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In the Sterling-Silver Saga, NBA was wrong

Posted on 30 April 2014 by Tony Wisniewski

Donald Sterling is a racist–didn’t you know?

Apparently he’s been a racist, bigot, sexist, and virtual scumbag for decades.  Just ask Elgin Baylor and Danny Manning.

But if you think that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver made the right decision, I’m sorry, but you’re wrong.  You’re wrong because you’re letting emotion cloud your judgement and your ability to look at the ramifications.

Should Sterling have been booted from The League?  Sure, but as my good friend Brian put it, “it should have happened years ago, but not for this.”  Oh, and in case you’re wondering, yes, Brian is African American.

In fact, allow me to share his full thoughts on the matter.  Brian and I often banter back-and-forth that white people tend to use the “I have black friends” card when approaching a topic of race.  In some ways, sharing his thoughts is my way of playing that card–but only for the fact that he’s one of the smartest and level-headed dudes I’ve ever met.  In essence, I don’t respect his opinion and share it because of his skin color, rather it’s because of his societal acumen and natural intelligence.

Unfortunately race is a sensitive issue, still, even in 2014.  But that doesn’t mean we should shy away from it.  In fact, it’s incumbent upon anyone involved in sports to hit racial issues head on.  Here’s what Brian had to say via email:

“Ok now onto Sterling.. This is going to get long so you may want to use the restroom, take care of personal phone calls first, etc. Ok with Sterling I FEEL NO SYMPATHY AT ALL!!! and this is an example of “chickens coming home to roost” Sterling has a 30 year history of being a despicable vile racist. And not the oh my gosh he said something crazy on radio for ratings type racist (I’m looking at you Imus and Limbaugh) but a did real damage to real people with institutional racism. I remember reading about his antics and history back in ’06 when they covered his not one but two historical housing discrimination suits that he lost (he didn’t admit guilt just paid a California record in damages) But the sworn testimony is jaw dropping. And if you read the testimony from his other lawsuits you sit back and go man this guy is a scumbag. Now does this mean he should have his team stripped b/c he essentially told his jump off to stop embarrassing him in front of his country club friends by flaunting the fact that she is banging every young black athlete this side of Adam Jones? No he shouldn’t lose it for that (sidenote: I had no problem with the tape – I was actually a little disappointed b/c knowing Sterling’s history when I heard racist rant I thought he was going to go grand wizard on his and drop every slur know to man like Uncle Ruckus from the Boondocks- he didn’t even use a slur). So no in a vaccuum he should not lose the team for that. Now he should lose the team for the other stuff. This is Al Capone going to jail for tax evasion and not the hundreds of people he killed.”

So to sum up, it is kind of messed up that he is banned for life and losing his team for THIS!! But he has a trunk full of evil deeds that can be substituted. I wish I was mature enough to stand up for the rights of the most despicable out there but I’m not (at least not in a lot of cases). But sometimes I just give in to street justice. For example I could see 4 cops  batoning the hell out of a handcuffed Jerry Sandusky I would not only walk by and not say or report anything but I would probably testify in open court that he attacked them first. That is the wrong side to be on b/c rules should apply to everyone and the past crimes of a person doesn’t mean they waive away their present “rights” I just hope there are more mature people then me to weigh in on that and do the right thing. But for me and with Donald Sterling I say turn him over to the mob and let them do as they wish.

Like he said, Sterling deserves what he gets, but not for this incident. If the NBA needed to make this move to remove a classless bigot, it should have referred to the continued problems and issues, rather than giving into public pressure, player outcry, and the media.

 Adam Silver made the wrong decision simply because it wasn’t his decision.  It was a decision that was made under pressure and one that paved the way the “slippery slope” that Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, alluded to, Drew Forrester opined about this morning  to and I wrote about yesterday.

Donald Sterling doesn’t deserve sympathy.  In fact, this isn’t even about Donald Sterling.  It’s about the preservation of the freedom to say and think the way you wish and desire–even if it’s something that most of us don’t support or condone.

If I don’t like people that wear blue shirts, it isn’t right to take my house away.  If I hate cat ladies and all they stand for, you can’t confiscate my dog.  And, if I don’t want to support gay marriage, or in contrast, I am married to a man, you can’t just up and take my business away and tell me I’m not allowed to be part of the rotary club.  It doesn’t work that way, not in 2014.  And, the decision to yank Sterling’s franchise from him is as irresponsible and antiquated-in-logic as saying that “minorities shouldn’t come to games.”

Should Donald Sterling have been punished?  I guess.  But more in the way of advertisers choosing not to affiliate with him, players refusing to sign in LA, and coaches–like Doc Rivers–refusing to work for him.  In fact, just last week, the NAACP planned on giving Sterling a Lifetime Achievement Award.  Interesting, considering that Sterling has been a racist and well-known bigot for a long, long time.

Organizations shunning a guy and pulling their ad dollars is more than appropriate.  Fining a guy over private comments and confiscating what purchased with his own money, that’s flat-out wrong because it opens the door to absolute power and dictation.

You might ask, does Sterling deserve to own a professional sports franchise? That’s really not up for debate, simply because if you have the money–as Snoop in The Wire would say–”deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it.”

Adam Silver was wrong.  The NBA just opened the door to dictating thought and opinion; and that’s a scary and dangerous path to go down.  Donald Sterling is a racist.  He doesn’t deserve sympathy.

He doesn’t deserve anything–and that includes having his franchise taken from him for this incident alone.

 

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The Donald Sterling Story isn’t a tragedy — Yet

Posted on 29 April 2014 by Tony Wisniewski

Forget what you’ve heard about the Donald Sterling story; the tragedy hasn’t happened yet.

Racism, bigotry and prejudice are merely a backdrop to what’s coming.

The remarks made by the embattled Clippers owner are disappointing, but hardly earth-shattering. At the end of the day, the world–friends of Sterling and everyone else–discovered that Sterling isn’t who they thought he was.

Much like the world didn’t think Tiger Woods was a sex addict, didn’t realize that Ben Roethlisberger was the type of guy who would assault a woman in a hotel room, and never would have imagined that Lance Armstrong was a stone-faced liar.

People, especially those we only think we know, often turn out differently than we expected. The Sterling-saga isn’t the first of its nature and it surely won’t be the last. Remember Don Imus and the “nappy-headed hos” comment? It was stupid. Just like what Sterling said–stupid.

And the only thing that can make this whole situation more stupid, and potentially tragic, would be to force the sale of the LA Clippers franchise.

Suggest the sale? Sure, that’s fine. Recommend the sale? Yea, that’s fair. Force the sale? Oh, wow, that’s a major, major problem.

By forcing the sale of a professional sports franchise, based on recordings recovered by gossip-based media outlets like TMZ would be irresponsible, stupid, and essentially tragic. Yes, tragic; it could be that bad.

If professional sports leagues–or any sort of organization–were to have the power to start dictating who must sell or forfeit their privately-owned businesses and teams, based on their words, thoughts, and beliefs, it would be a major infringement on our culture and a dangerous challenge to freedom.

Let’s backtrack for a minute. Did Donald Sterling threaten anyone? Did he specifically use words and slang terms that could incite retaliation and potential violence? Did he violate any labor laws?

The answer to all of these questions is “no, no, and no.”

Is Sterling–by most accounts–a racist? Yes. Is he half off-his-rocker? Sure seems like it. Did he offend the general public and essentially sever any and all relationships, both public and private? You betcha.

But he didn’t kill anyone. He didn’t put anyone in danger. He didn’t violate anyone’s personal rights. He made ignorant statements that exposed a narrow-minded view of the world. If ignorance is the new Litmus Test for whether or not an owner should have to forfeit his business or his team, than we’re in incredibly troubling times.

Racism exists in society and so does stupidity. Neither are tragic, they’re merely unfortunate and intolerable to the point of disassociation. But neither are grounds for forfeiture of rights or businesses.

If this is the new precedent, it paves the way for power to drastically fall into the wrong hands. It promotes a lack of diverse thinking and opinion among members of society–even though, in this case, we’re dealing with an opinion and view that the majority of us don’t appreciate and aren’t willing to tolerate. That’s the beauty of freedom, no one truly has to believe or support anything he or she doesn’t want to.

If Donald Sterling wants to be a racist, what’s the issue with that, other than the fact that you and I don’t choose to agree with him?

There’s an easy solution to all of this. Simply don’t tolerate it. Don’t go to Clippers’ games. Don’t buy jerseys. Write letters to advertisers and persuade them to take a stand against Donald Sterling and drop their marketing deals. That’s all part of free speech and the beauty of having your own opinion and the ability to exercise what you believe and think to be right.

There’s a major difference in putting pressure on someone to do something and forcing their hand legally.

The only thing that would trump Donald Sterling’s stupidity and ignorance would be the decision to force him to give up his franchise based solely on the things he said in a private conversation. That’s when this whole situation goes beyond being stupid.

That’s when it shifts toward tragedy.

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In Ozzie we Trust, in #WNSTSweet16 we recognize no one is perfect

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In Ozzie we Trust, in #WNSTSweet16 we recognize no one is perfect

Posted on 29 April 2014 by Glenn Clark

The list belongs to me this week. Not all of our lists are going to be pleasant. Some are going to be like this one. Here’s the list preview if you missed it.

Our list this week is the #WNSTSweet16 worst Draft picks in Baltimore Ravens history. Here’s what I’ve got. It’s brought to you by Jerry’s Automotive (Jerry’s Chevrolet and Jerry’s Toyota Scion).

16. Michael Oher

I had a bunch of folks suggest I include him. I really didn’t want to but ultimately decided I could justify it. The 23rd pick overall in 2009 has had a much more legitimate career already than most of the others on this list and was a starter for a Super Bowl championship team. But the Ravens traded up in ’09 to find their left tackle of the future and Oher was just never that guy. The former Ole Miss standout will have further opportunity to justify being worthy of his spot as his career continues in Tennessee, but with the door closed in Baltimore his career just did not make him worthy of the pick.

(Continued on next page…)

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Are you a real Baltimore sports fan? The Quiz-Answer Edition

Posted on 29 April 2014 by Tony Wisniewski

Spoiler alert.

If you haven’t taken the quiz and jogged your Baltimore Sports Fan memory, go here now.

If you’re ready for the answers, here they come.

Before jumping into the answers, though, shout out to Will from Parkton, Paul from Middle River, and Justin from Dundalk for doing considerably well on the quiz.  Second shout out to Teddy from Dundalk, Stephie from Owings Mills, and Brian from Abingdon for essentially admitting defeat.

On a side note, when I gave the quiz to my wife, she was less-than-thrilled by the difficulty and considerably more aggravated by my reaction to her less-than-thrill-ed-ness; it ruined our entire weekend.

But, if you ask me, she should know these things.  Like I told her, at least I didn’t make her pass the prenuptial Baltimore Colts Exam that was featured in the classic Baltimore-based flick, Diner.

Here are the answers to the Baltimore Sports Quiz–straight from Tony, the Baltimore Sports Wiz…

#1  In what year did the St. Louis Browns move to Baltimore?

1954

#2  What was Rex Barney’s famous tag-line?

“Thank youuuuuuu”

#3  What is the significance of Cubs GM Theo Epstein to Baltimore?

He was a summer intern with the Orioles, starting in 1992.

#4  Who was the first player to enter the Ravens’ Ring of Honor?

Earnest Byner (nice guy, but years later, it’s clear that he probably doesn’t belong there)

#5  Baltimore had three minor league hockey teams, what were their names?

Clippers, Skipjacks, Bandits.

#6  Baltimore’s USFL team’s nickname was?

Stars.

#7  Which player won a Grey Cup with the Stallions and a Super Bowl with the Ravens?

O.J. Brigance.

#8  Who was the starting quarterback for the Baltimore Stallions during their Grey Cup victory?

Tracey Ham.

#9  Who owned the Baltimore Stallions?

Jim Speros.

#10  Former Maryland Terps Basketball Coach, Bob Wade, has what significance to Baltimore?

Prior to UM, he coached at Dunbar.

#11  Which former Orioles’ pitching prospect had vanity license plates that read “24KTARM”?

Matt Riley (what a waste of talent).

#12  Which Orioles’ third baseman won Sporting News’ AL Rookie of the Year Honors in 1989?

Craig Worthington.

#13  Cal Ripken Sr. wore which jersey number as a coach for the Orioles?

7.

#14  Which two former Orioles make up two of only four members in MLB history to record more than 3,000 hits and 500 home runs?

Eddie Murray and Rafael Palmeiro (joining Hank Aaron and Willie Mays).  Incredible that Raffy will likely never make it to Cooperstown. 

#15  Which movie was filmed at Camden Yards?

Major League II.

#16  Which movie was filmed at Ravens Stadium?

The Replacements.

#17  Which owner played a major role in Baltimore not being awarded an expansion team over Jacksonville and Carolina?

Redskins owner, Jack Kent Cooke.

#18  Who was the owner of the fashion store Merry-Go-Round, who also played a key role in the  ”Give Baltimore the Ball” campaign?

Boogie Weinglass–who was actually portrayed in the aforementioned Diner by Mickey Rourke.

#19  Which receiver holds the Ravens’ single-season record of 14 touchdown receptions?

Michael “He-He” Jackson.

#20  Who was “Zeus”?

The late Orlando Brown.

#21  Who was “Full Pack”?

Oriole closer, Don Stanhouse earned the name because it was rumored that Earl Weaver would smoke a full-pack of cigarettes as Stanhouse struggled to effectively close-out games without a good amount of drama in the ninth inning.

#22  Which Orioles’ favorite was known for eating Froot Loops before games?

Birds’ catcher, Mickey Tettleton.

#23  In the 1989 season, in the fateful series in Toronto to finish the season, what strange injury caused Pete Harnish to miss his scheduled start?

Walking back to the team hotel, he stepped on a nail.

#24  Which former Oklahoma Sooners basketball star was once thought to be the heir apparent to Cal Ripken?

Ryan Minor.

#25  Who was “Iron Hands”?

The late and legendary Ernie Tyler, who sat to the left of the on-deck circle and handed new mud-rubbed baseballs to the umpire during the games at Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards, every day from 1960 to 2007.

#26  Who returned the blocked Al Del Greco field goal for a touchdown in Tennessee, paving the way for the Ravens to move on to the AFC Championship in January 2001?

Defensive tackle Keith Washington blocked it, safety Anthony Mitchell returned it 90-yards to pay-dirt.

#27  Which Ravens’ defensive back fueled much of the Steelers-Ravens rivalry by stepping on Plaxico Burress’ head during a scuffle?

James Trapp.

#28  What is significant about the Esskay sign in right field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards?

It starts blinking when it’s hit by a ball.

#29  Who is Len Burrier?

The “Big Wheel.”  Essentially the Colts and Stallions version of fan-mascot “Wild Bill” Hagy.

#30  Which long-time NFL punter went to Towson University?

Sean Landeta.

#31  Which Dunbar standout played alongside of Joe Smith, Exree Hipp, Johnny Rhodes and Duane Simpkins?

Keith Booth.

#32  What number did Deion Sanders wear as a member of the Ravens, and why?

37.  It was his age at the time.  And, by-and-large, he played like it.

#33  What is it customary to hold up as visiting opponents’ lineups are being announced at the University of Maryland basketball games?

Newspapers.

#34  Which former O’s pitcher lost 21 games in 1954, and went on to throw the only perfect game in World Series history two years later as a member of the New York Yankees?

Don “Gooneybird” Larsen.

#35  Why would a true Baltimore fan despise the number that precedes this question?

Number 35 was worn by Mike Mussina, who defected to the Bronx Bombers in 2001.  In his defense, had owner Peter Angelos ponied-up and matched the money that the Yankees were offering, Mussina would have likely never left Baltimore.  

 

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This week’s #WNSTSweet16 topic is the absolute “worst”

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This week’s #WNSTSweet16 topic is the absolute “worst”

Posted on 28 April 2014 by Glenn Clark

It’s year 16 for us here at WNST and we’re doing everything in our power to make it sweet.

We’ve been thrilled to be your local sports media leader for roughly a decade and a half and we look forward to many more years of the same.

We’re making our 16th year by looking over some of the “water cooler” topics that have been debated on the airwaves at WNST, right here at WNST.net and via social media @WNST on Twitter and WNST.net on Facebook. We’re then giving definition to those topics with our “#WNSTSweet16″ lists.

In fact, we’ve already made it 16 lists into the year. What’s that? You only remember 13 of them by heart? I understand, that’s why I have this refresher here to help you.

(The “Sweet 16″ is driven by our friends at Jerry’s Automotive-Jerry’s Chevrolet & Jerry’s Toyota Scion!)

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

There are a few major sporting events coming up in March that we’ll be reflecting here in the #WNSTSweet16, starting with the NFL Draft. That will be our focus for the next two weeks of the #WNSTSweet16 in fact.

The Baltimore Ravens have had a remarkable history in the NFL Draft, starting with drafting two Hall of Famers (Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis) with their first ever selections in franchise history back in 1996. In fact, the Ravens’ amazing history of selecting players has lead to a mantra of “In Ozzie (Newsome) we trust” in Charm City.

But not everything the Ravens have done in the Draft has always been flawless.

This week’s topic reflects the misses in the nearly two decades of Ravens history. The list is the #WNSTSweet16 “Worst Draft Picks in Ravens history”.

#1 on the list appears to be locked up quicker than you can say “that quarterback from California…you know, the one that dated Tara Reid”.

It’s not really the top of the list that I’m worried about. The top handful of “busts” will roll of your tongue fairly quickly-including Travis Taylor, Mark Clayton and obviously Sergio Kindle. It’s getting to sixteen that seems to be the greater task for me. Every team misses on picks in mid-to-late rounds of the NFL Draft-it’s hard to consider that group among the worst. So have there been sixteen really bad picks in Ravens Draft history?

In order to get there, I may need to re-consider how I gauge “worst”. There have certainly been picks made early in the NFL Draft by the team that have panned out as starters and/or contributors but who perhaps have not panned out to quite be the star players that perhaps the organization would have hoped they were going to become when they selected them so early in the Draft. A certainly tackle who now plays for the Tennessee Titans comes to mind in this group.

Now who else?

I want your suggestions. Leave them here in the comments or email me via 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.

The Draft conjures mostly positive memories in the minds of Baltimore Ravens fans-but not exclusively. Help us remember those picks that didn’t quite go as well as hoped. Make your voice heard!

-G

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Pineda’s Pine Tar Gaff, Phelps’ Return, and in other news…

Posted on 25 April 2014 by Tony Wisniewski

  • Yankees pitcher, Michael “Sticky Fingers” Pineda,” feels sad” for getting caught playing with his pine tar smothered neck in between pitches.

In other news…When talking to reporters, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Pineda wasn’t “trying to cheat.” He then could be heard phoning in a bulk order of “three cases of Vaseline, two rolls of sandpaper, and a year-supply of rubber cork.”

  •  Baltimore-native, Michael “Human Fish” Phelps, made a dramatic return to swimming yesterday, losing to fellow Olympian Ryan Lochte.

In other news…98% percent of American sports fans recently learned that competitive swimming actually took place outside of the Olympics.

  •  The Baltimore Ravens re-signed ex-Terps receiver LaQuan Williams yesterday, a year removed from releasing him with an injury settlement.

In other news…Terps’ diehards brace for another looming heartbreak when the Ravens realize they can only keep 53-players on the roster.

  •  Former Oriole, and former manslaughter suspect, Alfredo Simon is accused of raping a woman last spring in DC.

In other news…Reds pitcher Alfredo Simon makes a surprise visit to Pittsburgh to consult with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (#neverforget #scumbag)

  •  Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin will drive the pace card for tomorrow’s Richmond NASCAR race.

In other news…public officials and historians brace for tomorrow’s monumental event in Richmond where it’s reported that for the first time ever, an African American will attend a NASCAR event.

 

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Michael Phelps’ return makes swimming relevant again

Posted on 25 April 2014 by johngallo

Sports needed this.

Swimming needed this.

And of course, Baltimore needed this.

Michael Phelps is back, which means swimming is back and even more importantly, it means one of the most underappreciated sports rivalries is back: Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte.

You can’t have a sport without a rivalry, which makes fans gravitate to the competition, whether it’s on land or water.

The Ravens have the Steelers, and the Orioles have the Red Sox. But those are teams and Phelps is a 28-year-old man, well, more like a demigod considering what he does in the pool isn’t human.

Expect the national media, including Sports illustrated, to follow Michael Phelps' every move after coming out of retirement. (Courtesy of Michael Phelps' Facebook page)

How many great athlete vs. athlete rivalries are there right now? LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant? Nope. Talk to me when Durant beats James in the Finals. Baseball? Who?

What about boxing? The Baby Boomer generation grew up with Muhammad Ali, who never stopped throwing jabs – verbally or physically – at opponents. Now, we have Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao talking about fighting each other instead of actually, well, you know, getting in the ring and proving who’s the man.

I miss the days when Magic Johnson and Larry Bird went at each other. I long for the time when Michael Jordan had to learn to fail against the Pistons before conquering them. And how about the Knicks and Heat? I still crack a smile when I see footage of Knicks Coach Jeff Van Gundy clinching to Alonzo Mourning’s leg like a toddler during the 1998 playoffs.

Every decade can be defined by its rivalries. The 70s had the Steelers and Cowboys and even NASCAR was in the mix, with Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough trading punches next to the track at the 1979 Daytona 500. Awesome.

The 80s had had Martina Navratilova against Chris Evert and the Edmonton Oilers against everyone else. The 90s had Pate Sampras and Andre Agassi.

Sports forces us pick sides. You can’t like the Terps and Duke, just as you can’t cheer for the Yankees and Red Sox. You either cheer for Tiger Woods or the rest of the field, with the same applying to NASCAR drivers.

That’s why swimming needs Phelps back in the pool. Lochte, a native New Yorker, simply isn’t polarizing enough, or good enough, to carry swimming the way Mark Spitz did decades ago. How many professional swimming races did you watch after Phelps called it quits? That’s what I thought.

But Phelps says he’s coming back and immediately, swimming’s relevant again.

How else can you explain that all sessions of the three-day Arena Grand Prix at the Skyline Aquatic Center in Arizona were sold out. A pair of $40 all-session tickets was being sold for more than six times that on the Internet. Phelps should get a cut.

All of the sudden, swimming was in a news cycle dominated by the NHL and NBA playoffs and the release of the NFL schedule. On SportsCenter, Phelps received more coverage than the Orioles.

And for good reason. The only way Phelps, an avid Ravens and Orioles fan, could be any more “Baltimore” is if you covered him in Old Bay. When Phelps is at the starting block, our city is there with him. By having Phelps, we could go to anywhere and say our guy is better than your guy. Phelps isn’t one of those athletes who lives here during the season and spends the offseason in Miami.

Phelps lives in Canton.

Even Lochte, an 11-time Olympic medalist, acknowledges swimming is much better with Phelps in the pool than on the golf course.

“With what he’s done for the sport of swimming and him leaving kind of broke my heart a little because I love getting on those blocks and racing him,” Lochte told reporters after his winning time of 51.93 seconds was two-tenths of a second faster than Phelps (52.13) in the 100-meter butterly on Thursday night in Arizona. “Now that he’s back, I’ve got a big ol’ smile on my face.”

And so does everyone else. We get another chapter in the Phelps-Lochte saga, with the two biggest bullies on the block, lining up at that the starting block, wanting nothing more than to touch the wall before the other guy.

Phelps, a Rodgers Forge native, has won a world record 22 Olympic medals, including 18 gold medals that probably are worth more than Dundalk.

The guy’s super human. Who else can go from retiring after the 2012 London Games and, with minimal training, jump and beat Lochte – and everyone else – by swimming the fastest qualifying time in the 100-meter butterfly in 52.84 seconds?

“Him and I can’t stand losing to one another,” Phelps told reporters. “We both want to beat each other as many times as we can. That’s the competitiveness we both have. When we do get in the water, we’re going to do everything we can to get our hand on the wall before [the other] in every single race. And it’s the same for him. We’ll fight to the end, in any stroke, in any event we swim.”

Consider: Phelps is a three-time Olympic champion and current world record-holder in the 100-meter butterfly and his time on Thursday night tied for the fourth fastest in the world this year.

“It’s one meet; it’s one race,” Phelps told reporters after the final. “It’s a long way whether I decide to continue or not. This was awesome. I’m really excited about how things went. I do know what I need to do if I want to continue and swim faster.”

How much faster would his time have been he wasn’t overweight or hadn’t spent the past 18 months on the golf course, where he claimed to have struck 20,000 balls in the past six months?

“I’m doing this for me,” Phelps said at a press conference before the competition. “I’m doing this because I enjoy being in the pool and I enjoy the sport of swimming. I am looking forward to wherever this road takes me.”

Michael, we all know where this road is leading: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the 2016 Olympics.

Follow me on Twitter @JonGallo1

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Series Synopsis: Royals come to Baltimore looking to end skid

Posted on 25 April 2014 by Tony Wisniewski

The Royals are one of those teams.

On the cusp of being “good,” the Kansas City faithful has hung onto the idea that likes of Alex Gordon, Mike Moustakas, and Eric Hosmer would lead a generally irrelevant franchise back to a level of respectability it enjoyed during the 1980s and the days of George Brett.

Tonight, a (10-11) Kansas City team rolls into Baltimore looking for some upward momentum after losing four of its last five.

What you need to know about The Royals:

2014 Record:  10-11, last place in AL Central, two games back of first.

2013 Record:  86-76, Third place in AL Central.

Managed by:  Ned Yost.

Streak:  After winning six straight, the Royals have dropped four of five.

Turning Point: Royals’ DH Billy Butler has struggled mightily through 21 games, batting below the Mendoza Line (sub-.200).  If he can find a way to get his bat going, along with the rest of the solid KC lineup,  it could spell trouble for an O’s rotation that has struggled to minimize pitch-counts and efficiency.

Pitching Matchup of the Series:  Ubaldo Jimenez takes the bump for the fifth time as an Orioles’ starter.  He’ll be paired with Royals’ flame-throwing sensation Yordano Ventura.  Jimenez (0-3) is still looking for his first win this season, while Ventura, after earning his first Big League win two starts ago, is looking to rebound from a rocky outing last weekend.  This matchup will set the tone for the series, and if Ventura has his command working, Jimenez could find himself in another spot where he needs to work into the late innings and be much better than he’s been thus far.

Prediction:  The O’s bats came alive in Toronto, and with a healthy lineup for this weekend series at Camden Yards, there’s no reason to think the Birds can’t take two-of-three.

 

 

 

 

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Baltimore Sports Quiz — for real Baltimore sports fans

Posted on 24 April 2014 by Tony Wisniewski

You can fake a lot of things.

People can have thousands of Facebook friends and fake popularity.  Men can wear a power tie and fake success.  Women can fake orgasms.

It’s just the way of the world.

But you can’t fake sports.  In fact, it might be the one true thing you can’t fake.  And if you want to know what “faking” sounds like while it’s happening, tune in and listen to a Cast-off New York Cop and the Smartest Guy in an Empty Bathroom bumble through their idea of local sports talk every morning.

Last night, at Buffalo Wild Wings in Owings Mills, as part of the Baltimore Sports Media Superstar Competition, WNST proved why it’s the only sports media outlet who has the right to call itself “real” Baltimore sports talk.

The quiz that Nestor and the crew drummed up was the type of stuff that would make even the most seasoned historians, like Bob in Parkville, shudder before going into one of his classic historic tirades.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that most of the sports media in this town wouldn’t come near any sort of respectable score on the WNST quiz.

I’ve taken a lot of local sports quizzes from outlets like The Sun–and I’ve aced them all without so much as breaking a sweat.  WNST’s was the toughest I’ve ever seen and I loved every minute of it.  It was exactly what you’d expect from real sports people.  The ones who don’t fake it.

In order to join in the festivities, I’m tossing out a quiz of my own quiz this evening.  If you can pass this with an “A,” you can call yourself a Baltimore Sports Fan.  If you struggle, well, I suggest you rectify your sins by taking a deep-dive into the past works of Steadman, Rosenthal, Eisenberg, McMullen, Aparicio, and Vecsey.  Ok–just kidding on the Vecsey thing; those of you who lived through and endured that horror will understand the sarcasm.

 

Here’s the Wiz Quiz–straight off the top of my head…

#1  In what year did the St. Louis Browns move to Baltimore?

#2  What was Rex Barney’s famous tag-line?

#3  What is the significance of Cubs GM Theo Epstein to Baltimore?

#4  Who was the first player to enter the Ravens’ Ring of Honor?

#5  Baltimore had three minor league hockey teams, what were their names?

#6  Baltimore’s USFL team’s nickname was?

#7  Which player won a Grey Cup with the Stallions and a Super Bowl with the Ravens?

#8  Who was the starting quarterback for the Baltimore Stallions during their Grey Cup victory?

#9  Who owned the Baltimore Stallions?

#10  Former Maryland Terps Basketball Coach, Bob Wade, has what significance to Baltimore?

#11  Which former Orioles’ pitching prospect had vanity license plates that read “24KTARM”?

#12  Which Orioles’ third baseman won Sporting News’ AL Rookie of the Year Honors in 1989?

#13  Cal Ripken Sr. wore which jersey number as a coach for the Orioles?

#14  Which two former Orioles make up two of only four members in MLB history to record more than 3,000 hits and 500 home runs?

#15  Which movie was filmed at Camden Yards?

#16  Which movie was filmed at Ravens Stadium?

#17  Which owner played a major role in Baltimore not being awarded an expansion team over Jacksonville and Carolina?

#18  Who was the owner of the fashion store Merry-Go-Round, who also played a key role in the  ”Give Baltimore the Ball” campaign?

#19  Which receiver holds the Ravens’ single-season record of 14 touchdown receptions?

#20  Who was “Zeus”?

#21  Who was “Full Pack”?

#22  Which Orioles’ favorite was known for eating Froot Loops before games?

#23  In the 1989 season, in the fateful series in Toronto to finish the season, what strange injury caused Pete Harnish to miss his scheduled start?

#24  Which former Oklahoma Sooners basketball star was once thought to be the heir apparent to Cal Ripken?

#25  Who was “Iron Hands”?

#26  Who returned the blocked Al Del Greco field goal for a touchdown in Tennessee, paving the way for the Ravens to move on to the AFC Championship in January 2001?

#27  Which Ravens’ defensive back fueled much of the Steelers-Ravens rivalry by stepping on Plaxico Burress’ head during a scuffle?

#28  What is significant about the Esskay sign in right field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards?

#29  Who is Len Burrier?

#30  Which long-time NFL punter went to Towson University?

#31  Which Dunbar standout played alongside of Joe Smith, Exree Hipp, Johnny Rhodes and Duane Simpkins?

#32  What number did Deion Sanders wear as a member of the Ravens, and why?

#33  What is it customary to hold up as visiting opponents’ lineups are being announced at the University of Maryland basketball games?

#34  Which former O’s pitcher lost 21 games in 1954, and went on to throw the only perfect game in World Series history two years later as a member of the New York Yankees?

#35  Why would a true Baltimore fan despise the number that precedes this question?

 

Do you know this stuff without Googling?  Have a trivia question for me?  Shoot a message or leave a comment on how you did.

Click here for the answers.

 

 

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How to be a Baltimore Sports Fan: Issue One

Posted on 23 April 2014 by Tony Wisniewski

Baltimore sports fans are irrational, unrealistic, unforgiving, and hard-to-fool.  Baltimore sports fans are unlike any other sports fans, because they’re–as Toyota used to say–”simply the best.”

Every Wednesday, over the next 40-years or so, I’m going to author a semi-regular feature entitled “How to be a Baltimore Sports Fan.”  The idea behind this stems back to a conversation I had with some college students during my time as an English professor at a local community college.

The conversation went something like this:

Me:  ”This season might be another ‘Why Not’ year.”

Student #1:  ”Why not what?”

Me:  The “Why Not” season in 1989; the year the O’s went from worst to ‘almost’ first.

Student #2:  I was born in 1992.

Me:  Don’t you know any Baltimore history?

Student #3:  Ain’t this English class?

Me:  It is.  But you’re clearly struggling with speaking the Queen’s language–and you’re from Baltimore.

Student #3:  How you know dat?

Me:  I can tell by your accent.  I’m from Dundalk.  I could pick out a Bal-murr accent halfway around the world in a room full of people screaming Chinese expletives.

Alas, it’s this conversation that has sparked this column.  Some people–local youth, sheltered stepchildren, non-local-Ivy-Leaguers-of-the-”local media”–need some help on understanding what it means to be a Baltimore sports fan.

Without further ado.

How to be a Baltimore Sports Fan…

#1 Be Irrational: Fire Dave Wallace and release the entire starting rotation.

Miguel Gonzalez went five-and-two-thirds last night.  Wei Yin Chen went five the night before.  Ubaldo Jimenez hurled five-and-a-third on Sunday.  All three pitchers topped the 100 pitch mark.  It’s impossible, yes impossible, to win more than you lose when your starting rotation consistently throws a full-game worth of pitches at the half-way point in the game.

Show me a team who has a rotation that consistently gives way in the 6th and I’ll show you a sub-.500 record.

Perhaps we’re starting to see why Dave Wallace has been away from the Major Leagues since 2007.  Even though he’s still been around baseball, you have to wonder if his tactics and his style are working, some seven years later.

Think about it, what were you doing seven years ago?  Me, I was finishing college and chasing girls around Canton and Fed Hill.  If my wife ditched me tomorrow and I jumped right back into the bar scene, I’d be as effective as water-logged firewood.

 

#2 Be Unrealistic: The Wizards are 2-0 in the NBA Playoffs, build an arena and give Baltimore the ball!

The Wizards look legit.

Down in the fourth-quarter of both games in Chicago, the Wiz–coincidentally, that’s my name too–have come out on top and carry a 2-0 series lead back to the Mid-Atlantic region–Baltimore sports fans refuse to use the word that describes the area in which Congress meets to discuss their vacation plans and fantasy football teams.

All this Wizards’ success means that Baltimore should definitely build a new arena and focus on attracting an NBA team.

 

#3 Be Unforgiving:  Jonathan Schoop doesn’t belong in the Big Leagues.

He can hit.  He’s got some talent.  But he doesn’t understand the game of baseball and desperately needs to return to a slower-pace at Norfolk.

 

#4 Be Hard-To-Fool:  The Ravens aren’t looking for character guys, they’re looking for cheap talent.

Like it or not, the Baltimore Ravens have shifted their focus.  There was a time when the organization steered clear of troubled players–think of all the receivers they passed on during a time when the roster was devoid of anyone with play-making ability.  Brandon Marshall was a head-case, Chad Ochocinco-Martinez-Wong-Abdullah-Kazamakos-Johnson-Smith was a jerk, and so on.

If the flirtation with Rolando McClain proved anything, it’s that the Ravens have given in when it comes to looking past a players’ off-the-field issues or personal flaws.

Maybe it’s just the state of the NFL and society, but if you told me that this organization would have allowed itself to be yo-yoed around and attached to the negative press that Rolando McClain created, I’d have bet you’d first see Peter Angelos doing the Wild Bill O-R-I-O-L-E-S cheer atop the Orioles’ dugout in game seven of the World Series.

 

#5 Be The Best:  Ubaldo Jimenez needs some love.

This Friday night, in Baltimore, Jimenez will make his fifth start as an Oriole.  It’ll come against a spry and aggressive Kansas City lineup.  He’s ranged from horrendous to decent thus far.  If you’re at the Yard on Friday night, get behind Baltimore’s $50Million man.  Give him some love.

But if he gets chased after giving up more than five runs in less than five innings, boo him like he’s the lovechild of Billy Cundiff and Mark Teixeira

 

 

 

 

 

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