Archive for July, 2008

Yanks Secret Negotiator Revealed

July 31, 2008

I had the pleasure of going to Yankee Stadium for the first time yesterday. Unfortunately, the O’s didn’t get to break out the brooms with the sweep, but 2 out of 3 from the Bombers in the Bronx is a pretty productive little series.

It was a good time anyway, though. The Stadium was great (outside it anyway), the fans were much more hospitable than expected (maybe its something about crossing the Mason-Dixon Line that turns them into giant douchebags?), and the new Yankee Stadium looks like its going to be bigger than the Roman Coliseum.

Before the game, we partook in some festivities at a happenin’ little bar right across the street from the stadium called Stan’s. Inside Stan’s was a very impressive mural of former and some current Skankee players.

Most were instantly recognizable:

Jeter, the Babe, and Mr. October, Reggie Jackson

Mustached first baseman Jason Gi Don Mattingly

Ruth again on the left, Mr. Quotable Yogi Berra on the right, but…wait a minute. What, or who, the hell is that in the middle there?

It wasn’t immediately obvious to us, so we asked a few people around the bar. Even the few Yankee fans we asked weren’t sure. Phil Rizzuto maybe? Billy Martin? Nobody knew.

The Birds’ Nest was able to figure it out though. Finally it can be explained how New York is able to go out and get any player they want, at any time. Hell, during the game yesterday, they traded for future Hall-of-Famer Pudge Rodriguez and only had to give up Kyle Farnsworth, a bespectacled middle reliever with a lifetime ERA near 4.5. How do they do it?

This guy is the Yanks’ secret negotiator. Here he is displaying his tried-and-true favorite negotiating tactic.

When the Ravens Are Away, The O's Will Play….

July 27, 2008

But once they come back, the O’s remind us that they’re still the O’s…

It’s like the O’s sense that big brother is coming home, and knowing that they are soon to be relegated to the back of the sports page and the Baltimore sports fan’s mind, they fall right back into their old habits.

Since the beginning calendar turned to July, meaning that Ravens training camp was just around the corner, the O’s are a dismal 7-15. And now, in the days following the Ravens actually starting camp, the O’s are 1-5. They now find themselves in last place (again), 4.5 games behind even the 4th place Blow Jays (of course it doesn’t help that they are 1-6 against Toronto this month).

The pitching, such a pleasant surprise earlier in the year, has really been the Achilles’ heel of the 2008 O’s of late. The team has yet to find even a SECOND consistent starter behind Jeremy Guthrie. But of course, when Guthrie pitches, the O’s never score more than 2 runs. Daniel Cabrera? After showing flashes of finally “getting it,” he is right back to his old self, and if not for the Kansas City Royals, he would still be looking for his first win since May 20. He needs to be traded, like yesterday. Garrett Olson, Brian Burress, Radhames Liz….all showing that they either aren’t ready or don’t have what it takes to be successful major league starters. The only thing you can count on from any of these 3 is that they will break the 100-pitch barrier by the 5th inning. And the perfect bow to wrap up the craptastic season of the O’s arms, Adam Loewen is a freaking OUTFIELDER now!

Thanks for at least being exciting to this point, Birds in Orange. We’d like to keep watching you, but you’re making it painfully obvious that you’re ready to pass the torch to the Birds in Purple.

New Feature: 6-Pack of Boh!

July 21, 2008

Greetings, Nestgoers! We are trying out a new feature here at the Nest, “Six Pack of Boh.” Yeah, I know, we stole it from the six pack of Coors Light Questions that ESPN does. Get over it (Little known fact: Coors light bottles actually turn blue because Mr. Boh beats the crap out of them). Anyway, we’ll answer 6 questions on the O’s and Ravens. There is plenty of news to cover this week, with the Ravens opening training camp, the news that Adam Loewen’s pitching career is over, and the MLB trade deadline approaching. Without further adeiu, lets crack into that first Boh!
1. Can Adam Loewen transform himself into a position player, a la Rick Ankiel?

It certainly won’t be easy. Loewen hasn’t hit on a regular basis since college, in 2003. That year, he hit .353 with a homer and 38 RBI in 45 games, according to the Sun. Those are respectable numbers, no doubt, but it was against junior college competition – most of the pitchers he was facing are now probably filling out TPS reports and trying to find their staplers somewhere down in Swamp Muck, Florida. Ankiel’s story is one that Loewen can look at for inspiration, but to think he will have that kind of success is probably a pipe dream. We feel for the kid and wish him all the luck in the world, we really do. But if he ever steps into the batters’ box in Camden Yards as a member of the O’s, it will definitely be a shock to us.

2. Will John Harbaugh’s tougher training camp lead to more wins for the Ravens in 2008?

As we’ve all had beaten into our heads repeatedly for the last few months, Ravens’ training camp under Coach Harbaugh figures to be a 180o deviation from “Camp Creampuff,” run by Brian Billick. Players will see more full-pads practices, with more hitting and more time spent in the sweltering Mid-Atlantic humidity. They will be forced to remain on campus, not allowed to go home at night as in the past. But does any of this translate to NFL wins? Yes. And No. The Giants’ Tom Coughlin is a disciplinarian who runs a tight ship. But it took him loosening the reigns a bit (as well as his Quarterback finally seeing the light) for him to win his first Super Bowl. John Gruden is tough on his players down in Tampa, and they’ve made the Playoffs 2 of the last 3 seasons. Some players (I’m looking at you, Willis) will benefit from the increased conditioning, but some of the Ravens’ creaky veterans may find themselves dealing with a bit more soreness and aches than they’d like. If the toughness leads to more self-discipline on the part of the players – that is, less stupid false starts, offsides, and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties – then we’re all for it. That in itself could be the difference in a game or two per season. But it seems doubtful that the players on last years’ squad only won 5 games because they were “soft” or out-of-shape.

3. Who will the Orioles move before the trade deadline?

The team has been very quiet this month, but their recent 4-10 slide has pretty much solidified that they will be sellers at the deadline. Everyone’s favorite trade rumor, Brian Roberts, will in all likelihood, finish the season as a Bird. The latest speculation was that the Milwaukee Brewers might have some interest, but they just acquired the fossilized remains of Ray Durham to haunt second base. Brian’s no spring chicken, but he still has several years of top-of-the-line leadoff hitter years left in him, so keeping him around is the right move. Aubrey Huff, on the other hand, will probably end up on a contender somewhere. His blistering numbers over the past 6 weeks or so have his stock at an all-time high, and Andy MacPhail will likely strike while the iron is hot. We probably won’t fleece anybody like we did the Mariners, but Huff can bring in at least 2 or 3 mid-to-high level prospects. Contenders in need of relief are no doubt sending scouts to check out George Sherrill. The Orioles MVP to this point, Sherrill also is seeing his stock peak, and should draw the interest of any team looking for a set-up man. Jay Payton will probably be out of B’More by August, and Kevin Millar has an outside chance of drawing some interest (although we’d like to see him stay). Let’s cross our fingers that one of these guys brings us the shortstop of the future.

4. What interesting position battles should we watch during training camp?

There are several spots on the roster that could be up for grabs before the opener. Obviously, the main battle is at Quarterback. We’ll delve into that one a bit deeper in due time. Right now we want to look at some of the other interesting competitions that may develop.

Wide Receiver: A healthy Derrick Mason will probably remain the official “#1” wideout. But at #2, things might be a bit murky. Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams both had disappointing 2007 seasons after promising ’06 campaigns. Clayton has the better pedigree, a former 2nd round pick out of Oklahoma, but he needs to show more elusiveness after the catch and ability to get open like he did in 2006. Cam Cameron likes bigger receivers, which gives an edge to the 6’2” Williams (Clayton is listed at 5’10”). Either way, they both need to rebound after last year.

Cornerback: Samari Rolle and Fabian Washington will duke it out for the second spot. Washington is looking to prove himself after falling out of favor in Oakland. Rolle battled epilepsy in 2007, and wasn’t himself when he did get on the field. If Rolle is healthy, he probably gets the spot, relegating Washington to nickel back. After the woes the Ravens secondary went through last year, having another capable corner on the roster is music to our ears, anyway.

After 4 Bohs, we’re feeling tipsy enough to make some bold predictions now.

5. What record will the O’s finish the season with?

76-86. A 7-game improvement over last season, and quite a bit shy of the 100-loss season some were predicting. Still only good enough for 5th place in the $%&$! American League East.

6. And the Ravens?

8-8. John Harbaugh’s first season ends with the same record as Brian Billick’s. This barely misses the playoffs in the AFC North, where 9-7 will likely win the division this year. But do we really want to get in the playoffs at 8-8? What is this, the pansy ass NFC?

Have a question for the next 6-pack of Boh at the Nest? Submit it in the comments, or email us at nestminder@bmorebirdsnest.com!

You Can't Spell "Favre Wins" Without "RAVENS"

July 14, 2008


Ever since word broke that Brett Favre was indeed going to be playing professional football again in 2008, and that the Green Bay Packers were less than enthused about it, fans and pundits alike have been trying to figure out which team’s helmet the most famous 5 o’clock shadow in the NFL would be peeking out from under this season. While many seem to agree that Favre will most likely suit up for another of the NFC North teams, whenever anyone mentions the possibility of Favre in the AFC, the Ravens seem to be at the top of the list.

Sentiment in B’More seems to be about 50/50 in favor of/against bringing in the 38 year old gunslinger to lead our Ravens. While we can understand both sides of the argument, the official position here at the Nest is “YES, YES, 10000 TIMES YES! (with caveats)”

If Ozzie & Co. can get Brett here under the following two conditions, it should be pretty much a no-brainer:

1. Minimal Salary Cap Impact – Admittedly, I am no cap-ologist. I have no idea how a move like this would affect the team financially. What I do know is that the Ravens currently have little cap space as it is, and are yet to finish signing their draft picks, Joe Flacco included. So the move should only be made if it can be done without handicapping the team in regards to salary cap for not only this year, but upcoming seasons as well.

2. Minimal Player Impact – With the news that the Packers have decided to place Favre on their roster, but only as a backup to Aaron Rodgers, it is likely that Favre will now have to demand a trade from the team, instead of being granted his outright release as he had hoped. The upside of this is that Green Bay is HIGHLY unlikely to trade Favre anywhere within the division, and will most likely do all they can to get him completely out of the NFC. On the flip side though, what will his price be? The Ravens are in full rebuilding mode right now, and to trade away key pieces of the future for a quick-fix Hail Mary like Brett Favre would be akin to something the pre-MacPhail Orioles would have done. If the Packers asking price is reasonable for a 38-year old quarterback, then the Ravens should be first in line to listen to offers.

Let’s face it – regardless of the fact that the Ravens are in a “rebuilding” phase, they are still a very veteran roster (read: just the kind of team Favre needs). With the exception of the offensive line, pretty much every unit on the team features mostly players in the late-afternoon or twilights of their careers. The addition of a player of Favre’s caliber would make the Ravens instantly legit for 2008, the same way adding Steve McNair did in 2006, giving this veteran-laden roster one more last “one more last” shot at postseason glory.

There are other positives as well. Who would you rather see QB-of-the-fuchsia-future, Joe Flacco, learning from – Brett Favre or Kyle Boller and Troy Smith? Unlike my boy Dewey, I am not convinced that Troy Smith, who by most accounts has pretty much already been slotted as the starting QB, can be an effective NFL quarterback. As I read last week, one NFL scout said that he is simply, “too easy to game plan against.” I don’t know what that means, nor will I pretend to. What I do know is that, while he looked better than Boller in 2007, I am not optimistic in the least than he is capable of running a Cam Cameron offense and leading the team to anything resembling respectability in 2008.

Another thing: remember that offensive line that I called out for being more wet-behind-the-ears than the rest of the team? Well, unfortunately, that’s one unit that an old man like Favre would probably prefer have a little experience. Two words: Jonathan Ogden. Stay with me here – sure, sure, J.O. assured us that he in no way would ever consider a return to playing now that he is retired (never “pull a Brett Favre,” ironically), but do you really think he wouldn’t reconsider knowing that he would have the chance to huddle up with, and protect, Number 4? My money says he would be on the first plane out of Vegas with a layover in Milwaukee to personally pick Brett up himself.

Brett Favre in Ravens purple in 2008? Yes, please.

Poe is the Fiercest Mascot in the NFL!

July 10, 2008


In case you missed it, our very own Poe was named the NFL’s fiercest mascot! In a fan-vote tournament done by cbssportsline.com, Poe, a #16(!!!) seed Cinderella beat out the Skins’ “mascot,” Chief Z, in the final.

Here are the results from Poe’s entire unlikely run through the competition:

Round 1
Poe (16) – 52%
Boltman-Chargers (1) – 48%

Round 2
Poe – 70%
Steely McBeam (9) – 30% (HAHAHAHA….stupid Ally McBeal – nice mascot, tools)

Round 3
Poe – 70%
T.D. – Dolphins (12) – 30%

Round 4
Poe – 53%
Billy Buffalo – Bills (14) – 47%

Championship
Poe – 52%
Chief Z – foreskins – 48%

Not only did Poe win the “Fiercest Mascot in the NFL” contest, but he got to run roughshod through the Squealers and ‘Skins on the way to the title (now if only the real Ravens could do the same, it would be a damn fine season) , as well as avenging the Ravens’ losses to Buffalo, San Diego, and Miami last season. Hell, maybe Poe should have been coaching and/or quarterbacking the team in ’07, huh?

Pretty cool, huh? The only thing though – I wonder if Edgar and Allen are feeling a bit left out – are those two even still around? We couldn’t find anything saying that they were or weren’t.

Man-Crush: Jim Johnson

July 3, 2008

I’m going to admit something to you here, Nestgoers…

I have a man crush.

There, I said it. It was killing me keeping it inside, but I thought you all, the loyal readers, should be first to hear me speak it publicly.

Who is the apple of my eye, you ask? The object of this school-girl like crush?

I’m sure you know him, but allow me to give a proper introduction:

From Johnson City, New York (really? weird), a 2001 graduate of Endicott High School, standing 6 feet 5 inches tall, weighing in at a slender 224 pounds….O’s fans have referred to him as “Nails,” or simply “J.J.”…

Ladies and Gentlemen, James Robert “Jim” Johnson!

Thats right, I have a man-crush on Jim Johnson, and I’m not afraid to admit it. The guy is straight filthy. In 46 1/3 innings pitched this season, J.J. has allowed a measly 26 hits. He sports an ERA of 1.17 and his WHIP comes in at a miniscule 0.95.

When the Pirates were in town, Doug Mientkiewicz (a 10 year veteran, mind you), told Jim Palmer that Johnson’s wicked, darting, elusive 2-seam fastball was “the best fastball I’ve ever seen.”

Ya daaaamn right.

Let me describe to you the situation when my heart first fluttered for “Nails.”

May 13, Baltimore, MD.

The Orioles are clinging to a 2-run lead against the defending World Series Champions.

The bases are loaded.

No outs.

The batter? Number 2 on the All-time MLB list in Grand Slams, the 2004 World Series MVP, 11-time All-Star, 9-time Silver Slugger Award Winner, yes, folks, thats just Manny Being Manny, Manuel Aristides “Manny” Ramírez Onelcida.

After fouling off pitch after pitch, J.J. gets Manny to beat the ball straight into the ground, an easy roller to the pitcher, which he then fired home to start the 1-2-3 double play.

The Camden Yards crowd went wild, and I nearly punched a hole in my ceiling jumping out of my chair.

Since then its been more of the same from Jimmy. When “Nails,” comes out of the ‘pen, you know that coffin is gettin’ hammered shut.


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