Tag Archive | "Rich Hill"

Roberts

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Top 20 moments in Camden Yards history: No. 18

Posted on 18 March 2011 by Luke Jones

Leading up to the start of the 20th season at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, I take a look back at the top 20 moments in the history of the ballpark. Selected moments had to relate directly to the action on the field at the time. No orchestrated events such as World Series anniversary celebrations or Orioles Hall of Fame inductions were eligible.

Previous selections:
20. Matt Wieters’ debut
19. Hideo Nomo tosses the only no-hitter in Oriole Park history

18. Orioles stage greatest comeback in team history – June 30, 2009

Another merciless pounding at the hands of Boston, or so it seemed.

The Orioles had lost eight straight to the Red Sox, and their unruly traveling fans were basking in the glory of a 10-1 lead in the seventh inning. Most fans watching at home had given up on the massacre and flipped to reruns — hey, it’s hard to resist The Office — on a midsummer night of television. Nobody knew it, but the Orioles were about to thrill the few hometown fans remaining in the ballpark and stun the Sox supporters taunting those making their way to the exits.

By the time the Orioles went to the plate in the bottom of the seventh, starter Rich Hill was long gone after giving up nine runs in 3 1/3 innings and Boston veteran John Smoltz had missed his chance for a victory after a lengthy rain delay forced his exit in the fifth. As a result, a battle of the bullpens commenced, with the Orioles about to supplant a club-record eight-run comeback set in 1956 — against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

A five-run seventh made the deficit a reachable 10-6, with the key blow being a three-run homer from pinch-hitter Oscar Salazar. The home fans who stuck around for the early bludgeoning perked up, but realized a comeback remained very unlikely against the Red Sox bullpen.

However, Hideki Okajima had finished the seventh for Boston and remained on the mound for the eighth. Though one of the best lefty specialists in the American League, the hapless Orioles — of all teams — had owned the Japanese reliever for nearly two years.

It was about to continue.

Okajima would surrender four straight hits without getting an out, leaving the game with the bases loaded and Boston holding on dearly to its 10-7 lead. Two batters later, the score was 10-9 and Red Sox manager Terry Francona desperately turned to closer Jonathan Papelbon to prevent the record-setting Orioles comeback.

It was too late.

Nick Markakis’ two-run double to deep center plated pinch-runner Jeremy Guthrie and Brian Roberts with two outs in the bottom of the eighth as the Orioles had amazingly come all the way back to seize an 11-10 lead.

Roberts

Euphoric Orioles fans howled in laughter at obnoxious “Sahx” fans as George Sherrill recorded the save in the ninth, securing the greatest comeback victory in franchise history. An amazing 13 of Baltimore’s 16 hits that night came in the seventh and eighth innings.

“That was probably the best game I’ve been involved in, right there,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said after the game. “That was absolutely tremendous. When you talk about playing all 27 outs, that’s tonight.”

Ironically, the Orioles would be on the receiving end of that lesson the next afternoon, squandering a 5-1 lead in the ninth and falling 6-5 in 11 innings. Perhaps it was the baseball gods’ way of restoring order as the Orioles would lose 11 of the 12 remaining games with Boston that season.

But for one night, at least, the Orioles got the better of the hated Red Sox.

And, in case you were wondering, I flipped back to the game just in time to see the comeback.

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Matusz's debut provides some much needed excitement in yet another miserable baseball summer

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Matusz’s debut provides some much needed excitement in yet another miserable baseball summer

Posted on 04 August 2009 by WNST Interns

 It is hard to be excited about a team that is 44-61 and again in last place, especially with football season right around the corner. But, unlike the previous 11 summers, this Orioles team is providing me with some excitement this August. The reason for that excitement is that another “piece” toward contending in the future – Brian Matusz – has been called up to make the start tonight against the Tigers. Things are finally starting to look up for the Orioles; even if their win loss record doesn’t show it.

Matusz is the 5th pitcher called up from the Minor Leagues this season, leaving Jeremy Guthrie as the only starter from the original rotation on Opening Day. A rotation of Guthrie, Tillman, Berken, Hernandez and Matusz makes me more excited then the dismal Guthrie, Koji, Eaton, Hendrickson, Hill and Simon rotation that the Orioles sported for the beginning of the season. Once Bergesen gets off the DL, the Orioles rotation will start to take shape in a better direction, and I can’t help but get excited about this.

I have always been one who believes in the adage that pitchers need to get seasoning in the Minor leagues. Given the Orioles dismal state this year, I have no problem if the starting staff consisted of nothing but young pitchers who were called up from the minors. Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz have shown they can get Minor League hitters out, so it’s senseless to keep them down there. Since wins and losses don’t matter, it is better to get them some experience this season, hopefully earning them a starting spot in the rotation next spring training. I have never believed that calling a player up too early- and them not succeeding- can ruin their mindset. If you are good, you’re good, if you’re not then you’re not, simple as that. The difference between Chris Tillman and Jason Berken isn’t their mind set when they struggle, it’s their talent. Tillman looks to have it and Berken looks like he doesn’t.

Whether Matusz comes in and struggles or not, I believe he is the Orioles ace of the future and will anchor what could be one of the best rotations in all of baseball. This is the right time for Matusz to come up. Obviously fans would like to see him succeed for this season but if he doesn’t I am not worried. Seeing Brian Matusz give up seven runs a game is far more exciting then watching Rich Hill give up seven runs.

My birthday is August 7th and for the past 12 years the only present I have wanted from the Orioles was competitive baseball. Once again they aren’t providing me with competitive baseball but they are providing with some excitement and a small amount of hope in the pitching. Maybe one year soon I will get that present that I have longed for.

Brian Matusz is yet another piece in Andy MacPhail’s puzzle and with him, the puzzle is almost complete. Matusz’s debut could not come at a better time for Orioles fans who just watched Red Sox Nation take over Camden Yards like it was their own stadium. While that sour taste will stay in my mouth for a long time, Brian Matusz has at least helped lessen it.

After 11 straight losing seasons’ and en route to a 12th, Brian Matusz has provided me with a reason to get a little excited in August. At this point, that is really all any Orioles fan can ask for.

Now please don’t let him be the next Rocky Coppinger, Matt Riley or Rick Krivda !!!

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Today's Orioles - Yankees Lineups

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Today’s Orioles – Yankees Lineups

Posted on 22 July 2009 by WNST Interns

The Orioles and Yankees will be back on the field early with this afternoon’s 1:05pm first pitch at the new Yankee Stadium.  With a motor-coach full of WNST listeners and the Nasty one himself in attendance, the O’s will attempt to avoid the series sweep and improve upon their 1-13 record against A.L. East opponents away from Baltimore.  After the game they’ll leave New York City to continue and conclude their current 9-game roadtrip with three against the Red Sox at Fenway over the weekend.

A pair of righty’s will take the mound as the O’s will send out Jason Berken, and his 1-7 record and 6.44 ERA,  to counter the Yankees’ A.J. Burnett, who owns an 8-1 record in ten career starts against the Orioles.

Here are the day’s starting lineups:

Orioles

Brian Roberts – 2B
Adam Jones – CF
Nick Markakis – RF
Aubrey Huff – 1B
Ty Wigginton – 3B
Luke Scott – DH
Gregg Zaun – C
Felix Pie – LF
Robert Andino – SS

Yankees

Derek Jeter – SS
Johnny Damon – LF
Mark Teixeira – 1B
Alex Rodriguez – 3B
Hideki Matsui – DH
Jorge Posada – C
Robinson Cano – 2B
Nick Swisher – RF
Brett Gardner – CF

In last night's 6-4 loss, Rich Hill's outing ended after surrendering this Robinson Cano 2-run shot in the fourth (Courtesy: AP).

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Tonight's Orioles - Yankees Lineups

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Tonight’s Orioles – Yankees Lineups

Posted on 21 July 2009 by WNST Interns

The Orioles will be back on the field tonight at 7:05pm, weather permitting, to play the Yankees in the middle game of three at the new Yankee Stadium.  Last night’s heartbreaking 2-1 loss dropped the Birds to an American League worst 15-30 on the road this season, 1-12 away from home against their A.L. East counterparts, and 2-23 in their last 25 games in Boston, New York, Tampa and Toronto dating back to last season.

O’s rookie David Hernandez was able to shake a long and strenuous first two innings and gave his team a great chance to win Game 1, turning in six strong innings in which he allowed just a single Yankee run.  However, it turned out to be all for not when Hideki Matsui took Jim Johnson deep in the bottom of the ninth breaking a 1-1 tie and in the process made the Yankees walk-off winners.  What made homer in the ninth even more frustrating for the Birds was that both Cesar Izturis and Brian Roberts were thrown out at the plate just earlier in the top of the eighth.  Needless to say, base running miscues have continued to burn this baseball club at an alarming rate.

On the bump for the Orioles this evening will be Rich Hill, who to this date has been very under-whelming since an off-season trade brought the left-hander to Baltimore from the Cubs.  His 3-2 record can be considered quite deceiving when noting his 7.22 ERA over 11 starts and one relief appearance this season.  With rumors persisting about more young starters arriving from the minors, Hill may not have many more opportunities past tonight to keep pitching for his spot in the rotation.

Sergio Mitre will make tonight’s start for the Yankees and in doing so will make his first appearance in the majors since the 2007 season when he was with the Marlins.  Mitre, a 28-year old right-hander has been called up to take Chien Ming Wang’s spot in the rotation, and while at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre has gone 3-2 with a 2.40 ERA.  In portions of five separate seasons with the Cubs and Florida, Mitre has compiled a 10-23 record and career ERA of 5.36.

As for the night’s starting sides:

Orioles

Brian Roberts – 2B
Adam Jones – CF
Nick Markakis – RF
Aubrey Huff – 1B
Luke Scott – DH
Melvin Mora – 3B
Nolan Reimold – LF
Matt Wieters – C
Cesar Izturis – SS

Yankees

Derek Jeter – SS
Johnny Damon – LF
Mark Teixeira – 1B
Alex Rodriguez – DH
Jorge Posada – C
Nick Swisher – RF
Robinson Cano – 2B
Melky Cabrera – CF
Cody Ransom  – 3B

After attempting to score on a wild pitch with the game tied 1-1, Roberts was punched out at the plate in the eighth (Courtesy: AP).

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1st half thoughts

Posted on 15 July 2009 by WNST Interns

The 1st half of the season is now in the books and as usual the Orioles find themselves in the AL East cellar. The Orioles have been on a roller coaster ride following up win streaks with detrimental losing streaks, leaving the fans pulling their hair out.

Here are some thoughts I have on the 1st half of the Orioles season:

88 games into the season, we still don’t know about the rotation:

Coming into the season the Orioles knew two things about the starting rotation: Jeremy Guthrie and Koji Uehara were going to be in it. 88 games later, the Orioles seem to have more questions then answers about how the rotation will pan out. Guthrie has struggled, Koji is out for basically the rest of the season and the Rich Hill “experiment” seems to be over. The rotation is left with Brad Bergesen as the only “sure thing”.

It does the Orioles no good to trot Rich Hill and Jason Berken out to the mound every fifth day while Chris Tillman and Troy Patton are tearing it up in the Minor Leagues. I have a hunch we may see both them sometime in early August. This likely spells the end for Hill and Berken. The rotation has already under gone a major face lift and should continue to change throughout the summer.

One thing is certain; outside of Brad Bergesen, the Orioles rotation will continue to be an enigma.

Dave Trembley needs to change his managerial “style”:

When he became the manager a little over two seasons ago, Dave Trembley had a fire about him that exhibited a no nonsense style of managing. Fast forward to 2009; Dave Trembley is surly, mean and fiery, but to the media only and not his players. Although I don’t watch every other major league team regularly, I can’t imagine that they make as many fundamental mistakes as the Orioles. Fundamental baseball is one thing I believe the manager can control but Trembley seems to be more worried about attacking the media then fixing his team’s mistakes.

Personally, I don’t care if its Adam Jones or Felix Pie, if someone makes a bonehead mistake repeatedly then they need to be sitting on the bench next to Dave Trembley. Different players respond to the manager in different ways, but benching them is a universal way to get the message across. Something needs to change and that something to me is Dave Trembley.

The Orioles are interesting enough to keep me watching:

Just when the season looked to be over after a five game losing streak to start June, the Orioles turn around and win five straight, including a three game sweep in Philadelphia. One night they have the greatest comeback in team history then the next game they blow a 4 run lead in the 9th inning. If there is one word you can use to describe the 2009 Orioles its “interesting”.

It is now mid July and the Orioles still have me interested. Even with Ravens training camp two weeks away, I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of Tillman and Patton and looking forward to see this team improve in the last 2+ months of the season.

The Orioles have been inconsistent but have shown enough in spurts to keep me entertained. These Birds are interesting and after 11 straight losing seasons, interesting is about as good as it gets.

The Orioles are eight games under .500 which is pretty much where I expected them to be. Luke Scott and Adam Jones had career 1st halves, while Nolan Reimold and Matt Wieters look to be the real deal.

With the trade deadline looming there could be some fireworks. Any trade Andy MacPhail makes is likely to improve the Orioles for the present and future.

While they may not hit the “unattainable” .500 mark, they are making strides towards it. I believe they will be a better team on the last day of the season then they were on Opening Day. This to me should excite everyone.

For once it looks like it could be a fun summer in Birdland, something I haven’t experienced since I was 13!!

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King Shame

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5 W’s and 1 H

Posted on 12 July 2009 by Luke Jones

The first half is in the books, and the Orioles are right where most of us thought they would be—last place and out of contention.

While it’s certainly been frustrating watching the Orioles’ inconsistent play, the club has also provided some excitement with the greatest comeback in club history—against the Red Sox, no less—and the unveiling of rookies Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez, Nolan Reimold, and the much-hyped Matt Wieters.

The 40-48 record and last-place standing does not reflect the positive strides made in the first half of the season.  Yes, there’s still a long way to go before we’re talking about the Orioles contending with the three heavyweights in the AL East, but as more youngsters join the fold, it’s easy to see this organization is in much better shape than it’s been at any point since 1997.

Will it be enough to put the Orioles back in the playoffs in the next few years?

Only time—and the willingness to acquire missing pieces via trades and free agency—will answer that question.

It will be interesting to see how active general manager Andy MacPhail will be as the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline approaches.  Aubrey Huff, Luke Scott, Danys Baez, Jeremy Guthrie, and George Sherrill would all figure to have value for contending clubs.  However, MacPhail’s patient approach is not conducive to making deadline trades.

Of course, the club does not HAVE to trade any of these players—though they would be foolish to keep Baez around—but the rest of July figures to be a busy time for MacPhail and his cell phone.

Here are the 5 W’s and 1 H for the week:

1.  Who is your biggest surprise and biggest disappointment for the Orioles in the first half?

If I posed this question in mid-May, the easy choice for biggest surprise would have been center fielder Adam Jones.  The Orioles’ lone All-Star representative is having a good year (.303, 12 home runs, 47 runs batted in) but has really cooled off after a blistering start.

The most pleasant surprise—if not an absolute lifesaver—has to be rookie starting pitcher Brad Bergesen.  The 23-year-old righty has shown great poise in leading the rotation with six wins (tied with Jeremy Guthrie) and a 3.54 ERA.

Bergesen doesn’t dazzle you with a blazing fastball or a devastating breaking pitch, but his heavy sinker induces ground balls—crucial for pitching at Camden Yards—and his command is comparable to a grizzled veteran.  It will be interesting to see if he can maintain the same level of effectiveness as teams become more familiar with the rookie in the second half.

The biggest disappointment has to be Guthrie.  The Orioles’ Opening Day starter hasn’t been right since spring training when he pitched in the World Baseball Classic.  Whether he’s been completely healthy is debatable, but there’s no question that Guthrie simply hasn’t made quality pitches to finish off hitters.

Guthrie is 6-8 with a 5.35 ERA and has surrendered 20 home runs in 18 starts.  If he can right himself after the All-Star Break, he would be an attractive option for a contending club.  At the very least, Guthrie rebounding would help stabilize a starting rotation that has struggled mightily outside of Bergesen.

2.  What are your thoughts on UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar?

I’ll admit to not being much of an MMA fan, but I’ve followed Lesnar going back to his days as a professional wrestler in the WWE.

Lesnar dominated Frank Mir—the only man to beat Lesnar—to retain his title at UFC 100 on Saturday night.  Perhaps more interesting than the encounter itself was Lesnar’s behavior following the match, which included a refusal to shake Mir’s hand and some lewd comments.

Though Lesnar apologized for his conduct, Vince McMahon had to be smirking when he learned of his former star’s behavior.  Lesnar has cemented his status as the most hated man in the sport, but it’s a good thing for UFC.  Fans love to hate a champion more than they love to cheer a champion.  To steal a page from pro wrestling, people will tune in just to watch the heel lose.

3.  Where would you most like to watch the Ravens play a road game?

After watching the Ravens lose to the Steelers in Pittsburgh last January—and being pelted with an ice ball by a Pittsburgh moron fan as I left Heinz Field—I’ll pass on a return to western Pennsylvania for at least a couple years.

I’m excited to go on the WNST Fenway and Football Trip the first weekend in October to watch the Ravens take on the Patriots in Foxboro.  It should be a great time watching Ray Lewis and the defense matching up against Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and the New England offense.

The trip to Green Bay in December is very tempting, but a Monday night in DECEMBER at Lambeau Field feels frigid just thinking about it.

4.  When will we see another Orioles pitcher throw a no-hitter?

San Francisco Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez hurled the first no-hitter of the MLB season on Friday night, and it caused me to think about the long drought the Orioles have endured in that department.

Other than a combined no-hitter by Bob Milacki, Mark Williamson, Mike Flanagan, and Gregg Olson in 1991, the last Orioles’ no-hitter was pitched by Hall of Famer Jim Palmer in 1969.  In the last 15 years, Mike Mussina and Daniel Cabrera flirted with no-hitters a few times, but neither was able to complete it.

Pitching a no-hitter involves a great deal of luck, and it is by no means an indicator of a team’s—or pitcher’s—overall success.  Sanchez was struggling and had even been removed from the starting rotation before Giants pitcher Randy Johnson went on the disabled list.  You just never know.  If you need proof, take a look at Don Larsen.  The only man to pitch a perfect game in the World Series had a career 81-91 record.

The New York Mets have won two World Series titles in their 47-year history but have never enjoyed a no-hitter.

5.  Why can’t LeBron James and Nike have a sense of humor?

Seriously.  It’s great that James and Nike hold a camp for young players to rub elbows with the NBA star, but when it was reported that Nike confiscated all recordings of Xavier’s Jordan Crawford dunking over James in a pickup game, I couldn’t help but shake my head.

Would it have really been THAT damaging to James’ reputation to allow the video to pop up on YouTube?  I’m sure the clever minds at Nike could have concocted a clever ad around it.

For now, we’ll have to settle for this:
King Shame

6.  How much longer do the Orioles go with Jason Berken and Rich Hill with Chris Tillman and others waiting in the wings at Norfolk?

Though both pitched well over the weekend, it’s hard to imagine the club continuing to go with either pitcher in the starting rotation if they stay at their current pace.  Even with the solid work in their last starts, Hill still has a 6.92 ERA and Berken isn’t much better at 5.87.

Tillman started for the USA in today’s Futures Game and appears close to being ready for the big leagues.  Despite giving up two runs in his only inning of work in St. Louis, the 21-year-old righty has a 7-5 record, a 2.50 ERA, and 88 strikeouts at Triple-A Norfolk this season.

Unless the club decides to give Hill another chance in the rotation, Tillman could easily be in Baltimore by the end of July.  After Tillman, David Pauley (7-6, 3.67 ERA) would probably be the next arm in line, though he isn’t considered to be a long-term answer in the rotation.

*****

Shameless Plug Alert:  I’ll be joining Glenn Clark on the Comcast Morning Show on Monday morning from 6 to 10 a.m.

To be totally honest, I can’t remember the last time I was up that early, but it should be fun.

Have a good Monday.

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Orioles’ future on display Sunday

Posted on 11 July 2009 by Luke Jones

The Orioles may be approaching the All-Star Break in a familiar position—out of contention—but their promising future will be on display Sunday afternoon, both in Baltimore and St. Louis.

Rookie right-hander Brad Bergesen—the Orioles’ biggest surprise of the first half—will take the hill in the Orioles’ final game before the break, but two other young pitching prospects will highlight their talents before a national television audience in St. Louis.

We’ve heard the numerous reports about the Orioles’ “Big Three” of Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, and Jake Arrieta, but how many fans have actually seen them pitch?

Probably not too many.

We’ll get the chance to see Tillman and Matusz on Sunday, as the two prospects will take part in the Futures Game at 2 p.m. on ESPN2.  Arrieta participated in last year’s game.  The annual contest features some of the most promising minor leaguers in baseball.

The 21-year-old Tillman—one of the key pieces acquired in the Erik Bedard trade—appears to be the next in line for a promotion to Baltimore, pitching to a 7-5 record and a 2.50 ERA with Norfolk.  The Triple-A prospect was recently rated as Baseball America’s eighth-best overall prospect in its midseason report.

Tillman, 6-foot-5,  is averaging more than a strikeout per inning and has added an improved changeup to a repertoire already including a mid-90s fastball and a sharp curveball.  Club officials are excited about his vast success at such a young age but are trying to balance this enthusiasm with a fear of rushing the young pitcher, a dilemma becoming more difficult with the struggles of starters Rich Hill and Jason Berken in Baltimore.

Even more impressive than Tillman is the progress of Matusz in his first year of professional baseball.  The club’s first-round pick in 2008, Matusz did not sign a contract in time to play with a full-season team last year.

After going 4-2 with a 2.16 ERA in only 11 starts at Single-A Frederick to begin the season, the southpaw was promoted to Double-A Bowie last month.  In his four starts with the Baysox, the 22-year-old has posted unbelievable numbers, including a 4-0 record, a 0.34 ERA, and 32 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings.

His most recent start was an eight-inning, one-hit effort against the Harrisburg Senators in which Matusz struck out 11 batters.  Matusz has allowed only one earned run since being promoted from Frederick.

Matusz was just one spot behind Tillman on Baseball America’s midseason list at No. 9, but the organization figures to handle Matusz similarly to Matt Wieters by allowing him to play an entire season in the minor leagues before promoting him early next season.

Of course, skeptics will argue that plenty of former Baltimore prospects have played in the Futures Game and flopped in Baltimore—and they would be correct with Matt Riley, Radhames Liz, and Garrett Olson as three examples—but a number of current Orioles have participated in the Futures Game including Nolan Reimold, Danys Baez, Felix Pie, and Lou Montanez.

The Futures Game, first staged in 1999, holds an impressive list of past participants who are now thriving at the big-league level.  Past selections include Lance Berkman, Ryan Braun, Adam Dunn, Josh Hamilton, Hanley Ramirez, CC Sabathia, Grady Sizemore, and Chase Utley.

There are no guarantees—after all, the young pitchers are still only hurling against Double-A and Triple-A talent—but it’s easy to get excited when considering Matusz, Tillman, and Arrieta are all rated higher than Bergesen was on the Orioles’ list of pitching prospects.

For the sake of Orioles fans suffering through another summer of meaningless baseball—at least in terms of the AL East standings—Sunday should be a nice reprieve and, hopefully, a promise of what’s to come.

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Questions, Comments and Concerns

Posted on 06 July 2009 by WNST Interns

Sometimes in the sports media world we are forced to deal with tragedy and must talk about it whether we want to or not. Steve McNair’s tragic death has been the topic of conversation for the weekend and probably will continue to be until all the details come out. I have made it known how I feel on the topic, so this blog will be my traditional questions, comment and concerns:

Questions:

Who is the more dominate athlete, Tiger or Roger?

There is no question that both players are clearly the most dominate athletes of their sport, but who is more dominant?I know people are quick to anoint Federer as the better athlete given the physicality of Tennis to Golf but I still lean toward Tiger. Federer has won 15 majors to Tiger’s 14 but I still believe Tiger is more dominate for a myriad of reasons.

First, I consider golfers athletes and I believe hitting a golf ball consistently accurate is one of the hardest things to do in sports. People shouldn’t  discount it as a sport just because it isn’t “physical”.

Second, just seeing Tiger’s name instills fear in his other competitors and causes them to fold. Mental dominance plays just as big of a role in being dominate as athleticism does. While Federer is good, I don’t believe that people “fear” him nearly as much as golfers fear Tiger.

Lastly, Federer seems to have an equal in Rafael Nadal who has beaten the last few finals that they played in, while Tiger has no equal in his sport. It is impossible to win every golf tournament but Tiger has the best chance of winning every tournament he enters then the rest of the field does. Both are great and I love Federer but I have to give the nod to Tiger.

Has USA soccer done enough to get people to start caring?

To me- and the rest of the world- there is no more exciting sporting event then the World Cup . In all other countries outside of the United States, the country comes to a virtual stop when the World Cup is going on. The United States has been a traditional doormat in international soccer for years, but their win against Spain and hard fought play against Brazil shows they might be turning the corner.

I think if they can continue win in World Cup qualifying then the fans will start to pay attention and should be very excited come June 2010 when the World Cup starts. After upsetting Spain, even the most casual soccer fans, were excited and made it a point to watch the Brazil game. Every person that I talked to was brimming with American pride and made it a point to watch all 90 minutes of the USA/Brazil game.

If the American team can start winning some games consistently then soccer could start to become a more popular sport. Hopefully for their sake- and the sake of the sport- this happens.

Comments:

I would trade anyone on the Orioles outside of Jones, Markakis and Wieters.

With the trade deadline coming up at the end of the month, the Orioles once again figure to be “sellers” instead of “buyers”. If I was Andy MacPhail I would seriously entertain the notion of trading anyone on the team outside of Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, Nolan Reimold and Matt Wieters. Certainly MacPhail isn’t going to just give away Brian Roberts and Aubrey Huff, but if he can get a deal that he likes I think he should pull the trigger.

Roberts and Mora are the longest tenured Orioles but I don’t feel like the Orioles “owe” them anything and should be more then willing to trade them if a team makes a reasonable offer for them. I expect to see quite a few Orioles on the move and it wouldn’t surprise me if Jeremy Guthrie, Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora were traded. 

Dave Trembley has got to go.

I have been a proponent of Dave Trembely getting fired since the season started and I continue to echo those sentiments after some bad decision making and poor fundamental baseball from the Orioles. Managing in the American League is much easier then managing in the National League but Trembley still doesn’t seem to “get it”.

My main problems with Trembley are that I  he is to “by the book” and that he is responsible for the lack of fundamentals. Every time a pitcher reaches 100 pitches Dave Trembley is quick with to pull them and I have a major problem with that. In his last start Brad Bergesen was at 103 pitches after 8 innings bust jut retired the side on eight pitches in the last inning. There is throwing 100 pitches and there is “laboring”, and Bergesen was not laboring. Just because you have a pitchers that are your “7th, 8th and 9th inning guys” doesn’t mean you need to put them in the game in those innings.

Normally, I believe that a Major League manager really only needs to make a few decisions a game and that the players win and lose the game. I think the main role of a manager is to manage the players ego’s and make sure they know the fundamentals and in that role Trembley has failed. Every game the Orioles commit a myraid of mistakes and Dave Trembely does nothing to correct this. I know these players are veterans and should know the fundamentals, however, if they continue to make mistakes without and repercussions then they will continue make them. Trembley needs to make a statement and start benching players or even call them out publicly to light a fire under them.

I have seen enough of Dave Trembley and I know the Orioles are better off without him.

I want to see some changes in the pitching staff.

I don’t know if the Orioles feel like they owe something to Chris Ray and Rich Hill by continuing to trot them out there, but personally I have seen enough of them. I tend to give Hill more rope then Ray because he has shown success starting previously and has had a few games this year where he has looked good, but I am now at the end of my rope with Hill. Chris Ray has been awful this season and was awful the season before his injury and I feel like he should not be on this team.

I would love to see the Orioles trade Jeremy Guthrie and bring up Troy Patton and Chris Tillman. If this happens the Orioles rotation of the “future” starts to take shape with Patton, Tillman, Hernandez, Bergesen and either Bereken or Arrieta. It is not doing anyone any good- the fans in particular- to keep trotting Rich Hill out to the mound and watching him get shelled. The Orioles need to make some changes sooner rather then later.

Concerns:

The Orioles are starting to give up and may go on a downward spiral.

After losing 3 of four games against the Angels in which they blew two four run leads I feel like the Orioles are on their way towards another dismal second half. Players like Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora seem to be disenchanted and it looks like the players have given up on the season.  

I think the Orioles may get swept by the Mariners and if this happens, I think any possibility of reaching the .500 mark goes out the window.

It looks like its going to be another “long” summer of Orioles baseball.

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Orioles’ July will be pivotal on different levels

Posted on 02 July 2009 by Luke Jones

Any baseball fan will tell you the 162-game schedule is filled with peaks and valleys.  You’re never as good as your highest point—such as a nine-run comeback win—or as terrible as your lowest moment—like a five-run blown lead in the ninth inning.

This year’s World Series champion is bound to undergo at least a five- or six-game losing streak, and even the worst team in the majors—I’m talking to you, Washington—will manage to win five or six games in a row at some point this season.

The difference between the good teams and the not-so-good teams in Major League Baseball is an ability to heighten the peaks while shortening the dark valleys.

The Orioles’ last two games are a perfect example of how exhilarating—and sobering—the game can be in less than 24 hours.  After completing the greatest comeback in franchise history Tuesday night, the club collapsed in the ninth inning on Wednesday, blowing a 5-1 lead in an eventual 6-5 loss in 11 innings.

How will the Orioles respond to these two polarizing contests?  If we look at the club’s body of work this season, the west coast trip—and the month of July—will not be pretty.

From the pleasant 6-3 start that was squashed in a four-game sweep at Fenway Park in April to the late-May sweep of Toronto and the electricity of Matt Wieters’ debut that fizzled into an offensive famine of historic proportions, the Orioles have lacked the consistency to show they are anywhere close to contention.

We’ve seen this club play well at times—creating optimism that it’s on the verge of turning the corner toward respectability—only to fall on its face completely thereafter.

The next month will tell whether the Orioles are capable of playing near-.500 baseball or that another summer swoon toward 90 or more losses is underway.

When looking at the schedule, avoiding the latter will be a daunting task.  Starting with a four-game series against the AL West-leading Los Angeles Angels tonight, the Orioles’ next 19 games will come against teams with winning records.  All but three will be on the road where the club has struggled with an 11-23 record.

Brace yourselves; it could get ugly.

The next month will play a huge part in determining manager Dave Trembley’s fate beyond this season.  In his second full season as the skipper, Trembley has come under fire for his—at best—questionable management of the pitching staff and the club’s horrendous baserunning.  Whether Trembley is the man to lead the young talent into the future is in doubt.

A disastrous July could spell the end of Trembley’s stay in Baltimore, but it may not be prudent to fire another manager in the middle of the season, as the organization did with Lee Mazzilli in 2005 and Sam Perlozzo in 2007.

In both cases, the organization ended up retaining the interim manager instead of completing a more thorough search in the offseason when the chances of finding a more qualified candidate are heightened.

In addition to the manager’s future, the next few weeks will likely determine the fate of every pitcher not named Brad Bergesen in the starting rotation.  With Chris Tillman, Troy Patton, and Jake Arrieta waiting in the wings at Triple-A Norfolk, the pressure will be on the current staff to perform against rigorous competition.

Rich Hill (7.08 ERA) and Jason Berken (6.44 ERA) may only receive another start or two to prove themselves before the organization will be forced to look elsewhere for starting pitching.  Neither has shown the ability to put together a string of good starts and have been downright brutal at times.

With Koji Uehara likely out for the next two months, right-hander David Hernandez (4.19 ERA in three starts) will get an extended look against some of the best teams in the American League.  Hernandez has shown a lively arm, but it will need to translate to getting out big league hitters consistently.  With a run of strong starts this month, the 23-year-old could establish himself as a fixture behind Bergesen in the rotation.

Veteran Jeremy Guthrie will be the most intriguing pitcher to watch over the next few weeks as the July 31st trading deadline approaches.  Guthrie has failed to pitch with the same consistency he showed in his first two seasons in Baltimore when he was the club’s best pitcher.  His 5.11 ERA is a product of surrendering 17 home runs and failing to make quality pitches to finish off batters when ahead in the count.

If Guthrie can pitch well over the next few weeks, his value could possibly fetch a young corner infield prospect that the organization sorely needs.

Much like Guthrie, other veterans could be on the move depending on their performance in July.  Impending free agent Aubrey Huff would appeal to a contender looking for a power bat that can play both corner infield positions.  The streaky Ty Wigginton might be attractive to a National League club, but it’s unlikely he’d attract anything of significant value in return.

Regardless of whether the club rebounds from Wednesday’s deflating loss or tailspins into another July collapse, it will probably look quite different a month from now.

The club is focused on developing its young talent, as it should be, but a strong July performance might keep people somewhat interested in the second half.  Fans want to get excited about this team’s future, but the next month will be crucial in holding their attention.

If there’s another July collapse, it will be another crawl to the finish with nobody watching.

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Red Sox-Orioles Facebook News Feed

Posted on 01 July 2009 by Luke Jones

If you’re not familiar with the phenomenon that is Facebook, this won’t be the blog for you.

Anyone keeping an eye on the popular social networking site while watching the Orioles’ miraculous comeback victory over the Red Sox on Tuesday night inevitably saw a variety of angry wall messages and statuses (10-1) that gradually transformed into reserved hope (10-6) and, finally, jubilation (Orioles win, 11-10!).

While viewing all of these messages, I imagined what the Facebook news feed would look like describing this wild game and the various people involved.  It might go a little something like this:

* 24,000 Boston fans are attending the event “Red Sox vs. Orioles at Fenway Park South.”

* 7,969 Baltimore fans are attending the event “Getting Drowned Out by Obnoxious ‘Sahx’ Fans in My Home Ballpark.”

* Adam Jones created the group “Outfield Walls Hurt.”

* Orioles fans ended their relationship with Rich Hill.

* Dave Trembley left the group “Give Your Pitcher the Quick Hook.”

* Luke Jones says it’s time to watch old episodes of The Office while keeping an eye on the game.

* John Smoltz’s status:  “I really hate rain delays.”

* Rich Hill’s status:  “I’m doing a rain dance and hoping the game and my stats are washed away!”

* Orioles fans and Felix Pie are now friends.

* Rich Hill updated his status:  “Well, so much for that.  I’m screwed.”

* Tony Randazzo’s status:  “I just don’t feel like calling a good game behind the plate tonight.”
– Jim Palmer: “Well, you better start. Richie Garcia is watching.”

* Orioles fans wrote on Oscar Salazar’s wall:  “Way to go…umm…what’s your name again?”

* Luke Jones is now giving his undivided attention to the Orioles game. 10-6.

* Terry Francona wrote on the Red Sox Bullpen’s Wall:  “Guys, anytime you feel like showing up would be great.”

* Hideki Okajima started the group “Why do the Orioles—that’s right, the ORIOLES!—absolutely own me?”
– Jon Lester: “I’ll give you some pointers.”

* Jim Palmer and 10 other pitchers joined the group “I’m against consistently inconsistent umpiring.”

* Jonathan Papelbon wrote on Nick Markakis’ wall:  “Dude, that’s not how the script is supposed to go!”

* Jonathan Papelbon and Nick Markakis are no longer friends.

* Jonathan Papelbon removed “chest thumping” from his favorite activities.

* Jim Hunter’s status:  “I think I just wet myself!”

* George Sherrill’s status:  “It’s Flat Breezy time.”

* Orioles fans created the group “There’s the Nick Markakis We Know and Love!”

* Terry Francona added “throwing things in my office” to his favorite activities.

* Rich Hill updated his status:  “I wonder if people will have a short memory…”

* 937 Orioles fans attended the event “Greatest Comeback in Orioles History!”

* 11,437 Boston fans attended the event “What the H*ll Just Happened??!!!”

* Dave Trembley posted the note:  “My players just saved my behind again!”

* It’s “complicated” between Orioles fans and the Baltimore Orioles.

* Luke Jones posted the video Orioles Magic.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Mr7mQuGmp0[/youtube]

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