Tag Archive | "Ty Wigginton"

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Former Orioles All Star Sinks in L.A.

Posted on 15 July 2010 by Jay Trucker

This season, Andy MacPhail has garnered his fair share of criticism for the O’s woes, some of which can be directly attributed to his offseason signings. In the interest of fairness, though, one of MacPhail’s trades last season is starting to look like a decent maneuver.

In July of ’09, MacPhail traded lefty closer George Sherrill to the LA Dodgers for minor leaguers Steve Johnson and Josh Bell.

On Wednesday, the Dodgers put Sherrill on waivers. Moved out of the closer’s role, Sherrill struggled against the NL West, posting a 7.32 ERA with a 2.237 WHIP. Now that he has been put on waivers, Sherrill could land anywhere, including the Dodgers’ minor league system, or heck, even the Orioles. I mean, he can’t be any worse than Matt Albers, can he?

Sherrill came to Baltimore in 2008, where he quickly earned the closer’s role and a spot on the AL All Star roster as the club’s sole representative. Sherrill pitched two innings in relief for Terry Francona’s All Star club.

Josh Bell did not impress in his first appearance with the Orioles, during which he hit .200 in 15 at bats. Steve Johnson is struggling at AA Bowie with a 6.33 ERA. However, both of these players are still young and regarded as legitimate prospects. Even if neither makes a significant impact in the MLB, appears to have “sold high.” Unless someone can help Sherrill get back to his All Star form.

Speaking of All Stars, I hope you didn’t blink during the seventh inning of the 2010 All Star game. That’s when Ty Wigginton stood at third base for three outs. He was lifted in the top of the seventh for a pinch hitter.

I guess he’ll always get to say he played in an All Star game.

This just in. George Steinbrenner, still dead.

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 14 July 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Wednesday!

It’s a Happy Wednesday for me because for the first time ever, I’m going to name CO “Greatest Song(s) of All Time This Week”.

And in one of those historic moments-I’m going to name both a hip-hop and a country song.

(Edit from GMC: Insert your own joke here about “that just means you’re replacing your six pack with a 40 in your pickup truck” or something like that. But be sensitive in the process. We’re always appropriate here.)

First, I will admit that my love for Hootie & The Blowfish might make me jaded, but Darius Rucker is ABSOLUTELY one of the greatest things to have ever happened to country music. This is “Come Back Song”…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIVtvgc8BPw[/youtube]

On the flip side, a lot of folks have said a lot of things about Kanye West in recent years. Not among them would be that his new single “Power” isn’t really freaking good…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96tTu9-aW9k[/youtube]

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. MLB.com’s Doug Miller says Wigginton played, didn’t hit in American League’s All-Star Game loss

I legitimately watched MAYBE six outs of the ASG last night. I was watching “Wipeout” on ABC, then flipped over to see Ubaldo Jimenez get a double play to get out of the 2nd; and I tapped out to go see “Despicable Me.”

So…my thoughts on “Despicable Me” are that it was GOOD…but your kids will enjoy it more than you will.

Thoughts on the All-Star Game? It happened. Brian McCann may have helped himself, as the Atlanta Braves have at least a chance to reach the World Series. As far as Ty Wigginton is concerned, he’ll always be able to tell folks he was a Major League Baseball All-Star.

So was Robert Fick. So was Ron Coomer. So was Steve Trachsel.

That’s all I’ve got for you.

2. Wall Street Journal says Peter Angelos believes George Steinbrenner ‘as synonymous’ as any great Yankees player

Kudos to “GNicks1024″ on Twitter (you can follow US @WNST) for the response of the day to Angelos’ statement:

Steinbrenner on Angelos “his name is as synonymous with losing as anyone to ever put on…well anything”

I think there’s a relevant discussion about the reaction to George Steinbrenner’s death in comparison to what the reaction would have been had the news been yesterday that Peter had passed away.

Not that I think that Peter will necessarily see the moment as a sort of “A Christmas Carol” situation and will suddenly wake up and decide that he needs to be a better person/baseball owner. But I guess there’s at least a hope that maybe “Ebenezer Scrooge” Angelos will see that just because your legacy looks bad right now, it doesn’t mean there’s no hope for you to be remembered in a different way at the end of your life.

Maybe.

He’ll have a long way to go to be remembered positively here in Charm City.

3. The Daily Record’s Liz Farmer says Birds ranked 20th of 30 MLB teams in Harris Interactive popularity poll

The real question is “how embarrassing must it be for the 10 teams that are somehow LESS POPULAR THAN THE O’S?”

I also thought it was a bit awkward when the teams MORE popular than the Orioles included…

redsox
generals
beerfest

4. The Sun’s Dean Jones Jr. says Mike Gonzalez gave up run, 2 hits; Mike Flacco drove in game winner for Aberdeen Ironbirds on farm

Well, we had hoped to catch up with Mike Gonzalez this morning, but we missed him. Hopefully he’ll hook up with Thyrl Nelson later today.

Guests who DID appear on “The Morning Reaction” today with Drew Forrester included John Feinstein (Washington Post), who previewed the U.S. Open and also discussed LeBron James and George Steinbrenner with Drew. Check him out at FeinsteinOnTheBrink.com and pick up his new book “Moment of Glory.” Former Oriole Ken Singleton-now a Yanks TV analyst for the YES Network also joined Drew to remember “The Boss.” Those interviews can be heard in the Audio Vault as well.

And before we move on from the Birds, I want to address Roch Kubatko’s note that the Orioles are interested in Mark Prior…

“TO DO WHAT?!?!?!? CERTAINLY NOT TO PITCH, RIGHT?!?!?!?”

Andy MacPhail’s undying fascination of players he was involved with in the Chicago Cubs organization has AT BEST been unhelpful for the organization; and has arguably HURT the organization. This….this is absolutely INSANE.

5. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says Ravens introduce new Training Camp autograph policy

The policy basically states that autographs are only available for children 14 and younger, and that players will only sign autographs after the morning sessions during Camp; none after the afternoon sessions. In fairness, the team had no REGULAR autograph signing sessions in the afternoon; but players would often wander over to the crowd in the past following the PM sessions.

Here’s what REALLY matters to me. If Nina Senicar were to show up at Training Camp, can I still get an autograph from her??? (Thanks Guyism!)

senicar

6. WNST.net’s Drew Forrester says new autograph policy in Westminster might send ‘wrong message’

And it might.

The reality is that there’s nothing wrong with a group of incoming seniors at Eastern Tech wanting to come over and grab autographs from Terrence Cody and Joe Flacco. In fact, that demand is EXACTLY what the organization should want.

Clearly there has been trouble with adults trying to bullrush kids for the chance to breathe near Sam Koch or Edgar Jones. I understand the organization’s need to address that. But there is a risk that if a group of high school or college students that WOULD have come out to Camp chooses NOT to come to Camp because they feel like they aren’t welcome to get autographs.

I’ve always thought that setting up some sort of “picture booth” would probably be the right way to do this. What’s popular with young people now is getting a “picture” with a pro athlete or celebrity-mostly so they can post it on Facebook. Hell, even I have an old picture with Ray Lewis somewhere amongst my Facebook pics. The difference is, there’s no real value in a “picture” to anyone besides the person who is IN the picture-so the unreal demand to get multiple signatures on multiple pieces of memorabilia.

It gets rid of the folks who are pushing to get autographs so they can sell them on eBay. It gets rid of the folks who want 10-15 things signed.

It still allows adults to get face time with the pro athletes they love. In fact, the Ravens could even handle all of it in-house with a photographer, and post the pictures at their official website; which helps their brand even more moving forward.

Ravens VP Kevin Byrne joined Drew this morning to explain the policy-if you missed it, make sure you hit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net to check it out.

7. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Mike Duffy says rookies Ed Dickson, Arthur Jones officially signed deals

Also yesterday, the Marc Bulger deal was officially signed-so it was good news all around in Owings Mills!

It was even better news, Dania Ramirez is on the cover of August’s Maxim. Wait, that’s not news? News to me…

dania

8. Fox Sports’ Peter Schrager thinks Walt Harris will win battle for #2 CB job at McDaniel College

Okay…with no offense to Peter Schrager, I think he’s missing something here.

1-The actual “competition” will be between Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington if both are healthy.

2-If they’re not; Harris, Chris Carr and Travis Fisher would all be in the mix.

3-Assuming a 36 year old corner who didn’t play at all last season can beat out much of anyone is probably not the safest of bets at this point.

If he’s healthy, the easy assumption is that Lardarius Webb will be the guy. If not, I’d rank the group:

Fabian Washington
Chris Carr
Walt Harris
Travis Fisher
Cary Williams
Prince Miller

9. The Sun’s Erica L. Green says Michael Phelps to give free swim lessons to Baltimore City summer school students this afternoon

This is a very good thing. I’ve said ever since he dominated the 2008 Olympics in Beijing that Phelps had some level of responsibility to return to Baltimore and be visible and involved in the community.

I know he’s been visible at Ravens games; and his Foundation has done some things for the community. But I haven’t been OVERLY impressed with his dedication (or his team’s dedication) to making that a priority.

You know what I HAVE been overly impressed with? Jenna Pietersen (Thanks Uncoached/Busted Coverage!)

jenna

10. Inside Lacrosse’s John Jiloty says Iroquois Nation will try to travel to FIL World Championships in Manchester, England one more time this afternoon

This story is crazy if you haven’t been following it. The Iroquois Nation plays in the World Championships every 4 years, but there is a passport issue this year that is preventing them from being able to fly into the United Kingdom. They don’t want to have to get U.S. passports because they have laws that protect them as a sovereign nation.

It’s unreal.

Speaking of unreal, how does GEICO keep making awesome commercials? The Randy Johnson snowball commercial is a CLASSIC…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yenuvSUKugc[/youtube]

And finally, I leave you with this.

Apparently this is some sort of riveting video of Terrell Owens getting dunked on at Rucker Park in Harlem that a lot of folks are worked up about. I’m clearly not the target audience for this video. (Thanks With Leather!)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVGaJam4J80[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Wigginton A Fitting Orioles All Star

Posted on 13 July 2010 by Jay Trucker

A week ago the All Star break couldn’t arrive soon enough for the Orioles or Oriole fans. After a four game road sweep of the Texas Rangers, however, the break serves only to slow down the momentum that the team had finally built after its otherwise dismal first half.

When the Midsummer Classic airs Tuesday night, Ty Wigginton will stand in wearing an Orioles uniform. Visually, he will remind the nation where the worst team in baseball plays. Of course, there’s no guarantee he’ll be seen after the national anthem.

Last year, Adam Jones earned the title All Star. Don’t believe me? Just flip on MASN and wait for a commercial break.

Jones hit a sac fly in the late innings of last year’s game to help the AL once again trump the NL. A twenty-three year old the Orioles picked up via trade, Jones’ presence highlighted the Orioles as a team that was young, raw, talented, and potentially ready to take a big step forward. Not a product of the Orioles farm system, Jones nevertheless demonstrated that the club had young talent acquired by a savvy GM moving the team in the right direction.

2010 All Star Ty Wigginton is far from Andy MacPhail’s worst offseason pickup. After
a tough start to ’09, he finished the year hitting .273 with 11 home runs. He entered 2010 unsure of his position with the club and did not make an appearance in the opening series at Tampa. However, injuries and former 1B Garrett Atkins’ pathetic performance opened the door for Wigginton, who surprised critics by hitting 13 home runs before the end of May. Unfortunately, he has hit only one since.

At 32, Wigginton is neither young nor old in baseball age. He is heading towards the end of a modest two year deal with the Orioles, his fifth major league team. A utility player who has played six positions in the majors, Wigginton does a little bit of everything but nothing particularly memorably. He is a six or seven hitter batting cleanup. A guy who averages 400 at bats per year who already has 300 this season.
A decent player for the Mets, who promptly traded him when megastar David Wright was ready for the bigs. An afterthought, a fill in guy, a token gesture, a throwaway pick.

Wigginton is thus an appropriate player to represent the Orioles in the All Star game. Like Wigginton, at their best the Orioles are decent, inoffensive, adequate. They can surprise you here or there. Unlike Jones last year, Wigginton doesn’t represent a potentially bright future for the long-suffering O’s. He is just there. Maybe he plays. Maybe he doesn’t. Maybe he manages to hit a double in the gap, a single up the line, or heck, even work a timely walk. Maybe he sits at the end of the bench holding Miguel Cabrera’s helmet. Maybe he makes a late inning appearance and hits a weak grounder off a first pitch ball outside.

Nick Markakis may be more deserving of an All Star, but Ty Wigginton is an Orioles All Star. He may not have been the best guy, but he is the right guy to represent this particular team in this particular game. Like Jones last year, Wigginton could surprise on the big stage. And the Orioles may surprise a few people in the second half, as they did when they swept the Rangers.

That’s the thing about low expectation. As long as you have it, modest success is a pleasant surprise.

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Monday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Monday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 12 July 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Monday!

It’s a Happy Monday for me because I’m still recovering from a trip to HersheyPark Friday. Dave Matthews Band was great (of course), but I’m gonna spend a few minutes first gushing over Zac Brown Band-who opened for DMB. If you missed Zac Brown at Preakness (and if you did, shame on you), you may think they’re little more than another forgettable country act you’d be unlikely to listen to on WPOC.

Not exactly.

Their song “Free” might come off a bit too much “CMT”…but when they cut to “Into The Mystic” by Van Morrison during the bridge; it’s an absolute SMASH. They did it Friday night, but no one got the video. Here’s an older performance of it…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Xwq3X0CTjc[/youtube]

As I also pointed out on Facebook (add me as a friend-just search “Glenn Clark” and look for a goofy pic of a clown in a seersucker suit at the Kentucky Derby), that wasn’t the only impressive thing they did Friday night. Channeling Rage Against the Machine was also pretty impressive…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ChmnEFUGoA[/youtube]

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. The AP’s Stephen Hawkins says Arrieta impressive as Orioles finished off four game sweep of Texas Rangers in Arlington

This is equally as puzzling (if not much MORE puzzling) than when the Birds swept the Boston Red Sox earlier in the season. HOW IS IT POSSIBLE?!?!?

Since when are the Orioles a team that can pitch comfortably past high powered offenses like the one found at the Ballpark in Arlington? Since when are the Orioles a team that can save face with a game-tying grand slam from Corey Patterson in the 9th?

Maybe it was just the heat in the Lone Star State, but it was an awfully goofy weekend.

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it immensely. But given what we know about the team otherwise, there’s no reason to really think things like “maybe the team has finally turned the corner” or “the All-Star break is coming at the wrong time.”

Remember, this is the same team that was swept by the Detroit Tigers earlier in the week. They’re a TERRIBLE team. The worst team in all of baseball.

It just so happens that the worst team in all of baseball pulled off a miraculous weekend sweep of a good team that we thought would get better with the addition of Cliff Lee.

I’ve described the season via Twitter (follow us @WNST) before as a “season long kick in the nuts.” This was like sitting down and getting an icepack between kicks.

It was a great feeling.

2. The AP/WNST.net offer numerical evidence of sweep

Wait a second…you mean…you might actually MIGHT want to look at the numbers this time???

Maybe Arrieta wasn’t “brilliant” the way Chris Tillman was Saturday night, but he was damn impressive. 6.1IP, ER, 6H, 3K, 2BB looks like a line I’d take 10 times out of 10 from a starting pitcher.

Julio Lugo continued his recent hot streak-giving the team a better chance every day of maybe being able to steal SOMETHING for him by July 31. It’s still not particularly likely-but it does look better every day as Lugo collects extra base hits (he was 2-4 with a double, RBI and run yesterday).

Even Craig Tatum got another hit and scored another run, despite having to play during a day game following a night game due to the injury to Matt Wieters.

WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON IN THE WORLD?!?!? This is supposed to be the part of the blog where I say something like “You don’t really want to look at this. Instead, look at this picture of Kelly Brook dressed up as Princess Leia as posted by Guyism…”

You know, you should still go look at that anyway…

kellybrook

3. WNST.net’s Glenn Clark says timing ‘fishy’ as Fox Sports reporting Buck Showalter nearing deal, Sun reporting Juan Samuel to manage after All-Star Game

So how long until the “Not Buck Showalter” or the “UnBuckShowalter” page pops up on Twitter?

By the way, to whoever was running the Dave Trembley page-it sucks now. There could still be plenty of great shtick there if you really tried. Also, whoever is doing the “Nestor Aparicio” page has never been funny. The guy is the easiest target on the face of the planet….how can you possibly do a page without it being funny?

Back to the point-I don’t think that Dan Connolly and Ken Rosenthal necessarily offered OPPOSING reports, as Peter Angelos and Andy MacPhail could very well be nearing a deal with Buck Showalter but believe Juan Samuel will be the manager when the team plays the Toronto Blue Jays Friday.

I just hope it isn’t because Showalter is hired but is serving in some sort of “advisory” role until he takes over as manager. That’s so unbelievably dumb I just can’t possibly imagine the team would consider it.

Of course, I should REALLY think that it is so unbelievably dumb that I know the team WILL be doing it.

I just really don’t want to believe that.

4. MLB.com’s Todd Wills says Mike Gonzalez could return to Baltimore after ASG, Luke Scott won’t

So….HOORAY! Or something…

I have to assume that Mike Gonzalez won’t be returning to the closer role when he gets back to Charm City, so that gives me hope that maybe Rick Kranitz can find a role that he can be effective in. I’m absolutely not convinced that Alfredo Simon should be the team’s closer of the future, but I think it’s safe to say they’ve already learned their lesson when it comes to Gonzalez.

Right?

Right?

5. Fanhouse’s Frankie Piliere says O’s prospect Zach Britton had ‘standout’ arm at Futures Game in Anaheim

Which is ABSOLUTELY the most excited I’ll be about anything that happens at Angels Stadium this week.

With no offense to tonight’s Home Run Derby (I’m sure the Nick Swisher-Vernon Wells showdown will be really compelling to….someone?) or tomorrow night’s Mid-Summer Classic (My prediction? Ty Wigginton strikes out), I’ve lost all juice surrounding this event. It used to be exciting to me, and after that it was still at least the “only thing on.”

Tonight WWE Raw is on and the Counting Crows are at Pier Six. I doubt I’ll pass up on either to watch guys hit home runs.

Tomorrow night? Maybe I’ll go see “Despicable Me.” I stayed home to watch last year’s event in St. Louis and the highlight was an Adam Jones sac fly. Never again will I plan around it.

Hell, if I REALLY need something to do I could always just look at pictures of Doutzen Kroes from Russia’s version of Vogue (Thanks Uproxx/NextRound.net!)…

doutzen

6. NorfolkTides.com says Armando Gabino impressive as Tides finished first half on farm with win over Durham Bulls

And before we move on from the Orioles, a couple of things…

-The Birds are clearly off the next four nights as baseball celebrates the All-Star Game in Southern California. They are going to hold a closed workout at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Thursday night, which I’m sure is exactly what players wanted to hear instead of getting a 4 day break. Of course, when you’re the worst team in baseball DESPITE a 4 game winning streak-it’s hard to make too many demands.

-When the Birds get back, the rotation will line up Brad Bergesen-Jeremy Guthrie-Brian Matusz-Chris Tillman-Jake Arrieta. Obviously the team will have to make a tough decision when Kevin Millwood is ready to return from the DL.

-Congratulations to our buddy Chris Stoner-who will again take home “Apologist of the Morning” honors-although this time the honor is web only, as we were caught up in discussion about Buck Showalter, LeBron James and the red hot Birds on this morning’s show. Chris was back to beating the drum of Nolan Reimold playing 1B in Baltimore; despite the fact that Nolan Reimold has done nothing to show that he’s ready to return to the major league level-and has played only a handful of games at first base at the AAA level. The drum beats on…

7. Pro Football Weekly’s Mike Wilkening says Ravens LB Terrell Suggs believes despite not being in Owings Mills for offseason, own workouts will have him ready for Training Camp

Well, when it comes to someone like T-Sizzle, his track record says we should just take him at his word, right?

Suggs can say whatever he wants; but everyone will be looking to see what type of shape he’s in when the team reports to Westminster at the end of the month. There is a LOT of pressure on him to live up to the contract he DIDN’T live up to a season ago-and saying “I was working hard in Arizona this offseason” won’t be enough if he’s not ready mentally or physically to get after the likes of Mark Sanchez, Carson Palmer, Dennis Dixon and Ben Roethlisberger this season.

The bigger issue is that the Ravens don’t really HAVE any other natural pass rushers on the roster-with MAYBE the exception of Sergio Kindle, whose body probably isn’t ready to make him a dedicated rusher at the NFL level just yet. There’s pressure on Kelly Gregg this season, but that’s because there’s another guy (Terrence Cody) ready to take his spot.

Suggs doesn’t necessarily have that pressure-yet the team is REALLY counting on him. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

8. NFL.com’s Michael Lombardi says Ravens still facing ‘cover corner’ issues

This is an interesting subject. We all know that the team LACKS a true “cover corner”, but we also know the roster features a number of potentially CAPABLE corners. Domonique Foxworth really played well during the 2nd half of the season last year, and if it weren’t for his contract; we probably wouldn’t really consider him a disappointment at all.

Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington each played well at times, but are both coming off of injuries. Chris Carr was steady if not spectacular. The team doesn’t really know what they’re getting from veterans Cary Williams, Travis Fisher or Walt Harris.

The reality is that the effectiveness of this group will be directly impacted by the team’s ability to rush the passer. If the team can rush the passer, this group will look MUCH better. If they can’t, this group will look awfully similar to the group that struggled to start last season.

They just won’t have Frank Walker anymore for fans to blame for the struggles. Not that he wasn’t deserving at times…

9. South Bend Tribune’s Curt Rallo says former Maryland Terrapins star Vicky Bullett headed to Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame

Congratulations to Vicky, who was an exceptional player under fellow Hall of Famer Chris Weller in College Park.

As you know, the Terps are still looking for an Athletic Director to replace Debbie Yow, and Len Elmore is part of the Search Committe (along with Gary Williams, Kevin Plank, Brenda Frese, Sasho Cirovski, etc.) to find the next “Top Terp.” Len joined Drew Forrester this morning on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST to discuss the search, if you missed it-make sure you check it out today in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.

Also joining us this morning were Loyola soccer coach Mark Mettrick (who wrapped up Spain’s win over the Netherlands to capture the World Cup) and Baseball Prospectus’ Jay Jaffe-who went around MLB. Both are available in the Audio Vault as well.

10. Swimming World Magazine says Michael Phelps posted solid time at NBAC event

You know what I would do if I posted an impressive time at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club? I’d immediately turn to the first person I saw and ask “Do you think Anissa Holmes is impressed?” (Thanks Busted Coverage/NextRound.net!)

anissa

And finally, I leave you with this.

On Saturday night at a private residence (Thank you Liz Kort) in Owings Mills, I discovered something that has forever changed my life…

sac

This is a Love Sac. My birthday is September 6. I’m just saying…

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Tuesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Tuesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 06 July 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Tuesday!

It’s a Happy Tuesday for me because I’m still basking in a 4th of July weekend trip to Chicago. If you missed any of my very important updates via Twitter/Twitpic (follow us @WNST), here are the most significant highlights…

I was in the Philadelphia airport Saturday morning preparing to fly when I wandered into the closest “Hudson News” stand I could find. I picked up the ProFootballTalk.com/NBC Sports NFL season preview, and flipped to the Baltimore Ravens section to see what I would find. I was a BIT surprised…

pft

I forwarded that picture to my parents…but I’m not sure they were impressed. In fact, I think the response was “when are you going to get a real job?”

When I finally got settled in the Windy City Saturday afternoon; our first stop was an early dinner at Lou Malnati’s. I was a little confused as to why we needed to get to dinner no later than 5pm…right up until I saw maybe 100 folks waiting in line for deep dish pizza after we had been there for a few minutes. We ordered a Chicago-Style Classic and a 312 Brew from Goose Island Brewing Company. I wasn’t disappointed in either…not even a little bit.

malnatis

We then hit the Hancock Tower. Apparently the Sears Tower is bigger, but their observatory isn’t as far up as the one at the Hancock. I have no comment, as math was never something I was particularly good at. What I do know is that this view was pretty freaking cool…

chicago

Saturday night was a stop at the Second City comedy club. If you’re not familiar, this is the improv factory that produced the likes of Chris Farley, John Belushi, John Candy, Gilda Radner, Steve Carrell, Tina Fey and the majority of the current/former stars of SNL. Sadly, I didn’t get any pictures. My bad.

I thought the purpose of going to Taste of Chicago this weekend was to see Robert Randolph and The Family Band Sunday afternoon. While that was still the major highlight; I knew my experience in Grant Park (you’ll remember Grant Park was the large area where Barack Obama made his acceptance speech on Election Night in 2008) was going to be outstanding when this was the image that greeted me…

tasteofchicago

And that was BEFORE I hit the Harry Caray’s booth. I’ve had potato chips before, but I’ve never had THESE…

chips

These ended up getting some cajun seasoning and hot sauce as well; and were REALLY.FREAKING.GOOD. Another highlight? The watermelon at the Dominick’s stand was BIGGER THAN MY FREAKING HEAD…

watermelon

After wandering through Taste of Chicago for a few hours and adding on 4-6,000,000 calories; we hit up Millenium Park. The place has some really cool artwork, including this mirror-art thingy that probably has a much better name than what I’m giving it right now…

millenium

The Independence Day festivities wrapped up at Navy Pier, where I just so happened to bump into Ravens DT Brandon McKinney; who let me know that he had been cleared (back) to fully return to practice and would be ready to go when the team reports to McDaniel College for Training Camp.

Good news.

Good trip.

When it hits 104 today, I might go right back.

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. The AP says Kevin Millwood roughed up as Orioles lost shootout to Tigers in Motown

Because I mentioned Motown and I’m gonna be depressed by talking about the O’s, let’s start today with “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTUiQzhA0Go[/youtube]

Speaking of which-Hey Kevin Millwood that started the season looking like a pitcher that might be able to get the Orioles something at the trade deadline: I WANT YOU BACK.

We’ll get back to Millwood shortly, as it wasn’t ONLY his fault yesterday. In fact, despite the fact that Millwood pitched only 1 inning, the Orioles actually came back to take the lead. Mark Hendrickson was particularly brutal after that, and the nine runs the Orioles managed to score didn’t much matter-although it is nice to see Jake Fox get another home run for a first baseman.

Geez…I’m excited about Jake Fox. What’s next? Getting excited about an indoor football game?

(Edit from GMC: I’m VERY excited for Saturday night’s AIFA Eastern Conference Championship Game between the Baltimore Mariners and Harrisburg Stampede at 1st Mariner Arena. I’ve always been an exception to the rules though.)

2. The AP/WNST.net offer numerical evidence of loss

Here’s the thing. How could these teams have combined for 31 hits without Nick Markakis getting A SINGLE ONE OF THEM?!?!?!?

It puzzles me.

It would be like Kelly Brook posing for Ultimo Lingerie and me not posting pictures! (Thanks, Tim D!)

kellybrook

3. The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Birds have talked to Buck Showalter again, but he has not been offered job

But everyone seems to agree that he has moved past Eric Wedge and emerged as the front-runner. With no offense to Showalter, Wedge or anyone else involved in the process; this isn’t exactly like being the frontrunner in the Kentucky Derby. This is probably a little more like being the frontrunner in a race called by Rick from Reisterstown.

I have no idea what to make of this whole managerial search. It seemed like the team would be wise to let Juan Samuel finish things out this season and then make a hire after going through the full process in the offseason. Now it looks like they’re going to hire “The Best of What’s Around” (I’m going to see Dave Matthews Band Friday night, please forgive me) now.

I’d be surprised, but this is the Orioles we’re talking about. But don’t worry, Andy MacPhail is in charge and NOT Peter Angelos. Peter Angelos is totally out of the process, remember?

Remember?

Meanwhile-while the other candidates were busy being managerial candidates; Rick Dempsey was singing with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. God bless him…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n2nBFL76274[/youtube]

4. MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli says injury concerns could land Millwood on DL

Well……FRICK.

The Birds were NEVER going to fleece a team in a Kevin Millwood trade before July 31; but there was at least a hope that they could get something more than the Chris Ray they gave up for him…or a player that had a CHANCE to be more than Chris Ray.

Given the way he’s fallen off the face of the planet and now could end up on the DL, hopes of that are starting to slim.

Millwood was the team’s best chance to get SOMETHING before the Trade Deadline. Ty Wigginton, Miguel Tejada, Luke Scott, Will Ohman, Cesar Izturis and even Hendrickson could all be dealt, but none are being dealt for anything significant. Tejada is the team’s 2nd best hope-but Tejada now says he wants to stick around in Charm City.

With no offense to Miguel, but I doubt that’s because he’s EXCITED about losing in Baltimore. My guess is that it’s because he realizes he’s unlikely to be an every day player for a team with a real chance at winning the World Series.

That’s where we are.

5. Virginian-Pilot says Chris Tillman brilliant in 1 hit performance for Norfolk Tides in win over Charlotte Knights on farm

Of course, with Tillman throwing another gem (this follows up on his earlier no hitter this season) at AAA; there will be more clamoring for Tillman to get called up. Should Kevin Millwood end up on the DL, there’s almost no chance he DOESN’T get called up.

I don’t think any of us will be as excited about it this time, but the organization will eventually have to find out if Tillman is anything more than a 4A guy.

Before we move on from the Orioles, a reminder that they’re back in action tonight against the Detroit Tigers again at Comerica Park. First pitch on MASN between Jake Arrieta and Armando Galarraga is at 7:05pm.

Look…there’s nothing else on. Not even “Glee.” Just watch the game. None of the rest of us want to do it either, we just don’t have much of a choice.

6. ABC2′s Christian Shaffer says Mt. Carmel basketball star John Crowder murdered in Baltimore

Now we enter the part of Crabs and Beer today that I absolutely like the least. This is a TERRIBLY tragic tale in a city full of terribly tragic tales.

This one will hit home, especially considering there was a chance Crowder could have ended up getting a scholarship from Gary Williams and playing in College Park.

No matter where his life WAS going, it appears as though he hung out with some guys that were less than savory. Of course, all of the rest of us have hung out with some less than desirables ourselves at one point or another.

My heart goes out to John Crowder’s family and friends, as well as everyone surrounding the athletic department at Mt. Carmel.

There’s a bigger problem in Baltimore…that much we know for sure.

7. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says former Ravens QB Steve McNair remembered Sunday on anniversary of death

I was wandering around Grant Park Sunday in Chi-Town when I saw someone approaching me wearing a Ravens jersey. Excited, I yelled out “Go Ravens!”

I didn’t get the response I was looking for.

The young man was wearing a Steve McNair jersey, and was not a Ravens fan as much as he was honoring a great NFL player on the anniversary of his murder.

For such an open and shut case, it feels as though little closure has come in the year since McNair’s death. I was unmoved by CBS’ investigation last fall that insinuated the Nashville police hadn’t been as thorough in their investigation as they should have been.

Armen Keteyian’s was chocked full of friends of Sahel Kazemi saying she “wasn’t a violent person” and “didn’t have this in her.” I’m not sure how many friends and family members of murder suspects/convicted murderers usually say “Yeah, I always assumed this would happen.”

There isn’t much more to be said, other than very clearly Steve McNair is still missed not only in Baltimore and Nashville, but also throughout the country.

Thus ends the sad part of today’s Crabs and Beer. Back to sports and hot chicks…

8. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Ryan Mink says ’10 offseason amongst best in Ravens history

I don’t disagree with this AT ALL. In fact, it could end up being THE greatest offseason in franchise history if Anquan Boldin helps hoist the Vince Lombari Trophy in Dallas in the winter.

Clearly the moves made before the Super Bowl win have to be viewed as the best offseason in franchise history; but I’m not sure they’ve ever made a more PERFECT move than acquiring a player like Boldin this year.

They still COULD make it the best offseason in franchise history with one simple move. Just go get Kim Feenstra. (Thanks FHM/Guyism!)

feenstra

9. The Sun’s Don Markus says NCAA-sanctioned Baltimore Summer League opens tonight at Reitz Arena

This is awesome. Amongst the players who are committed to playing in this event are Morgan State’s Kevin Thompson, Missouri’s Kimmie English and Ricky Harris-who just finished his career at UMass. The event is VERY similar to the Kenner League at Georgetown, with current and former college standouts from Baltimore highlighting the field.

Thayne Gould put the entire event together at Loyola, he joined Drew Forrester this morning on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST. If you missed it, make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault today to check it out.

Will Carroll (Baseball Prospectus) also joined Drew to go around Major League Baseball, and Jason La Canfora of the NFL Network went not only around football-but also around the World Cup with Drew as well. We also replayed Friday’s interview with Ed Reed (we heard someone else was having him on 5 days later…); if you missed ANY of that, check it out in the Audio Vault as well.

10. Athlon Sports’ Eric Prisbell says 2010 likely final stand for Ralph Friedgen

There’s simply no question about that. If the Terps don’t show marked improvement (even 7-5 might not be enough for a new athletic director), things are set to change in College Park. The decision to keep Ralph and continue the succession plan with James Franklin was Debbie Yow’s. Another Athletic Director could be given more flexibility to go in another direction.

If there IS a coaching search in the future, I would like to be the first to suggest that the Terrapins consider Sheridyn Fisher… (Thanks Busted Coverage/Coed Magazine!)

sheridyn

And finally, I leave you with this.

While I’m frustrated that he didn’t play it Sunday afternoon; it’s not going to keep me from naming Robert Randolph’s “Walk Don’t Walk” this week’s “The Greatest Song of All Time This Week.” If you haven’t picked up the new disc “We Walk This Road” yet, you’re only hurting yourself.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3UOE9Sa6dw[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Enduring the second half: What I’d like to see from the Orioles (Part 1 of 2)

Posted on 05 July 2010 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles officially reaching the halfway point of the season on Sunday, the second half of the schedule began much like the first—with a 12-9 loss in Detroit on Monday afternoon.

It’s no secret that much of Baltimore has shifted its attention to the Ravens and the upcoming start of training camp with the Orioles appearing destined to finish with the worst record in franchise history. Whether you choose to persevere through the season’s final three months or tune out in hopes of regaining your sanity after the horrid first half, much needs to be accomplished between now and October—on and off the field.

The most critical question of whether Andy MacPhail and Peter Angelos will commit to significantly improving the roster via free agency and trades in the offseason will linger long after October—and beyond—but in the mean time, a plethora of other issues can be addressed, some by the organization and others by players themselves.

If I had a crystal ball to predict what will unfold over the final three months of 2010, here’s what I’d like to see:

1. A new skipper is hired

This one is a no-brainer, but it’s imperative that the Orioles bring in a guy who truly wants the job and is willing to do the legwork of changing the culture of losing that exists in the clubhouse. It won’t happen by season’s end or even in 2011, but the club needs a dynamic leader.

I’ve championed Buck Showalter as the man, mainly due to his work with the Arizona Diamondbacks during the infancy of the franchise. Showalter, of course, did not stick around long enough to enjoy the fruits of his labor when Arizona won the World Series in 2001, but his obsessive work ethic could hopefully do wonders for the Orioles’ player development.

With MacPhail’s preference for an experienced manager, Showalter might be the man needed to ruffle some feathers, not only at the big-league level but throughout the organization.

2. A true commitment to the international market is made

While most have focused on the Orioles’ inability—or unwillingness—to make improvements through free agency and their poor track record with the amateur draft for the better part of 25 years, the organization continues to abstain from the international market.

The Orioles have opened a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic, but far more needs to be done on the international front, both in the Caribbean and the Far East. The club’s sheer number of international scouts pales in comparison to their competitors in the American League East, a simple but poignant indication that the organization is not doing enough to find talent elsewhere in the world.

And no, signing a 33-year-old Koji Uehara two winters ago doesn’t qualify as really trying.

It won’t fix the franchise alone, but tapping into the international waters instead of wasting $5 million on the Garrett Atkins types of the world every winter is a far better use of resources with a higher potential reward.

As one simple example, Robinson Cano, my choice for Most Valuable Player of the first half, was signed out of the Dominican by the New York Yankees. Talent is out there; it’s up to the Orioles to find and develop it.

3. Do whatever it takes to fix Matt Wieters

The claims of “Mauer with Power” and “Switch-Hitting Jesus” were always ridiculous, but no one—inside or outside of Baltimore—expected Matt Wieters to struggle as he has over the first 600-plus at-bats of his major league career.

It’s not just the .239 average or the lack of power (.344 slugging percentage) this season, but his approach at the plate is undisciplined and his swing is passive, often looking to slap the ball somewhere instead of attacking the baseball when he gets a good pitch to hit.

Many blame Terry Crowley while others will point to the team’s struggles and the overwhelming expectations bestowed upon the young catcher, but Wieters needs help to realize his vast potential.

Whether it’s a new hitting coach, a former Oriole such as Eddie Murray working with him, a demotion to the minors, or the apparition of Charley Lau returning to tinker with his swing, Wieters must get on track if the Orioles are to pull themselves out of this 13-year abyss. Aside from the final month of his rookie season, he’s looked nothing like the future star so many projected him to be.

For the record, I still believe Wieters eventually becomes a good-to-great catcher in the big leagues, but the organization must do everything in its power to help him.

Immediately.

4. The trade pieces perform and are dealt at the deadline

Anyone with delusions that Kevin Millwood, Ty Wigginton, Miguel Tejada, Jeremy Guthrie, or any other veteran would fetch a return comparable to the one the Orioles received for Erik Bedard a few years ago was always setting himself up for disappointment, but these players have a few more weeks to improve their value in hopes of being dealt.

Millwood’s struggles are painfully apparent as the 35-year-old was shelled again on Monday afternoon in Detroit, lasting only an inning while giving up five runs against the Tigers lineup. His 2010 story has transformed from a sympathetic figure (standing at 0-4 despite a 3.26 ERA on May 8th) to one who can’t get anyone out (5.77 ERA after Monday’s start).

Even if MacPhail was unable to find a suitable deal for Millwood at the deadline, there were hopes that Millwood could perhaps fetch a compensatory pick as a Type B free agent—and certain to reject arbitration—but as Millwood’s ERA continues to skyrocket, that likelihood is becoming very unlikely.

Wigginton would appear to have the most value with his recent All-Star selection and the versatility of playing several positions on the diamond, but his hot start feels like a long time ago, and the numbers support it.

Entering Monday afternoon’s game, Wigginton has hit just .218 in 202 at-bats since May 3. For the sake of fetching a better return, a Wigginton hot streak would do wonders by the July 31st deadline.

Tejada might be an attractive option for a team looking for a third baseman or even a short-term answer at shortstop, but his .373 slugging percentage suggests a singles hitter, not the man who once led the league in runs batted in or even the hitter who led the National League in doubles last season. In other words, teams won’t be knocking down the door at the Warehouse to get him.

Guthrie might be the most valuable piece as he’s under control for two more seasons. His 4.64 ERA isn’t sparking by any stretch of the imagination, but a National League team looking for an arm to supplement the back-end of the starting rotation could do far worse than Guthrie.

Of course, the Orioles could elect to hold on to Guthrie because of those two years of control and his positive presence for a young rotation.

Reliever Will Ohman (2.88 ERA) might be another trade candidate, but it’s hard to imagine getting anything more than minor league filler for the lefty specialist.

5. Brian Roberts gets healthy for 2011

The simple act of Brian Roberts taking the field again in 2010 matters very little for a team currently 32 games below .500, but it might be viewed as a symbolic act to show he will be fully-recovered in 2011, the second year of a four-year extension signed 17 months ago.

Roberts is once again taking batting practice in Sarasota, but we’ve heard this story several times already. Surgery continues to be ruled out by all parties, so it’s imperative for Roberts’ back to hold up as we’re now approaching a time frame in which surgery could jeopardize the start of his preparation for the 2011 season.

It’s too late to debate whether it was a good idea to give the then-31-year-old Roberts a four-year extension, so you can only hope the decision to rest and rehabilitate the herniated disc proves to be the right one for his career.

If there’s any long-term risk for Roberts to try to play baseball again in 2010, he should be shut down immediately and given the rest of the season to rest.

Check out Part 2 of what I’d like to see from the Orioles over the season’s final three months later this week.

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The Orioles 2010 All Star and Un-Star Representatives

Posted on 29 June 2010 by Jay Trucker

With the All Star game fast approaching, it is time for the obligatory speculative blog to determine who will and who should represent the Orioles. Despite their four game winning streak, it’s still safe to say a team with a record this pitiful does not deserve an All Star. However, since each team must have at least a single representative at the Midsummer Classic, someone wearing the O’s cap will make the exhibition club.

By the way, why didn’t anyone mention the “each team must have an All Star” rule to Adam Jones? He certainly doesn’t seem aware of this in his omnipresent MASN commercial, in which he talks proudly of “earning the title All Star” while squatting an unimpressive 235 lbs.

Someone on the horrendous 25 man roster had to “earn” the title All Star, Adam. It’s like being the smartest kid to repeat the eighth grade.

Anyway, I wouldn’t look for Jones to repeat as the O’s lone All Star this year. He is on an eight game hitting streak, but his defense has been suspect at times, and he spent most of April and May whiffing at breaking balls. Time to up your squats, Jonesy.

Ty Wigginton was an early season favorite, as he got off to a hot start that nearly makes up for his pitiful 2009. But he has leveled off recently, hitting .266 on the season with no homers in the past month.

A few local writers are pulling for Jason Berken, but he’s a little-known middle reliever on a bad team. He has about as much chance of making the All Star team as you or me.

Miguel Tejada could act like he’s been there before because he’s been there before. Tejada is hitting .287 while making the move to third base. I wouldn’t be completely surprised to see him get the nod, if only for his name recognition.

The Oriole truly deserving the All Star nod is Nick Markakis. When he’s not calling out his underachieving teammates or dining with Peter Angelos, Markakis has been hitting .306 while exhibiting his usual stellar defense in right field. With only 3 home runs on the year, Markakis has not rediscovered his power stroke, but he is walking at a higher ratio than last year, posting a .398 OBP on the season. Most criticism of Markakis is due to the fact that he is a natural number two hitter forced to hit in the number three spot for this undertalented team. Hopefully his fifth season in the bigs will bring him his first of many All Star nods. He’s been one of the only bright spots both on and off the field this season.

While Markakis is the clear choice for the All Star game, a doppleganger “Unstar” game would have several Baltimore Orioles candidates. Here’s a partial list of underachievers.

Garrett Atkins – Gone but not forgotten. Atkins told The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec, “Taking my [batting practice] and stuff the last month or so, it’s been pretty good. I’ve been driving the ball well. I just haven’t been able to transfer it over to the games.” You hear that, New York Yankees? Atkins is doing great in BP. Now if only he could hit in games.

Mike Gonzalez – An Andy MacPhail offseason pickup who may be the only Oriole to ever get booed in his Camden Yards debut. Last seen giving up home runs in short season A ball for Aberdeen. Seriously.

Brian Roberts – In year one of a four-year $40 million deal, Roberts had only 16 plate appearances in 2010 before going on the long-term DL. He can be seen giving video updates on MASN from local dog parks. Seriously.

Koji Uehara – another waste of money and roster space, Uehara’s most impressive achievement to date is his ability to hop on and off the disabled list. Enjoy ingthe humidity, Koji?

Matt Wieters – Nicknamed “switch-hitting Jesus,” Wieters is hitting .238 on the season.

Let’s hope that Nick Markakis’ name is called for the real All Star game. The real question is, who is your Orioles Unstar?

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Axes To Grind

Posted on 03 June 2010 by Erich Hawbaker

I spent today out on the farm cutting firewood, which is my little side income for my days off. Typically, I will park my truck nearby, roll down the windows, and listen to talk radio all day as I’m sawing and splitting. Then, in the evening, I’ll flip it to the baseball game and leave it there until it gets too dark to work anymore. Tonight I listened to the entire O’s pregame radio show (I usually don’t, even though I really like Dave Johnson and remember him fondly from when I was a kid), and I heard that the Mets are apparently interested in trading for Ty Wigginton and/or Kevin Millwood. I hadn’t thought of it until today, but I guess it is time to start considering what moves the Orioles might make in terms of trades. I know I don’t have to tell anybody this, but our season is over; dead and buried. Despite all the hype about having turned the corner (which I even bought into, regrettably), the Orioles’ stay in the basement of the AL East has been extended to a 13th year.

So, how should they approach this? Wigginton is the easier of the two to analyze. He’s the only pleasant surprise the Orioles have had this year. On the outset, he wasn’t even meant to be a starter, but between Roberts’s injury and Atkins’s ineptitude, he found his way into the lineup every day and wound up being our best hitter. I snagged him for my fantasy team, for that and for the fact that he can be played at 1B, 2B, or 3B. But in the real world, he’s certainly not irreplaceable. His contract is up this year, so he may or may not be here after 2010 anyway. Hot-hitting position players are always being sought after by contending teams, and multi-position players are that much more valuable. He may or may not keep hitting like he is now (in fact, I’d bet that he won’t), but if we trade him, that’s not our problem anymore. The front office needs to shop him; and if they let him go, make sure that buyer is paying full price. There have to be at least two teams out there who’d be interested.

Millwood is a tougher one to decipher. He too is in the final year of the contract he brought with him from Texas, which includes a no-trade clause. I remember at the end of last year, he was one of the durable starters I was hoping the front office had their eye on. With him, we knew exactly what we were getting, and he seemed to be one of those Kevin Millar types who was amenable to being the ‘papa bear’ of the clubhouse and guiding the younger pitchers. He’d certainly be worth hanging on to if we were really on the upswing. But we aren’t, and the poor guy has clearly been pushed to his limit. He’s made 11 starts so far this year. He’s pitched 74.0 innings, struck out 58, walked only 17, and has an ERA of 3.89 (below his career ERA of 4.02). And what does he have to show for it? A record of 0-5. Perhaps he’s been hanging out with Jeremy Guthrie too much, because he too now has the plague that causes his teammates to forget how to hit whenever he’s on the mound.

When I got in this evening, I flipped on the TV and saw that Brad Bergesen only needed the ten minutes it takes me to get back to the house to give up four runs in the second inning. As the game went on and it became clear that we were headed for yet another loss, Gary Thorne and Brady Anderson (Angelos’s new professional buttkisser) started talking about Millwood. Apparently, he’s interested in being dealt to the Mets. And then, one of them said it. “I guess he wants to hit again.” I almost fell out of my chair. Is that what I’m paying extra on my cable bill for?! MASN propaganda?! Does your boss really think that the handful of Orioles fans he hasn’t managed to alienate are that stupid?!

As Judge Judy says, “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.” Millwood doesn’t want to hit again, he wants to WIN again. The man has talent and he’s a hard worker. Thusfar, this team has given him zero rewards for his work. He wants to go elsewhere so his talent can go toward something productive. And he probably wouldn’t be so anxious to get out of Dodge if the front office had been serious about rebuilding instead of half-assing it. Instead of expecting Millwood to carry the rest of the inexperienced rotation by himself, they should have brought in at least one other veteran starter to share the load. Instead of gambling on Garrett Atkins to rebound, they should have ponied up for a real firstbaseman.

But that’s the bottom line. The reason Millwood wants to leave is the same reason Mark Teixeira didn’t want to come here in the first place. The Orioles aren’t interested in winning. They haven’t been for quite some time now. But they’ll go so far as to hire Brady Anderson to convince you that they are instead of actually doing it. So… good luck to you, Kevin Millwood. I hope that you get traded to a contender and get the chance to shine. Maybe we’ll put Mike Gonzalez in the rotation to replace you. I seem to remember somebody telling me that we’re not paying him $6 million a year to be a middle reliever…

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The Malady Lingers On: Orioles lose 7th straight, 9-1 at New York

Posted on 02 June 2010 by Drew Forrester

Umpire Jim Joyce had a bad night, costing Armando Galarraga a perfect game in Detroit, but at least he apologized for blowing the final out of the game.

Where’s Brad Bergesen’s apology?

His night was worse than Joyce’s, for sure.

Bergesen got smoked for six earned runs in 2.1 innings and the O’s bats once again failed to produce in key situations, as the Yankees put up a 9-1 win in game two of the 3-game series at Yankee Stadium.

Perhaps the only thing worse than Bergy’s effort was the 3-hour apologizing session on the MASN broadcast authored by ex-Oriole Brady Anderson, who took up for the team at every turn as the Birds lost their 7th straight to fall to 15-38 on the season.

I guess Anderson hears whispers of a $200,000 broadcasting paycheck and that $80 per-day per-diem and figures, “if I have to try to convince people that the team really isn’t that bad, by golly, that’s what I’ll do if it gets me a gig.”

At one point in the game, trailing 6-0, the O’s had 3 hits and Anderson opined, “You know, it doesn’t look real good right now.  The Orioles haven’t scored a run and they only have three hits.  But they’re battling every time they’re up at the plate.  It’s a real battle.”

I can’t make that up.

Oh, the game?

Hell, I don’t know…every single time I looked up at the screen, a Yankee was on base somewhere. Robinson Cano hit a HR that stretched the lead to 8-1 in the bottom of the 7th inning.

That home run, by the way:  Landed.  Just.  Now.

Nick Swisher was 3-for-5 and Curtis Granderson was 3-for-4.  They play for New York.  You know that, of course, based on the fact that those two actually had productive nights at the plate.

It was such a laugher on Wednesday night that the Yankees let Chad Gaudin and his 8.14 ERA pitch the last two innings and the Orioles couldn’t even scratch out a run or two off of that n’er do well.

The night, though, was about Brad Bergesen and his whopper-of-a-stinker on the mound.

Not only was it the shortest outing of the career, but it forced Dave Trembley to use Mark Hendrickson (2.2 innings) and Matt Albers (2.0) in fairly extensive relief situations.

That might not bode well for tomorrow in New York for the series finale, but my guess is both teams will put out “B” lineups (please, no jokes about the Orioles and the “B” lineup) and the two starting pitchers (Millwood and Sabathia) will dominate.  Just a hunch…

There was a funny scene early in the game on Wednesday night.  Ty Wigginton was called out on a strike 3 half-swing via first-base-ump appeal and sort of flipped out about it.  The first-base umpire briefly shouted back at Wigginton and it appeared as if some fireworks were about to begin.

Trembley jumped out to the top of the dugout to defend Wigginton, but instead of going out and raising cain and kicking up some dirt, the manager merely yelled out to the umpire, “Take it easy!  Come on, let’s play ball.”  He then clapped his hands two times and went back to the dugout.

I couldn’t make that up, either.

It was a funny moment in an otherwise dreadful night for the Orioles.

I don’t know much, but I know this:  The Orioles are 15-38 now, but they’re not going to finish the season with 15 wins.  They WILL win again. Maybe they’ll win tomorrow in New York. Someday soon, they’ll put it all together and come out on top.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to watch and suffer along with them.

I’m such an idiot, I’m getting on a bus at 7am on Thursday and going to the series finale in New York.  You know you’re sick when you’re willing to ride 4 hours to watch them get beat.

And then the Red Sox come calling this weekend — and the Yankees buzz into town next week for three.

Just what we needed, right?

More losing.

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Orioles: In Defense of Symbolism

Posted on 02 June 2010 by Jay Trucker

A new manager wouldn’t have made Brian Matusz’s Tuesday night loss to the New York Yankees any easier to swallow. A pitcher’s win/loss record is perhaps the most haphazardly assigned statistic of all time, and this loss was a team effort.

A new manager wouldn’t make Miguel Tejada’s throw to first any better than it was or Ty Wigginton’s failed attempt to dig out the low ball any more graceful.

A new manager wouldn’t make a .249 hitting team with a paltry .682 team OPS any better. By comparison, the Yankees have an .820 OPS.

A new manager wouldn’t give the Orioles better bullpen options or heal the team’s long list of injured players.

But at 15-37, the Orioles front office realizes that the season is lost. The reality is that this team is pitiful, perhaps historically so. No single maneuver—no trade, no call up, no DL activation, and no managerial dismissal—will make this team respectable. In fact, to make the team better in the long run, they will probably look to trade away as many of their veteran chips as possible before the season is through. As bad as this team is now, imagine what the on-field product will look like without any or all of the following players: Jeremy Guthrie, Kevin Millwood, Ty Wigginton, Miguel Tejada. All of them should be made available in exchange for legitimate prospects.

But firing Dave Trembley and Terry Crowley carries with it a symbolic meaning. It would show what little fan base that remains that Peter Angelos and Andy MacPhail are just as unhappy with losing as we are. It would show that simply making money isn’t enough. It would show that management is being held accountable for a team with a horrifying .288 win percentage.

And whoever would be brought in to replace Trembley and Crowley, whether on an interim or full-time basis, has nowhere to go but up. And eventually, almost by accident, things have to improve at least slightly. At some point, a few of the ice cold hitters will get hot, at least briefly. At some point, Roberts and Pie will come back and provide some speed for a team that has a pathetic 18 stolen bases to 14 times caught stealing. At some point, the club will probably win, say, five in a row, or eight of ten, or 15 of twenty.

When that does happen, it will at least look like the start of something new if the team has a new skipper and an alleged new outlook. Lucky bounces, which the Orioles have had very few of this year, will be interpreted as glimmers of hope. The rare come-from-behind win will be attributed to a new clubhouse attitude. A Matt Wieters finding his stroke will be credited to a new batting cage philosophy.

If Trembley and Crowley remain, focus will remain on the team’s horrible start, as the staff is reviewed based upon the season as a whole. But symbolically, fans and critics alike would mark the start of a new managerial regime as an opportunity to begin a new period of evaluation. And if a new manager were to win even just four of ten games, improvement would be widely noted.

Here’s the truth about fans. We want to believe our team has a chance even when it doesn’t. And with 110 games remaining in 2010, the only “chance” that the Orioles fan base has to look forward to is the chance that next year will be better. Dave Trembley and Terry Crowley have both overseen a lot of losing in Baltimore. It’s time to give them both their walking players, and let fans search for the hope in a new era, even if the gesture is largely a symbolic one. Symbolism is all we have at this point, and we need some reason to watch four more months of baseball.

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