Posted on 07 March 2012 by WNST Staff
Posted on 06 March 2012 by WNST Staff
Posted on 06 March 2012 by WNST Staff
Posted on 27 February 2012 by WNST Staff
Posted on 20 February 2012 by Glenn Clark
Stop me if you heard this one before.
If Pitchers and Catchers report to Spring Training but no one has ever heard of them before, did it actually happen?
To at least some extent, that was the case in Sarasota this weekend. Baltimore Orioles pitchers and catchers reported to Ed Smith Stadium for an opportunity to
prepare for a run towards the AL East crown introduce themselves to the men they now call teammates.
A year ago, there was a level of false hope about what a full season under manager Buck Showalter and the arrivals of veteran MLB players like Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds could do for baseball in Charm City. There is of course none of that in 2012, but you already knew that.
To be fair, I’m as surprised as you that Endy Chavez fever simply hasn’t spread throughout the Mid-Atlantic.
The start of Spring Training (most O’s pitchers had actually arrived in Sarasota in advance of this weekend’s report date) produced neither excitement nor as much as a batted eye to baseball fans in Baltimore this year. I will admit that I did not miss the insufferable “Happy New Year” updates on Facebook and Twitter from snobby baseball fans who are unaware their favorite sport is no longer our national pastime, but that’s the only good thing to be said.
It strikes me on this Monday that I honestly find myself pining for a year in which expectations (or at least hopes) for mediocrity fizzled into just another miserable summer at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. I’m not pining over memories of a World Series run or even a relevant game on Labor Day. I’m pining for a team that mattered…at least a little bit…on St. Patrick’s Day.
It’s that bad.
Some of you will likely use the comments section here to accuse me of wasting hundreds of words on taking a shot at the Orioles. I don’t know that I’ll really bother to argue much with you.
There will be plenty of storylines between now and Opening Day, it’s just that none of them will be interesting.
Someone will have to start against the Minnesota Twins on April 6. Zach Britton is the easy fan favorite, but will have to show his shoulder is 100 percent to even get into the competition. The team will reportedly have to line up four more starters behind whoever goes out for Game 1, despite the fact that you’d be hard pressed to name three quality pitchers in the group of 30 that showed up this weekend.
They also need one of those pitchers to finish games. Jim Johnson is the guy fans most want to see get the role. Fans’ second choice? Anyone not named Kevin Gregg.
Brian Roberts’ health will be the closest we come to seeing something compelling in March. A healthy Roberts would by no means guide the team towards contention, but it would be nice to see the veteran second baseman return to the field instead of being ushered into retirement. Barring injury all other starting positions on the field are set. That’s of course part of the problem, as even with talented players like JJ Hardy, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones suiting up there’s little hope of producing enough against the staffs in Boston, New York and Tampa Bay.
There will be some competition for bench jobs, but that excitement will wear off before I can finish typing the names Matt Antonelli and Jai Miller. But hey! Look over there! It’s Nick Johnson! I’ve heard of him!
We’re going to attempt to have some relevant baseball conversation over the course of the next few weeks. All of it will involve the phrase “not like it really matters, but…” at some point. If it doesn’t, the conversation will probably be started by someone asking “have you heard anything more about those rumors that Peter Angelos is thinking about selling the team?”.
We can only pray that at some point Dan Duquette makes an off-color comment about Brian Cashman’s off-field exploits to momentarily make the Birds interesting. If you’re not, rest easy knowing I certainly am. I’d settle for a rumor that Oil Can Boyd was going to get coked up and make a start at OPACY to promote his new book.
(Now that I’ve typed those words, I actually think it’s a hell of an idea. Please pass it along to someone.)
Yes, it’s baseball season again in Baltimore. Anyone wanna talk about Justin Boren’s future in purple?
Posted on 19 February 2012 by WNST Staff
Posted on 29 December 2011 by Glenn Clark
The Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg joined me in studio Wednesday on “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net. We held a very special year-end awards show that we cleverly titled “The Van Clarkenburgs.” Here is a rundown of our winners…
Glenn Clark: O’s decision to bring Zach Britton up with team from Spring Training
Kevin Van Valkenburg: Britton’s May 18 start vs. New York Yankees
Glenn: Birds’ decision to demote Britton midway through season
Kevin: Mike Flanagan suicide death
Glenn: Terrell Suggs
Kevin: Drafting Torrey Smith
Glenn: Trading for Lee Evans instead of signing free agent Malcom Floyd
Kevin: 12-7 loss to Jacksonville Jaguars October 24
“Best Other Local Sports”-
Glenn: Towson University Football
Kevin: Graham Motion trained Animal Kingdom wins Kentucky Derby
“Worst Other Local Sports”-
Glenn: Randy Edsall’s first season in College Park
Kevin: Kevin Anderson’s handling of Mike Leach, Sean Miller
What topic deserved more conversation in 2011?
Glenn: Novak Djokovic’s incredible season
Kevin: Ugly nature of NCAA/College Sports
What topic received too much conversation?
Glenn: Tim Tebow
Kevin: LeBron James
Who did the best coaching job in 2011?
Glenn: Joe Maddon
Kevin: Rick Carlisle
Who did the worst coaching job in 2011?
Glenn: Norv Turner
Kevin: Norv Turner
What was the best game you attended in 2011?
Glenn: Maryland’s 4-3 2OT soccer win at UMBC
Kevin: Baltimore Ravens’ 23-20 win over Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field
What was the best game you watched on TV in 2011?
Glenn: World Series Game 6 St. Louis Cardinals/Texas Rangers
Kevin: Women’s World Cup Quarterfinal Team USA/Brazil
What about sports were we “better off” for in 2011?
Glenn: NBA starting on Christmas Day
Kevin: Appreciation of Women’s World Cup
What sports media type do you love but hate to follow on Twitter?
Glenn: Gregg Doyel (CBSSports.com)
Kevin: Darren Rovell (CNBC)
(Continued on Page 2)
Posted on 03 July 2011 by Glenn Clark
I know a thing or two about format flips.
I remember exactly where I was sitting in January 2005 when I heard the final bars of “Last Goodbye” by Jeff Buckley (one of the greatest songs in music history) before hearing the following come from my radio…
“WHFS. Annapolis. Washington DC.” It was immediately followed by a lot of Spanish, but I think I remember the words “Siempre de Fiesta” and “Noventa-nueve punto uno eff eme.”
It was followed by some sort of latin song that if I knew I would curse it to this day.
21 years old at the time, I can honest to God say that the day 99.1 WHFS became 99.1 El Zol was one of the saddest days of my life. It honestly felt like losing a friend.
In my teenage years, I camped outside of Harford Mall, White Marsh Mall and even on York Road in Towson to get HFStival tickets. I tuned in late at night to hear Adam Carolla and Dr. Drew Pinsky (one of the greatest teams in broadcast history) sign off Loveline at 1am with Adam’s trademark Hawaiian “Maholo.” (I found out at an older age “maholo” actually meant “thank you”, not “goodbye.” I will admit that I am still confused as to why he used it.) I stayed tuned in to hear if at 1:05 Neci would play my favorite songs from Everclear, Stone Temple Pilots, Beck or Pearl Jam.
Hell, I even called and emailed Neci repeatedly hoping she would play the Candyskins’ version of “For What It’s Worth” by Buffalo Springfield. I really did. There was nothing cooler to me in my life than when I became friends with Neci on MySpace. It was hard for me to admit that to her after we started working together.
It was my dream as a teenager to be a WHFS disc jockey. I ultimately got the chance to live that dream, but I still swear to God I shed a tear the moment I realized the latin sounds from my radio meant 99.1 WHFS was gone forever.
Posted on 22 March 2011 by Tom Federline
Go to Florida. If you are one of those people like me, who have been putting a Spring Training trip off for whatever reason – stop with the excuses and Go to Florida! It may be to late for this year, so start planning for next year. IF, you are a true baseball fan. IF, you feel the need to experience an early summer. IF, you need to be revived – mentally and physically. Go to Sarasota, Florida. After 30 some years of talking about it and with the encouragement of my daughter (the 2nd biggest Oriole fan in our family), we finally headed south. Turned out to be one of the top 5 vacations we’ve been on. Grant it, we were blessed with the Florida sunshine, 80 degree temperatures and basically “Chamber of Commerce” weather. All that did was simply enhance the overall experience.
It is March – NCAA basketball tourney, St. Patty’s Day, Gulf Coast beaches and Oriole baseball – in Florida. Are you kidding me? You fly into Tampa, you get the rental car, you roll down the window and proceed south on Route 75, going 75 or you will be run over by Granny who is doing 85+. We hit downtown Sarasota and fans with baseball jerseys are abundant. Our Oriole affiliated hotel was probably: 50% O’s fans, 25% miscellaneous MLB team fans and 25% general vacationers. If you had orange and black on, a conversation was initiated. I’m talking good conversation – Orioles, baseball, Baltimore and Florida. My daughters comment after the secoond day – “Everyone is so friendly here.” My response – a) people are on vacation. b) Majority are baseball fans. c) there is a common thread and that thread is – Baltimore and Oriole baseball.”
Ed Smith Stadium – the talk of the Spring Training Parks. A must see among the baseball faithful who make it a point to include the Grapefruit League as a scheduled vacation every year. The 2 games we attended, Minnesota and Phillies were sold out. Yes, sold out spring training games. People were scalping tickets for 2-3x box office price. People at the hotel were contacting ticket brokers. It was nuts. I was not expecting that. The smell of summer was in the air and the anticipation of a competitive Orioles team and season within reach. The Orioles and design team did a nice renovation of the ballpark. From the pictures I saw of the condition prior to renovation and the work that was accomplished in a year – props to the construction team. Clean, new, fan friendly, reasonable prices, 8,000 Camden green seats, decent food and quality baseball no more than say 50 feet from you at any given time. Go to Florida.
Orioles report – Nick Markakis (Future Hall of Famer) – you knew I had to get that out first. Vlad Guerrero is going to keep you watching. Saw the new third baseman, Mark Reynolds bat 5 times, he struck out 4. JJ Hardy looks like he’s 16 years old – winds up on delivery to first - but has a gun. Derek Lee is a large dude that may have Glenn Davis syndrome. Jake Fox hit a foul ball down the left field line that I do not believe has come down yet. Starting pitching will surprise the league. 85 wins!
Opening Day starting line-up: Robert Andino 2B (guess we’ll see Roberts after All-Star break and Izturis needs to learn how to turn DP), Adam Jones CF, (Future Hall of Famer) RF, Vlad (DH), Luke Scott LF, JJ Hardy SS, Jake Fox 1B, Weiters C, Mark Reynolds 3B, Guthrie P. Need to get Pie into line-up. Hopefully Derek Lee will mend his body. Leadoff batter is going to be tough with Roberts out again. If they can just hang in there until All-Star break. 85 wins!
Gang, last week I had my “Cheeseburger in Paradise” – (do I have to even write his name). I suggest you do the same. Go to Florida and experience O’s Spring Training and the Sarasota area. It’s healthy!
Posted on 14 March 2011 by Thyrl Nelson
#1 – How Great is 68?
The inaugural 68-team NCAA tournament field was unveiled on Sunday night, and the early results seem to indicate that the additional 4 at-large berths added to the bubble controversy instead of quelling it. With the inclusions of VCU (who I lobbied for here last week) and UAB, the committee seemed to put some level of importance on insuring that the mid-major conferences saw some benefit from the additional 4 spots.
Making a case for any of the snubbed teams (Virginia Tech, Boston College, Harvard, Colorado, St. Mary’s or Alabama) is easy against either VCU or UAB, but much tougher against the next level of at-large inclusions. It seems the 4 (technically 3) additional spots in the field only added to the controversy. In football I’d argue that the controversy adds to the interest, but basketball doesn’t need any interest enhancers. College basketball has a built-in interest enhancer called the bracket pool. By putting play-in games on the 11 and 12 lines they may have screwed those up a bit too.
If the desired result was an outcry to see the field expanded to 96-teams…we’ll see. If the desired result was to reassure the good folks at the BCS that they’re doing okay…mission accomplished. While the BCS has far more critics than the NCAA tournament, the argument to emulate an NCAA style bracket or an add-1 National Championship formula is seemingly the biggest gripe against them, the controversy currently surrounding the 69th through 75th seeds in basketball surely at least illustrates that you can never add enough teams to make everyone happy. And in some cases, like this year perhaps, adding more teams seemed to make even more people unhappy. At least the BCS has a formula; no matter how tricky it is, determined by a computer. College basketball still goes about picking its playoff teams like beauty contestants arbitrarily based on what individual judges like.
#2 – O’s’ Ailing Early
The Orioles are still over two weeks away from the season opener and already injuries have become a concern. Free agent first baseman, and perceived middle of the lineup fixture Derrek Lee has yet to do anything resembling baseball since arriving on a 1-year flyer, Koji Uehara is looking more and more like the pitcher that O’s fans were frustrated with through the first 90% of his time in Baltimore and less and less like the encouraging final 10% or so that he showed at the end of last season. Justin Duscherer has made several unsuccessful attempts at pitching comfortably and isn’t looking likely for the season’s opener, and of course there’s Brian Roberts.
With Roberts more than seemingly any other player, the fan base seems polarized. As the longest tenured member of the squad, familiarity has led to contempt from some and staunch loyalty from others as it relates to Roberts as a member of the team. Additionally, Roberts (often rumored to be the object of Angelos’ affections) has reportedly been at the center of a number of squashed trade requests, giving those with a proverbial axe to grind all of the ammunition they need to call he and the O’s to task for what appears to be a career now quickly on its downside.
For all of the accolades that were showered on Buck Showalter after his arrival last season, it’s the return of Roberts at the top of the order that many look to as the biggest catalyst for the O’s late season turnaround. Replacing him at second base is one thing, but replacing him as the leadoff hitter quite another. If and when Roberts is healthy enough to be counted on though, you have to begin to wonder if the O’s would be better served employing him elsewhere in the lineup.
Clearly you’d still want him batting early in the order, he’s a disciplined hitter, adept at taking pitches and working counts, and he puts together loads of productive at bats, that part you don’t want to compromise. When it comes to the other things that you count on your leadoff hitter to do though (particularly running and stealing bases) those may not be things that you can’t consistently ask Roberts to do if you hope to have him around much longer.
Roberts’ propensity for stealing bases has clearly decreased in recent seasons, but at what cost to the team? Clearly he’ll be productive wherever you employ him, but could the O’s be more effective overall with a better threat to steal in the leadoff spot, to compel fastballs and keep pitchers off balance for the guys that follow him? Would Roberts be better or at least more available to the team if he could save his body a little more too? The O’s and their second baseman are locked into one another for the foreseeable future. How well both perform going forward will likely unify the schools of thought on Roberts in one way or the other. For now, it’s safe to say that most O’s fans are feeling Roberts’ pain in the neck themselves to some degree.
#3 – Harbaugh vs. Ozzie: The Blame Game
We are three years in to the Harbaugh experience here in Baltimore, and most I think are still reserving judgment. The body of work that he’s managed to put together in 3 short seasons is tough to argue with. The degree of credit/blame that he deserves for the successes and failures of the Ravens is what’s debatable at this point.
As fans grow weary of one side of the ball or the other they begin to look for scapegoats. If the head coach is perceived to be an expert on the side of the ball that has fans frustrated then he will be taken to task. If the problem is perceived to be on the other side of the ball, it’s the coordinator who’s taken to task by fans and media. In Harbaugh’s case, no one seems to identify him with one side of the ball or the other, so by default criticism has consistently befallen his coordinators. How long will Harbaugh enjoy this level of detachment? If you believe what you’ve read this off-season, that luxury may have run out. Harbaugh may have ended it for himself.
Some fans point to the draft record of Ozzie Newsome, and blame the Ravens problems on a front office that may have lost its impeccable touch. Surely the team has had their share of draft day successes in recent seasons, but with those have come more failures than the Ravens have been typically used to.
The big question that I have is how much of the teams (perceived) recent draft woes fall at the feet of the head coach too? While the historical track record of the Ravens is full of first round players who saw their talents through to fruition, the real keys to the teams success is the minds of many came from the multitude of late round and undrafted players who came in and over time grew into the system. The Harbaugh era so far has been most lacking from the standpoint of developing those fringe players into contributors, low paid contributors who provide salary cap relief while filling valuable roles. Without those, success in the NFL is tough.
Whether the blame for the Ravens’ recent deficiencies in those areas falls more on Harbaugh or Newsome is anyone’s guess. It’s safe to say though that despite his prolific track record so far, his legend can’t match that of Newsome. If blame has to be cast, we know upon whom it will most likely fall, and developing players this year will be especially tough with the work stoppage. Add that to the laundry list of issues that we as fans still seem to have with Harbaugh, who by all relative means is achieving an historical amount of success despite his perceived shortcomings.
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