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RickyWagner

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Ravens T Wagner on right tackle nod: “I definitely have to earn it”

Posted on 30 May 2014 by Ryan Chell

After an 8-8 season in which the Baltimore Ravens fell short of defending their Super Bowl title, many of John Harbaugh’s players are coming into this week’s OTAs with a huge chip on their shoulders in an attempt to get back to the playoffs.

However, that attitude is nothing new for Ravens 2nd-year offensive tackle Rick Wagner, who is getting a crack at the team’s starting right tackle spot going into OTAs-the position vacated by former first-round pick Michael Oher, who left via free agency to sign a contract with the Tennessee Titans.

Other candidates for the job include 2013 LG Kelechi Osemele, Jah Reid, Ryan Jensen, as well as undrafted rookie James Hurst.

Wagner, the team’s 5th round pick (168th overall) in the 2013 NFL Draft out of Wisconsin, has had an uphill battle since he was drafted by the Ravens last April.  Despite a high grade, he fell farther than his initial draft projection despite playing four years at Wisconsin-including 39 starts and Outland Trophy consideration.

The off-season was a disappointing one not only for Wagner in terms of becoming a starting NFL tackle, but also seeing his team fail to play deep into January for the first time in the John Harbaugh era.

“It’s not a good taste to have in our mouths right now,” Wagner told Glenn Clark on “The Reality Check” Thursday. “You can tell with the vets that they’re not used to that. “They’ve been making the playoffs for years here so we wanna get back and ultimately-that’s our number one priority.”

But behind the team goals, Wagner does find himself with a unique opportunity being tapped as the early candidate to start at right tackle for the Ravens going into training camp and ultimately in Week 1 against the Cincinnati Bengals on September 7th-a situation he fought his entire rookie year to try and achieve.

“I’m really excited, ” Wagner told Clark after practice. “Last year, I practiced like I was going start Week 1 because you never know what will happen with injuries, but [this year], I’m just trying to get the playbook down first, which I’m already feeling confident with in these first couple OTAs.”

That determination fueled Wagner going into his rookie year, and he earned playing time out of it-playing 13 games for the Ravens in 2013 and starting two as John Harbaugh’s “swing tackle” in Jumbo, short-yardage, and goal line situations. 

Wagner said playing his rookie year really gave him an edge in his short NFL career getting acclimated to the changing pace of the professional game.

“It’s such a change from college,” Wagner said. “The speed is so much more amped up, and that’s the real difference. That really helped me out last year, and I’m ready to go.”

Wagner said it definitely put things on perspective when it came to his own work ethic.

“Every player in the NFL is the best player you’ve faced in college.  It’s just a whole new intensity you have to get used to.”

But even with that experience under his belt, Wagner still understands that he’s going to have to compete for the right tackle job and that he won’t have it handed to him.

“I definitely have to earn it,” Wagner said.  ”There’s nothing set until Week 1. I’m just gonna keep working and hope I earn that title.”

What’s he is getting used to in OTAs is lining up next to some new faces, including 3x All-Pro guard Marshal Yanda and getting line calls from a new center in former Buccaneeer Jeremy Zuttah.

Wagner said he owes so much to the two of them.

“It’s incredible to have him right next to me,” Wagner said of Yanda. “He helps me out every day and makes it so much easier when you have a vet like him next to you.”

And in regards to Zuttah, despite the center being in a Ravens uniform for two months, Wagner felt like with Zuttah’s knowledge and expertise, it feels like he’s been in the meeting rooms and on the field for years.

“We’re real comfortable already…it seems like he’s been here awhile,” Wagner said.  ”He’s a real athletic guy and he’s fit right in since the first day.”

Now it’s all about the whole group grasping this new scheme being implemented by incoming offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak. Despite the perceived complexity of a zone offense, Wagner though says it all comes down to execution despite the different terminology.

“Football is football,” Wagner said. “There isn’t really anything else we can do.”

What they do want to do is get back to establishing the running game to help out their quarterback in Joe Flacco.

“It’s a big emphasis. I’m really happy with the play-action stuff we have going this year-a lot different than last year.”

And while it’s been all business so far in camp, Wagner did say that he’s shared a few laughs so far seeing Flacco on some of Kubiak’s bootleg plays.

“He’s  a real athletic guy, and it’s good to see him getting out of the pocket and getting some runs going.”

WNST thanks Ricky Wagner for joining “The Reality Check!” Check out the entire conversation in the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net! 

 

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Let’s go in the crease for this week’s #WNSTSweet16

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Let’s go in the crease for this week’s #WNSTSweet16

Posted on 27 May 2014 by Glenn Clark

The qualifications made this an impossible list. We really should have split this list into two different categories. I should have never opened up the list to anyone who was from Baltimore, played at an area high school, played at a local college or played locally at the professional level. I should have instead split that group up into two categories-players from Johns Hopkins or Maryland in one group and the rest in another category altogether.

You know how tough this list was? Think about the names I ended up leaving OUTSIDE the Top 16. I’d share them with you now, but I don’t want to give away anyone who missed the list. Here goes. (Thanks to Inside Lacrosse, the Baltimore Sun, the Lacrosse Hall of Fame, Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Loyola, Towson and UMBC for assists on info, pictures, etc.)

16. Jim Darcangelo

I’m not trying to get anything past anyone. The bottom four spots on the list are claimed by players who perhaps aren’t REALLY among the 16 greatest of all-time. But they all represent one of the area colleges who deserved to be recognized on the list. It became difficult to keep determining the NEXT greatest player in Hopkins history, so I decided to start looking elsewhere.

Darcangelo was a three time All-American as a midfielder for Towson, helping the Tigers claim the 1974 College Division National Championship. He was twice recognized as the Division II/III Player of the Year during his Towson career and went on to play for Team USA in three World Championships.

(Continued on next page…)

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And this week we’ll have a #WNSTSweet16 for all of the bros

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And this week we’ll have a #WNSTSweet16 for all of the bros

Posted on 25 May 2014 by Glenn Clark

16 years, lists of 16. It’s a pretty simple concept, right?

Unless you’ve spent the first four and a half months of 2014 helping CNN look for a missing plane, you’re probably aware that we’re celebrating our 16th year as Baltimore’s sports media leader here at WNST. And no, we’ve never been kissed but thanks for asking.

To celebrate our 16th birthday we’re looking over some of the “water cooler” topics of the WNST era and doing our damnedest to try to “define” them with “Sweet 16″ lists. Some lists have been better than others. For example, Drew Forrester has only been involved in a couple-so that’s good.

Here’s a recap if you’ve missed any of our first 20 lists thus far this year.

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

Which brings us to Week 21…and back to your favorite WNST personality.

I actually wrote this preview Saturday while sitting in the press box at the NCAA Lacrosse Final Four between Duke’s win over Denver and Notre Dame’s win over Maryland. I won’t be there to see the Blue Devils face the Fighting Irish Monday for the title, but I have no doubt that Satan will enjoy watching his two favorite teams closely.

This area certainly has a long history with the game of lacrosse at every level and we intend to recognize that with this week’s #WNSTSweet16 list. This week’s topic is the “Sweet 16 All-time Greatest local lacrosse players”.

This list would be WAY easier if I could minimize it to one of the three qualifiers we’re using for the list. Unfortunately for me, I have to combine all three groups to try to make one definite list. Here are the qualifiers.

A-Player played college lacrosse at a school in Maryland. Any of the area schools are options-Johns Hopkins, Loyola, Maryland, UMBC, Towson, Navy, Mt. St. Mary’s or even a Division III school like Salisbury or Stevenson.

B-Player played professionally for an area team. Certainly the most prominent pro teams in the area have been the now defunct Baltimore Thunder of the indoor game or the Baltimore/Chesapeake/Washington Bayhawks of the MLL on the outdoor side.

C-Player must have been originally from the immediate area and/or played lacrosse in high school locally. This means anyone who played either for a MIAA program or public school in the Baltimore area can be considered even if they went on to play at the college level outside of the area.

My head hurts just thinking about all of the possibilities. Ugh.

(For the record, I’m going to limit this to the greatest MALE players. It’s just to difficult to compare male vs. female lacrosse accomplishments. We will have opportunities to recognize female contributors to the sport in a later list.)

I’m pretty sure I know the greatest players in Thunder history as well as Johns Hopkins and Maryland history. I could probably use some help in EVERY other area of this list AND in trying to compare players in one group to players in another.

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 on “The Happy Hours” with Nestor Aparicio.

In the midst of Championship Weekend here in Baltimore-who are the greatest lacrosse players in the history of the area? Make your voice heard!

-G

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It’s time to lower expectations on O’s

Posted on 23 May 2014 by Tony Wisniewski

Right now, the Orioles aren’t bad.  They aren’t good either.

By and large, they’re, shall we say, “Okay.”

With a lineup that features inconsistent contributions from guys like David Lough and Ryan Flaherty, and a bullpen that is starting to look like the train-wreck many feared coming into the season, it might be time to settle down on the notion that Baltimore will be featuring October baseball.

Prior to the start of the season, on paper, the Orioles looked like the next coming of Murder’s Row.  It didn’t seem out-of-reach to expect that there could be a run at team home run records.

Now, approaching the dog-days of summer, it’s ludicrous to believe that this Orioles lineup is any better than anything that the club featured through the early-to-mid 2000s.

Chris Davis hasn’t been Chris Davis of the last few years.  Perhaps it’s injury-related, maybe it’s the fact that he’s public-enemy-number-one when it comes to opposing pitchers and detailed scouting reports, but he hasn’t provided the production that this lineup needed.

Adam Jones hasn’t figured out patience.  Matt Wieters and Manny Machado are dealing with injury issues.  And JJ Hardy looks to have regressed back to his Minnesota days, when he became an afterthought in terms of a power-threat.

Realistically, if it weren’t for the resurgence of Nelson Cruz, this team would be floundering near the bottom of what’s turning out to be arguably the most mediocre division in baseball–what a difference a few years makes, eh?

It’s not unrealistic to expect that the Orioles will turn this thing around.  Given the parity in the AL East, this current crop of Birds is probably good enough to make a late-season run and steal the division.  But it’s hard to expect that something that radical will happen.

There are too many injury-questions and bullpen issues to expect anything other than a roller-coaster season. There are too many questions over role-players and which “just another guy” to trot out to left field each night to think that this team has any real shot at doing anything spectacular or out-of-the-ordinary in 2014.

Perhaps this is the new version of “Why Not” baseball.

Could the Orioles make a run, why not?  Could they finish 20-games below .500, why not?  Is it possible that they’ll continue to almost be good and almost be bad, depending on which night you watch them, why not?

Right now the Orioles are just okay.  Can that change?  Why not?

But just don’t expect too much.

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We think you’ll “sing” about this week’s #WNSTSweet16

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We think you’ll “sing” about this week’s #WNSTSweet16

Posted on 18 May 2014 by Glenn Clark

We’re starting to approach the midway point of 2014. There’s absolutely NO WAY you don’t know how this works, right?

We are celebrating our 16th year as Baltimore’s sports media leader here at WNST. As Dave Chappelle (playing the role of Rick James) might say…..you know what, maybe that’s not appropriate for here. You all know where I was going. If not, “Dave Chappelle” and “celebration” in Google will probably be fun for you.

Every week here at WNST we’re looking back on a “water cooler” topic that we’ve discussed during our 16 year run. After we think over it, we appoint a WNST personality to put together a definitive list about the topic. We call it the #WNSTSweet16. Yes it is pretty awesome, thank you for noticing.

We’ve made it through 19 weeks thus far. If you missed any of our lists, we encourage you to look over them here.

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

It’s Drew Forrester’s turn again to take over the reigns of the #WNSTSweet16 this week.

Earlier this year we recognized the “underappreciated” former Terps. We’re venturing down that path again this week for a different team.

We all know who the greatest Baltimore Orioles are of all-time. In some order you’d find Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray and obviously Felix Pie.

(I just can’t resist.)

But in recognizing these players as the greatest in franchise history, we also likely disqualify them from this week’s topic. Our topic this week is the “Sweet 16 Most unsung Orioles of all time”.

There are a few names that jumped out at me as I considered this list. The first was Dave McNally-who will never be a Hall of Famer but finished his career with a 3.24 ERA and 1.21 WHIP while pitching 13 of his 14 career seasons with the Birds. McNally had a remarkable career but his name is likely completely unknown by a younger generation of Birds fans.

Other names that came to mind included Don Buford, Scott McGregor, Melvin Mora, Gregg Olson and BJ Surhoff.

I’m not really sure how “underappreciated” and “unsung” are actually different. I’m sort of convinced we just wanted to come up with two different terms when we started mapping out the lists at the beginning of the year. For the record, the definition of “unsung” is “not celebrated or praised”. Do with that what you will.

So who’s on your list?

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 on “The Happy Hours” with Nestor Aparicio.

Which players in Baltimore baseball history just haven’t received the recognition they deserved during the course of their career? Who are the most unsung players in franchise history? Make your voice heard!

-G

 

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Down the stretch this week’s #WNSTSweet16 comes

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Down the stretch this week’s #WNSTSweet16 comes

Posted on 12 May 2014 by Glenn Clark

When you’ve been doing something as well and for as long as we’ve been doing Baltimore sports media here at WNST, you like to tell people about it.

Such is the case in 2014, as we’re celebrating our 16th year as your local sports media leader. For the record, when you said you didn’t bring a gift but you sent us a check we believed you. We’re starting to feel kinda silly.

To celebrate, we’re looking over some of the most significant “water cooler” topics of the last 16 years and defining them with lists compiled by WNST hosts and contributors. Just a warning-we’re already 18 weeks into 2014. We’ve known 2014 longer than we ever knew rapper (rapper?) PSY. If you’ve missed any of our first 18 lists, here’s a chance to refresh.

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 finally here in Week 19 it’s time for some new blood.

For the first time, we step away from the main WNST hosts to look into an incredibly significant local sports topic. You may remember Gary Quill as someone who covered thoroughbred racing for us for years. His work was unquestionably unparalleled in this area.

You may have noticed GQ hasn’t been heard from at WNST.net in 2014. He’s now covering “The Sport of Kings” for HorseRacingNation.com and doing an absolutely fantastic job there as well.

Well we’ve managed to steal him back for the week to help us out with the #WNSTSweet16. You can thank us later. (Again, about that check.)

With real buzz surrounding a potential run to a Triple Crown for Kentucky Derby champ California Chrome, it seems like horse racing is going to have a special week in Charm City in the lead-up to Saturday’s Preakness. The sport has a rich tradition here in Baltimore (and Laurel…and Timonium) that we want to recognize.

With that in mind, this week’s topic is the “Sweet 16 Greatest Maryland Horse Racing Moments of All Time”.

This doesn’t necessarily mean the list will be made up of Preakness moments alone although I imagine more than a few will come from the “Run for the Black-Eyed Susans”.

I have no idea how anything could possibly top Easy Goer and Sunday Silence battling down the stretch in 1989, but I’m not the expert. I’ll leave that to GQ…and more importantly to you.

Gary wants your suggestions. You can leave them here in the comments on this blog post. 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, GQ 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” with Nestor Aparicio.

We’re going to be thoroughbred crazy for the next week here in Baltimore and a pony from the coast will be an even bigger rock star than Bono. Or even Manny Machado. Before we get there, help us out in looking back on the most significant local moments in the history of the sport. Make your voice heard!

-G

 

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Ravens add undrafted free agents, invite others to rookie minicamp

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Ravens add undrafted free agents, invite others to rookie minicamp

Posted on 12 May 2014 by WNST Staff

The Ravens completed their 2014 draft on Saturday, and moved to the next stage of the rookie talent management process Saturday night into Sunday, as the team signed and invited several NFL rookies to their Owings Mills facility to participate in their rookie minicamp.

Below is a list of players signed to rookie free agent deals, reported by the Baltimore Sun.

James Hurst, OT-UNC

Hurst, a 6’5, 295 OT, was coming off a broken leg suffered in the Belk Bowl at the end of December, was projected to be a top-to-mid-round pick before the injury. Missed both the Senior Bowl and the Combine due to the rehab from his injury.

Sammy Seamster, CB-Middle Tennessee St

Seamster had several visits in the NFL draft process, and the former track star runs a 4.44 40-yard dash.

Xavius Boyd, LB-Western Kentucky

The Ravens have had some success finding players from Western Kentucky-most notably RB Bobby Rainey-in the rookie free agent process. They hope that lighting strikes twice with Xavius Boyd, the reigning Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year who had over 100 tackles and 8.5 sacks in 2013.

A.J. Pataiali’i, DT-Utah State

Standing at 6’3, 307, this nose guard out of the Mountain West could continue to be another lineman the Ravens try and develop and stash on the practice squad.

Terrance Bullitt, LB-Texas Tech

 

Jace Davis, WR-Northern Colorado

Finished with 673 yards and five touchdowns for the Bears in his senior year.

Richie Leone, P-Houston

A Ray Guy Award semifinalist who excels at getting punts inside the 20-yard line. Averaged 43.1 yards a punt.

Parker Graham, OT-Oklahoma State

Played both left tackle and right guard for the Cowboys this season. Named both AP and Coaches Big-12. Stands at 6’7 315.

Brett Van Sloten, OT-Iowa

A right tackle for the Hawkeyes that only allowed 15 QB sacks in 2013.

Derrick Hopkins, DT-Virginia Tech

6’0, 311-lb defensive lineman played considerable action over his four years in Blacksburg (started 40 games). Finished 2013 with 54 tackles and five sacks.

Jake Sinkovec, Boston College H-Back

A solid blocker, played eight games at fullback for Boston College in 2013.

Jamie Meder, DT-Ashland (Ohio)

Played well enough for the NFLPA game to get a look…

Jeremy Butler, WR-Tennessee-Martin

Zach Orr, LB-North Texas

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wes_unseld

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Watching the Wizards — from a distance

Posted on 08 May 2014 by Tony Wisniewski

It’s hard not to watch the Wizards’ playoff run.

They’re young.  They’re exciting.  They’re from Washington.

This is Baltimore.  Just down Interstate-95, about 35-minutes south, is Washington.  Baltimore isn’t Washington–and the Wizards aren’t the hometown team.

For a decade, the Civic Center–Baltimore Areana/First Mariner Arena–housed the red-white-and-blue uniforms that represented the city’s NBA franchise.  And then, after the 1973 season, they whisked away to the greener pastures of the Washington DC suburbs of Landover.

And, like that, the Bullets were no longer property of Baltimore.

Though the franchise made an effort to travel to Charm City for several home-games each year, it was never quite right; almost like having dinner with an ex-girlfriend who says she’s confused and needs space, but you know she’s been sleeping with some other guy for quite some time.

On a personal level, a kid like me never knew any better.  Born in 1983,  I knew nothing other than vivid memories of Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, told to me by my basketball-crazed father.

Sure, as a kid we watched the Bullets on Home-Team-Sports (big-time throwback), and we went to any games that the team played in Baltimore–even though it was routinely against bottom-feeders like the Barkley-less-Sixers, the Laettner-led Timberwolves, or the JV team that used to be the New Jersey Nets.

Rex Chapman bombing threes over Hersey Hawkins, or Pervis Ellison going body-to-body with Dwayne Schintzius, wasn’t exactly a premier brand of basketball–but it was all Baltimore had.

As a kid, it was perfectly acceptable to run around the Bear Creek and West Inverness playgrounds with a handmade Tom Gugliotta jersey while bellowing out “Guuuuuuuugs.”

Ah, but ignorance is bliss.  As time went on, it became more and more apparent that the Bullets couldn’t really care less about Baltimore.

Even though mainstays like Wes Unseld and Phil Chenier claimed love for Baltimore and its fans who created a college-type of atmosphere, the organization decided that in 1997, it was the end of the yearly trips to Baltimore–officially closing the door on memory lane.

By 1998, the re-branded Wizards took to the court at the newly constructed MCI Center in the heart of one of the worst crime-laden neighborhoods in our Nation’s Capital.  And, even though Baltimore has been the backdrop of drug-infested war-stories like HBO’s The Wire, try and convince a Dundalkian, Overlean, or Parkvillian to venture into DC.

You’d have a better chance of convincing a Fallston girl to leave a Fed Hill bar and go to a keg-party in a Dundalk basement.

And that’s just it.  It’s not that Baltimore and its fans lost interest in the Bullets-turned-Wizards.  It’s that the franchise lost interest in its roots.

The official statements that the organization made and would continue to make if anyone still asked the question, would be that they aren’t going to keep piling into a dilapidated arena when they have a newer facility less-than-an-hour away.

But there’s more to the story than that; perhaps most importantly, it’s not the arena that the Bullets-Wizards franchise shunned, it’s the fans.

The fans of Baltimore who had memories of Gus Johnson and Elvin Hayes.  The fans who clamored to get tickets to watch a couple of games per year from obstructed view seats.  The fans who still think that the Wizards are part of Baltimore.

And that’s what it’s become.  A fallacy of what once was.

These days, as a kids who never really knew the Bullets like my dad did, I watch the Wizards and appreciate their youthful enthusiasm and the growing chemistry of budding superstars like Bradley Beal and John Wall.

But I look at them as I look at Oklahoma City’s franchise; or Indiana’s, or Brooklyn’s.

This is Baltimore.  And while it’s certainly understandable to like the Wizards and enjoy their run in the playoffs, it’s important to remember, they’re Washington’s team–not Baltimore’s.

Baltimore is watching–albeit from a distance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Seth Allen says Turgeon, Terps will be fine without him

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Seth Allen says Turgeon, Terps will be fine without him

Posted on 06 May 2014 by WNST Audio

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They Might Be Ravens: Taylor Lewan

Posted on 02 May 2014 by Tony Wisniewski

He’s big, smooth, and funny.

Yea, Taylor Lewan can crack up a room.  During his tenure at Michigan, he became well-known for his finger-mustache “Englishman” impression.

The down-side is that he has a bit of legal baggage stemming to an alleged fight last December.  According to Lewan, speaking on his own behalf, he denies any altercation, dismissing the notion that he was doing anything beyond breaking up a fight between others.

It’s plausible, the only problem is that he faces three charges–one which includes the more serious tag of “aggravated assault.”

For now it’s a he-said-he-said incident, but it’s a red-mark heading into the draft; not to mention that there is chatter out there about a past incident of intimidating a rape victim.  Certainly not the type of SEO Tags you’d want as a first-round pick.

The Good:  Being a former d-lineman, he’s quick and possess above-average foot-work.  Much has been said about his mean-streak, which is a great thing when it comes to offensive tackles.  He’s big enough and athletic enough to play either side of the line.

The Bad:  Legal issues aside, he’s only been playing offensive tackle since his senior year of high school.  There’s a question over whether or not he’s willing to work at his craft, as–with many gifted athletes–he relies a lot on his flat-out talent, rather than developing the necessary skill.

The Reality:  Lewan will like go in the top 15 picks–perhaps even as high as mid-top-10.  While it initially looked like he’d be a possibility for the Ravens at pick 17, it seems as if that idea–or as Ozzie Newsome would say,”ship”–has sailed.

 

See the initial “They Might Be Ravens” post here.

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