Archive for March, 2011

Zibby Scores First Round TKO

March 14, 2011

In his second professional fight Saturday night, Ravens safety Tom “Tommy Z” Zbikowski scored an early first round technical knockout of his portly opponent.

Watch Zibby’s fight(fast forward to 6:32) as well as a special ringside interview with Ed Reed (0:32) in the video below.  In addition to talking about Zibby’s boxing prowess, Reed was asked about whether or not he thinks there will be an NFL season in 2011, to which he responded “definitely,” and joked (we hope) about sending out a mass email organizing “seven on seven in the parks” Sundays this fall.

Drinkin' Bohs and Watchin the O's, Hon

March 10, 2011

That sweet nectar,  that sweat off Jesus’ arm pits, that elixir that we Baltimoreans call Natty Boh, will be available on draft at Oriole Park at Camden Yards this season. The Orioles, who have seen attendance fall year after year lately, have really tried to hit a “home run” by making Boh available this season.

National Bohemian or “Natty Boh,” as we all know it, with their signature mascot Mr. Boh – who just so happens to resemble the Pringles guy and who is currently boning the Utz lady – has been Baltimore’s iconic beer for years. Loved more for it’s nostalgia and Baltimore pride than it’s taste, Natty Boh has seen an unexpected resurgence in the years since it was purchased by Pabst Brewing Company.

Boh is now brewed in Eden, North Carolina by Miller Brewing Company, but will always represent Bawlmer with each sip. I personally leave Maryland with at least two cases almost every time I get back home and just love that it’s one of the best tasting cheap beers. Be warned though folks, the Orioles will also most certainly be serving the most expensive pints of Natty Boh Baltimore has ever seen. I am not sure of the exact price yet but we can expect a few dollars to be made on each plastic cup of Boh poured inside Mr. Angelos’ walls.

Many people do wonder why I ever moved to North Carolina and I find myself asking that same damn question almost five times a day…however, the truth has finally been exposed. I moved here for BOH!

Please make sure you place your beer orders at least one game in advance because knowing Greedy Petey and the Orioles, they’ll charge you more on the day of the game-just like they do with tickets.

Well Baltimore, I guess we can’t use the excuse of hanging at Pickles or Sliders until the 5th inning just to imbibe as much Boh as possible, and we’ll have to find a new excuse to stumble into the game hammered after the starting pitchers have already been pulled.

Post-Combine Mock Drafts

March 8, 2011

With the NFL combine in Indianapolis finally wrapping up (seriously, didn’t that thing seem to take a month this year? Maybe just because I finally attempted to watch a little bit of it on NFL Network and it was like watching paint dry…), everyone’s “big boards” are shuffling around based on 40-times and bench press reps.

Let’s take a look at who everyone has the Ravens targeting with the 26th pick here as March kicks off:

Peter Schrager, FOX Sports

Mike Pouncey, C/G, Florida

Oh, baby. What better way to spice up the already vitriolic Ravens-Steelers rivalry than pitting two twin brothers up against each other for the next decade. Though the Ravens have more pressing needs at defensive back than they do on their offensive line, they’d certainly love to scoop up an elite interior lineman like Pouncey if he slips to 26th. Capable of playing either center or guard, I could see Baltimore starting him out at the latter, letting him learn from 14-year veteran Matt Birk, and then moving him to center once Birk’s Baltimore playing days are done. Everyone I spoke with was blown away with Pouncey’s build, strength, quickness, and overall love and enthusiasm for the game at the Combine.

Our take:

While the whole “brother against brother” theme fits Ravens/Steelers perfectly well, and sounds like it would make a nice movie, its a bit melodramatic for us here at the Nest.  Like, it just seems a bit TOO convenient that Pouncey (ranked #21 overall by Scouts, Inc.) would fall all the way to 26 and be sitting there for the Ravens.

That said, I would have absolutely zero problem with the Ravens taking the big interior lineman.  The pick would again frustrate some Ravens fans who are pining for the sexy pick of a wide receiver or cornerback in the first round, but I’m firmly sold on the notion that great teams are built up front.  The Ravens had plenty of problems on the offensive line in 2010, and drafting an heir to Matt Birk would be a fine choice.  While it would unfortunately keep Marshal Yanda on the outside at tackle while Pouncey learns from Birk, he would be a huge upgrade from Chris Chester.

WalterFootball.com

Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

After watching the Ravens lose to the Steelers, it’s pretty obvious that Joe Flacco and Ray Rice need a downfield threat to stretch the defense. Torrey Smith is one of the top players who make sense for the Ravens. The high-character Smith had an outstanding Combine; he ran a 4.37, and notched a 41-inch vertical and a 10-foot-6 broad jump. His microscopic 8 5/8-inch hands are the only concern.

Our take:

Confession time: My whole “holier than thou/don’t take the sexy WR pick/build up front” goes right out the window when Smith’s name is thrown into the mix.  After cheering for Smith on Saturdays, I would LOVE to keep right on pulling for him on Sundays as he suits up in purple.  Smith could be exactly what the doctor ordered for Joe Flacco.  Though he is only listed at 6’0″ – and thus wouldn’t be the jump-ball downfield type that the Ravens would ideally be looking for – his speed and big-play ability more than makes up for his not being 6’4.”  You know who else is 6’0?  Reggie Wayne. (apropros of nothing, of course)

What makes Smith an unlikely pick, though, is that he may require the Ravens to deviate from their usual “best player available” strategy;  he is not listed in Scouts, Inc.’s Top 32, nor on Mel Kiper’s “Big Board” (Top 25).  This hints that he may not be ranked at #26 or higher on Ozzie & Co.’s board, either.

National Football Post

Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

There could be some interest from the Ravens in an offensive tackle if one of the top guys seems to slip this far. Sherrod is a good athlete who has the ability to play on the left side at the next level and allow Michael Oher to kick back over to the right side if need be.

Our take:

If the excellently named Sherrod were to fall to the Ravens at #26, it could go a long way to helping address some of those aforementioned offensive line issues that the team encountered last season.  While you’re not going to find the slam-dunk perennial Pro Bowler type left tackle like those that are found in the top 5 this late in the first round, a guy like Sherrod who can play the left side could instantly improve three positions for the Ravens.  Michael Oher could go back to the right side, Marshal Yanda could move back to guard, and Sherrod – if he’s up to it – can protect Joe Flacco’s blind side. You also have to ask yourself if you’re comfortable with the proposition of a rookie keeping James Harrison off Joe’s back though.  If the Ravens are unable to improve the tackle position via the draft, I’d expect them to attempt to sign a veteran shortly thereafter (right or left side, whichever they can find).

NFL.com’s Pat Kirwin

Smith

The Ravens have a fine offense with very little speed at wide receiver. Smith can fly and he has return skills. He’s a nice complement to Anquan Boldin.

All three of these guys (Pouncey, Smith, Sherrod) are all over the boards.  I’ve seen Smith going as high as 15th overall (to Miami) all the way down to 55th.  Sherrod I saw at 23 in one mock draft, while some have Pouncey lasting until the late first/early second round.

I wanted to get the ESPN guys (Mel Kiper and Todd McShay) included in this round-up, but they’re dragging their feet too much and still haven’t updated their mocks since the combine ended.  We’ll catch them in the next edition.

Are Conditions Right for O's to Rule Baltimore Again?

March 3, 2011

As I write this, we’re just about 15 hours from the expiration of the current NFL collective bargaining agreement, which means that a lockout is all but assured.  How long that lockout will last – and consequently, how long America will be without football – nobody knows.  There have been murmurings that the owners are prepared to let the entire 2011 season go by without any football at all (though the recent judgment against them in the TV contract case likely makes them think twice about that).  I’ve been reading the same things you have about the NFL labor dispute, and I’ll freely admit that it’s well above my pay grade, and that I have no business venturing any guesses about how it will turn out.

What I’m thinking about today is this: What if there isn’t any football in Baltimore in 2011?  Could a “perfect storm” be brewing that will push our city back in the direction of being the baseball town it once was?

There are some old timers who will still insist that Baltimore remains “a baseball town.”  In fact, around the country, many still perceive us as a baseball town.  I’m reminded of a Deadspin article about the Ravens a while back – this was an email to the author about why he hates the Ravens:

When I moved to Baltimore 5 years ago I was excited to be going to a city with such a rich baseball tradition. I was sorely disappointed when I arrived and realized that baseball had no place in this city. No, there was only room for one team and it was the God-awful Ravens. You’ve never seen so many retards wearing purple in your life. Not only that but it would seem that once you become a Ravens fan you are required to start speaking like the Macho Man Randy Savage, “Oooh yeah, the Ravens, they’re coming to git ya, ooh yeahhh, John Harbaugh, MIss Elizabeiiiith, ooh yeah”.

They have little clubs called Ravens Roosts, where apparently people get together and compare who is the fattest, most backwater, purple covered douchenozzle. I hate the Ravens, and their fans.

First off, F that guy in the face, obviously.  But I remember reading it and thinking, “wow, people outside of Baltimore really still see us as a baseball-first town? Incredible.”

However, most of us in B’More – including just about everyone under the age of about 35 – have accepted that, at this point, the Ravens rule the city.

There are a myriad of reasons for this, from the fact that the O’s have been terrible since 1998 – all but two years out of the football team’s entire existence – while the Ravens have been consistently competitive for the last decade (including a Super Bowl win in 2000), to the Orioles’ constant missteps in public relations and marketing, and on and on.  The fact is, for the youngest generation of Charm City fans, Baltimore has pretty much always been “Ravenstown.”

Could it be “Birdland” again soon though?  And I mean Birdland for real, not the Birdland that those idiots at MASN make awful commercials about.

Every summer, fans in Baltimore eagerly anticipate the Ravens opening training camp, as the Orioles inevitably slog through another sub-.500 campaign on the diamond.  The seats at Camden Yards are embarrassingly empty night after night, as one of the crown jewel stadiums of Major League Baseball hasn’t seen a meaningful baseball game played in it since 1997.  By the time the actual NFL season rolls around, Birdland is a ghost town.

Here’s some photos I took at a game in September 2007, as evidence:

Pretty sad.

Could this year be different though?

Instead of the Ravens saving us from the Orioles, as they’ve annually done for years, could the Orioles save us from (no) football?

Buck Showalter is in town these days, and the Orioles changed for the better from the day he arrived last season.  Hell, after the Buck Truck showed up in Baltimore, a team that had been on pace for 100+ losses actually had the second-best record in the entire American League over the season’s last 57 games.  On top of that, 45 of those games were against teams that finished 2010 at .500 or better.

Very impressive.

Excitement is buzzing around the Orioles this spring, and it seems much more warranted than just the usual “hope springs eternal” business.  Buck is back, the team added veteran bats like Derrek Lee and Vlad Guerrero, added masher Mark Reynolds, and the young pitchers really turned it on at the end of last season.

Regardless of the situation in the NFL, people are talking about the O’s right now.  The question is, will the situation in the NFL result in MORE people not only talking about the O’s, but spending their money on them?

With no football, there is going to be a lot of discretionary income that would usually go to the Ravens newly freed up in Charm City.

Only the most delusional of orange kool-aid drinker thinks the O’s have any real shot of getting to the postseason this year.  However, a more competitive ball club than any we’ve seen around here in recent memory seems very much a possibility.

Could the combined effects of no Ravens football and a much-improved Orioles squad be exactly what it takes to make Baltimore – to a larger degree than it has been lately, anyway – a baseball town again?

As we contemplate slitting our collective wrists over the prospect of the purple and black not taking the field at all in 2011, it’s at least something to keep an eye on.

I know one thing, I’d better plan on getting a lot better at blogging about baseball here real quick (WTF IS UZR???). Or find someone who is.


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