Archive for June, 2008

O's Week in Review: Just Sort of Hovering

June 30, 2008

The O’s followed up their sweep of Houston by dropping 2 of 3 in Milwaukee, taking 2 of 3 at Wrigley Field, then losing 2 of 3 in Washington over the weekend.

Huff and Puff and Make Us Forget All About “Bubba the Love Sponge”

Aubrey Huff, he of the eventful offseason, has been on an absolute tear lately, batting over .400 with 5 HR and 9 RBI in the previous 8 games (heading into the weekend). He now leads the team in RBI with 45 and is tied with Luke Scott for the HR lead with 14. With the Birds floating right around the .500 mark, and still not much of a threat in the loaded AL East this year, Huff may be one of the teams’ most valuable trade pieces as the deadline approaches.

Lots of Arms, Just Not Healthy Ones

Jaime Walker was placed on the 15 day DL with left elbow inflammation. This news on the heels of Matt Albers being diagnosed with a torn labrum after his spot start on Wednesday in Chicago, when he only made it through 5 batters. Albers is said to be seeking a second opinion before he decides whether or not to have surgery on the injury, which would shelf him for the season. Albers came to the O’s from Houston along with pitcher Troy Patton, who suffered the same season-ending injury last spring.

Albers is currently 3-3 with a 3.49 ERA.


To take Walker’s spot on the roster, the team recalled Adam Loewen from Bowie, where he just had his last (and worst) rehab appearance. Loewen pitched 2/3 of an inning, giving up 2 hits, 1 HR, 1 BB, and hitting a batter. Manager Dave Trembley says that Loewen will pitch from the bullpen for the remainder of the season, and there is no chance he will be reinserted into the rotation this year.

Seriously, That’s Enough of This Sunday Bullshit

With yesterday’s two-out, two-strike walk-off home run off the bat of Ronnie Belliard, the Birds have now lost TWELVE STRAIGHT games on Sundays. It’s gotten so bad that team brass is stepping in and offering free tickets to any fan at this Sunday’s game if they win.

O's Sweep 'Stro(h')s, Celebrate with Natty Boh's, Hon!

June 19, 2008

O's Week in Review (A Bit Overdue)

June 18, 2008


Where did all this “O” come from?
Seeing as we called them out in the last O’s weekly review we did, it’s only fair that we now praise the team for rediscovering how to score runs. They are averaging 5.6 runs per game so far in June, and are now fourth from last in the AL in runs scored, a step up from the 3rd to last that we reported on Memorial day. The increase in offensive production from the Birds isn’t so hard to understand when you realize that Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts have each raised their averages nearly 30 points over the first 15 games of this month. The 1-2 punch at the top of the order (Markakis, for whatever reason, seems much more at home in that 2 spot) are now hitting .286 and .287, respectively.

Cardiac Kids
Having mentioned that the O’s are scoring 5.6 runs per game this month, we also have to point out, however, that they are allowing nearly 5.5 runs over the same stretch. With such a small scoring differential, its pretty amazing that they are 9-6 so far this month, and have won every series against teams not from Boston. The Birds have won the close ones, though, as they are 4-2 in 1-run games in June, and 16-10 on the year. With last night’s come-from-behind win, the O’s have now won 16 games when trailing by 2 or more runs, and 5 games that they’ve trailed after the 7th inning (thanks to Roch for that stat).

(I was watching highlights of last Saturday’s comeback on MLB.com, and their announcer declared that “If any team were to be known as the Cardiac Kids so far this year, it just might have to be the Baltimore Orioles. ” Nice to know that others are recognizing the heart this team has shown.)

Nicky Mark’s Visual Fielding Aides
Ok, so here’s something a bit off-the-wall. I went to the game against Pittsburgh Friday night to see the Earl Weaver and ’79 team tribute, as well as to watch the Birds in those sweet throwback unis. It was a great game to attend, obviously, as they rallied from a 6-1 deficit to win 9-6. From our seats in right-center field though, my dad and I noticed something a bit peculiar about Nick Markakis and his positioning during pitches. See if you notice anything:

Here is Nick lining up before Freddy Sanchez led off the game:

And now with Jason Bay batting in the 4th:

And finally with Xavier Nady up in the 7th:

Catch it?

HE NEVER LEAVES HIS LITTLE SQUARE!

Seriously, wtf is up with that? By comparison, Jason “Mullet” Michaels of the Pirates didn’t let himself be restricted to that little patch of newly-installed grass, and moved around according to the hitter. Nicky Mark, on the other hand, seems to be playing the childhood game of “the ground is lava” outside of his square. I imagine him climbing the walls and wandering around aimlessly before Dave Trembley and the grounds crew reached a compromise (the crew wasn’t very fond of Dave’s original suggestion of a giant “X” for Nick to stand on) about how to get Nick and his perpetual 5 o’clock shadow in an acceptable fielding position.

I kid because I love, Nick – I kid because I love.

So Long, J.O.- Ogden to Announce Retirement

June 11, 2008

Jonathan Ogden is officially calling it quits.

The man known simply as J.O. will hold a press conference tomorrow to announce his retirement from the National Football League marking the end of arguably the greatest career any Raven has enjoyed in the short history of the franchise. J.O. is all the dominance of Ray Lewis without any of the controversy or other stuff that may rub some people the wrong way.

Quite possibly the best left tackle, if not offensive lineman, ever to grace the gridiron, Ogden made the Pro Bowl in 11 of his 12 seasons, and every single season since being moved to tackle after his rookie year. He is a 9-time All-Pro and as recently as 1 year ago was voted by NFL players as the most intimidating lineman in the league. The 6’9″ Ogden is truly, as Brian Billick once put it, “a true freak of nature.”

Ogden had the ability to completely shut down the best defensive ends and blitzing linebackers in the league, from Bruce Smith and Simeon Rice in his earlier days, to Jevon Kearse and Shawne Merriman in recent years. In fact, the only guy that ever REALLY gave J.O. anything resembling fits was Dwight Freeney. For whatever reason, J.O. couldn’t figure out how to stop those spins the first couple times they went head-to-head. In their final meeting though, in the January 2007 playoff game in Baltimore, Ogden got his revenge, preventing the whirling dervish from registering so much as a single tackle.For 11 years, the Ravens never had to think twice about the protection scheme on the left side. It was simple – J.O. has it under control. His departure means that Ravens quarterbacks will no longer have the peace of mind that came with having J.O. protecting their blind side. It means that the team can no longer just tuck the running back up between J.O.’s big ol’ crack and get those few tough yards for the first down or score. And it means the learning curve for Jared Gaither, another 6’9″ left tackle who many (unfairly) are calling the next Ogden, just got a whole lot steeper.


Ogden’s size and dominance belied an off the field personality that was a far cry from the bully we saw on Sundays. A soft-spoken, friendly, outgoing, charitable family man, J.O. seems like the kind of guy you would love to hang out with, except for being scared to death that he would step on you the whole time. Seeing J.O. shake his booty on those Gebco commercials or clown around on his “Ravens Wired” segments was a joy for Ravens fans, who saw what seemed to be a little boy trapped inside the body of a monster of a man.

J.O. did from time to time show us a bit of a temper on the field, but it usually just mirrored the way we as fans felt watching the game. He would get as upset with the Ravens anemic offensive and asinine play-calling of Brian Billick as any of us purple faithful, if not more so. Ogden on more than a couple occasions could be seen throwing his helmet, kicking it, or glaring at Billick in disgust after another 3-and-out or 3rd-and-15 hitch pass. It was obvious he wanted the team to win as badly as we did, and that only added to his appeal. It’s a shame the team was only able to get him one Super Bowl ring, but at least he got it, and J.O. was as important to that championship team as any offensive lineman has ever been.


Some may criticize Ogden for “leaving the team hanging,” as he waited until now to announce his retirement, even after hinting at the end of last season that he was done. This isn’t fair. J.O.’s toe injury, suffered near the tail end of the 2006 season, is the kind of nagging thing that he was simply hoping would be gone one day when he woke up. If it was, and he could have competed at his standard, head-and-shoulders-above-the-rest level, I have little doubt he would be suiting up in 2008. Unfortunately, that never happened. The team knew that magical-healing scenario was unlikely, and conducted their offseason business as if #75 would not be returning, all the while hoping against hope that he, in fact, would be.

The first player ever drafted by the Baltimore Ravens has retired – thanks for the memories, J.O. Mark your calendars now – J.O. WILL be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2013.

AAA Report (Angry A-Hole Aruban)

June 8, 2008


Late Friday, it was reported that the Texas Rangers were the latest team to get fed up with the antics of one Sir Sidney Ponson. Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels said they got rid of everyone’s favorite drunken Aruban Knight for “disrespectful and adverse reactions to situations unbecoming of teammates.”

Huh?

Further inspection of some Texas Rangers blogs reveals that the word on the street is that Ponson, upset at being asked to pitch on 3 days rest, and also that his defense committed 3 errors behind him, went on a post-game tirade that would make Ozzie Guillen proud, cussing his teammates, coaches, and Daniels loudly and repeatedly. One report goes so far as to say that he dropped a medicine ball on the hand of Rangers shortstop Michael Young on purpose (Son of a Caribbean Bitch! Young is on my fantasy team!). Also, Sir Sid was reportedly already on a sort of probation by the Rangers after causing a “disturbance” at a hotel bar in Florida on a recent road trip.

This despite the fact that the Rangers are desperate for pitching, as they are last in the majors with a 5.10 team ERA, and Ponson was 4-1 with an ERA of 3.88 in his latest comeback attempt.

In case you O’s fans have forgotten all that was Sidney Ponson in B’More, here is a quick refresher:

  • April 19, 1998 (wow, its really been 10 years??) – Ponson makes his MLB debut for the Birds
  • 2003 – Sid goes 14-6 with a 3.77 ERA before being traded at the deadline to the Giants for the craptastic 3-pack of Kurt Ainsworth, Damian Moss, and Ryan Hannaman.
  • 2003 – After the season, the O’s decide to bring Sir Sid back, and give him a 3 year, $22.5 million contract. Ponson proceeds to spend $10 million on booze and $12 million on cheeseburgers and hot wings.
  • 2004 – The O’s opening day starter, Ponson was 3-12 at the All-Star Break. Even after a strong second half, he finished the season 11-15 with an ERA of 5.30. However, he was just getting started in his displays of gratitude for the loyalty the O’s organization had shown him.
  • December 25, 2004 – An Aruban Judge complained when he saw Sidney Claus wrecklessly driving his waverunner while passing out toys to the little Aruban children on the beach. Ponson expressed his displeasure at this Scrooge by punching him in the face. He would spend 11 days in jail. (Note: no truth to reports of toys or children).
  • January 2005 – Arrested for DUI in Florida.
  • May 2005 – Due to his legal troubles, Sid has to go through special proceedings to get a visa to allow him to travel to Canada to pitch against the Blue Jays.
  • July 2005 – The O’s, having had quite enough, try to trade Sid to the Padres for Phil Nevin. Nevin gives the finger to B’More, invoking his no-trade clause.
  • August 25, 2005 – Arrested for DUI on I-95 near B’More.
  • September 1, 2005 – The O’s void Sir Sid’s contract, citing his legal troubles as evidence that his morals violated his deal.

Fun stuff. It really is a shame about this guy. He is obviously a talented pitcher, but his drinking problems and work ethic have conspired to ruin what could have been a pretty productive major league career. The Rangers are just the latest team to take a chance on him and have him bite them in the ass like they were a big fat juicy biterbal.

O's Road Jerseys to Represent Proper in '09

June 3, 2008

After 25 years of being simply the “Orioles,” when they travel, the O’s will finally once again properly represent the city of Baltimore around MLB. There has been a bit of a grassroots movement going on for years, led by one particular Baltimore radio personality, to get this done. The overwhelming majority of fans of the team are in favor of the change. However, since said radio personality happens to work for a station that the O’s have basically been waging war with for some time, the team not only refused to give in to the wishes of the masses, but even issued ridiculous statements saying things like “we will allow a vocal minority of fans to dictate club policies.”

Pssssh. Puh-leeze.

You see, the geniuses of marketing and P.R. in the Warehouse have it in their minds that the O’s should be a team of the entire region, and not just of the city of Baltimore. In many ways, they are absolutely right to feel that way, but now that the Washington Nationals exist and fans down 95 have a choice, it makes sense to stop worrying so much about “alienating” them, or whatever. Sure, many around the DC and Northern Virginia area grew up as O’s fans and will continue to support the team that they always have, even as they get used to the idea of having a team to call their own closer to home. But, O’s fans of the slightly south, I ask you: Will you root for the O’s any less because their road jerseys now say “Baltimore?” Methinks not.

Case in point: The team that now claims to have an entire “Nation” cheering for them wears jerseys on the road that read not “Sox Nation,” but “Boston.” There are no fans to be lost by emblazoning “Baltimore” across our chests.

There are, instead, fans to be reclaimed. Those fans that have felt pushed away repeatedly by management that seems to be waging a constant battle against the people of the city in which their organization calls home. Those long time O’s fans who now find themselves completely jaded by the team after years of poor treatment by ushers and asinine public relations practices. Perhaps some of them can look at this act as the team maybe entering the preliminary steps of at least sewing together a white flag, even if they are far from waving it in defeat.

Next step: “B’More” on the front of home jerseys.

photo: baseballpilgrimages.com


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