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2015 American League East preview

Posted on 04 April 2015 by Luke Jones

No team has won the American League East with fewer than 95 wins since the 2000 New York Yankees won just 87 games in the regular season before eventually winning the World Series.

That 14-year run will end this season with the division showing more parity — and vulnerability — than it has in a long time.

Below is a capsule of the five AL East clubs in their predicted order of finish:

1. BALTIMORE (2014 record: 96-66, first place)
Notable additions: INF Everth Cabrera, OF Travis Snider, LHP Wesley Wright
Notable losses: OF Nelson Cruz, OF Nick Markakis, LHP Andrew Miller
Why to like them: The defense remains excellent, which will again transform a solid but unspectacular rotation and an already-strong bullpen into a pitching staff good enough to seriously contend.
Why to dislike them: Dan Duquette rested on his laurels by not bringing in a safer bet to replace either Cruz or Markakis, which puts much dependence on players returning from injuries.
Player to watch: Snider is a former first-round pick and is coming off an excellent second half with Pittsburgh, making him a solid candidate to be the Orioles’ annual surprising performer.
2015 outlook (89-73): I don’t love this Orioles club, but the Buck Showalter effect as well as bounce-back years from Manny Machado and Chris Davis will be enough to offset the void left behind by Cruz and Markakis. It’s tough to shake the feeling that 2014 was their last best chance to win a pennant with this core, but the Orioles don’t have as many glaring weaknesses or questions as their AL East foes.

2. BOSTON (2014 record: 71-91, fifth place)
Notable additions: 3B Pablo Sandoval, OF Hanley Ramirez, RHP Rick Porcello, LHP Wade Miley, RHP Justin Masterson
Notable losses: OF Yoenis Cespedes, 3B Will Middlebrooks
Why to like them: After struggling to score runs last season, the revamped Red Sox are primed to have one of the best lineups in baseball with dependable veterans and high-upside youth.
Why to dislike them: Four of their five projected starting pitchers weren’t on the roster a year ago and all but Porcello posted an ERA above 4.00 in 2014.
Player to watch: Center fielder Mookie Betts has raked all spring as teammates and observers have gushed over his potential at the top of the Boston order.
2015 outlook (87-75): If a similar roster were constructed 10 years ago, the Red Sox would be the overwhelming favorite to win the AL East with such an imposing lineup and they still might do it anyway. However, the current pitching-rich era in baseball makes you doubt an underwhelming rotation and a suspect bullpen. The pitching is what will ultimately prevent Boston from seizing the AL East title.

3. TORONTO (2014 record: 83-79, third place)
Notable additions: 3B Josh Donaldson, C Russell Martin, OF Michael Saunders
Notable losses: OF Melky Cabrera, INF Brett Lawrie, LHP J.A. Happ
Why to like them: After already scoring plenty of runs last year, the Blue Jays have a more potent lineup with the addition of an MVP-caliber player like Donaldson and the veteran Martin.
Why to dislike them: The bullpen is suspect and the rotation will lean on graybeards R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle while hoping youngsters Aaron Sanchez and Daniel Norris develop quickly.
Player to watch: The 21-year-old lefty Norris has plenty of talent and will begin the season in the Toronto rotation despite logging just 58 1/3 innings above the Single-A level in the minors.
2015 outlook (83-79): Nothing gets people going more about a club’s potential than talented young pitching, but it rarely comes together as quickly as you’d like. That reality along with a bullpen lacking the arms to consistently back them up will be the Blue Jays’ undoing late in the season as they fade behind Baltimore and Boston.

4. TAMPA BAY (2014 record: 77-85, fourth place)
Notable additions: OF Steven Souza, SS Asdrubal Cabrera, OF/C John Jaso
Notable losses: UTI Ben Zobrist, OF Wil Myers, RHP Jeremy Hellickson
Why to like them: If they’re able to overcome some early injury concerns, the Rays probably have the best starting rotation in the division, which will keep them competitive.
Why to dislike them: Offense was always a weakness even in their best years, but no one scares you at all in the current lineup except for third baseman Evan Longoria.
Player to watch: The 25-year-old Souza shows promise, but the Rays desperately need the offensive success he enjoyed at Triple-A Syracuse last season to carry over with his new club.
2015 outlook (80-82): The overall makeup of this division would have screamed for you to bet on the underdog Rays in past years, but that was before the departures of manager Joe Maddon and general manager Andrew Friedman. With starting pitchers Alex Cobb, Drew Smyly, and Matt Moore currently on the mend, the Rays will lag behind in the division early before improving as the year continues.

5. NEW YORK (2014 record: 84-78, second place)
Notable additions: SS Didi Gregorius, LHP Andrew Miller, RHP Nathan Eovaldi
Notable losses: RHP Hiroki Kuroda, RHP David Robertson, SS Derek Jeter
Why to like them: The upside of starting pitchers Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Michael Pineda speaks for itself if they can stay healthy.
Why to dislike them: Old, injury-prone, and expensive is no way to go through a 162-game season, which is exactly what the Yankees are trying to do at this point.
Player to watch: Reliever Dellin Betances is coming off a terrific season, but his velocity is down and his command has been poor this spring, which will cause him to share closer duties with Miller early on.
2015 outlook (78-84): The names you’ll find up and down the Yankees’ lineup would have had you salivating in 2011, but age and injuries will put too much pressure on a starting rotation praying that Tanaka’s elbow holds up and the 34-year-old Sabathia bounces back from knee surgery. The Yankees won’t be awful, but they will finish in last place for the first time since 1990.

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Orioles officially tab Tillman as Opening Day starter

Posted on 31 March 2015 by Luke Jones

What was a foregone conclusion all winter became official Tuesday with the Orioles naming right-handed pitcher Chris Tillman as their Opening Day starter.

The 26-year-old will take the ball against the Tampa Bay Rays next Monday to become the first Orioles pitcher to start consecutive openers since Jeremy Guthrie in 2008 and 2009. Tillman went 13-6 with a 3.34 ERA in 34 starts spanning 207 1/3 innings last season to further solidify his standing as the staff ace.

His strong work also prompted manager Buck Showalter to start the 2013 All-Star selection in the opening game of the American League Division Series as well as Game 1 of the AL Championship Series last October. Tillman is just one of 12 pitchers in club history to start more than one season opener for the Orioles.

Showalter has already said that lefty Wei-Yin Chen and right-hander Miguel Gonzalez will receive starts in the opening series against the Rays.

Tillman will be opposed by Tampa Bay right-hander Chris Archer, who is replacing the injured Alex Cobb. Archer will be the first pitcher besides David Price or James Shields to start an opener for Tampa Bay since 2007.

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Wieters remaining in Florida once season begins

Posted on 26 March 2015 by Luke Jones

It became clear last week that Matt Wieters wouldn’t be ready for Opening Day, but we learned Thursday that the Orioles catcher will remain in Florida once the regular season begins.

Speaking to reporters prior to Thursday’s spring game against the Detroit Tigers, manager Buck Showalter revealed that Wieters will return to Sarasota for extended spring training following Baltimore’s season-opening series against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg. Wieters was shut down with elbow tendinitis a day after playing his first Grapefruit League game behind the plate on March 17.

Wieters continues to build strength in his right elbow after undergoing Tommy John surgery last June 17 and will be placed on the 15-day disabled list before the season begins. The Orioles had hoped that the 28-year-old would be ready for the opener, but they knew it would take perfect circumstances in order to happen.

Showalter said Wieters will play in extended spring games when he’s ready before eventually going on a rehab assignment with the combination of Single-A Frederick and Double-A Bowie, which would allow the catcher to be based out of the Orioles clubhouse in Baltimore each day. It remains unclear when that will happen or when he is targeting a season debut.

Though different injuries and timetables, Wieters’ situation is reminiscent of how the Orioles handled third baseman Manny Machado coming back from his first knee surgery last spring when they pointed to Opening Day as a possibility for his return before backing off over the last couple weeks of spring training. Machado eventually made his 2014 season debut on May 1.

Wieters is expected to resume throwing on Saturday and could play in a minor-league spring game next week, according to Showalter.

The three-time All-Star catcher was hitless in 23 Grapefruit League at-bats while primarily serving as a designated hitter earlier this month.

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Ravens sign cornerback Melvin off Dolphins practice squad

Posted on 08 November 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens added another young cornerback to the mix Saturday by signing Rashaan Melvin off the practice squad of the Miami Dolphins.

To make room on the 53-man roster, injured cornerback Jimmy Smith was officially moved to injured reserve after undergoing season-ending foot surgery on Thursday.

Melvin will be eligible to play in Sunday’s game against the Tennessee Titans as he becomes the third cornerback added to the active roster this week, joining veteran Danny Gorrer and former practice-squad member Tramain Jacobs. The 25-year-old Melvin was undrafted out of Northern Illinois in 2013 despite possessing good size at 6-foot-2 and 193 pounds.

Originally signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Melvin spent the 2013 season on injured reserve and initially made the Buccaneers’ 53-man roster this year before being cut in mid-September. He was slowed by an ankle injury suffered in the preseason before being signed to the Dolphins’ practice squad.

The Ravens now have four healthy cornerbacks on their 53-man roster: veteran Lardarius Webb, the recently-waived Gorrer, and Jacobs and Melvin, two players who were on practice squads at the beginning of the week.

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Ravens’ blowout win over Tampa Bay more fun than educational

Posted on 12 October 2014 by Luke Jones

If you missed the Ravens’ 48-17 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday, don’t feel bad.

So did the Buccaneers.

Earning their largest road win since a 31-point victory in Cincinnati in 2008, the Ravens responded exactly how you’d like after a disappointing defeat at Indianapolis in Week 5. There may not be such a thing as a statement game against what looked like the worst team in the NFL, but it was encouraging seeing Baltimore win so impressively on the road after struggling so often away from M&T Bank Stadium over the last couple seasons.

The Ravens’ 48 points were the second-highest single-game total in franchise history as they moved the ball with no resistance from the league’s 30th-ranked defense, particularly in the first half. It doesn’t get much better than that.

“It’s not going to always be like that, obviously, but you chase perfection,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s nice to see a reward like this for the guys.”

Beyond that, there probably isn’t anything earth-shattering to glean from Sunday’s win as the Buccaneers are now 1-5 after entering Week 6 with the second-worst point differential in the NFL. The 4-2 Ravens just reinforced the idea that they’re a good team that dominated a really bad one in sparsely-filled Raymond James Stadium.

Quarterback Joe Flacco tied Tony Banks’ single-game franchise record with five touchdown passes and did it in just over 16 minutes, the quickest to accomplish the feat in one contest since the NFL-AFL merger. But we already knew Flacco can be brilliant when his offensive line protects the pocket — even with rookies James Hurst and John Urschel blocking on the blindside — and he has sufficient weapons to throw to.

The seventh-year signal-caller continues to have one of the best seasons of his career after completing 21 of 29 passes for 306 yards and a 146.0 passer rating, which was also a personal best to go with the five touchdowns he threw. Through six games, Flacco has thrown 12 touchdowns to just three interceptions and has appeared a natural fit for Gary Kubiak’s system.

Perhaps the most important takeaway from Sunday’s performance was struggling wide receiver Torrey Smith catching two touchdown passes in the first six minutes of the game as he twice beat the Buccaneers secondary on inside routes. The fourth-year wideout said earlier in the week that he remained confident despite his slow start to the season, but it was tough not to wonder how his psyche was holding up after only 11 receptions and one touchdown through the first five games of 2014.

“That’s how I expect to play every week; it just doesn’t happen,” Smith said. “It’s important to build some positive momentum for myself to get going for our team. The better I play, the better situations our team will be put in. I understand that I have a major role on this team, which I love and embrace. It’s important for me to play at a high level all the time.”

The early lead allowed the Baltimore defense to pin its ears back as the pass rush swarmed overwhelmed Buccaneers quarterback Mike Glennon, sacking him five times and registering an incredible 15 quarterback hits. Tampa Bay managed just 101 total yards and no points in the first half as the game was over by the end of the first quarter.

Dean Pees’ unit didn’t maintain the same intensity level in the second half as the pressure waned and the secondary allowed Glennon to finish the game with 314 yards, but the Ravens didn’t need to take as many chances with such a comfortable lead.

Sunday’s win may not prove that the Ravens are a championship-caliber team just yet, but it was a fun afternoon in which Harbaugh’s team executed a game plan to perfection in the first quarter in another team’s stadium. Nothing really mattered after that, even as they continued to play well against a defeated team.

“It was nice to bounce back after a tough week,” said Flacco about his record day. “All that stuff really doesn’t matter. Really, anything we did after the first three touchdowns didn’t really mean too much at the end of the day. It was all just stats. That stuff feels good and looks good and it’s great and all that, but it really doesn’t mean anything. It’s all about winning the football game. That’s what we came here to do, and that’s what we did.”

And they had a blast doing it in convincing fashion.

 

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Ravens-Buccaneers: Inactives and pre-game notes

Posted on 12 October 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens will attempt to improve to 4-2 on Sunday afternoon against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they’ll need to do it without the starting left side of the offensive line.

Left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee) was ruled inactive after going through a pre-game workout at Raymond James Stadium a couple hours before kickoff. The third-year lineman missed practice all week and joins starting left tackle Eugene Monroe (arthroscopic knee surgery) on the sideline for Week 6 after he hyperextended his right knee in the loss to Indianapolis last Sunday.

Gino Gradkowski is expected to start in place of Osemele and rookie free agent James Hurst will make his third straight start at left tackle in place of the injured Monroe, which will make for an uncertain blind side for quarterback Joe Flacco.

Baltimore will also be without defensive end Chris Canty (wrist surgery), defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (meniscus), and wide receiver Marlon Brown (pelvis). Canty and Jernigan were officially ruled out on Friday while Brown had been listed as doubtful after only working on a limited basis in the final practice of the week.

With so many players inactive due to injury, rookie wide receiver Michael Campanaro and rookie guard John Urschel are active for the first time in their NFL careers. Linebacker Arthur Brown is the only player on the 53-man roster to be inactive in each of the first six weeks of the season.

Meanwhile, the Buccaneers received good news with wide receivers Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans both being active after being listed as questionable on the final injury report. The 6-foot-5 receivers will pose a significant challenge to a Ravens secondary that lost Asa Jackson to a long-term toe injury last week in Indianapolis. Cornerback Lardarius Webb is expected to make his first start of the season after receiving his most extensive playing time of the year against the Colts in Week 5.

Tampa Bay will be without starting free safety Dashon Goldson (ankle) and starting cornerback Johnthan Banks (neck), which could spell trouble for the league’s 30th-ranked pass defense.

Jerome Boger will be the referee for Sunday’s game between the Ravens and Tampa Bay.

The Ravens will be wearing purple jerseys and white pants in Tampa where temperatures are expected to be around 90 degrees.

Sunday marks the fifth regular-season meeting between Baltimore and Tampa Bay with the teams tied 2-2. The Ravens have won each of the last two meetings with the Buccaneers and are 1-1 in Tampa.

Here are Sunday’s inactives:

BALTIMORE
LG Kelechi Osemele
LT Eugene Monroe
WR Marlon Brown
DE Chris Canty
DT Timmy Jernigan
LB Arthur Brown
TE Ryan Taylor

TAMPA BAY
QB Josh McCown
CB Johnthan Banks
S Dashon Goldson
LB Jonathan Casillas
DE Larry English
T Kevin Pamphile
G Kadeem Edwards

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Osemele questionable, M. Brown doubtful to play against Tampa Bay

Posted on 10 October 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are facing the prospects of playing without the entire starting left side of their offensive line against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

It was no surprise that left tackle Eugene Monroe was ruled out while he continues to recover from arthroscopic knee surgery, but left guard Kelechi Osemele was listed as questionable for Sunday’s game after not practicing all week. The third-year lineman hyperextended his knee in last Sunday’s loss to Indianapolis, but he was able to return to action and downplayed the injury after the game.

Given his experience, Osemele would still have a chance of playing against Tampa Bay despite missing three straight days of practice. Gino Gradkowski is listed as Osemele’s backup on the depth chart released by the Ravens’ public relations staff.

“[Osemele] can play on Sunday not having practiced all week,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “He has a chance to play on Sunday.”

In addition to Monroe, defensive end Chris Canty (wrist surgery) and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (meniscus injury) were declared out for Sunday’s game. Wide receiver Marlon Brown (pelvis) practiced on a limited basis Friday before being designated as doubtful to play.

Safety Matt Elam (shoulder), linebacker Daryl Smith (knee), and center Jeremy Zuttah (ankle) were all upgraded to full participation in Friday’s practice and listed as probable to play against the Buccaneers.

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay ruled out starting safety Dashon Goldson (ankle) while designating starting wide receivers Vincent Jackson (rib) and Mike Evans (groin) as questionable for Sunday’s game.

Below is the final injury report of the week:

BALTIMORE
OUT: DE Chris Canty (wrist), DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), T Eugene Monroe (knee)
DOUBTFUL: WR Marlon Brown (pelvis)
QUESTIONABLE: G Kelechi Osemele (knee)
PROBABLE: S Matt Elam (shoulder), LB Daryl Smith (knee), C Jeremy Zuttah (ankle)

TAMPA BAY
OUT: LB Jonathan Casillas (hamstring), S Dashon Goldson (ankle)
DOUBTFUL: QB Josh McCown (right thumb)
QUESTIONABLE: CB Johnthan Banks (neck), C Evan Dietrich-Smith (illness), DE Larry English (hamstring), WR Mike Evans (groin), WR Vincent Jackson (rib)
PROBABLE: LB Mason Foster (shoulder)

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D. Smith, Elam, Zuttah return to practice on Thursday

Posted on 09 October 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens produced a more encouraging injury report on Thursday with the return of three starters to the practice field as they continued preparations for a Week 6 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Safety Matt Elam (shoulder contusion), linebacker Daryl Smith (knee), and center Jeremy Zuttah (ankle) all practiced on a limited basis a day after sitting out with their respective ailments. Baltimore was without eight players from their 53-man roster during Wednesday’s workout.

The Ravens are expected to be without defensive end Chris Canty (wrist surgery), offense tackle Eugene Monroe (knee surgery), and defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (meniscus) on Sunday as all three are dealing with longer-term injuries.

There were no changes to Tampa Bay’s injury report on Thursday as wide receiver Vincent Jackson (rib) and safety Dashon Goldson (ankle) remained sidelined.

Here is Thursday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: S Matt Elam (shoulder), LB Daryl Smith (knee), C Jeremy Zuttah (ankle)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Marlon Brown (pelvis), DE Chris Canty (wrist), DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), T Eugene Monroe (knee), G Kelechi Osemele (knee)

TAMPA BAY
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Johnthan Banks (neck), LB Jonathan Casillas (hamstring), S Dashon Goldson (ankle), WR Vincent Jackson (rib), QB Josh McCown (right thumb)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DE Larry English (hamstring), WR Mike Evans (groin)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Mason Foster (shoulder)

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Eight Ravens players missing from Wednesday’s practice

Posted on 08 October 2014 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens were without eight players as they returned to the practice field Wednesday ahead of their Week 6 meeting with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Safety Matt Elam (shoulder), left guard Kelechi Osemele (knee), center Jeremy Zuttah (ankle), inside linebacker Daryl Smith (knee), wide receiver Marlon Brown (pelvis), defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (meniscus), left tackle Eugene Monroe (knee surgery), and defensive end Chris Canty (wrist surgery) were all absent during the portion of practice open to media. Head coach John Harbaugh provided an encouraging prognosis on Elam and Osemele during his Monday press conference, which quells concerns about their absence for the first full practice of the week.

“‘K.O.’ is OK. He had a bruise,” Harbaugh said. “It turned out to be a bruise from hyperextension a little bit, but he played the rest of the game. He’s sore, but he looks OK. And Matt Elam had a contusion on his shoulder. He’s a tough guy that played the rest of the way. He should be OK.”

Cornerback Dominique Franks and tight end Ryan Taylor were both present a day after being added to the 53-man roster. The Ravens officially placed cornerback Asa Jackson on injured reserve-designated to return Wednesday to make room for Franks and waived tight end Phillip Supernaw to clear a roster spot for Taylor, who was claimed off waivers from the Green Bay Packers.

Jackson will not eligible to return until the Ravens’ Week 14 meeting against the Miami Dolphins, meaning the Ravens will depend on Lardarius Webb to return to his starting role after dealing with a back injury for more than two months. Franks and fourth-year cornerback Chykie Brown will compete for playing time at the No. 3 cornerback spot, but Elam has also played extensively at the nickel spot this season.

“Dominique is going to do a good job for us,” Harbaugh said. “He was here in training camp and did well. He’s a good football player. We liked him then, and we’re fortunate that he’s still available.”

Meanwhile, Tampa Bay was without starting free safety Dashon Goldson (ankle) and wide receiver Vincent Jackson (rib) during Wednesday’s practice. The good news for the Buccaneers was the limited participation of rookie wideout Mike Evans, who’s been limited with a groin injury for the last two weeks.

Here is Wednesday’s full injury report:

BALTIMORE
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: WR Marlon Brown (pelvis), DE Chris Canty (wrist), S Matt Elam (shoulder), DT Timmy Jernigan (knee), T Eugene Monroe (knee), G Kelechi Osemele (knee), LB Daryl Smith (knee), C Jeremy Zuttah (ankle)

TAMPA BAY
DID NOT PARTICIPATE: CB Johnthan Banks (neck), LB Jonathan Casillas (hamstring), S Dashon Goldson (ankle), WR Vincent Jackson (rib), QB Josh McCown (right thumb)
LIMITED PARTICIPATION: DE Larry English (hamstring), WR Mike Evans (groin)
FULL PARTICIPATION: LB Mason Foster (shoulder)

 

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The Peter Principles (Ch. 3): How close did Angelos come to owning Baltimore’s NFL team?

Posted on 14 July 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

3. Giving Peter The Ball & Scabs

“I think they are concerned about litigation, but they feel as we do, that no one wants to litigate but one has to sometimes and the chances for success are excellent. I’m confident that Baltimore is the best applicant for an NFL franchise both from a financial and a fan standpoint.”

– Peter Angelos, May 18, 1994 to The Sun regarding Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke blocking his rights to buying an NFL franchise

 

TO UNDERSTAND BALTIMORE’S INNATE YEARNING for a National Football League team is to understand what the Baltimore Ravens have meant to the town, its sports psyche and the league since returning in 1996. After winning Super Bowls in 2001 and 2013, it’s very hard to fathom that time and space between March 28, 1984 and Nov. 6, 1995 ­– when the town that participated in what became known as The Greatest Game Ever Played in 1958, the place that the Colts of Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore, Art Donovan, Raymond Berry and Jim Parker roamed on 33rd Street in what was affectionately known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum – was without the NFL.

The Orioles were the toast of Baltimore for sure in the early 1990s but there was always something missing in the Charm City when there weren’t NFL games on those 12 seasons of Sundays in the fall. After a decade of high-speed pursuits by the state of Maryland, Mayor of Baltimore and then Governor William Donald Schaefer, the Maryland Stadium Authority and several bidders in 1993, the city was repeatedly turned down in the expansion process. By the time Angelos had purchased the Orioles, the NFL had found itself in a precarious situation with Baltimore sitting empty and several suitors working every angle possible to steal an existing team and essentially steal another city’s team the way the Colts were stolen off in the middle of the night in 1984 by owner Robert Irsay. And Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke had tried every possible way to keep Baltimore from ever having a team again and once attempted to get a stadium built in Laurel to ensure it. Schaefer blocked Cooke and then rallied support for civic monies to be held to fund a Baltimore football stadium at Camden Yards if the NFL granted the city a franchise.

Despite all of the efforts of Schaefer and his steward Herb Belgrad, it didn’t work. In early 1995, the city of Baltimore was considered to be further away than ever in a search for a return to the NFL now that a pair of expansion teams had gone to Jacksonville and Charlotte and it was clear St. Louis was in the final stages of swiping the Rams from Los Angeles.

It was a dirty business, this franchise ownership, league gamesmanship, civic hostage taking of teams and the politics of modern sports. But Baltimore and Maryland were a unique player in the revolving door of NFL cities vying for the theft of teams from other markets where old stadia were failing to lure more revenue or ownerships were dissatisfied and looking for a bigger, better deal – led of course by Irsay’s decision to leave the land of pleasant living a decade earlier and the machinations of Al Davis in California with the Raiders.

Because of what the Orioles meant to the area and the success of the downtown revitalization spurred by the facility, Baltimore, Maryland had real money in the state coffers to fund a new stadium in the parking lot adjacent to the baseball stadium at Camden Yards. The area had always been earmarked as the site of a potential NFL team but the only problem was finding one of the existing 30 teams to find the deal too $weet to pass up. There was a lot of money to be made on an NFL franchise in Baltimore and the thought was that with many municipalities hard-lining NFL owners on the stadium issue on behalf of local taxpayers, it was only a matter of time before someone moved a team to the former home of the Colts. The insiders knew just how much money and how rich the Baltimore deal was for an owner who wanted to flee but the media and local fans were very skeptical after a decade of operating in the fog of having lost the Colts.

Once again, Angelos went into his office in Baltimore and tried to don the cape as a civic hero, flying in to save the day and bring the NFL back to his hometown.

But there were several other suitors pushing to be the winner in this grab for a football team in 1994.

Leonard “Boogie” Weinglass left Angelos’ partnership before it ever really began in September 1993 – he never invested in the team after being the original local person who was interested in the club when Eli Jacobs put it up for sale. At the time he said it was in an effort to pursue an NFL team that he hoped to call the Bombers, paying homage to the World War II planes that were built in Eastern Baltimore County at Martin Marietta.

Malcolm Glazer and his sons Bryan and Joel had been one of the three failed efforts by Baltimore to win the 1993 NFL expansion process. Now, they had set their sights on buying the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their home state of Florida, where they lived in Palm Beach.

Baltimore beer distributors Bob Footlick and Bob Pinkner had also partnered with Robert Schulman in an effort to pursue an NFL team.

And, of course, with his August 1993 victory in the New York auction house and his leading man status as the owner of the Orioles, Angelos was funded and motivated to join Miami’s Wayne Huizenga as the second man to own an NFL and MLB franchise simultaneously. There had previously been language to disallow such a local

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