Tag Archive | "Sarasota"

Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 14 February 2011 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Golf-PGA Tour Northern Trust Open (Thursday & Friday 3pm live on Golf Channel, Saturday & Sunday 3pm live on CBS. All golf from Pacific Palisades, CA), Champions Tour ACE Group Classic (Friday & Saturday 6:30pm, Sunday 7pm from Naples, FL live on Golf Channel), Honda LPGA Thailand (Friday 12:30pm, Saturday & Sunday 3pm from Chonburi, Thailand live on Golf Channel); High School Basketball: Parkville @ Perry Hall (Wednesday 6:30pm); Boxing: Friday Night Fights-Fernando Guerrero vs. Saul Roman (Friday 7pm from Wicomico Civic Center live on ESPN2), Fernando Montiel vs. Nonito Donaire (Friday 9:45pm from Las Vegas live on HBO); Tennis: ATP Tour Regions Morgan Keegan Championships (Saturday 11am, Sunday 3pm from Memphis live on Tennis Channel)

10. Salt-N-Pepa/Naughty By Nature/MC Lyte/Kool Moe Dee/Kurtis Blow (Saturday 8pm 1st Mariner Arena); Plain White T’s/Parachute (Friday 7pm Rams Head Live); Taproot (Saturday 6:30pm Bourbon Street); Vusi Mahlasela (Monday 8pm Rams Head On Stage); Slightly Stoopid (Wednesday & Thursday 6:30pm 9:30 Club), Drive-By Truckers (Friday & Saturday 8pm 9:30 Club), Los Lobos (Monday 7pm 9:30 Club); Pablo Francisco (Thursday-Sunday DC Improv); John Mellencamp (Tuesday 7pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall), Avett Brothers (Friday 8pm D.A.R. Constitution Hall); Herb Alpert (Wednesday 7:30pm Birchmere), Bacon Brothers (Saturday & Sunday 7:30pm Birchmere); Big Head Todd & The Monsters (Thursday 8pm Strathmore); Buddy Jewell (Thursday 7pm Severna Park High School)

You’re not going to catch me saying a negative word about Salt, Pepa or Spindarella. They’re strong.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZg_Jehko7c[/youtube]

A few weeks ago, I woke up to a video of Dave Matthews Band and Vusi Mahlasela playing “Everyday” in my Hotmail Inbox. I had never heard of Vusi Mahlasela. I immediately wanted to hear more…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4JhCTbmBQ4[/youtube]

John Mellencamp rules. Not much else I can say about that…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsEwK69LXjQ[/youtube]

I haven’t had a chance to listen much to the Avett Brothers. That’s my mistake…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1XMHGVOXZ8[/youtube]

9. Soccer: MISL-Omaha Vipers @ Baltimore Blast (Friday 7:35pm 1st Mariner Arena), Milwaukee Wave @ Baltimore Blast (Sunday 5:05pm 1st Mariner Arena)

It’s been a long time since I’ve included soccer on the list. So I had to reference Yahoo! Sports’ Dirty Tackle blog to find out what I had missed.

Apparently Wesley Sneijder scored a nifty goal for the Netherlands in a friendly against Austria…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Wyfxk54v3w[/youtube]

And some dude had his pants fall down while trying to take a picture with Lionel Messi…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zs2uLsN6Pno[/youtube]

8. Mixed Martial Arts: Strikeforce Challengers (Friday 11pm from Cedar Park, TX live on Showtime)

I got to see Strikeforce live for the first time this past Saturday night in New Jersey. With any luck, the smell will come out by  St. Patrick’s Day.

The bad news for Strikeforce is that Fedor Emelianenko-the only fighter Strikeforce had that non-MMA hardcores gave a rip about-was eliminated from their World Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament.

The good news for Strikeforce is that on Saturday night they also officially announced the return of Gina Carano. I’d like to tell you that I think she’s a good fighter. The reality is that no one knows and even fewer care…

gina

For the record, I tried posting the “Gina Carano is back” video Strikeforce showed on Showtime Saturday night; but it wasn’t up on YouTube yet. It’s a lovely video. Trust me.

7. NHL: Washington Capitals @ Anaheim Ducks (Wednesday 10pm from Anaheim live on Comcast SportsNet), Washington Capitals @ San Jose Sharks (Thursday 10:30pm from San Jose live on Comcast SportsNet), Washington Capitals @ Buffalo Sabres (Sunday 12:30pm from Buffalo live on NBC), Washington Capitals @ Pittsburgh Penguins (Monday 7:30pm from Pittsburgh live on VERSUS)

I know that without Monday Night Football there might be a few more folks interested in checking out the Caps face the Pens in a Winter Classic rematch. I won’t be one of them. I hate the Redskins, I hate the Steelers. So I just don’t care for the hockey teams in those cities either.

BUT…if Penguins goalie Brent Johnson gets in another fight like the one he got into against the New York Islanders the other night…I’d be ALL IN…at least to watch the highlights on SportsCenter or something.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4FrNDkAYVY[/youtube]

6. Women’s College Basketball: Duke @ Maryland (Thursday 7:30pm Comcast Center), Maryland @ Florida State (Sunday 3pm from Tallahassee, FL live on ESPN2)

Can SOMEONE please manage to figure out a way to beat Duke?!? PLEASE?!?!?

I’ll be in College Park Thursday night to check out the Terrapins women as they do the Lord’s work against the Blue Devils.

Hopefully the spirit of Kristi Toliver will be alive as the Terps battle the Devils…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H-iTj7K6tew[/youtube]

5. Pro Wrestling: WWE Elimination Chamber (Sunday 8pm from Oakland live on Pay-Per-View)

Yep, the Elimination Chamber is crazy. But I could show you a video of that or I could show you a picture of WWE Diva Kelly Kelly. I mean, what are we really doing here anyway???

kellykelly

4. College Lacrosse: Navy @ Loyola (Saturday 2pm from Ridley Athletic Complex live on AM1570 WNST); Johns Hopkins @ Towson (Saturday 12pm from Unitas Stadium live on ABC2 & ESPN3.com); Detroit @ Maryland (Saturday 1pm Byrd Stadium)

And with this, Lacrosse is now REALLY back in Charm City. Sadly, it will only kill a handful of Saturdays during MLB season for me, and there won’t be NEARLY enough weeknight games to avoid baseball altogether-but at least there’s an entertaining outdoor sport to watch.

This is also very awkward because I try to support all of the local teams, but they face off more in lacrosse than they do in any other sport.

So for this week I say “Let’s Go BlueTigerTerpHoundsmen!!!”

3. College Basketball: Maryland @ Virginia Tech (Tuesday 8pm from Blacksburg, VA live on ACC Network-WNUV 54 in Charm City), North Carolina State @ Maryland (Sunday 5:30pm from Comcast Center live on Comcast SportsNet); James Madison @ Towson (Tuesday 7pm Towson Center); UMES @ Morgan State (Monday 9pm from Hill Field House live on ESPNU); Rider @ Loyola (Wednesday 7pm Reitz Arena); Hartford @ UMBC (Saturday 7pm RAC Arena); UMES @ Coppin State (Saturday 4pm Coppin State Physical Education Complex), Delaware State @ Coppin State (Monday 7:30pm Coppin State Physical Education Complex); ESPNU Bracketbusters: VMI @ Morgan State (Saturday 4pm Hill Field House), Loyola @ Towson (Saturday 7pm Towson Center)

Things I feel better about than Maryland’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament:

-The American economy
-The Orioles getting Prince Fielder in the offseason
-Katy Perry finally saying “yes” to one of my date requests
-Seeing a new Chris Farley movie one of these days
-Steve Melewski buying me a beer when Drew Forrester and I do our show in Sarasota
-Duke football getting bowl eligible

I think you know where I’m going here.

But if they figure out a way to beat the Hokies Tuesday night…

2. NBA: All-Star Game (Sunday 8pm from Los Angeles live on TNT), All-Star Saturday Night (Saturday 8pm from Los Angeles live on TNT), T-Mobile Rookie Challenge (Friday 9pm from Los Angeles live on TNT); Washington Wizards @ Orlando Magic (Wednesday 7pm from Orlando live on Comcast SportsNet)

Nine out of ten NBA games are awful as it is, yet somehow the ASG finds a way to be even more awful than that.

I guess the dunk contest has occasionally been watchable…and is certainly the only reason any of us are familiar with names like Harold Miner or Gerald Green. And by “any of us” I mean “I went to Wikipedia and looked up to see who all won dunk contests in the past.”

Seriously, why the hell don’t they just put down trampolines and do the whole contest Slamball-style?!?!?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOKzUWguWik[/youtube]

1. Auto Racing: NASCAR-Gatorade Duels (Thursday 2pm from Daytona, FL live on SPEED), Daytona 500 (Sunday 1pm from Daytona, FL live on FOX)

I wish I cared about NASCAR this week. I know this is a big deal to a handful of folks…I just don’t care. At all.

I’ve tried watching races. I’ve tried going to races. I’ve tried hosting a NASCAR radio show with Donnie Neuenberger (seriously). I’ve tried starting at pictures of Danica Patrick.

None of it worked. I just don’t care. It’s cars racing.

It doesn’t mean any of these aren’t funny…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwnO_CMY41k[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

(Week of Tuesday, February 15-Monday February 21)

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As purple Festivus season is upon us, alas the real Grinch continues to be Peter G. Angelos

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As purple Festivus season is upon us, alas the real Grinch continues to be Peter G. Angelos

Posted on 24 December 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s been 51 months now since the initial “Free The Birds” campaign that we launched at WNST.net in “Year Nine of The Black Cat” and motivated more than 2,000 other brave souls who said “enough is enough” to Peter Angelos and the losing and nasty ways of the Baltimore Orioles.

The holiday results are in yet again for another sad orange offseason and I’m feeling pretty confident — as is Las Vegas — that the Baltimore Orioles will not be a playoff team in 2011.

And the real reason the team won’t win this year is the same as last year and the year before that: they won’t (or can’t) spend all of the millions of dollars they have managed to extract from this community via their incredibly wealthy and lean “regional sports network” called MASN.

Angelos

We’re talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in direct profit that was allegedly to be spent on improving the baseball team for the community to enjoy. But instead of the $150 million payrolls that were promised to “compete with the likes of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox,” that previously earmarked U.S. money donated by Middle Atlantic cable subscribers is in the pockets of Peter G. Angelos. Along with about $20 million more each year since Andy MacPhail took over in 2007 and slashed the payroll, bought off the local media and preached “young” to the fans while winking “cheap” at the owner that he just made a cool, clean profit for and shared in the financial windfall.

And like any other billionaire businessman without a soul for the pride of his own company and what it represents in the community, all of a sudden it’s very hard for any of them to part with “guaranteed money in the bank.” Especially when there’s no financial upside to giving the likes of Carl Crawford or Adrian Beltre or Cliff Lee tens of millions of guaranteed money when winning is so far from being a reality in the AL East that even the once-prideful Angelos has clearly quit on trying to win for the fans of the Baltimore Orioles.

Adam LaRoche or Derrek Lee? This is what it’s come down to for the Orioles as Santa brings goodies and toys and playoff-caliber baseball elsewhere to even the likes of Milwaukee.

If you’re trying to be a .500 team signing the “leftovers” and “growing the arms” might be a strategy. But, really, is the bar a World Series title for Baltimore or is the bar set at being in third place and making $50 million in profit?

The Orioles are so grossly pathetic at this point that no credentialed Major League Baseball player with any other option this side of Pittsburgh will elect to come and play here. And the remaining few lost souls in the fan base are so desperate for any morsel of progress that they’ve even given Buck Showalter a hall pass for lying

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My Sarasota report: Falling in love with the Orioles and spring training all over again…

Posted on 16 November 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

I made a fatal yet beautiful mistake this weekend. My mother in law has a place near Sarasota area and my wife and I used the mini-bye weekend to “visit Sarasota” just like all of the ads I saw on MASN all summer said.

And you know what? I fell in love with the concept of the Orioles and spring training and Sarasota once again.

A proud franchise, steeped in tradition and local lore with the likes of Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Frank Robinson, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken never saw a training facility like the one that is quickly getting erected off 12th Street in Sarasota.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-bldNihn68[/youtube]

I walked around. I checked it out and I dreamed the dream of the orange Kool Aid. No doubt it’s a personal source of pride for the lovely Janet Marie Smith as she once watched Oriole Park at Camden Yards rise above the ashes of a dusty industrial wasteland six blocks west of the shining Inner Harbor 20 years ago. She is now overseeing this long-overdue re-working of the Orioles ways of spring and much like her predecessors, she’s abruptly stopped returning phone calls and emails from WNST.net.

Work for a thug, act like a thug I suppose?

But, oh how times they are a’ changing in Florida for the Orioles.

I drove through St. Petersburg twice over the weekend and thought of the great times I had there in 1993 and 1994 and the games at Al Lang Stadium. I was too young a reporter then to realize just how screwed up the Orioles spring training situation was there as the players literally trained at a little league facility called Huggins-Stengel Field, which is where the Yankees trained in the 1930’s and boarded a bus in full uniforms to go to a “home” stadium where they didn’t even have a locker room.

And that was when Eli Jacobs owned the team…

Yes, the Orioles spring training situation was screwed up long before Peter Angelos got his greedy mitts on the franchise but he’s certainly culpable for the last 15 years of disgraceful working conditions for players, coaches and scouts alike.

Everyone that I’ve ever encountered with the Orioles over the last decade and a half would easily tell you that of ALL of the really, really screwed up things about the franchise besides the owner himself, the biggest tragedy of all is how bad their spring training conditions have been and how thoroughly unprofessional and painfully slow the progress has been for the franchise.

And it was especially hard on the younger players, who had it the worst and got the least amount of respect in the whole situation.

Fort Lauderdale Stadium was a slum. The team’s minor-league facility in Sarasota – almost a three-hour drive across Alligator Alley – was overrun with weeds, glass and was written up at the MLB offices by several visiting teams as an unsafe facility.

But that’s all rearview mirror based on what I saw in Sarasota this weekend.

The biggest problem I have when I encounter morons on the internet who’ve been watching this vomit called “Orioles baseball” over the last 15 years and somehow find a way to vilify me because I have the audacity to tell the truth about the situation is when they’ve never seen these working conditions or been to Florida.

I did 12 spring trainings in a row with the Orioles from 1992 to 2004. I saw it all. I heard it all. And I watched as Angelos stuffed more money into his pockets as the likes of Cal Ripken, Mike Mussina, Brian Roberts, etc. worked in a slum every day when they reported to work how little regard they were held in by the ownership.

I’ll never forget the look on Javy Lopez’s face when he reported to Fort Lauderdale for the first time after a decade in Atlanta. It was something straight outta “Major League,” like something Tome Berenger would’ve done. He was appalled the minute he arrived.

As they say, the truth hurts.

The truth is the team hasn’t played a meaningful game since 1997. The facts dictate that the team has hovered in or around last place since the days of Vinny Testaverde and Ted Marchibroda and the Ravens were still playing on 33rd Street.

Yeah, THAT long.

And somehow Angelos and Janet Marie Smith are offended that I won’t lie to you for them and write that “they’re on the right path” or “Buck Showalter will save them.”

That’s Bulls#$% and anyone who believes it probably is the same person who has believed the last 14 spring trainings of lies and deceit and shameless profiteering and manipulation and intimidation of the local media.

They lie. They’ve lied to me. They’ve lied to you. They’ll lie again.

And they certainly lie about how much money they’re making – upward of $50 million again this year off of your cable TV bill.

And they lose. A LOT…

And we’re all hoping Buck Showalter is the savior for baseball in Baltimore but I’m not holding my breath.

But after seeing this lovely stadium going up amidst the rubble in a largely Hispanic neighborhood in Sarasota, I’ve got some semblance of hope for the future because this represents something that will outlive Angelos. And I’m personally hoping that I’ll live long enough that the Sarasota shrine that is going up will someday be a great source of fun and joy for me one day.

I’ve been doing for 27 years now, telling the truth to Baltimore sports fans about the local teams and why they win and lose.

The Orioles lose because of Peter G. Angelos. That was true 10 years ago and it’s even more true now. We’ll watch Andy MacPhail at the GM meetings in Orlando this week and the Orioles – despite the “promise” of the new manager and emergence of youthful pitching (too) late last summer – will come back without Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford or any other useful (re: expensive) free agents in this crop.

And the “media” – most who are mainly employed by Angelos – will come back and make excuses about why they wound up in pinstripes or elsewhere.

The truth?

The owner is a jerk, has destroyed the franchise with apparent impunity and is COMPLETELY RUNINNG THE FRANCHISE AGAIN and no one seems to think this is a bad idea.

Call Scott Garceau or Mark Viviano or any of the others in the bastion of local journalism who take a paycheck from Angelos and ask them about the working conditions of the Orioles in Fort Lauderdale or Sarasota over the years. Heck, you can ask Garceau how awful Miami was in the 1980’s as the gunshots flew around the ballpark.

Ask these “journalists” what they REALLY think about Angelos and his wife running the team day to day.

And ask where John Angelos has been since he was “escorted” out of The Warehouse back in May and why it was never reported in the media that the President of freaking franchise was THROWN OUT of the building and no one reported on it?

Can you imagine Steve Bisciotti having Dick Cass escorted from The Castle in Owings Mills and not have media asking all sorts of questions?

But that’s the world we live in the Baltimore media. Ask the baseball owner real questions about 14 years of ineptness and get unceremoniously thrown out of being in the media and have your press credential revoked. All while the local “journalists” – the guys who are supposed to see the truth, report on it and keep “the man” honest – instead apologize for a franchise and a man who has profiteered while the fans have suffered and paid premium prices through their cable TV bills to watch a perennially loser and excuse maker.

But these are also local media agencies that also employ former crooked cops and turn them into morning show stars for their honorable opinion on how the world should work.

It’s disgusting. Just like the creepy local politicians who spent the last eight weeks hurling mud at each other on the 6 o’clock news every night as though there was some honor involved.

I think the whole city and state are going to hell, quite frankly.

But back to spring training.

I went to Sarasota this weekend and I saw something rising out of the ashes that will certainly outlive Peter Angelos and provide some hope and joy to any number of Orioles fans who decide to go to Florida for spring training.

I saw a beautiful ballpark being built in a largely Hispanic part of Sarasota, just two miles from the most gorgeous area of America you’d ever hope to see. The bridge from Sarasota to St. Armand’s at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning was memorable in its sheer magnificence.

So, WNST.net is going to Sarasota. We’re hoping to find a few sponsors and a bunch of fans – not easy to do when it comes to baseball in Baltimore these days – who will enjoy a week of orange love in Florida and we’ll go to the games, have a few beers, get a tan and enjoy some Orioles baseball. We might even go up to Bradenton or Clearwater or down to Fort Myers for a few more games.

And we’ll do radio, we shoot videos and we’ll laugh and enjoy the Orioles where they’re best enjoyed – in the fantasyland of hope and dreams in spring training, where they’re record will remain 0-0 and the hopes of the orange Kool Aid drinkers is at an all time high and the baseball nerds who still trek to Camden Yards can “dream” of that mythical .500 season that somehow will hurdle the Orioles into mediocrity, as if that’s some sort of noble goal.

I saw the pools. I saw the palm trees. I saw the pretty girls. I know it’ll be 80 there the first week of March and it’ll be 30-something here.

They’ll most certainly illegally deny us a press credential, well, for just BEING US. But they can’t stop us from having fun. We’re going to try to go Florida and we’re going to try to have some fun.

Now all I need are a handful of sponsors and as many fans as we can take with us.

Who’s with me? We’ll be putting together a trip down and hopefully a few days of radio and a few days of baseball. I found a few awesome hotels and a sports bar that wants to have us do a show every day.

The rest I’m trying to figure out. I’m putting together an interest list.

Drop me a note at nasty@wnst.net if you’re interested in doing Florida for a couple of days with the WNST crew.

Fun will be included.

And that’s been a very rare thing in regard to the Orioles or spring training over the last two decades…

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 29 September 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Wednesday!

It’s a Happy Wednesday for me because I get to start the week out with the “Greatest Song(s) of All Time This Week.” The NEW version of TGSOATTW goes to Eric Church (the song is called “Guys Like Me”) because I saw the dude play Sunday night at Merriweather Post Pavilion with my girl, you know her as “Boomer Sooner”. (Yes, I went to WPOC’s “Sunday in the Country”, live with it.) He’s pretty freaking good…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7CsKVSDIcU[/youtube]

And the retro version is also “Sunday in the Country”-related, as it was covered by headliner Lady Antebellum. While they’re very talented and played a very enjoyable show-including a decent cover-Lady Antebellum certainly isn’t Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lWJXDG2i0A[/youtube]

Before we move on-let it be said that the great Free Fallin’ cover of all time was done by John Mayer…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20Ov0cDPZy8[/youtube]

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. WNST.net’s Drew Forrester says Ravens WR Derrick Mason has happiness in own hands

I couldn’t agree more.

This isn’t about Cam Cameron finding a way to get the ball to Derrick Mason more. It isn’t about Joe Flacco making sure the ball ends up in Mason’s hands. It certainly isn’t about whether or not Anquan Boldin is showing the proper respect to Mason as far as leadership in the locker room.

This is entirely up to Derrick Mason.

If Derrick Mason needs to be a #1 receiver for a good NFL team in order to be happy, he’s not going to be happy ever again. That time has come and gone. Frankly, he was only still the #1 receiver in Charm City by default in recent years-as there simply wasn’t anyone else in town.

Derrick has done a VERY good job over the years as the #1 receiver in Baltimore. Fans in this area will always be grateful for that. But he isn’t that guy anymore, nor will he be ever again barring some sort of terribly unfortunate injury.

If being a good receiver on a good team is enough for Derrick to be happy, he’ll be fine. If it isn’t, it could be a terribly long season.

But if Derrick thinks that by being a malcontent he’ll become the team’s top receiver again, he’s out of his mind.

I THINK he’s smarter than that.

2. The AP’s Alan Robinson says Pittsburgh Steelers will start QB Charlie Batch Sunday vs. Ravens at Heinz Field

And as I said yesterday on Twitter (follow us @WNST), if I’m the Ravens-I’m okay with that.

With no offense to Charlie Batch, but there’s nothing about him that would concern me if I was Greg Mattison. That doesn’t mean the Ravens don’t have to play good defense on Sunday, it just means he doesn’t present any sort of dynamic level that Ben Roethlisberger or Dennis Dixon could have.

Of course, Charlie Batch can still win football games-especially for a team as good as the Pittsburgh Steelers. We saw that Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s still capable even if he isn’t necessarily dynamic.

But he’s NOT the type of quarterback that should be beating the Baltimore Ravens. Doesn’t mean he won’t, just means he shouldn’t.

3. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says Ray Rice took to Twitter to proclaim knee ‘better’

And since this clarifies absolutely nothing, let’s plan on discussing this again tomorrow.

In the meantime, you know who else has knees that look “better”? Sherri Tiara Lansang. (Thanks F-Listed via Busted Coverage!)

lansang

(Edit from GMC: I’m kidding. Who the hell knows if Sherri Tiara Lansang has any knees?!?!?)

4. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Mike Duffy says Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall ‘poses repeat threat’ for Ravens

Before we move on from the Ravens, a couple of things…

-The Ravens return to the practice field today at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills. We will be out there to report on Ray Rice, Cory Redding and EVERYTHING going on today. We’re expected to hear from John Harbaugh and Joe Flacco for sure; as well as conference calls with Mike Tomlin and Rashard Mendenhall. Make sure you’re tuned in to AM1570, following us on Twitter @WNST and checking WNST.net for updates.

-The Ravens HAVE terminated the contract of Trevor Pryce and re-signed safety Ken Hamlin. Stunning news despite the lack of production from Pryce this season. We’ll have more throughout the day on this developing story.

-Did you miss Jim Nantz (CBS) this morning with Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST? Jim and Phil Simms are calling Ravens/Steelers Sunday; and Jim told us they’ll have Ravens/Patriots in Foxborough as well. Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net today if you missed it! Other things you can find in the Audio Vault include:

  • Rob Ambrose (Towson Tigers football coach)-who previewed Saturday’s showdown against UMass with Drew Wednesday morning
  • Mike Bires (Beaver County Times)-who updated Drew on all things black and yellow from the Steel City
  • Leonard Garcia (WEC Fighter)-who joined Thyrl Nelson and John Rallo on “The MMA Report” Tuesday
  • Dario Franchitti & Will Power (IndyCar Series drivers)-who previewed Saturday’s season finale at Homestead-Miami with Thryl on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” Tuesday
  • Gary Graves (USA Today) and Eric Edholm (Pro Football Weekly)-who talked Ravens and all things NFL with Rex Snider on “The Afternoon Drive” Tuesday

It’s all in the Audio Vault-so enjoy your afternoon. Don’t ever say I haven’t done anything for you…

5. The AP’s Fred Goodall says David Price masterful as Tampa Bay Rays beat Orioles at Tropicana Field to clinch playoff spot

David Price HAS to win the Cy Young Award, right?

I know some folks are going to say “Felix Hernandez leads the American League in everything”…but I guess those people think 13-12 doesn’t matter. I think Hernandez belongs in the discussion, but I’m pretty sure his record would leave him third on my ballot behind Price and Jon Lester.

As far as the O’s are concerned, they got worked over by a really good pitcher last night. That’s going to happen to a lot of teams. If they win one more game this week they’ll avoid 100 losses. I think they’ll do that. Once they do, who cares what else happens?

By the way-spare me the “maybe it was good for the young players to see the Rays celebrate in front of them” stuff, MASN. Who freaking cares? Every player-old or young-wants to be able to pour champagne on their teammates. They don’t need to see it in front of them to understand that.

6. The AP/WNST.net provide numerical evidence of loss

Brad Bergesen had been pitching really well for awhile until that last night. 5IP, 5ER, 6H, 3BB, 2K. Not good. Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters doubled; but that was about it. Tough night for Adam Jones-he went 0-4 with a pair of K’s.

You don’t want to look at the numbers. Trust me on that. Instead-look at Ancilla Tilia. We’ll still be here when you get back. (Thanks Macenstein!)

macenstein

7. MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli & Bill Chastain say Andy MacPhail, Buck Showalter visited new Spring Training facility in Sarasota

Before we move on from the Birds, a couple of things…

-The Birds and Rays wrap up their 3 game series tonight in St. Petersburg. First pitch between Kevin Millwood and Jeff Niemann is at 7:10pm, the game can be seen on MASN2.

-Apparently they’re giving away 20,000 tickets at The Trop tonight. I’d settle for just having to ever see Dick Vitale again if I were a fan of the Rays.

8. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Maryland QB Jamarr Robinson “limited”, Danny O’Brien likely to start against Duke

My gut feeling is that this is for the best. The longer Jamarr Robinson can’t play because he’s still recovering, the easier it is for Ralph Friedgen to move Danny O’Brien into the starting QB role long term.

Really, I don’t care WHO plays quarterback. Just don’t lose to the Blue Devils. Not again anyway…

9. The Sun says Cincinnati Associate AD Mike Waddell to be named Athletic Director at Towson today

Here’s what former Bearcats LB Brad Jackson said about the news when we passed it along on Twitter yesterday…

“Towson will definately be better with Michael Waddell as A.D.! He was huge in taking Cincy to next level!”

I hope he’s right.

10. Daily Racing Form’s Matt Hegarty says 1998 Preakness and Kentucky Derby winner dead at 15

In other horse racing news, former Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra has been retired from racing and will be bred to another great champion in Curlin. Must be a nice life there-Curlin.

In other news that’s much more significant to me-here’s a picture of Selita Ebanks. (Thanks Guyism!)

ebanks

And finally, I leave you with this.

Here’s the Katy Perry SNL “Sesame Street” spoof everyone is talking about. Now I’ve passed it along…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qP81EElmWY[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 01 September 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Wednesday!

It’s a Happy Wednesday for me because…well it just is, damnit. And oh yeah, it’s time for me to name this week’s “Greatest Song(s) of All Time This Week.”

The NEW version this week goes to Gyptian for the song “Hold Yuh.” Apparently the song’s been around for a few months, so I found out via Facebook that I’m not that hip. Like I didn’t know that before…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhT_e6D3DeA[/youtube]

The RETRO “Greatest Song of All Time This Week” is Counting Crows’ “American Girls.” What an underrated freaking song…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJ_MUfryl-w[/youtube]

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. WNST.net’s Luke Jones says Ravens acquire CB Josh Wilson from Seattle Seahawks for 2011 NFL Draft pick

My initial thought on the trade?

“Good move.”

That feeling hasn’t changed.

Look, Josh Wilson is NOT going to be confused for Chris McAlister (at least not Chris McAlister in his prime) at any point. But Josh Wilson has started 24 of the last 28 games in the Emerald City, and has pulled down six interceptions over the last two years.

This acquisition does a number of things for the Ravens. My guess is that the departure of Travis Fisher will come soon after. I had thought Fisher would hold a roster spot until Cary Williams was ready to return, but they don’t have to just keep him on the roster for the sake of keeping him anymore. They could still end up keeping him to have a fourth healthy corner Week 1 when the Ravens face the New York Jets, but if Lardarius Webb is ready to go they’ll already have four.

The move also frees the Ravens to consider allowing Chris Carr to return punts again. Carr was solid in the role a season ago, and is a better option right now than a banged up Mark Clayton or banged up Tom Zbikowski-who is expected to start if Ed Reed isn’t ready to go. If Carr returns punts, there would be less of a need to use a roster spot on Prince Miller-who could probably survive being exposed and end up on the practice squad.

With all of that being said, Josh Wilson is 5’9″ and is NOT a “shutdown” corner. He’s also in the final year of his contract-and given the market for decent corners, he can probably command a decent amount of money.

However, he’s been very solid in recent years and looks like he can help this team in multiple ways. I am in no ways an “everything Ozzie Newsome does is perfect” type of person, but this move looks to be very good-right in the mold of other solid moves made by the organization.

2. WNST.net’s Glenn Clark says Ravens moved Brendon Ayanbadejo, Matt Lawrence to reserve PUP

These were both expected moves as neither player had been able to do much of anything football-wise either at Training Camp in Westminster or in Owings Mills. With the team needing to get down to 75 active players, these two were totally logical choices.

You know what else is a totally logical choice? Posting this picture of Peaches Geldof, who has to be making her father (yes, the great Bob Geldof) proud. Thanks, The Grumpiest!

geldof

3. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says Terrence Cody had knee surgery, likely to miss season opener at New York Jets

Go ahead and make your own comment about how much weight “Mount Cody”‘s knees have to hold up. That’s fine. It’s totally legitimate.

There is a real concern as to whether or not Cody will be dealing with knee issues for the rest of the year or even the rest of his career. He’s quite obviously a large man, and that’s a lot of pressure to put on that part of your body.

It’s unfortunate that the Ravens will likely be without Cody for the visit to the Meadowlands. Cody struggled in Training Camp at McDaniel College, but really seemed to turn something on under the lights when the Ravens faced the Carolina Panthers and Washington Redskins in the preseason. He looks like a player who is just better in games.

Without Cody, the Ravens will have to rely on whoever makes the team from Brandon McKinney, Kelly Talavou, Arthur Jones and Lamar Divens behind Kelly Gregg. In my most recent “Mocking the 53″ update, I had McKinney and Talavou on the good side of the bubble. It’s totally possible the team will decide to keep another D-Lineman given the injury concerns with a guy like Cody.

4. CSNBaltimore.com’s John Eisenberg says Ed Reed had sit-down session with John Harbaugh, Greg Mattison, Chuck Pagano

Before we move on from the Ravens, a few things…

-The Ravens are holding a walkthrough today before tomorrow night’s trip to St. Louis to face the Rams. The walkthrough will be closed to the media, but I will still join Thyrl Nelson at 12:50 on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” and Rex Snider at 4:30 on “The Afternoon Drive” to preview tomorrow night’s game.

-We found out more and more yesterday just how many vets won’t take the field at Edward Jones Dome. Clearly there will be no Joe Flacco, and don’t expect to see Marc Bulger either. Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Todd Heap, Michael Oher, Matt Birk, Marshal Yanda, Ben Grubbs, Haloti Ngata, Trevor Pryce, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Jarret Johnson, Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain are all guys I wouldn’t expect to see either. Probably even more than that.

5. The AP’s David Ginsburg says Matusz sparkled as Orioles topped Boston Red Sox at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Boy has Brian Matusz ever been really FREAKING good recently.

I know the BoSox have just about given up at this point late in the season, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have real players in their lineup.

Matusz has been good recently no matter who the opposition was.

If this is shaping up for Matusz to become the STELLAR young starting pitcher so many folks were hoping he would, the O’s will be in a much better place as an organization.

But with that being said, they still need to go get a real front of the rotation-type starter this offseason to match Matusz and Jeremy Guthrie. If Andy MacPhail does that, everything changes in Charm City.

That’s a big “if.”

6. The AP/WNST.net provide numerical evidence of win

Matusz’s line: 6IP, 2ER, 6H, BB, 6K

Luke Scott added his 26th home run of the season (as well as a 2nd RBI and a 2nd run scored) and Felix Pie hit his 5th home run as well. Nick Markakis crushed his 40th double of the season (giving him four 40 double seasons for his career) and Brian Roberts went 2-4 and scored a run as well.

The numbers are good. Go look at them. When you get back, Nina Senicar will be waiting for you with a photo from GQ in Italy. Thanks, Guyism!

Nina

7. MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli says Brandon Snyder, Robert Andino, Nolan Reimold to be part of September callups for Birds

It is also widely speculated that Chris Tillman will be part up callups, we’ll get back to him shortly.

After struggling for the better part of the season, it is good to see that Brandon Snyder is going to get a shot at the Major League Level. By no means do I believe he should be penciled in to play 1B next season, but it will be interesting to see what he has to offer.

I have a nightmare that keeps playing out in my head. The nightmare is that the Orioles report to Sarasota for Spring Training with the plan to platoon Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold in LF.

I PRAY that isn’t the case.

8. The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Chris Tillman shined for Norfolk Tides, Manny Machado picked up RBI double for Aberdeen Ironbirds on farm

And before we move on from the Orioles, a few things…

-The O’s are back in action tonight against the Sawx, with Jon Lester facing Jake Arrieta. First pitch at OPACY is at 7:05pm and the game can be seen on MASN.

-Did you miss Bowie Baysox pitcher Eddie Gamboa this morning with Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST? Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net to check it out. Some other things you can find in the Audio Vault include…

  • Arnold Palmer-who teamed up with Fred Mills Wednesday morning to talk golf and prostate health with Drew
  • Jon Saraceno (USA Today)-who talked about Rex Ryan and the Jets with Drew Wednesday as well

Plus PLENTY more. It’s all in the Audio Vault, make sure you check it out today. I keep doing so much for you…

9. Washington Post’s Liz Clarke says Ellicott City’s Beatrice Capra beat Karolina Sprem at U.S. Open

This is awesome. In fact, it’s even more awesome because Pam Shriver was talking about it last night during the Caroline Wozniacki match. Much love for tennis in the greater Baltimore area.

Also awesome? The text message Boomer Sooner sent me last night…

“How am I supposed to get anything done when this unseeded dude is forcing Rafael Nadal into tiebreaks?”

I’ll admit it. It took EVERYTHING inside of me to not respond; “Marry me.”

10. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Travis Baltz could be forced into kicking duties for injured Nick Ferrara when Maryland plays Navy Monday

Nick Ferrara did a good job punting for the Terps when Travis Baltz was hurt last year.

With that said, I have NO interest in seeing Travis Baltz try to kick field goals for the Terrapins this year.

I however DO have an interest in seeing as much of Phuong Nguyen as possible. Thanks, The Smoking Jacket!

nguyen

And finally, I leave you with this.

I’m headed to Timonium Friday for the Maryland State Fair, but before that I made a pit stop this weekend at the Maryland Renaissance Festival down in Annapolis…or Crownsville…or whatever the hell that town is called. It was AWESOME.

They have ice cream in cantaloupe bowls…

cantaloupe

Octoberfest in tankards…

octoberfest

Games I have no idea how to play…

games

And I found a new calling as an axe thrower!

axe

In a word…GLORIOUS.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 19 August 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Thursday!

It’s a Happy Thursday for me because Deadspin introduced me to what is unquestionably the greatest sport ever created by human beings or any other species throughout history. It’s called the “Fight Football League” and it is some sort of combination of football, rugby and Mixed Martial Arts…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXMsmxWRLpY[/youtube]

Here’s actual footage of a match as well…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=li9hP6z5DLo[/youtube]

Apparently the sport only exists in Italy, which only goes to prove BASICALLY what we knew all along…Italians are better than everyone. Go ahead and call us “divers” again there Drew Forrester.

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. The AP’s David Ginsburg says Jeremy Guthrie beat up as Orioles fell to Seattle Mariners at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

One of the things we’ve grown accustomed to under Buck Showalter here in Charm City is that he’s going to let his starters pitch.

Last night may not have been the most appropriate time to do that.

Jeremy Guthrie has clearly been this team’s most reliable starter in 2010, but he wasn’t great last night.

Losing 2 of 3 at home to the M’s doesn’t mean doesn’t mean the bloom is off the rose for the new skipper, but it does mean that there is still a level of reality to be understood.

This is a bad team-no matter the manager. We just hope they can continue to be SLIGHTLY better because the skipper continues to light a fire under the asses of as many players as possible.

I think a lot of us had hoped we were past the time when this team would drop 2 of 3 at home to a team like the Mariners. I guess the reality is that they at least showed some effort last night.

2. The AP/WNST.net offer numerical evidence of loss

Hey-Matt Wieters hit a home run. How about that???

Other than that, not a whole lot to see here. So why don’t you take a look at Jessica Hall from Rukus magazine and then we’ll regroup after! (Thanks Guyism!)

jessicahall

3. MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli says Manny Machado could report to Sarasota as early as Sunday

I would take this time to warn that this ISN’T Matt Wieters. Machado is coming out of high school in Miami-and no matter how many people compare him to A-Rod, it’s going to take some time. Wieters was coming out of college, and didn’t have as much to prove at Bowie and Norfolk. Machado is going to have to start in the Gulf Coast League, and probably has a LOT of A ball ahead of him in the next year or 2…or 3…or 4.

Just ask Billy Rowell. But we’ll get back to him.

I’d also like to take this to warn that no matter how nice it is described by Don Chavez, the Mila Kunis-Natalie Portman kissing scene PROBABLY won’t be enough to make you want to go see the movie Black Swan-even if it was made by the same guy who made “The Wrestler”. I’m just being honest…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9DevdBithM[/youtube]

4. NBCSports.com’s Bert Blyleven says Buck Showalter can only help O’s ‘so much’

I hate to keep saying this.

If the organization does NOT go get real Major League Baseball players to improve the roster this offseason, nothing is going to change. Even with Buck Showalter as manager, a bad team will lose…like how they’ve lost 2 of 3 to the lowly Mariners this week at home.

If they go get real players AND continue to develop their own (not one OR the other), they’ll have a chance to improve. Even in the mighty AL East. That’s not Glenn Clark saying that, that’s a should-be Hall of Fame pitcher saying that.

5. The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Billy Rowell had big night for Frederick Keys in win over Wilmington Blue Rocks on farm

And before we move on from the Birds, a couple of things…

-The Orioles open up a 4 game series with the Texas Rangers tonight at OPACY; first pitch between Brian Matusz and Colby Lewis is at 7:05pm and the game can be seen on MASN.

-Reliever Jim Johnson is slated to make a rehab appearance for the Frederick Keys starting tonight. I’m not sure what Jim Johnson’s role will be with this team moving forward-but it will be good to at least have him in the mix.

6. WNST.net’s Luke Jones says Oniel Cousins carted from McDaniel College field with ‘headache’ during Ravens Training Camp Wednesday

I’ll take John Harbaugh at his word, but I think this could remain an issue. The bigger issue is that with Jared Gaither, Tony Moll and Cousins all banged up-the team could be left needing Ramon Harewood to play the great majority of the game Saturday night at FedEx Field.

I KNOW the team wants to leave Marshal Yanda at RG and use Chris Chester as a reserve interior lineman-but I get the feeling they have to at least CONSIDER switching Yanda outside for the good of the entire unit at this point.

Hopefully Gaither and Cousins are both ready to go on September 13 against the New York Jets, but I’m not convinced both will be just yet.

7. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says CB Lardarius Webb could be activated from PUP list ‘soon’

Wait a second…what is this?

Good news??? From Westminster???

I’m just not so sure I believe it!

In all honesty, it would make a WORLD of difference for the Baltimore Ravens if Lardarius Webb were to begin practicing soon-as it would significantly improve his chances of being on the field in East Rutherford for the Monday Night Football opener.

No matter when Lardarius Webb is activated, I don’t necessarily expect to see him on the field next week against the New York Giants or on the field in two weeks against the St. Louis Rams. That being said, none of that matters.

All that matters is whether or not he can see the field at the Meadowlands. If he can, it helps everything about this team…but you already know that.

You also probably already know that Sheridyn Fisher is a LOVELY gal. (Thanks The Smoking Jacket!)

fisher

8. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Ryan Mink says CB Fabian Washington will play Saturday night against Washington Redskins

MORE good news?!?!? WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE!?!?!?

Before we move on from the Ravens, a few things…

-Your LAST chance to view Ravens practice this year is THIS AFTERNOON at 2:45pm. Practice will be closed to the public tomorrow, and the heads back to Owings Mills next week. If you had wanted to get out for Camp, make sure you do it THIS AFTERNOON. Luke Jones is on the scene, he’ll be checking in with Thyrl Nelson and Rex Snider throughout the day.

-Rookie DT Arthur Jones announced on Twitter that he was fined $5,000 for an illegal block during the Carolina Panthers game last Thursday. If I ever Tweet about a $5,000 fine-you can be sure that I’m doing it bankrupt. (You can follow US on Twitter @WNST.)

-Did you miss Ravens Safety/potential punt returner Tom Zbikowski with Thyrl Nelson yesterday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” here on AM1570 WNST? Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault today to check it out! Some other things you can check out in the Audio Vault include:

  • Audio from Training Camp Wednesday-including John Harbaugh and WR David Reed
  • Washington Redskins CB (and former Maryland Terrapins CB) Kevin Barnes-who joined Rex Snider Wednesday afternoon to preview Saturday night’s game
  • Steve Wyche (NFL.com)-who talked Brett Favre and more with Rex Wednesday
  • Paul White (USA Today)-who talked Buck Showalter, Orioles with Thyrl
  • Brian McRae (WHB Kansas City, former Royals OF and Baseball Tonight analyst)-who went around baseball with Thryl
  • Larry McReynolds (FOX NASCAR Analyst)-who talked some bumping and grinding with Rex
  • All of the Baltimore sports media tryouts you’ve heard on “The Morning Reaction” with Nestor Aparicio

It’s all in the Audio Vault, so once again your day is planned. I’m much too good to you…

9. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Terps coach Ralph Friedgen planned to meet new University President Wallace D. Loh Wednesday afternoon in College Park

And for more on the hiring of Wallace D. Loh and ALL things Maryland-related, make sure you check out this week’s edition of the “D1scast” with myself and Patrick Stevens. You can hear it in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault today, and it’s worth checking out.

And while we’re on the topic of Maryland, Patrick also recently passed along that Gary Williams’ basketball team would be facing North Florida December 29 at 8pm at Comcast Center. So…you know…go ahead and cancel your New Year’s Eve trip plans. You can’t miss that!

10. Tribune Newspapers says Michael Phelps won 200 meter butterfly at Pan Pacifics, remained unsatisfied

And finally, I leave you with this.

Geekologie says KFC is testing a new sandwich called “The Skinwich”, which is apparently a sandwich made entirely of fried chicken skin.

Yes. I’m serious…

skinwich

This is the reason why the United States of America is the greatest country on the face of the planet.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Timing Fishy As Birds Reportedly Set to Hire Showalter

Posted on 11 July 2010 by Glenn Clark

Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Baltimore Orioles are “close to (a) deal” to hire Buck Showalter as manager; citing major league sources.

There is nothing particularly surprising about this news, as it has long been assumed that Showalter was the front-runner for the position. What IS surprising is that it comes on the same day the Baltimore Sun had reported that Juan Samuel would be the team’s manager following the All-Star Game.

Rosenthal stated in his story that it is unlikely the team would make the hire official until after the ASG, as Bud Selig and the MLB Commissioner’s office doesn’t like having individual clubs “upstage” the marquee event. However, it seems unlikely that a high-ranking O’s official would tell The Sun the team would keep Samuel as manager knowing they were “close” to a deal with the former manager of the New York Yankees, Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers.

There’s something very fishy about the two reports.

Perhaps the timing issues have something to do with the much-discussed idea that the team could hire Showalter as manager yet still let Juan Samuel continue to manage the team on the field. The discussion has centered around the idea that Showalter would be allowed to spend the year traveling to Norfolk, Bowie, Frederick, Aberdeen, Delmarva, Bluefield and Sarasota to get the feel for the entire organization.

I have dismissed this idea publicly not because I have any inside knowledge of whether or not it was true-but more because the idea is so stupid that it doesn’t really warrant mention. Or because the idea is so stupid that only the Baltimore Orioles could have thought of it.

Hey, plenty of good organizations have two men in charge at the same time! For example…the Washington Redskins decided to hire Mike Shanahan last season before they fired Jim Zorn! And when have the Washington Redskins ever done anything wrong?!?!?

The problem here is that IF this is the case (and I pray to God it isn’t), the team would then have two managers in place. One manager (Samuel) who is running the club on a day-to-day basis and appears to have found some level of respect from his ballclub. The other (Showalter) who will be spending time looking at players-the majority of which will never see a field in Charm City.

If Andy MacPhail is responsible for the organization, why would Buck Showalter need to worry about how the Ironbirds are doing?

My understanding is that in Major League Baseball (and despite the fact that I’m not welcome at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I still have YEARS of experience covering MLB teams) managers are responsible for the team ON THE FIELD-not for making sure the right 4A guys are out there so that the Tides can make a run at the Charlotte Knights on the AAA level.

I believe both reports. The problem is-if both are true, something like this almost has to be going on.

That can’t be the case, right? This was such a good weekend in Arlington. I refuse to believe that Peter Angelos and company are going to screw something else up after the best 4 days of the season.

I don’t know why I refuse to believe it considering everything else they’ve screwed up, but I guess there’s still an orange Kool-Aid drinker inside of me that prays not everything can be as messed up as it seems.

We’ll see.

-G

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Enduring the second half: What I’d like to see from the Orioles (Part 1 of 2)

Posted on 05 July 2010 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles officially reaching the halfway point of the season on Sunday, the second half of the schedule began much like the first—with a 12-9 loss in Detroit on Monday afternoon.

It’s no secret that much of Baltimore has shifted its attention to the Ravens and the upcoming start of training camp with the Orioles appearing destined to finish with the worst record in franchise history. Whether you choose to persevere through the season’s final three months or tune out in hopes of regaining your sanity after the horrid first half, much needs to be accomplished between now and October—on and off the field.

The most critical question of whether Andy MacPhail and Peter Angelos will commit to significantly improving the roster via free agency and trades in the offseason will linger long after October—and beyond—but in the mean time, a plethora of other issues can be addressed, some by the organization and others by players themselves.

If I had a crystal ball to predict what will unfold over the final three months of 2010, here’s what I’d like to see:

1. A new skipper is hired

This one is a no-brainer, but it’s imperative that the Orioles bring in a guy who truly wants the job and is willing to do the legwork of changing the culture of losing that exists in the clubhouse. It won’t happen by season’s end or even in 2011, but the club needs a dynamic leader.

I’ve championed Buck Showalter as the man, mainly due to his work with the Arizona Diamondbacks during the infancy of the franchise. Showalter, of course, did not stick around long enough to enjoy the fruits of his labor when Arizona won the World Series in 2001, but his obsessive work ethic could hopefully do wonders for the Orioles’ player development.

With MacPhail’s preference for an experienced manager, Showalter might be the man needed to ruffle some feathers, not only at the big-league level but throughout the organization.

2. A true commitment to the international market is made

While most have focused on the Orioles’ inability—or unwillingness—to make improvements through free agency and their poor track record with the amateur draft for the better part of 25 years, the organization continues to abstain from the international market.

The Orioles have opened a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic, but far more needs to be done on the international front, both in the Caribbean and the Far East. The club’s sheer number of international scouts pales in comparison to their competitors in the American League East, a simple but poignant indication that the organization is not doing enough to find talent elsewhere in the world.

And no, signing a 33-year-old Koji Uehara two winters ago doesn’t qualify as really trying.

It won’t fix the franchise alone, but tapping into the international waters instead of wasting $5 million on the Garrett Atkins types of the world every winter is a far better use of resources with a higher potential reward.

As one simple example, Robinson Cano, my choice for Most Valuable Player of the first half, was signed out of the Dominican by the New York Yankees. Talent is out there; it’s up to the Orioles to find and develop it.

3. Do whatever it takes to fix Matt Wieters

The claims of “Mauer with Power” and “Switch-Hitting Jesus” were always ridiculous, but no one—inside or outside of Baltimore—expected Matt Wieters to struggle as he has over the first 600-plus at-bats of his major league career.

It’s not just the .239 average or the lack of power (.344 slugging percentage) this season, but his approach at the plate is undisciplined and his swing is passive, often looking to slap the ball somewhere instead of attacking the baseball when he gets a good pitch to hit.

Many blame Terry Crowley while others will point to the team’s struggles and the overwhelming expectations bestowed upon the young catcher, but Wieters needs help to realize his vast potential.

Whether it’s a new hitting coach, a former Oriole such as Eddie Murray working with him, a demotion to the minors, or the apparition of Charley Lau returning to tinker with his swing, Wieters must get on track if the Orioles are to pull themselves out of this 13-year abyss. Aside from the final month of his rookie season, he’s looked nothing like the future star so many projected him to be.

For the record, I still believe Wieters eventually becomes a good-to-great catcher in the big leagues, but the organization must do everything in its power to help him.

Immediately.

4. The trade pieces perform and are dealt at the deadline

Anyone with delusions that Kevin Millwood, Ty Wigginton, Miguel Tejada, Jeremy Guthrie, or any other veteran would fetch a return comparable to the one the Orioles received for Erik Bedard a few years ago was always setting himself up for disappointment, but these players have a few more weeks to improve their value in hopes of being dealt.

Millwood’s struggles are painfully apparent as the 35-year-old was shelled again on Monday afternoon in Detroit, lasting only an inning while giving up five runs against the Tigers lineup. His 2010 story has transformed from a sympathetic figure (standing at 0-4 despite a 3.26 ERA on May 8th) to one who can’t get anyone out (5.77 ERA after Monday’s start).

Even if MacPhail was unable to find a suitable deal for Millwood at the deadline, there were hopes that Millwood could perhaps fetch a compensatory pick as a Type B free agent—and certain to reject arbitration—but as Millwood’s ERA continues to skyrocket, that likelihood is becoming very unlikely.

Wigginton would appear to have the most value with his recent All-Star selection and the versatility of playing several positions on the diamond, but his hot start feels like a long time ago, and the numbers support it.

Entering Monday afternoon’s game, Wigginton has hit just .218 in 202 at-bats since May 3. For the sake of fetching a better return, a Wigginton hot streak would do wonders by the July 31st deadline.

Tejada might be an attractive option for a team looking for a third baseman or even a short-term answer at shortstop, but his .373 slugging percentage suggests a singles hitter, not the man who once led the league in runs batted in or even the hitter who led the National League in doubles last season. In other words, teams won’t be knocking down the door at the Warehouse to get him.

Guthrie might be the most valuable piece as he’s under control for two more seasons. His 4.64 ERA isn’t sparking by any stretch of the imagination, but a National League team looking for an arm to supplement the back-end of the starting rotation could do far worse than Guthrie.

Of course, the Orioles could elect to hold on to Guthrie because of those two years of control and his positive presence for a young rotation.

Reliever Will Ohman (2.88 ERA) might be another trade candidate, but it’s hard to imagine getting anything more than minor league filler for the lefty specialist.

5. Brian Roberts gets healthy for 2011

The simple act of Brian Roberts taking the field again in 2010 matters very little for a team currently 32 games below .500, but it might be viewed as a symbolic act to show he will be fully-recovered in 2011, the second year of a four-year extension signed 17 months ago.

Roberts is once again taking batting practice in Sarasota, but we’ve heard this story several times already. Surgery continues to be ruled out by all parties, so it’s imperative for Roberts’ back to hold up as we’re now approaching a time frame in which surgery could jeopardize the start of his preparation for the 2011 season.

It’s too late to debate whether it was a good idea to give the then-31-year-old Roberts a four-year extension, so you can only hope the decision to rest and rehabilitate the herniated disc proves to be the right one for his career.

If there’s any long-term risk for Roberts to try to play baseball again in 2010, he should be shut down immediately and given the rest of the season to rest.

Check out Part 2 of what I’d like to see from the Orioles over the season’s final three months later this week.

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Orioles circa 2010: We know they’ll lie, but will they lie down again?

Posted on 06 April 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

I know, I’m like a freaking broken record. Every year I write about how I’ve wrongfully had my media pass revoked and every year the Orioles make up some more lies to justify all of their mean-spiritedness and lack of professionalism. It’s Opening Day, I’ve again been deemed “not a media member” but that’s just the “off the field” stuff.

On the field, the word “improvement” has been thrown around all offseason in regard to the Orioles. As I’ve said many times, when you lose 98 games it’s hard NOT to improve the following season. It can’t get much worse, really.

As sickening as it is that I’ve taken a myriad of phone calls, emails and correspondence wondering “if the Orioles can win 78 games” – as though this disgracefully low bar somehow passes for “improvement” – I am officially one of the optimistic orange Kool Aid drinkers circa April 5th regarding the 2010 season.

It is my belief that this is the best team the Orioles have fielded this century. In 2004, the Orioles “best” performance was indeed 78 wins. Las Vegas has the 2010 Orioles over/under at 74 ½. If I were a betting man, I’d honestly take the “over” for the 2010 Orioles.

But this might be the year they finally prove they were right all along over these past 13 years of “rebuilding” and buying the bats and growing the arms.

Apparently, 78 wins will get a number of people here in Baltimore excited. At least that’s what people think until they realize that even that lofty “goal” would still be 25 games out of first place in AL East and the season would once again be effectively over right around June 20.

People have asked me every day for a month: “What do you think of the Orioles?”

My answer: “It begins with Kevin Millwood.”

Millwood is an unwitting victim of the wrong end of a big contract and the overlooking of putting Baltimore on his “not to visit” list when he inked his last contract in Texas. But, alas, he’s here now and needs to selfishly pitch well, even in MLB’s version of Siberia. He can set the tone with a big effort tonight in Tampa Bay.

It was different when guys like Scott Erickson and Sidney Ponson were poisoning the next generation of Erik Bedard’s with their antics of bush-league, lack of professionalism. Millwood needs to be the “anti-aging” Orioles starting pitcher. He needs to be more like Rick Sutcliffe and less like the aforementioned bunch of vermin who spread their foul temperament and antics through the franchise like baseball’s version of a clubhouse cancer.

I’m not sure what kind of guy Millwood is – and again, therein lies the Orioles ability to unlawfully deny me a chance to do my job after all of these years – but I hope he acclimates, pitches well and leads by example for kids like Brian Matusz, Brad Bergesen and Chris Tillman, who seem like the real thing.

Matusz might win 15 games this year if he stays healthy. And while that certainly IS progress, it’s not really much different than what Rodrigo Lopez and Eric Bedard both did twice in orange en route to meaningless, forgettable seasons for the Orioles.

But, as stated before, I’m bullish on the Orioles in 2010 in regard to “progress.” I think they might be OK and quite competitive against teams not named New York and Boston — if pieces fall into place and if good health can be found.

If the starting pitching can get them to the 6th or 7th inning five nights a week, that will allow for a more rested bullpen and a real chance for .500.

I’m sold on Miguel Tejada as a relevant third baseman in the AL East. I think he’ll hit .300 and be an RBI machine like he’s always been. He might be 50 years old for all we know, but I think he’ll be the least of the Orioles concerns at this point in his career. He’s coming as a complimentary player not the leader and “franchise” guy he was counted on to be six years ago. His lies, transgressions and B-12 shots will not even be a factor this summer in Baltimore.

Of course, this would be a good year for SOMEONE to step up and be the REAL franchise player.

Is it Nick Markakis, who is quietly putting together a nice Orioles career?

Or could it be Adam Jones, whose Tweets are fun to follow when he’s not up all night in San Diego?

Or will it be Matt Wieters, whose hype seemed justified over the final two months of 2009 when it appeared he was ready to become a star?

At least there are several All Star Game candidates in orange this summer. It’s not another summer of David Segui, B.J. Surhoff and Gregg Zaun playing out their late 30′s at Camden Yards.

I’m not a Dave Trembley fan – the team tanked and quit down the stretch last year and each of those 98 losses were well-earned late last summer. Again, when the owner is the cheapest in the game and when Trembley will manage for 1/10th of what the best managers in MLB yield for a salary, I get what the team is doing.

They’re making money. They’re hoping these kids pan out and selling it to what’s left of a tortured fan base and using their media moles to “plant the seed” of hope. At least they can say they “were patient” while Andy MacPhail built what this cake turns out to be circa 2013, when it allegedly will mature. (They’re always two years away from competing with the Yankees and Red Sox, aren’t they?)

So, are the baby Birds ready to fly? Can the team be relevant enough to compete through the All Star break without falling 15 games behind Boston and/or New York?

We’ll see. But for the first time in a long time, they can legitimately threaten to be a .500 team if they stay healthy and have some key young prospects step up the way the insider pundits around the sport believe they will.

If Matusz is real?

If Wieters is real?

If Adam Jones can improve?

If Nick Markakis can remain consistent?

If Brian Roberts’ back can stay healthy?

If all of the young starters can get to the 7th inning with consistency?

If Tejada still has it?

And this is before we start projecting the likes of Jeremy Guthrie, Garrett Atkins, Luke Scott, Felix Pie and Nolan Reimond, who are all a literal box of chocolates. Does anyone really know what any of these guys will wind up doing come mid-summer? And what does anyone know about the bullpen, led by Mike Gonzalez?

Again – it’s the worst run franchise in professional sports. It’s not even close. That much has been borne out in living color over the past 13 summers. That will never change, even if Brooks Robinson is throwing out the first pitch on Friday. They are the worst group of people I’ve met in my 42 years on the planet — pure evil in their deeds, intents and actions.

But, perhaps this is the summer that all of their bloody deeds since 1997 are justified and they get people in Baltimore truly excited and energized about baseball.

If Tampa Bay could do it two years ago there’s no reason to believe the likes of Matusz, Wieters, Reimold, Bergesen, Tillman and company can’t step up to become very productive, young major leaguers and all hit their stride this summer.

It’s certainly a lot more possible than during the era of Omar Daal, Marty Cordova and Kevin Millar or any of the past sins of Peter Angelos’ ugly stewardship as the suddenly disappearing owner.

My real prediction: 78 wins.

I don’t think they can be above .500 with 54 games coming in the division against New York, Boston and Tampa Bay. But I think they will certainly be far better and more interesting on the field than we’ve seen here in Baltimore over the last 13 years.

But given the history, let’s all sip the orange Kool Aid one ounce at a time…

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Orange Chatter: 10 Questions for 2010 (Part 2 of 2)

Posted on 03 April 2010 by Luke Jones

In Part 1 of my 10 Questions for 2010, we pondered the health of Brian Roberts, the status of Jeremy Guthrie and Chris Tillman, and the platoon of Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold.

Here are my second five of 10 questions entering the 2010 season:

6. Is the bullpen up to par?

Following the trade of George Sherrill last summer, it was clear the Orioles struggled in the late innings with Jim Johnson better suited in his previous role as a setup man. Andy MacPhail responded by signing free agent closer Mike Gonzalez to a two-year, $12 million contract, the club’s largest signing of the offseason.

Gonzalez has 54 career saves in a seven-year career, including 10 last season in Atlanta. While the lefty seems capable of closing games–keep in mind Sherrill was never a closer before the trade to Baltimore–Gonzalez battled a stiff back and appeared hesitant to cut it loose in Sarasota until recently. He closed out the spring with a perfect outing against the Mets on Saturday, striking out two and lowering his spring ERA to 5.14.

Gonzalez is joined in the bullpen by two mainstays in Johnson and lefty Mark Hendrickson, who thrived in the bullpen (3.44 ERA) after being moved out of the starting rotation (5.40 as a starter) last season.

However, after these three, the bullpen becomes a bit murkier, especially with Koji Uehara on the disabled list (hamstring) to begin the season. Cla Meredith had a tremendous spring (0.84 ERA) and pitched well in Baltimore after being acquired from the Padres last season but is certainly not a household name with a track record. Newcomer Will Ohman figures to provide plenty of laughs, but Trembley would like to see him evolve into an effective left-handed situational arm (a career 4.25 ERA in seven seasons).

And with three pitchers 25 or younger in the starting rotation, the club will go with two long men in Matt Albers and Jason Berken. Albers was very effective in 2008 (3.49 ERA), but a shoulder injury (torn labrum) and questions surrounding his conditioning led to an abysmal 2009 season in which he pitched to a 5.51 ERA and was demoted to Triple-A Norfolk on three different occasions.

Berken shifts to a long-relief role after starting 24 games last season (6.54 ERA). While the 26-year-old lacks the stuff of an effective starting pitcher, Trembley will look for him to eat innings should a starter be knocked out early. Of course, Berken could find himself back in the starting rotation should there be an injury or two over the course of the seaosn.

A player to keep an eye on at Norfolk is Kam Mickolio, a hard-throwing righty (part of the Erik Bedard trade with Seattle) who appeared to have a good chance of making the 25-man roster before a groin injury limited his opportunities in the spring. He projects as a late-inning man with closer potential.

As is the case with any bullpen on any team, the starting pitching will ultimately decide its fate. If starters are unable to reach the sixth or seventh inning on a consistent basis, this bullpen will inevitably wear down as we’ve seen just about every summer over the last 12 years. Improved starting pitching will hide the weaknesses in the bullpen and allow more opportunities to finish games.

7. Will Miguel Tejada and Garrett Atkins prove to be capable stopgaps?

The corner infield positions were two of MacPhail’s biggest priorities to address in the offseason, and he responded by adding two veterans accustomed to playing different positions than they will in 2010.

Tejada’s return to Baltimore was a controversial decision, but his ability to adjust to third base will be critical to the infield defense and pitching. Most seem to think Tejada will become a capable third baseman, but it’s hard to forget the initial struggles of both Cal Ripken and Melvin Mora when they shifted to the hot corner. One would expect Tejada to struggle in the first month or two of the season before settling in to be an average third baseman.

Tejada will also be asked to handle the cleanup spot in the order, at least until Matt Wieters is ready to grab the reins. While no longer capable of hitting 25 home runs per season—he hit just 27 in two combined seasons in Houston—Tejada led the National League with 47 doubles in 2009.

Across the diamond, Atkins shifts to first base after primarily manning the hot corner in his seven seasons in Colorado. Atkins has played 105 career games at first, so the transition should not be as drastic as Tejada’s.

The acquisition of Atkins was a curious one with the 30-year-old coming off the worst season of his career (.226, 9 home runs, 48 RBI) and safer options such as Adam LaRoche available. The club hopes Atkins can regain his pre-2009 form when he averaged 25 home runs and 110 RBI over three seasons.

Neither player figures to be in the fold when the Orioles aim to contend in the next few years—both signed one-year deals—but with prospects Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder likely a year away from the big leagues, Tejada and Atkins will be depended on for offense and steady defense on the corners. At the very least, neither contract will come back to haunt the club should either player prove ineffective.

8. How good will Brian Matusz be?

Though the hype hasn’t rivaled the insane expectations for Wieters, Matusz appears set to contend for the 2010 American League Rookie of the Year after starting eight games down the stretch, going 5-2 with a 4.63 ERA.

His 2009 minor league numbers look like something out of a video game, as he went a combined 11-2 with a 1.91 ERA at Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie. In fact, Matusz was even better after being promoted to Bowie, going a perfect 7-0 record with a 1.55 ERA in eight starts.

Matusz was fantastic in the spring, finishing with a 2.59 ERA while striking out 21 and walking just three in 24.1 innings.

There’s a reason why he’s on every top-10 prospect list you’ll find this spring. Though Matusz would be hard-pressed to match Mike Mussina’s numbers in his first full year in 1992, don’t be shocked if he’s the Orioles’ best pitcher by mid-season. He might be already.

A scout was recently asked about Matusz in Baseball Prospectus: “He might have been the best pitcher I saw all spring, and I’m not just talking about prospects.”

Need we say more?

9. Is Dave Trembley managing his last season in Baltimore?

While many wondered about Trembley’s job security as the Orioles collapsed down the stretch last season, which included a 13-game losing streak that nearly pushed the club past the 100-loss mark, MacPhail retained Trembley while also declaring the 2010 season would be judged more critically on wins and losses.

It’s clear Trembley has had a near-impossible task trying to win with inferior talent in the AL East, but the skipper cannot expect a free ride either. Baserunning gaffes, poor fundamentals, and questionable bullpen management were major issues in 2009, regardless of who was on the field. It’s no secret the Orioles lack the talent of the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays, so playing fundamentally-sound baseball is an absolute necessity if the club wants to improve in 2010.

Trembley’s supporters continue to claim he hasn’t had a chance to compete in his three seasons as manager, but the lack of talent cannot excuse some of the problems witnessed in 2009. Having bad players doesn’t mean you’re a bad manager, but it doesn’t mean you’re a capable manager either.

It’s imperative for the club to make significant improvement in 2010, or Trembley will be shown the door at the end of the season—if not sooner.

10. Will the Orioles make it an unlucky number 13?

Twelve years.

Twelve painful, long years.

The Orioles begin the new decade after closing out the first 10 years of the century without a winning season, their last winning campaign coming in 1997.

But unlike most of the last 12 years, it really looks as though the team will improve from where it was a year ago, though it’s difficult to go any direction but up after a 98-loss season. The problem is even a 15-game improvement–a tremendous accomplishment—would only create a 79-83 mark and a 13th straight losing season.

If the Orioles have any hope of a .500 season, they not only have to thrive against the AL Central and West but must find a way to avoid the utter embarrassment experienced last year against the Yankees and Red Sox.

The Orioles were 5-13 against the Bronx Bombers, and the results were even worse with the Red Sox, as Baltimore was an egregious 2-16 against Boston. Another 7-29 mark—far and away their worst record against the two AL East powers over the last 12 seasons—is unacceptable, if not unfathomable.

Forget about money, competitive imbalance, or recent history. A .194 winning percentage over 36 games against the Yankees and Red Sox should never happen.

When it all adds up, the Orioles can make significant improvement in 2010, but it looks like a 13th consecutive losing season is almost inevitable.

A record in the neighborhood of 77-85 will not rejuvenate the fan base immediately, but it would be a sizable step in the right direction.

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