Archive for March, 2012

Failures on Faceoffs and Extra Man Doom Terps in Chapel Hill

March 25, 2012

After a week’s layoff following their 11-5 victory over Villanova in College Park, the University of Maryland Men’s lacrosse team had hoped to carry the momentum of back-to-back victories into their matchup with ACC rival North Carolina. Instead, the Terps’ struggles in the faceoff circle and in the extra man game propelled the Tar Heels to an 11-10 victory.

The game ended up being closer than it probably should have. Carolina had an 11-9 lead with under one minute to play, and the Terps had just turned the ball over and picked up an illegal check penalty. The Heels should have been able to run their extra man offense and likely run out all or most of the clock with the two goal advantage.

However, upon receiving the illegal shot to the head from Kevin Cooper, Greg McBride of Carolina retaliated, diving at Cooper’s legs. McBride swung and connected a few times, and all hell broke loose, with both benches clearing. When the dust settled, both teams had been penalized several times (both Cooper and McBride were ejected), but the Heels got the worst of it, with three men in the box to Maryland’s two. Freshman defenseman Goran Murray scored to pull the Terps within 1 with 20 seconds to play.

The Terps needed a faceoff win and another quick score in order to force overtime. Given the way the game had unfolded to that point though, that was easier said than done.

At midfield, Carolina’s R.G. Keenan dominated Curtis Holmes at the faceoff X, winning 5 of 8 draws in the first half, and 14 of 21 for the game to that point. Maryland brought out freshman Charlie Raffa for the critical faceoff with just 20 seconds to play, and Raffa responded, making a great check and clearing pass to set up what looked to be the game-tying score.

Unfortunately for Terps fans, senior Joe Cummings couldn’t handle the feed in front of the crease from junior Owen Blye, and the final horn blew with Carolina barely hanging on, 11-10.

Holmes’ struggles were detrimental for Maryland all afternoon. As a result of losing so many faceoffs, the Terps were unable to sustain any considerable momentum, and their largest lead on the day was two at 8-6 early in the fourth quarter. From that point on, Carolina pretty much played “make it, take it” scoring five of the game’s next six goals until the melee broke out.

In addition to struggling on faceoffs though, Maryland’s other bugaboo on Saturday afternoon was the play of their extra man offense. Maryland’s EMO finished the day just 2/8, and one of those was in the unconventional three men down to two men down situation that followed the fight. In their regular EMO, Carolina held the Terps to just one goal, despite the Heels having racked up over eight minutes in penalties.

The weather played a role as well. Playing on a natural grass surface in Chapel Hill in a steady rain, Carolina appeared to adjust to the slippery surface much better than Maryland did. Watching the game, it just seemed like the Terps couldn’t get it through their heads that any kind of spin dodge was likely to result in the player laying flat on the grass; they just kept trying, and kept falling down. Carolina, on the other hand, utilized more straight-ahead speed dodges and feeds to effectively keep their feet, maximize possessions, and pepper the net.

Maryland has now lost two of their last four, and things don’t get any easier moving forward. A 2011 NCAA Championship Game rematch against Virginia looms next Saturday in College Park. The Cavaliers are coming off their first loss since losing to Duke in the ACC Championship Game last April, having fallen to Johns Hopkins 11-10 in overtime on Saturday.


Another Proud Day for the Baltimore Orioles

March 20, 2012

New Orioles General Manager Dan Duquette has made no secret of the fact that he wishes to expand the O’s presence in foreign scouting markets, especially those in Asia. While Asian baseball hasn’t produced any real superstars other than Ichiro, more than a few serviceable major league players have come over to the United States from Japan, Korea, and other nations. So far already in his tenure, Duquette has brought in a couple Asian pitchers to camp, Wei-Yin Chen (Taiwan), and Tsuyoshi Wada (Japan).

Unfortunately, South Korea has went ahead and completely removed themselves from the O’s scouting plans, as seen in this sign, which is hung at at least one – and presumably all – baseball stadiums in the nation:

Well alrighty then.

The banning stems from a fracas back in February where the O’s apparently skirted some rules regarding their courting of a high school pitcher (one who, others have noted, no other MLB team was even showing an interest in).

Just another proud day to be a fan of the Baltimore Orioles.

h/t Deadspin

TaylorMade Ravens Hat Giveaway

March 9, 2012

Although we’ve been spoiled by a very mild winter in Baltimore, perfect golfing weather is right around the corner.

TaylorMade has hooked us up with two extremely “cool” golf hats to give away to Ravens fans.

Through TaylorMade Golf’s unique NFL partnership, they are the only golf manufacturer to offer all 32 NFL team hats and visors, so fans can show their team spirit on and off the course.

Features of TaylorMade Golf’s NFL Hats and Visors:
-Provides UV protection up to 50 UPF
-Has a dark under bill to reduce glare
-Has a moisture wicking sweatband

Since it’s Follow Friday (#FF) on Twitter all you have to do is Tweet the following message to your followers and you’ll be automatically entered to win. We will announce winners on Saturday.

Message: #FF @Ravens_247 for the best unofficial Ravens coverage… period!

If you don’t have Twitter, don’t complain… sign up! Twitter is a great way to stay informed of Ravens news and you should definitely have an account.

Good luck to everyone and hopefully you’ll be golfing in this sweet Ravens hat, if you stink at golf, you’ll at least look more fashionable while drinking a few beers in the cart.

To purchase a hat, go to

UMBC Upsets #4 Terps in Men's Lacrosse

March 7, 2012

As we enter our post-Ravens world here at B’More Birds’ Nest, my first post is going to be on college lacrosse. I played lacrosse in high school (and some club in college), and I know that many of my fellow Ravens/Orioles faithful, being Marylanders, are also fans of “lax.” If you’re not, well, first off – you don’t know what you’re missing, but secondly, I’m sorry to hear that. Feel free to ignore any and all lax posts from here on out. We’ll get some more O’s-centric stuff going here shortly.

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Just prior to faceoff Tuesday evening between the Maryland and UMBC (University of Maryland, Baltimore County) men’s lacrosse teams, I tweeted that I wouldn’t mind seeing my Alma mater (B.S. ’04, M.S. ’09) Retrievers knock off the heavily favored Terps. While I was confident that Maryland would be able to recover from an early season setback such as a loss in Catonsville, I also realized that Don Zimmerman’s team could use the confidence going forward. UMBC entered the contest at 1-2, with losses to Robert Morris (blegh) to start the year and a 10-9 overtime defeat at the hands of #17 Fairfield sandwiched around a win at Rutgers. Falling to 1-3 with a matchup looming against the #2 Johns Hopkins Blue Jays on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium would put the squad squarely behind the eight ball before even beginning play in the tough America East conference.

As for Maryland, they had played better than most expected over their first few games, with decisive wins over Hartford, Georgetown, and #11 Duke. However, there had been times where the young Terps (only eight seniors on the roster) had shown flashes that their overachieving ways may be due to give way to some growing pains.

Tuesday night at UMBC though, those worries seemed to be quickly pushed aside as Maryland built a quick 3-0 lead, and sustained that margin through the half, which they entered leading 5-2. My hope of a Retriever upset seemed quite far-fetched, as UMBC struggled to find any offense through the game’s first 30 minutes.

However, after the half it was a different story.

Sophomore attackman Conor Finch (Boys’ Latin) fed Scott Hopmann (St. Mary’s) with 11:19 to go in the fourth to close the deficit to 6-4 before scoring himself to make the game 6-5 Terps with 9:24 to play.

For Maryland, we had seen glimpses of this kind of collapse before. Against Duke, they jumped out 5-1 in the first quarter and led 7-2 at halftime, and 9-3 at one point in the third quarter, before being outshot 25-6 by the Blue Devils in the second half and holding on by a 10-7 final.

When UMBC tied it up at six each just five seconds after Finch’s goal on a faceoff-to-net score by Phil Poe (DeMatha), the only question was whether the Retrievers would be able to, unlike Duke before them, finish off the comeback.

Zim’s squad answered with a resounding “yes” as two goals from Junior attackman Scott Jones put the home team up 8-6 with 6:08 to go. Despite going down a man twice over the game’s final six minutes, UMBC managed to hold on and edge out their cross-state rivals 8-7. It was UMBC’s first victory over the Terps since beating them in back-to-back regular season clashes in 2008 and 2009.

If the Retrievers can use this victory as a springboard to a Saturday upset over #2 Johns Hopkins, it would cap off one of the most memorable week’s in the program’s history. However, after watching the Retrievers completely dominate the faceoff circle (15/19) and clamp down on the potent Maryland attack, head coach Dave Pietramala and the Blue Jays won’t take UMBC lightly. Even if they fall to Hopkins, a solid showing should boost their confidence moving into America East play as they look to get into the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009.

As for the Terps, they now have a chance to either prove me right about being able to rebound from this early season letdown, or to disappoint all of us by letting it derail their budding successes. With home matchups against unranked Marist and #12 Villanova before traveling to #8 North Carolina (reeling a bit in their own right at 4-2 after a loss to unranked Penn), how this young team responds to some adversity will be a huge factor as they begin to jockey for NCAA position going into April. They start next month at home against #1 Virginia – the team that knocked them off last Memorial Day in the NCAA Championship game – so things get a lot tougher very quickly.

After making 14 saves against Duke, Maryland sophomore goalkeeper Niko Amato managed only four against UMBC. He’ll have to put this sub-par performance behind him and see the ball a bit better moving forward. Just like the Terps’ men’s basketball team – which is also quite young – the name of the game for the lacrosse team needs to be consistency. They can’t keep playing like world beaters for 10-12 minutes at a time only to go into huge lulls for extended periods – it will take a string of solid 60-minute performances for Maryland to find themselves again taking the field on Championship weekend.

Ch-Ch-Changes at the Nest

March 5, 2012

I know there’s been a dearth of posting around here lately, and I apologize. There is, however, a very good reason. Let me explain…

The times, they are a-changin’ here at B’More Birds’ Nest. When I started this blog way back in September of 2007, it was just a fun way to vent about the Ravens, who had just lost an incredibly frustrating game to the Cincinnati Bengals to start the season. No Ravens fan had ever heard of Joe Flacco or Ray Rice. I think my parents read the blog, along with perhaps two or three of my close friends.

Four and a half years later, thanks in great part to the help of Nick-a-What?!, the site has grown just about as much as we could have possibly hoped for. We were featured in the Baltimore Sun in January 2009, voted Baltimore’s Best Ravens blog last fall, and we’re coming off of five of our best six months in terms of page views in the site’s history. Hell, because of this blog, Goob and I went into a Best Buy in August of 2010 and spent $130 on an open-box flip cam that led directly to us being able to attend Super Bowl 45 and hang out with Ray Rice on Media Row for an entire afternoon.

What more can I ask for than that?

Well, when I started out, I figured the absolute best case scenario was that this blog would be one of the 0.000001% of all websites that grows to the point that it can financially support its writer. While we made a little bit around here, it’s not nearly enough to live on. The next best case scenario would have been to parlay my writing at this blog (which, hopefully, has improved over the years) into a paying gig covering sports in some way shape or form.

It’s that second scenario that may be entering “dream come true” status. Goob has managed to turn GOOBVISION into something that people absolutely love and crave, and he has taken off to (and I hope to be a valuable contributor to 24/7 as well. As a result, my Ravens efforts will now be found exclusively at Ravens 24/7. The plan is to continue to put together regular articles over there, including fan favorites from the Nest such as Lookalikes!, Play Like a Raven, and Nick-a-What’s awesome photoshops (when he gets a chance – the time he has available to devote to the site has greatly decreased as well lately, as he started a new job and has two young children). will still be right here, though – just without the Ravens stuff. I’m not abandoning the site – I’ll continue to post on the Orioles when the mood strikes me, as well as on other topics that I haven’t touched on here in the past such as Maryland Terrapins basketball, lacrosse, and football. In short, it will be more of a personal sports blog. I’ll still call the blog B’More Birds’ Nest; the name is near and dear to me, and I can’t tell you how much I love that logo. I know I’ll lose a good chunk of my reader base, which is composed of rabid, die-hard purple and black fans just like me – I hope each and every one of you will find your way to Ravens 24/7 (if you aren’t already there) – but I hope most of you will stick around even after things change and talk about other sports with us here. In addition to talking Ravens at 24/7, you can still find me on Twitter as well, where I’ll gladly defend Joe Flacco until I’m purple in the face against any and all comers.

It’s been an absolute blast talking Ravens with all of you here at the Nest – from UnbiasedGuy to Scott to Matt to even good old Christmas Ape, thanks to all our regular commenters for keeping things lively. I can’t think of any better use of my time over the past 4.5 years than the writing and interaction here. I can’t wait for more of the same over at 24/7. And remember, I’ll still be posting here – O’s, Terps, shit, even Capitals if you guys want (though I’m not really a fan).

I’m taking my Ravens talents, as they say, to South Beach (or, more accurately, Ocean City beach – where 24/7 meetings regularly occur).