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Orioles can prove to be beasts of East by surviving West Coast

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Orioles can prove to be beasts of East by surviving West Coast

Posted on 18 July 2014 by Luke Jones

Sitting in first place at the All-Star break for the first time since 1997 didn’t exactly earn the Orioles any favors as they started the second half of the season in Oakland on Friday night.

A 10-game West Coast trip against the two teams with the best records in the majors and the second wild card leader in the American League probably gave manager Buck Showalter a restless night or two over this week’s respite. Knowing the Orioles play their next 23 games against clubs with winning records — not to mention the six following that against teams with .500 marks at the break — likely made him lose even more sleep.

Of course, Showalter and the Orioles have every right to feel good about themselves after winning 25 of their last 40 to move to 10 games above .500 and turn a 4 1/2-game deficit into a four-game lead over that stretch. They’ve built themselves a small cushion in a division in which no one is without sizable warts and imperfections with Toronto and New York seemingly moving in the wrong direction and Boston and Tampa Bay being mostly bad all season.

No, the trip to the West Coast will neither break nor make the Orioles’ chances of winning their first American League East title since 1997, but those 10 games allow them an opportunity to flex their muscles as a man amongst boys in an underwhelming division. Holding their own in Oakland, Anaheim, and Seattle — even going 5-5 — would not only keep the Orioles in first place but allow them to return home in late July in prime position to continue their quest to a second postseason appearance in the last three years.

A strong showing against the imposing AL West over the next couple weeks could be the difference between a relatively comfortable journey to October and needing to scratch and claw over the final two months of the regular season. In the same way that the Orioles took advantage of the recent struggles of the Blue Jays, the rest of the AL East will be rooting for Baltimore to wilt before finally returning to Camden Yards on July 29.

A starting rotation that’s pitched to a 3.18 ERA over its last 33 games will now face the two highest-scoring offenses in baseball over the next six contests. It was a 1-6 run against the Athletics and the Angels earlier this month that saw the Blue Jays’ one-game lead in the division turn into a 2 1/2-game deficit by the time they left the West Coast.

Even with the daunting stretch staring them in the face, the Orioles couldn’t ask for better timing as they’ll feel more rested now than they will at any point over the rest of the season. Aside from the current ankle injury to starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez — which many critics would deem a blessing anyway — the Orioles are as healthy as they’ve been at any point during the first half of the season.

Showalter has set up his rotation to include the 23-year-old Kevin Gausman — who could finally be with the Orioles for good — and will be looking for his starting pitchers to pick up where they left off to close the first half. And he’ll hope the inconsistent offense — currently ranked seventh in the AL in runs scored — will finally hit its stride and struggling first baseman Chris Davis starts looking more like the force he was a year ago and less like the .199 hitter who was lost at the plate for the first 3 1/2 months of the season.

By no means was it a perfect first half for the first-place Orioles as they lost catcher Matt Wieters for the season and saw their $50 million investment in Jimenez lead the majors in walks, but Baltimore was the least flawed of anyone in the division and still appears that way beginning the most difficult road trip of the season.

The Orioles can use these next 10 games to flex their muscles as the clear favorite in the division and solidify their first-place standing or could see themselves fall back with the rest of the imperfect pack in the AL East.

They’ve grown accustomed to being the hunter over the last three seasons; it will be interesting to see how they start the second half as the hunted after four days off to think about it.

By no means is it do or die, but the West Coast trip will be an opportunity for the Orioles to stake their claim as the overwhelming favorite in the division while sampling what they could see again in October.

 

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Orioles reportedly talking to left-handed starters Saunders, Capuano

Posted on 10 February 2014 by WNST Staff

With the start of spring training fast approaching, the Orioles continue their stated quest of adding a veteran starting pitcher and are reportedly looking at two veteran southpaws to potentially add to the mix.

Baltimore is talking to former Orioles starter Joe Saunders and journeyman Chris Capuano, according to Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Saunders pitched with Seattle in 2013 — going 11-16 with a 5.26 earned run average — while the 35-year-old Capuano pitched to a 4-7 mark with a 4.26 ERA with the National League West champion Los Angeles Dodgers

“Chris is in excellent physical condition and his mound sessions are going extremely well,” Capuano’s agent Michael Moye told FOX Sports.

Of course, the 32-year-old Saunders earned local fame pitching for the Orioles in the latter stages of the 2012 season after he was acquired from the Arizona Diamondback on Aug. 26, 2012. The lefty was 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in seven regular-season starts before earning the win in the inaugural 2012 AL Wild Card Game against the Texas Rangers, pitching 5 2/3 innings and allowing just one earned run.

Despite another solid outing in Game 4 of the Division Series, Saunders departed via free agency last winter by signing a one-year, $6.5 million contract with the Mariners.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 13 January 2014 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Women’s College Basketball-Syracuse @ Maryland (Thursday 8:30pm from Comcast Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Georgia Tech @ Maryland (Sunday 2pm Comcast Center); Boxing: Jean Pascal vs. Lucian Bute (Saturday 10:15pm from Montreal live on HBO), Ivan Redkach vs. Tony Luis (Friday 10pm from Memphis live on Showtime); MISL: St. Louis Ambush @ Baltimore Blast (Friday 7:35pm from Baltimore Arena live on YouTube), Baltimore Blast @ Syracuse Silver Stars (Sunday 1pm from Syracuse, NY live on YouTube)

10. Paul Mooney (Saturday 7:30pm Howard Theatre)l Iliza Shlesinger (Thursday-Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Doug Stanhope (Thursday 8pm Magooby’s Joke House); Todd Glass (Thursday-Sunday DC Improv); Baltimore County Restaurant Week (Tuesday-Sunday throughout Baltimore County); Enough Said“, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler“, “Riddick” and “Carrie” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit“, “The Nut Joband “Ride Along” out in theaters (Friday)

Iliza Schlesinger is both humorous and not safe for work.

I have no interest in seeing Jack Ryan, but I could use some more Keira Knightley in my life.

9. Jay-Z (Thursday 8pm Verizon Center); Stone Sour/Pop Evil (Friday 8pm Rams Head Live); Rusted Root (Monday 7:30pm Rams Head on Stage); Big Daddy Kane (Friday 9pm Howard Theatre); Charles Bradley (Thursday 7pm 9:30 Club), Big Head Todd and The Monsters (Saturday 7pm 9:30 Club); Gipsy Kings (Monday 7:30pm Birchmere); Dangermuffin (Friday 8pm Gypsy Sally’s); Bruce Springsteen “High Hopes”Switchfoot “Fading West” and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings “Give The People What They Want” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I’ve seen Jay-Z a few times, probably won’t make down to DC Thursday night. But if he ever toured with The Roots there would not be a price I wouldn’t pay.

Charles Bradley > Charles Barkley > Matt Barkley > My elementary school friend Matt Besche. Actually, strike that. Matt Besche is WAY better than Matt Barkley.

Drew Forrester said the new Springsteen record isn’t a home run. Fair enough. I really like this tune though.

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings are example number 6,789,403 why Brooklyn is now the capital of the music world.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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flacco

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“The Reality Check” Final Regular Season NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 01 January 2014 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Houston Texans (Last Week 32)

Bill O’Brien plus Teddy Bridgewater seems like a pretty solid equation.

31. Washington Redskins (31)

No solid equations to be found.

30. Oakland Raiders (30)

You’d assume most coaches that are still employed a few days after the season ends are safe…unless they coach the Oakland Raiders.

29. Cleveland Browns (29)

Can we just get to the part where they hire Romeo Crennel already?

28. Atlanta Falcons (28)

Jadaveon Clowney would fit REALLY well here.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (27)

Oh hey look-anything else!

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26)

Not Greg Schiano sounds like an improved equation to me.

25. Buffalo Bills (23)

They were interesting at times.

24. Detroit Lions (22)

Jim Schwartz did a nice job there, but it was an absolutely unthinkable end.

23. Minnesota Vikings (25)

Some new coaches inherit one quarterback. The new Vikes coach will inherit negative three.

22. New York Giants (24)

Their record was one game worse than the Ravens’.

21. St. Louis Rams (19)

Would Jeff Fisher take a chance on Jay Cutler?

20. Tennessee Titans (21)

Would Mike Munchak/next Titans coach take a chance on Jay Cutler?

19. Miami Dolphins (13)

Knicks-like choke.

18. Chicago Bears (16)

Stupid to take that chance on Jay Cutler.

17. Dallas Cowboys (14)

And what could have been. (Probably nothing.)

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“The Reality Check” Week 17 NFL Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Week 17 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 25 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Houston Texans (Last Week 32)

Yup.

31. Washington Redskins (31)

But at least you didn’t lose to a guy playing through a season ending back injury or anything.

30. Oakland Raiders (30)

Less interesting than the “Best of” shows some radio stations air on Christmas.

29. Cleveland Browns (29)

There’s a chance they’ll be involved with the playoff race.

28. Atlanta Falcons (28)

But for a moment.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (27)

Thank God I won’t have to write about them again.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26)

Kinda remarkable they’ll finish in the top 30 when you think about it.

25. Minnesota Vikings (22)

Thanks for nothing.

24. New York Giants (25)

There’s DEFINITELY no way they can still make a Super Bowl run, right?

23. Buffalo Bills (24)

That should’ve been more helpful.

22. Detroit Lions (18)

I probably shouldn’t drop them this far. Also, I don’t really care that much.

21. Tennessee Titans (21)

Calm down. They only beat Jacksonville.

20. New York Jets (23)

We’ve never been bigger fans.

19. St. Louis Rams (20)

And with the number two pick.

18. Green Bay Packers (16)

But I think they get in.

17. Pittsburgh Steelers (19)

No freaking way this can happen, right?

(Continued on Page 2…)

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“The Reality Check” Week 16 NFL Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Week 16 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 18 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Houston Texans (Last Week 32)

I thought they were contracted.

31. Washington Redskins (31)

The Ravens have seen everything you can see of a football field. Washington FC has seen everything you can see OFF a football field.

30. Oakland Raiders (30)

Perhaps the most irrelevant team in all of football.

29. Cleveland Browns (28)

Perhaps also in the above argument.

28. Atlanta Falcons (29)

Picked up a win because the outcome was meaningless to the other team.

27. Jacksonville Jaguars (24)

Oh right, THOSE are the Jacksonville Jaguars.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (25)

Is Bobby Rainey an option for Championship Week though?

25. New York Giants (23)

Remember when they had turned things around for a minute?

24. Buffalo Bills (27)

Could still mess things up.

23. New York Jets (21)

Still messed up.

22. Minnesota Vikings (26)

Matt Asiata. That is all.

21. Tennessee Titans (20)

Shame no one was watching, that was kinda fun.

20. St. Louis Rams (22)

Set up VERY well this offseason.

19. Pittsburgh Steelers (19)

Would move them up, but over who?

18. Detroit Lions (15)

Stunning collapse if they weren’t the Lions.

17. Dallas Cowboys (11)

Stunning result if they weren’t the Cowboys.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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“The Reality Check” Week 15 NFL Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Week 15 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 11 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Houston Texans (Last Week 32)

Maybe they pull a swerve and hire Nick Saban?

31. Washington Redskins (31)

Maybe THEY pull a swerve and hire Nick Saban?

30. Oakland Raiders (30)

I legitimately forgot who they had played this weekend before I started writing this.

29. Atlanta Falcons (29)

Dear Harry Douglas…you’re still at play in my push for a Fantasy title. Hugs and kisses.

28. Cleveland Browns (27)

Doing Cleveland Browns things.

27. Buffalo Bills (25)

Dear CJ Spiller…please see above.

26. Minnesota Vikings (23)

Someone already picked up Toby Gerhart in your league.

25. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (28)

So…do they NOT fire Greg Schiano?

24. Jacksonville Jaguars (26)

It’s kinda neat that they managed to win games.

23. New York Giants (20)

Nice game, She-li. (Get it? ‘Cause of the face thing?)

22. St. Louis Rams (21)

Anyone set up better for the Draft?

21. New York Jets (24)

Somehow still winning football games.

20. Tennessee Titans (19)

What could have been.

19. Pittsburgh Steelers (16)

Shouldn’t be this bad.

18. Green Bay Packers (22)

NO CHANCE they stay in it without Rodgers.

17. San Diego Chargers (17)

Right on the cusp of the race, but MASSIVE games ahead.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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“The Reality Check” Week 14 NFL Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Week 14 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 04 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Houston Texans (Last Week 32)

So nothing’s changed.

31. Washington Redskins (29)

I stand by it.

30. Oakland Raiders (27)

But at least there’s nothing.

29. Atlanta Falcons (31)

Mike Smith needed a win. He got it. Nothing more to see here.

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26)

I have to talk about them for another month?

27. Cleveland Browns (25)

Caleb.Hanie.

26. Jacksonville Jaguars (30)

RED HOT.

25. Buffalo Bills (23)

They beat the Ravens. They BEAT THE RAVENS.

24. New York Jets (22)

They’re going to finish the season 32nd. I think.

23. Minnesota Vikings (28)

Looking forward to Matt Pondman starting at QB Sunday.

22. Green Bay Packers (21)

Just…Tebow.

21. St. Louis Rams (20)

Back to not being interesting.

20. New York Giants (24)

Honorary “best of the crappy teams”.

19. Tennessee Titans (18)

But if the Indianapolis Colts can’t fulfill their duties as AFC South champions.

18. Chicago Bears (15)

Nice run defense.

17. San Diego Chargers (16)

Not dead yet.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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“The Reality Check” Week 12 NFL Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Week 12 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 20 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week 32)

They never got to leave the bottom spot. Sad story.

31. Houston Texans (29)

The Houston Texans are #31 in the power rankings. Andre Johnson plays for them. JJ Watt plays for them. OMG.

30. Atlanta Falcons (28)

The Atlanta Falcons are #30 in the power rankings. Matt Ryan plays for them. Tony Gonzalez plays for them. OMG.

29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ranked ahead of teams not named the Jaguars. OMG.

28. Washington Redskins (27)

But some defense would be nice.

27. Minnesota Vikings (26)

Remember when Percy Harvin played for them?

26. Oakland Raiders (30)

The same record as the Ravens. Really.

25. Tennessee Titans (22)

Would be in great shape if they had a quarterback.

24. St. Louis Rams (24)

When they get back from the bye they still won’t have a quarterback either.

23. Buffalo Bills (25)

Not worth jumping from the top of a stadium over.

22. San Diego Chargers (19)

Too many games against the West for me to think they can get to nine wins.

21. Green Bay Packers (18)

I believe Don Majkowski is available.

20. Baltimore Ravens (17)

A HUGE nine days.

19. Cleveland Browns (16)

Still the Cleveland Browns.

18. Miami Dolphins (20)

I don’t believe it.

17. New York Giants (23)

They might win nine games.

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“The Reality Check” Week 11 NFL Power Rankings

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“The Reality Check” Week 11 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 13 November 2013 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Jacksonville Jaguars (Last Week 32)

The good news? They won. The bad news? So did all of the other bad teams.

31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31)

Same issue.

30. Oakland Raiders (26)

Pick up Rashad Jennings, they said.

29. Houston Texans (27)

I picked them to go to the Super Bowl. No. Really.

28. Atlanta Falcons (24)

28th, y’all. 28th.

27. Washington Redskins (23)

I mean, that’s just awful.

26. Minnesota Vikings (30)

So Jared Allen is still pretty good.

25. Buffalo Bills (21)

I’m sorry I ever got a good feeling about them.

24. St. Louis Rams (29)

I have no idea what to make of that. None.

23. New York Giants (28)

Totally in the NFC East mix.

22. Tennessee Titans (19)

So…does Jake Locker get another year?

21. Pittsburgh Steelers (25)

I think I’m going to say “Pittsburgher” out loud and giggle again.

20. Miami Dolphins (16)

But they might finish the season at Number 30.

19. San Diego Chargers (15)

Good news-Miami next.

18. Green Bay Packers (12)

J.R.R. Tolkien should make a hell of a quarterback.

17. Baltimore Ravens (22)

KNOCK IT DOWN!

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