Wednesday, October 15, 2014
I have a pile of paperwork that isn't getting any smaller and a report that my boss wants yesterday staring me in the face and I just don't care. Why? Because barring a miracle the Orioles season will be over soon, possibly today, and that is all I can think about.
When the playoffs started there were two teams I had no problem with playing and beating and two teams that I felt like, if my team had to lose I wanted it to be to one of these teams. I was all for playing and beating the A's and the Angels. The A's because of all the drama between us this year and the Angels because it feels like they are trying to become the Yankees / Red Sox of the West. I wasn't as gung ho about facing the Tigers or the Royals. The Tigers because while they have spent money and they have had success they haven't won the World Series since the year after we did and because if ANY city could use something to rally around it is Detroit, and the Royals because they reminded me of the O's. Scrappy team with young talent, fighting to break through against some big money teams, a long playoff drought, and passionate fans. If the O's weren't in the playoffs I would have been the biggest Royals backer in the mid-Atlantic. But now things have changed...
It's a lot of little things that have me so distracted. The biggest thing is how close these games have been. Mental errors cost us Game 1 and Games 2 & 3 could've gone either way. I think I'd rather lose by 6 than by 1, because in the close losses you keep looking back and thinking "if we had just done this ONE THING we would've won". When you get blown out you just tip your cap and say "it wasn't our night" and move on. It still hurts to lose, but not nearly as much (at least not to me). But the bigger thing is how the Royals have been acting. I get that Jarrod Dyson is young and I know sports have changed from when I played and trash talking is commonplace but I was surprised that none of the veterans pulled him aside and told him to dial down the rhetoric. Even so, it wasn't nearly as hurtful to me as a fan as the shirt that Jeremy Guthrie had on in the post game press conference last night. In case you are the one fan who hasn't seen it, here it is:
It just feels like such a slap in the face to O's fans, especially since so many of us have been supportive of him even after he was traded to the Rockies a few years ago. I and other O's fans have interacted with him on Twitter and he has acknowledged the love we have continued to show him. I have to think he still has some friends on the O's roster. I know it is a business to the players and they don't have our passions for our teams but still that has to be a slap in the face to Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, Chris Tillman, Nick Markakis and who knows who else. I think more than anything I am disappointed in him. I expected a guy who wears his faith as such a badge of honor to not slap a fan base in the face and he is a smart guy who knew exactly how we fans would react. Jeremy Guthrie lost a fan last night. I have no doubt that my statement is as impotent to him as the patron who declares "I will never shop here again" when they don't get what they want from a store, but it is what it is. I was a Jeremy Guthrie fan regardless of uniform because I saw him give everything he had every time he took the mound for my team. Last night he spat in my face.
If a miracle happens (and it could) I will be watching every inning of the World Series. If it doesn't, I will likely take a break from baseball for a while. I am sure with some distance from the season I will look back and have some good thoughts on what has so far been an incredible season and a resilient team that refused to believe what everyone outside of Baltimore thought about them. I will look at the preseason predictions and smile because pretty much no one thought we would be any good this year. But I will need a few weeks at least before I can accept perspective. It's too raw right now.
Like I said last night: The problem with living and dying with your team is that dying REALLY hurts.
But some deaths hurt worse than others.
EDIT: Guthrie has since come out and apologized "if anyone was offended" by his shirt. According to the Baltimore Sun, he also said:
"My positive feelings for the Charm City, O's organization, my former teammates and O's fans is well documented," Guthrie tweeted, according to the Sun. "Nothing I wore [Tuesday night] changes that."
According to the ESPN story that second tweet has since been deleted from Guthrie's Twitter account.
I guess it is up to those of us who were offended / bothered / saddened by the whole thing to decide if we think he meant it last night or this morning.
Monday, September 08, 2014
Before the video came out I was in the camp that believed Rice deserved at least a 4-6 game suspension, but that also thought that we did not know what the NFL and the team knew and had not seen that they had seen. Now this video has surfaced. According to the league they were not given access to this by the New Jersey Police Department. It is your choice whether or not you want to take them at their word on that. If they are telling the truth then this new evidence means that they have to revisit Rice's suspension. If the are not telling the truth then the league has lost a LOT of credibility in how they handled this.
There has been a lot of vitriol and venom being spewed (and rightfully so) online. Calls for Rice to be suspended indefinitely and cut from the team. I cannot say that I disagree with those sentiments. I also understand that this is a business and there is a union involved. Any action by the league or the team is going to be met with a reaction by the NFL Players Association. Whether they want to or not they have to. It's no different that the MLB union defending Alex Rodriguez during the last round of steroid allegations. The job of the union is to defend it's members no matter what.
As I was writing this the Ravens terminated Ray Rice's contract, which puts an end to a lot of the points I was going to make. From now on this issue will be resolved in the courts and by whatever team decides to take a chance on him, which will happen eventually. It is difficult for me to hold true to this sometimes, but I believe everyone deserves a second chance. Lord knows I have been given a few. I am a pit bull owner but I still supported Michael Vick being allowed back into the league once he paid his debt to society. I feel the same way about Ray Rice. He deserves to be punished. He deserves every bit of anger and vitriol being cast at him. He deserves all of that and more. He also deserves a chance to take that punishment and then return to society and work again. This is not sports related so much as it is societal, but this lifetime condemnation of someone for a sin no matter how egregious only leads to more and worse actions. So my advice for Mr. Rice is to not fight this, to not ask the NFLPA to stand for him. Instead, he should continue in the program he was enrolled in as part of his plea bargain. He should accept any retroactive punishment the league gives him without comment or complaint. Maybe, by his actions, he can return one day, if not as a player than as a cautionary tale. That might just be his best hope at this point. In the meantime, Ray, you have a lot more to worry about than what is going to happen when your daughter Googles you.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Monday, October 17, 2011
- This is not last year's team
- Or Brian Billick's team
- You have to be bold, but you don't have to be stupid
- I don't care what anybody says, Joe Flacco is not in charge of that offense
- Joe Flacco is not Brett Favre, but sometimes I think he is trying his best to be just like him
- The thing that scares me the most going forward
Thursday, October 06, 2011
Just in case you have been living under a rock that only has Windows 7 for an operating system, I will be the one to break the news to you that Steve Jobs has sadly passed away yesterday. This was Mr. Oher's response to that...
My favorite part of this is that he posted that on an iPhone. I was hoping that he was attempting to channel Steven Wright's essence in a tweet. But he wasn't. And I know this because this was his response...
Yes Michael, there are fake people on Twitter. I am two of them. But maybe, just maybe, you can do a quick Google search or maybe watch a little news before you go out there and go full Simple Jack
Monday, October 03, 2011
- Sometimes bad offense is a result of good defense
- That said, what the hell was Cam Cameron thinking?
The Rams went into that game w/the worst run defense in the NFL and everyone and their Aunt Petunia expected a heavy dose of Ray Rice and Ricky Williams, so Cameron mixed it up and opened the floodgates against a banged up secondary. The Jets gave up 200+ yards to the Raiders the week before, but unlike the Rams the Jets have an excellent secondary. So while you have to pass the ball to keep the defense honest, if you have the best blocking fullback in the league and a running back that creates mismatches every time he touches the ball you don't need to get cute. It didn't help that Joe Flacco also had stars in his eyes and decided that throwing to his checkdowns was an admission that he cried while watching Barbara Streisand movies and just went deep, but the fault has to rest on Cameron's shoulders for calling all of those passing plays. When the team finally went run heavy in the 2nd half they started moving the ball, ending drives w/two lost fumbles (one by Flacco and one by Ricky Williams) and one incomplete pass. So it looks like Cameron finally got the message during halftime (although I have to wonder if John Harbaugh didn't have a say in the matter after his well covered statement that he was going to be more involved with the offense this year) the question remains: "What took you so long, man?"
- Paul Kruger is a glory hound
- Don't look now, but there was a Sergio Kindle sighting
- I wasn't a big fan of the early bye week, but upon further review
- Ray Rice is a Bill O'Reilly meme
Friday, September 30, 2011
The consensus is that Andy MacPhail will be leaving the team. I have mixed feelings about this. While I do think his ignoring the foreign market (in particular the Latin American talent pool) is a huge mistake, the fact of the matter is that his overall plan was and is a sound one. Every O's fan has heard "Grow the arms, buy the bats". And that is what MacPhail tried to do. He inherited a team that suffered from a severe lack of direction and gave it one. He took the Mariners and the Astros to the cleaners by trading them Erik Bedard and Miguel Tejada, respectively. He took a farm system that was as bare as Mother Hubbard's cupboards and did whatever he could do to put some bodies that had a chance of success in a place to succeed.
The biggest mistake he made was the mistake that fans (and many of us talking about the team) made too. We decided that this was the year that we were moving from "development" to "accountable". MacPhail said that this year was about the wins and losses, not about getting this team to where it needs to get to in order to take the next step, which is contending for the postseason. The reason this was a fatal mistake is that the job of development was (and still is) nowhere near being done. Everyone looked at that strong finish under manager Buck Showalter last year and decided that it was time. They saw the food on the plate but did not look in the cupboards to see that they had nothing left after the meal. So they dug in, but when injuries ate away at the Orioles there was nothing in the cupboard to refill the plates.
The Orioles used 12 different starting pitchers in 2011, tied for second most in the majors. The pitching staff that the fans had been counting on is still young. They faltered. Maybe they thought the end of the 2010 season allowed them to slack on training during the offseason (Brian Matusz), or maybe committing the unnatural act of throwing a baseball for all of those years led to the kind of maintenance issues that seem to require surgery for all young pitchers these days (Jake Arrieta). Perhaps they just struggled and might not pan out as starters (while not certain, Brad Bergesen and to a lesser degree Chris Tillman fit right here). The Orioles were forced to go to the scrap heap (no other way to explain the signing of JoJo Reyes from the waiver wire and his immediate and long term insertion into the starting rotation). The loss of Brian Roberts hurt the team as much this year as it did in 2010. Luke Scott trying to play through a torn labrum hurt the team, but the lack of results from his replacements in Felix Pie and Nolan Reimold show that he might have had the best interests of the team at the heart of the decision. The other problem was in deciding to once again go not only with stopgap players in order to not impede development of the players in the minors (like Derrek Lee), but to go after players with no flexibility if something went wrong somewhere else (Vladimir Guerrero started a logjam chain reaction that wound up affecting Scott, Reimold, Pie, and to a lesser degree Lee, Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis).
This was a team that needed everything to go right, and when it didn't a lot of things fell like dominoes. And one of those things will most likely be Andy MacPhail's job.
I am not a fan of the rumor that Buck Showalter will move from the dugout to the front office. If this was an expansion team like he had when he went to the Diamondbacks and he could put his imprint on the minors before the major league team even started that would be good. But as it stands, putting someone with no actual experience in that part of the game in that position will only move the team further away from where it is trying to go. I am fine with him getting to express an opinion on who is hired because he is going to have to work with them and they need to be on the same page. But Showalter should stay where he is best suited, which is in the dugout. I have heard all kinds of names mentioned as possible replacements, from the possible (John Hart) to the highly improbable (Brian Cashman or Theo Epstein) and everything in between (Matt Klentak, a very intriguing idea that I would like to see pursued), but at this point any speculation is just that because MacPhail is still on the job.
The area that I feel needs the biggest overhaul is player development. Fans question why we keep having such horrible drafts compared to other teams, and while it is true that in baseball more than in any other professional sport the draft is more of a crap shoot than a science, it is very hard for me to believe that this is all a result of picking the wrong players. At some point and on some level, those in charge of teaching those young players how to be a major league player are failing. Brian Matusz should have never had the season he had in 2011. His admitting that he wasn't "mentally prepared" for the season is as big of a condemnation on this team as anything the team has done in the last decade), and it leads me to wonder how much of the blame for the other pitchers regressing so substantially can also be attributed to that problem. While it is speculation, the fact that I can justify that speculation says that it is time for a change.
For now, all we can do is wait to see what will happen in the future while we mourn what we thought could have been, no matter how improbable those could have beens really were had we looked objectively.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
"Where were you?"
I didn't want this. I never wanted a "JFK" moment. Ask anyone who was alive and old enough to be cognizant of who they were / are where they were when they heard about JFK's assassination and they can tell you. No hesitation. I could have lived a happy life without having my own JFK moment. But I was not given a choice.
I know where I was. I might not remember the exact address, but I know. I was working for the Children's Theater Association in Baltimore. The office at that time was on 22nd Street, about a block in from Howard Street. The cast was rehearsing and I was in my office. Jen poked her head in my office and told me about the first plane. I stopped working and turned on the radio. I heard about the second plane as it happened. And I knew. I walked out of the office, went downstairs and outside, sat on the curb, and lit a cigarette. When one of the methadone clinic patients walked past me to get his pop, he bummed a smoke off of me. When he looked up I was crying. He asked what was wrong. I told him we were at war. He didn't care.
I suppose my memories aren't all that different than most everyone else's. More than anything I was concerned for my father and my uncle, who were both TDY (on business trips) for the government when it all happened. I worked for Dollar Car Rental company part time at the time, and I remember BWI being shut down, so I didn't go in or call (I found out later that the computers were all down, but that the Powers That Be decided to rent cars to people who didn't want to wait in the airport by hand writing contracts. I also found out that all of the car rental companies were doing the same thing, and they were doing some serious price gouging too. It is safe to say that I did not mind losing that job for being no call / no show once they got back on their feet.
But what about sports? This is a sports blog, right? Well, I have some pretty vivid memories of that too.
The Ravens were Super Bowl Champions. I had been alive for the Colts' Super Bowl win, and I remember well the Stars and Stallions and their championship victories. But the Ravens win in SB XXXV was the legitimizer for a generation of fans who had been starving for NFL respect. The attacks happened the Tuesday after Week 1, and Paul Tagliabue wisely cancelled Week 2's games. So it wasn't until September 23rd that I was on my way to Greg Hall's house (as I did most every week that season) to watch the game. I was living in Pasadena at the time, Greg lived in Perry Hall. So it was a trek around the Beltway for me. What I didn't know was that a number of motorcycle riders had planned a ride around the Beltway for that Sunday morning (going the opposite direction from me, so I wasn't in their way. I spent almost the entire ride around I-695 with my left fist out of my window, in the air, in a sign of solidarity with and a show of respect for the guys riding on the other loop. I think I remember seeing others doing what I was doing, but I'm not 100% sure. I don't remember talking about it when I got to Greg's house, but I might have. But really, that doesn't matter.
So, where does all of that leave us?
I am not going to get into the politics of the immediate and long range aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. This is not the forum for it. I do remember watching the country rally around the NFL and MLB, feeling a nation not knowing what they are supposed to do turn to the familiar, watching men trapped by archetype and societal roles allow themselves to finally respond to the emotions of the moment while listening to someone sing the National Anthem, or even during a moment of silence before a game. Fans used the rituals of fandom to find a way to at least start feeling normal again, like things could one day be normal again.
I have not heard much from the masses about this, but I have heard a few rumblings that there should be no football or baseball games this Sunday. I disagree. And it has nothing to do with not "letting the terrorists win" or any kind of jingoistic claptrap. Because it isn't about letting the terrorists win any more than it is about letting the Rams win. It is about being who we are. And to be honest, Sunday afternoon is one of the few times that you will really see people looking more at the color of their jersey than the color of their skin.
One of my all time favorite memories is of what happened AFTER the Ravens beat the Giants in Tampa Bay. I had stayed home to watch the game instead of going to any number of friends' houses or to my favorite bar (a long story for another blog). But pretty much as soon as the game was over I headed out and started walking down to Fells Point. I don't remember having any reason to do it, other than wanting to be around people who were celebrating. As soon as I walked out of my house in Patterson Park, I heard cheering and laughter and car horns honking...it was a city wide party. There was no rioting, just elation. People were high fiving and hugging each other. Random strangers were handing you cold beers and inviting you to come join them for a celebratory shot, right there on the sidewalk in front of their house. The police were making sure that no one was going to hurt themselves or each other, but the open container rule was rescinded for one evening. I finally got down to Fells and started seeing friends in the street. I really don't know if I ever made it into the bar, but I know plenty of cold beverages made their way into my hands. I am pretty sure I was on at least one local news broadcast. But through it all, there was no black and white, no Jew and Muslim, no Catholic and Protestant. Everyone was a Ravens fan, and that is all that mattered to anyone out there. For one glorious moment we had achieved The Dream. And the really amazing thing is, I do not think I am being hyperbolic when I say that. I don't think that Dr. King had the Super Bowl in mind, but I do think that if he could have seen what was happening that night he would have approved. And he may have bought us all a round. And THAT is why they play the game, and THAT is why we watch.
And that is what tomorrow means to me. A chance to get back to the one thing that terrorists and bigots and closed minded idiots cannot stand: joy and togetherness in our shared experience.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
It's funny how much things can change in 25 years (yes, I know I am 38, but bear with me). The Orioles were the only pro game in town. And while they were going through a rough patch they were only a few years removed from winning the World Series, so it isn't like there was some hugely disaffected fan base (like there is now). They didn't have to show up in orange shorts (and I mean shorts. This is pre-Fab 5 Michigan length) and tank tops to my middle school and play a game against some of the students and faculty. But they did.
I know now that they probably did this all over the state, but to my 7th and 8th grade brain these were the guys I watched in awe on the baseball field walking into my crappy gymnasium to take us on. They had just finished the regular season and I just knew that the calendar in the locker room had "Sept. 14,15,16 @NYY. Sept. 18,19,20 TEX. Jan. 17 @CBMS (that January date was circled in red ink, because THAT one was personal). And it wasn't just a bunch of end-of-the-bench and mop up reliever guys playing. It was Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murray and Scott McGregor and Storm Davis.
And Mike Flanagan.
I don't remember much about the game (other than that we lost and that there was a picture of Mr. McMurray - one of our gym teachers - executing a perfect bounce pass past the outstretched arms of Cal in the yearbook. His face was the picture of concentration. HE was not in awe of these baseball players, that is for sure), and I don't recall any specific interactions with any of the players (I do recall a lot of the girls in my class swarming Cal after the game to get his autograph because they had crushes on him and his ice / steel blue eyes). I wish I could tell you that Flanagan said something to me, that he flashed his trademark sardonic wit and gave a kid a thrill. But I can't. He (like all of the Orioles) was polite, he was friendly, but he wasn't out there to find a 12 year old kid to make his new best friend. So my only real personal memory of Mike Flanagan, besides watching him pitch or listening to him during a game, is watching him run past me on the way to an easy layup. To tell you the truth, I don't remember being bothered all that much by being scored on by Flanagan (which is probably one of the reasons the Orioles won rather easily every time they played our school. That and because they were playing a mix of Social Studies teachers and gangly 13 year olds who were trying to figure out why their voice was cracking and why they were suddenly growing hair or boobs - or in the case of the hair growers how they could get to see those boobs - and why they had become REALLY uncoordinated).
By now you have heard that Mike Flanagan is dead. There are all sorts of rumors flying around right now about how (and possibly why) he died, but to be honest I don't care about that. The how and the why are secondary to the who, and the who is a man that cared as much about this ballclub as any one person has ever cared about anything. Whatever he was asked to do, he did it. He started games, he pitched in relief, he was traded for prospects and then came back as a Spring Training tryout (he was not even offered a minor league deal, which could easily be taken as a sign of disrespect) and made the team again, he worked in the broadcast booth, in the dugout as the pitching coach (on two separate occasions), and in the front office. I'm pretty sure that if someone had asked him to walk the aisles hawking beer or hot dogs he would have done it.
In an era where the vast majority of athletes are little more than high priced rentals, Mike Flanagan's dedication to the team that drafted him stands out. But our loss as fans who remember him for all he did for our team pales to the loss his family and friends are feeling right now. And while I know that the 24 hour news cycle demands fodder to be fed to it constantly, I hope that everyone takes a step back and thinks about what they would want if this was their teammate, their friend, their father, or their spouse, and gives those who are grieving that same respect.
Monday, August 01, 2011
Why am I bringing this up? Because all of this has led to Baltimore sports fans turning into that paranoid conspiracy theory guy that is convinced everyone is out to get them. I have never seen another fan base so completely out of their minds about making sure that the next hire is someone with local ties. Managers, front office personnel, even reporters. When the Orioles hired Lee Mazzilli in 2004 fans screamed in protest because he was most recently with the New York Yankees. Mazzilli led the Orioles to 78 wins in his first season and had them in 1st place in 2005 until the team fell apart in the middle of the Rafael Palmeiro steroid suspension / scandal / finger pointing at Miguel Tejada. But he was a Yankee, dammit. And my point then was "So what?" He is coming from a franchise that is winning. Maybe he can bring some of that dynamic and that success here. There is a reason that successful teams lose their coaches, be it in baseball or football or any other sport, and that is because the other teams recognize that success and want to emulate it. It makes sense. But around here making sense takes a back seat to making sure the hired help has a local commute just to get to the job interview. But that pales to the stink about reporters.
I am not going to opine on the merits and demerits of Jen Royle or Matt Vensel, because that is not the point of all of this. But the fact that Vensel is from Pittsburgh and Royle is from Boston (and for a double shot of local disgust she covered the Yankees for years before moving here to cover the Ravens and Orioles) apparently means that they are incapable of covering the local teams. Why? Because they are inherently biased against the Ravens and Orioles and their hometown allegiances will require, nay FORCE them to give disinformation; be overly critical of the local teams while giving too much praise to the opponents / rivals; and in any other way possible undermine the fan base here in order to facilitate the ascension of their home town teams.
As absolutely ludicrous as that sounds, it is what people (including certain locally owned AM sports talk station heads) actually believe. I have reached such a point of incredulity about the whole thing that I no longer know how to respond when someone I know says something like that (and I have heard friends actually say that the Orioles should have hired Rick Dempsey over Buck Showalter because Dempsey used to play here so he is obviously the right choice. Just an FYI - Dempsey played for the Yankees. That's who the Orioles got him from in a trade in 1976. But that seems to be forgotten by most people).
I am all for promoting from within. I love seeing someone I watched play and succeed come and work with players now and try to impart some wisdom upon them, but the simple fact is that other teams and other players have had success too and if they want to help the local teams improve than I am all for that as well. And while I love to see someone who grew up in the area find a home in the local media, I care more about their ability to analyze and report on what is happening with the teams that I watch (and cover). I do not care where they went to high school as long as they can give me information that I didn't already have or insight that I didn't think of or spark conversation that I am intrigued by and want to participate in, but more and more I seem to be in the minority about this.
What do YOU think?
Monday, July 25, 2011
- He does not have final say on who the team drafts
- He has no say in how they are developed
Monday, July 18, 2011
- David Ortiz stands at home plate for an extended period after hitting a home run off of Zach Britton, showing the rookie up
- Former Oriole Matt Albers goes almost into histrionics after striking out some former teammates
- Ortiz overreacts to pitches Kevin Gregg throws inside (while they were inside and called balls, Ortiz is known for crowding the plate in order to cover for his diminished bat speed on outside pitches) and yells at him from home plate
- Ortiz swings at a 3-0 pitch in the 8th inning of a 10-3 game
- Lackey hit Derrek Lee in the 7th inning in what was unquestionably an intentional pitch, which led to home plate umpire Jeff Nelson warning both benches (meaning if a pitcher hit another batter in that game no matter the possible intent it would be an automatic ejection of both that pitcher and his manager)
- And in Sunday's finale Red Sox rookie Kyle Weiland hit Mark Reynolds and Vladimir Guerrero, knocking both out of the game and putting Guerrero on the disabled list.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Thursday, July 07, 2011
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
Friday, July 01, 2011
Baltimore Orioles Fans Are Mad As Hell And They're Not Going To Take It Anymore: 2011 Not Quite All-Star Break Edition
Thursday, June 30, 2011
Okay boys, start sucking!
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Friday, May 06, 2011
Wednesday, May 04, 2011
You may recall that Gehrig also earned his nickname as "The Iron Horse" by playing in a record 2,130 games before succumbing to a bizarre muscular disease that eventually was named in his honor. His record for that playing streak lasted 56 years until Cal Ripken Jr., kept going and going before snapping it in 1995.
Nothing against Ripken Jr., but Gehrig remains the standard bearer for that record, too.