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Ravens announce 2019 preseason slate of games

Posted on 09 April 2019 by Luke Jones

After racking up plenty of travel miles during last year’s preseason, the Ravens will enjoy staying closer to home this summer.

John Harbaugh’s team will open its 24th preseason in Baltimore with back-to-back home games against Jacksonville (Aug. 8) and Green Bay (Aug. 15) before not even needing to get on a plane for exhibition road tilts against Philadelphia and Washington. It’s quite a contrast from a 2018 preseason that included longer trips to Canton, Ohio for the Hall of Fame Game, Indianapolis, and Miami. Each of the four preseason games will be played on Thursday nights with kickoff times still to be determined.

The Ravens also confirmed they will conduct joined practices with the Jaguars in Owings Mills and the Eagles in Philadelphia before their respective preseason meetings. Harbaugh indicated at the league meetings in Phoenix last month that these joint sessions were likely to take place after the Ravens conducted workouts with the Los Angeles Rams and the Colts last summer. The Ravens practiced with San Francisco in 2014 and the Eagles in 2015 before taking a two-year hiatus from working out with other teams.

“I just think it gives you a chance to see some different schemes as much as anything and some different players,” Harbaugh said. “You have an opportunity for your guys to go against guys that they haven’t gone [against] in training camp. The thing I think we’re starting to learn over the years is how to practice against other teams — what the style is, what the tempos are, how to organize the practices to get the most out of them.

“Last year went really well both with the Rams and Colts. Sean [McVay] was great; Frank [Reich] was great. I think if the two coaches are aligned with what you’re trying to get out of it, it seems like it’s been really good for us. Hopefully, we can make it work again.”

This summer will mark the first time the Ravens have played the Packers in the preseason since 1996 at Memorial Stadium. Baltimore will take on the Redskins in the preseason for the third consecutive year.

Ravens season-ticket holders already disenchanted about the cost and quality of preseason games will be pleased to see the particularly-forgettable exhibition finale taking place on the road for the 10th time in the last 11 years.

The Ravens are 60-32 in their preseason history — including a 13-0 record over the last three years — and own a 33-12 preseason mark under Harbaugh.

2019 Ravens preseason schedule
Week 1: Thursday, Aug. 8 – vs. Jacksonville
Week 2: Thursday, Aug. 15 – vs. Green Bay
Week 3: Thursday, Aug. 22 – at Philadelphia
Week 4: Thursday, Aug. 29 – at Washington

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Former Ravens defensive tackle Ngata announces retirement

Posted on 18 March 2019 by Luke Jones

A week after free-agent departure Terrell Suggs said farewell to Baltimore after 16 years, another former Ravens defensive great is calling it a career.

Five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata announced his retirement via Instagram by posting a video of himself standing at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. The 35-year-old spent nine of his 13 NFL seasons with Baltimore and was a member of the Super Bowl XLVII champions. After being traded to Detroit in 2014, Ngata played three years with the Lions and spent last season with Philadelphia, appearing in 13 games and making nine starts.

Selected with the 12th overall pick of the 2006 draft from the University of Oregon, the 6-foot-4, 340-pound defensive tackle has a strong claim as the fourth-best defensive player in Ravens history behind Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and Suggs, who is also likely to wind up in Canton. Ngata not only served as the immovable anchor of strong run defenses for nearly a decade, but his 25 1/2 sacks with the Ravens reflected his ability to pressure the quarterback, a trait that distinguished him from other notable defensive tackles in team history.

Only five Ravens — Lewis, Jonathan Ogden, Reed, Suggs, and Marshal Yanda — were named to more career Pro Bowls as Ngata was invited every year from 2009-13. He signed a five-year, $61 million contract in 2011 that made him one of the highest-paid athletes in the world over a 12-month period.

In addition to his superb individual play, Ngata helped bring some stability at an uncertain time for the organization. The second act and eventual storybook ending to Lewis’ Hall of Fame career with the Ravens may have never materialized had general manager Ozzie Newsome not drafted Ngata in 2006. In the months leading up to that draft, it was no secret that a disenchanted Lewis — who was also rumored to be seeking a new contract — had requested to be traded and voiced his displeasure about the Ravens lacking a beefy defensive tackle to keep blockers away from him. Ngata became an immediate impact starter for a defense that led the NFL in total yards allowed and total points allowed and set team records for interceptions (28) and sacks (60), and the Ravens finished a franchise-best 13-3 in the regular season with Lewis’ spirits and play improving from the previous year.

A slam-dunk choice for the Ravens’ Ring of Honor sooner than later, Ngata finishes his NFL career having played in 180 games and collected 515 tackles, 32 1/2 sacks, seven forced fumbles, and five interceptions.

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Chapter 8: Just a regular Joe

Posted on 14 February 2019 by Nestor Aparicio

 

“That’s just Joe being Joe! Joe is always gonna be Joe.”

– Ray Lewis (Nov. 2012)

 

 

 

 

THE TALLEST BUILDINGS IN THE skyline over downtown Philadelphia are vividly clear over the gridiron at Audubon High School. Not too far from this small town in New Jersey in the distance you can see the Comcast Center and One Liberty Place tower over Center City in the City of Brotherly Love. The white cement structure that serves as bleachers behind a tiny brick school façade can almost be confused for something from a movie set in 1950s Americana.

It was a field of dreams for Joe Flacco, but not necessarily a field of victories. Hop on the internet and take a look at the picture of his wife snapping him a bottle of champagne as if it were a football as part of their wedding album. She’s the center. His groomsmen are the linemen. Then you will understand this field and this scene. This is the place where Joe Flacco led the Audubon Green Wave to a 4-6 finish in his 2002 senior football season.

“We stunk,” says Flacco of his tiny high school with less than 100 in each graduating class. “It was a small school, and we were never really good, but we loved playing here. Football here was always fun because it was always with your friends and the kids you grew up with from the neighborhood.”

To understand and to fully appreciate Joe Flacco, you need to visit Audubon, New Jersey and see his view of the world as a Super Bowl MVP and Baltimore sports hero, where for months after the win storefronts still had homemade posters and window stickers celebrating their unlikely hometown champion.

“Where I live and where I’m from it’s right in the middle of the middle of all hardcore Philly sports fans,” Flacco said. “Philadelphia is in Pennsylvania, but the Jersey side is the heart of the fan base for all of the teams. It’s all Eagles, Phillies, Flyers, and Sixers here. It’s always been like that, and it’ll always be like that. I’ve been around crazy, passionate, vocal fans all my life.”

These Philadelphia natives are the same fans who are famous for once booing Santa Claus. Toughness kinda came with the turf for Joe Flacco.

His hometown doesn’t look quite like a scene from Rocky, like the west side of the Delaware River or Highlandtown in Baltimore with traditional East Coast row homes and narrow, one-way streets. It’s more like something from a John Mellencamp song, like “Small Town” or “Pink Houses.” It’s more Main Street USA with the very apparent stability of blue-collar family life and small ranch-style homes separated by modest yards, and picket fences. If it were Baltimore, it’d be Parkville or Catonsville – just closer to downtown.

Audubon High School is exactly six miles from the front gates of Lincoln Financial Field, where Flacco had his own rocky homecoming vs. the Eagles in a Ravens 24-23 loss in Week 2 of the 2012 season, his only chance in five years as Baltimore Ravens quarterback to play a regular season game just a long jog from his hometown.

In Audubon, Flacco is, well, just a regular Joe for the most part.

“It’s almost like a different life because I grew up around here. I’ve always been around here, and I hope it stays like this,” he said. “It’s my home. It’s where I want to be, close to my family. All of my family is here.”

Flacco’s ascension to Super Bowl MVP and World Champion reads straight from the library of the Horatio Alger catalog.

Son of a mortgage banker Steve Flacco and his wife, Karen, who were high school sweethearts, Joe is the oldest of six children – five boys and a girl. Flacco played three sports and loved all of them as long as he can remember. Despite his dad being just 5-foot-10, Joe went through a surprising and dramatic growth spurt in high school, sprouting more than six inches. His unusually strong arm caught the eye of a handful of college

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Twelve Ravens thoughts following Super Bowl LIII

Posted on 04 February 2019 by Luke Jones

With the 2018 season coming to an end with Super Bowl LIII, I’ve offered a dozen Ravens thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. While watching New England win its sixth championship in 18 years, my brother-in-law — a diehard Philadelphia fan — said he takes some satisfaction in the Eagles being part of the select group that’s bested the Patriots on the biggest stages. It’s a fair point in which Ravens fans can also share.

2. Some are calling the Patriots’ defensive performance the best in Super Bowl history. The argument has merit considering the Rams averaged 32.9 points per game, but the 2000 Ravens surrendered 2.6 yards per play, forced five turnovers, and allowed the Giants to reach Baltimore territory twice. That darn kick return.

3. Sunday was a feather in the cap for those still believing the “defensive wins championships” mantra, but New England and Los Angeles were middle of the pack in most defensive categories this season. Defense remains important, but elite offense got those two teams to the Super Bowl.

4. Three former Ravens — Albert McClellan, Lawrence Guy, and John Simon — earned Super Bowl rings. McClellan is the most familiar to Baltimore fans, but Guy was a significant player for the New England defense, grading 10th among interior defenders by Pro Football Focus this year.

5. He was enshrined in Canton 20 years ago and many deserving candidates continue to wait their turn, but Ozzie Newsome seeing the third of his first nine first-round picks in Baltimore elected to the Hall of Fame reiterates how worthy he is of a second induction as a general manager.

6. It was a treat seeing Ed Reed included in the NFL’s outstanding 100th season commercial, but was anyone else hoping to see a Reed interception followed by an ill-advised lateral amid the chaos? That two-minute spot was the highlight in an underwhelming year for Super Bowl commercials.

7. James White didn’t do much for New England in the Super Bowl, but he’s the kind of receiving-minded running back the Ravens need to find for their run-first offense. Counting the playoffs, he caught 107 passes for 902 yards and seven touchdowns this season.

8. The resume of new passing coordinator David Culley doesn’t stand out, but hopefully he’ll bring some new ideas after working with Andy Reid in Kansas City. The hire certainly won’t satisfy those clamoring for someone from the collegiate ranks as Culley last coached in college before Lamar Jackson was born.

9. Eric DeCosta’s presser went as expected, but it’d be refreshing for the organization to express urgency about fixing its everlasting deficiency at wide receiver beyond continuing to say it’s “challenging” to draft and develop there. I’m also not buying free-agent receivers being eager to join this offense this offseason.

10. An Atlanta conversation with ESPN writer Ian O’Connor (4:36 mark) made me ponder how the last quarter-century might have differed had Art Modell not fired Bill Belichick in February 1996. Does Belichick ever wind up in New England? Does Newsome gain full control over personnel in Baltimore? Crazy.

11. Watching Tom Brady win his record sixth Super Bowl reminded me the newly-elected Hall of Famer Reed was just a month removed from winning a national championship at Miami when the 41-year-old Patriots quarterback won for the first time. This has to end at some point, right?

12. Former Raven Torrey Smith summed up my thoughts on Super Bowl LIII nicely. Even the biggest defense enthusiasts won’t convince me otherwise.

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Twelve Ravens thoughts on divisional-round weekend

Posted on 14 January 2019 by Luke Jones

With the NFL divisional round now in the books, I’ve offered a dozen Ravens-related thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The league’s top four scoring offenses advanced to the conference championship games with only one of those teams — New England — ranking in the top 10 in scoring defense. Remember that as Eric DeCosta weighs tough defensive roster decisions against the need to build an offense around 22-year-old quarterback Lamar Jackson.

2. Since the 2012 Ravens, no team playing in the wild-card round has made the Super Bowl. In fact, no team even playing a road playoff game since then has made it. Rest and home-field advantage remain way more important than being the hot upstart “nobody wants to see in January.”

3. After dominating Baltimore last week, the Chargers’ “quarter” defense had no answers for New England using big personnel and running right at them. The Patriots carving up Los Angeles didn’t make former offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg or the rest of the Baltimore offensive staff look any better.

4. Fans and even a player or two predictably suggested the Ravens would have put up a better fight against the Patriots. I’ll hear that with Baltimore’s defense, but Bill Belichick having an extra week to prepare for a rookie quarterback and a limited offense? That may not have been pretty.

5. New Orleans receiver Michael Thomas continued a remarkable 125-catch regular season with 12 receptions for 171 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s win over Philadelphia. He was selected five spots after Kamalei Correa in the 2016 draft. Sorry for ruining your day.

6. Watching the divisional round reiterated how badly the Ravens need more talented pass catchers who can gain yards after the catch. They ranked 27th in the NFL in yards after the catch this season after their wide receivers ranked 31st in that category in 2017.

7. I couldn’t help but wonder if Haloti Ngata was playing his final NFL game with Philadelphia on Sunday. His star faded a long time ago, but a 340-pound defensive tackle lasting 13 seasons is really impressive. The five-time Pro Bowl selection is an instant shoo-in for the Ring of Honor.

8. The Patriots are the last team Ravens fans want to see winning the Super Bowl, but Albert McClellan was one of the most respected players in the Baltimore locker room for a long time. His special-teams prowess has fit well in New England as he recovered a fumble on Sunday.

9. Jared Goff going to the NFC Championship two years after an awful rookie season should be all the evidence needed to see why it’s unfair to draw strong conclusions about a quarterback so quickly. I’m fascinated to see how Jackson looks after a full offseason to refine his passing ability.

10. Having already announced plans to retire, former Raven Benjamin Watson will accomplish a rare feat if the Saints win the Super Bowl. The 38-year-old spent most of his rookie season on injured reserve, but he won a Super Bowl with the Patriots that year. Those would be quite the bookends.

11. Speaking of long careers, Joe Flacco arrived in Baltimore eight years after Tom Brady in New England, had a memorable 11-year-run that included a Super Bowl MVP award and a couple playoff wins in Foxboro, and will depart while the 41-year-old is still standing. How is that possible?

12. This isn’t related to the Ravens, but the video below tells my favorite story of the weekend.

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Chapter 7: Finally, a 1983 World Series crown for Baltimore

Posted on 16 August 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally published as a prelude to “Free The Birds” walkout in Sept. 2006, this is Part 7 of a 19 Chapter Series on How Baseball and the Orioles berthed WNST.net. Follow @FreeTheBirds12 on Twiter for updated information regarding our April 5th events.)

Life was percolating along very nicely for me at the end of the summer of 1983.

There was that awesome trip to St. Louis, the Orioles were doing extremely well, the Phillies (again, I was an idiot!) were busting up Montreal in the NL East, I had a new girlfriend and my junior year at Dundalk High was coming.

Despite this “long distance” romance I was having with the Phillies, I was still VERY involved in going to Orioles games. I didn’t get to as many as I had before (again, once girls came along, it was all downhill for sports!), but I still did about 20 games on 33rd Street in 1983. And, like 1979, all in Sect. 10 General Admission seats, some with my Pop and some with my pals. All of those nights on those long, gold, aluminum benches, complete with the jar-rattling volume when banged on.

And the Phillies and Orioles, it would later be proved, were on a destiny’s collision course for the World Series in October.

But en route there was the AL Championship Series against the vaunted Chicago White Sox, led by Lamar Hoyt.

My Pop landed some right field seats for Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS at Memorial Stadium and we were all set. Right before the series my Dundalk buddy John Rafalides (at whose wedding I would later be the best man) gave me a buzz and told me his Dad, Pete, had an extra seat in Sect 39, Row 19 right behind home plate upstairs and asked if I wanted it since I was such an Orioles nut.

So, my Pop actually took my Mom to Game 2 and I went with Mr. Pete Rafalides, who was just a super cool guy. He was a realtor and connected with the Greek community. He loved talking sports with me and would always feed me cool munchies when I came to his home. And I mean he FED me! He always had the coolest snacks — Doritos, Dolly Madison cakes, Tastykakes, those chocolate malt balls, all sorts of great stuff!

I caught on quickly and made sure I got to go there every year for Thanksgiving! And later in life, when John became my roommate, I got the residual effect — the baklava, pastitsio, spanakopita, the grape leaves — from every Greek holiday!

But, for whatever reason, John’s dad liked me and off went we to Game 2 — me, Mr. Pete and two of his work friends. And we hung on every pitch! And Mike Boddicker pitched his ass off, a five-hit shuout over the White Sox, and we had a paaaaaah-tttaaaay in Sect. 39 that night. “Wild” Bill Hagy was going nuts over in Sect. 34. We had binoculars and I could see my folks over in right field having fun, too. That was just one of the greatest nights, even 23 years later.
I remember the smell of the air that night, the lights in the sky, how bright the field looked from up in that perch in Sect. 39. The steepness of the seats, the people crowded into that cozy ballpark and trees lined up in the outfield.

I can’t imagine my life without that night.

It was just a beautiful thing, that night. Life was perfect!

Two afternoons later Tito Landrum hit a 3-run homer off of Britt Burns that sent me and my 64-year old Mom onto Bank Street banging pots and pans with the shot heard ’round the beltway, a blast at Comiskey Park that sent the Orioles back into the World Series for the second time in four years and the sixth time in 17 years. I’ll say that again: the Orioles were in the World Series SIX times

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Chapter 6: Baseball punched me a ticket to see The World

Posted on 16 August 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally posted as a prelude to the “Free The Birds” walkout in Sept. 2006, this is Part 6 of a 19 Chapter Series on How Baseball and the Orioles berthed WNST.net.)

One day my Pop came home from work in the Spring of 1983 and during dinner announced that we should go on a vacation in the upcoming summer.

Other than Venezuela in 1972, when we took my lone airplane ride, and Disney World in 1978 when we took Amtrak, I had never been much past Ocean City (I had only been there a handful of times because my Uncle Omar had a joint on 28th Street Bayside behind the Jolly Roger amusement park).

We usually just went “home” to South Carolina to visit my Mom’s family and chilled while she visited all her old neighbors and friends. My Pop and I would spend those summer days almost entirely at the Abbeville Civic Center. It wasn’t at all like OUR Baltimore Civic Center with seats and stuff. It was just a little gym with a lobby and my Pop and I would shoot baskets for hours in that hotbox gym. There wasn’t anything else to do in the tiny little South Carolina town. All of my relatives were older than my Mom and she’s now 87. So every one of them was well into their 70’s then and have since passed away.

My Aunt Earline made eggs and bacon and biscuits in the morning and fried chicken in the afternoon. Her sister, my Aunt Edna — she was a cool old lady, she took me to the NWA wrestling matches in Greenwood, S.C. one night! — made the world’s best chocolate fudge (I recently found the recipe!) and fresh peach ice cream in a churn for dessert on alternating days. We picked pecans off the tree in the back yard on Ellis Street and tossed them into a batch of that incredible fudge. And I would throw a super-sized Superball (they were bigger than the normal ones and very rock solid) against the siding of my Aunt Eleanor’s house up the street, pretending I was Nolan Ryan when I wasn’t in that hot gym.

That was vacation for me. There were no other kids, and the black/white thing in Abbeville, S.C., even then in the late 1970’s, was kind of in the backdrop as well. I ran around, dreamed and chased these weird, techni-color grasshoppers they had all over the place.

Kind of Napoleon Dynamite pathetic, huh?

But it’s really true, as I look back upon it.

I was bored as hell (except when my Aunt Edna was involved) and all I really wanted to do was stay at home in Colgate and play baseball on the church lot with my friends, anyway. But I did get to eat some great food in South Carolina. And, one time, a pretty Southern girl painted an orange Clemson paw print on my face at a park called Hickory Knob State Park!

So, when my Pop announced a chance at a trip, he looked to me. I was 14, it was the summer of 1983 and where would I want to go or what would I want to do?
Clearly, it had to involve baseball. And if involved baseball in 1983, it definitely 

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Chapter 5: The Orioles and Colts weren’t the only teams that mattered

Posted on 16 August 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally published as a prelude to the “Free The Birds” walkout in Sept. 2006, this is Part 5 of a 19 Chapter Series on How baseball, my father and the Orioles created WNST.net. We are planning some civic action on Thursday, April 5. Please plan to join us…)

This is probably the story that I hate to admit the most on the radio. It involves youthful ignorance, disgusting twists and turns and, ultimately, I think more than just a tad bit of old-fashioned adolescent rebellion.

I don’t think anyone could ever picture me as a rebel, right?

If what I really say about comparing the Baltimore sports scene is true  — “the Ravens are my girlfriend, but the Orioles are my wife” and I DID warn you that I can find a baseball analogy for virtually ANY situation in life, or vice versa — then at one point I had a few “flings.”

A couple of those steamy, whirlwind romances that feel so good you don’t even feel GUILTY about it in the morning. It’s a “new” love, a satisfaction that only something “fresh” will give you.

My first one occurred back in the 1970’s, really the first day that the “fan” came out in the fanatic.

My Pop took me to my first Colts game on Sept. 23, 1973 to see “Broadway” Joe Namath and the New York Jets. No need to run you through the whys and wherefores of Super Bowl III (if I gotta do THAT, you probably shouldn’t be reading or hearing this!), but suffice to say this city had what my Pop would describe as a “hard on” for the Jets — to say the least!

I was three weeks shy of my 5th birthday, so I was technically 4 years old and off to a Colts’ football game we go. Unlike my memories of my first Oriole game being a little more cloudy and distant, my recollections of my first Colts game is so vivid it’s really kinda spooky.

The Colts lost that game 34-10, and even though I don’t need to look that up, I AM staring at the program from that game just six inches to my left. The fact that I can move my left hand and touch this program and, somehow, touch my father through it and touch the smell of the air that day is incredible — a powerful, powerful thing.

But that’s just how good sports can be and why The Rally on Sept. 21st downtown is important.

On that day in September 1973, Johnny Unitas had just left, the franchise was in a shambles and the embryo that would birth an exit from Baltimore, “Tiger” Bob Irsay and his drunken ownership hijinks, was gestating. Marty Domres was the starting quarterback and Bert Jones was a puppy, but the team had the key compenents to what would go on to be a fabulous team to watch from 1975 through 1977 — a team that gave Pittsburgh and Oakland a run for their money each year as a solid AFC East team. Lydell Mitchell, Ken Mendenhall, Joe Ehrmann, David Taylor, Mike Barnes — they were all there that day.

Stan White knocked Joe Namath out of the game that day and, 33 years later, I get to compete with him every day on Baltimore radio. I just think that’s kinda cool, even if he never has! Stan White was a hero of mine as a kid because he smacked Joe Namath in the mouth (or in the case, the shoulder).

My Pop didn’t think that sucked, either!

We sat in the middle of centerfield — or at least that’s what it was to me, the bleacher seats. I thought it was kinda nifty that we got to actually WALK on the baseball field. I remember how BIG everyone was and how gigantic the stadium looked from centerfield. I remember the band and I’m sure it was the first time I ever heard the “Colts Fight Song.”

At some point during the blowout, my Pop and I left, resigned to grabbing the No. 22 bus back to Highlandtown. En route, I wanted to stop and get a souvenir. I wanted to get something that had something to do with Johnny Unitas. I didn’t really know who Johnny Unitas was but I knew he was

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Twelve Orioles thoughts following 4-1 loss to Philadelphia

Posted on 16 May 2018 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles concluding their eight-game homestand with a 4-1 loss to Philadelphia, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. The Baltimore offense came crashing down after scoring 58 runs in its previous seven games, managing just one run and four hits against the Phillies. It was the 22nd game this season in which the Orioles scored three or fewer runs.

2. A 5-3 homestand brought better baseball and sounds fine if you’re a team that hadn’t already buried itself over the first six weeks. That’s simply not moving the meter unless the Orioles magically start playing well on the road, something they haven’t done consistently in four years.

3. Andrew Cashner kept his club in it, but he ran into trouble going through the order a third time. Entering Wednesday, opponents had a .988 on-base plus slugging percentage seeing him a third time in a game. The Phillies continued that by going 3-for-5 with a homer and a walk.

4. Cashner continues collecting more strikeouts than expected with six in 5 2/3 innings, but the long ball continues to be a problem as he allowed at least one for the eighth time in nine starts. After allowing just 15 in 166 2/3 innings last year, he’s surrendered 11 in 2018.

5. Nick Pivetta deserves praise after matching his career high with 11 strikeouts and inducing a career-best 23 swinging strikes, but the Phillies starter mentioned in his post-game press conference how he took advantage of the Orioles’ free-swinging ways. The flawed approach is hardly a secret.

6. Adam Jones provided the lone offensive highlight of the day with his seventh homer of the season in the first inning, extended his hitting streak to 11 straight games. The Orioles didn’t have another baserunner until the fifth inning and had only two more until the eighth.

7. No one ever confused him with Manny Machado in the two-base department, but Chris Davis hit only his third double of the year. After hitting 31 in 2015, Davis collected only 21 in 2016 and 15 last year. He’s slugging .281, which is barely higher than Craig Gentry’s .270 mark.

8. Expecting Richard Bleier to sustain a 0.40 ERA was always unrealistic, but the lefty surrendering runs in each of his last two outings is a bummer for an injury-plagued bullpen that hasn’t been very good this season. He couldn’t keep the deficit to one run in the sixth.

9. The Orioles and Phillies saw a combined 13 pitches in the fourth inning. Think players were aware it was a getaway day with plenty of rain in the forecast?

10. Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera singled in the opening frame to reach base in his 42nd consecutive game, the longest streak of any major league hitter since 2016. Just don’t tell the Orioles he’s a former Rule 5 pick.

11. After completing a bullpen session on Wednesday, Darren O’Day could be activated from the disabled list as early as Friday. With Zach Britton now throwing live batting practice, the Orioles bullpen could be back to full strength in the not-too-distant future.

12. If you needed a reminder of why the Orioles’ future looks grim, Baseball America’s Ben Badler sheds maddening light on the organization’s continued lack of participation in the international market. This puts an unnecessary ceiling on a farm system in need of more talent.

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Wallace leaves Ravens to join Super Bowl champion Philadelphia

Posted on 22 March 2018 by Luke Jones

Less than a week after Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said the door was still open for Mike Wallace to return, the speedy wide receiver has joined the defending Super Bowl champions.

The 31-year-old has agreed to a one-year deal with Philadelphia worth a reported $2.5 million plus incentives, according to NFL Network. He becomes Baltimore’s second unrestricted free agent to depart this offseason after starting center Ryan Jensen signed a lucrative contract with Tampa Bay.

Wallace expressed hope at the end of last season that he’d remain with the Ravens, but he said his top priority would be winning, adding that his family has plenty of financial security at this later stage of his career.

“I want to win a Super Bowl. I got there my second year, and it’s been so far away ever since,” Wallace said on Jan. 1. “When you’re a young player, you’re like, ‘Oh, we will be right back.’ I’ve never seen it again, and I’ve been on some great teams that I thought had potential. It just did not work out. It’s that hard.”

Wallace arrived in Baltimore with his career at a crossroads coming off a 2015 campaign in Minnesota in which he’d recorded a career-low 473 receiving yards and two touchdowns. He thrived in his first season with the Ravens, however, catching 72 passes for 1,017 yards and four touchdowns and looking more like the productive deep threat he was in Pittsburgh at the start of his career.

His production fell off last season as the entire passing game struggled mightily in the wake of Joe Flacco’s back injury, but Wallace rebounded after the Week 10 bye with 32 catches for 481 yards and two touchdowns over the final seven games. He finished 2017 with 52 catches for 748 yards and four touchdowns, leading the Ravens in receiving yards and finishing tied for first in touchdown catches.

Newsome vowed to change the look of the wide receiver room, and that has certainly happened with Wallace and Jeremy Maclin gone and free agents Michael Crabtree and John Brown signing with the Ravens last week. The speedy Brown will likely assume Wallace’s role in the offense and brings youth and upside, but he’s caught only 60 passes for 816 yards and five touchdowns combined over the last two seasons while dealing with injuries. Brown caught 65 passes for 1,003 and seven touchdowns in 2015.

Wallace’s depature isn’t insurmountable by any means, but he effectively filled the void left behind by Torrey Smith the last two seasons as 2015 first-round pick Breshad Perriman has failed to develop. And the two-year, $11.5 million contract Wallace signed in 2016 proved to be good value for the Ravens.

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