ovechkin scored from the slot five hole on Nilsson after a nifty drop pass from Mikhail Grabovski and it gave Washington a huge two points on Long Island. It was Ovechkin’s league leading 21st goal and the 5th time he has scored in OT in his career to defeat the Islanders (h/t @ehornick). The victory improves Washington to 14-11-2 (30 points) and keeps them two points ahead of the third place New York Rangers.

Washington led 1-0 heading into the final frame thanks to a hard working goal by the Caps fourth line of Martin Erat, Tom Wilson, and Aaron Volpatti at 8:58 into period two. Erat got the puck into the slot where Wilson used his size and strength to get two shots on Nilsson before Volpatti slapped it home. After that goal the Caps had some golden opportunities to expand their lead but Backstrom and Green both missed the net from in close in the slot when all alone.

Those misses looked like they might haunt Washington after they gave up a shorthanded goal to Cal Clutterbuck at 3:59 of period three, who got a breakaway when Green let a puck get by him at the Islanders blue line. It was another dismal power play for the Caps in their only try of the night. When Vanek scored just inside the two minute mark after a goal mouth scramble that had Braden Holtby (37 saves) incensed, it sure looked like it would be a rough defeat in a game Washington deserved at least a point.

But Coach Adam Oates’ crew didn’t quit and Backstrom’s laser made up for his earlier miss. Ovechkin sealed the deal like a true assassin to provide a very huge win and give the Caps a two game winning streak heading into Tuesday’s tilt at the Verizon Center against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Defensemen Dmitry Orlov made his season debut on Saturday and was very solid in 13:41 of work. Hopefully 81′s agent wises up and rescinds his ridiculous trade demand. As for the other player demanding out, Erat played hard and assisted on the first tally but his offensive zone turnover helped lead to the Islanders shorthanded breakaway.

On defense, Alzner and John Carlson led the way again, playing 23:20 and 24:40, respectively. Overall, the Caps moved the puck much better with Orlov in for Alex Urbom on the back end. There are still improvements to be made, but Orlov looks more like an NHLer than some of the other guys who’ve been playing. He just needs to get some steady work now that he’s fully recovered from last year’s injuries. Dima wasn’t tentative at all tonight, like he was in preseason, so the time in the AHL definitely benefited him.

New York is a team that in recent years has given the Caps trouble because of their speed and a struggling Islanders club gave it all they had tonight, making it difficult for the Caps to put them away. Then it sure looked like Washington had handed the game to New York before Backstrom, Oveckhin, and company snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

There are no style points in the NHL, two points is two points.

But the way the Caps came back and showed mental resolve makes this victory feel like more than two points.

Time will tell if this kind of come back victory is one that propels Washington to improved play and a long winning streak, but for tonight, I’ll just leave you with a classic line from Baltimore broadcasting legend Chuck Thompson.

Ain’t The Beer Cold!

 

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Jets

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The Five Plays That Determined The Game: Ravens/Jets

Posted on 26 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

Following every Baltimore Ravens game this season, Ryan Chell and I will take to the airwaves Tuesdays on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net with a segment known as “The Five Plays That Determined The Game.”

It’s a simple concept. We’ll select five plays from each game that determined the outcome. These five plays will best represent why the Ravens won or lost each game.

This will be our final analysis of the previous game before switching gears towards the next game on the schedule.

Here are the five plays that determined the Ravens’ 19-3 win over the New York Jets Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

(Note: not all pictures are always of actual play)

Glenn Clark’s Plays…

5. Geno Smith pass intended for Bilal Powell incomplete on 3rd and goal (1st quarter)

The Jets’ only real TD chance on the day but could have set things up to go the wrong way.  

4. Torrey Smith 60 yard catch from Joe Flacco (2nd quarter)

A “statement” play on a drive that only finished with a field goal…but didn’t need more. 

3. Justin Tucker 53 yard field goal GOOD (3rd quarter)

If he misses this, the Jets are in great shape in a close game. 

2. Corey Graham intercepts Geno Smith pass intended for David Nelson (3rd quarter)

The above GIF is of his second pick, his first set up the play that is Number 1.

1. Jacoby Jones 66 yard TD catch from Joe Flacco (3rd quarter)

The Jets would have never come back anyway, but this was certainly the “ender”.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Ravens must continue to come up “big” in push for playoffs

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Ravens must continue to come up “big” in push for playoffs

Posted on 24 November 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

BALTIMORE — The third quarter of Sunday’s 19-3 win over the New York Jets was following a predictable pattern for a Ravens offense that hasn’t put together a 60-minute performance all season.

After moving the ball with some success in the first half with three drives of 50 or more yards — all resulting in field goals — and 212 yards, the Ravens had gained just 15 yards on 11 plays after halftime as the third quarter was winding down. Faced with a first-and-5 from their own 34, quarterback Joe Flacco ran a play-action fake to running back Ray Rice before heaving a bomb to wide receiver Jacoby Jones with a stiff wind at the quarteback’s back.

Sprinting behind 35-year-old Jets free safety Ed Reed, Jones reined in the pass for a 66-yard touchdown that not only gave the Ravens a 16-point lead but also represented something they’d been missing this year. Flacco’s strike to Jones was the Ravens’ first touchdown all season on a pass thrown more than 20 yards in the air, a reality that would have seemed absurd a year ago when Baltimore’s vertical passing game was arguably the most dangerous in the NFL.

“It was probably the play of the game for us,” coach John Harbaugh said. “The ball got up there and got caught in the wind. If you saw it, it was being pushed that way. I thought once it got up in the air and the wind got it, I didn’t think Jacoby [Jones] was going to be able to get it. He shifted into another gear and he went and got that ball — just an amazing play. And then for him to reach out and catch it and keep his balance, just a tremendous, athletic play.”

Sunday’s offensive performance was far from exceptional as the Ravens failed to score more than 20 points in a game for the sixth straight time, and the offense provided what we’ve come to expect over the first 11 games of the 2013 season. The Ravens had little success on the ground in averaging just 2.2 yards per carry against the Jets’ top-ranked rush defense, but the 66-yard touchdown strike to Jones followed an earlier 60-yard bomb to Torrey Smith and offered a glimpse of how the Ravens must operate in order to stack enough wins down the stretch to qualify for the playoffs for the sixth straight season.

Just as the defense forced three turnovers and Jones provided 146 return yards in the special-teams department, the Ravens need more big plays in all three phases of the game and finally received a couple from their passing attack in disposing of the Jets at M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.

Flacco dismissed the idea of feeling a sense of relief in connecting on a deep-ball score, but more offensive explosions will give the Ravens a better chance against quality opponents remaining on the schedule.

“I don’t think it was that kind of feeling,” Flacco said. “It was just like, ‘Yes, we got a touchdown. We have 19 points now.’ It wasn’t anything like, ‘Oh, I’ve been looking for that,’ or ‘We haven’t done that in a while.’ That wasn’t why; that didn’t creep in at all. It was really just excitement because it was a tight game, we hadn’t put the ball in the end zone yet, and we were able to do it right there.”

The Ravens have played tight games all season, with all but two prior to Sunday’s win being decided by eight or fewer points. And the absence of big plays in the passing game is a factor in explaining why an offense that struggles to consistently sustain drives hasn’t been able to put the Ravens over the top this season.

Injuries to Jones and Deonte Thompson zapped the Ravens of speed to put on the opposite side of the formation to Smith early in the season, enabling defenses to bracket coverage and shade a deep safety to one side of the field. The absence of a consistent running game and receiving threats over the intermediate middle portion of the field — specifically due to the trade of slot receiver Anquan Boldin and the injury to tight end Dennis Pitta — have allowed safeties to remain deep in coverage. Other times, offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell and Flacco haven’t even appeared committed to trying to throw deep.

But the vertical passing game reemerged Sunday as the deep strikes to Smith and Jones led directly to 10 points and a win to move the Ravens closer to the .500 mark with Pittsburgh coming to town Thanksgiving night for a contest with major playoff implications. Another deep strike or two would go a long way in loosening up the league’s eighth-ranked passing game on Thursday night.

“That was huge for our offense,” said Smith, whose reception early in the second quarter set up the Ravens’ second field goal of the game and gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. “It’s not that we’re depending on it, but it always helps to get chunks of yardage like that. When we get those kinds of days going, it’s usually good for our offense.”

The Ravens were dependent on the deep ball last season as Flacco completed 28 of 82 passes traveling 20 or more yards in the air for nine touchdowns and no interceptions. The sixth-year quarterback entered Sunday having gone just 10-for-50 in that department for no touchdowns and five interceptions in the first 10 games of the season.

As Flacco has mentioned several times this season when asked what has happened to the vertical passing game, low-percentage throws aren’t easy to complete and perhaps the lack of success this season has been as much about a market correction from last year’s success than anything else. But the Ravens offense isn’t equipped to drive up and down the field with the better offenses in the league.

Sunday provided a reasonable blueprint for the Ravens in their bid to advance to the postseason in a muddled AFC wild-card race. A turnover-making defense, strong special teams, and an offense able to strike on a couple big plays led to an easy win over the Jets, the team that entered Week 12 as the No. 6 seed in the division.

The Ravens offense hasn’t lived up to its end of the bargain all year for a variety of reasons, but some home-run passes mixed in with their weekly struggles might provide enough to make the final five weeks of the season interesting.

“It’s the rhythm of the game, the timing,” said Jones in describing why the vertical passing game has been absent. “Sometimes, we’ll be in a certain part of the game where what they’re giving is what [we’ll] take. And we try to connect, and it will be off, and the rhythm and timing will be off. But today, we were on point.”

The 5-6 Ravens will have no choice but to be on point for the rest of the season.

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Our Ravens/Jets “Pats on the Ass”

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Our Ravens/Jets “Pats on the Ass”

Posted on 24 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

After every Baltimore Ravens victory, Ryan Chell and I take to the airwaves on “The Creative Deck Designs Postgame Show” on AM1570 WNST.net to offer “Pats on the Ass” to players who have done something to deserve the honor.

We give pats to two defensive players, two offensive players and one “Wild Card”-either another offensive or defensive player, a Special Teams player or a coach. We offer a “Pat on Both Cheeks” to someone who stands out, our version of a “Player of the Game.” Ryan and I select five different players/coaches each.

Here are our “Pats on the Ass” following the Ravens’ 19-3 win over the New York Jets Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium…

Glenn’s Pats…

5. Chris Canty

4. Corey Graham

3. Daryl Smith

2. Joe Flacco

1. Jacoby Jones (Pat on Both Cheeks)

(Continued on Page 2…)

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