Tag Archive | "WNST"

Rob Gronkowski: The most valuable non-QB in the NFL

Tags: , , , ,

Rob Gronkowski: The most valuable non-QB in the NFL

Posted on 24 July 2014 by Giovanni Insignares

With the news on early Wednesday morning that New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was cleared for training camp, a sigh of collective relief poured over Foxboro as fans wondered if the player affectionately known as “Gronk” can stay healthy and finally return to his dominating ways. Since his debut in 2010, Gronkowski has altered the perception of the TE in the NFL. The position is no longer seen as a placeholder for agile blockers or the occasional pass catcher in the slot. TE’s are now arguably the biggest X-factor for offenses. While quarterbacks undoubtedly remain the most impactful position in the league, what is often forgotten amidst the constant arguments over whether or not a particular QB is “elite” is that the supporting pieces surrounding him are what can make or break a championship run, and Rob Gronkowski is making the case for being the most important non-QB in the NFL.

With a combination of size, speed, blocking skills, and hands that cannot be matched, along with a tendency to be the focal point of offensive game plans and defensive coverage schemes, Gronkowski has repeatedly shown that he possesses the most value for his team than any other player in the league that is not a quarterback. Gronkowski owns the NFL record for most receiving yards by a tight end in a season (1,327), most receiving touchdowns by a tight end in a season (17), and most offensive touchdowns by any player in his first two seasons (28, tied with Randy Moss). Furthermore, the Patriots’ offense has shown to be dynamic and efficient whenever he’s healthy compared to being occasionally sporadic and worrisome when he’s not. The common phrase “too big for a corner and too fast for a linebacker” is perfect for the New England game changer. Not many players can compete with the impact that Gronk has on his team.

 The player most comparable to Gronkowski, though, is New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham, and even he is not as valuable to the Saints as Gronkowski is the Patriots. Since 2010 (the year both players entered the league), Graham has played in 62 games versus Gronk’s 49, while catching 301 passes versus Gronk’s 224. However, despite these advantages, Graham still trails Gronkowski in career touchdown catches (41 to 42) and only leads in career receiving yards by 640 (3,863 to 3,223). The one factor separating these two is that the Saints offense still fires on all cylinders with their vast assortment of weapons and various schemes; New Orleans does not rely on Graham to the same degree that New England does with Gronkowski. The Patriots’ roster, on the other hand, is made up of young and injury-prone players at the skill positions. Danny Amendola still has to prove whether or not he can play a whole season, Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins have to show that they understand the system going into their second years, and Steven Ridley has to convince the coaching staff and his teammates that he can hold onto the football. This inconsistency among the various skill players on the roster underscores the significance of Gronkowski and further highlights how important he is to the Patriots’ offensive success.

As great as Tom Brady is, New England’s championship hopes rely heavily on the health of Rob Gronkowski. Without him, the Patriots’ offense is stagnant and relatively tame; with him, their offense is capable of a multitude of different dimensions. For example, during the Patriots’ Super Bowl run in 2011, Gronkowski hurt his ankle in the AFC title game against Baltimore and finished with five catches for 87 yards. Leading up to that game, Gronk tallied 10 catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns in a divisional round win against Denver. He served as a nightmare for the defense and was the ultimate game breaker for Tom Brady. However, once the ankle injury against Baltimore occurred, Gronkowski was a non-factor in the Super Bowl against the New York Giants, managing only two catches for 26 yards. Brady and the offense failed to find a consistent rhythm against the Giants in large part because New York did not have to expend much effort in defending Gronkowski, thus leaving them to roam free against everyone else and causing New England to lose another chance at the Lombardi Trophy.

Gronkowski’s impact, though, goes beyond simply catching passes; an underrated aspect of his game is his exceptional blocking skills. At 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, Gronk is a towering figure with quick hands and quick feet, giving him the ability to run block very well, thus presenting the Patriots’ offense with yet another dimension. He is capable is sealing off the edge, providing running backs with lanes to the outside and ultimately allowing the offense to churn out consistent yardage on the ground. As a result, this opens up the play action pass, forcing defenses to constantly remain on their heels and play reactionary football. With defenses going into the game already so focused on slowing down Gronkowski, the possibilities of play action make the Patriots’ offense that much more difficult to defend. Gronk gives New England so much flexibility on offense that they are almost impossible to stop. In the playoffs, the Patriots are 3-2 when Gronkowski plays[1] and 1-2 without him.  

While Gronkowski’s impact cannot be ignored, other players warrant mention in the discussion as well, such as J.J. Watt, Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Richard Sherman, and Jamaal Charles. However, unlike Gronkowski, these players do not influence their teams to the same degree. With the NFL’s continued emphasis on the passing game and its persistent focus on mismatches, the value of Rob Gronkowski only soars. In addition, no team in the NFL in the last four years has had their Super Bowl runs more deflated by the loss of a single player than the New England Patriots.

Ultimately, Gronkowski’s impact on the Patriot’s offense and on opposing defenses is undeniable. The common phrase of “being too big for a corner and too fast for a linebacker” is understatement when referring to him. He not only disrupts pass coverages, but significantly impacts the running game with his exceptional skills as a blocker, as well. Without him, Tom Brady and the Patriots are simply a good offense. With him, New England threatens to move the chains and put up points at will. If healthy, Gronkowski’s potential is limitless, and so are the Patriots’ championship hopes. Aside from the QB position, Rob Gronkowski is the most valuable player in the NFL.


[1] 3-1 if you choose not to count the Super Bowl in which his ankle injury clearly affected his play to the point that he was non-existent on the playing field.

Comments (0)

This week’s #WNSTSweet16 is “going streaking”, you can bring your green hat

Tags: , , , , , , ,

This week’s #WNSTSweet16 is “going streaking”, you can bring your green hat

Posted on 22 June 2014 by Glenn Clark

Perhaps you’ve heard a rumor that we’re celebrating our 16th year as Baltimore’s sports media leader here at WNST. I know it’s been covered in most of the gossip rags, but I guess there’s one of two of you who aren’t regularly checking out “OK!” in your grocer’s aisle.

So we’re celebrating our 16th year as Baltimore’s sports media leader here at WNST. To do so, we’re looking over some of the great “water cooler” topics of the WNST era and attempting to define them by putting together lists of 16. We’re calling it the #WNSTSweet16.

We already know how awesome it is, but thanks for reminding us under your breath.

We’re into Week 25 of the year-long celebration. If you’ve missed any of the first 24 weeks, here’s a great chance for you to re-live them. (The #WNSTSweet16 is brought to you by Jerry’s Automotive.)

Week 24: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 all-time American soccer players
Week 23: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 greatest Baltimore/Washington Bullets/Wizards ever
Week 22: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 all-time greatest local high athletes
Week 21: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 greatest local lacrosse players of all time
Week 20: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 most unsung Orioles
Week 19: Gary Quill-Sweet 16 all-time Maryland horse racing moments
Week 18: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 most important picks in Ravens draft history
Week 17: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 worst draft picks in Baltimore Ravens history
Week 16: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 greatest players in Washington Capitals history
Week 15: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 games we’ve been treated to
Week 14: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 Masters moments of the last 30 years
Week 13: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 greatest pro wrestling moments in Baltimore history
Week 12: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local sports goofballs/personalities
Week 11: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 local sports saints-athletes who gave back
Week 10: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 events a Baltimore sports fan must attend
Week 9: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 greatest Baltimore college basketball players
Week 8: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 Orioles who didn’t live up to the hype
Week 7: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 most underappreciated Maryland basketball players
Week 6: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local sports “Heartbreakers”
Week 5: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local Olympic sport athletes
Week 4: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local athletes who deserved to win a championship but didn’t
Week 3: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 local sports people who “had a dream”
Week 2: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local sports playoff moments
Week 1: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 “debuts” in local sports history

Luke Jones is back in the saddle for this week’s list.

While the summer unofficially starts in Baltimore the first day someone says to you “it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity”; the summer has now also OFFICIALLY started here in Charm City. With summer does indeed come heat, and with heat comes hot streaks. Speaking of hot streaks, we haven’t had a “streak”-related #WNSTSweet16 yet, have we?

You see how I did that?

This week’s topic is the “Sweet 16 All-time Local Sports Streaks”.

Clearly, when you think of local sports streaks, the number 2,632 comes to mind. Yep, the 2,632 consecutive unfunny jokes Drew Forrester has made on “The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction”. But Cal Ripken also had a nice little streak of consecutive games played for awhile.

Drew Brees just famously broke Johnny Unitas’ record of 47 straight games with a passing TD just recently. I imagine that might just crack Luke’s list.

What else should be on the list? Joe Flacco’s five straight seasons of winning a playoff game at the start of his career? The same streak for John Harbaugh? The University of Maryland making the NCAA Tournament for a school record 11 straight years under Gary Williams?

And who doesn’t remember Wee Willie Keeler’s’ amazing 45 game hit streak for the Birds between 1896 and 1897? I remember almost every at-bat of that magical stretch myself.

What are the others? What local high school athlete had a streak of never losing a tennis match or a wrestling match, etc. Any local pro team, college team, high school athlete or individual sport athlete from the area can qualify for the list.

Luke wants your suggestions. You can leave them here in the comments on this blog post or email him (luke@wnst.net). We will be discussing the list throughout the day Monday on AM1570 WNST.net. We’d love to have you Tweet with us or discuss the topic via Facebook by using the hashtag #WNSTSweet16.

On Tuesday morning, Luke will unveil the “official” list here at WNST.net and then discuss it with Drew on “The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction” at 8am. He will then re-visit the list at 4pm Tuesday with Nestor on “The Happy Hours”.

Let’s head to the quad for some streaking! What are the greatest streaks in local sports history? Make your voice heard!

-G

Comments (0)

USMNT3

Tags: , , , ,

WC Preview: United States vs. Ghana

Posted on 16 June 2014 by Ethan Stewart

Today at 6:00 PM on ESPN, a Group G World Cup match will feature the United States versus Ghana. This match figures to be an epic battle to say the least.

A win tonight figures to be of the utmost importance to the United States as a loss to Ghana will surely knock them out of contention in the group.

The United States is ranked higher than Ghana in the FIFA World Rankings which have the USA listed 13th worldwide and Ghana ranked 37th.  Don’t take too much from these rankings, however, as Spain is ranked #1 by FIFA’s rankings and were demolished by the Netherlands by a score if 5-1 last Friday.

Ghana has knocked the United States out of the tournament in 2 consecutive World Cups (2006, 2010) so I’m sure this USA team being led by head coach Jürgen Klinsmann will be looking to avenge those brutal losses.

Key Matchup: Asamoah Gyan and Andre Ayew vs. Geoff Cameron and Matt Besler

The biggest issue that the USMNT faced during their 3 warmup friendlies was the lack of chemistry and talent on their back line, more specifically between their center backs.  Both Cameron and Besler proved that they were a step ahead of the other center backs on the United States’ roster and they will be relied upon to try to hinder the offensive attack of Gyan and Ayew.

Biggest Headlines:

Why was Landon Donovan left off the squad?

Donovan simply isn’t as good as he used to be.  Is he one of the best 23 players from the United States? Probably, but Klinsmann isn’t here to put together a group of the 23 most talented players.  Klinsmann is here to assemble the best team possible that works together well.  Also the distracting question of “will Klinsmann play Landon Donovan?” is gone and the USMNT can focus solely on playing the matches.

Why did Klinsmann say that the UNSMNT don’t have a chance at winning the World Cup?

Well, because they don’t.  The United States have no chance at winning.  It simply isn’t a realistic possibility and Klinsmann is just stating the obvious.  It doesn’t mean we can’t have other goals.  Our first goal should be to beat Ghana tonight and worry about the rest later.  The task at hand is more important to think about than hypothetical situations.

Prediction: 2-1 United States

Ghana has more players that play in the better leagues in comparison to the United States.  They’ve knocked the United States out of 2 consecutive World Cups.  I think this plays into the hands of the USA.  The USMNT thrives when they take the persona of the underdog.  Personally I think that the United States will have the best player on the field in Clint Dempsey.  Dempsey will ultimately be the X-factor in this match and I think that he and Jozy Altidore will provide the goals necessary to beat Ghana.

Comments (0)

This week’s #WNSTSweet16 will be performed “Cup-style”

Tags: , , , , , , ,

This week’s #WNSTSweet16 will be performed “Cup-style”

Posted on 15 June 2014 by Glenn Clark

We’re dancing right up to the halfway point of 2014 and the halfway point of our #WNSTSweet16 celebration. In fact, we’ve been celebrating our 16th birthday for so long that it almost feels like it’s time to have our first beer.

(We’re kidding. We’ve had plenty of beers. Just like when most of us were REALLY 16.)

(We don’t by any stretch of the imagination condone underage drinking. Or underage anything else for that matter. We good?)

You HAVE to be familiar with the format by now. We’re celebrating 16 years as Baltimore’s sports media leader and we’re celebrating by taking “water cooler” topics from the WNST era and defining them with lists of 16.

You get it, right? Please tell me you get it.

If you’ve missed any of our first 23 lists this year, here’s a quick reminder of what’s been happening. (The #WNSTSweet16 is brought to you by Jerry’s Automotive!)

Week 23: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 greatest Baltimore/Washington Bullets/Wizards ever
Week 22: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 all-time greatest local high athletes
Week 21: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 greatest local lacrosse players of all time
Week 20: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 most unsung Orioles
Week 19: Gary Quill-Sweet 16 all-time Maryland horse racing moments
Week 18: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 most important picks in Ravens draft history
Week 17: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 worst draft picks in Baltimore Ravens history
Week 16: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 greatest players in Washington Capitals history
Week 15: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 games we’ve been treated to
Week 14: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 Masters moments of the last 30 years
Week 13: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 greatest pro wrestling moments in Baltimore history
Week 12: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local sports goofballs/personalities
Week 11: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 local sports saints-athletes who gave back
Week 10: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 events a Baltimore sports fan must attend
Week 9: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 greatest Baltimore college basketball players
Week 8: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 Orioles who didn’t live up to the hype
Week 7: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 most underappreciated Maryland basketball players
Week 6: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local sports “Heartbreakers”
Week 5: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local Olympic sport athletes
Week 4: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local athletes who deserved to win a championship but didn’t
Week 3: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 local sports people who “had a dream”
Week 2: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local sports playoff moments
Week 1: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 “debuts” in local sports history

Every time Drew Forrester is assigned a particular #WNSTSweet16 topic, I can confidently expect to hear the following from him.

“I think I’m going to do something a little bit different.”

We imagined doing a bunch of local lists this year, and with Drew’s experience as the former General Manager of the Baltimore Blast-I thought he’d want to look over the all-time greatest local soccer players during the World Cup.

I was wrong. Drew was thinking bigger than that. With the World Cup underway, Brazilians flopping and Italians coming up clutch (Cats and dogs living together?), Drew wanted to do something a bit more in tune with the Cup.

We’re very much in a golden age of American soccer currently. Despite the fact that FIFA delivered the USA into the “Group of Death” in Brazil, there’s hope Jurgen Klinsmann’s team can reach the knockout round again when they get underway Monday against Ghana. (Shameless plug-I’ll be watching the match at Buffalo Wild Wings Bel Air with our friends from Freedmont Mortgage. You should be there.)

Our topic this week is the Sweet 16 “Greatest American Born Soccer Players of All-Time”. And quicker than you can say “Landon Donovan”, remember that goalkeepers count too.

It would be hard to imagine Donovan and current American keeper Tim Howard won’t find themselves in the top three or five players on this list. But who else? What about Brian McBride? Current captain Clint Dempsey? Brad Friedel or Kasey Keller?

How do these all-time great Americans match up against each other? Who deserves to make the list that you might otherwise not think about? Remember: the list is for American BORN players, not players who simply played in Los Estados Unitos.

Drew wants your suggestions. You can leave them here in the comments on this blog post or email him (drew@wnst.net). We will be discussing the list throughout the day Monday on AM1570 WNST.net. We’d love to have you Tweet with us or discuss the topic via Facebook by using the hashtag #WNSTSweet16.

On Tuesday morning, Drew will unveil the “official” list here at WNST.net and then discuss it with Luke on “The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction” at 8am. He will then re-visit the list at 4pm Tuesday with Nestor on “The Happy Hours”.

Who are the greatest soccer players in the history of the Red, White and Blue? Make your voice heard!

-G

Comments (0)

There’s some Wizard-ry in this week’s #WNSTSweet16

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

There’s some Wizard-ry in this week’s #WNSTSweet16

Posted on 10 June 2014 by Glenn Clark

I realized after getting this assignment that I had absolutely no emotional attachment to this list. I have no idea if that helped me or not in putting it together, but it’s the first list I’ve done this year that I’ve been able to put together without even an ounce of personal feeling being involved.

If you missed this week’s preview, here’s a reminder. Also of note, I did not consider anything from the organization’s pre-Baltimore history. There are no Chicago Zephyrs involved.

Here we go.

16. Bradley Beal

While only playing two seasons thus far with the franchise doesn’t place him among the franchise’s all-time leaders, the quality of the former Florida star’s first two years warrant a spot just ahead of the likes of Jeff Ruland, Charles Jones, Chris Webber and others.

(Continued on next page…)

Comments (0)

This week’s #WNSTSweet16 comes faster than a speeding “Bullet”

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

This week’s #WNSTSweet16 comes faster than a speeding “Bullet”

Posted on 08 June 2014 by Glenn Clark

We certainly got some people fired up last week.

We’re 22 weeks into our #WNSTSweet16 celebration, and we’re a week removed from perhaps the most controversial list of the year. It’s going to be a hard act to follow. The rest of our staff is grateful Nestor Aparicio handled last week’s prep list so that we could avoid the heat-and the difficulty.

If you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about (I mean…there’s always one), 2014 marks our 16th year of serving the Baltimore community as sports media leader here at WNST.net. We’re celebrating by taking a different “water cooler” topic every week and dissecting it before declaring an “official” list every Tuesday.

We then continue the celebration by yelling, screaming, name calling and then ultimately agreeing to hug it out. Well, most of us do anyway. Luke never really gets involved with the name-calling. Actually one time he did. He said “I have to be honest, I respectfully disagree” and then apologized for such an outburst.

If you’ve missed any of our #WNSTSweet16 lists thus far this year (including Nestor’s hotly debated list from a week ago), here’s your chance to catch up. (The #WNSTSweet16 is brought to you by Jerry’s Automotive!)

Week 22: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 all-time greatest local high athletes
Week 21: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 greatest local lacrosse players of all time
Week 20: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 most unsung Orioles
Week 19: Gary Quill-Sweet 16 all-time Maryland horse racing moments
Week 18: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 most important picks in Ravens draft history
Week 17: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 worst draft picks in Baltimore Ravens history
Week 16: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 greatest players in Washington Capitals history
Week 15: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 games we’ve been treated to
Week 14: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 Masters moments of the last 30 years
Week 13: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 greatest pro wrestling moments in Baltimore history
Week 12: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local sports goofballs/personalities
Week 11: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 local sports saints-athletes who gave back
Week 10: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 events a Baltimore sports fan must attend
Week 9: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 greatest Baltimore college basketball players
Week 8: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 Orioles who didn’t live up to the hype
Week 7: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 most underappreciated Maryland basketball players
Week 6: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local sports “Heartbreakers”
Week 5: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local Olympic sport athletes
Week 4: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local athletes who deserved to win a championship but didn’t
Week 3: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 local sports people who “had a dream”
Week 2: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local sports playoff moments
Week 1: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 “debuts” in local sports history

And in Week 23, we’ve got the NBA on our mind here at WNST.

I’m in the cockpit for this week’s #WNSTSweet16 for the second time in three weeks. We’re in the throws of the NBA Finals, with the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat offering a couple of classics to start the series.

With that in mind, we thought this week would be appropriate to look back on the area’s own professional basketball history. Our topic this week is the “Sweet 16 best ever Baltimore/Washington Bullets/Wizards”.

Sure, that sounds like a disjointed topic title, but we have to imagine you understand why. The pro franchise that currently plays down in DC’s Chinatown neighborhood once called Charm City home-beginning their existence playing games at the historic Baltimore Arena. We wanted to recognize Baltimore’s pro history (albeit brief) and then also recognize the players who played for the franchise in Washington since there are a number of Wizards fans in our area as well.

This means that not only are Earl “The Pearl” Monroe and Wes Unseld eligible for our list, but so are John Wall and Bradley Beal-and everyone in between.

I’m struggling already with the list. There are a couple of Hall of Famers that immediately go to the top of the list-but how does the list shake out after that? There were a number of players during the Bullets/Wizards’ lean years in the District that were good for a short time, but not for an extended period of time. Where does Gilbert Arenas fit into this picture?

These aren’t easy determinations to make.

I want your suggestions. You can leave them here in the comments on this blog post or email me (glenn@wnst.net). We will be discussing the list throughout the day Monday on AM1570 WNST.net. We’d love to have you Tweet with us or discuss the topic via Facebook by using the hashtag #WNSTSweet16.

On Tuesday morning, I will unveil the “official” list here at WNST.net and then discuss it with Drew and Luke on “The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction” at 8am. I will then re-visit the list at 4pm Tuesday with Nestor on “The Happy Hours”.

I need to hear from old Baltimore Bullets fans and (frankly) younger Washington Wizards fans alike for this one. Who are the greatest players in franchise history? Make your voice heard!

-G

Comments (1)

aaaaaa t

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Tony Wiz: The new guy at WNST

Posted on 04 June 2014 by Tony Wisniewski

Um, yea, don’t you know who I am?

I’m Tony Wisniewski, or, as my friends call me, Tony Wiz, and upon winning the Baltimore Sports Media Superstar competition in May, I’m the newest staff writer and on-air personality at WNST.

When I walked into the station yesterday morning, I realized this wasn’t little league anymore.

I saw Drew Forrester, the wily old veteran himself, through the glass of the studio, stringing together poetic brilliance before the seven-o’clock hour.  Then I shook hands with the legendary Luke Jones–and it took all I had to avoid paying him homage with a hearty and somewhat fan-boyishly creepy “Luuuuuuuuuke.”

Shortly thereafter, I was face-to-face with Pete DiLutis and the King of Baltimore Sports Talk himself, the Nasty One.

This string of events comes on the heels of being promised a Green Jacket by last year’s BSMS winner, Barry Kamen, receiving emails from Glenn Clark, having Twitter Tweet-versations with Ryan Chell, and sharing late night text messages with Brett Dickinson–um, it’s not what it sounds like.

Alas, for me, nothing will ever be the same–I’m in the Big Show now, baby.

Throughout the tenure of my broken-road of sports media contributions, I never truly thought I’d make it to this point.  And, while I facetiously exaggerate the details of meeting and joining the WNST staff, the  feelings of appreciation and humbleness serve as the true backdrop to  my excitement.

The BSMS competition was tough to compete in due to the expectation of skill, knowledge and polish; even tougher to win because of the talent-level that fiercely competed for the crown.  Worthy competitors like Tony Thornton, James Revere, Ethan Stewart, Josh Murr, et al, deserve all the credit in the world for having the cojones to step up for a shot at what I previously noted as “the life of kings.”  It’s not a business that’s suited for everyone, but there were certainly guys in this year’s contest who have a future should they truly choose to pursue it.

While I’ve always known that I know sports almost as well as anyone in town and I believed I could hang with the aforementioned big dogs of Baltimore’s only truth-telling all-sports-all-the-time station and media outlet, I never truly expected that I’d be here, writing this post and introducing myself to you, the true Baltimore sports fan that I’ve known, loved, and respected.

I ask this of you, true and real Baltimore sports fan: let’s hangout more often and talk Ravens, O’s, Terps, and even Wizards or Caps (if you must).  Let’s hang and grab a beer at WNST events.  Let’s rap on the air.  Let’s debate on social media.

At the end of the day, we’re cut from the same cloth.

We’re Baltimore people.

We’re sports fans.

We’re like no one else, anywhere else.  And it’s because of this that I want you to know who I am–almost as much as I’m looking forward to getting to know you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (0)

Former Ravens Safety Reed: “I Know I Can Still Play”

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Former Ravens Safety Reed: “I Know I Can Still Play”

Posted on 02 June 2014 by Ryan Chell

The last time Ravens fans heard from Ed Reed in M&T Bank Stadium, they were welcomed with a less-than-stellar rendition of the popular Eddie Money song, “Two Tickets to Paradise” after the Ravens won Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.

The future Hall of Famer did indeed return to Baltimore Sunday for Lardarius Webb’s 5th annual Celebrity Softball Tournament, which was the first time the event took place at M&T Bank Stadium.

And while there showing off his softball skills, Reed sent a message to Ravens fans and the rest of the NFL that he’s still looking for and is ready for a ticket to ride with an NFL team.

“I’m definitely preparing to play,” Reed told reporters during the game. “If I wasn’t, you would have heard something  by now…I learned a lot about the process last year, and I know my worth.”

Reed, the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2004 and a 9-time Pro Bowler, played 11 seasons in Baltimore before signing a 3-year, 15 million dollar deal with the Houston Texans in March 2013.

However, Reed lasted just seven games in Houston before being waived. He ultimately reunited with former defensive coordinator Rex Ryan in New York, where he played seven games for the Jets (five starts) finishing with 22 tackles and three interceptions.

Battling hip problems to start the year, Reed clearly wasn’t the Defensive Player of the Year-caliber safety he was in his earlier years in Baltimore and many signaled that decline as the end of his dozen years in the NFL.

But don’t tell that to Ed Reed.

“I know I can still play,” he said. “It’s a matter of a right fit.”

And while the Ravens returned this week for voluntary OTAs in Owings Mills, Reed has been getting ready for an NFL call by training between Georgia and Louisiana.

And with Reed waiting for that call, he knows what he wants and how to approach the season. He said he learned a lot about his desire to play football this year from his preparation going into the 2013 year-his first outside Baltimore.

“I’m not going to anybody’s training camp, ” Reed said. “I sat and watched the league last year from a different perspective, and I learned a lot, and I saw they had teams that needed safeties in the latter part of the year.”

Reed didn’t make his Texans debut till Week 3 last season-a 30-9 loss in his return to Baltimore.  During training camp with Houston, he missed workouts on the active PUP-list, and he said he needed that rest to prepare for the season.

And for those who are concerned about that level of determination from the safety, Reed said he’s not concerned with how people think about him.

“Right now, I’m just about taking care of me and getting myself back…I know you guys may question it, but I’m not worried about that. It’s about how I feel.”

The thought of a banged-up, 35-year old safety who could only be a part-time player who’s best days are behind him might not be the biggest draw for an NFL team.

However, Reed, who looked to be enjoying himself Sunday and said it was a pleasure to be back in Baltimore, is content though if this is the end of his NFL dream.

“I’m not worried about the end. I’m not under contract. I’m already at the finish line. I don’t need to sign with anybody.”

“I don’t have to put in any papers. I don’t have to sign anybody’s contract. I don’t have to go to any organization. Ed Reed and Barry Sanders…they did it their own way.”

Those following the game would imagine that if that were to happen, he would follow other elite players of his level to the coaching ranks in an effort to stay apart the game he loved for so many years.

Reed said he would be open to it and that he got a taste of it in 2013 with the Ravens, Texans and Jets.

“Being around Coach Harbaugh, being around Coach Billick, having so many defensive coordinators-I had a different perspective when I left and I definitely learned a lot…I always say I did more coaching when I was in New York because they have a bunch of young guys up there and those guys kind of gravitated to me.”

He’s just hoping that an NFL GM or Coach will gravitate to his football knowledge if it doesn’t equate to continuing his playing career-hopefully in a place he’s all too familiar with in Baltimore.

“I think I can help pretty much any organization if I’m a position coach, a consultant or whatever…I could see me working in the organization here. I could see me working for Ozzie, those guys and Mr. Bisciotti because I put so much into it, I know how they work, and they taught me so much.”

If anything, you can count on Ed Reed making one more trip to M&T Bank Stadium for his guaranteed induction into the stadium’s Ring of Honor and he knows what kind of reaction he’ll get upon that return.

“It definitely brings back memories,” Reed said. “Anytime I come into Baltimore, it brings back memories.”

“It’s always great to see Ed Reed,” wide receiver Torrey Smith said. “He’s like a big brother and anytime you’re around him, it’s a good time.”

‘It’s great to see Baltimore still loves him.”

Follow me on Twitter at @RyanChell87! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

 

Comments (0)

Here’s a little “prep” you can enjoy for this week’s #WNSTSweet16

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Here’s a little “prep” you can enjoy for this week’s #WNSTSweet16

Posted on 01 June 2014 by Glenn Clark

We’re quickly approaching the midway point of 2014-which means we’re preparing to celebrate our 16 and a half(th?) birthday here at WNST. Yes, we’re also expecting a card from you for this one.

We’ve been marking our 16th year of being Baltimore’s sports media leader by going over some of the more significant “water cooler” topics of the WNST era. Each week we attempt to “define” the topic with a list we’re calling the #WNSTSweet16 here at WNST.net.

The concept doesn’t exactly take an Ivy Leaguer to figure out. In fact, we’ve noticed that even some of the folks who listen to the “other” station in town have managed to be able to participate. Remarkable.

If you’ve missed any of the first 21 Sweet 16 lists we’ve put together this year, here’s a look back. (The #WNSTSweet16 is brought to you by Jerry’s Automotive!)

Week 21: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 greatest local lacrosse players of all time
Week 20: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 most unsung Orioles
Week 19: Gary Quill-Sweet 16 all-time Maryland horse racing moments
Week 18: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 most important picks in Ravens draft history
Week 17: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 worst draft picks in Baltimore Ravens history
Week 16: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 greatest players in Washington Capitals history
Week 15: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 games we’ve been treated to
Week 14: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 Masters moments of the last 30 years
Week 13: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 greatest pro wrestling moments in Baltimore history
Week 12: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local sports goofballs/personalities
Week 11: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 local sports saints-athletes who gave back
Week 10: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 events a Baltimore sports fan must attend
Week 9: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 greatest Baltimore college basketball players
Week 8: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 Orioles who didn’t live up to the hype
Week 7: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 most underappreciated Maryland basketball players
Week 6: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local sports “Heartbreakers”
Week 5: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local Olympic sport athletes
Week 4: Drew Forrester-Sweet 16 local athletes who deserved to win a championship but didn’t
Week 3: Nestor Aparicio-Sweet 16 local sports people who “had a dream”
Week 2: Luke Jones-Sweet 16 local sports playoff moments
Week 1: Glenn Clark-Sweet 16 “debuts” in local sports history

“The Nasty One” himself is back at the helm of the #WNSTSweet16 in Week 22 and taking on another very difficult list.

I had the pleasure of speaking at Aberdeen High School last week to a group of kids that included a great number of seniors. We discussed opportunity, preparation and reaching goals after graduating from high school. For so many of them, the chat was particularly important because they were less than a week away from joining the “real world”.

It is graduation season throughout the region, which made us think about some of the great athletes who have graduated from Charm City area high schools. This stream of consciousness should probably tell you that this week’s topic is the “Sweet 16 greatest local high school athletes”.

We have certainly been blessed in this area to have had the first opportunity to see quite a number of incredible athletes here in this area. We probably could have made a list using Dunbar basketball players alone, as the likes of Reggie Williams, Reggie Lewis, Sam Cassell, Skip Wise, Muggsy Bogues, Kurk Lee, David Wingate and Keith Booth are all really good options to make this list.

Just considering basketball alone you can lump names in like Carmelo Anthony, Rudy Gay, Will Barton, Juan Dixon, Gary Neal, Marvin Webster, Kim English, Aquille Carr and more.

We haven’t even considered football players (Tommy Polley, Tavon Austin, Antonio Freeman, Keion Carpenter, Jeff Grantz), baseball players (Mark Teixeira, Gavin Floyd, some fellas named Cal Ripken and…ummm…Babe Ruth?), lacrosse players (Kyle Harrison, Steele Stanwick, Ryan Boyle, Joe Cowan, etc.) or some of the amazing female athletes (Pam Shriver, Angel McCoughtry, etc.) who did their prep work in the area.

I do not envy…in any way…the responsibility Nestor has in putting this list together. We haven’t even talked about the soccer players, wrestlers, runners, swimmers and others who are certainly also deserving of consideration. This list is going to be REALLY tough.

Nestor wants your suggestions. You can leave them here in the comments on this blog post or email him (nasty@wnst.net). We will be discussing the list throughout the day Monday on AM1570 WNST.net. We’d love to have you Tweet with us or discuss the topic via Facebook by using the hashtag #WNSTSweet16.

On Tuesday morning, Nes will unveil the “official” list here at WNST.net and then discuss it with Drew and Luke on “The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction” at 8am. He will then re-visit the list at 4pm Tuesday on “The Happy Hours”.

Shack Stanwick might be just the latest tremendous athlete we had the opportunity to see locally over the last school year. As it wraps up, let’s recognize the greatest we’ve ever seen. Make your voice heard!

-G

Comments (0)

Buck

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Showalter’s past–Baltimore’s Future?

Posted on 01 June 2014 by Tony Wisniewski

Don’t look now, but the past might be repeating itself.

There’s something to be said for being comfortable in your own skin—or in this case, you own spot in the batting order.

During the Buck Showalter era, the Orioles are no stranger to a lineup that has seen more shakeups than the Old Bay Crab Shuffle.

Nelson Cruz, the Major League Leader in home runs has yet to have a clear-cut spot in the order.

He’s batted in the two-hole, which is typically reserved for slap-hitters, table-setters, and guys who can spray the ball around the field while being able to run fairly well and steal a base or two.

He’s batted in the six-spot, which is generally reserved for a guy who can’t quite carry the load in the four-or-five hole, but can still drive the ball.

And, in the same breath, he’s batted third, fourth, and fifth throughout the season.

If you look atop the AL East, to a team like the Toronto Blue Jays, you’ll find the exact opposite, where slugger Jose Bautista has batted third all-season-long.  Alas, Edwin Encarnacion played a few games early-on as the number-five hitter, but has settled in nicely as the cleanup guy during his record-setting home run tear during the month of May.

The same can be said for the majority of ML teams who boast consistent all-star quality talent like the Orioles.

Perhaps the issue is that Showalter doesn’t truly understand how to manage big-talent in the Big Leagues.

Taking a step back, you’ll find that Showalter’s track-record shows that he starts to falter when his team makes the turn into a legitimate annual contender.

After being fired by the New York Yankees after the 1995 season, he went on to turn the Arizona Diamondbacks into a force to be reckoned with in the NL West—then he was fired after his third season.

Upon his departure from Arizona, he led the Texas Rangers’ organization to a major turnaround, only to falter the following two seasons—leading to his firing after a mediocre 2006 campaign.

Four years later, Showalter comes to Baltimore, leading the Orioles to a turnaround that others like Bobby Valentine said was impossible due to a franchise that’s “unfixable.”

There’s no question that Showalter did the improbable by re-molding Baltimore into a legit contender, but there certainly should be a question over whether or not he knows what to do with the franchise once it’s reached that level.

Part of Showalter’s success is due to his ability to manage average-talent and utilize a plug-and-play type of system.

While he’s terrific with shuffling fringe starters in and out, and getting the most out of guys who don’t really have much of a clear-cut Major League future, he lacks the ability to appropriately manage superstars and legitimate Major League talent.

A perfect example is the continued shuffling of the lineup and the inability to give a player like Nelson Cruz a stable spot in the batting order.

Certainly this isn’t to say that there’s no room to change a lineup from time to time, even the best of managers sometimes rearrange things to keep players on-alert, but to do it game-in and game-out is sophomoric and a glaring weakness of a manager who has proven in three other cities that he simply can’t handle the type of talent that removes his power to micromanage every facet of the roster, lineup, and game.

When Showalter took over in 2010, the Orioles were an unmitigated disaster. Now, in 2014, they’re not.  They’re a team who should have some continuity and consistency.

While there’s no solid argument to question his ability to turn a franchise around, there’s certainly room for concern and debate over whether he’s the right guy to get the job done moving forward.

Sitting at .500, there’s plenty of room to question whether or not Showalter’s past is destined to become Baltimore’s future.

Comments (0)