Tag Archive | "tampa"

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Harbaugh Named Salute to Service Award Finalist

Posted on 30 January 2012 by WNST Staff

NEW YORK – With Super Bowl XLVI around the corner and the spotlight on the field, the NFL is recognizing excellence off the field by announcing today the two finalists for the League’s inaugural Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.

USAA, a leading provider of insurance and other services to members of the U.S. military and their families, is the NFL’s first Official Military Appreciation Sponsor.

Tennessee Titans owner K.S. “Bud” Adams Jr. and Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh were selected for their exceptional efforts to honor and support members of the military community. The first Salute to Service Award will be presented to one of the finalists at the inaugural NFL Honors event that will air on NBC Saturday, February 4 at 9 PM ET. In addition, a $25,000 contribution will be made by USAA in the winner’s honor to the aid societies representing all five military branches.

“We should never take for granted the tremendous sacrifices made daily by our nation’s military,” said Steve Speakes, executive vice president of USAA’s external affairs and a retired Army lieutenant general. “Together with the NFL, we are launching the Salute to Service Award as a way to recognize those in the NFL community who appreciate and honor that sacrifice, enrich the lives of military members and encourage others to do the same.”

An ardent backer of the military in his 52 years as owner, Bud Adams’ enthusiasm for the military began with his service in the U.S. Navy from 1942-46.  His commitment to supporting the military followed him and the franchise to Tennessee where he focused his efforts on recognizing the service men and women of nearby Fort Campbell, home to the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, as well as the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Night Stalkers) and the 5th Special Forces Group (Green Berets).

Since 1999, more than 11,000 Fort Campbell soldiers have been guests of Adams at Titans home games, and it’s very common for Adams to host military members in his suite and award game balls as a tribute to their service. Adams’ support at Fort Campbell includes directing the team to make several visits during the year where Titans players, cheerleaders, and staff can participate in autograph sessions at the PX, greet patients at the Blanchfield Army Community Hospital, provide programs to the on-base middle school and visit with the on-base high school football team.

Similarly, John Harbaugh’s dedication includes frequent base visits, and he relishes interaction with the military community. His passion for supporting the troops was felt immediately by the Ravens’ organization after being named head coach in 2008. Harbaugh was the main driver in the team’s decision to institute a Military Appreciation Day, an annual event which was established during his first training camp with the team. Since then, an estimated 2,000 service members have enjoyed preferred seating and opportunities to meet with players and coaches during Ravens’ camp.

Away from the field, Harbaugh often recruits Ravens players and coaches to join him during base visits, and even took members of his team to the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, Calif., last December in the middle of the Ravens’ playoff run. He has also spent significant time and funds putting together care packages for soldiers overseas, and caches of school supplies for military families.

In December, 22 NFL clubs nominated for this award coaches, active and retired players, and team executives and personnel who best demonstrated support for the military community. The submissions were evaluated by a panel of judges based on the positive effect of the individual’s efforts on the military community, the type of service conducted, the thoroughness of the program and level of commitment.

The panel of judges, consisting of representatives from the U.S. military, the NFL and USAA, includes:

*         Roger Staubach, Naval Academy graduate, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and Super Bowl MVP

*         Chad Hennings, Air Force Academy graduate, three-time Super Bowl champion

*         Rocky Bleier, U.S. Army veteran, four-time Super Bowl champion

*         Jim Mora, Sr., Marine Corps veteran, former NFL head coach

*         General Stephen Speakes, U.S. Army veteran, USAA executive vice president

*         Eric Grubman, Naval Academy graduate, executive vice president-NFL Ventures and Business Operations

“Bud and John’s efforts demonstrate how members of the NFL family can inspire us both on and off the field,” said Roger Staubach. “Their service to the military community is a reminder that we can never do enough to show our appreciation for all the men and women in uniform who defend and protect us.”

All Salute to Service nominees are listed below:

KS Bud Adams Jr. Tennessee Titans Founder, Owner, Chairman of the Board

Jared Allen Minnesota Vikings Defensive End

Jason Baker Carolina Panthers Punter

Tom Coughlin New York Giants Head Coach

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders

Kris Dielman San Diego Chargers Left Guard

Mark Dominik Tampa Bay Buccaneers General Manager

Anthony Fasano Miami Dolphins Wide Receiver

Mike Flood Seattle Seahawks Vice President, Community Relations & Special Projects

Drayton Florence Buffalo Bills Defensive Back

John Harbaugh Baltimore Ravens Head Coach

Robert Wood Johnson IV New York Jets Chairman & CEO

Gary Kubiak Houston Texans Head Coach

Lonie Paxton Denver Broncos Long Snapper

Troy Polamalu Pittsburgh Steelers Strong Safety

Marco Rivera Green Bay Packers Guard (Retired)

Joe Thomas Cleveland Browns Offensive Lineman

Charles Tillman Chicago Bears Cornerback

Chad Walker Detroit Lions Community Affairs Coordinator

Washington Redskins Cheerleaders

Roddy White Atlanta Falcons Wide Receiver

Kurt Wisenbaugh Jacksonville Jaguars Manager, Events and Game Operations

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MASN To Air Just Six Orioles Spring Training Games

Posted on 25 January 2012 by WNST Staff



The Orioles recently announced their radio and television broadcasts for the 2012 spring training season, providing the Sarasota area exposure to millions of households in the Mid-Atlantic region.

MASN, the Orioles’ television rightsholder, will air six spring training games from Ed Smith Stadium in 2012, the most MASN has ever broadcast. Those games include March 5 vs. Pittsburgh, March 11 vs. Boston, March 18 vs. New York, March 23 vs. Boston, March 24 vs. Washington and April 1 vs. Tampa Bay. MASN’s exclusive television territory covers over seven million households in all or parts of six states and the District of Columbia from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Charlotte, North Carolina.

“The broadcast of Orioles spring training games back to the Mid-Atlantic market is a huge promotional bonus for Sarasota,” said VIRGINIA HALEY, President of the Sarasota Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The three-hour broadcasts are often filled with images of beaches, shopping districts, marinas and other recreational activities, helping to promote the Greater Sarasota area as a true tourist destination.”

“Millions of households can learn about the beauty and attractions of the Sarasota area by watching or listening to Orioles spring training broadcasts, creating an awareness that can lead to increased interest and tourism in the region,” said GREG BADER, Orioles Director of Communications. “In addition to our local broadcasts, the Sarasota area also benefits from radio and television broadcasts of spring training games by the Orioles’ opponents to their regional audiences across the United States.”

The Orioles’ 2012 spring training season will begin on Monday, March 5 at 7:05 p.m. against the Pittsburgh Pirates at the new Ed Smith Stadium. Both MASN and WBAL Radio will broadcast the game live.


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The Caps raced to an early three goal lead then hung on for 4-3 victory over Tampa

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Caps Victorious But Still Have Work to Do

Posted on 13 January 2012 by Ed Frankovic

The scoreboard will show the Washington Capitals won again at home, 4-3, to run their record at the Verizon Center to 16-5-1 this season but I am pretty sure that coach Dale Hunter won’t be very pleased about his team’s performance over the last 30 minutes. The Caps raced out to a 3-0 lead in this one buoyed by two first period power play goals but they let their foot off of the gas and Tampa Bay nearly tied it up in the waning seconds. Troy Brouwer notched a hat trick when he hit the empty net with 59 ticks left, but the Bolts scored with 10 seconds remaining with the goalie pulled and narrowly missed the game tyer at the buzzer.

This game started so nicely for the Caps as they dominated a Lightning team that played the night before by winning nearly every battle to the loose pucks. Washington received the first three power plays as a result and made Bolts coach Guy Boucher’s club pay. At the midpoint of the game, the Capitals were still carrying the play but then at the 12:42 mark of period two Karl Alzner decided to get in a fight with Tampa’s chief punk, Steve Downie. It was a terrible move by 27 and after that the game was mostly Tampa. It was Alzner’s first NHL fight (he had three in the Western Hockey League playing Juniors, h/t @JapersRink) and he couldn’t have picked a worse time because he gave the Bolts life. I am sure that Hunter will have a chat with the young defensemen about his decision after the contest. The Capitals do need to get tougher with opposing players who routinely take liberties against them, but that was not the time to do that. I’m sure Alzner will learn.

Still, when you are playing a team that has lost five straight and has horrible goaltending you can not let your foot off of the gas regardless of one altercation. Every other Capitals player had a chance to pick his play up but didn’t for the next 20 minutes. What transpired was the Caps made a mistake behind their own net (Mike Knuble) and the Bolts cut it to 3-1 heading into the final frame.

At that point, given that the Bolts had to be tired, the opening minutes and beyond of the third period should’ve been all Caps, like they were against the Pens on Wednesday, but a Tampa squad that has talent up front fought back. The Capitals failed to get pucks on net against an aging and poorly peforming netminder. They also were a bit unlucky on their fourth power play as Alexander Semin hit two posts in about 10 seconds. Still, good squads find ways to bury opponents when they are down and Washington couldn’t do that tonight.

Tomas Vokoun (29 saves) received his eighth straight start and was solid in net. #29 made some quality saves before Steven Stamkos practically single handedly brought his team back. Good goaltending goes a long way in the NHL and that was the difference in the game on Friday night.

At the end of the day, a win is a win is a win, but the Capitals need to find a way to take the life from the opposition when they get a lead if they want to move back into the NHL’s elite. On Friday they showed that they still can’t do that yet.

Notes: Brooks Laich and Dennis Wideman had two assists…Wideman led the Caps in ice time but instead of keeping the puck in the corner in the dying seconds he made an error and tried to fire it up the boards giving Tampa a remote chance to tie it up. #6 has to be smarter in his own end…Tampa was 1 for 5 with the man advantage and the Caps were 2 for 4. Washington needs to stay out of the box. They had a too many men on the ice penalty and a delay of game infraction. Those types of penalties are unnecessary…the Caps only had 12 shots on net the last 40 minutes, one of which was Brouwer’s empty net, that won’t allow a club to close out a game they should win easily…Nicklas Backstrom is still out due to injury (head injury) and may not return until after the All Star break…Washington’s win coupled with the Panthers loss to the Penguins puts the Capitals just two points behind Florida in the Southeast Division race. The Caps have a game in hand too…next up for the Caps are the Carolina Hurricanes at 5 pm on Sunday at the Verizon Center.

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Navy Announces 2011 Football Recruiting Class

Posted on 30 June 2011 by WNST Staff

ANNAPOLIS, Md.-Navy head football coach Ken Niumatalolo released the names of the 2011 Navy football recruits on Thursday evening as 52 prospects representing 16 states went through induction ceremonies and began plebe summer.

“We are very excited about the group we have coming in this year,” said Niumatalolo. “If they work hard and do the things they are supposed to do in Bancroft Hall, in the classroom, in the weight room and on the practice field they have a chance to be a part of something special.”

The state of Florida produced the most prospects with eight, while six incoming recruits hail from Texas.  Georgia, Tennessee and California produced five prospects each.

Navy football season tickets are currently on sale at the Ricketts Hall Box Office, by calling 1-800-US4-NAVY or by logging on to the web at www.navysports.com. Navy opens the 2011 campaign on Sept. 3 against Delaware.  The Mids will play five games at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium this fall, including an Oct. 1 date with Air Force, and will play host to Army at FedExField in Landover, Md.

Name                          Position            Hgt.            Wgt.            Hometown/High School
Kody Akers                QB                   5-10            190            Delaware, Ohio/Rutherford Hayes
Colin Amerau             PK                    6-2            185            Alexandria, Va./Mount Vernon
Adrian Barnaby                        DL                    6-1            275            Deltona, Fla./Trinity Christian Academy
DJ Beard                        DB                        6-0            180            McDonough, Ga./Ola
Pablo Beltran              P/K                   6-2            200            Humble, Texas/Atascocita
Jimmy Britton                        DB                        6-2            210            Togers, Ark./Heritage
Greg Bryant Jr.                        QB                   6-2            185            Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt
Allen Caldwell                        DL                        6-3            250            Crestview, Fla./Crestview
Joe Cardona                        LS                    6-3            200            El Cajon, Calif./Granite Hills
Ruben Carson              SB                    5-8            170            Hoover, Ala./Hoover
Noah Copeland                        FB                    5-10            205            San Antonio, Texas/Brandeis
Kyle Cregge              OL                    6-2            279            Alpharetta, Ga./Milton
Aaron Davis                DL                    6-0            265            Manvel, Texas/Dawson
Jordan Drake                        OLB                        6-4            210            Douglasville, Ga./Chapel Hill
Brendan Dudeck             QB                   6-0            188            Hamilton Square, N.J./The Hun School
Chris Ferguson                        DB                   6-2            195            Angier, N.C./West Johnson
Tanner Fleming                        OL                    6-2            260            Deltona, Fla./Deltona
Parrish Gaines                        DB                        6-2            185            Smyrna, Tenn./Smyrna
Daniel Godkin              DL                    6-4            230            Las Vegas, Nev./Palo Verde
Bradyn Heap                 OL                    6-3            265            South Jordan, Utah/Bingham
John Hendrick                        QB                        6-1            185            Tampa, Fla./Sickles
Sam Holguin                        WR                        6-3            195            Pacific Palisades, Calif./Saint Monica
Dale Howard             DL                    6-0            275            Baxley, Ga./Appling County
George Jamison             DB                   6-0            190            Memphis, Tenn./Evangelical Christian
Chris Johnson                        OLB                        6-1            205            Cape Coral, Fla./Cape Coral
Eric Johnson             SB                    5-10            185            Fayetteville, N.C./Jack Britt
James King                 WR                  6-2            195            Orinda, Calif./Miramonte
Anthony Lewis                OLB                 6-0            210            Salt Lake City, Utah/Cottonwood
Carrington Lewis             OLB                 6-3            197            Helena, Ala./Pelham
Marcus Lewis                SB                    5-8            170            Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers
Austin Marshall                        OL                    6-3            300            Rossville, Tenn./Evangelical Christian
Isaiah McElrath                        DL                    6-2            280            Milton, Fla./Pace
Brice Musgrove                        DL                    5-11            275            Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill
Chris Nurthen             DL                    6-3            226            Phoenixville, Pa./Great Valley
Nate Otto                        OL                    6-2            265            Houston, Texas/Clear Lake
Togasii Peko                        DB                        6-0            177            Henderson, Nev./Bishop Gorman
Maika Polamalu                        FB                        6-0            200            Pottstown, Pa./Pottsgrove
AJ Pouncy              DB                   6-1            190            Humble, Texas/Atascocita
Paul Quessenberry            DL                    6-2            230            Carlsbad, Calif./LaCosta Canyon
Lonnie Richardson            DB                   5-11            195            Wallingford, Pa./Strath Haven
Vinny Rider                DL                    6-4            260            Athens, Ohio/Athens
Dan Ring                        DL                        6-2            270            Lighthouse Point, Fla./Cardinal Gibbons
Shakir Robinson                        DB                        5-10            190            Brunswick, Ga./Brunswick
Quinton Singleton            FB                    6-0            190            Manning, S.C./Scotts Branch
Will Strauss              OL                    6-5            245            Brentwood, Calif./Heritage
Josh Tate                        DB                   5-11            180            Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood
David Thurston                        LB                    6-1            225            Broomfield, Colo./Arvada West
Obinna Uzoma                        OLB                        6-3            215            Wake Forest, N.C./Knightdale
Kody West                 QB                   6-2            195            Murfreesboro, Tenn./Riverdale
Geoffrey Whiteside            SB                    5-10            177            Columbus, Ohio/Bishop Hartley
Ryan Williams                        SB                    5-8            170            Helena, Ala./Pelham
Jake Zuzek               OL                    6-0            290            Brookhaven, Pa./West Philadelphia Catholic

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Caps Lose, 1-0, Will Face Rangers in Playoffs

Posted on 09 April 2011 by Ed Frankovic

It was a major yawner in Sunrise, Florida on Saturday night as the Washington Capitals gave up a late fluky goal to the Panthers to lose, 1-0, in a meaningless contest. Michal Neuvirth started and went the distance making some nice saves along the way. The Caps rested Jason Arnott, Marco Sturm, and Mike Green as they prepare to face the New York Rangers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which start on Wednesday. The full schedule will be out Sunday evening.

The best thing to come out of this game is that it appears that the Capitals did not suffer any new injuries. Defenseman Karl Alzner did take a puck to the jaw late in period two but he came back and played a regular shift in the final stanza. The game featured a total lack of hitting and it seemed that both teams were interested in just getting this game overwith without any incidents.

The Rangers, in a must win situation, defeated the New Jersey Devils, 5-2, on Saturday afternoon and then had to go to the television and root for the Tampa Bay Lightning to defeat the Canes. They got their wish as the Bolts pumped in three first period goals on Cam Ward en route to a 6-2 victory. New York was 3-1 against the Capitals in the regualr season, including two blowout wins (7-0 and 6-0). Their other victory was in a shootout, 2-1, just before the All Star Break.

New York is coached by the abrasive John Tortorella, who won the Stanley Cup with Tampa in 2004, and his club plays physical hockey. The Rangers have one of the best goalies in the league in Henrik Lundqvist. This will be a tough series for the Caps to win but they did catch a break this week when New York’s Ryan Callahan fractured his ankle late in Monday night’s win over Boston. Callahan is a super player and always seems to play well against Washington. His loss hurts New York but the Rangers are a resilient group.

I’ll have more on the matchup with New York as the week progresses.

Notes: Neuvirth stopped 22 of 23 shots on Saturday and appears to be Caps Coach Bruce Boudreau’s choice to start game 1 against the Rangers…Tomas Vokoun stopped all 28 shots he faced to get the win for Florida…the Caps were shut out 11 times in 82 games this year but they were one of the best teams in the league in goals allowed (2.33 GAA, 4th in NHL), unlike in years past.

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Orioles Magic: Tillman, Roberts, Markakis leading men in 3-1 win in Tampa

Posted on 03 April 2011 by WNST Staff

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Strong starting pitching, timely hitting and solid defense.
Two games into the season, the Baltimore Orioles are clicking on all cylinders.
Chris Tillman held Tampa Bay hitless for six innings, Brian Roberts hit a three-run homer and Nick Markakis made a leaping catch at the wall in the ninth to preserve a 3-1 victory over the defending AL East champion Rays on Saturday night.
“As we all know, you win with pitching and defense, and that’s what we’ve gotten the first two days,” said Roberts, whose eighth-inning homer snapped a scoreless tie.
Tillman, making the 24th starter of his career, lost his bid for a no-hitter when manager Buck Showalter lifted him after 101 pitches. B.J. Upton lined a two-out single off Jeremy Accardo (1-0) for Tampa Bay’s first hit with two outs in the seventh.
The 22-year-old right-hander wasn’t surprised by removed from the game.
“No, I was real inefficient the first couple innings,” Tillman said. “Maybe a month down the road from now, I might still be in the game.”
Roberts drove in two runs with a triple on Friday night when Jeremy Guthrie pitched eight shutout innings in Baltimore’s 4-1 season-opening victory. His eighth-inning homer off Jake McGee came after Mark Reynolds singled and J.J. Hardy drew a one-out walk from Rays starter James Shields (0-1).
With two runners on base, Ben Zobrist hit a drive to right and Markakis, taking a running leap into the padded wall, made the game-ending catch.
“I’ve said over and over again, it’s a crime he hasn’t won a Gold Glove by this point,” Roberts said of Markakis. “To me, he’s the best right fielder in the game. If you didn’t believe before now, I hope you do now.”
Tillman walked three and struck out five in a start that was moved up a day after lefty Brian Matusz was scratched due to soreness on the left side of his mid-back. Matusz underwent an MRI exam Friday that found a strain in a muscle between the ribs and the back and is expected to be sidelined three to four weeks.
Accardo allowed two hits and escaped without allowing a run in the seventh when Felix Pie, who had entered the game as a pinch runner in the top half of the inning, made a perfect throw to the plate from left field to stop Upton from scoring on Kelly Shoppach’s sharp single to left field.
Tampa Bay’s Manny Ramirez singled off Koji Uehara to drive in a run charged to Michael Gonzalez in the eighth inning.
Kevin Gregg pitched the ninth for Baltimore and benefited from Markakis’ catch to earn his first save as an Oriole.
“I really thought Zo’s ball was over the wall when he hit it,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
The Rays finished with four hits after being limited to the same number the previous night. Maddon conceded that two runs in two games is not getting the job done, however he found no fault with his team’s effort.
“They’ve just outpitched us,” Maddon said. “It’s gone their way both nights, but at some point it’s going to go our way.”
Shields is coming off a season in which he lost a career-high 15 games, allowed an AL-leading 34 homers and led the majors by yielding 127 runs and 246 hits. He was winless over his final six outings of the season, going 0-4 after Aug. 29 and also lost his only start in the Rays’ loss to Texas in the opening round of the playoffs.
On Saturday, he showed why he made three consecutive opening day starts for Tampa Bay before David Price, a 19-game winner a year ago, drew this year’s assignment.
“Sometimes you can look good and you don’t come out with the win,” said Shields, who allowed two runs and four hits in 7 1-3 innings. He walked two and struck out seven. “I hung in there as long as I could … but Tillman was on his game.”
The Rays starter settled after giving up a single to Roberts on the first pitch of the game and walking the next batter, Markakis. He retired nine in a row before Derrek Lee singled for Baltimore’s second hit in the fourth. Vladimir Guerrero singled with one out in the seventh and Reynolds singled leading off the eighth for the other hits off Shields.
Over three stints with the Orioles in 2010, Tillman went 2-5 with a 5.87 ERA in 11 starts. He was 0-2 with a 6.53 ERA in four career starts against Tampa Bay before Saturday, but the Rays had no answers for his this time.
The closest Tillman came to giving up a hit was Zobrist’s liner to right that Markakis made a nice running catch on in the third inning. He walked Evan Longoria with two outs in the first, Matt Joyce with two outs in the second and Zobrist with one out in the sixth.
The Rays didn’t get a runner past first until Upton singled and stole second in the seventh.
“I was so nervous and at the same time I felt comfortable,” Tillman said. “I settled down there the second and third and from then on out.”
NOTES: Rays RHP Wade Davis will start Sunday’s series finale. He’s set to have his head shaved by a young pediatric cancer patient following the game as part of the pitcher’s participation in “Cut for a Cure,” benefiting the Pediatric Cancer Foundation and the Vincent Lecavalier Foundation. … With Matusz scratched from Sunday’s scheduled start, the Orioles are expected to recall left-hander Zach Britton from Triple-A Norfolk to make his major league debut. … Longoria left in the sixth inning due to muscle soreness on the left side on his upper body. The Rays said the three-time All-Star 3B will have his oblique muscle reevaluated on Sunday.

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Orioles place Matusz on 15-day DL; Britton will start Sunday in Tampa

Posted on 02 April 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

Just two hours prior to Friday night’s opener in Tampa, the warning signs came when it was announced that Orioles pitcher Brian Matusz would not be making today’s start vs. the Rays at Tropicana Field and would be getting an MRI .

And by the time Jeremy Guthrie was leaving the hill after eight scoreless innings on Opening Night, it was apparent that it would be another young gun from the emerging staff who would beginning the season with the Orioles.

Just after the O’s 4-1 win, Orioles manager Buck Showalter announced that young Zach Britton would be recalled from the minors to make his major-league debut Sunday afternoon in Tampa.

Matusz officially has an strain near the left side of his back will miss the first month of the season on the disabled list. He told reporters in Tampa that he can’t throw the ball 10 feet right now, which is never a good sign.

Britton has been dubbed as the “next big thing” by many media observers and baseball insiders. The Orioles had been keeping him in the minors as to not activate his service time, forcing the team to make him arbitration eligible earlier and thereby potentially costing the club millions of dollars if Britton is indeed the pitcher they think he can be.

It’s a rare admission of the club that they’re actually trying to win for a change.

As Orioles fans, we’ll welcome him on Sunday and are excited to watch him work. The only sad part is the fans of Baltimore won’t get to see him pitch the home opener on Monday in Baltimore as the stadium will be full on Opening Day.

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Guthrie dominates Rays in Orioles 4-1 Opening Night win

Posted on 02 April 2011 by WNST Staff

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) With Jeremy Guthrie outpitching David Price, the new-look Orioles cruised past the Tampa Bay Rays.
Guthrie allowed three hits in eight shutout innings, Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis each drove in two runs and Baltimore opened the season with a 4-1 victory on Friday night.
Taking up where they left off during a nice two-month stretch to end last season under manager Buck Showalter, the Orioles ruined a festive evening in which the defending AL East champions hoisted their latest division title banner at Tropicana Field.
And, they did it with Guthrie outdoing last year’s AL Cy Young Award runner-up.
“It’s one day, but I sure like being on this end of it,” Showalter said. “It’s a tough place to play on opening day.”
Roberts hit a two-run triple off Price in the fifth and scored on Markakis’ sacrifice fly. Markakis also had an RBI single in the third.
Ben Zobrist homered in the ninth for Tampa Bay. Rays newcomers Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon each went 0 for 4.
In his third opening day start in four years, Guthrie returned 13 batters in a row between Dan Johnson’s second-inning double and Zobrist’s single leading off the sixth. B.J. Upton double leading off the eighth for Tampa Bay’s third hit.
Zobrist homered on the first pitch of the ninth off Jim Johnson. The Orioles reliever struck out Damon and Evan Longoria, then got Ramirez to ground out to finish the combined four-hitter.
The heart of Tampa Bay’s betting order – Damon, Longoria and Ramirez – went 0 for 12 with three strikeouts in its debut. Damon and Ramirez, once teammates in Boston, were brought in after the Rays lost All-Star Carl Crawford and slugger Carlos Pena to free agency.
“It’s hard to gauge out hitters because their pitching was that good,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s not like we weren’t swinging the bats well. Guthrie was good, man.”
Guthrie walked one and struck out six.
“Throwing before the game, I felt good. I was very excited, really, wanting to get out there and go after it,” Guthrie said. “It was a great crowd, but I was able to tone it down a little bit. … I had a feel for the ball and was able to carry it over into the game.”
A sellout crowd of 34,078 – the sixth straight for a Rays home opener – booed Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The fans stood and cheered wildly as the Rays’ 2010 AL East flag was raised to the left-field catwalk alongside banners recognizing the team’s 2008 division and league championship.
Before the game, Maddon reflected on how far the franchise has come since he was hired after the 2005 season and helped transform a last-place team into a contender.
“I think at that time if I had spoken too loudly about” the prospect of winning championships “people would have thought I truly was crazy,” Maddon said.
With his first opening day assignment, Price became the 13th pitcher in major league history to start an opener, an All-Star game and a postseason game by the age of 25 – a select group that also includes Whitey Ford, Tom Seaver, Roger Clemens, Dwight Gooden, Fernando Valenzuela, Robin Roberts, Don Drysdale and Bret Saberhagen. Tom Glavine was the last to do it 20 years ago.
The hard-throwing lefty allowed four runs and five hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out seven, while losing to the Orioles for the first time in five career decisions.
“I felt good. But when you’re going against another team’s No. 1 and give up four runs, you’re going to lose,” said Price, a 19-game winner in 2010. “I’ve got to get better.”
The Orioles’ lineup featured four players – Vladimir Guerrero, Derrek Lee, Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy – who’ve joined the team since the end of a 13th consecutive losing season.
But they are just part of the reason Baltimore is excited heading into the season. The team is also hoping build off 34-23 record it compiled after Showalter took over last August. That late run didn’t enable the Orioles to escape the AL East cellar, but they did begin to build some confidence.
“I think the proof will be in the W’s and L’s. Change doesn’t necessarily mean things are going to be better,” Showalter said. “We’re starting off at the American League East champions’ ballpark. We’ll find out real quick.”
NOTES: Ramirez made his 18th consecutive opening day start, the second-longest streak among active players behind Washington’s Ivan Rodriguez (20). Damon has started 14 straight openers. … Baltimore LHP Brian Matusz was scratched from his scheduled start on Saturday because of soreness on the left side of his mid-back. … A moment of silence was observed for three St. Petersburg police officers who have been killed in the line of duty this year.

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I Can Save The Pro Bowl .....

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I Can Save The Pro Bowl …..

Posted on 29 January 2010 by Rex Snider

Question – Name the pro sports league that owns the distinction of hosting the most SIGNIFICANT and INSIGNIFICANT athletic events of the year ….. just a week apart?

Answer – That’s right, it’s the National Football League – proud owners of the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl games …..

In just nine days, the NFL is rolling out the red carpet and pagentry for the annual unveiling of its crowned jewel. The Super Bowl and it’s week-long events is a celebration likened to the coronation of a King or Queen. It’s more than a big deal …..

Yet, this Sunday – in the same stadium, Roger Goodell and his colleagues will do their best to dab some makeup and lipstick on the “ugly step sister” ….. or better yet, they’re opening the doors to the party nobody wants to attend.

And, it’s featuring a few guys nobody wants to see – because many REAL STARS backed out.

To be honest, this is an inherent problem for the NFL. Although, I’ve gotta dole out some credit; they’re trying to address the situation and improve the overall lure of the Pro Bowl for everyone involved. The league has made tangible changes.

And, the primary hurdle has been cleared by moving the game from a location that’s not exactly “convenient” to reach …..

Unless you had alot of disposable income, a week’s vacation and nothing better to do ….. OR you lived in Hawaii, the Pro Bowl just wasn’t in the offing in past years, right? Well, the NFL has corrected that problem.

As the football world knows, the game is being played at the site of the Super Bowl, in Miami, just a couple weeks earlier.

Problem solved, right? WRONG. Tickets are selling for as little as 20 bucks on the street, players are still backing out and subsequently, fans just don’t seem to care. It’s also worth mentioning that rules are still tightened and blitzing is not allowed. That matters – if you love the game of football.

I think it’s logical to say the NFL corrected the largest factor contributing to the disconnect between fans and the Pro Bowl. It’s being played on the mainland !!!!

But, the next biggest problem still exists. This guy isn’t attending …..

This guy’s bosses are BITCHINGLY complaining about him attending …..

This guy isn’t attending …..

This guy’s bosses are also complaining about him attending …..

You get the picture(s), right? It’s gonna be virtually impossible to attract fans and relevant attention to a showcase event, without the showcase quarterbacks participating in one way or another. God bless Vince Young, but football fans aren’t universally interested in dedicating a day to watching him play.

Let me be very clear about this ….. I have no qualms with ANY of the above guys pulling out of the Pro Bowl’s on-field commitments. Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have a BIGGER on-field obligation. Tom Brady is beaten and bruised. And, Brett Favre can barely run.

Their bodies have been punished for the last four months. But, are any of them exempt from attending the league’s GIVE BACK weekend? I suppose that’s debatable.

After all, the Pro Bowl is not really billed as being “For The Fans & About The Fans” which contradicts the missions of MLB, NBA and NHL endeavors. To be blunt, I’m not really certain about the appeal or desired result of the game.

However, if the NFL is intent on making it successful, they’ve gotta find an incentive for players to attend (even if they’re not playing), while actually displaying some enthusiasm and devotion to the people who support the game.

An initial consideration will likely regard MONEY. It always does. But, that won’t work – the amounts are likely not significant enough to gain the attention of the biggest stars. They’ve already got plenty of money. So, they’re off doing what they wanna do …..

A few dollars and a free trip to South Florida (a week earlier than desired) will not inspire these guys to make the journey – if they gotta practice and play football. Sure, some of them will pitch a product on radio row – NEXT WEEK – while working the room at a party or two. But, they’re not breaking a sweat.

Trust me, if the NFL really wants to salvage the Pro Bowl and make it a well publicized, worthwhile occasion, they need to read this blog.

Are you ready? Here goes …..

Upon determining the Super Bowl’s host city, the league needs to award the Pro Bowl to the nearest, neighboring NFL locale. For example, this year’s Pro Bowl would’ve been hosted by Tampa. I’ll agree, the folks in Tampa are accustomed to putting on the ritz for Super Bowl festivities, but they won’t reject the Pro Bowl – and they’re already hosting a HUGE PARTY, this weekend.

Have you heard of Gasparilla? It’s a “Pirate Themed Spring Break – for Adults.” In fact, it’s very much like Mardi Gras. It’s an awesome time – TRUST ME !!!!



The fine people of Tampa are already having the BIGGEST PARTY, in Florida, this weekend. The Pro Bowl would’ve been a natural and fun fit for the town. The Gasparilla event is on Saturday and the Pro Bowl could’ve been on Sunday.

Just take a look at where the next three Super Bowls are being played – and where the prospective Pro Bowls could be played …..

Indianapolis/Cincinnati (hey, they picked Indy – they’re stuck with Cincy)
New Orleans/Houston

Having the resounding support of the host municipality would be key and it would really be the only occasion for some cities, like Cincinnati, to ever host such a meaningful event. It could and would work from the local perspectives.

But, how do you get this guy (and his goat) to show up?

I’ll admit, a bunch of girls running around – scantilly clad in pirate outfits won’t do it. In fact, the Tampa situation is just a convenient one year deal. But, there is a group of people; a FAN BASE that would really put the players in an obligatory, selfless situation.

If the NFL wanted a full stadium and successful Pro Bowl event on their hands, they need to make their ALL STAR game about GIVING BACK to the people who are most deserving of such an event. And, they could coordinate it through one organization …..

That’s right, regardless of the host city, fill the Pro Bowl Stadium with America’s REAL HEROES. Distribute the tickets to enlisted personnel representing all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Don’t sell the tickets – give them away. And, just require an accompanying Military ID at the gate.

Think about it ….. how much money is the NFL making on the Pro Bowl gate? It’s a drop in the proverbial bucket for them. And, the potential TV audience will not be tuned in for this Sunday’s game.

However, if the NFL truly GAVE BACK and made the event about these folks, the TV audience could skyrocket …..

I recognize the NFL has been instrumental in USO causes. In fact, John Harbaugh and a group of head coaches visited the troops, in Iraq, last year. And, if you attend a Ravens game, our military brethren are always recognized and remembered.

But, making the Pro Bowl “THEIR” event, on U.S. mainland soil would be a gigantic public relations win for the NFL – and citizens would care about the energy surrounding the game. It’s not about competition or providing better on-field production. It’s about hosting a game with a greater, selfless purpose.

My suggested format would not render Tom Brady healthy and willing to play in the game. But, I’d bet he wouldn’t blow it off. Neither would Brett Favre. Doing so, would be incredibly damaging to their public images.

They would show up and interact with FANS during pre-game festivities. They would take part in some facet of the game. They would have a REAL REASON to be there. In fact, the reasons OFF-FIELD are just as important as ON-FIELD …..

Oh, I’m sure one of the players would “dip his toe in the water” when considering the prospect of blowing off the game and resulting celebration. But, I’d sense their agent or PR guy would say, “Tom (Brett), you can’t dig this hole ….. you’ll never climb out of it.”

The NFL’s players would do the right thing.

Heck, maybe guys like Bill Polian would finally SHUT THEIR MOUTHS. The Colts President has been crying and complaining about his Pro Bowl players being obligated to travel to Miami, a little early, because they might “spend too much time on their feet.” Are you serious, Bill?

Have you considered how much time this kid spends on his feet?

Give me a break.

If the Pro Bowl becomes a celebration of the people who truly deserve a game to call their own, it would become a grand success – REGARDLESS OF WHO IS ON THE FIELD.

Give back, guys. It’s really that simple …..

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Nils Lofgren Nestor Aparicio Super Bowl Springsteen E Street Band

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My life with Bruce Springsteen and Friday’s miracle show in Baltimore

Posted on 19 November 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Let me get this out of the way: Springsteen is the only Boss I listen to …

At 8:50 this Friday evening when Bruce Springsteen breaks out his harmonica and begins to tell the Baltimore audience about his 1975 opus, “Born To Run” – the album, not the song – some musical magic will enrapture the First Mariner Arena in a way that hasn’t been seen much lately this side of Bono or Mick Jagger taking the stage that Elvis Presley and The Beatles graced in the 1960s and Led Zeppelin and The Who lit up in the 1970s.

This is Springsteen’s first foray into the Baltimore Street institution since 1973, when legend has it that he apparently opened for the band Chicago. In 1977, Bruce rocked the then-shiny-new Towson Center on the “Darkness On The Edge of Town” tour. But over the last 32 years – as long as I’ve been going to concerts — Springsteen has never, ever come near playing Baltimore in any way.

In his heyday, the Capital Centre hosted all of Bruce’s legendary shows and week-long runs from 1978’s success of “The River” and beyond. And then, of course, he wound up playing R.F.K. Stadium and then Fed Ex Field. (Let’s just be glad Peter Angelos didn’t try to screw him on a contract like he did Jimmy Buffett and Van Halen a few summers ago …)

For the initiated Springsteen lover, we in Baltimore will be seeing the second-to-last show of what has been an ongoing decade-long reunion with the fabled E Street Band of all-star musicians, most whom were in the studio with Springsteen in 1975 when he wrote and recorded “Born To Run,” which catapulted him into the mainstream music audience where his music has become legendary to blue collar people around the world.

Many of you know I have a major, major Sprinsgteen fandom issue. By my count, I’ve seen Springsteen 43 times, with and without The E Street Band. And this appears to be the end of a long road with this particular group of musicians, who are now mostly in the 60-plus range and are slowing down.

I’ve seen Bruce play so many times and in so many places that’s it’s hard to recall every one of them.

I’ve seen Bruce on a stunningly gorgeous night under the stars in Madrid, Spain and in a driving rainstorm getting soaked in Zaragoza.

I’ve seen him on college campuses in Austin, Texas and in stadiums in New Jersey and in theatres in Ohio.

My favorite show was at Fed Ex Field on “The Rising” tour when he opened with Johnny Cash’s “I Walk The Line” on the day when the Man in Black died.

I have never met Bruce Springsteen but I’ve had interviews, handshakes, pictures and great conversations with virtually every member of the E Street Band. I’ll talk about Nils Lofgren a little later in the blog, but I met Clarence Clemons at Hammerjacks 20 years ago. Met Little Steven several times as well as Garry W. Tallent. And at the Super Bowl this year, I would up talking about Europe and the band with the “mighty” Max Weinberg at a cocktail party. (He was a sensational guy!)

It’d be cool to take a picture with Bruce but my real fantasy interview would be spending two hours with Springsteen and just asking him questions about his songs and the world. Other than sitting with Bono or Peter Angelos, it’d be my dream “career topper” scenario.

But this year, I’ve had two amazing experiences with Bruce that I’ve managed to capture on film:

I have a video of me in the orchestra pit in Cleveland last Tuesday night, where I actually touched his foot and captured it on film for posterity. I’m not sharing that one. It’s borderline disgracefully embarrassing. But it was fun as hell!

And here’s a shareable press conference scene from the Super Bowl in Tampa when I got to ask Bruce a question on live TV, which was later captured in his documentary about the making of the NFL Network’s superbadass halftime show documentary. In this video, Bruce calls me a “dummy.” Only Fred G. Sanford could’ve called me a dummy in a more loving fashion!

I make a living opining about sports and have since 1992. But in my former life, I was a music critic for nearly a decade in the 1980s and early 1990s at The Evening Sun and The News American. Bruce Springsteen’s music was unavoidable growing up in Dundalk in the late 1970s and everyone had heard “Hungry Heart” or “Born To Run” at least once a week but I didn’t truly fall for the catalog until the triple live CD was released when I was a music critic on Calvert Street.

Then, with the release of “Tunnel of Love” – still my favorite album in the world – Springsteen won me at the age of 19 (a full 13 years after the release of the seminal “Born To Run”) and has kept me for life.

He does E Street tours. He does solo tours. He’s even known to take a barnstorming jug band all over the world playing folk songs and ripping down the roof. He’s a serial performer. It’s like oxygen for him.

And its sheer passion, energy and the great songs with great words and great melodies and great deeper meaning all strike a chord with me at the age of 41. I’m a complete sucker for Springsteen. Always have been, always will be …

Like I said, he’s he only BOSS I’ve ever listened to … LOL!

So why go through all of this effort and money and travel to spend time on the road with The Boss?

Well, Springsteen has become a live source of inspiration for me not just because of the words in his songs and the energy of his legendary live shows but it’s pretty clear that he loves what he does and he’s never going to stop touring and trying to be great.

His political work – whether you agree or disagree – is pretty admirable. He wants to make the world a better place. He always does charity food bank statements and really tries to give back to the world.

The money has never changed that. The fame has never changed that. The fans and their demands have never changed that.

Oh, and Bruce never, ever plays the same show twice. NEVER.

If you were to ask me what songs he’ll play on Friday night, I can only assure you that he’ll be doing the “Born To Run” album in its entirety about four songs into the show.

The rest? Completely random and up for grabs. Every single night he mixes up setlists so thoroughly that it becomes part of a poker hand between him, his band and the fans who bring signs with song requests that Springsteen honors every single night. (And sometimes, as Nils Lofgren will tell me in the videos below, the band doesn’t even know the songs and fakes it through. It’s part of the challenge and authenticity of being in The E Street Band.)

Here’s Lofgren talking about this aspect of Bruce and the E Street Band:

My fandom of all things Springsteen has led me to a fun friendship with guitarist Nils Lofgren, who I first met in 1987 at Shriver Hall on Johns Hopkins campus when I was a newspaper music critic. I next saw him saunter into the Convention Center in New Orleans on the eve of the Super Bowl in January 2002 and asked him on the show. An hour later, he was telling me European road stories and a friendship was born.

Nils Lofgren Nestor Aparicio Super Bowl Springsteen E Street Band

Lofgren, as you may know, had a big band in the 1970s called Grin, and made a life in Silver Spring for many years and is an unabashed Redskins fan (although we forgive him for this mortal sin.)

Because I talk about Springsteen on the show a lot, I thought this would be an appropriate time to write an “all things Bruce” blog on the eve of one of the biggest nights of the year in Baltimore.

You’ll be seeing us around the Arena on Friday night. Perhaps we can even cajole The Boss into a rousing rendition of “Hungry Heart,” where the songs protagonist sang:

“I’ve got a wife and kids in Baltimore, Jack…”

Below is a fun little scrapbook of my video interviews with Lofgren where we discuss life as a rock star and being in one of the greatest bands in the world and traveling the planet with one of the most enigmatic and private talents of our generation.

I love Bruce. He’s added great color and richness to my life. And I’m really looking forward to a special night in “My Hometown” on Friday night.

Maybe he’ll even play “My Hometown,” who knows?

I’m a major fan.

Our very own Drew Forrester has taken to doing a Top 50 Springsteen song countdown this week. So, I decided to put my “favorite” Bruce songs list together, just for my own sake.

I’ll work on that and maybe post it later, but for now I hope you enjoy this series of videos and interviews and my own little personal “scrapbook” of Bruce memories:

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