Friday, February 16, 2007

There are serious matters to discuss, but any chance I have to share with the world a cross between Adam Morrison's "I'm 15 and I'm going to the Iron Maiden Concert!" moustache and a "Joey Silvera" moustache I am going to take. I truly hope that this picks up steam with the rest of the team. When Eddie Murray and John Lowenstein were 'stache-ing it up in the '70's, the Orioles were good. Catch O's fever in 2007, this time on BETA!

Now, let's talk about the sport that rules our lives. Football. Lots going on around here that could carry some serious implications. First and foremost Rex Ryan interviewed for the San Diego Chargers' now vacant head coaching position. The philanthropist in me hopes he gets it because he deserves it. The fan in me hopes he never gets a job offer and he stays here as Defensive Coordinator until he retires at a ripe old age. So it is safe to say I am torn.

Actually, I'm not that torn. I want him to stay here and be the head coach of the Ravens in 2008. I think Billick has run his course here, 13-3 record notwithstanding. In my opinion (and the opinion of my good friend Greg, who crystallized the thought much more succinctly than I ever could have) he is a good coach, but he is too smart to get out of his own way. The reason the Ravens won in 2000 is because he was so new that he let the other coaches do their jobs and stayed the hell out of the way. Lots of good coaches do that. Now he thinks that he has to get extra smart and extra cute, especially in the postseason, and it is going to prematurely end our seasons until he is gone. A year or two away from the game and he comes back with another team and does well for 4-5 years. But in order to accomplish all of this, he needs to fail in 2007, and that would mean (to borrow from Bill Simmons) some serious "fantanking". Rooting against my own team for short term failure in order to obtain the possibility of longer term success is not something I take lightly and not something I could do easily. If a team I root for starts off badly and there is no reasonable hope for a meaningful turnaround that season ('88 Orioles anyone?) I will gladly root for continued lack of success in order to get that good draft pick and maybe that hot coaching prospect. But to hope for failure before mini-camp has even begun, well I am not sure if I can do that. I'll let you know how it goes.

To franchise tag or not to franchise tag. THAT is the question. Whether it is nobler to keep Adailus Thomas around for another season when odds are that we are going to have to lose him the following year due to salary cap limitations or to let him go now and use the cap space to help shore up the offensive line and the is the big decision over at Owings Mills right now. I have waffled back and forth on this, and here is where I stand right now (reserving the right to pull a complete 180 at any time no questions asked): let him walk. I think that keeping 10 of 11 starters on the #1 ranked defense in the NFL is a pretty good deal, and I think that Jarret Johnson is ready to step up. He will never be as versatile as AD, but he will do the linebacker position justice. I think Johnson would surprise some people. The fans would come close to rioting if Thomas left (my money is on San Francisco, a team with a real chance at going places in the next year or two), but the thing is that he would command over $7 million as the franchise player, and he is 30. I know he hasn't been a defensive starter for his entire career, but he has been a gunner on special teams his whole career, and that lends itself to catastrophic injury. He is due to start losing a step or two. The risks are not worth the payoff here.

Now let's talk Jamal Lewis. There have been some rumblings about the team's plans to cut him before his $5 million roster bonus kicks in. Cutting him saves $3.3 (or something close to that) in cap room this year. But here is the deal folks, his "3 year" contract that he signed in 2006 was really a 1 year contract. It was a "show me you are back from the injuries and distractions" contract. He didn't show me enough. Now I have heard him say that he was injured for a good part of the season last year and that he is going to be back %100 this year. Well, I would love to believe that. But even if that is the case, he has been hampered by injury for the majority of his career (elbow injury his rookie year caused him to miss a lot of training camp, the blown knee in 2001, the ankle in 2004/2005, and that is without delving into his college career). He is the style of back that absorbs too much punishment, and I think it has caught up with him. This would be an even easier decision if Musa Smith could stay healthy for more than a quarter and a half. I still don't know what if anything they plan to do with Mike Anderson. Are they planning on converting him back to a fullback, which is why they are letting Ovie (ain't EVEN trying to get the last name right because it is after midnight and I have been up since 6 A.M.) test the free agent waters? Personally I would rather they keep Ovie around, draft a good RB in the first or second round, and use the rookie along with Anderson like the Patriots used Lawrence Maroney with Corey Dillon. Jamal? Good luck and Godspeed my friend. Thanks for all the hard work.

I will check back in on the subject before the draft. In the meantime, I need to get my brain into Spring Training mode. Benson out, Traschel in? I am going to have to get some sleep before I can delve into the muck that is the Orioles in 2007.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I have been a Cubs fan for years. It started when I was 8. That was the year that my sister went into the 6th grade and I went into the 3rd grade. Which meant for the first time in my existence in the realm of schooling I was in a different school that her. And since both of our parents worked we weer latch key kids. And since I got home before my sister, I got a key to the house. And that meant that for the first time in my life I got to control the remote and choose what to watch on TV. We had finally got cable about 6 months before (although it would be another 2+ years before my Dad broke down and got an air conditioner. Not even window units, just a big ceiling fan built in that sucked air throughout the house and kicked it out of a vent in the attic. Because when the air is 90+ degrees with 75% humidity, making it move past you REALLY cools you off. I was one of those kids who looked at going to the movie theatre like a gift from the gods of comfortable air, like I was living in the 50's or something. But I digress...), so I had more to choose from than just the Big 3 and the local affiliates (remember when there were channels NOT affiliated with networks? The ones that would show whatever the hell they wanted? Nothing was cooler than random Saturday morning cartoons followed by the kung-fu triple feature or 12 straight hours of Charles Bronson. I am too damn young to be getting nostalgic!). I would surf around (no Cartoon Network then), and one day I came across WGN, the Chicago superstation. And they were showing a Cubs game. Now this was before they put the lights on Wrigley, so all the games there were day games. And even back then day games during the week were a real rarity. I got hooked on watching a stadium full of people and listening to Harry Carry (phonetically the perfect name for a Cubs broadcaster). I was too young to know that he was sloshed off of his ass most games. I just liked listening to him ramble and sing "Take Me Out To The Ballgame". When my Dad would come home, he was so happy that wasn't watching "that damn MTV" (which was banned, almost Footloose style, in my house for years. Of course that ban was all but ignored by my sister and me. I remember when "Home Sweet Home" by Motley Crue was number one on the old request show for what seemed like 2 years) that he happily supported my having a National League team to root for, since it did not interfere with the American League team that was here in Baltimore. He would tease me sometimes to check my loyalty in case the Orioles and Cubs played in the World Series, making sure I would stay with the home team. Looking back, he really shouldn't have spent any energy worrying about that. But that love of the Cubs led me to become a fan of all Chicago teams (except the White Sox, especially after the '83 playoffs). I lost interest in the Bulls after they became the juggernaut of the NBA, and I never really got into hockey (but I still occasionally scan the box scores to see how the Blackhawks are doing). That is why I am a Cubs fan.

Another thing I am a big fan of is athletes and stars speaking in the third person. I love the unmitigated hubris and the unintentional comedy. To me, there is nothing better than hearing something like "Willy Jo has to think about the future of Willy Jo". Brilliant. So imaging my joy upon seeing this...

Big Z, the Z train, Carlos Zambrano.

Now the article is worth reading, especially if you are a Cubs fan, or a fan of any of the NL Central teams. But this is what makes it gold...

"Whatever happens, I don't want to know [anything] about a contract during the season. I want to sign with the Cubs before the season starts," the Cubs' pitching ace said in an interview on WGN-TV, according to the Chicago Tribune. "If they don't sign me, sorry, but I must go. That's what Carlos Zambrano thinks."

That's what Carlos Zambrano thinks. Does anyone else read that and hear "What would Brian Boitano Do?" in their head? It even has the same number of syllables. It's perfect.

At least that's what BSR thinks.