Tag Archive | "Opening Day"

Monday's PM Crab Cakes and Light Beer

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Monday’s PM Crab Cakes and Light Beer

Posted on 05 April 2010 by Chris Bonetti

Suggested Reading

SportingNews.com:  Outstanding TSN College Hoops columnist Mike DeCourcy suggests, “Don’t believe all the David-Goliath nonsense.” And you know what?  I agree, Mike.  In fact, not only will I take the Bulldogs and the 7.5 points, but I’ll pick Butler outright.  Just saying, the Monday night National Championship Game is the easiest big-time sports ticket to get your hands on.  You better believe all those West Virginia and Michigan State fans’ seats will be occupied with folks from Indy rooting for Butler.  If this game is tight with four minutes to go, it’ll be great to watch Duke’s Big 3 try to score against the stingy Bulldogs’ defense in front of a hugely pro-Butler crowd.  Butler has won 25 games in a row and hasn’t allowed any opponent in the Tournament to score more than 59 points.  If guard Shelvin Mack, who battled leg cramp issues, and center Matt Howard, who had concussion like symptoms, are ready to roll 100 percent with Gordon Hayward, Duke gets over that 60-point watermark, but it won’t be enough to prevent coach Brad Stevens’ team’s 26th straight win.

SI.com: College Basketball columnist, Andy Glockner breaks down tonight’s title tilt position by position in, “Title game matchup: Duke vs. Butler.”

NY Times: Kevin Armstrong takes a closer look at the off-court statistics of Duke and Butler in, “For Butler and Duke, a Very Public Affair.” They are the first two private schools to meet for the National Championship since Villanova-Georgetown 25 years ago.

USAToday.com: Bob Kimball dissects Tiger’s press conference from The Masters this afternoon in, “Tiger Woods speaks: Praises fans, apologizes to fellow pros on Tour”

ESPN.com: Sal Paolantonio looks back at McNabb’s career in Philadelphia in, “Eagles decide McNabb’s time is up.”

SI.com: A weekly must read, Peter King’s, “Monday Morning Quarterback: How the McNabb-to-Redskins trade impacts the rest of the NFL, draft.”

FanHouse: Kevin Blackistone unfortunately tells us about Matt James, an All American football recruit headed to Notre Dame in September, whom fell to his death while on Spring Break with friends in Panama City, FL this past weekend in, “An ‘Incredible future’ ends needlessly.”

ESPN.com:  Boxing columnist Dan Rafael says, “It’s time for Hopkins and Jones to retire,” after their bout this weekend in Las Vegas, won by Bernard Hopkins via unanimous decision.

Video of the Day

There’s been a lot of talk about DaSean Butler’s knee injury and its aftermath Saturday night with Bob Huggins consoling his senior, whom turned out to have a torn ACL and sprained MCL.  An odd sight sure… but a definite true sign of a coach’s compassion for his player.  I loved it; thought it was great.  However, I do have a HUGE problem with something.  The way Butler was carried from the floor was utterly UNACCEPTABLE!  How can a team physician and training staff not immobilize the knee in any way and allow two other players to carry their teammate of the floor with his leg just dangling, knocking against the ground with every step.  Jeez, further damage can be done so easily in that situation.  Unreal.

Tweets of the Day

The President of the United States, Barack Obama – BarackObama

Opening the 2010 baseball season with the first pitch at Nationals Park today.

The Trips Tab at WNST.net – WNST

News: Capitals Playoff Puck Bus now on sale via TRIPS tab: Join the WNST “Rock The Red” Baltimore crew for an “all… http://bit.ly/bBMlhb

The Trips Tab at WNST.net – WNST

News: Yankee Stadium bustrip for Wednesday, May 5 matinee now onsale: Miller Lite presents another WNST Orange Roa… http://bit.ly/dDqKYD

ESPN MLB Columnist, Jayson Stark – jaysonst

Nationals haven’t allowed 11 R on Opening Day since . . . well, last year . . . when they gave up 12 to Florida. Quite a tradition.

SI MLB Insider, Jon Heyman – SI_JonHeyman

just asked lasorda in lunchroom why padilla started today. “i dont know. you know how many people asked me that question?”

New York Times College Basketball Columnist, Pete Thamel – PeteThamelNYT

Just talked to a Butler official who said that the players went to their 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. classes today. Back for 12:30 film.

WNST NFL Correspondent, Chris Pika – BlogAndTackle

Butler-Duke tonight would be a game I’d like to see Jim Nantz lose his voice, and CBS go to the bullpen for Gus Johnson.

FoxSports.com College Basketball Columnist, Jeff Goodman – goodmanonfox

Fran Fraschilla, according to sources close to the situation, has withdrawn from the Iona opening.

SI.com NFL Columnist, Peter King – SI_PeterKing

I like the trade. Helps both teams. Lets Reid move on with kid he thinks could be ARodgers. Gives Shanny top-12 QB to play aerial game.

Former Ravens, Browns Scout and friend of WNST, Daniel Jeremiah – MoveTheSticks

Theory for the Eagles must be to let Kolb and the other young skill guys grow up together. That way they hit their prime at the same time

ESPN NFL Insider, Chris Pika – Adam_Schefter

McNabb has 3rd-highest winning percentage among active quarterbacks (83-45-1, .647) behind Manning (119-59, .669) and Brady (88-25, .779).

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Tuesday's PM Crab Cakes and Light Beer

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Tuesday’s PM Crab Cakes and Light Beer

Posted on 30 March 2010 by Chris Bonetti

The Swinging Bunt

Trembley decides O’s rotation.  Big news out of Sarasota today.  Orioles fans, your 2010 Opening Day starting rotation: Kevin Millwood, Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen, and David Hernandez.  Determining the five-man rotation is just one personnel decision Dave Trembley needs to make before coming north.  Before Tampa on April 6th, we’ll also learn who’ll occupy the 2-8 spots in the batting order and who gets the last spot or two coming out of the bullpen.  We will all inevitably find out, when Dave Trembley tells us.  Trembley is playing under a different set of rules in this his third full season skippering the big club.  Managerial baseball decisions become much, much more important this season with more talent on the roster than ever before during his tenure.  This season he and his supporters will no longer be able to skate by with the defense of, “… how can he win, look at the talent on the field.”  Dave Trembley needs to win more in 2010.  Again, a good part of the cavalry is here, and along with a couple veteran bats, the talent is a notable upgrade over last year’s dreadful rotation and the Mora/Huff middle of the order.  At times last year Trembley looked defeated in his post-game press conferences due to the wear and tear of losses piling up.  He cited an overall lack of professionalism in his clubhouse as one of the major reasons for losing, and rightfully so.  Last year Trembley had to run out ballplayers that probably didn’t deserve to be playing on the major league level – yet or ever.  That was then.  This year Trembey needs to facilitate improvement in all aspects of the team by making the right baseball decisions along the way… his job depends on it.

Scanning the Blogosphere

WNST.net: Check out Drew Forrester’s closing points on the Steelers-Harford County fiasco in, “Tongue Kissing the Steelers – The Finale.”

WNST.net: “Tigers outslug Orioles 10-9.” Says here that Dontrelle Willis pitched for the Tigers… by the looks of it, I don’t think much pitching got done by either team.

NYTimes.com: New York Times National College Basketball Writer, Pete Thamel says, “For star power, look to bench, not to court.” He’s right, and for the record, a rhetorical question… who is the best player in the FF?  This guy says, for the college game, DaSean Butler.

SI.com: Former NFL lineman and SI NFL Columnist, Ross Tucker tackles a difficult draft topic in, “Gerhart, Rolle will try to overcome stereotypes to make it in the NFL.”

AL.com: Mobile Press-Register Columnist, Paul Feinbaum takes a really interesting look at the current role of being a beat writer in, “Urban Meyer outburst shows how far beat reporters have fallen.”

ESPN.com: Jerry Crasnick looks at what faces Stephen Strasburg in the upcoming months in, “Facing Monumental Expectations.”

Deadspin.com: Deadspin Editor, Will Leitch previews the New York Mets in, “The New York Mets: The Undulating Curve of Shifting Expectations.”  I just added this story because the picture was too funny not to have in the ol’ blog.

Video of the Day

When Comcast Morning Show Producer Glenn Clark alerted me this morning that the Orioles had re-acquired Joey Gathright, I immediately thought, “Man, he’s fast… and jumps over cars!”

Tweets of the Day

MLB.com Orioles Beat Writer, Brittany Ghiroli – Britt_Ghiroli

Orioles rotation confirmed: Millwood, Guthrie, Matusz, Bergy, Hernandez. #mlb #openingday

MLB.com Orioles Beat Writer, Brittany Ghiroli – Britt_Ghiroli

#Orioles Triple-A rotation will be Arrieta, Patton, Erbe, Simon and Tillman. Not bad.

The Nasty One, Nestor Aparicio – WNST

Nestor: Call me nuts, but methinks 35K #RedSox & #Yankees fans parading through #Baltimore 20X per anum is FAR worse than #NorthHarford crap

WNST Comcast Morning Show Host, Glenn Clark – WNST

GMC: #Orioles reportedly gave Joey #Gathright a minor league deal and #SpringTraining invite. Maybe they don’t own a calendar?

SI MLB Insider, John Heyman – SI_JonHeyman

despite ultra impressive spring, #reds phenom chapman is likely to start season in minors – that’s as of today, anyway.

New York Daily News Yankees Beat Writer, Mark Feinsand – BloggingBombers

First observation about Jason Heyward: he’s enormous. Looks like a 1980s slugger in the Eric Davis/Dave Winfield mode.

Yahoo! NBA Columnist, Adrian Wojnarowski – WojYahooNBA

Kings cut Joey Dorsey largely for clownish behavior, source says. They don’t consider him bad guy, but coaches feared his act rubbing off.

SI NBA Insider, Chris Minnix – ChrisMannixSI

Would Boston native and BC alum Bruce Pearl ever come to BC? @lukewinn

FoxSports.com Senior College Basketball Writer, Jeff Goodman – goodmanonfox

Boston College should make a run at Kansas State’s Frank Martin – has ties to the Boston area and could get players.

HoopsHype.com Editor, Jorge Sierra – hoopshype

Derrick Caracter, Cole Aldrich, Manny Harris and Ricky Martin all coming out.

USA Today Sports Business Reporter, Michael McCarthy – MMcCarthyUSAT

#HBO canceling #”Joe Buck Live” after only three episodes, according to statement from HBO Sports president #Ross Greenburg.

WNST NFL Correspodent, Chris Pika – BlogAndTackle

“ESPN’s Steve Lavin confirms that Steve Lavin will become head coach at St. John’s University …”

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King Shame

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5 W’s and 1 H

Posted on 12 July 2009 by Luke Jones

The first half is in the books, and the Orioles are right where most of us thought they would be—last place and out of contention.

While it’s certainly been frustrating watching the Orioles’ inconsistent play, the club has also provided some excitement with the greatest comeback in club history—against the Red Sox, no less—and the unveiling of rookies Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez, Nolan Reimold, and the much-hyped Matt Wieters.

The 40-48 record and last-place standing does not reflect the positive strides made in the first half of the season.  Yes, there’s still a long way to go before we’re talking about the Orioles contending with the three heavyweights in the AL East, but as more youngsters join the fold, it’s easy to see this organization is in much better shape than it’s been at any point since 1997.

Will it be enough to put the Orioles back in the playoffs in the next few years?

Only time—and the willingness to acquire missing pieces via trades and free agency—will answer that question.

It will be interesting to see how active general manager Andy MacPhail will be as the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline approaches.  Aubrey Huff, Luke Scott, Danys Baez, Jeremy Guthrie, and George Sherrill would all figure to have value for contending clubs.  However, MacPhail’s patient approach is not conducive to making deadline trades.

Of course, the club does not HAVE to trade any of these players—though they would be foolish to keep Baez around—but the rest of July figures to be a busy time for MacPhail and his cell phone.

Here are the 5 W’s and 1 H for the week:

1.  Who is your biggest surprise and biggest disappointment for the Orioles in the first half?

If I posed this question in mid-May, the easy choice for biggest surprise would have been center fielder Adam Jones.  The Orioles’ lone All-Star representative is having a good year (.303, 12 home runs, 47 runs batted in) but has really cooled off after a blistering start.

The most pleasant surprise—if not an absolute lifesaver—has to be rookie starting pitcher Brad Bergesen.  The 23-year-old righty has shown great poise in leading the rotation with six wins (tied with Jeremy Guthrie) and a 3.54 ERA.

Bergesen doesn’t dazzle you with a blazing fastball or a devastating breaking pitch, but his heavy sinker induces ground balls—crucial for pitching at Camden Yards—and his command is comparable to a grizzled veteran.  It will be interesting to see if he can maintain the same level of effectiveness as teams become more familiar with the rookie in the second half.

The biggest disappointment has to be Guthrie.  The Orioles’ Opening Day starter hasn’t been right since spring training when he pitched in the World Baseball Classic.  Whether he’s been completely healthy is debatable, but there’s no question that Guthrie simply hasn’t made quality pitches to finish off hitters.

Guthrie is 6-8 with a 5.35 ERA and has surrendered 20 home runs in 18 starts.  If he can right himself after the All-Star Break, he would be an attractive option for a contending club.  At the very least, Guthrie rebounding would help stabilize a starting rotation that has struggled mightily outside of Bergesen.

2.  What are your thoughts on UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar?

I’ll admit to not being much of an MMA fan, but I’ve followed Lesnar going back to his days as a professional wrestler in the WWE.

Lesnar dominated Frank Mir—the only man to beat Lesnar—to retain his title at UFC 100 on Saturday night.  Perhaps more interesting than the encounter itself was Lesnar’s behavior following the match, which included a refusal to shake Mir’s hand and some lewd comments.

Though Lesnar apologized for his conduct, Vince McMahon had to be smirking when he learned of his former star’s behavior.  Lesnar has cemented his status as the most hated man in the sport, but it’s a good thing for UFC.  Fans love to hate a champion more than they love to cheer a champion.  To steal a page from pro wrestling, people will tune in just to watch the heel lose.

3.  Where would you most like to watch the Ravens play a road game?

After watching the Ravens lose to the Steelers in Pittsburgh last January—and being pelted with an ice ball by a Pittsburgh moron fan as I left Heinz Field—I’ll pass on a return to western Pennsylvania for at least a couple years.

I’m excited to go on the WNST Fenway and Football Trip the first weekend in October to watch the Ravens take on the Patriots in Foxboro.  It should be a great time watching Ray Lewis and the defense matching up against Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and the New England offense.

The trip to Green Bay in December is very tempting, but a Monday night in DECEMBER at Lambeau Field feels frigid just thinking about it.

4.  When will we see another Orioles pitcher throw a no-hitter?

San Francisco Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez hurled the first no-hitter of the MLB season on Friday night, and it caused me to think about the long drought the Orioles have endured in that department.

Other than a combined no-hitter by Bob Milacki, Mark Williamson, Mike Flanagan, and Gregg Olson in 1991, the last Orioles’ no-hitter was pitched by Hall of Famer Jim Palmer in 1969.  In the last 15 years, Mike Mussina and Daniel Cabrera flirted with no-hitters a few times, but neither was able to complete it.

Pitching a no-hitter involves a great deal of luck, and it is by no means an indicator of a team’s—or pitcher’s—overall success.  Sanchez was struggling and had even been removed from the starting rotation before Giants pitcher Randy Johnson went on the disabled list.  You just never know.  If you need proof, take a look at Don Larsen.  The only man to pitch a perfect game in the World Series had a career 81-91 record.

The New York Mets have won two World Series titles in their 47-year history but have never enjoyed a no-hitter.

5.  Why can’t LeBron James and Nike have a sense of humor?

Seriously.  It’s great that James and Nike hold a camp for young players to rub elbows with the NBA star, but when it was reported that Nike confiscated all recordings of Xavier’s Jordan Crawford dunking over James in a pickup game, I couldn’t help but shake my head.

Would it have really been THAT damaging to James’ reputation to allow the video to pop up on YouTube?  I’m sure the clever minds at Nike could have concocted a clever ad around it.

For now, we’ll have to settle for this:
King Shame

6.  How much longer do the Orioles go with Jason Berken and Rich Hill with Chris Tillman and others waiting in the wings at Norfolk?

Though both pitched well over the weekend, it’s hard to imagine the club continuing to go with either pitcher in the starting rotation if they stay at their current pace.  Even with the solid work in their last starts, Hill still has a 6.92 ERA and Berken isn’t much better at 5.87.

Tillman started for the USA in today’s Futures Game and appears close to being ready for the big leagues.  Despite giving up two runs in his only inning of work in St. Louis, the 21-year-old righty has a 7-5 record, a 2.50 ERA, and 88 strikeouts at Triple-A Norfolk this season.

Unless the club decides to give Hill another chance in the rotation, Tillman could easily be in Baltimore by the end of July.  After Tillman, David Pauley (7-6, 3.67 ERA) would probably be the next arm in line, though he isn’t considered to be a long-term answer in the rotation.

*****

Shameless Plug Alert:  I’ll be joining Glenn Clark on the Comcast Morning Show on Monday morning from 6 to 10 a.m.

To be totally honest, I can’t remember the last time I was up that early, but it should be fun.

Have a good Monday.

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Tonight's Orioles - Yankees Lineups

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Tonight’s Orioles – Yankees Lineups

Posted on 08 May 2009 by Chris Bonetti

The Orioles will play host to the New York Yankees this weekend for a three-game series at Camden Yards with the action starting tonight at 7:05.  The O’s enter the set with a record of 12-17 and in last place in the A.L. East, but just a game and a half behind the reeling fourth-place Yankees, whom have lost their last five coming into Baltimore.  Both squads have struggled tremendously against their division opponents, the O’s are 5-10 in such games while the Yankees are just 3-10.

The O’s come in winners of three of their last four and fresh off a two-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins.  Lou Montanez played the role of hero in last night’s 5-4 win; he had a bottom of the eighth, two-out RBI single that drove in Melvin Mora for the game’s winning run, breaking a 4-4 tie.  Brad Bergesen gave the home team six productive innings from the mound and only gave up three earned while doing a nice job keeping his squad in the game.  However, he did allow 11 base hits and eventually took the no-decision.  The win went to the bullpen for the second consecutive night, this time it was Jim Johnson who threw a shutout 8th frame to register the W.  George Sherrill induced Justin Morneau to hit a soft fly ball to left field for the game’s final out, and in the process stranded Joe Mauer, the game’s would-be tying run at first base to preserve the victory.

Jeremy Guthrie, the O’s 30-year old ace, will take the ball against the Yankees for the second time this season in front of the home crowd.  On Opening Day, all the way back on April 6th, Guthrie gave up three runs over six innings and picked up the win.  Since, he’s been nothing better or worse than OK.  He’s got a 2-2 record with a 5.16 ERA, but the Orioles are just 2-4 in games he’s started.  Guthrie’s achilles heel this season has been surrendering the dreaded two-out rally.  In his last appearance five days ago in Toronto, Guthrie gave a great effort and threw a complete game, but the Jays hit three two-out doubles and two, two-out home runs in the eventual 4-3 Baltimore loss.

The pitching match-up tonight will be the exact same as it was on Opening Day as the Yankees will throw out their rather expensive yet so far underwhelming ace, C.C. Sabathia.  The 28-year old husky left-hander has yet to show the dominating form that earned him his record-breaking free agent contract this off-season; he’s just 1-3 with a 4.38 ERA and coming off a not-so-hot performance against the Angels, where he allowed five runs.  On their Opening Day win, the O’s knocked him out after only 4.1 innings and tagging him for six earned on eight hits.

Those going down to the ballpark tonight will certainly have their opportunity to boo their most hated Yankee players.  Not only will Mark Teixeira be back in town, but Alex Rodriguez will be making his season-debut this evening.  He missed the first month of the season with a torn labrum in his hip.

Tonight on the Mob Town Sports Beat at 6:45, Thyrl Nelson and I will be previewing the series with Roger Rubin of New York Daily News  and talking to him about the return of A-Roid back to baseball.

Dave Trembley and Joe Girardi chose nine players to represent their teams, those men are:

Orioles

Brian Roberts – 2B
Adam Jones – CF
Nick Markakis – RF
Melvin Mora – 3B
Aubrey Huff – 1B
Ty Wigginton – DH
Lou Montanez – LF
Chad Moeller – C
Cesar Izturis – SS

Yankees

Derek Jeter – SS
Johnny Damon – LF
Mark Teixeira – 1B
Alex Rodriguez – 3B
Hideki Matsui – DH
Robinson Cano – 2B
Nick Swisher – RF
Melky Cabrera – CF
Francisco Cervelli – C

On Opening Day, Mark Teixeira heard it from O's fans (Courtesy: Karl Merton Ferron)

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Boos for Teixeira and the ghost of Jeffrey Maier spark O’s to 10-5 win over Yankees

Posted on 06 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Well, whatever they did to keep away the New York fans and somehow get orange-colored sweaters into the seats worked. It was a major victory for the Orioles front office, keeping Opening Day from being ruined by a sea of pinstripers.

Then, of course, the outcome, a 10-5 win over the Yankees, didn’t suck either. And the WAY they won, right? A stolen home run with all of the imagery of Jeffrey Maier. They chased the Yankees big-money starter C.C. Sabathia in the fifth inning. The bullpen folded just to the brink of collapse but the offense led the way late in the game. It was a blueprint for how they’re going to win this year (if they’re going to win). Get a solid start. Give way to the bullpen. Hit the ball. Don’t kick the ball around. And take their chances.

No reason to do play-by-play here – I’m assuming you watched the game. Doesn’t everyone watch Opening Day? But the most compelling part of today’s game was the ability to stay into the game and it was a good dramatic start to the season and it gave Orioles fans everywhere some pride, a nice beatdown of the Yankees and Mark Teixeira on Opening Day.

My favorite memory will undoubtedly be the Teixeira boo birds. It was a classic “Welcome Home” for Tex, who said he didn’t expect anything like what he saw from his “neighbors” today.

Every time Mark Teixeira came to the plate, the crowd killed him. It was perhaps the most brutal “welcome” for a player in Oriole Park history. I don’t ever remember a specific player getting hammered quite so lustily by the crowd.

Here’s a couple of close ones, this side of John Elway, Denver, circa 1983: the night Pedro Martinez got the “whose your daddy” chant for the Opener in 2004, the night in 2004 when we brought 2,000 fans into the right field bleachers to razz Vladimir Guerrero (I think he had three hits and 6 RBIs that night) after he signed with the Angels, maybe Bill Hasselback after the fight, certainly Cito Gaston anytime after the 1993 All-Star Game. Sammy Sosa certainly got the great signs and scorn as a Cubbie when he came in town after getting popped with the “Scarlet S.”

But the Teixeira raspberries were right up there on Opening Day. It was well done by the disgruntled Orioles fans, even if you and I probably would’ve done the same thing and signed with the Yankees given the circumstances and the money involved and the notion of being an Oriole and working here with a perennial doormat team. But the Mt. St. Joe star got the ultimate “Baltimore cheer” at the ballpark today. Good for the fans!

Today’s win was a recipe for 2009 success. Get a decent starting effort – let’s say six innings or more. Be opportunistic on offense, even when you aren’t hitting home runs. Today, the Orioles strung together hits and walks and aggressive baserunning (did you see that Ty Wigginton tag on a fly ball to Johnny Damon in left field?) to beat the highest-priced team money can buy. Oh, and a few big late hits from Cesar Izturis and Aubrey Huff sealed the fate of the 0-1 Yankees.

They’ll need more efforts like today’s over the course of a long 162-game season. They outplayed the Yankees today, even without the help from that kid in left field who will be 2009’s Jeffrey Maier.

My favorite gaffes, events or notable random notes:

Jim Hunter, direct quote: “We’ve already experienced a lifetime of great memories here in this grand ballpark at Camden Yards.”

We have?

Speaking of Hunter, his predecessor was twice caught on camera by MASN, which must’ve flipped out the upper management.

First, Jon Miller was caught in the shot with Joe Angel and Fred Manfra, canoodling with his old chums before taking the ESPN assignment. Then, Miller was with Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer the instant the camera was on them like 60 seconds later. It was crazy and Miller twice went scrambling out of the shot so he didn’t piss anyone off. We all know he should’ve never left to begin with…

Early in the game, when Teixeira was getting mercilessly booed, the MASN HD cameras panned to a women who was nursing a Bud Light and clearly mouthing the words: “a—–hole”…kinda funny!

The “Yankees Suck” cheers early in the game were a nice sound to hear emanating from Camden Yards…

Is it just me or does Dave Trembley look like William Shatner in those goofy MASN commercials where he’s scolding “the media” with his wife as the audience in his living room?

So much to talk about. And it’s just the beginning. A great start to what we all hope is an interesting season for the Orioles.

And the best part? The return of “Oriole Pride” at least for a day. The crowd was eaily 80 percent orange, a major upset.

At least tonight Orioles fans go to bed in sole possession of first place in the AL East.

Let’s see what Koji Uehara can bring on Wednesday.

You really couldn’t ask for much more on Opening Day.

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Blog & Tackle: Happy Opening Day

Posted on 06 April 2009 by Chris Pika

It’s Opening Day for the Orioles and major-league baseball today, not to be confused with Opening Night, the made-for-TV event that gets an ESPN2 slot behind the Women’s Final Four on the big channel.

We all have our predictions on how the season with go for the Orioles (mine is 75 wins), but today is a day to remember how much enjoyment the game brings to us each spring when the records are 0-0, and how much we all look forward to the start of Ravens training camp by mid-June once the record is well south of .500.

Maybe the Orioles can do what the Ravens did a year ago — exceed expectations and make a run to the playoffs. But the Birds don’t have Joe Flacco in the starting rotation, Orioles skipper Dave Trembley will never be mistaken for John Harbaugh and Ray Lewis won’t be doing his pregame dance down the orange carpet.

Still it’s nice to see the white home jerseys, the orange and black bunting around the park, and fellow Mt. St. Joe grad Mark Teixeira in the lineup. Unfortunately for Birds fans, he’ll be doing his damage in a Yankee cap, instead of an Oriole one. I’m sure Mark will feel at home with the cheers of thousands of Yankee fans who will invade Camden Yards for the series — since they can’t afford nosebleed tickets in the new Yankee Stadium.

Yes, it’s Opening Day with great memories of trips to the ballpark with family and friends watching the stars of today and tomorrow and the hopes of posteseason games in October. Regardless of the reality that the 2009 season brings to the Orioles, we can all celebrate those timeless traditions for one day before getting back to wondering who the Ravens will draft in the first round.

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Drinking the orange Kool Aid at Fan Fest

Posted on 04 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

There are two types of Orioles fans left in the Baltimore area and they are distinct groups:

Those who drink the Kool Aid…

And those, like me, who have examined the big picture of what’s happened to this franchise over the past 13 years and are pretty angry about its impact on our fun, our lives and the community.

With Opening Day looming, everyone who has EVER loved baseball perks up and pay attention. Even if it’s only to notice: “Hey, its’ Opening Day!” Most people in Baltimore realize this team won’t contend but if you love baseball you’ll at least open one eye on Monday afternoon to catch the score. I’d venture to say that 75% of the city will wake up Tuesday morning at the office and know whether the Orioles won. (That number used to be more like 98% in 1998!)

Those who unconditionally still drink the orange Kool Air or “want” to drink the Kool Aid probably went down to Fan Fast today at Camden Yards. I opted to not give Mr. Angelos any more money that he won’t spend to get the team a quality spring training facility.

Instead, I’m sitting here watching the Fan Fest festivities on MASN HD television and getting some of my WNST “CEO work” done and thinking about baseball season and how it’s going to go for the Orioles and Matt Wieters and these young players and what inevitable drama will unfold.

The only real “punishment” I’m getting for not having a press pass is being “banned” from knowing the Orioles players, which is almost ludicrous because as you saw last week, Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Roberts were happy to chat with me at the World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium. Charley Eckman would’ve called them “right guys” and they are decent, solid dudes. (As an aside, I also exchanged pleasantries with Davey Johnson, which is always fun.)

As a media member – well, at least I was for about 23 years until I was banned – I got to know so many of the players and what kinda guys they are. So I guess that’s my “price to pay” — I don’t get to report to you what good people the Orioles have on their team this year. Or not…

While it looked a tad bit chilly and windy at Camden Yards, the event was a “made for TV” informercial/season preview with interviews between co-workers Jim Hunter, Jim Palmer and the like of Andy McPhail, Aubrey Huff, Adam Jones, Dennis Sarfate and Ryan Freel.

They did a nice job with “get to know you” chats with these players and  I especially like that I can see Jim Palmer in high def. For a well-compensated network to finally “discover” HD in 2009 tells you all you need to know about the vision people at MASN.

But I digress…

Here are a few observations, because my seat is the same as yours at this point, which is its own unique point of view watching Jim Hunter and Amber Theoharis and others interview their co-workers in black hats that say “O’s”.

I honestly didn’t know what Ty Wigginton or Koji Uehara looked like until today. Ditto Freel, who really seemed to be a pleasant “aw, shucks” kinda guy. He reminded me of Bob Backlund back in the late 1970’s when he was a baby face.

Freel freely thanked the fans several times and seemed genuine. (As an aside, why doesn’t the owner of the team ever do that? Just come on the TV and say “thanks” on his own network that he’s making over $100 million this year on?)

Andy McPhail did a stand up with Jim Hunter and said all of the right things. He made it clear he expected a big improvement in Adam Jones. He also talked a lot about character and what kind of players — “gamers, blue collars guys, character guys” — he wants on the team. Fair enough.

I like hearing that the Orioles want good people in their organization. From what I know of the 2009 Orioles, they’re pretty good guys and they clearly dislike Angelos’ management and ownership style as much as the rest of us. (Again, this is one of the reasons the Orioles banning legitimate media isn’t a good thing for the fans. The fans never get to know the truth unless, like yesterday in The Sun, they speak out.)

I’ve known Gregg Zaun for 17 years. I’ve cheered – VERY hard – for Zaun for 17 years through his days in Kansas City, Florida, Toronto and Houston. He’s a great person and loves Baltimore and the Orioles. That’s an upgrade there no matter how you look at it and he’ll keep the seat plenty warm for Matt Wieters, whenever the Orioles decide to promote him to the bigs.

Even today on TV, a couple of the young players talked about what a cool guy Zaun is for them to be around and how he tells great stories (which he does!)

I must say that I didn’t envy Buck Martinez’s press pass today, interviewing his co-worker, Japanese pitcher Koji Uehara, whose only word in English was “Thank you!”

Uehara had an interpreter and the answer to the first question regarding Camden Yards was this: “Right field is pretty shallow.” That was the first of several laughs.

Honestly, it was like I needed an interpreter for his interpreter. It was borderline hilarious. It reminded me of my four days in Tokyo where communication was definitely at a premium.

I don’t care how much Uehara speaks. The Orioles need him to be a rock star if they’re going to win 75 games. But he seemed pleasant enough and thrilled to be at Camden Yards in a big-league uniform. Good enough for me.

If the only “communication” I’m going to have with the players is to see their co-workers ask them questions I might as well think they’re nice guys. Even if they’re complete turds, at least this won’t spoil it for me.

I’m ready for Opening Day. I’m ready to get to Hooters and have a Bud Light. I’m ready for baseball.

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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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Orioles pitching woes continue: Hill won’t be in rotation

Posted on 22 March 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz told the media this morning that LHP Rich Hill will not begin the season in the starting rotation due to lack of work. Hill threw 25 batting practice pitches earlier today but time is running short for the team to find five major-league worthy starters to begin the season as the Yankees come to Camden Yards in just two weeks.

Read more here…

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Tuesday Morning's Crab Cakes and Light Beer

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Tuesday Morning’s Crab Cakes and Light Beer

Posted on 24 February 2009 by Chris Bonetti

The Swinging Bunt

The O’s vs. the Italians?  That’s right… first game of Spring Training… against the WBC Italian team… with the O’s starting Justin Christian, Donnie Murphy, Scott Moore, Oscar Salazar, Craig Brazell, Lou Montanez, Nolan Reimold, and Justin Turner… yeeeeah.  If Wieters and Brian Matusz weren’t going to be the battery, this could be the least anticipated 9 innings of baseball in the history of the world.

The A.L. East best division ever?  Sports Illustrated and Inside Baseball’s Ted Keith offers his five bold predictions for the ’09 season.  The last of his calls is that “The A.L. East will have the best division race ever.”  It’s a great piece, in total – 495 thrilling words about how teams will be playing big-series after big-series, jockeying for position all summer long before an exciting September race.  Unfortunately for O’s fans, the home-team is not even mentioned one time throughout the entire entry!  But hey, don’t worry Baltimore fans… Toronto didn’t get a line either.

Ex-O Benson signs with Texas.  Kris Benson has inked a minor league contract with the Rangers.  Quick bio here, the right-hander is now 34 and is coming off a minor league year in the Phillies organization.  The last full season he played was here in Baltimore in ’06 when he went 11-12 with a 4.82 ERA.  Back in 1996 Benson was made the #1 overall selection by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the MLB First Year Player Draft.  He is also married, to wife Anna, shown below… she craves attention… clearly:

Scanning the Blogosphere

Ravens Insider offers a “Cautionary tale on Ravens’ Ray Lewis.”

SI’s Truth and Rumors says both the New York Giants and Jets will both be chasing Ravens FA LB Bart Scott once the free agent signing period begins.

The Schmuck Stops Here has the latest from O’s Spring Training on LF Felix Pie, pitching coach Rick Kranitz.

Fanhouse has some quotes from Cal on the Steroid Era in baseball.

Bugs and Cranks says if everyone played an even schedule in MLB, the O’s would have the 15th best record.

Connolly’s Corner Sports Bar asks, “Are the next few weeks make or break for Gary Williams?” And also, “Who will surprise in Orioles’ camp?”

Terrapins Insider: “Vasquez Named ACC Player of the Week.”

Tracking the Terps has “Notes leading up to Duke,” more on the Carolina game, and how letting Greivis be Greivis has worked out pretty well for Maryland.

ESPN’s Bracketology has Maryland as the last team making the tournament giving them a #12 seed and taking on Washington.

The Big Lead says Darrius Heyward-Bey was the most impressive prospect at the NFL Combine.

D.C. Sports Blog has comments from NBC’s Mike Mulberry about how much he loves the Great 8.

Fanhouse’s Kevin Blackistone says, “No Star Shines like Alexander the Great.”

Face Off tells us after registering 4 goals and an assists in each of Loyola first two games, Greyhounds attackman Collin Finnerty has been honored.

Rumors and Rants has something Hoya hating Terps fans might like to see, “Georgetown Can Pack its Bags for the NIT.”

CMS Video of the Day

Here’s a video from three dudes from Baltimore performing their ballad, “Boo Teixeira (We’re gonna boo Teixeira) song.”

Learn it.  Love it.  Sing it.  March 6.  Opening Day.

Also, if you haven’t seen Nets G Devin Harris’ game winning acrobatic half court prayer to beat Philly from last night, you definitely have to check it out.

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