Archive for April, 2008

O's Week in Review

April 30, 2008

Still on Top

Despite some recent offensive struggles, the O’s remain in 1st place in the AL East, percentage points above the Red Sux. After taking 2 of 3 from the Yank-offs at home, the Birds proceeded to win the three game series in Seattle and go 1-2-1 in Chicago. Well not really 1 tie, but one game suspended in the 12th inning (which will be completed on August 25).


As expected from this lineup, the O’s have had a little trouble scoring runs at times. They are 11th in the A.L. in runs, batting average, and on base percentage.

Without a legitimate cleanup hitter, opposing teams have been very careful pitching to Nick Markakis. Although he has been admirably patient (he leads the AL in walks), Nick has shown some frustration with never seeing anything good to hit, chasing balls that he would usually let go by, and as a result he leads the team in strikeouts with 26. We don’t expect this to continue though, and Nick should be just fine.

Cool Hand Luke?

Well, not quite. It would have been ridiculous to expect Luke Scott’s bat to continue scorching the way it did to start the season. He has been slumping a little based only on how high he set the bar over the first few weeks of April, yet still leads the O’s with a .298 batting average.

Slow Starter My “Horses**t Town” A**

Notorious slow starter Aubrey Huff has bucked his career trend a bit this season, and has been the Birds’ most consistent run producer, as he leads the team in both home runs (5), RBI (19), and slugging (.473).

How About That Kranny??

So if they are having so much trouble scoring runs, how the heck are the Birds still in 1st place? Well, because they have been doing an even better job of keeping opponents off the scoreboard. Yes, new pitching coach Rick Kranitz has really made his mark on the team to this point. B-More is right in the middle of the pack in the AL in ERA (7th) but 3rd in opponents’ batting average. Enough can’t be said about the way the young guys especially have performed. Brian Burres is 3-1 with a 2.49 ERA, and gave up no runs and just 3 hits over 8 innings in Chicago over the weekend. Matt Albers is 2-0 with a 1.65 ERA. Garrett Olson took a shutout into the 7th last night against Tampa Bay. As for the O’s “veteran” starters, Jeremy Guthrie is the latest to suffer from the ailment known as “Orioles’ Ace Syndrome,” whereby you pitch well but get zero run support (just ask Mike Mussina about that one).

On the down side, Adam Loewen was placed on the 15 day DL with what is being described as forearm soreness. Hopefully his teammates take it a little easier on him then they did that time you missed a start in your high school game because of “forearm soreness.” Seriously though, is anybody else extremely concerned about this? Although his bone scan came back clear today, it is still a bit unsettling that they cannot identify the source of his pain, and he is dangerously close to getting the “injury prone” label thrown on him before his career can even start. Cross your fingers for him. But don’t strain too hard, you might make your forearm sore.

And the enigma known as D.Cab? Well, he’s put together 3 impressive starts in a row. We certainly will not speculate as to how long this will last, but it is apparent that the new fastball-centric approach Krantiz has Daniel on has worked. For 3 games. That’s it. Let’s see 4 now.


Meet Your New Baltimore Ravens

April 27, 2008

Joe Flacco, Quarterback, University of Delaware

Flacco, chosen in the first round by the Ravens after they were unable to move up and grab Matt Ryan (much to our satisfaction), is ironically the first QB chosen from a division I-AA school in the first round since Steve McNair in 1995. He is 23 years old, 6’6″ and 230 lbs. Although he finished his college career at UDel, Flacco was originally on the roster at the University of Pittsburgh, where he served as backup to Tyler Palko. Frustrated with his lack of playing time, he transferred to Delaware in 2005, but was forced to sit out that season.

Flacco’s stats from his 2 years as starter at UDel:

264/417 2783 yards 63.3% 18 TD 10 INT 23 sacks 128.8 rating
331/521 4263 yards 63.5% 23 TD 5 INT 25 sacks 144.9 rating

Flacco won the long distance throw competition at this years State Farm ESPN College Football All-Star challenge with a throw of 74 yards. No word on how far he can throw from his knees.

The Ravens QB situation for the future (hopefully) just got a whole lot less murky. As far as this season goes though, it may be even more interesting, as John Harbaugh has not ruled out Flacco coming in and starting right away, should he beat out Troy Smith and Kyle Boller in the preseason.

Ray Rice, RB, Rutgers University

In a surprising pick, given the team’s obvious needs in the secondary and on the defensive line, the Ravens used their 2nd round pick to get Willis McGahee a backup. Ray Rice was considered one of the top 5 running backs in this years’ class, and will see plenty of carries in 2008. Rice is 21 years old, 5’8″ and 195 lbs. He was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy in 2007.

Rice’s stats from Rutgers:

195 carries 1120 yards 5.7 avg 5 TD 0 fumbles
335 carries 1794 yards 5.4 avg 20 TD 0 fumbles
380 carries 2012 yards 5.3 avg 24 TD 0 fumbles

Tavares Gooden, LB, University of Miami

More defensive players from “The U?” Hey, it sure has served us well in the past. Furthermore, linebackers from the U that wear number 52 have always been a good bet for the Ravens. Gooden is 23 years old, 6’2″ and 238 lbs. Gooden gives the Ravens depth at LB, and he will probably come in and be a special teams beast right away. John Harbaugh’s team should be much improved on special teams in 2008, and debacles like the great Joshua Cribbs fiasco of ’07 will hopefully be a thing of the past.
Tom Zbikowski, S, Notre Dame

Zbikowski, a strong safety/return man/boxer, gives the Ravens some secondary depth and a backup return man for Yamon Figurs. He too, will likely contribute right away on special teams. Zbikowski is 22 years old, 5’11” and 211 lbs. He should fit in well with the Ravens’ defense, as he is a playmaker who that flies around, hits hard, and has a passion for the game. Talking about Zbikowski at the draft, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said he has the potential to be a star.

Fabian Washington, CB, Oakland Raiders

For those of us who were wondering when the hell the Ravens were going to address their problems at CB, we got our answer when it was revealed that they traded a 4th round pick to Oakland for Fabian Washington, who lost his job with the Raiders when they signed DeAngelo Hall this offseason. Washington was the 23rd overall pick by Oakland in 2005, and has started 16, 14, and 15 games in his 3 seasons, racking up 123 tackles and 5 interceptions.

A great move by the front office here. They addressed their need for another CB by adding a young veteran, a first round talent at a discount, and a guy that won’t be prone to the same rookie mistakes and growing pains that perhaps a Leodis McKelvin or Mike Jenkins would be. On the bad side though, Washington has a bit of legal trouble in his past, having been arrested in February for allegedly beating up his girlfriend.

The Ravens’ rounded out their 2008 draft with the following picks:

Oniel Cousins, Offensive Lineman, University of Texas – El Paso
Marcus Smith, Wide Receiver, New Mexico
David Hale, Offensive Tackle, Weber State
Haruki Nakamura, Safety, University of Cincinnati
Justin Harper, Wide Receiver, Virginia Tech
Allen Patrick, Running Back, University of Oklahoma

With Ozzie’s draft history, at least a couple of these later picks will probably end up being significant contributors to the team, at the very least, if not stars. Until we find out who does and doesn’t make the team, though, I’m not really inclined to look them up and read about them.

Grade the Ravens’ draft in the poll at right.

Mock Draft Round-Up

April 21, 2008

With only 6 days to go until the NFL Draft, we thought it would be a good time to give a run down of a bunch of the mock drafts from all around these here inter-webs. We all want to know what the Ravens are gonna do come Saturday, so what do the so-called “experts” think? We did all the searching, so you don’t have to. Here is your easily digestible pill of Ravens’ mock draft expertise.

First up, the big boys:

B-More’s own Mel Kiper, ESPN

Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College

Mel has Ryan slipping to the Ravens, and even says that a Brady Quinn-esque plummet would be enough to make him hang up the hair gel and big board. On Mike & Mike last week, he said “if Matt Ryan gets past 8, you will have heard the last of me.” Strong words there, Mel, but we still don’t want him.

Todd McShay, Scouts, Inc.

Vernon Gholston, DE/OLB, Ohio State

McShay also gives a list of scenarios that could play out:

Scenario 1: The ideal situation is Ryan slipping and allowing the Ravens to address their quarterback woes.
Scenario 2: Keep an eye on Ellis. The team is reportedly very high on him and he would be a great value even though he doesn’t fill a pressing need.
Scenario 3: If Ryan and Ellis are both gone, the Ravens will shop this pick aggressively.
Scenario 4: If they can’t get one of their top two players and are unable to trade out, the Ravens would then look at Gholston, (Brandon) Albert (OT/G, Virginia) and CB Leodis McKelvin, in that order.

McShay expanded on his “ideal” scenario #1 for the Ravens after Steve McNair announced his retirement, and now says it would be a “mistake” for the Ravens to not pursue Ryan aggressively.

“The retirement of QB Steve McNair doesn’t change the draft needs of the Baltimore Ravens, but it does add some urgency to the draft process. Baltimore was already planning on using an early-round pick on a quarterback, but the McNair news catapults that need ahead of other positions such as cornerback and offensive tackle.”

A trio of mocks from CBS Sportsline:

Sports Xchange
Matt Ryan

Pete Prisco
Leodis McKelvin

Clark Judge
Keith Rivers, OLB, USC

And two other websites we found:
Leodis McKelvin

“The Ravens could be one of those teams which tries to move up in the Draft to select Matt Ryan, but if they fail, they will look to upgrade at CB. Troy’s Leodis McKelvin is a quality cover corner with great potential”

Frank Coyle,
Leodis McKelvin

What do you think, B-More? Do we absolutely HAVE to take Matt Ryan if he is there, as seems to be the consensus? We still say no – what say you?

McNair to Throw Out First Pitch

April 18, 2008

Steve McNair is set to throw out the first pitch at Camden Yards tonight.  A nice gesture by the O’s.  Its 6$ student night, and apparently there are plenty of tickets left even though the Yanks are in town.  Pretty bad when we can’t even sell out a Friday night game against….them.

Caution: cheap shot ahead

No word on whether or not the O’s will have the bat boy run a curl half way to home plate for McNair to check down to.

O's Week in Review

April 18, 2008

Not Back to Earth Already?

The O’s have hit a bit of a skid after their 6 game winning streak, losing two of three in both Arlington and Tampa Bay, before splitting the last 2 2-game series against the Blow Jays (yes, Cito, we still remember – click that and scroll down to “All-Star Manager” if you don’t) and White Sox. They remain above .500, though, and are in 2nd place in the AL East at 9-7.

Also, the bullpen has been showing some chinks in the armor. After that great start, the boys in the pen have seen Dennis Sarfate’s ERA balloon to over 7, Greg Aquino’s to over 12, and Jaime Walker’s to above 6. George Sherrill, despite allowing his first 2 runs of the season Monday, is nonetheless 6-for-6 in save opportunities.

Where’s the offense?

Is it just a Baltimore thing? Much like our beloved football team, our baseball team has been struggling to light up the scoreboard. The O’s are last in the AL East (and 10th in the AL) with 69 runs scored. In all but 1 of their 7 losses, they’ve been held to 3 runs or fewer.


Makes you wonder why in the world Houston wasn’t playing this guy every day, huh? Luke Scott is leading the team in average (.380), slugging (.600), OBP (.456), hits (19), doubles (8), and total bases (30). Could he see himself moving up in the lineup in the near future?

Getting on Track

Adam Jones was the hero last night, and looks to be heating up after his poor start. He raised his average from .211 to .260 this week, and is tied for 3rd on the team with 4 doubles.

Comeback Kids?

After last nights game, in which they came from 2 runs down not once, but twice, the Orioles have now won half as many games when trailing after 8 innings as they did in all of 2007. You read that right….after 16 games, they’ve came from behind in the 9th inning twice, and last year they did it 4 times in 162 games. This is a great sign as the team is showing much more fight than they have in years past, and they are not simply folding up shop when they see the opponent’s closer warming in the pen.

Manager Dave Trembley expressed this newfound confidence, saying, “Once we tied it, we knew we were going to win.”

On Deck

The New Yawk Yank-offs and their legions of cockroach-esque fans come to town for a 3 game set this weekend. The Evil Ones are 9-8 after splitting a 2 game series with the Red Sux. Daniel Cabrera vs. Phil Hughes in game 1, Ian Kennedy vs. Brian Burres in game 2, and Andy Petite vs. Steve Trachsel in game 3.

LAS – Life After Steve

April 17, 2008

With today’s news that Steve McNair will not be around to quarterback the Ravens in 2008, fans are reacting in a variety of ways. Many are ecstatic that McNair will not be returning, as when they look at him now they only see the “Error” version that looked old, crippled, and well….just plain terrible in 2007, as opposed to the “Air” version that led the purple and black to their best ever record, 13-3, in 2006. These happy haters are basically split into two camps: those that now see the opening necessary for Troy Smith to seize the reigns of the Ravens’ offense and lead us to the promise land; and those that are now CERTAIN the Ravens will do everything in their power to secure Matt Ryan on April 26 (also, there are probably a handful of people – yes, you, Bob – that are jumping for joy because now Kyle Boller will finally take the starting job that is rightfully his.

I’m gonna go ahead and disagree with all of them. That’s right, they are ALL wrong. In the upcoming 2008 NFL season, a **HEALTHY** Steve McNair would have given the Ravens a better chance to win than Boller, Smith, Ryan, Joe Flacco, Daunte Culpepper, Byron Leftwich, Paul Blake, Shane Falco, or Johnny Moxon. Unfortunately for you, the delusional Smith-lover to your left, and myself, Steve – despite getting himself in his best shape in years this offseason – felt that the amount of work it would take to keep himself in game shape was just not feasible week in and week out. Put another way, he knew that 2008 would be much like 2007: nagging injury, other small injury, interception, small injury made worse by nagging injury, nagging injury made worse by nagging wife and unsatisfied fan base, fumble, ear drums ruptured by booing, brain fart caused by blood leaking from eardrum into gray matter……no fun for anyone.

So what’s the point? Well, the point is that I’m extremely disappointed by the news that Steve can’t do it anymore. I was very intrigued by John Harbaugh’s glowing review of McNair’s offseason regimen and dedication, and was banking on him rebounding from his 2007 stinker in a big way. Perhaps that wasn’t gonna happen anyway, and by October all of B-More would be clamoring for Smith, or Moxson, or whoever happened to be carrying a clipboard on the sidelines at M&T Bank. But I’d rather have had McNair trotting out there against the Bungles on September 7 than any of the Ravens’ current options (unless of course this wrangler jeans-wearin mofo wants to don some purple).

Life after Steve starts today, and this should NOT affect the Ravens draft day strategy whatsoever. I have a sneaking suspicion that the last thing Ozzie & Co. want to happen on draft day is for the QB out of BC to be still sitting there doing his best Brady Quinn impression (not that, this) when our turn comes up. The pressure to pick Ryan from the fan base may be too much for even the level-headed B-More brass to resist. Have we not learned our lesson? Don’t spend a first round draft pick on a quarterback! Especially on a team that has so many other glaring needs. The Ravens strategy at MSG should be to draft the best player available at #8 – and unless each of the first 7 teams somehow manages to pick twice in the first round, Matt Ryan will not be the best player available. Period. Pick up a Leodis McKelvin, a Sedrick Ellis, or a Vernon Gholston, and move on. See which QBs are still lurking when your turn comes up in the 2nd or 3rd, and get a Chad Henne or Joe Flacco.

This is the part where you yell at me and call me names in the comments….

Has the Air Been Let Out?

April 17, 2008

Haven’t confirmed it yet, but WNST is reporting that Steve McNair will announce his retirement today at a 1 o’clock news conference.

Stay tuned…

Updated at 1:15

Reports have been confirmed, and many major sports media outlets are now reporting that Steve McNair is, indeed, announcing his retirement today from the NFL after 13 seasons. His retirement saves the Ravens ~$7 million in cap space in 2008, and ~$9 million in 2009. According to his agent, Steve had just over the past several days started talking about retirement. It comes as a bit of a surprise, given that John Harbaugh had recently been talking up McNair, saying he was impressed with Steve’s work this offseason in dropping about 10 lbs and recommitting himself to strength and conditioning.

In the end, the commitment it would take on his part to remain competitive probably just seemed too much for Steve.

Ravens 2008 Schedule

April 15, 2008

Without further adieu, the Baltimore Ravens’ 2008 Schedule:

(Home games in BOLD CAPS)

9/14 Houston 4:15
9/21 CLEVELAND 4:15
9/29 Pittsburgh (Monday) 8:30
10/12 Indianapolis 1
10/19 Miami 1
10/26 OAKLAND 1
11/2 Cleveland 1
11/9 Bye
11/16 New York Giants 1
11/30 Cincinnati 1
12/20 Dallas (Saturday Night) 8:15

Steely McBeam Joins the Club. The DUI Club, that is.

April 11, 2008

Squealers’ mascot gets drunk, drives, gets arrested, gets fired. Usually an article like this here would be fake, but not this time. This actually happened.In Mr. Hahey’s defense, if we had to dress up like a gay lumberjack (click that..I beg you) version of Pissburgh’s ex-coach, while being forced to watch that God-awful team and surrounded by fat, stinky, moronic ‘Yins, we would be driven to the bottle too.

And if you’ve listened to any of our podcasts here at the nest, you know full well we have nothing against drinking….hell no. But drinking and driving? For shame, Steely. For shame.

Bullpen Continues to Shine as O's Sweep M's

April 7, 2008

The O’s overcame another shaky start from Daniel “Why the heck would I wanna pitch with a lead?” Cabrera this afternoon and got some late inning heroics from the much maligned Aubrey Huff, to complete the four-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners. The Birds are now tied for the best record in the Majors, and are alone atop the AL East at 5-1. That’s right, B-More. Nearly 4% through the 2008 season, your Baltimore Orioles are alone in first place.

There is no secret that the key to the O’s early success has been the work of the bullpen. Through 6 games, the stats for Orioles pitchers stand as such:

32.2 IP
34 H
23 ER
6.34 ERA

21.1 IP
9 H
2 ER
0.84 ERA

Bullpen (not including Greg Aquino):
21 IP
6 H
0 ER
0.00 ERA

So, O’s fans, raise your glasses to the boys in the bullpen and thank them for the teams’ red-hot start.

The starters will need to get on track though, and in a hurry, if the team wants to continue with any level of success. Jeremy Guthrie stepped up yesterday and went 7 strong innings, which is something he needs to do with regularity as the teams’ appointed “Ace.” Some semblance of consistency from Daniel Cabrera, and the continued maturity (and health) of Adam Loewen are paramount.

Let’s not dwell on shortcomings for now though. The team is exciting and fun to watch. We’re 5-1. We’re in first place. We’re 3 spots ahead of the Yank Offs, and 4 ahead of the Red Sux. It’s a good day to be an O’s fan.