Archive for June, 2009

Suggs: "Close to Signing" Long Term

June 29, 2009

T-Sizzle spoke to the Ravens’ Official website late last week, and had some encouraging words for us purple-clad minions hoping to see him get locked up to a long-term deal.

According to Suggs, “I feel like we’re getting close.  Negotiations are going on with the Ravens.  Fans can be optimistic that I’ll be [at training camp]…There are some minor things we’re working out.” (


This is good news.  Although some Ravens fans you talk to will bellyache about this for whatever reason (the team is wasting too much money on defense, now they don’t have money for any big-name WRs), the fact is that Terrell Suggs is GOOD.  REALLY good. While his sack numbers have never again reached the levels they did in his rookie campaign of 2003 (12.0), Sizzle has become one of the most well-rounded LBs in football.  That year, Suggs had 12 sacks, but only 19 total tackles; so basically, he was going to tackle the QB or nobody at all.  Last year, he put up 53 solo tackles (most for his career), and scored TWICE on interception returns.

Suggs is only 26, and has shown remarkable durability over his first 6 seasons, having not missed a single game to date.

The money the Ravens throw at him will be ridiculous, that much is certain.  But it is money well-spent.  Much better spent than on signing, for instance, a Brandon Marshall or an Anquan Boldin to long-term deals. 

Here at the Nest, we are firm believers that football games are, as they have always been, won in the trenches.   Which is exactly why we applauded the drafting of OT Michael Oher.  It’s why we can get behind backing the Brinks truck up to T-Sizzle 100%.  And, it’s why, with free agency is also looming for another key piece of the Ravens’ defense, DT Haloti Ngata, we look forward to the day when Ozzie & Co. throw bags of money at him as well.

O's Sweep WS Chump Phils

June 22, 2009

The O’s completed an unlikely sweep in Philadelphia yesterday afternoon, winning their first Sunday road game of 2009.  By virtue of the 2-1 victory, their second consecutive one-run win over the defending World Champions, the Birds have now won 5 straight and 7 of 8.

Something had to give this weekend in the City of Brotherly Love, as one of the worst road teams (B’More was a dismal 8-20 going into the series) clashed with one of the worst home teams (the Phils are now just 13-22 at Citizens’ Bank Park, compared to 23-9 when they bat first).  In the end, despite the best efforts of Dave Trembley, it was the good guys from B’More that emerged victorious every time.

Nick-a-What?! organized a bus trip to Philly for the middle game of the series, and, as promised, here are some photos that I took before, during, and after the roller coaster of emotion that was Saturday’s 6-5 O’s win.




Are you bored with your same old, run-of-the-mill drinking games?  If so, hit up Nick-a-What?! or myself, and allow us to introduce you to the wonderful game of “BASEBEER,” which we concocted while bored at work a few years back.





The Oriole Bird causing some trouble.  The Phanatic eventually came out and chased him away, but not before some Philly fans tossed full beers onto the field at him (insert obligatory Philly-Santa-Snowball reference here).


The score was never 4-1, but Nick-a-What?! was a sad camper nonetheless.

O's KKKKKnockout Kissmya$$-Rod

June 18, 2009

For the first time all season, the Orioles won a game trailing after 8 innings.

And who started it all off?  Matt Wieters.  For the 2nd time in as many nights Matt Wieters comes up with a big hit.

Leading off the 9th, Wieters doubled in the Left-Center Field gap.  Felix Pie came in to pinch run and boy was that move huge.  After Reimold drew a pinch hit walk, Brian Roberts came in looking to bunt.  He laid down the first pitch but Santos (Mets Catcher) scooped it up quickly and fired to third.  Pie slid in just in time, according to the third base umpire Tim Timmons, although replays showed it could’ve gone either way.

With the bases loaded and No outs, Hackman Jones came up swinging, and missing.  Quickly falling behind 1-2 he watched three straight pitches miss the strike zone and K-Rod had blown his second save in his last three chances.

Markakis then struck out looking which brought up Aubrey Huff.  Huff who has already shown up one NY pitcher this year, (see Joba Chamberlain), wasted no time and jumped all over the first pitch by K-Rod smacking a line drive into right field ending an 0-34 skid for the O’s when trailing after 8 innings.

The O’s finished the series against the Mets winning 2 games to 1 and head to Philadelphia to take on the World Champion Phillies in a ballpark where they better be prepared to hit some HRs.  The Phils are 1-5 in their last 6 and their pitching staff has been beat up pretty severely.

The official bus trip will be on Saturday as we travel to Philly for the game.  We hope to post a plethera of pictures when we return!  Go O’s!!

O's Draft Younger, Multi-Browed Flacco Brother

June 11, 2009

For the second year in a row, a Baltimore professional sports team has drafted a member of the Flacco family.  Your Baltimore Orioles selected Mike Flacco, Joe’s younger brother, in the 31st round of the 2009 MLB Draft.

JoeB over at BirdsWatcher gives us these details:

Joe’s brother was listed as a third baseman when his name was called through the Orioles’ speakerphone, and the Orioles’ representatives added that he was Joe Flacco’s brother.  Mike is 6′4″ and weighs 215 lbs.  He played only one year at CCBC, but led the team with 67 hits, 14 home runs and 51 RBIs, along with an impressive .399 batting average.  According to Angels scout Jerry Wargo, Mike has “a short, compact swing, average speed and an easy-working arm with a throw that beats you by a step to first base, no matter how fast you’re running.”  He adds that the younger Flacco has a good work ethic and ‘good blood.’ 

While Mike likely won’t have quite the immediate impact on the O’s that his brother was able to have on the Ravens, maybe someday he will be a contributing member to our orange birds.  Hell, maybe the day when all of B’More is swooning over Flaccos year-round isn’t too far off.

photo c/o CCBC Catonsville website

Ravens' Offensive Playbook Must Continue to Evolve in '09

June 10, 2009

This was the 2nd (and final) article I wrote for Bleacher Report a few weeks ago when I was thinking about applying to be their Ravens corespondent in 2009 (before I realized I couldn’t live off the peanuts they are paying for the gig).  Enjoy.

In 2008, the Baltimore Ravens boasted the NFL’s No. 11 scoring offense. NFL can also stand for “Not For Long,” though, and as we’ve seen time and time again, teams that fail to evolve and adapt from one season to the next do not remain on top for long.

In his first year in Baltimore, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron showed just why he is considered one of the best offensive minds in the game. Despite lacking the kinds of weapons he had during his days with the San Diego Chargers, he made the Ravens, a team with a long history of offensive ineptitude, an exciting, big-play team.

So how will his game plans be different in 2009? Let’s take a look at some possibilities.

The first likely change will be the “opening up” of the playbook for quarterback Joe Flacco. The success enjoyed by Flacco in his rookie campaign was due in large part to Cameron protecting his young signal caller. Ravens receivers ran primarily short-to-medium routes, and Flacco was not asked to make many complicated reads or throws into traffic over the middle of the field.

Expect that to change this season.

Flacco’s arm strength has never been in question, and his progression in diagnosing coverages and finding the open man is evidenced by his 13:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio over Weeks 7-17. Cameron will continue to ease the “training wheels” off Flacco, and the second-year player will have to prove that he can handle the increased responsibility and pressure.

Flacco will also benefit from the addition of Michael Oher, the first round draft choice from the University of Mississippi. Considered a top-10 talent in this year’s draft, Oher is expected to challenge for the starting right tackle position immediately.

In 2008, right tackle was a position of weakness for the Ravens, as they were often forced to keep tight ends in to help either Willie Anderson or Adam Terry, who each saw playing time, with opponents’ edge pass rushers.

If tight ends are blocking, then they aren’t running passing routes, and as a result, Flacco often had as few as two options to throw to when he dropped back.

If Oher, a guy who has been bragging about being able to stop Dwight Freeney since he was in high school, can step in and hold his own, Ravens tight ends Todd Heap and the newly signed L.J. Smith, both very capable pass catchers, can become favorite targets of Flacco and draw defensive attention away from the receivers on the outside.

One of the staples of the Ravens’ offense in 2008 was their own version of the “Wildcat,” the “Suggs Package.” Named after a comment made by linebacker Terrell Suggs on a Baltimore radio show, the “Suggs Package” featured former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Troy Smith taking the snap from center, with Flacco split wide as a receiver.

The Miami Dolphins got the most media coverage for the formation, and it seemed just about every team around the league tried some version of it. Having Smith, though, who would likely have been the staring quarterback on opening day were he not derailed by an illness, really gave the Ravens’ version of the specialty offense an element that the “Wildcats” of other teams were lacking.

One of the most exciting plays of the entire NFL season featured Smith hitting Flacco in stride for a 43-yard gain against Oakland in Week Eight.

However, this offseason the Ravens signed former Miami Dolphin John Beck to compete with Smith for the backup quarterback position. Many around town feel that Beck may be the better long-term solution behind Flacco.

The Ravens, like many teams, prefer to only have two quarterbacks on the active roster on game days. So if Beck outperforms Smith in training camp and gets penciled in as the No. 2, will the “Suggs Package” be a thing of the past?

Not so fast.

On more than one occasion, wide receiver Mark Clayton has been the Ravens’ “emergency quarterback” on game days, even throwing a 32-yard touchdown pass in Week 13 against Cincinnati. Even if Smith isn’t available to run the gimmick, don’t underestimate the creativity of Cam Cameron.

The Ravens’ ground attack faces some uncertainty and likely changes as well going into the 2009 season.

Although officially listed as a fullback, Le’Ron McClain was the team’s leading rusher in 2008, with 902 yards and 10 TDs. His bruising style and nimble feet drew comparisons to former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis.

The Ravens, though, did not re-sign Lorenzo Neal, who, by filling the blocking fullback role, allowed McClain to line up as a tailback. The loss of Neal may force McClain back to his more natural position.

If McClain is indeed used in more of a blocking role in 2009, his share of carries will have to be absorbed by Willis McGahee and Ray Rice. Each of them possesses his own unique strengths, but neither is capable of wearing down opposing defenses like McClain did in 2008.

McGahee had some tough luck with injuries last season and will need to prove that he can return to the feature back role after being more of a complementary player for the first time in his career in 2008.

Rice was enjoying an impressive rookie season before being injured in Week 14 against Washington. Used mainly as a third down back, Rice showed a great “nose for the sticks,” moving the chains on many occasions.

His best performance came in Week Nine at Cleveland, when he ran for 154 yards on 21 carries. He had double-digit carries only one other time all season though, and he still needs to prove that he can handle those kinds of touches on a consistent basis.

For a fanbase that finally got to watch an offense that seemed to know what it was doing in 2008, all these changes can make us a bit uneasy. Ravens fans just need to have faith, though, that the mind of Cameron and the arm of Flacco will continue to power the offense through these transitions.


June 8, 2009

On Friday, we asked why our orange birds can’t hit and pitch simultaneously.  To which they answered loudly, “Fine, We won’t do EITHER! Nyah Nyah!,” getting swept in Oakland by an average score of 7-1.7.

Awesome.  Thanks for getting back to us, fellas.

Why Can't We Hit AND Pitch Simultaneously?

June 5, 2009

If you feel like the O’s started off the season hitting the cover off the ball, and losing every game something like 8-6, but are now at the other end of the spectrum, losing every game 3-2, then well, the simple chart above certainly seems to support that feeling.

Admittedly, the sample size for June is very small compared to those of the other months, but you could probably add those few games from the Detroit series at the end of May and the trend wouldn’t noticeably change.

The bats have turned silent just when the pitching started to pick it up, which has been frustrating for us O’s fans to watch.  Especially from the top 1/3 of the order, which had been all the rage, but has fallen off dramatically.  Brian Roberts is 0 for his last 17.  Nick Markakis has seen his average dip below .300 for the first time all season.  Even the arrival of Matt Wieters has been a let-down so far, as the kid is hitting just .123 over his first 21 AB, and has yet to even drive in a single run.

Hell, it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that Luke Scott has BEEN the Orioles’ offense over the past week, having driven in 14 of the Birds’ last 17 runs plated.

Let’s hope the off day Thursday rejuvenates the bats a bit.

On the pitching side, you could probably make the argument that the downward slope on the above graph can be explained away by simply pointing to the dismissal of one Adam Eaton from the team.  While partly true, it’s probably not quite that simple.  O’s starters strung together five consecutive quality starts last week, a feat that most of us probably didn’t believe would transpire all season long.  Unfortunately, due to the aforementioned quiet bats, those starts went to waste, as we dropped three of the five.

The O’s look to get back on track tonight in Oakland, before beginning a 9-game home stand on Tuesday.



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