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Everything posted by ExtremeRavens

  1. Baltimore Sun columnists and NFL reporters, plus WJZ's Mark Viviano, will pick NFL games (not against the spread). View the full article
  2. Little trash-talking, no brash predictions; what happened?Let me begin by saying this about tonight's big game between the Ravens and New York Jets: I hope it's more exciting than the PR snooze-fest leading up to it. View the full article
  3. Cornerback Chris Carr missed practice Friday and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Jets with a thigh injury. View the full article
  4. Cornerback Chris Carr missed practice Friday and is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Jets with a thigh injury. View the full article
  5. Wide receiver will miss second straight gameIn Sunday night's game against the New York Jets, the Ravens could get back one of their key offensive linemen, but they'll again be without a starting wide receiver. View the full article
  6. Mixed martial artist Urijah Faber is among the guests at Ravens practice today as they prepare for Sunday's showdown with the New York Jets. View the full article
  7. Wide-out Lee Evans, who missed practice again Friday, apparently will miss his second straight game with an ankle injury when the Ravens meet the New York Jets Sunday night. View the full article
  8. Here's a collection of Ravens-Jets picks from around the WebHere's a collection of Ravens-Jets picks from around the Web View the full article
  9. Jets leading receiver has defense's attentionThe New York Jets’ wide receiving corps boasts a speedster in Santonio Holmes, a red-zone target in Plaxico Burress and a technician in Derrick Mason. View the full article
  10. New York coach has work to do with run defense after loss to OaklandAfter watching the Ravens trounce St. Louis 37-7 last week, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan isn't sure what to expect from the Ravens on Sunday night. View the full article
  11. An Opening Day Toast made yesterday before the game… Here’s to another Opening Day. To a season of cold beer and warm nights at Camden Yards. To Jim Hunter’s optimism and Jim Palmer’s rants, to Joe Angel’s barks and Fred Manfra’s chuckle. To ‘O’ in the Anthem and ‘Country Boy’ in the Stretch. To heartbreaking losses, to meaningless wins, to untimely injuries and bad bullpen decisions. To veterans that slump and rookies that flounder. To manager tantrums, worth admission alone. To passed balls, to wild pitches, to overrun bases, to first pitch swings and watched third strikes. To finding new ways to lose, never seen before or since. To your hat stained with the failure of twelve seasons past. To that small part of your soul that comes alive every April and dies by June. To faith in the stands and failure on the field. Here’s to a season of Orioles baseball. Again. View the full article
  12. Two games in and we’re already at lesson 37, geez. That’s Orioles baseball for ya… Lesson #37 in Orioles Baseball, 2010: The ball always finds the guy that’s gimpy. And even if you think a left fielder’s defense doesn’t matter, you’ll soon learn it will. Goat of the Game goes to Nolan Reimold who deserves a lot of credit for his quick rehab from a torn achilles tendon, but is still showing signs of the injury in almost every move he makes. By my count, Nolan missed two very catchable balls by taking awkward routes and running like Betty White. The second, which Nolan missed by about an inch, cost the Orioles two runs and the lead. Certainly plenty of blame to pass around in this one, but close games require solid play all the way around. The O’s bats might have been quiet, but their defense was far from sharp. View the full article
  13. Same as the 2009 Orioles… Same as the 2008 Orioles… Same as the 2007 Orioles… Same as the 2006 Orioles… Same as the 2005 Orioles… Same as the 2004 Orioles… Same as the 2003 Orioles… Same as the 2002 Orioles… Same as the 2001 Orioles… Same as the 2000 Orioles… Same as the 1999 Orioles… Same as the 1998 Orioles… View the full article
  14. The Baltimore Sun’s Kevin Van Valkenburg wrote an interesting column for the paper today; he took on the role of the Orioles front office as they “came clean” about the calamity that has been the last decade-plus in franchise history. In all honesty, it’s a nice but harmless piece – the kind I have come to expect from The Sun. It takes few jabs at the O’s and their management, but largely avoids criticism with any backbone. You can read the piece here. But it was one, short, half-attack that really caught my eye. Again, these are the words of Van Valkenburg, as if Andy MacPhail or Peter Angelos were saying them… “Despite what we said publicly, it’s clear we took you for granted. Did we ever officially apologize for Albert Belle? If not, we should have.” There’s a lot of things to say about Albert Belle. Now 10 years after his retirement, he is still a man that everyone in Baltimore has an opinion about. When his name comes up, eyebrows raise across the town. I get it, he was certainly a character. But what I have never fully understood is why people here despise Belle so much, as if he destroyed this team and its legacy. I come, time and time again, to this question: Why would the Orioles ever apologize for Albert Belle? Was he a jerk? Absolutely. But he was also the best player this team had (perhaps short of Miguel Tejada in 2004-2006) in this 12 year streak. Was his retirement shocking and painful (especially to the Orioles’ wallet)? Certainly. But Belle didn’t just walk away from the game because he was bored and leave the team out to dry. The fact is, Belle’s career-ending injury and its aftermath has become an urban legend. It’s especially sour that Belle got paid every last cent of that massive contract despite playing less than half of it, but that is in part thanks to the Orioles’ famed insurance plan in case of such an injury. What’s truly sad and pathetic about Belle’s tenure with the Orioles is that it represents the point at which the Orioles became a punchline, but only because the team allowed itself to. Belle’s injury and early retirement are what scared Peter Angelos into the tightwad he is today. The anger at Belle is misplaced. The Orioles should never apologize for signing one of the most feared hitters in league history. They should apologize for the way a single player’s failure shaped a decade of baseball in the city. On a sidenote… Belle has plenty to be angry about. Was he Hall of Fame caliber? Certainly, but a career cut short made him a laughing stock. And throughout his career he was dissed by media and fans alike. In 1995, Belle led the league in runs (121), doubles (52), home runs (50), RBI (126), and slugging (690). He also hit 317 and his team won 100 games – 10 more than anyone else in the majors. He lost the MVP race to Mo Vaughn, of the Boston Red Sox. Vaughn was no where near Belle’s numbers in any category except RBI, where they tied. And the Red Sox won just 86 games. Pathetic, Baseball Writers of America. View the full article
  15. Two recent Orioles news items caught my eyes, both involving prospect and likely #3 starter Brian Matusz… A little more than a week ago, local writers reported that the Orioles had Matusz pitching a simulated game to get some extra time in. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz, who was overseeing the session, had to add add outs to the later innings of the game. One of the goals of the simulation was to have Matusz throw upwards of 20 pitches in an inning, so that he could get the feel for throwing that much. But through his first several innings he was escaping too often with a pitch count under 15. More recently, Matusz pitched seven innings in a minor league game – again to get a bit more time in and, according to the Orioles, to work on his motion with runners on. The move again backfired. According to Yahoo, Matusz allowed just one runner over his seven innings. Can’t he start Opening Day? View the full article
  16. Three way too early predictions for this season. Actually, two way too early predictions and one absolute lock. I’ll let you decide which is which. 1. Brian Matusz will win the AL Rookie of the Year. I told someone this today and they told me a lefty hadn’t won the AL Rookie of the Year (or any ROY?) since 1981. As far as I’m concerned, that means he’s due. 2. Matt Wieters is going to break out like no other this year. Look at the splits last year, go ahead. I’ll wait. Despite a dreadful start, Wieters turned it around for his last 200+ at bats. He finished the season hitting over 300 from the left side. His power steadily increased, as did his run production. Wieters knows how to adjust and I am betting on a very quick learning curve this season. 3. I’ll be annoyed with Gary Thorne before the Orioles get back to Baltimore for Opening Day. Thorne’s a great guy by all accounts and decent at play-by-play. He’s also about as professional as they come. But at times, he takes it too far. Last season, Thorne invented his own new way of running the stats… he’d read the Runs-Hits-Errors tally for each time at random times throughout the game. And without any context. “So here comes Nick Markakis to the plate… Orioles 3-6-1, Rays 5-8-0… the first pitch is a strike.” The line became typical in Thorne’s repertoire, but even by October last year my first reaction was “Since when are there ties in baseball?” Stick to the standards, Gary. View the full article
  17. “There’s reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last…” Quick thoughts on the official start of Spring Training… First… WOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOO. The Sun has a nice little piece on it’s site entitled ‘Optimism Springs Eternal for Orioles.’ Cheesy, but true. There’s something about the first sight of players in team colors, playing catch and taking BP that just brings life to winter. To me, the first days of Spring Training always feel like the real New Year – and just like on January 1, there’s a feeling that anything can happen. Second… Why do pitchers and catchers always report first? Seriously, we’re talking about a difference of about a week? We don’t think that most position players could benefit from some extra time in camp; young guys who need to push fundamentals a bit more and old guys who need the extra time to learn how to keep their bodies working? Third… Brad Bergesen isn’t in camp yet. That’s a shame. And a stupid story. If you’ve heard it, cry with me. If you haven’t, don’t look it up. Fourth… The O’s have moved to Sarasota for their ventures. Thank goodness. I only made it to Fort Lauderdale once to see the O’s (check that off the ol’ bucket list), and as much fun as the experience was, the facility was awful. I couldn’t believe the Orioles were paying to use the place. And it’s a miracle they ever got anyone to visit the damn stadium. Sarasota isn’t exactly paradise from what I understand, but it’s a start. Coming later this weekend… a few predictions and my official Oriole Park viewers guide. View the full article
  18. Locked inside for six days and slowly going insane. I drafted a number of posts and deleted them all. No reason for you to have to read my ridiculous ramblings. There’s a fun rivalry that has been growing over the last few seasons of Orioles baseball: those who believe that the team is actually interested in fielding a decent product for their fans versus those who believe very much the opposite (that the organization would do anything for a buck, wins be damned). In a not-so-playful way, each side has taken it’s name… Those who are against the team call themselves “the realists.” Those who support the team have been labeled “the warehousers” by their counterparts. It’s so very English Civil War of them. Personally, I call them the ‘cynics’ and the ‘apologists.’ In my varied interactions with these developed political parties, I’ve been called both – though probably more frequently a warehouser than a realist. As in most online conversation, you are labeled by those around you, those who read your what you write. And like all online unmoderated online conversation, there’s an elementary school vibe to it all. Name-calling, labeling, rubber, glue, boing-flip. It’s a shame when quality baseball conversation can be drowned by such nonsense (such an apologist, I know). I like to think that I tend to walk the very fine line between taking either side in the great debate. As such, I’d like to point out a few tenets that I believe about Orioles baseball in its present form. First: There is no excuse for the performance of this team over the last decade-plus. None. Second: Peter Angelos does not have the interest of Orioles fans at heart. He has not only made the club unsuccessful for innumerable reasons, but he has alienated a large number of good fans and continues to divide the present fanbase. And relative to the Ravens, the Orioles organization is baseball’s North Korea – isolated, shut down, and pumping out propaganda to anyone that will listen. Third: Despite all of that, there is no grand conspiracy within the organization to keep the team uncompetitive. Nor is there any conspiracy to exploit the fanbase (at least not more than any other professional sports organization). Fourth: While the reign of Andy MacPhail has been unsuccessful thus far (in the standings, at least), I believe that he does have the best interest of the club and its fan at heart. MacPhail’s overhaul of the club is moving forward and you can see that in the recognition received around the league. We’ll discuss all of this a bit more in time – we can talk payroll and revenues, free agent signings and player development, rising ticket prices and falling sales – but for now, that’s all I have. I don’t know that I’ve taken a side. I’m just a fan. But I’m sure there are plenty of people out there willing to tell me just which side I’m on. View the full article
  19. I’m reminded this snowy Wednesday of the Orioles Opening Day game from 2003. The O’s won 6-5 over the Indians, in a game stopped in the 3rd inning for snow. That’s right, snow. I still remember laughing with my friends about the thought of snow in Baltimore during baseball season. This winter being the exception, Baltimore generally doesn’t see snow outside of January and February. I also remember being quite perturbed at the decision-making of the umpiring crew that afternoon – even after the Orioles won. In the midst of the worst of the snow in the 3rd inning, the Indians’ Ellis Burks hit an RBI single to right field. Except that, nobody quite knows where the ball landed or how the ball was hit – just that it eventually wound up in right field in front of Jay Gibbons. Mike Hargrove, the Orioles Manager at the time, rightfully threw a fit at the idea that a ball hit into a white haze could somehow be ruled ‘in play’ and, worse, score a run. Immediately after that play, the game was delayed briefly to let the snow move out of the area. Looking back now, the quotes coming out of the game are just fantastic – at least in terms of comedic value. From Ellis Burks himself: “What ball? I couldn’t even see it at the plate. I told the umpire I couldn’t see it. I asked him if he could see it and he said, ‘A little.’” Bonus odd fact – the O’s won that game in the 13th inning. 13 innings of Opening Day baseball? Who could ask for better? More fun time machine facts: O’s Starting Pitcher: Rodrigo Lopez O’s Winning Pitcher: BJ Ryan Indians’ Starting Pitcher: CC Sabathia Indians’ Losing Pitcher: Jake Westbrook Also pitching for the Indians: Danys Baez The Orioles Starting Line-up Read: Hairston, 2B; Matthews, CF; Surhoff, LF; Conine, 1B; Gibbons, RF; Batista, 3B; Cordova, DH; Gil, C; Cruz, SS. Deivi Cruz? … Wow. View the full article
  20. A whole-hearted and sincere congratulations to Jon Miller, former Orioles television broadcaster and 2010 Frick Award Recipient for contributions to sports journalism. Miller will be inducted into the broadcasting wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown as a part of his award. Miller left the O’s on a relatively bitter note after the 1996 season. As many have pointed out, his exit was one of the first in a series of terrible decisions (and non-decisions) by the Orioles front office that has led the team and organization to its current situation. There have always been conflicting reports about Miller’s departure from Baltimore, and as an outsider I want little part of making bogus claims. But I will repeat one of the most popular theories, often attributed to Miller himself in some instances: that Peter Angelos and the Orioles were upset with Miller’s straight-forward and no-nonsense approach to announcing. In other words, Miller had no problem telling fans just how poorly the Orioles were performing as a team or organization. What’s ironic about such a situation, of course, is that Miller was announcing for the Orioles during their last memorable campaign. What exactly could he have been saying in 1996 about a club on its way to the ALCS? I’m sure there were comments about players, coaches, and even Angelos. I’m sure there was also unwelcome commentary on the 1994 strike-shortened season. But the Orioles were a top-performing and top-selling team in 1996. Miller’s words didn’t seem to hurt the club by any measurable amount. It would be interesting, to say the least, to see what Miller would have to say about the Orioles these days if he were working with the club in a regular basis. But I digress. Miller remains one of the best in the game at what he does. When sitting in the outfield bleachers at OPACY and broadcasting my own play-by-play, he’s the man I want to sound like. He’s the man every little kid is trying to emulate from their little league bench, whether they know it or not. Since leaving the Orioles, Miller has been with the San Francisco Giants and has also been featured on ESPN”s weekly Sunday Night Baseball. Even when the Orioles aren’t playing, I occasionally tune in just to hear Miller talk baseball. And he certainly gets bonus points for keeping Joe Morgan on topic (most of the time). So, here’s to Jon Miller. Kudos and keep up the good work, Jon. *I avoided every inclination to turn this post into a rant about the litany of sub-Miller announcers the Orioles have driven through town since Miller, mainly because Miller deserves a post of his own. But be assured – it will come in time. View the full article
  21. As we’re all aware, Miguel Tejada is back with the Orioles for 2010. Like just about every move the Orioles have made (and haven’t made) in the last two-three years, the Tejada signing has come with plenty of commentary from the fan base. What I tend to be hearing most are rants and ruminations about Tejada’s final season-plus as an Oriole in 2007 and the attitude that came with it. The cliched “clubhouse cancer” and “me-first mentality” arguments are ablaze. I’m also seeing lots of “he just wants to win!” rebuttals. In fairness to the naysayers, I have to agree that my final memories of Tejada in 2007 are not exactly fond. From his pouty-pants tantrums to the steroid allegations, Tejada certainly didn’t leave Baltimore fans with a great final impression. But the bottom line is this: I don’t give a hoot about Tejada’s last stint with the Orioles or any outsider’s interpretation of what his impact on the clubhouse will be. First and foremost, chemistry is one of those elusive, intangible, pseudo-theories that managers use to inspire their troops and analysts use to fill dead air time. In the end, it comes down to wins and losses. Win games and team chemistry is great. Lose games and, well, it’s not great. Winning fixes everything; I am not going to fault anyone for being unhappy about winning 70 games a year (a good year, even). Even if I concede that chemistry exists and has an impact on a team, it’s likely the impact on a team that would consider 80 wins a breakout year is, well, minimal. Miguel Tejada’s antics are not likely to mean much in 2010. But also worth note is that Miguel Tejada can still hit. At six million dollars with a few incentive-based figures added on, Tejada is costing the Orioles considerably less than when they had him last. And while his power numbers have faded significantly, his average and doubles numbers have remained. He is, far and away, the best option the Orioles have at 3B this season. Put it this way: for every at bat Tejada gets, that’s one less that Ty Wigginton will have. And for that fact alone, I’m quite thankful. View the full article
  22. As alluded to yesterday, I feel compelled to take some time to discuss the fiasco that has become scheduling and Major League Baseball. I will grant that MLB has some unique challenges to making a decent schedule – different numbers of teams in each league, unusual numbers of teams in each division, and the insanity of putting together 162 games – but it seems that every year the schedules get more absurd and further from anything that could be called ‘rational.’ This post was mostly inspired by something I noticed on the Orioles schedule months ago when the official dates for 2010 were announced. As mentioned in previous posts, the Orioles are one of few teams to not start the season on Monday, April 5. As a result, the Orioles play on Tuesday, April 6, a day that most clubs in the league have off. As annoying as that may be to me, it’s acceptable. What I find silly, though, is the fact that as a result of this irregular start, the Orioles are the only team in the league to play 16 straight games to start their season. From April 6 to April 21, the O’s play every day. Playing 16 straight games over the course of the season is hardly an unusual occurrence. But 16 straight to start the season is unusual. I’m not claiming any kind of conspiracy or anti-Orioles league bias, just annoyance. Most teams start with several days off in their first two weeks of play, allowing all players (but pitchers especially) to get readjusted to the grueling pace that is baseball season. A day’s rest, even after Opening Day, allows most every club to start their pitchers on a six-day cycle, instead of five, allowing for a nice little curve to the early season. Even more ridiculous is that the Orioles get to make a cross-country trip in the midst of that 16-game span. Nine games on the east coast lead directly into nine on the west coast, without the customary travel day in between. Again, no conspiracy theories, just frustration. But the inadequacies of the MLB’s scheduling system do not stop there, nor do they pertain solely to my love of the Orioles. Since the beginnings of interleague play, the introduction of the Rays and Diamondbacks as expansion teams, and the realigning of divisions, the league has found itself including two-game series regularly throughout the season. And to put it plainly, the two-game series is a joke. It has teams traveling more frequently and upsets the balance created in three- and four-game series (namely, that you can’t waltz into town without facing one of your opponent’s top three starters). The blame for the two-game series lies primarily with interleague play, which also provides its own aggravating roadblocks to a decent scheduling system. Make no mistake, when interleague was introduced, I was fan (a much younger fan). But the reality is that interleague play has lost its luster. More importantly, it creates incredible imbalance across the league, and especially in divisions. For example, in the 14 seasons of interleague, the St. Louis Cardinals have never played the Oakland Athletics, but have played the Los Angeles Angels three times (third upcoming in 2010). This system is only further complicated by the league’s ‘geographic rivalries’ system for interleague play. There’s two levels of stupidity here. First, it further imbalance. For example, the Orioles are paired with the Nationals; the two teams play each other six times a season. No exceptions, the teams will play six times. For the O’s and Nationals, that’s actually a decent match by record. But using the same system, the Cardinals are paired with the Royals. Advantage? Cardinals (especially while the Cubs get to play the White Sox). The second level of stupidity, though, is far worse. Currently, there are eight teams who do not have a geographic rival. And because of the unequal number of teams in each league, it would be impossible to match-up appropriately. The result? Some teams play six games against one opponent every year, while other teams get mixed and matched more frequently. While the Mets get to face the Yankees six times annually, the Braves and Phillies get to jump wherever the league desires – Royals, Orioles, Mariners, Blue Jays? Unfortunately, to your fans and owners alike, interleague is seen as something special. Fans get to see teams and players they may never see otherwise. And owners get to bank on having unusual and rare draws to the park to pad their wallets. In other words, the system isn’t going anywhere. One last note on baseball scheduling: There are some days that demand baseball. I advocated in another post that all teams start the season on the same day, and I meant that. But even more important than some arbitrarily set Monday in April are the likes of Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. It is inexcusable that any team not be scheduled to play on any of the above dates. Honestly, this just baffles me. Memorial Day and Labor Day should be no brainers. From a business standpoint, they are national holidays during the work week and people are begging to get outside and spend money. This year, there are four teams that will not play on Memorial Day. The unofficial start of summer across the nation, and four teams will not be playing. The Orioles are among those four teams, which obviously annoys me. The Red Sox are among those teams as well, which is absolutely mind-boggling. How the Red Sox let the league screw them out of a Memorial Day game is beyond me. Lucky for the league, Fourth of July is one a Sunday this year and they are protected from their own ineptitude. Otherwise I’m sure we could rant about how a number of teams wouldn’t be playing then either. View the full article
  23. Mark Hendrickson will be back in Baltimore in 2010. He’s taking a small paycut and will likely join the team as a long reliever and spot-starter (especially in the team’s early April stretch of 16 straight games, which I’ll rant on later). I’m torn on the signing, but definitely see the value Hendrickson adds to this club. First and foremost, he adds a left arm to a staff that, before his signing, likely only had two lefties, total (Brian Matusz and Mike Gonzalez). Having Hendrickson around for long-relief – thereby giving the likes of Matt Albers and Koji Uehara a little more rest – certainly isn’t a bad thing. And if you look at Hendrickson’s numbers last season, they were far from awful (well, at least after May). In fact, despite my consistent joking last year that Hendrickson was the king of allowing inherited runners to score, that was hardly the case. It only felt that way. Hendrickson finished the season tied for 8th in the league, allowing just 22% of inherited runners to score. Nonetheless, my assertion wasn’t entirely off-base. Through 2008, Hendrickson was among the league’s worst in stranding inherited runners over the course of his career. And his high percentage of balls put in play (aka, low strikeout rate) was never of much help to his statline. Then again, as a reliever, letting an inherited runner score never affects your ERA – just the guy before you. Regardless, Hendrickson is a necessary addition for this team at this point. If he can maintain his late 2009 form, he’ll be a fine role player (on a team of role players?). View the full article
  24. I was able to purchase my tickets for Opening Day this afternoon thanks to the Orioles limited pre-sale for season-ticket holders. Even though the game is ten weeks out, the thought of hitting the yard for the first time has been on my mind most of the day. Three thoughts on the O’s and Opening Day… 1. Opening Day should be a national holiday. Or at least a local one. Seriously, no one wants to be at work. No kid wants to be at school. It feels like the whole town is out to lunch. It’s ‘America’s Pastime,’ so let America celebrate it. 2. All Opening Day games should be just that: day games. No more of this evening baseball in April. Beer, hot dog, sunshine. To the Orioles credit, they got this one right. Despite the unusual occurrence of having a home-opener on a Friday (Friday!), the Warehouse was wise enough to keep the start time at 3pm. 3. In accordance with establishing Opening Day as a national holiday, the league should be smart enough to straighten out the schedule. With the exception of the Sunday Night Lead-in Game, every other Opening Day game should be played on Monday. O’s fans got the sort-end on this one this year; the Birds open on Tuesday in Tampa. Tuesday. Pathetic. I understand that the league is worried about every team having an off day together, but no fans should have to sit and wait for their magic moment. “You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.” – Joe DiMaggio, on Opening Day. View the full article
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