Archive for July, 2010

Ravens to Hold Free Practice at M&T Bank Stadium

July 16, 2010

The Ravens announced today that they will hold a free practice at M&T Bank Stadium on August 7, starting at noon. For those of you who can’t make it out to McDaniel college, this is a great chance to get a bit of the training camp experience.

Hell, maybe you can even have your own “training camp tailgate,” getting those grills and livers ready for the upcoming season, as parking lots are slated to open at 9 AM (parking is 5$).

Obviously you won’t be able to get as close as you can at McDaniel (click here for photos and video from our visit last year). On the other hand, there will be plenty of seating, and in real chairs even, not those bleachers they set up at the college.

Click here for more details.

See you there.

Sweep the Rangers (and Hire their Former Skipper?)

July 13, 2010

Buck

Goob is off being a good Samaritan this week, helping to raise the spirits of cancer patients at a camp in North East, Maryland (no really – when he’s not spewing bile about the Steelers or Yankees, he’s a pretty nice guy), so I’ll step in and address some recent Birdland happenings.

Sweeeeeeeeeeeeep

The Orioles completed a most unlikely sweep over the weekend, besting the A.L. West leading Texas Rangers all 4 times at the Ballpark in Arlington. It was the first time the O’s had put together a 4-game sweep in Texas since 1976, and their first 4-game road sweep of ANYONE since 1995.

It wasn’t just history that was working against B’More this weekend though.

In game 2 of the series, it took a 2-out, 2-strike, top (edit: Thanks “duker.”) of the 9th GRAND SLAM from Corey Patterson to extend the game, which the Birds won in extras.

In game 3, the O’s went up against Texas’ shiny new ace, Cliff Lee, who was acquired Friday evening via trade with Seattle, after it had been reported all day that Lee was likely to be the newest New York Yankee. Lee had won 7 of his previous 8 decisions with the lowly Mariners, and entered the game with a 2.34 ERA. Although he would still turn in a complete game, the O’s bats managed 6 runs off him, which was more than enough for young Chris Tillman.

Tillman, recalled after again proving that AAA hitters are no match for him, had his best big league start to date. He carried a no-hitter into the 7th inning, ultimately pitching 7 1/3 allowing just 2 singles and 1 unearned run.

And then, just as the O’s seem to get on a bit of a hot streak, the All-Star break intervenes. So, can our Birds continue their luck in the 2nd “half,” or will their race to the 2011 #1 overall pick with Pittsburgh (we compete with them to be the best in football, the worst in baseball) continue?

Well, a few other things are brewing in Birdland…

Showalter on the Horizon?

Rumors were flying late in the weekend that the O’s were on the brink of signing former Rangers, Yankees, and Diamondbacks manager Buck Showalter to manage the team. Some were reporting that Showalter would take over as early as this Friday, while others said that he may not manage the team at all this season, simply observing the organization from upon high before taking to the bench at the start of the 2011 campaign.

Over the last few days though, the rumors have cooled just a bit. Now the word is that while Andy MacPhail has met with Showalter at least three times, no formal offer has been made, and Juan Samuel is set to manage the team again on Friday.

Personally, I’d like to see the deal get done ASAP. Signing Showalter could be a turning moment for this organization, signaling that MacPhail and Angelos have finally seen the light that the team needs to start spending money (Showalter won’t be cheap, especially compared to Dave Trembley) in order to really compete. I’m not anointing him the savior or any such nonsense, just saying that I would fully support the move.

What I wouldn’t support is the “sign him and let him observe the organization for the next 9 months” crap that is floating around. As my buddy Glenn Clark puts it (and I’m paraphrasing), that’s just the kind of dumb move that the O’s seem likely to pull.

B-Rob on the Mend

As of this morning, Brian Roberts has 4 hits in 4 at-bats in his Gulf Coast League rehab assignment. Certainly promising news, but I hope Roberts isn’t unnecessarily putting himself at risk for yet another set-back. I’m no back surgeon, but wouldn’t the prudent course of action be for Brian to take the next few months completely off to heal and be 100% for Spring Training next year? What good is he really going to be to the team in 2010, besides maybe keeping them from that aforementioned #1 pick?

On the other hand, seeing the team play near-.500 ball for the rest of the year would warm hearts all over B’More, #1 overall pick be damned. A healthy Roberts could certainly have a huge hand in seeing that materialize.

It’s a conundrum. O’s fans will just have to trust that B-Rob and the team’s Doctors know what they are doing.

R.I.P. George Steinbrenner

Finally today, a bit of a sad note. As much as we hate them around here, and as much as we blame the man for making baseball the mess it is today, our condolences go out to the New York Yankee family and their fans on the passing of owner George Steinbrenner. The Boss had a heart attack this morning at the age of 80.

R.I.P. George, and thank you for inspiring this version of yourself:

"You Ain't Physical Enough, Playboy!" – Q81

July 3, 2010

I think I just fell a little bit more in love with Anquan Boldin….

How Much Will Ravens Suffer without Ed Reed?

July 1, 2010

Reed

There has been a lot of hub-bub recently regarding the status of Ravens’ All-World Safety Ed Reed going into the start of the 2010 NFL season.

Reed is recovering from offseason hip surgery, and in his own words, is about about “35 percent” at this point in time. There is zero chance Reed will be ready for the start of training camp, and plenty of doubt about whether he will be ready for the Ravens’ season opener against the New York Jets on Monday Night Football September 13.

I’ve read it several times now, and I’ve also heard it from the talking heads on the radio and tv: the Ravens’ defense without Ed Reed will suffer the same way that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense did last year without Troy Polamalu.

Comparing Reed and Polamalu has been the fun and popular thing to do now for about the last half-decade. Polamalu, of course, missed most of the 2009 season, and the Squealers’ defense suffered, especially in the secondary and especially late in ballgames – very uncharacteristic of them. With Reed potentially missing time this year, the easy corollary to make, then, is that the Ravens will be in the same boat in 2010 that the Steelers were in in 2009.

It’s a valid talking point, no doubt. But let’s take a step back and look at some numbers, shall we?

Ed Reed started 14 of the Ravens 18 games in 2009 (12 regular season games and 2 postseason). He missed weeks 13-16 with pain in that same hip, and Tom Zbikowski started in his stead. How did the defense play in those two scenarios?

In the 14 games WITH Reed, the Ravens were 8-6, and allowed 16.8 points, and 217.5 yards passing, per game.

In the 4 games WITHOUT Reed (with Zibby playing Free Safety) – 2-2; 15 points, 187.8 yards passing, per game.

Also, Zibby had 2 interceptions in 4 games, compared to Reed’s 5 in 14.

Some caveats, of course:

  • Zibby has a much smaller sample size
  • Two of Zibby’s games were against the Lions and Bears
  • A white free safety? WTF year is this?

Kidding on the last one, of course.

Without Ed Reed, the Ravens’ defense certainly becomes one that is less exciting to watch, and one that is far less likely to produce a touchdown on any given play. On the other hand, it may also become a more fundamentally sound defense, as Reed has often been accused of too much “gambling” on the field, and by extension, one that allows fewer big plays.

Another point to bring up is that the Ravens hope to continue their recent trend of not NEEDING points from the defense to win ballgames. As much hub-bub as there has been about Reed this offseason, there has been even more about how explosive the Ravens’ offense has the potential to be. If the offense can indeed put points on the board more consistently than they’ve been able to in recent memory, Reed’s 100-yard interception returns may not be nearly as missed on the scoreboard as they may be on the highlight reels.

Look, any reader of this site knows that I couldn’t be a bigger Ed Reed homer. I’m not trying to downplay the effect that his absence may have on this year’s squad. I’m just trying to keep my fellow Ravens fans, as many of you are wont to do, from starting your annual march off the cliff while we’re still sweltering through another humid B’More summer.

Should Mr. Reed be unfit to start the 2010 season, Tom Zbikowski, and the Ravens new offense, may very well be more than properly equipped to prop the purple and black up as we wait for the return of #20.


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