Tag Archive | "playoffs"

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Orioles Feeling the Burden of Expectations

Posted on 15 April 2013 by Thyrl Nelson


It was a disappointing weekend in the Bronx for the Orioles to say the least. They dropped 2 of 3 games to a Yankees team that’s about as bad and undermanned as we can ever expect a Yankees team to be. Without Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, or even Jeter’s backup Eduardo Nunez the Orioles came up on the short end of the stick in 2 of 3 games. They lost on Friday night when Adam Jones lost track of a ball that once again ignited the “hot dog” conversation, and proved themselves not quite ready for primetime on Sunday when they failed again to get Wei-Yin Chen any kind of run support.


The good news is that it’s still early, and way too soon to overreact. It’s also a reminder that last year, devoid of any real expectations but encouraged nonetheless by a hot start, the O’s came crashing back to Earth at the hands of the Yankees in their first trip of the season to the Bronx.

The bad news is, that last year is over, and likely (in fact hopefully for Orioles fans) will never be duplicated. Because of the absence of any real expectations amongst Orioles fans last year, the whole season was seen through the scope of “I’m just happy to be here”, and “I just can’t believe what this team continues to do”. It would take a heck of a lot more losing, over a heck of a lot more years before Orioles fans will again happily embrace the lovable underdogs mentality that served as a constant calming influence throughout last season’s highs and lows.

While we are just 12 games into the season and while it is still anyone’s guess what these Orioles will do in 2013, our overreactions are natural, and to be expected for lots of reasons. Foremost amongst them is the lack of activity by the team this off-season. From the failure to re-sign Mark Reynolds and Joe Saunders, to the farcical “pursuits” of Josh Hamilton and Nick Swisher among others, there seemed to be an underlying belief by the Orioles’ faithful that they wouldn’t simply sit on their hands. This team had come too far too fast, and coincidentally the division as a whole seemed to be coming down to meet them. Surely the AL East wouldn’t remain as winnable as it seems right now for very long; and surely the O’s wouldn’t deprive their long-suffering fan base an opportunity to strike while the iron was hot.

That however is exactly what it seems that they’ve done. The depth that the Orioles were counting on to make up for their lack of activity has already taken a major (but not at all surprising) hit due to injuries. The designated hitter position has accounted for less production than most National League teams have gotten from their pitchers’ bats, and all the while the names that most fans spent the off-season discussing, Mark Reynolds, Michael Morse, Justin Upton, Bill Butler etc. are putting up numbers that would surely look useful to a team that seems to be just a hit or two away from winning night after night.

So far the Orioles have played a brand of baseball that we’d have been thrilled with last season. In fact they’ve played almost exactly the same brand of baseball that we were thrilled with last season. But this year, we wanted more. This year we expected more. This year we deserved more. But what we’ve gotten instead is the same old philosophical approach.

The O’s are willing to offer players just enough money to get a headline or two, but not enough to actually sign one. The Orioles are willing to offer just enough via trade to feign interest in a player, but not enough to land one, especially not one who’s making real money already. And the fans are left to fight amongst themselves; to debate whether every single trade proposal would have required Dylan Bundy or Kevin Gausman as the chips, or whether Mark Reynolds was worth $6 million or Nick Swisher a first-round pick. It’s divide and conquer marketing at its best, and the Orioles have it down to a science. And once again the forces running the Orioles seem determined to win every battle except the ones on the field.

Ahhh…the burden of high expectations.


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Minnesota Twins v Baltimore Orioles

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Orioles Are Out of the Gate

Posted on 09 April 2013 by Tom Federline

Or are they out, AT the gate? Nah, just a little bumpy beginning. Adam Jones had a t-shirt made for all his teammates…..”to be continued”. Cool shirt, they need to market that. Can last season be continued? How about if we settle for somewhere around……….just try and keep up the winning atmosphere and add a few new surprises. Last year, was simply that…..last year. A story of the unexpected, renewed baseball in Baltimore and the underdog making good. Well, the Orioles aren’t going to be underdogs this year and they certainly will not be sneaking up on anybody. It’s time to show up, the ground work has been laid, it’s time to build up.

Rough first week, cool, but rough. The “Boys are Back in Town” – Thin Lizzy. Joe Angel and Fred Manfra are on the radio, people are wearing orange, it is 80 degrees, there is a spring in our step annnnnd the Orioles are 3 – 4. Augh, welcome to 162 game season. Losing the last 2 at home, then losing at Boston has not helped. I guess it was asking a little to much, for the Orioles to spoil “the arrogant ones”, home opener on Monday, but it sure was wishful thinking. It was nice to hear Oriole cheers in Fenway. Come on Birds, come on Buck-Buck, settle down and just play baseball.

First week positives: 1. It’s baseball season. 2. It’s finally Spring. 3. Opening Day at Camden Yards.  4. Earl Weaver dedication of “First Pitch.” 5. Chris Davis, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Matt Weiters, JJ Hardy, Manny Macahado (Man-ny, Man-ny, Man-ny! Get used to that one, gang). 6. Pitching potential. 7. Had opportunities with runners-in-scoring position.  8. First Orioles moment for 2013 DVD – Chris Davis’ Grand Slam and the 130 decibel eruption at Camden Yards!

First week negatives: 1. Gary Thorne “In our side” voice. 2. “The Shift” – it cost the Birds versus the Twins in the second game. 3. Is it baseball or is it slow pitch softball? 4. Buck-Buck over-managing. 5. Not taking advantage with runners-in-scoring position. 6. Brian Roberts, Nolan Reimold out ……again.7. Pitching melt downs (it’s early) 8. 3 wins – 4 loses, reality check.

Injuries – thought Roberts was going to make it through April and was hoping until All-Star break – didn’t happen. Just make him like their 20th coach in the dugout. The number of coaches allowed in baseball is almost getting as ridiculous as it is in football. Nolan Reimold, see you later or start taking steroids again. Your body is and will remain broken down. I am a fan of both, but it looks like the PED’s have taken their toll. There is one injury that cannot happen………..and you all know who it is. Steve Pearce, whoops – no, it would be that guy behind the plate, Weiters. No Weiters = No playoffs.

155 games remaining. The Birds have a chance. I say that every year. But really, for the first time in many a year, the light at the end of the tunnel is a little brighter. Heck , for the first time in many a year, there actually appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Ok Adam Jones, I have the orange Kool-aid out, I have the radio playing with the TV muted, I am ready for the “To be continued….” saga. The nucleus is tight. They had a taste of winning. There is motivation. There is talent down on the farm. Buckle yourself in – it’s gonna be a wild ride. Let’s GO O’s, Let’s GO O’s!




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Posted on 14 March 2013 by Dwayne Showalter

I still haven’t been able to stop replaying the events of February 3rd on my DVR.  I’m still flipping through the newspapers and magazines that flew off shelves in the subsequent days.  When my team, the Baltimore Ravens, wins the Super Bowl I’m going to live with it for a while and savor it…certainly for more than a month.

Hell, I milked Super Bowl XXXV for twelve years.  I still have tremendous memories of the 2000 championship.  That’s the beauty of winning a championship in sports.  It’s something no one can take away.  You hear the players say that a lot.  It’s the same for us fans.  So with the two titles in mind (one fresh and one fairly distant) let’s compare some facets of the two.

Game Site:  XXXV Tampa, XLVII New Orleans.  I can’t really compare the two cities per se because I have been to neither.  I hear good things about both.  As for the venues, I’ve never been one much for domes or artificial turf.  Give me grass stains and a slight breeze any day.  Working lights are preferable too.  Advantage:  XXXV (1-0)

Regular Season:  XXXV 12-4 Wild Card winner in the AFC Central, XLVII 10-6 AFC North Division Champs.  In 2000, the Ravens darted to a 5-1 record before losing three straight and never lost again.  They went 5 games without a TD in October as well.  But they had one of the most dominating defenses of all time.  This season, Baltimore shot out to a 9-2 record against a tough schedule before again losing three straight games.  After beating the Giants in week 16 and clinching the division, they lost a meaningless game in Cincinnati.  It was somewhat of an anti-climactic end to a season that started on all cylinders.  Advantage: XXXV (2-0)

Uniforms:  XXXV all white, XVLII white jersey blank pants.  I have always liked the classic all-white look for an NFL team.  And some grass stains never hurt.  The last few years though, the white top, black pants combo has grown on me.  If there is one team in the NFL that should wear a lot of black it’s the Ravens.  Plus the old white socks with purple and black stripes killed the look in 2000.  Advantage: XLVII (1-2)

Playoff run:  XXXV Denver, at Tennessee, at Oakland.  XVLII Indianapolis, at Denver, at New England.  In 2000, the playoffs came to Baltimore for the first time since 1977.  It was a huge deal and solid performance in beating Denver.  Winning in Tennessee was a blood bath between the NFLs two best teams.  Oakland was almost an afterthought.   This year’s games included Ray’s Last Dance, the Mile High Miracle and the exorcism of the demons (i.e. a certain WR and kicker) in New England.  Advantage:  XLVII (2-2)

Radio announcers:  XXXV  Scott Garceau and Tom Matte.  XLVII  Gerry Sandusky, Stan White and Qadry Ismael.  Garceau was smooth and clean in my book.  He rarely made mistakes and had a great grasp of the game’s intricacies.  Matte was the stereotypical homer but he added the right amount of insight if a bit bumbling at times.  Sandusky has certainly made his mark with “Touchdowwwwwwn Ravens” and “The hay is in the barn!”  but I think the trio can miss things that, to me, seem obvious.  Plus, I don’t see where the two man analyst combo works that well on the radio.  Advantage:  XXXV (3-2)

TV Crew.  XXXV CBS Gumble and Simms, XLVII CBS Nantz and Simms.  I think both play-by-play guys did admirable jobs.  Simms is solid but pulls out the “Golly Card” or the “Shucks Card” a bit too much.  I have major beef with the Gumble/Simms pairing though.  When Jamal Lewis scored a TD late in XXXV, the play was reviewed at the request of the Giants.  If you remember, he fumbled the ball forward as he crossed the plain.  It was debatable whether he got in or not.  Not debatable was the fact that Qadry Ismael scooped up the ball in the end zone.  It was going to be a TD either way.  No one ever mentioned that.  To this day, I haven’t heard anyone address that.  But that oversight could be offset by Simms’ constant gushing over Colin Kaepernick this year.  Advantage:  Push

Halftime Show:  XXXV Britney Spears and guests, XLVII Beyonce and guests.  I must admit, I don’t really watch the halftime show but Britney in her heyday was no slouch.  But they had to junk her up with Aerosmith and NSync for some reason.  At least they let Beyonce have the stage mostly to herself.  Advantage: XVLII (3-3-1)

Pregame intros:  XXXV The Squirrel, XVLVII team unity.  Ray Lewis busted out “the squirrel dance” for the whole world in 2000.  This year, the Ravens came out together as one (as did the Niners) in what I would call a little cliché and a downright buzz kill.  The intros to me were always kind of cool.  Advantage: XXXV (4-3-1)

The game itself:  XXXV Baltimore 34, NYGiants 7.  XVLII Baltimore 34, San Fran 31.  From a nerves standpoint, XXXV was a relative breeze.  Up 10-0 at half, a 17-0 lead was cut into late in the 3rd only when the Giants scored on the kickoff after which, Jermaine Lewis returned the favor and restored order.  The rest of the game was a celebration.  This season’s game was certainly enjoyed more by the rest of the country.  Watching teams hang onto big early leads isn’t my strong suit though.  We could debate the better long TD pass (Stokely or Jones) or kickoff return (Lewis or Jones).  The better offensive performance came this year.  The better defensive show was in 2000.  The end results were equally fantastic however.  Advantage: Push

Emotional Attachment:  I don’t think there is much doubt that the city is more emotionally attached to the Ravens now than in 2000.  The first championship team still had guys that were signed by the Cleveland Browns and were only five years removed from that ugly divorce.  It’s faded from memories now.  The 2012 bunch had two certain hall of fame players that had been in Baltimore their whole careers.  The Super Bowl XLVII Champs had been so close before, twice losing the AFC Title game.  Though there is always something special about your first time, there is a lot to be said for that long, invested relationship.  Advantage: XLVII. (4-4-2)

So in my scientific break down, it’s a push!  As it should be.  Or maybe the better Super Bowl Champ hat here and here should break the tie?  That’s a tough one for me to call too.   I guess we can wait a few months and use Better Looking Ring !  That’s a lot more fun than already worrying about who will or won’t be here in September.

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Flacco hoisting trophy

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Posted on 12 February 2013 by Tom Federline

It has been a week. What just happened Baltimore? I’ll tell you what happened, the Baltimore Ravens losers of their last 4 out of 5 regular season games put on an inspirational run to win the NFL Lombardi Trophy. Is it time to get off the ride? Heck no, the city and surrounding area actually has claim to another National championship in a major sport. It has been 12 years and you don’t know when it will happen again – no you don’t get off the ride. Now, does the roller coaster level out? I sure hope so. That was one heckuva January run. I am not a fan of the roller coaster, not at this stage of the game. I’m to old, my heart can’t take it. Now, back in the day…………….different story, maybe that’s why my heart and blood pressure tells me,” cool out middle aged guy – just sit back and let the chips fall where they may.” Yeah right – not happenin’.

The Baltimore football Ravens took their fans on a ride of a lifetime. All the while catching the eye of sports fans around the country. Underdogs over-achieving, was story line enough. Then add on the Ray Lewis’ retirement. Then add on Ray-Rays religious dramatizations (and the Saturday Night Live skit http://www.myspace.com/video/saturday-night-live/weekend-update-ray-lewis/109174459 ). You go Keenan Thompson. Then to top it off, add on the sibling rivalry of the Harbaugh Brothers coaching against each other in the Super Bowl. “O” and don’t forget the Denver Classic and the dis-mantling of pretty boy Brady and his troll coach Bill Belichek.

The run, I mean the ride. I was lucky enough to be offered a ticket to the Colt game. The Ravens were not going to lose that game. Ray-Ray had announced his retirement during the week and it was going to be his last home game – the Ravens were not losing that game. Las Vegas money, Steve Bisciotti’s money and the NFL’s money was not going to end Ray-Rays run on that game. It was not going to be his last dance. It was an ugly game but they won. Denver game – wow, then wow, then wow again. Definitely one of the top 3 Ravens games of all time. New England game – sweet payback and no retirement party for Ray. San Francisco in New Orleans – hold the phone.

The ride had a couple more heart stoppers left in it. Heck at one point, it even felt like somebody had turned off the lights and play had to be stopped. Ravens up 28 – 6, the tide was a crestin’, 3rd and 14 for the bad guys and “Boom, Boom, Out Go the Lights – Pat Travers Band. Ok gang, I actually have a little experience with this one – Rule #1, Electrical Engineering for Stadiums 101 – “You don’t lose power to the venue – unless there is a major city grid outage.” Two separate hot feeds to the venue with transfer and generator back-up for life safety. I do not know the history or infrastructure of the Super(?)dome, but somebody screwed up big time. Or a 49er’s fan, got access to the Substation or the Service Level and knew what switch to hit.

It almost changed the outcome of the game. I think the astronauts in the space station orbiting the earth could feel the tension emanating into the atmosphere directly above the east coast mid-atlantic region. It was not a pleasant evening there for about 1-1/2 hours there during the 3rd and 4th quarters, now was it. Still on the roller coaster, still hanging on, still hoping for a safe, happy ending. The power outage changed the momentum of the game. I don’t care what Roger Goodell said, I don’t care what Steve Bisciotti said, I don’t care what the Superdome Facility guys said, the power outage changed the game, but not the outcome. The Superdome and city of New Orleans should not host another Super Bowl until a new properly designed facility is in it’s place. The power outage was a nice final hairpin turn on the ride – it did not help the blood pressure.

Ravens Won.

Ravens Won.

A new generation now knows what it feels like for a local sports franchise to win a National Championship. The city needed it. The State of Maryland and surrounding area needed it. The Baltimore Ravens needed it and Ray Lewis deserved it. You Go Ravens!

Pitchers and cathers reported to Spring Training. Are we ready for another ride? Your darn right we are. GO O’s and Thank You – Ravens. Baltimore Sports Pride is front and center.




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Winning Isn’t Everything or the Only Thing

Posted on 24 January 2013 by Thyrl Nelson

When you hear the now famous quote “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”, you probably think of Vince Lombardi and you probably think of football.

While it seems the quote is most widely attributed to Lombardi, various sources suggest that it was UCLA football coach Red Sanders who first uttered the phrase in 1950, 9 years before Lombardi made it famous. So if you thought of it as a football saying you were right. If you thought of it though as a “Lombardi-ism” you were wrong.


Interestingly enough 50+ years of football history seem to suggest that when Sanders said it to his UCLA football team, given the razor thin margin for error afforded in college football, he was right; but when Lombardi spoke those same words to his 1959 Packers he was basically wrong.


As the Ravens prepare for the Super Bowl in New Orleans, an opportunity so rare and special that it currently makes the Ravens and 49ers and their respective fan bases the envy of the pro football world, there are many Ravens fans likely wondering how this magical (so far) season managed to unfold around them and how they took so little time to appreciate and enjoy it as it did.


There are literally decades worth of evidence to suggest that being the best regular season team has little or nothing to do with Super Bowl success, yet somehow football fans allow themselves, each and every year, to forget all of that history and instead hold their teams to some unrealistic ideal suggesting that championship teams are supposed to look like champions at every turn of the schedule.


When it comes to NFL football, winning isn’t everything, the only thing or at times even the most important thing to establishing a championship foundation.


Obviously teams have to win enough regular season games to earn a spot in the post season, and the more wins they can manage the more favorable they can make their post season circumstances by earning byes and/or home field advantages. Still, when the playoffs come around, and push comes to shove, home games and even bye weeks take a back seat to the experiences that teams have collected along their 16 game journey.


The 16 game season is about a lot of things, and there’s no true “magical” formula for playoff success, but history has proven that collecting experiences is at least as important as collecting wins; building confidence in the face of adversity is perhaps more important than building a resume that might help you avoid it. The Ravens stand as living proof of that, as do the Giants before them and Packers before them.


Throughout the season few teams consistently handled their business as well as the Falcons and Texans. Along the way to piling up those wins, they seemingly failed to realize that teams could handle them at their best. Now they prepare to watch as neither is in play for the championship game. The Denver Broncos piled up 11 consecutive wins to finish out the season but along the way seemingly forgot how to respond when faced with the potential of losing.


When you get to the playoffs, adversity is the expectation, the ability to steal wins away when the chips are down is the requirement; and it seems that the teams best prepared to deal with those circumstances are the ones who lived with them and thrived under them regularly during the regular season. The Ravens have been one of those teams.


We could see it as a lesson learned, but it’s one that most will forget again when next October rolls around and the national media is touting the dominance of the current powerhouse of the season’s first 6 or 8 games. And it’s likely a lesson we’ll have to learn and forget all over again the following season, and the one after that and the one after that.


When it comes to NFL football, winning is neither everything nor the only thing, it’s just a thing. It’s just one of many experiences that teams will have to amass and learn from if they hope to be successful in the post season. And losing by default isn’t always so bad either as long as it doesn’t happen too often. It’s easier to learn from failures than from successes and as we’re seeing again this year, those lessons can have real benefits when the playoffs come around, and when winning really does become the only thing.



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Did Not See This Coming

Posted on 22 January 2013 by Tom Federline

The Baltimore Ravens are going to the Super Bowl! Happy New Year? Surprised? Divine Intervention (according to Ray Lewis)? Are you kiddin’ me? Yes, Yes, Possibly and No. How about if we just call it “pleasantly unexpected?” Or maybe ……the team is simply on a roll, playing inspired football. Whatever it is, it has Baltimore and its fans energized. The Ravens are headed to New Orleans to play in the NFL championship game.

I had written the Ravens off after the Houston Texans blow out game on October 21st. Ray-Ray was gone, Camera Cameron was still at the helm, defense was porous and they had just come off “gift wins” against the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowgirls. Anyone out there claiming, “I knew they were going to make it to the Super Bowl”, is either lying or ignorant to the game of football. Bye week  – then handily beat the Browns and Raiders. They receive 2 more “gift wins” at Steelers and at Chargers. Then they close it out with 4 of 5 losses. Oh yeah, the Ravens were by far – the peoples choice to head to the promised land. Crash and burn – I thought. Thanks to sub-par efforts by the rest of the division – the Ravens were handed the division title and slipped into the playoffs.

A few significant events happened along the way, though. 1. Camera Cameron was fired – “They have a chance!” 2. Ray-Ray was coming back for the playoffs -“They have a chance!” 3. Ray-Ray announces retirement – “They have motivation!” Rut-row rest of NFL, look out – it’s a brand new ballgame. Indy Irsays into town for Wildcard game – Ray Lewis’ last home game – yeah right, Irsays – you were leaving Baltimore with a win on that one ……..don’t think so. Travel to Mile High against another nemesis, Peyton Manning – A Ravens Classic game surfaces with a double overtime victory. Finally they travel to the dreaded Northeast against a whiner – result is a second half beat down – Ravens are off to the Super Bowl. Yeah, buddy.

None of those circumstances were on my radar. You can wish, you can hope, you can dream. But when such positive results endure such an unexpected series of events – it is just darn good for the soul. Baltimore is back on the map. The Orioles with their magic season and now the Ravens with their unexpected run of success. Win or lose, it’s been a nice past two sports seasons here in Charm City.

How about Rays retirement party being delayed 2 weeks? Hey Boston, MA – how was your season ending party Sunday evening? Better yet, how was your Monday? Come February 3rd though, Super Bowl Sunday will be Ray Lewis’, “Last Dance” – Donna Summer. In my book, Ray Lewis is one of the top 3 linebackers of all-time (if not #1). He is also the greatest team motivator and leader, I have seen in my lifetime. From the first game against Oakland at Memorial Stadium up until this past Sunday, Baltimore Raven and football fans all over, have been blessed with the opportunity to witness a legend in the making. Ray Lewis is taking/willing this team to the Promised Land.

In my point of view, he is a little over the top with his preaching, praying and quoting of bible verses. He is a passionate man on a mission to close out his football legacy………….whatever works Ray………you play it out. Carry John Horribaugh and your teammates as far as you can. Let them ride your coat tails Ray-Ray. Horribaugh has been on them the whole time. One more game, one more ride, one last dance.

And to think this season started out with “Replacement Refs”. GO RAVENS!




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walk off 04-29

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Orioles Best Season Since……..Why Not

Posted on 01 January 2013 by Tom Federline

It’s that time of year again. Time for reflection. Time for regrouping. Time to start out the New Year on a positive. SO…….. how ’bout ‘dem 2012 O’s hun? It only took 22 years for this O’s fan to get that “old school – down to the bone chilling – orange and black – Orioles Magic,” feeling back into my soul. And it felt good. The town was energized, young Oriole fans finally experienced a Baltimore Orioles summer, many Oriole fans cleared off the cobwebs and  the hard core Oriole fans were revived. It had “Been Such a Longtime” – Boston. That was a nice touch by the way, from the Camden Yards Audio/visual folks, playing that song at the park at the end of the season.

1989 – the “Why Not” – year. 2012 – the “We’re Not Giving Up” year. Early season perception of those two years: 1989 – the Orioles seemingly on a downward spiral, especially after the 0 – 21 start and 54-107 1988 season. 2012 – the Orioles below .500 since 1997 and ranked 28th out of 30 teams in the Power rankings. So naturally, what has become an annual tradition, I went out and bought an Orioles gaming ticket for them to win the World Series, this year at 125 to 1. Sadly, couldn’t cash in. Happy, probably won’t see those odds again anytime soon.

Remember1989? Frank Robinson was manager. Rex Barney at…………..Memorial Stadium! HTS with Mel Proctor and John Lowenstein (my favorite Orioles TV team) and Jon Miller/Joe Angel on the radio. Besides Brady and Cal, how about names like Randy Milligan, Joe Orsulak, Jim Traber, Bob Milacki, Kevin Hickey, Gregg ‘the otter” Olson? Come on, hit me up with some more. Dig deep into the memory bank. This year was that same kind of year. Some big names with (at times) an unfamiliar supporting cast,  “stepping up to the plate”, becoming a team and surprising everyone!

Yes, there was 1996 and 1997 – but come on O’s fans – give credit where credit is due – Angelos did actually go out and try and buy it. The talent was retained with high price tags. They were expected to win. They were expected to participate with the 75% of the players that were “juicy juiced enhanced” at the time (whoops that last one slipped). It had been 12 years and no World Series appearance. Management made a move. Those two years came and went. Now, it has been 29 years since a World Series appearance. But this time, it is a more welcomed, different approach.

Since it is the New Year and I would like to stay as positive as long as I can (which means until the harsh reality of work tomorrow), let me offer my top 5 moments/games of this past season:

5. Opening Day – Friday 4/6/12, win 4-2 over the Twins. It was Opening Day, need I say more?  The Cartoon Bird was back! It was the 20th anniversary of Camden Yards and the place is still immaculate. Partly due to annual renovations at the stadium, this year in particular – new lower concourse floor, lower field wall in right, Batters Eye Pub in centerfield, the soon to be (at the time) Monument Plaza out in left, etc. Then there was the Opening Day Ceremony pageantry, then the game, then……… Nick Markakis (Future Hall of Famer) – smacking a home run in his first at-bat, on his first swing, after coming back from injury. Play Ball!

4. Sunday 4/29/12, win bottom of the ninth, 5-2 over the Oakland A’s at the Yard. O’s trailing the whole game, went into the ninth down 2-0, Bartolo Colon going for complete game. Weiters a 2-run double and then Wilson Betemit crushed a walk-off 3-run homer. They had won 6 out of 7 and you could feel the tide-a-changing. Little did we know, that game was just a glimpse of what was to come the rest of the year.

3. Saturday 7/14/12, Jim Palmer Statue day at the Yard, win in extra innings (13), 8-6 over the Tigers. Taylor Teagarden. Say it again, Taylor Teagarden – just a cool name – hit a game winning 3-run homer. This was AFTER the Birds had squandered a 4-1 lead in the 9th – the Tigers tied it. The Tigers then went ahead in the 11th – the O’s tied it in the bottom. Then the Tigers went ahead again in the 13th – only to have Taylor Teagarden end it in the bottom. Another game to be added to  “Classics of the Year”. 

2. Friday 10/5/12, Wild Card play-in game, win 5-1 at Texas Rangers. Joe Saunders, Joe who? The chosen starting pitcher to potentially springboard the Orioles beyond that playoff albatross that has been looming since 1997. He was 0-6 at Texas stadium with like a 10.00 era – then BOOM – Dan Duquette/the Buck “stops here” Showalter – make another Classic move. O’s move on to play the Evil Empire.

1. Sunday 5/6/12, the Marathon (17 innings, 6 hours +), the “where were you when….” game, WIN 9-6 at Fenway! If I remember correctly, something about Chris Davis pitching and getting the win? No game recap here, just watch it on Orioles Classics (MASN). Here’s a little salt to pour in the wound for the Red Sox fans though, that game completed a weekend SWEEP! 

“O” what a year. One heckuva roller coaster ride. The cool thing though………..meaningful baseball was back in Baltimore. They simply just never gave up. The future looks bright. I would advise on purchasing some Oriole shades. Who knows what lies ahead? Optimism for once, exists. I remember ’89, I have the VHS tape. I will always remember 2012, I will purchase the DVD.  Orioles Magic – Summer of 2013. I’m feeling warm already. Happy New Year.



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Flacco - cameron

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One Down – One More to Go

Posted on 12 December 2012 by Tom Federline

First, let me get this out of my system………12-12-12. 10-10-10 (no, not the fertilizer – good stuff though), 11-11-11, pretty cool. Today is the last time we’ll be able to write the same number sequence for the month-day-year in our lifetime. The world hasn’t ended yet or is that like in 9 days? 12-12-12. 12-12-12. I dig it. 

“One down” – it’s about time. “Talk to ya Later” – (The Tubes) – Camera Cameron. See ya! Adios! Sayonara! Go repress another teams offense. You are done stifling the Ravens. Now, “one more to go” – if they would only get rid of Horribaugh. Whoa, asking for way to much at once for that one. Savor the moment and enjoy it. I did! If you have been following this blog and/or know me………..I am not a fan of Camera Cameron or John Horribaugh. For 3 years, I have expressed my concerns, hoping for a change. Well, we sure got one on Monday. Thank you Ravens front office (2 years to late though). 

Finally, let Flacco run the show. Jim Caldwell – all you should have to do is steer the boat. All Flacco has to do is go head to head, mano-y-mano against possibly one of the better field generals in football history this coming Sunday. Embrace it Joseph. It’s your time to shine. Your time to cash in. Your time to add a zero on a new long term contract. Nobody there to hold you down.

 Cameron is not the sole reason, the Ravens haven’t made it to the Promised Land these past few years. But he sure has assisted in delaying success. I never brought into the “We have a plan for Ray Rice.” Or “We have to be selective in our down field chances.” Or  – I’m calling this game in a matter so that I won’t lose my job. All I saw were missed opportunities. Hello Ravens front office, you may have waited to long and you may have squandered precious time with your veterans, i.e. Matt Birk, Ray-Ray, Ed Reed, etc. The Ravens had and have a loaded potential offense. Now let’s hope it’s recognized. 

 Will Mr. Blue Hen finally emerge from his feathers? Does he have “next level leadership qualities” in him? Guess we’re going to find out real quick. Sunday ought to be quite interesting. A win on Sunday – huge, a springboard to the playoffs. A loss on Sunday – realization the Ravens just aren’t that good. And they really aren’t – the defense can get lit up like a Christmas tree and the right guy is coming to town to do it. Can the Ravens offense go toe-to-toe with Peyton Manning? You’re darn right they can. Can the Ravens offense go toe-to-toe with Eli Manning? You’re darn right they can. MINUS Camera Cameron they have a legit shot.

Now with Horribaugh still on the sideline without his “partner in crime”, that’s a whole different story. Ten bucks says his lost puppy mug will look even more bewildered. Keep riding Ray-Rays coat tails Johnny, in fact let Ray-Ray coach and you just watch. Easy now……..I’m asking to much. I should just  be grateful that I have one less pillow to throw at the television on Sunday. No more flings at Cam Camerons’ mug or 1/2 mug behind a worthless play calling script. Come on Joe Cool – we got your back.

Baltimore, we have received an early Holiday present. One less thorn in the Ravens nest. Be thankful. You never know, we may receive another gift on Sunday –  Flacco shines, Caldwell shines, Horribaugh breaks down and requests advice from Ray Lewis on the sidelines, a win and clinch a playoff spot. Might as well ask for the whole ball of wax, when you have the chance. I really only need enough wax to make a small Ravens Christmas candle. Wait-a-minute, we already have received our second present – that Peyton Manning guy won’t be in a Baltimore Colts uniform! Good Luck Ravens, you’re gonna need it.



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Ravens Loss is No Big Deal

Posted on 03 December 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

There’s plenty of blame to go around in the aftermath of the Ravens loss on Sunday at the hands of the Steelers, and I’m quite certain we’ll be assessing that blame and going over the shortcomings of the team for the majority of this week on the airwaves and blogosphere at WNST.net. In the grander scheme of things however, this should have been an easy outcome to predict. It can be simplified as easy as the following; the Ravens had little to play for on Sunday and the Steelers had everything to play for.

Knowing what we know about both of those teams, we should have known enough. Ravens and Steelers has been universally recognized as football’s best current rivalry and for some the best rivalry in sports period. That legacy didn’t begin with Joe Flacco and Ben Roethlisberger; they just made it more interesting. For the last 12 years at least, through Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright and Jeff Blake and Troy Smith, through Tommy Maddox and Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon and Byron Leftwich, the Ravens vs. the Steelers has been, more often than not, a slugfest decided by a minimal number of points in the latest stages of the game. There was no reason to guess that this one would be any different.


A loss would have dropped the Steelers to 6-6 and put a serious damper on their playoff hopes. It wasn’t exactly do or die for Pittsburgh, but it’s about as close as it gets in week 13 of the NFL season. For the Ravens however, a win didn’t mean much. A win over the Steelers, coupled with a Bengals loss at San Diego would have cemented the AFC North for the Ravens, but for all intents and purposes the Ravens are the AFC North champions. Whether it became official in week 13 or has to wait until week 16 or 17, it’s near impossible to imagine the Ravens not winning the division.


A win on Sunday would have had the Ravens playing the Broncos in Week 15 with the second seed in the AFC and a first round bye in the balance. A loss on Sunday has still left the Ravens looking ahead to a week 15 showdown with the Broncos with the second seed in the AFC and a first round bye in the balance. All Sunday’s loss vs. the Steelers did for the Ravens was to delay their inevitable clinching of their own division, and to serve internal notice that there’s still work to be done.


The Steelers played like a team that needed desperately to win on Sunday; that’s because they were a team desperate to win on Sunday. Pittsburgh, coming off of two consecutive losses (in their own division no less) is left with no choice but to embrace the remainder of the season with a playoff caliber of urgency. The Ravens on the other hand had nothing really to gain from a win on Sunday, and they also played just that way. Assuming that the Texans can’t be caught, as I think most do, the Ravens could afford to lose one of their final 5 games and still hold onto their second spot in the AFC as long as that loss didn’t come against Denver. Now they’ve lost it and restored a sense of urgency (hopefully) to the remainder of the season.

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Bring Out Your Dead

Posted on 24 October 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

Inspired by the scene in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” where the body cart is being pushed through the city during the plague as the mortician cries “Bring Out Your Dead”. As one man ambitiously tries to deliver a not quite dead elderly man to the cart hilarity ensues. Here’s a look at who’s being (or has been) written off for dead in the sports world, and what the final prognosis might be.

“I’m Not Dead Yet” – Despite reports to the contrary these guys are not dead yet, but may have one foot in the proverbial grave and another on a banana peel.


Cam Newton – Superman has become the Super-Sulker but he’s not dead yet, not by a long shot. Still there are plenty of reasons to be concerned. Newton’s post-loss body language has been unbearable. We can all appreciate that the kid wants to win, but he’ll have to do some growing up before he can become a leader of men. Cam took everyone (including himself) to task in the wake of the Panthers most recent defeat, but mostly seemed to point fingers at his offensive coordinator. Newton is looking for a game plan that authors blowouts but will sooner or later have to learn that life in the NFL doesn’t work that way. In 3 of his 5 losses this season, Cam has had the ball in his hands with a chance to win the game in the final 5 minutes. If he intends to be the star he’s being cast as, he’ll need to get comfortable in those situations. It’d also help if Newton stopped shaking off teammates’ efforts to celebrate TDs with him while clearing out space to do his ridiculous Superman dance.



Cam Cameron – Sticking with Cams, reports of the demise of Cam Cameron might be a byproduct of Ravens fans wishes more than anything else. In the wake of the Ravens most recent disappointment against the Houston Texans however, another long and introspective look at this offense might be long overdue. Cameron was “under fire” by owner Steve Bisciotti last season and managed to survive. There’s no reason to believe the Ravens will make a change before seasons end, but in the event that it doesn’t end in the Super Bowl, this season could very likely be Cameron’s last.


Maurice Jones-Drew – Remember MJD calling out Jay Cutler a couple of seasons ago for surrendering during the playoffs due to an MCL injury that didn’t look that serious on TV and didn’t require surgery. Last week in a game the Jaguars lost in overtime to a less than spectacular Oakland Raiders squad, MJD watched from the sidelines while nursing a foot injury that didn’t look that serious on TV and that apparently won’t require surgery. This on the heels of his extended and controversial holdout from training camp while trying to earn a new contract or force a trade won’t buy Jones-Drew much empathy as he watches from the sidelines for the next couple of weeks at least.


Lance Armstrong – Maybe the Lance Armstrong fiasco will give us a long overdue chance to examine ourselves. He lorded over a sport that was rampant with doping and drug use, and while he adamantly proclaimed being above it throughout his once storied and undeniably dominant career. Now having given up the fight and having been stripped of all of his career accolades Armstrong also finds that those who rode his coattails to success and fortune aren’t set to stand by him in the hard times. It’s still impossible to ignore all of the good that Armstrong has done in his career, and it seems only a matter of time before he’ll inevitably bounce back in the court of public opinion…but it doesn’t look like it’ll be terribly easy, or any time soon for that matter.


Dirk Nowitzki – Just as the world was ready to close the book on the legacy of Dirk Nowitzki he surprised everyone and cemented that legacy by winning an NBA championship. He backed it up however by showing up for a lockout shortened NBA season the following year out of shape, and now looks ready to miss at least the first few weeks of this season as he recovers from ankle surgery. It may now be safe to close the book on Nowitzki’s NBA legacy. It appears he got that title just in the nick of time.


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