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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 20 August 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Boxing-Abner Mares vs. Jhonny Gonzalez (Saturday 10:30pm from Carson, CA live on Showtime); Soccer: Exhibition College Soccer-St. John’s @ Maryland (Saturday 7pm Ludwig Field), American @ UMBC (Friday 3pm Retriever Soccer Park); MLS: Toronto FC @ DC United (Saturday 7pm RFK Stadium); WNBA: Chicago Sky @ Washington Mystics (Tuesday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Monumental Network), Atlanta Dream @ Washington Mystics (Friday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Monumental Network)

10. Toni Braxton (Wednesday 8pm Pier Six Pavilion), Gladys Knight/the O’Jays (Thursday 7:30pm Pier Six Pavilion), Styx/REO Speedwagon (Friday 7:30pm Pier Six Pavilion); Toby Keith (Saturday 7pm Jiffy Lube Live); Cheap Trick/Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo (Tuesday 7:30pm Wolf Trap); Shawn Mullins (Sunday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Modern English (Sunday 8pm Rams Head Center Stage); The Cult (Tuesday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Goodie Mob (Saturday 7pm 9:30 Club); Dru Hill (Friday 8pm Howard Theatre), Eve (Monday 8pm Howard Theatre); Lupe Fiasco/Travis Porter (Saturday 9pm Bender Arena); Carly Rae Jepsen/The Wanted (Sunday 7:30pm Timonium Fairgrounds); Tedeschi Trucks Band “Made Up Mind“, John Mayer “Paradise Valley” and Jimmy Buffett “Songs From St. Somewhere” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

One-Toni Braxton is the most important thing to ever come out of Anne Arundel County. Two-the “You’re Making Me High” video taught 13 year old Glenn Clark things about sex he probably would have otherwise never learned.

I wouldn’t pay for tickets, but if someone wanted to offer me free tickets to Modern English, I’d honestly go.

Carly Rae Jepsen isn’t actually a thing anymore, but her return allows me the opportunity to post this amazing Third Eye Blind mix again…

There is no partnership more significant…in the world…than that of Tedeschi and Trucks.

9. Maryland State Fair (Friday-Monday Timonium Fairgrounds); Baltimore County Summer Restaurant Week (Tuesday-Sunday); Maryland Renaissance Festival (Saturday & Sunday RennFest Fairgrounds); Baltimore Summer Antiques Show (Thursday-Sunday Baltimore Convention Center); Tracy Morgan (Thursday-Saturday Magooby’s Joke House); Ian Bagg (Thursday-Saturday Magooby’s Joke House); Epic” and “Scary Movie 5” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); The World’s End” out in theaters (Friday)

Tracy Morgan will never jump the shark. Week.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 13 August 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Charm City Roller Girls (Saturday 5:30pm Du Burns Arena); WNBA: Washington Mystics @ Atlanta Dream (Sunday 3pm from Atlanta live on NBA TV); Boxing: Daniel Geale vs. Darren Barker (Saturday 9:45pm from Atlantic City live on HBO)

10. George Thorogood/Buddy Guy (Tuesday 8pm Pier Six Pavilion); Huey Lewis & The News (Tuesday 8pm Wolf Trap), Chicago (Monday 8pm Wolf Trap); Uproar Festival feat. Alice In Chains, Jane’s Addiction, New Politics, Coheed and Cambria, Middle Class Rut (Friday 2pm Jiffy Lube Live), Jimmy Buffett (Saturday 8pm Jiffy Lube Live); Ted Nugent (Friday 9pm Rams Head Live), En Vogue (Saturday 9pm Rams Head Live); Candlebox (Tuesday 7:30pm Baltimore Soundstage); Blues Traveler (Sunday 8pm Rams Head on Stage), Bret Michaels (Monday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); JD McPherson (Friday 7:30pm Birchmere), Edwin McCain Band (Saturday 7:30pm Birchmere); Great White (Friday 8pm House of Rock); Cherry Poppin’ Daddies (Saturday 8:30pm The Hamilton); Hot August Blues feat. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals/Galactic (Saturday 12pm Oregon Ridge Park)

Perhaps I’ll do a little drinking Tuesday night at the Thorogood show.

Obviously there’s no drinking allowed at a Jimmy Buffett show though. Obviously.

Judge all you want. Blues Traveler OWNS.

Last time Grace Potter was in town…she really killed it.

9. Feast of St. Gabriel Italian Festival (Saturday & Sunday Little Italy); Baltimore County Restaurant Week (Tuesday-Monday throughout Baltimore County); Paul Rodriguez (Thursday-Saturday DC Improv); Jobs“, “Kick-Ass 2” and “Paranoia” out in theaters (Friday); Olympus Has Fallen” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday)

Just reading the words “feast” and “Italian” in the same sentence make something really weird happen in my pants…

I assume someone will be working on a replication of my fiancé’s buffalo chicken shells…

“I Wish It Was Christmas Today.”

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 06 August 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: MLS-DC United @ Philadelphia Union (Saturday 8pm from Chester, PA live on NBC Sports Network); MLL: Charlotte Hounds @ Chesapeake Bayhawks (Saturday 7pm from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium live on ESPN3.com); WNBA: Connecticut Sun @ Washington Mystics (Sunday 4pm from Verizon Center live on NBA TV/Monumental Network)

10. Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z (Thursday 7pm M&T Bank Stadium); Peter Frampton/B.B. King/Sonny Landreth (Thursday 7pm Pier Six Pavilion), Dark Star Orchestra/The Bridge (Saturday 6pm Pier Six Pavilion), Slightly Stoopid/Atmosphere (Sunday 6:30pm Pier Six Pavilion); Keith Urban (Thursday 5:30pm Merriweather Post Pavilion), The Killers (Saturday 6:30pm Merriweather Post Pavilion); American Idol Live (Friday 7:30pm Patriot Center); Matchbox Twenty/Goo Goo Dolls (Saturday 7pm Jiffy Lube Live); Under The Sun feat. Gin Blossoms/Sugar Ray/Smash Mouth/Vertical Horizon/Fastball (Tuesday 7pm Wolf Trap), Don McLean (Friday 8pm Wolf Trap); Matt and Kim (Friday 8pm Power Plant Live); Jason Isbell (Sunday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage); Todd Rundgren (Monday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Angie Stone (Friday 8pm & 10:30pm Howard Theatre); Jimmy Eat World (Sunday 7pm 9:30 Club); Star & Micey (Saturday 9:30pm Hill Country Barbecue); The Civil Wars “The Civil Wars” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I just found out I’m free Thursday night. So you know, if you have an extra ticket.

I should be ashamed of how much I enjoy Keith Urban. But since we already established I’m free Thursday night, I will also accept tickets to this.

I saw The Killers at Merriweather after Hot Fuss came out. They had three songs that had been on the radio at that point. The place was a mob scene and was whipped into a frenzy when they proclaimed they had soul.

There’s a new Civil Wars record out today. Act accordingly.

9. Havre de Grace Seafood Festival (Friday-Sunday Downtown Havre de Grace); Howard County Fair (Tuesday-Saturday Howard County Fairgrounds); The Gathering: Food Truck Rally (Friday 5pm Baltimore Museum of Industry); We’re The Millers (Wednesday) and “Elysium (Friday) out in theaters; Oblivion“, “Mud” and “Community Season 4” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday)

I’m sure their seafood festival is nice and all, but it’s not as good as The Clark Family’s annual seafood festival. No chance.

And reminder…the movie where Jennifer Anniston looks like this comes out this week.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 30 July 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: MLL-Rochester Rattlers @ Chesapeake Bayhawks (Saturday 7pm from Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium live on ESPN3.com); WNBA: Los Angeles Sparks @ Washington Mystics (Sunday 4pm from Verizon Center live on NBA TV/Monumental Network); Action Sports: X Games Los Angeles (Thursday-Sunday from Los Angeles/Carson, CA live on ESPN/ABC/ESPN3.com)

10. Maze feat. Frankie Beverly/Morris Day & The Time (Sunday 7pm Pier Six Pavilion); O.A.R. (Thursday 5pm Merriweather Post Pavilion), Summer Spirit Festival feat. D’Angelo/Busta Rhymes/Erykah Badu (Saturday 5pm Merriweather Post Pavilion); Wiz Khalifa (Thursday 6pm Jiffy Lube Live), Black Sabbath (Friday 7:30pm Jiffy Lube Live); Beyonce (Tuesday 8pm Verizon Center), Lil Wayne (Friday 7pm Verizon Center); SOJA/John Butler Trio (Wednesday 7pm Wolf Trap), Bruce Hornsby & The Newsmakers (Sunday 8pm Wolf Trap); Pietasters (Friday 8pm Power Plant Live); Corey Smith (Friday 9pm Rams Head Live), Carbon Leaf (Saturday 8pm Rams Head Live); Ted Leo & The Pharmacists (Tuesday 8pm Ottobar); Dick Dale (Friday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Michael Kiwanuka (Wednesday 7pm 9:30 Club), Robert Randolph & The Family Band (Friday 8pm 9:30 Club); Todd Rundgren (Monday 7:30pm Birchmere); Frank Turner (Thursday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Brett Dennen/Kopecky Family Band (Thursday 5pm Mount Vernon Park); Matthew Perryman Jones (Thursday 7:30pm The Hamilton); Jonny Lang (Saturday 9pm State Theatre); Robin Thicke “Blurred Lines”, Buddy Guy “Rhythm & Blues” and Michael Franti & Spearhead “All People” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

The last time I saw O.A.R. they played with an orchestra. A G-D ORCHESTRA!

Carbon Leaf is coming to town? You couldn’t ask for a better day.

While I’ve got Robert Randolph on my mind, I’d like to take you back to the night where I heard the greatest sounds ever composed. Ever.

I’ve been waiting for some time to share Matthew Perryman Jones’ version of “Motherless Child.” I simply have no words. Just listen.

9. Aisha Tyler (Friday & Saturday Baltimore Comedy Factory); Gilbert Gottfried (Friday-Sunday DC Improv); Baltimore Summer Restaurant Week (Tuesday-Sunday throughout Charm City); Carroll County Fair (Tuesday-Friday Carroll County Agricultural Center); “The Big Glen Burnie Carnival” (Tuesday-Saturday Glen Burnie Improvement Association); Baltimore Improv Festival (Wednesday-Sunday Creative Alliance); Shore Leave 35 (Friday-Sunday Marriott Hunt Valley Inn); The Gathering-Food Truck Rally (Friday 5pm Kenwick Castle); Howard County Fair (Wednesday-Monday Howard County Fairgrounds); Maryland Latino Festival (Sunday Timonium Fairgrounds); “2 Guns” out in theaters (Friday); G.I. Joe: Retalliation” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday)

I have been asking Ryan to get Aisha Tyler to stop by our broadcast at Hooters Friday afternoon (and you should stop by too!) for the last three weeks. There’s one reason. You all know what it is.

Look. Judge all you want. Also, she’s funny. (Even if language NSFW.) There’s zero chance I don’t propose within seconds if she posts.

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Pitta done for season with dislocated hip

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Pitta done for season with dislocated hip

Posted on 27 July 2013 by Glenn Clark

OWINGS MILLS – The Baltimore Ravens suffered a major blow during practice Saturday.

“Dennis (Pitta) has a dislocated hip” head coach John Harbaugh announced following practice. “We’ll have to take a look at that and see exactly what it is. It’s a serious injury. He’s going to be out for awhile, he will not be in the Denver game (Week 1). We’ll just have to play it from there to see how long it goes.”

ESPN reported Saturday night that Pitta, who was transported to a local hospital and underwent surgery immediately, is expected to miss the entire season.

The injury occurred after the tight end collided with S James Ihedigbo on a pass play in the back of the end zone. Saturday’s practice was the first padded practice of this year’s Training Camp.

The injury is a major blow for the Baltimore Ravens, who traded WR Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers in the offseason. Pitta had been hoped to build on his 2012 season (61 catches, 669 yards, seven touchdowns) to help replace Boldin.

Ed Dickson, Billy Bajema and rookie Matt Furstenburg all saw snaps with the first team offense after Pitta’s departure. Free agent TE Visanthe Shiancoe (Morgan State) visited the Ravens’ facility earlier in the week but did not sign. Rookie FB Kyle Juszczek could also be asked to help out in the process, especially if the Ravens were to re-sign current free agent FB Vonta Leach as the Newark Star-Ledger reported Thursday night they are expected to do.

Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell suggested the Ravens would continue their “next man up” mentality.

“Somebody’s going to have to step up and we do have some capable guys. All across the flanks we do have some weapons. We’re just going to have to have some guys make some plays for us.”

Dickson-a fellow fourth year tight end-moves to the top of the tight end depth chart in Pitta’s absence. Dickson told WNST.net “it’s on me to go out there and build chemistry with (QB) Joe (Flacco) and to do the things that I do to the best of my ability.”

Dickson also told WNST.net he sent Pitta a text after practice saying “Keep your head up…the injury’s not going to hold you down. We need you. Praying for you…I’m holding down the fort for you.”

Dickson’s 2012 numbers were disappointing as he fought through injuries. The tight end played in just 13 games and caught 21 balls for 225 yards without a touchdown grab. “Ed has been playing and performing extremely well” Caldwell said. “He’s had a good camp thus far. He’s moving well, he’s catching the ball for us, he has a lot of big play potential. Ed is a very capable guy. We’re going to have to have some other guys step up as well.

According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, a dislocated hip usually takes upwards of 2-3 months for recovery and rehabilitation.

Making matters worse for the Ravens is their lack of depth at receiver as well. Without Boldin, only Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones have more than even 123 career receiving yards. Doss has those 123, David Reed 66, Deonte Thompson 51, LaQuan Williams 46. Neither Tommy Streeter nor rookie Aaron Mellette has ever played in a NFL game.

YANDA REMAINS OUT: Despite being removed from the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list Friday, OL Marshal Yanda (shoulder) was not present Saturday, but is expected to return shortly. S Anthony Levine (shoulder) was on the practice for a second straight day after being removed from the PUP list. LB Jameel McClain (back) remains on the PUP list and did not practice Saturday.

OT Bryant McKinnie (conditioning) left practice early Friday as coach John Harbaugh had concerns for how he’d hold up in the heat, he was back on the practice field Saturday afternoon. OL Kelechi Osemele (hamstring) and Ryan Jensen (leg) were not present for Saturday’s practice. WR LaQuan Williams (arm) and Marlon Brown (knee) were not present as well.

DL Kapron Lewis-Moore (knee) remains on the non-football injury list and is not expected to practice during Training Camp.

OTHER PRACTICE NOTES: S Omar Brown appears to have switched jersey numbers, going from number 38 to number 31.

K Justin Tucker stood out during Saturday’s practice, including makes from 60 yards and 65 yards out. After the make from 65, Tucker let out an exclamation of “Come on!”

LB Terrell Suggs had the quote of the day. After making a tackle on a goal line stop against the first team offense, Suggs yelled out “Where the f*ck is Vonta Leach when you need him?”

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Early Injuries Shuffle the Ravens Offensive Line in Camp

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Early Injuries Shuffle the Ravens Offensive Line in Camp

Posted on 26 July 2013 by Brett Dickinson

Day 2 of Ravens Training Camp held some big storylines, especially concerning the Offensive Line. The team’s Super Bowl run in 2012 was predicated on the blocking emergence of a unit that was shuffled all season long. With Bryant McKinnie reinserted into that core, Baltimore seemed to find the best fit for its five lineman; as Kelechi Osemele moved to Guard and Michael Oher transitioned back to RT.

The team already had concerns at Center, with the retirement of Matt Birk, but it was expected Gino Gradkowski would be handed the starting job. Though, with the acquisition of former Colt, A.Q. Shipley, the competition seems to be in full swing. Both split time throughout drills on Friday, yet Shipley was in place with the first team for most of the 11-on-11 portion of practice. Shipley also saw some time next to Gradkowski, filling in at Guard. You can hear Gradkowski’s thoughts on the competition here, in a interview with Glenn Clark, on the Reality Check, after Friday’s practice.

The key concern for the next couple weeks will be the health of both starting Guards, Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele. Yanda was placed on the PUP list, but passed his physical on Friday, making a return in the upcoming days likely. On the other side, Osemele was held out of Thursday’s 2nd practice and was a no-show on Friday, with concerns of a hamstring injury.

In the place of the those two standouts, were several combinations of players varying in experience. Jah Reid took the most snaps at LG (Osemele’s position) with the first team, while RG was a mixed bag of former practice squad players and rookies. Ryan Jensen, a 6th round pick out of Colorado State-Pueblo, initially spent time with the first team, until he was shook up with a leg “tweak,” during running game drills. As mentioned before, A.Q. Shipley filled in at one point, but Ramon Harewood covered the position, while Shipley played Center. Jack Cornell and Antoine McClain also rotated in that spot at points during practice.

It may not be an actual injury, but there still has to be concern at the LT position as well. Though Bryant McKinnie was cleared to practice on Friday, after being sat down Thursday for “conditioning issues,” he did not see much time on the field. He was involved in all position drills, but was held out in most the team exercises (7-on-7, 11-on-11, Two Minute). Rookie fifth round pick, Ricky Wagner (from Wisconsin), settled in with the first team, while McKinnie was on the sidelines. He performed admirably against Elvis Dumervil, but did struggle against the former Defensive Player of the Year, Terrell Suggs.

The key acquisition for the line may be having Offensive Assistant, Juan Castillo, around for an entire season. He not only brought an intensity to practice, but was pulling players aside between plays. Castillo was recognized as one of the best Offensive Line coaches in the league, while in Philadelphia (before his failed experiment calling defensive plays), where he utilized big men in the trenches to control the defensive front 7. He has plenty of size on this roster to play with and can be a real asset in developing some of the younger players on the team.

By the end of practice, the first team Offensive Line looked as follows: LT-Wagner, LG-Reid, C-Shipley, RG-Harewood, RT-Oher. That is vastly different than last season’s Super Bowl winners and the expectation for the starters, come Week 1.

Side Notes:

The defensive rookie class of Matt Elam, Arthur Brown and Brandon Williams all worked with the second team, even though there is high expectations for that trio.

Chykie Brown worked in with the first team, essentially holding down Lardarius Webb’s spot until he is ready to participate in practice.

Torrey Smith had to leave the field at one point, during 7-on-7 drills, with an apparent lower leg/ankle/foot injury. He did have a noticeable limp for the rest of practice, but continued to participate, until the end.

The defensive line showed some versatility, during Two-Minute drills, where OLB Courtney Upshaw and DE Pernell McPhee lined up inside at the DT spots; Dumervil and Suggs held down the DE positions, in that alignment.

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 23 July 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Boxing-Andre Berto vs. Jesus Soto Karass (Saturday 9pm from San Antonio live on Showtime), Jesus Ortega vs. Zou Shiming (Saturday 5:30pm from Macau, China live on HBO2); WNBA: Chicago Sky @ Washington Mystics (Wednesday 11:30am from Verizon Center live on Monumental Network/NBA TV); MLL: Denver Outlaws @ Chesapeake Bayhawks (Saturday 2pm from Denver live on ESPN2)

10. Steve Miller Band (Wednesday 8pm Pier Six Pavilion); Bob Dylan/Wilco/My Morning Jacket (Tuesday 4:30pm Merriweather Post Pavilion), The Lumineers (Friday 5:30pm Merriweather Post Pavilion), New Order (Sunday 5:30pm Merriweather Post Pavilion); Beyonce (Monday 8pm Verizon Center); Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival feat. Rob Zombie, Five Finger Death Punch (Wednesday 1pm Jiffy Lube Live), Dave Matthews Band (Saturday 7pm Jiffy Lube Live), Miranda Lambert (Sunday 7pm Jiffy Lube Live); Buckcherry (Friday 8pm Power Plant Live); Dawes/Shovels & Rope (Tuesday 8pm Rams Head Live), Citizen Cope (Saturday 9pm Rams Head Live); All Mighty Senators (Saturday 8pm 8×10 Club); VirginMarys (Tuesday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage), Nelly’s Echo (Saturday 7pm Baltimore Soundstage); Bob Schneider Band (Sunday 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Loretta Lynn (Friday 8pm 9:30 Club); Dr. John (Wednesday 7:30pm Birchmere); YES (Wednesday 8pm Warner Theatre); Donavon Frankenreiter (Thursday 6:30pm U Street Music Hall); Carbon Leaf (Friday 8:30pm The Hamilton); Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros “Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

Dave Matthews Band was in Baltimore last December. It was beautiful.

I like Dawes a lot. I might like Shovels & Rope even more.

Citizen Cope is amazing. I think I might sneak in a trip to RHL Saturday night.

You may remember Bob Schneider as the dude who made one of the five best songs of the last five years (maybe)…

9. Baltimore Summer Restaurant Week (Friday-Monday throughout Charm City); Harford County Farm Fair (Thursday-Sunday Harford County Fairgrounds); The Big Glen Burnie Carnival (Friday-Tuesday Downtown Glen Burnie); German Festival (Saturday & Sunday Timonium Fairgrounds); Summer Social (Friday 5pm West Shore Park); The To-Do List“, “The Wolverine” and “Fruitvale Station” out in theaters (Friday); Lavell Crawford (Thursday-Sunday Baltimore Comedy Factory), Flip Orley (Wednesday-Sunday DC Improv)

My friend Kevin Van Valkenburg and I are going to go see “The To Do List” and drink pineapple juice all weekend. I can’t wait.

Also, apparently the Farm Fair has Swimming Pig Races this year. I’m going to guess it will be the greatest thing ever because the picture looks like the single most adorable thing I’ve ever seen.

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Purple Reign 2: Flacco & Bisciotti met, talked Super Bowls & millions last August

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Purple Reign 2: Flacco & Bisciotti met, talked Super Bowls & millions last August

Posted on 30 May 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

This is an excerpt from a new, 480-page book on the Baltimore Ravens championship run called Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story. If you enjoyed every aspect of their Super Bowl win in New Orleans, you’ll love this book that chronicles how the team overcame adversity and personal tragedies, and used theology sprinkled with faith, family and love on the way to a Baltimore parade fueled by inspiration, dedication, perspiration and yes, a little bit of luck.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 15 of the definitive book on the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII victory in New Orleans, Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story.

If you enjoy it, please consider buying the books for the holidays as gifts for anyone who loves the Baltimore Ravens.

You can purchase both Purple Reign books by clicking here:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 9 here where Joe Flacco and Steve Bisciotti talk about the risk of $100 million:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 15 on the firing of Cam Cameron and its impact on Joe Flacco

This is from Chapter 9, “Injury after insult after implosion – Psychology 2012.” If you enjoy this small snippet you can purchase the book and read another excerpt here. You can also join the Facebook fan page here. The book will be released on May 31st and will be delivered before Father’s Day if purchase before June 5th.

 

AS THE TEAM WAS ASSEMBLED in the preseason, questions lingered, but Harbaugh felt great that the team had survived an offseason without arrests, without incidents, without any member of a veteran team blaming Evans or Cundiff for the New England loss. He inherited a fractured team in 2008, and by the summer of 2012 he was feeling good about the unity of the players and their maturity.

But the obvious questions for fans, media, and The Castle staff were all the same:

Is this the last chance for Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Matt Birk?

Will the offensive line hold up?

Can the Ravens win the big one?

Can Joe Flacco win the big one?

As Bisciotti knew on draft day in 2008, and as Newsome, Harbaugh, and everyone else in the organization had experienced the hard way — it always comes back to the quarterback. Was Joe Flacco going to be the franchise quarterback who would win a Super Bowl for the Baltimore Ravens?

Flacco, who played perhaps the best game of his career and threw what would’ve been the pass that took the Ravens to the Super Bowl on his last drive in January, somehow went into the 2012 season as the man on the hot seat who had not only turned down a $90 million offer for more than six months, but who had gone on WNST.net & AM 1570 in April and said he thought he was the best quarterback in the NFL. As much as Tim Tebow was the darling of ESPN with a seemingly non-stop Jets theme on SportsCenter, Flacco became something of a punch line for a quarterback who could get a team to the playoffs, but somehow was perceived as “not Super Bowl caliber.”

Short of catching his own pass in Foxborough, he literally had done everything he could do to get his team into the Super Bowl and yet the abuse was seemingly endless.

But the game is won on the X’s and O’s and the execution, and Flacco knew this. Cameron and Flacco had talked about more passing, more shotgun formations, and more pressure on defenses, but over the summer of 2012 it became clear the Ravens would become more of a personalized offense for No. 5. If the Ravens were offering Flacco $90 million dollars, they’d need to trust him to earn that money. He loved the tempo of the no-huddle offense and loved that it allowed him to dictate to the defense both personnel and pace.

“What quarterback wouldn’t want to run the no-huddle or fast-paced offense?” Flacco said. “Let’s be honest, it’s more fun to play quarterback when you do that. We like the pace we’re running on offense right now, but it’s a work in progress. We’ve done OK, and we’ve played pretty quick. But, we know we can play better, and we will play faster as we get into it more.”

Harbaugh endorsed this ideological move from being a team that always allowed its defense to cut loose while always seeming to fear the worst from the offense — trying to utilize the clock, run the ball, and be more conservative. “We’ve talked about the no-huddle [offense] since Joe’s [Flacco] rookie season,” Harbaugh said. “He ran it at Delaware and has had success in it when we’ve run it the last few years. He is a key to running it, and he loves it. And, we have the parts for it right now, including the offensive line. We can run the offense very fast, a little fast, slower, and we can huddle. We’re in a good spot right now with how we can run our offense.”

While some of the idiot sports talking heads and media types were constantly flogging Flacco, the people who watch coaches’ film were always impressed with him, using the evidence and residue of four straight playoff appearances and his improving game to shout down the detractors.

“We’ve spent time with Joe [Flacco], and I perceive a change in him,” said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who saw Flacco play at Audubon High in his hometown of Philadelphia. “He’s won since Day One with the Ravens, but he’s more confident now. They’re confident in him, too, and the improved offense reflects all of that. He can make every throw. He can bring his team from behind. The question becomes, ‘Can they win a Super Bowl with Joe?’ And the answer is an emphatic, ‘Yes!’”

Mike Lombardi, who was doing NFL analysis in the summer of 2012 before becoming the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, said “That anyone spent the offseason criticizing [Joe] Flacco strikes me as ludicrous. Flacco didn’t drop the ball in the end zone against the Patriots. In fact, it was Flacco who drove the Ravens to give them two chances to win that game. It was others who didn’t make plays. While he doesn’t play in an offense that shows off his skills statistically, Flacco is a winning QB, and his record [45-21] shows it.”

ESPN’s Ron Jaworski spoke out on Flacco’s arm strength and ability to attack opposing defenses. “Arm strength – that’s Flacco’s No. 1 attribute,” Jaws said. “I get so tired of hearing how arm strength is overrated. It’s far more important than people think. He has the strongest arm in the NFL. And he has an aggressive, confident throwing mentality. The element always overlooked by those who minimize arm strength is the willingness of quarterbacks like Flacco to pull the trigger. Few recognize that because there is no quantifiable means by which to evaluate throws that are not made by quarterbacks with lesser arm strength. It’s all about dimensions. Flacco gives you the ability to attack all areas of the field at any point in the game.”

Flacco took the responsibility as a personal challenge and something he embraced.

“It’s definitely my offense as a quarterback; it’s my job to get out there and lead these guys and direct them and run the traffic, and get it run the way that I want it to be run,” he said in training camp. “Cam may be running the plays, and I may be controlling certain things on the line depending on what the play is, but the fine details of being a good offense are all of the fine details. And it’s my job to get those correct and that we have everyone on the same page. As long as I’m out there in practice getting it to the games and on game day, as long as I’m doing that and expressing to the receivers, expressing to the running back, and to the offensive line how I feel, and what I see back there and as long as we can get on the same page as that together, then that’s when we’re doing something, and that’s when I’m doing my job.

“You talk about being paid that much money, they don’t do that so that they can go out there to do every job, they do that so they can delegate some jobs onto me. And I can go out there and get it done the way it should be. That’s a big part of being a quarterback. To be able to make sure that everything is running smoothly and everybody sees it the way I see it. And that once we get there on Sunday, we can just react and play. Because we’re all up to speed and we all have the same vision of everything. I think that’s what good quarterbacks are able to do, is to take that and then take a certain play and make it great, just because everyone has a good understanding of that.”

By the beginning of training camp it was very clear that the Ravens and Flacco were at an impasse in negotiating a new contract that would replace the final year of his five-year deal from 2008. Newsome called Bisciotti and said that after tireless conversation with Flacco’s agent Joe Linta, there was no way to get a long-term deal and that the Ravens would need to play out the season and consider signing or franchising their star quarterback in 2013.

Bisciotti authorized a final offer – a “bump and roll” contract that gave Flacco a $1 million per year bonus if he won a Super Bowl and $2 million per year for the six years of the deal if he had won two Super Bowls. It would’ve been a raise that stayed on the books for the life of the deal. The average salary number was $16.7 million per year on the Ravens’ base offer, which would’ve made Flacco the fourth-highest paid quarterback behind Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. Flacco was essentially turning down $90 million because he was rejecting the notion that he was the fourth best quarterback in the NFL.

Linta and Flacco once again turned it down the week before training camp opened.

Bisciotti was flustered, wanting to get the deal done and ran into Flacco in the cafeteria in Owings Mills during the first week of training camp and summoned the quarterback to his office upstairs.

“I had never, ever – not for one minute – even spoken to Joe about the contract,” Bisciotti said. “That was for Pat [Moriarty] and Ozzie [Newsome] to do, but I wanted to take one more swing at it and try to understand the situation.”

They spent 45 minutes with the door closed.

“There are two things here that I don’t understand,” Bisciotti said to Flacco. “I don’t understand why you’re walking away from this deal? As maligned as you are in the press and as little faith as so many pundits have in you, we’re offering you a $90 million deal and you can go wave that in their face and say, ‘F**k you guys! See, the Ravens DO believe in me!’ ”

Flacco was nonplussed. “I really don’t care about my critics,” he bluntly told the Ravens owner.

Bisciotti was exasperated. “I don’t understand it. Joe, don’t you think you’d play better with a clear head and having this contract behind you?” he continued. “You won’t have to answer questions from anybody, and you can just focus on playing and winning the Super Bowl.”

Flacco said it again. “Steve, I appreciate the offer, but I really don’t care about the media, critics, any of it. I’ve gotta trust my agent, and he doesn’t want any incentives in contracts. And I’ve gotta leave it to him.”

Bisciotti reasoned that until they won a Super Bowl together neither one would get that ultimate respect they desired. “I’m offering you a better deal than the one you’re asking me for if you’re planning on winning the Super Bowl,” he said.

Flacco wasn’t upset or emotional, as is his custom. He simply smiled and said he was going to play out the year. Bisciotti said, “Well, I tried,” as he shook Flacco’s hand. “Then go out and put a few rings on my desk and get what you think you deserve.”

“I figured if he’s fine with it then I should be fine with it,” Bisciotti said. “I wanted it behind both of us. I guess I didn’t really understand how different a guy he was. I told him, ‘You are a different cat, man!’ ”

Flacco remembers the conversation vividly. “Yeah, he couldn’t get over it,” Flacco said. “He said, ‘Do you know what you’re doing? This is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard!’ I told him I knew what I was doing and my price wasn’t getting cheaper. I saw his point of view but I also thought that I was right. I’m a little bit of a hard head.”

Flacco believed the market always get set by the next elite quarterback that signs and the price always goes up if you perform. “It wasn’t a bad offer but I felt like I could do better if I waited,” he said. Like his adversary in this $100 million negotiation, he had gone to the Bisciotti school of downside management.

“My agent said to me, ‘Think about the worse possible situation and if you’re OK with that then hold your position,” Flacco said. The downside here would’ve been a catastrophic injury or a bad 2012 season on the field. “If I got hurt, I got hurt,” he said. “That’s the nature of the game. I was willing to look in the mirror and live with that.”

Flacco said he turned the tables on Bisciotti: “I told him, ‘You should give me four or five million more now because if I win the Super Bowl’ – and I did say ‘if’ – ‘then it’s gonna cost you $20 million.’ ”

Flacco figured he was still only making his base of $6.5 million in 2012 no matter what. The Ravens weren’t ripping up his deal. It was an extension. And there’s always a new “going rate” for top quarterbacks.

“I was actually glad that he called me up to talk about it because it was a cool conversation to have,” Flacco said. “Even though we weren’t agreeing it was a great conversation. It’s one of those talks that grows a relationship, I think.

“Hey, I tried to throw him a bone and save him some money.”

 

To purchase Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story, click here.

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Your Monday Reality Check: This is just plain awkward at this point

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Your Monday Reality Check: This is just plain awkward at this point

Posted on 20 August 2012 by Glenn Clark

For me, it was probably my 15th birthday party.

ESPNZone had just opened in the Inner Harbor about a month earlier and I wanted absolutely nothing more than to check it out. I convinced my parents to let me have a party there after weeks of haggling.

The agreement came with one significant stipulation. As my parents were by no means wealthy people (although clearly I was more fortunate than others), they informed me I could only bring three friends.

I knew then that the decision I made would easily be the most agonizing of my entire life.

(You probably think I’m being sarcastic. With the gift of hindsight, it’s understandable. But think back to the time you had to make a similar decision. Remember how significant you thought it was? I thought so.)

I was obviously going to bring Brandon, as he and I had been hanging out together almost every day that summer. I had also figured I would take Matt, one of my buddies since first grade. The third choice was by far and away the most difficult. Ryan and Andy were stepbrothers, so how was I going to pick one and not the other? Billy had invited me to his cool birthday party earlier that year, so maybe I owed him. Adam was having a paintball themed birthday later in the month, I definitely didn’t want my decision to jeopardize an invite to his party. And for perhaps the first time in my young life I thought perhaps it was more important to consider inviting a GIRL (Leslie) instead of one of my buddies.

I remember thinking “perhaps I could cheat the system.” I tried convincing my parents I couldn’t invite Ryan without inviting Andy. I tried seeing if they would allow me to invite a fourth if I promised to invite one fewer friend to my 16th birthday. I told them Brandon shouldn’t count against the limit because he was basically living with us that summer anyway. I had hoped to find out someone wouldn’t be able to come anyway because their family already had plans.

I wish I could tell you I remembered who I picked. I don’t. I just remembered how awkward the whole process was.

I’m assuming by this point you clearly see the analogy I’m trying to make between my 15th birthday party and the Baltimore Ravens’ preseason kicking competition. How could you possibly not? I’m laying it on so thick!

(Continued on Page 2…)

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A Tale of Two Camps

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A Tale of Two Camps

Posted on 14 August 2012 by Brett Dickinson

Working in sports media for several years now, I have had the pleasure to cover different training camps over the past seasons; visiting Lehigh University with the Eagles, Redskins Park in Ashburn, Virginia and of course Ravens’ camp at both McDaniel College and the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills. As the Ravens moved back to the Palace, it was inevitable that their camp would change drastically. And even though the comfort level at 1 Winning Drive must be drastically greater for the players, there is definitely an advantage to being off site as well.

The “pros” for camp at home are business related; it is easier to operate the daily functions of the team at the locale where you conduct business. The players have access to the immense accommodations that professional athletes grow accustomed to over their careers; the training rooms, film rooms and housing situations are just better. Also, the team does not need to make arrangements to move the mass amounts of equipment needed to properly conduct practice for several weeks to an off-site locale. The conditions of the fields alone at the Ravens facility go above and beyond standards of a small D-III school known for its liberal arts program and not its athletic facilities.

The distractions on the field are also less significant as well, as thousands of screaming fans are not watching the every move of star players like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and others, who dawn the black and purple. Though a select group of fans are welcome to Owings Mills, they are so far removed from the actual team, their presence is barely known. In short, training camp at the Palace is easier on the entire make-up of the organization to start another NFL season.

On the other hand, keeping camp at a small school has a specific advantage that cannot be taken likely. Players are forced to room together, under meager conditions (for professional athletes’ standards), which can only help a team bond into a unit. Uprooting individuals to a non-descript location will force cohesion from management down to the ball boys, while enforce a camaraderie amongst the players they cannot receive while in the comforts of their own homes.

Back to the distractions; as a team practices in front of herds of the purple camo army, they are learning under conditions more similar to a game atmosphere. The fans will not shut up at M&T Bank Stadium while the team stands on the sidelines waiting for Harbaugh’s decision on a fourth and two. It is certainly worse when the Ravens head on the road to cities like Pittsburgh and New England.

So what form of camp reigns superior? Neither. To gain the greatest advantage, a team should find a way to take advantage of both. The Ravens practices this year at M&T and the Naval Academy are good ideas to the “have their cake and eat it too,” concept, but still does not gain full advantage of the off-site camp.

If the Ravens really wanted to move ahead of the competition, they would build a full training camp facility a couple hours away (maybe on the Eastern Shore). Have this location set to hold camp without having the hassle of moving the equipment from Owings Mills. Make “dorms” for the players to live in, while having a basic replica to the Palace’s training amenities including: medical rooms, state of the art film rooms and grass turf fields (the same as the actual field at M&T). And of course, implementing a practice schedule open to fans for about half of training camp will also provide a good mix between business and distraction.

A logical solution to the Tale of Two Camps.

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