Tag Archive | "scott"

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Triple losses: First the Caps, then the Orioles, then Danny Gokey

Posted on 14 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Despite the fun we had in Dundalk last night with an evening of 12 semifinal auditions at Donna’s Tavern, it was an ugly night for local sports. The Capitals fell behind early and had one of the most disappointing Game 7 efforts in recent memory. The Orioles got clubbed by the Rays while Adam Jones left the game early with a hamstring pull.

And, adding insult to the injury that effectively ended my hockey season, my favorite American Idol contestant Danny Gokey got bounced by the American public in a shocking turn of events. (Somehow, I think Kris Allen got through just because he looks like Brian Roberts!)

The Capitals played the entire postseason from behind and last night it finally caught up with them. Simeon Varlamov’s magic ended quite early last night and Bruce Boudreau and the troops must be devastated – if not embarrassed – by that performance in a Game 7 last night. It’s always hard getting eliminated, but not showing up prepared to compete in a game like last night is unacceptable.

The home-ice advantage was nullified pretty early last night in D.C. and it will be a tough offseason after losing a game in that fashion.

The Orioles and Rays combined for 30 hits last night and the teams scored eight runs in the 9th inning, taking turns using each other’s bullpens as piñatas. Bob McCrory got a rough big-league initiation last night, giving up four runs in 1 2/3 innings and Troy Percival entered the game with an 8-2 lead and came close to allowing the Orioles to force extra innings.

Obviously, with Adam Jones leaving the game with a hamstring tweak after losing Luke Scott and Felix Pie to various ailments earlier in the week, it was an ueasy night at The Yard. The Orioles (14-20) will take to the road now for 10 games in 11 days in Kansas City, New York and Washington, D.C.

Nolan Reimold is the “next man up” and McCrory is headed back to Norfolk.

More roster decisions are coming for Rich Hill at some point this weekend and the inevitable Matt Wieters call-up and the need for better starting pitching continue to loom for the franchise.

And, last but not least, the loss of Danny Gokey was probably the biggest shocker of the night. Given that the American Idol competition is a pure “viewer vote” it’s almost impossible to handicap who will actually like these singers and then go through the rigors of voting for them.

So, while Adam Lambert and Kris Allen are clearly talented guys, it’s almost like having a phone vote for U2, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. Who knows which one would get the most votes? It’s a big crapshoot.

Either way, I hope Gokey does well in the “real” world because he seemed like an affable, talented guy with a great story to tell. I’d buy an album by Danny Gokey. I can’t say the same for Lambert or Allen.

Meantime, we had our own “American Idol” competition in Dundalk at Donna’s last night. I’ll blog a little later with those results and we’ll get the videos into wnsTV soon.

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Hendrickson stinks but bullpen holds up, Birds beat Rays 7-5

Posted on 13 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Betting the “over” in last night’s game certainly looked like a sure thing over the first three innings but once starters Andy Sonnanstine and Mark Hendrickson left the game the real pitching took over and the Orioles held on to beat Tampa Bay 7-5 last night at Camden Yards.

All of the scoring took place before the 4th inning and both bullpens were taxed in the interim, with Brian Bass emerging as the biggest star on the hill, working four scoreless innings after Adam Jones hit homers in the first and second innings of the game.

So much for starting pitching: Sonnanstine gave up nine hits and seven earned runs in two innings and Hendrickson’s evening was just as ugly as he allowed six hits and five earned runs in two innings.

Felix Pie left the game with an undisclosed stomach ailment and was actually transported to the hospital. Without Luke Scott tonight, they O’s may play with just two bench players. Could a call-up be looming?

The Orioles go for yet another “mini” sweep tonight as they send Brad Bergesen (1-0, 4.98) to the hill against Tampa’s Jeff Niemann (2-3, 5.65).

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Orioles and MLB continue to insult fans with “rainball” at Camden Yards

Posted on 07 May 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

While you and most everyone you know was asleep last night, the Orioles, MLB and umpire Randy Marsh were seeing to it that a regulation major league game was played last night at Camden Yards.

In an embarrassing display of disregard for the fans and the players in a game that “officially” went until 12:19 a.m. this morning, Marsh spent six hours of the evening through four rain delays to get the Twins and Orioles onto the field for six innings of water-logged baseball and the Orioles stole a 4-1 win.

Today, on “Limited Access” at 2 p.m., we’ll be discussing how it’s evenings like Wednesday night and the utter disregard for the paying customers and their own athletes that continue to find Oriole Park empty most nights.  Can you imagine having a full-priced ticket for last night’s game and having to endure an evening at the ballpark where it rains all night and they insist on playing the game against any common sense?

As expected, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was red-faced with anger and livid that the game ever began — and anyone who looked at the forecast and/or the radar could’ve seen that the chances of playing a legitimate MLB game last night were slim.

Gardenhire said in his postgame press conference: “”The game should have never started in the first place. We never had a window all night long. All you have to do is look at the radar, and you see it’s supposed to rain all night long. Once we stopped the first time, we should never have gone right back out there. There was never more than a 15-minute window to do anything. It stopped raining, starting raining hard again.”

“It’s a joke,” he said, finishing with an obvious statement that I’m sure Bud Selig will fine him for at some point later in the day.

Gardenhire also told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

“Once we got going, we tried to play five innings. And Major League Baseball is nine innings. And we didn’t get a chance to do that because the weather, from the get-go, showed that we shouldn’t be doing this. From the get go!

“Somebody made a mistake here and screwed up. I don’t know who is supposed to be accountable for this mess, but my team ends up paying the final price.”

The Orioles will take any charity at this point, earning their 11th win of the year against 17 losses. As usual, it was Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Luke Scott leading the attack, each with a pair of hits. Markakis and Scott both hit homers.

As for the pitching, getting guys loose in the bullpen during these “on-off” rainy nights is a nightmare on the staff. The Orioles used up both Mark Hendrickson and Brian Bass over the six innings of the game.

Tonight, it’ll be Brad Bergesen (1-0, 5.17) vs. Glen Perkins (1-2, 3.34) in the cap of another two-game series at Camden Yards.

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Who will the Ravens pick this weekend? Some clues here…

Posted on 24 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

You gotta love the NFL. The league hasn’t snapped the football in almost three months and the buzz is as strong for the draft as it is for Week 7 of the regular season. It never ends this love of American football. So much enthusiasm and energy and talk about the 26th pick on Saturday for the Ravens.

Amidst that, there are all sorts of stories and storylines:

What will happen with Anquan Boldin and are the Ravens really involved?

My gut AND my sources tell me that it’s not very likely. The notion that Ozzie Newsome would trade a No. 1 and a No. 3 and then have to back up a brink’s truck for Boldin is highly unlikely. Plus, the cap issues of taking on another superstar making a super premium salary seem daunting. If the Ravens had that kind of money, they should’ve kept Bart Scott, right?

Who are the players the Ravens really like and would select at No. 26?

It’s always a crapshoot on draft day when you pick so low. The Ravens were greatly affected by the Atlanta trade for Tony Gonzales yesterday because it’s clear that the Falcons won’t be taking tight end Brandon Pettigrew with pick No. 24. Every name that comes off the board in the first 25 spots – and every trade up or back, and we expect a few – will affect what’s left when the 26th pick hits the clock.

So, when people ask me today and all day tomorrow, “Who will the Ravens pick?” I tell them the same thing every year: “Even Ozzie Newsome has no idea who they’ll wind up getting with a pick so low.”

That said, I’ll take a low pick on draft day every year into perpetuity. The joy of a single-digit pick is far outweighed by the agony of dealing with 16 weeks of bad football during a 6-10 season. Let Cincinnati and Cleveland pick early every year from now until the end of time.

All of these weeks and months of mock drafts are just that: a mockery. One unexpected trade on draft day – and with lunatics like Al Davis, Mike Brown and Daniel Snyder running drafts there’s always somebody doing something – not to mention other legitimate trades for more picks or value, it’s more impossible to predict a mock draft correctly than filling out a perfect March Madness pool. I think you’d have a better chance of hitting the lotto tonight for $150 million.

And once one team or one player goes awry, the whole draft changes. Everyone tries to handicap it but it’s a futile effort.

But this much I know: The Ravens would LOVE to trade a few times over the weekend, which is all the more reason to be on our text service. They only have six picks. They’d rather have seven or eight.

Here are some names of guys — and some key positions of need for the Ravens — that you should keep an eye on over the weekend as the names come off the board:

Center – Alex Mack, California. The Ravens brought him into town and checked him out thoroughly. He’s a tough, smart “Raven” kinda guy. If they trade out of No. 26 to move backward (and I still think this is VERY likely because they really want more picks), Mack would be a early 2nd rounder that will help the team. The only question is whether he can help the team at guard because the team already has a two-year solution at center in Matt Birk.

Tight end – A “dream” scenario for the team would be if Brandon Pettigrew fell to them at No. 26. The Philadelphia Eagles at No. 21 would be the one team to tie them up but that’s looking less likely. Again, the Falcons deal yesterday to acquire Gonzales helps the Ravens if they indeed covet Pettigrew, who is a beast at 6-6 and could help the pass protection and provide a safety valve for Joe Flacco.

Wide receiver – While the whole universe seems to think the Ravens are desperate for a wide out, I’m not convinced they’ll take one in the first round. Perhaps they’d select Kenny Britt of Rutgers if he’s still on the board but I don’t think Hakeem Nicks will be their choice. I’ve been saying for two months that WR is not the team’s most acute need nor should they burn a first-round pick on the riskiest of all positions on draft day.

Defensive back – Vontae Davis and Darius Butler. You can never have too many cornerbacks. They’re like pitchers in baseball. If you don’t get one in the first round you’re probably not getting one you feel comfortable in calling a starter. It’s the toughest role this side of QB to fill in the NFL. Davis comes with some immaturity and a little bit of baggage, but he’s the closest thing to a poor man’s Chris McAlister in this draft.

Defensive line/LB – Rey Maualuga. He’s probably the only player in the No. 26 range that the Ravens would consider and this isn’t their greatest need. If they were to take a LB here it would tell you a lot about how highly rated this player would have to be on their overall board. Honestly, all of the USC linebackers look attractive and will almost certainly be gone by the time the Ravens get on the clock in the second round with pick No. 55.

Here’s my hope: Brandon Pettigrew

Here’s my “prediction”: Rey Maualuga

The real story of the Ravens’ drafts and their relative success since 1996 has been tied to what happens AFTER the first round. Between Newsome, Eric DeCosta and Phil Savage and their staffs, over the years the Ravens have become the best team in the league on the last weekend of April. It’s how Newsome and this department has survived so long in one place. It’s an absolute anomaly.

Think about it: What were the odds that in 1996 when Ozzie Newsome passed on Lawrence Phillips and selected Jon Ogden and then went on to take Ray Lewis instead of Leland McElroy at the No. 26 pick that he’d STILL be here in April 2009 making decisions for Baltimore’s football team?

Newsome is still here because he’s really, really great at evaluating talent. He’s got a gift. He’s not always right but he’s been right more than virtually anyone on the planet at doing this.

And most experts say this draft is NOT deep for starting talent beginning Sunday morning. For whatever reason, most scouts aren’t feeling great about finding the next Adalius Thomas or Jason Brown late in the day on Sunday.

It’s a great weekend to be a football fan. It’s a great weekend to be a draftnik. Or just a nerd, like me.

I’ll be bellied up to the bar at Padonia Station at 3 p.m. drinking $2 Michelob Ultras and watching the draft and sending texts to everyone on the text service.

We’re having a “Textathon” weekend because this is the one weekend when we know we’ll be sending you a lot of stuff.

We hope if you’re not on the service you consider joining. And, if you are, we hope you’ll forward our texts to your PSL, purple-loving friends so they know the news and know about WNST.net and our cool text service.

Thanks!

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Adam Eaton pitches a gem, Birds beat Pale Hose 6-0

Posted on 23 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Well, just when you think you’ve seen it all, right? Tonight Adam Eaton, the former O’s No. 5 starter, went 7 1/3 innings and held even his harshest skeptics spellbound with a dazzling 6-hit, 9-strikeout effort while surrendering just two runs upon his exit in the EIGHTH inning.

Lo and behold, the Orioles have won yet another series, beating the White Sox 6-2 tonight at Camden Yards. Everyone got into the act with some offense. Aubrey Huff, Ty Wigginton and even Felix Pie contributed two hits and Adam Jones, Nick Markakis Luke Scott and Cesar Izturis also got hits.

I think Buck Martinez did himself proud with this profound statement: “I like pitchers but I’m happy to have seen only three of them tonight!” Amen, Buck!

The game was a brisk 2:31 affair. Good pitching. Good hitting. Hasty baseball. There were only about 6,000 there but they were treated to an old-school Orioles effort tonight.

Adam Eaton showed some heart tonight. The offense battled early, stranding runners all over the place. But they proved tough. Next up: Koji Uehara and the Rangers and the Saturday “doubleheader” with purple caps.

Bring on the summer weather!

9:15 p.m. — Adam Eaton just walked off the hill to a standing ovation from about 6,000 faithful at Camden Yards tonight. I’ve been watching in amazement as he looks like Steve Stone in his prime to me. Maybe the Steve Stone appearance on WNST yesterday made me think about his greatness during the 1980 season.

His line against the Chicago White Sox is a gem by any standard: 7 1/3 IP, 6H, 0R, oW, 9 strikeouts.

WOW. I’ve been speechless most of the night. Who knew? Late maturity? A one-night wonder? The beginning of a trend?

Of course, at 102 pitches, Dave Trembley just came to get him and he’ll rest up to go again next week.

It’s 6-0 Birds up in the 8th. Jim Johnson is trying to get the White Sox back into the game with the bases loaded.

The crowd tonight looks so light on TV that they’re having trouble finding packs of people standing together to shoot. I’ve honestly never seen it more empty than the last two nights.

I hope the Ravens giving tickets away actually gets some people to walk in on Saturday night. And the weather is supposed to be crazy good!

Jim Thome has just knocked in two runs. So much for the shutout…

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To Draft or Not To Draft

Posted on 17 April 2009 by Nicholas Miskelly

To Draft or Not To Draft 

As draft day approaches I have begun to think in greater depth about what the Ravens should do with their first pick. The Ravens have traditionally been one of the best teams in the NFL when it comes to drafting and evaluating talent.  The great Ozzie Newsome always puts this team in the best possible position to draft value with a pick and never based on need.  He has done it again this year. 

After the season was over the Ravens had a lot of decisions to make.  They had to decide who to re-sign, who to let go, and for those who left, how would they be replaced?  We saw the likes of Bart Scott, Chris McAlister, Jason Brown, and Jim Leonhard all leave via free agency.  But after that we saw Ozzie reload as only Ozzie can.  He brought in Matt Birk at center, Foxworth at corner, and L.J Smith at tight end to sure up potential weaknesses or thin areas for the Ravens.  He also resigned Samari Rolle and signed Chris Carr to the team to make sure there was great depth in the secondary and coverage on the special teams unit.  Heading into the draft this team is complete and does not have any glaring need that must be addressed early in this draft.  Furthermore this team has a wealth of young talent that they did not have room for last year with the likes of Prescott Burgess and Tavares Gooden.  This team is in as comfortable of a position as any team heading into the draft.  This is why they must consider adding Boldin to the team.  He may very well be the one missing piece. 

While the Ravens do not typically like to trade their top pick or a bulk of their picks in a draft, this year might be the year to do so.  I know the Ravens have only six picks this year but if you give up your first and your third round picks you will be gaining more value in Boldin than you would be giving away with what could come in with those two picks.  Wide receiver is the hardest position to fill in the draft and more times then not the pick results in a bust.  The game is so much more physical at the NFL level it is just impossible to project how well receivers will do and which ones will be a bust.  Boldin is a perfect example.  He was a second round draft pick because teams could not project how well he would do.  This year looks to be a crap shoot again as teams try to guess which wide-out is worth taking.  The Ravens are one of those teams and by trading for Boldin it would eliminate all of the guesswork. 

Look at this way:  Who might the Ravens draft with the 26th overall pick?  Most projections I have seen have the Ravens looking at a corner or, you guessed it, a wide receiver.  Thanks to Ozzie’s great offseason the Ravens have added depth and talent to their secondary.  A corner pick here is no longer a must but rather more like a luxury.  A wide receiver for this team makes the most sense, so why not get the best? This years best available is not Percy Harvin, Hakeem Nicks(I think is the best in the draft), Kenny Britt, or even Darrius Heyward-Bey.  That is right, the best wide-out available this year is Boldin.  The Ravens fans want him.  The Ravens need him.

Boldin is young, only 28, and can help this team for another 5 years.  He will come in and have an immediate impact on this offense, especially on Joe Flacco.  The other benefit of getting Boldin is that you would not have to wait for him to develop.  He is ready to go on day one.  Let’s face it the Ravens are not getting any younger on defense and guys like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed do not have the years left to wait for a rookie to develop.  Flacco is also emerging into a star and we do not need to hold him back while waiting for the rookie WR to develop.

Traditionally the Ravens have not been afraid to pull the trigger to trade up in the draft to get guys they felt were important to this team and may not be available when it is their turn to draft, ala Joe Flacco.  So why not pull the trigger this year.  Just because Boldin is not in the draft does not mean we should write off the idea of dealing our picks.   

Give up the picks and bring Baltimore a star thus narrowing the gap between the Super Bowl champions and the Baltimore Ravens!!! 

 

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Orioles are 6-2: Jones 2-run blast, big 10th inning lifts Birds to 7-5 win over Texas

Posted on 14 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Another exciting game. Another tight win. Another night where the bullpen was used and abused but this time — other than George Sherrill — the entire unit delivered in a 7-5 win in 10 innings in Arlington to push their record to 6-2. Alfredo Simon got hurt early. Homers were flying early. And the Orioles hung on.

Blow by blow below…

11:29 p.m. — Dennis Sarfate admitted to having an inner-ear infection and basically said he was “really relaxed” during his effort and was “on cloud nine” after he got medicated from the staff during the game. Sarfate said he told Aubrey Huff, “Is that all you’ve got?” after Huff freight-trained him on a foul ball. Palmer said, “Whatever he’s on I want to be on!”

It’s amazing they let Palmer keep his job. It really is. He’s priceless. I love it!

11:24 p.m. — Jim Palmer says it all. Don Stanhouse. Whole pack. “Mr Excitement”? Whatever you want to call him, fine. Let’s just give him the save and make the team 6-2 in the standings with their third series victory to start the season. Now Rick Dempsey is talking about Stanhouse. I have no idea how many listeners/readers know about Stanhouse but I do. And it’s dead on.

11:20 p.m. — Hank Blalock just sent a rocket to the wall and another five feet and this would’ve been an Orioles “tragic” loss. A true heartbreaker. Instead, George Sherrill still needs to get one more out. And you know what Yogi Berra said?

11:15 p.m. — George Sherrill has certainly made this interesting. Four batters, four baserunners, one run scored and Ian Kinsler continues to be such an impressive player. The Rangers’ formidable top of the order is going to have a chance to extend this game. The bases are loaded and no one is out. T-R-O-U-B-L-E…

11:01 p.m. — It’s almost like Ron Washington has conceded. Guardado keeps digging deeper with each pitch, walking Ty Wigginton after allowing Nick Markakis aboard. The Rangers’ bullpen issues mirrors the Orioles’ overused group. Luke Scott just drove one into the left centerfield gap, scoring them both. It’s now a 7-3 game. Geez, they’re gonna be 6-2 in about 10 minutes with any luck. Bye, bye Eddie…

10:56 p.m. — Eddie Guardado just gave up a mammoth two-run homer to Adam Jones who crushed it after Brian Roberts got on. Again, the top of the order have been hellions for the first week of the season.

P.S. Mike Maddux has the best pornstache I’ve ever seen on a former big leaguer with a brother who was one of the greatest ever.

10:47 p.m. — Seeing Nolan Ryan being omnipresent with the Rangers just reminds me that Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken are NOT involved here in Baltimore. A shame…

And I say it all the time: that’s all you need to know…

10:40 p.m. –This one has been pretty good. Good defense. Some big home runs early, some great pitching late. And someone is going to be a hero. Frank Francisco was dealing again tonight. Gonna be interesting to see how Dave Trembley uses the bullpen in this situation as the game potentially goes into extra innings. We’re already seven innings and four pitchers into the bullpen. And the bullpen has been the story of the evening with Jim Johnson still on the hill in the 9th. But how many innings do they have and who winds up in the game if it goes 11 or 12 innings?

9:59 p.m. –The bullpens are dealing all of a sudden. It’s games like these when having Gary Thorne and Jim Palmer help glue you to the action. It’s a very high-level broadcast when these guys are doing it. AND THE GAME IS IN HD…and it’s INTERESTING…and they’re 5-2. A few big hits here and they could be on their way to 6-2. On a night when their starter didn’t make it out of the 2nd inning.

9:34 p.m. — Nick Markakis stole one last night. Tonight, he was robbed by David Murphy on a very similar play. We’re in the sixth but I still feel like some major offense is going to break out at any point. Just not when the bottom of these lineups roll around. I don’t think this one will end 4-3.

9:25 p.m. — We were talking about “long last names” on the backs of baseball jerseys the other day and Arnie Portocarrero was deemed the longest Oriole. We were actually talking about Mark Hendrickson. Now, here comes Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Makes me want to get him on the O’s so I can get a shirt with that many letters.

9:17 p.m. — Felix Pie might be the new Jeff Stone. (For you youngsters, there’s no way his baseballreference.com stats will convey his baserunning prowess.) That was an inexcusable pick-off. And not great situational hitting by Cesar Izturis, who might be the new Mario Mendoza. It’s amazing how hot the top of the order is and how horribly cold the bottom of the order looks right now.

9:13 p.m. — Luke Scott has continued the comeback with a homer. And there might be good news on Rich Hill. More pitching never hurts.

8:56 p.m. — What a weird inning? After the Adam Jones-to-Brian Roberts-to-Gregg Zaun bang-bang play at the plate was made possible by Michael Young’s aversion to contact at the dish, Aubrey Huff threw a forearm shiver into Dennis Sarfate, who had no business being anywhere near where he was. Sarfate is now shaken up and has no one to blame but himself. Geez, sometimes they even play like the cats from “Major League.” That was brutal communication. They’re laughing about it now, but it was touch-and-go there for a few minutes.

8:45 p.m. — Gotta love a two-out run. This top of the lineup comtinues to mash the ball and nullify inefficient starting pitching. I have a feeling we’re in a for a long night. The beginning of a LOT of long nights with this pitching.

8:34 p.m. — On cometh Dennis Sarfate…I hope he’s got three or four innings in him. The O’s are already losing 3-1. Matt Albers is already coming up tomorrow. Can David Pauley or Brad Bergeson be on the way?

8:30 p.m. — Alfredo Simon just gave up yet another homer to Chris Davis. After a visit from Brian Ebel, he’s coming off the hill. As Hockey Meg just said: “That’s NOT going to help our crappy bullpen!” (Although, she really said S***ty!)

Looks like seven plus of relief will be necessary tonight unless it rains. And it doesn’t look like rain in Arlington…

8:27 p.m. — Can’t say I know a lot about Nelson Cruz. But I know Alfredo Simon should never throw that pitch to him again. So far: four outs, two gopher balls. Not a good ratio…

8:19 p.m. — High breaking ball to Aubrey Huff and he belted it. Everyone I talk to about Huff says “he’ll regress this year” and I don’t feel that way. He was always a masher and I think last year helped his game. Hell, at one point, he even SAID the “Bubba The Love Sponge” stupidity actually helped him come to his senses and changed his game for 2008. I think he’s good for 30 bombs this year.

But, the comment about Baltimore was below-the-belt. And stupid. And I know he meant it and it’s how he really feels. The ownership and management obviously didn’t care and put him back on the field. But they’ve been proven to be shameless for over a decade.

I don’t have to deal with these guys anymore so what do I care? If Aubrey Huff hits 35 homers, so be it. He just hit one. He tied the game. That’s what he’s paid to do.

8:16 p.m. — Michael Young’s homer came and went quickly. I’m reserving all judgment on Alfredo Simon until the 6th inning. The bullpen needs all the help it can get. Six innings out of a starter isn’t too much to ask…

8:09 p.m. — Been an interesting evening. Honestly, I feel like working while I watch the game and it’s a LOT more fun just writing this stuff while I surf, watch the O’s and think about the Ravens schedule.

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A gloomy forecast — today and for the ’09 Birds

Posted on 06 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

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

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

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

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

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

Some things I’m watching for this season:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Orioles continue to lie about WNST and press credentials

Posted on 01 April 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

At some point, the Orioles will “get even” with me by winning. Maybe that’s in 2011? Maybe that’ll never happen, but that’s not even the point. The point is that they really believe “Nestor and WNST are out to get us.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

No, I’m simply here to be honest and to continue to tell the truth about the way the ballclub is run, the way it functions and the way it continues to be a poor community partner for the city and the fans who literally BUILT the franchise between 1954 and 1994. The gobs of empty seats and a daily series of empty phone lines anytime we attempt to discuss the Orioles, their strategies or their rationales paints the true picture of how far the franchise has fallen. The opposite of “love” isn’t hate. It’s indifference. This year the Orioles will almost certainly continue a 12-year spiral downward as a franchise. They’ve all but admitted that there will be less people in the ballpark then there have ever been.

I could write for hours or days about all of the lies and cover-ups and shenanigans that the team has pulled over the last decade while going roughly 70-92 every year since 1998 and making a fortune off of the fact that the Washington Nationals exist allowing them to own MASN and its money-printing machine.

You don’t care to read it and I know I don’t care to write about it anymore. At this point, if you’re not smart enough to believe the truths that I put forth and verify with facts and evidence then the joke is really on you.

Honesty is not a pride issue with the Orioles. It’s simply a mere inconvenience. Take the team’s stance on something as fundamentally American as “free speech.”

It’s not news at this point (although it would be if it were Scott Garceau or Peter Schmuck or Roch Kubatko getting banned from doing what they do to feed their families) but the Orioles have once again denied me my absolute right to free speech in America by wrongfully denying me a press credential to cover the team’s home games this year while credentialing even the interns who work for me at WNST.net. It’s their little way of “getting even,” which is apparently an obsession in their small, petty world.

But people who speak out about injustice have been persecuted since the beginning of time all over our planet. Denying me a press credential to Camden Yards when I’m granted one by every sports entity on the face of the planet (including working press visa credentials by the Chinese AND Cuban governments!) is undoubtedly a restraint of trade issue. It’s most certainly a discrimination case. And it’s illegal – every expert I’ve spoken with says I have a slam-dunk legal case, but one that will cost me roughly $100,000 to pursue – but let them have their “fun” in banning me from coming to their press box while I report on their team all summer from behind a microphone and here in my blog at WNST.net.

They can artificially restrict my access at home games – and again, I was in Los Angeles last weekend on the field at Dodger Stadium with a MLB-granted press credential talking to Brian Roberts and Jeremy Guthrie – but the joke isn’t on me. It’s on them!

Every chance they get to show their “class” or their “ass” it’s always a safe bet that we’ll see them take the lowest road possible. Nothing they do surprises me or casts shame upon them any further than their own record on the field and all of the remnant space inside Oriole Park at Camden Yards over the last decade.

I’m a journalist. I’ve been a journalist since I was 15 years, since 1984 when I walked into The News American with John Steadman. I report facts. I research sports and the business of sports and how it works with great gusto and passion. I’m accountable and I’m professional. And I report to you what I know and what I think about what I know. Like the great John Eisenberg, I give facts and opinions and clearly separate between the two.

Fact: The Orioles have been amongst the worst teams in professional sports since 1998. (Fill in record here…)

Opinion: They’re going to stink in 2009 because they have no pitching but the organization finally has some kids who make the team competitive in a few years and this kid Matt Wieters is the No. 1 prospect in MLB this year.

Fact: Nestor Aparicio led the biggest protest and walkout in baseball history when nearly 2,500 people left an O’s game in the third inning of a game on Sept. 21, 2006. (Yes, it’s been 2 ½ years already!)

Opinion: The Orioles will lie or go to any length to try to get even with Aparicio for the rest of his life because of “Free The Birds,” which quite frankly might’ve helped them get better and that was the whole goal of the movement.

(By the way, two weeks from now when the team sports those sexy “BALTIMORE” jerseys, make sure WNST and Drew Forrester get the requisite credit. We fought for that for a decade!)

Two years ago, when I was told by “spokesman” Greg Bader at the front gate of the stadium that I wouldn’t be getting a press credential he then told Rick Maese of The Baltimore Sun that I wasn’t being credentialed because the team only credentials “working media members who are on the air, not radio station owners.”

Well, I’ve been back on the air every day for three months now and this week they called my staff (they never even speak to me or return emails or communicate in any way) to give them the newest excuse, which we all saw coming. They just move onto the next lie.

“Nestor gave up his right to a press pass with the walkout because it showed that he’s not objective,” the Orioles P.R. girl told my Vice President.

I suppose that Jim Hunter and Fred Manfra and Roch Kubatko are “objective” in their analysis of Orioles baseball in 2009 while Peter Angelos writes their paychecks?

Why don’t they stop lying and “reaching” and just tell the truth?

“The Orioles hate Nestor Aparicio and will go to great lengths to ‘get even’ for that stunt he pulled in 2006 even if it means looking like arrogant fools and banning him from our home stadium without any justification or legal reason.”

The only promise I make to the WNST audience and to anyone who loves Baltimore sports is to keep telling the truth and to keep reporting on the progress – good and bad – of the Baltimore Orioles. And we will continue to chronicle their on-the-field activities all summer here at WNST.net.

We’re even running a series of bus trips again in May and June to see the Birds play in New York, Washington and Philadelphia.

Every pitch, every hit, every game WNST.net will cover the team with the only truly “objective” voice in the marketplace. That’s our strategic advantage. You know we speak the truth and act with integrity.

When they play well and do good things, we’ll commend them as we’ve done for 17 years. The truth? They haven’t done much right or well since 1997 — on or off the field. The Angelos family has essentially slaughtered two generations of baseball civic pride in less than a decade and chased away more than 2 million people per year from downtown and from the ballpark.

But the city badly needs the team to win. The city needs Andy McPhail and Matt Wieters and Jake Arrieta and all of these young players to be “the real deal.” (My real opinion is that the team needs to be sold to a new owner to ever fully blossom but the last time I said that they took away my press pass.)

But, if they lose and their pitching stinks and they jog out ground balls and do stupid things in the organization (like not showing their Florida spring training games on a TV network they they own and we pay big money for every month via our cable bill) we’ll also chronicle and comment on that.

We hope you participate and hold up your end by actually watching the team play this spring and summer and call into AM 1570 and speak what’s on your mind freely in a free society regarding the baseball club.

I speak for everyone at WNST when I say that we want them to win. We NEED them to win. We need someone, ANYONE to actually care about the team again.

The city needs them to get better. The businesses downtown need them to get better. But in the meantime, it’s 2009 and they look every bit as bad this season as they have for years, especially when no one in the city can name three of their starting pitchers. Oh, they’ll hit the ball for sure. But the games might be a six-month series of four-hour marathons if they’re going to win 75 games.

But that won’t stop me from being at Hooters on Monday at 2 p.m. with Bud Light giveaways and eternal hope that there will once again be quality Major League Baseball in Baltimore.

As Jim Valvano once said: “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.”

I’ve got plenty of “fight” left in me, even if it’s from the stands and my living room and not in their locker room or front office.

I don’t want to fight with them. I’ve never wanted to fight with them.

I just want them to win and bring the “old Magic” back.

Oh, yeah — and be honest, which they never seem to be able to muster.

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O’s Today: Reimold, Montanez and Turner making life tough for MacPhail

Posted on 17 March 2009 by Drew Forrester

Most bad teams, I assume, don’t have player personnel issues to deal with in spring training.

The Orioles, however, are much different. 

They’ve worked themselves into a quandry of sorts, although it’s not a surprise to any of us who carefully follow the daily happenings of the local nine.

A handful of young players are tearing the cover off the ball in Ft. Lauderdale — Matt Wieters, Lou Montanez, Nolan Reimold and Justin Turner are all grapefruit-league hot-shots begging for a chance to make the trip north to Baltimore in April.

The problem?  There’s no room for them.  Not with the big league club, anyway.

But…isn’t spring training used to try and identify the best 25 players who are going north for the start of the season?

Occasionally, when the club paints themselves in a corner by adding “out-of-option” guys, the decision to take a player to the big city is made for them.  The O’s have players like that right now, including Rich Hill, Hayden Penn and David Pauley.  They either head up I-95 in April, or they go elsewhere.  In general, though, isn’t the club’s main goal in February and March to put together the best 25-man roster for the start of the season?

I thought so.

In the O’s case, though, it looks like they’re not thinking like that.

Reimold and Montanez are both minor league free swingers who have power. Like most bombers, they strike out a lot.  They don’t walk much.  And they have holes in their offensive game that have kept them in the minor leagues. Montanez nearly had 100 Baltimore-based at-bats last September…he hit .280 and had a few shining moments but didn’t come close to being the wrecking-machine he was in Bowie (AA).  Still, he’s an offensive weapon and he’s enjoyed a tremendous spring training in ’09.

Reimold is a former #1 pick who has been hampered by injuries in his professional career and has yet to eat a post-game meal in a major league locker room.  For whatever reason, the club hadn’t ever even offered him a spring training invite or September call-up…until this spring when he’s showed his worth in Ft. Lauderdale with three home runs and a .385 batting average. 

Neither Reimold or Montanez are going to be confused with Gold Glove candidates.  They’re not known for their defense…never will be, most likely.

But, they can both drive the ball.  They have power.  The O’s need more of that.  

You can’t expect them to tell Felix Pie to take a seat and join the left-field platoon system.  Andy MacPhail took a chance on Pie in the off-season with the deal involving Garrett Olson — and even though it wasn’t a large gamble parting company with Olson…they still can’t give Pie a 3-day-a-week part-time-job with 350-400 at bats at season’s end.  If Pie doesn’t pan out, it shouldn’t be because he never got a fair, full look.  

That said, is Felix Pie starting in left field the best option for the O’s as they get ready to break camp from Ft. Lauderdale?

Maybe not.  Montanez and Reimold have statistical data that would say otherwise.

Justin Turner is a shortstop who was a thrown-in from Cincinnati in the Ramon Hernandez deal.  He’s been perhaps the biggest surprise of spring training to date.  Look, it’s spring training — we all get that — but it should count for SOMETHING, right?  Can Turner field the position well enough to warrant a spot at the major league level as a younger version of Chris Gomez?  That’s a thought.  The only problem?  Who loses their job if Turner makes the trip to Baltimore?  

Speaking of having a job with the big league club, Wieters, apparently, is beyond discussion at this point.  I’ll still contend it’s wrong to leave him back in Florida when he’s without a doubt, one of the best 25 players on the roster.  I know, I know…it’s all about money.  It always is with the Orioles.

That goes back to the initial question I posed above.  Isn’t the goal of spring training to eventually compile and bring forward the best 25 players on the roster? 

Isn’t winning the goal? 

Evidently, in Baltimore, at least — it’s not.

The Orioles have convinced their apologist flock-of-faithful of this:  ”We’re not going to win this year anyway…”

And, with that in mind, leaving Pie in left field with no competition except a steaming Luke Scott, who clearly doesn’t understand how he LOST his job after being productive in ’08, and keeping Wieters off the opening day roster because of a stupid “6-year fear” revolving around service-time, are both puzzling moves given the various results of spring training thus far.

If Lou Montanez is the most productive left-fielder — or, if that’s Nolan Reimold, even — let HIM play.  What’s the obsession with Pie, anyway?  The club has far more equity invested in Reimold and Montanez. 

The apologists will say this:  ”You can’t have Montanez or Reimold in Baltimore, rotting away on the bench.  They need their minor league at bats.”  Until when? As Morrissey crooned with The Smith’s, “How soon is now?”

Here’s a concept:  Don’t let them rot away on the bench.  Find time for them. Split the duties with Pie and Scott.  Trade Scott, if you have to – since he showed last year he’s a full-time player that’s been shoved to the side because of our team’s new love affair with Windy City cast-offs.  If Ryan Freel doesn’t like it, he, too, can take a hike.  They don’t have an investment in him, anyway.  

I guess it’s OK to have Luke Scott “rot away” while Pie gets his slice of everyday action…but Montanez and/or Reimold don’t deserve their crack at the big league roster?

I realize the O’s have convinced their fan base that “we’re not going to win anyway…” – so, why bring guys up who aren’t ready?  Why sign free agent pitchers in the off-season when we get away with something inferior under the umbrella of “we’re not going to win anyway…”?  

Well, if the team’s not trying to win (anyway), why, then, should we buy tickets to games this year (anyway)?

That’s a question for the O’s to answer.

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