Monday, October 31, 2011

A simple request

The World Series is over and it was one for the ages. The St. Louis Cardinals largely came out of nowhere to make the playoffs on the last day of the season and did not quit. David Freese, essentially a background figure during the regular season, had one of the best postseasons in history and Cardinals fans everywhere were celebrating.

Watching this series it gives me only one thought: I am getting older.

I will turn 29 in February, I will be getting married in March, I have a career and greater responsibilities than I once had and I will only be getting more. Growing up is a wonderful thing and I look forward to the rest of my life with my fiancee and career and future family. So please, please Orioles - bring me postseason baseball while I am still young enough to enjoy it.

I want to be watching games late into the night. If I can't be IN the stadium I want to be on the street outside waiting to scream my lungs out. I want to eat, drink and be merry well into the wee hours of the morning on a fateful game seven. Now I can do all of these things when I am a bit older as many do, but as the Orioles are looking down the barrel of a 15th straight losing season next year one begins to wonder if the Orioles will be entering a Chicago or even a Boston-like drought.

I wrote a little bit ago the the Orioles need to make the last night of the season "count". The Rays, for example, did not. They were bounced as out of the first round before a home crowd that was in a stadium that was 1/5th empty. On top of everything else there are reports that have stated the Rays may actually have to cut payroll again next year.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Question of Prince Fielder...

As we inch closer to the end of the World Series and the official start of the off-season, we all know the Orioles need to plug in several holes.

Whether the team gets that accomplished this winter, or in the years to come -- who knows; however, a lot of fans already have dreams of seeing Price Fielder or Albert Pujols in the black and orange.

I see neither happening. In fact, I think we all may have to watch another year of Chris Davis and Mark Reynolds at the corner position spots.

Honestly, I see Albert Pujols staying in St. Louis. When all is said and done, the Cardinals will pay him whatever he asks for. He's their hometown hero (much like the Sun's Connolly alluded to in his piece today when he compared Pujols to Cal Ripken).

Pujols is St. Louis' Derek Jeter or Joe Mauer. He's a perfect fit for that region.

As for Prince Fielder ... he wants the Brinks' truck loaded to his house, so he may go whereever the money is. However, if I were him, I would stay in Wisconsin. He's got a good situation there, full of talent and it may be his best chance to win.

The big money teams (well, maybe not the Cubs) already have their bats and first baseman, so the market for him -- and Pujols may be limited. From what I have read, the Nationals and Cubs may have room for one or the other, but we shall see.

Now, considering what the Orioles have gone through the past decade and half, would they shell out the money for Fielder?

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Brooks Robinson statue dedicated

At noon today in the newly-coined "Brooks Robinson Plaza" (across from Camden Yards, between the stadium and Pickles Pub) an event took place that was long, long overdue. The Orioles' great and Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson had a simply massive statue of him dedicated before a crowd that spilled out into the street.

Robinson Statue, credit Baltimore Sun

Hosted by 105.7's Scott Garceau it was a full-fledged event featuring remarks from Governor Martin O'Malley, Senator Barbara Mikulski, a representative from the Mayor's office (Mayor Rawlings-Blake was unfortunately unable to attend the festivities today), Baltimore native and Emmy-nominated actor Josh Charles and of course from local artist and sculptor of the work Joseph Sheppard.

The statue stands nine feet tall as it depicts Robinson in the motion of throwing to first base. The location is appropriate, if the west wall of the stadium were not there Brooks would appear to be about to throw directly to first base as the statue was positioned with the location of first and third in mind. While on the subject of gold gloves, in honor of Robinson's insane 16-straight awards his glove is finished in gold leaf. The pedestal of granite features delicate engravings of Robinson's name and number as well as a very nice section that gives a brief biographical sketch of his accomplishments.

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Friday, October 21, 2011

The Yankees Have a Hold on Libya Too, Apparently...

Over years, I've become enamored with the covers of the New York Post.

I would not say that I read the tabloid everyday, but their covers always gets my attention -- and a chuckle at times. Especially when I am at the grocery store in the wee-hours of the morning, and you walk by the newspaper stand.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

More Random Thoughts; The Future...

It’s been real quiet with the Orioles right now.

At the moment, they are still looking for a new general manager and are going from there.

Despite two excellent weeks at the end of the season where they sent to Red Sox out of the playoffs and into oblivion in the offseason, this fact is indisputable: the Orioles sucked this season.


The Orioles avoided 100 losses; however, they won only 69 games, one more than in 2010.

Although a few guys on the team had solid years – Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, and you can throw Mark Reynolds in there for his power – the Orioles overall at the plate were competent at times; alas, their pitching was just awful in general.

The young ‘calvary’ could not save things and in fact, it seems like the pitching staff has regressed.

Will the new general manager have a lot of sway in the decision making process? How much of a role will Buck Showalter play in molding the Orioles from here on out? Will ownership commit to spending and increasing their scouting department?

Whoever comes in, they need to work to shoring up the pitching staff. Well, that means getting another quality starter or two, plus fixing the bullpen. I figure some of the decisions made will depend on whether Jim Johnson starts, pitches in a setup role, or closes.

I would also think the Orioles will need to decide what they do at first base (and third). Whether that means keeping Mark Reynolds there, using Chris Davis, or backing up the brinks truck for Prince Fielder – something needs to be done.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Changes and What the Future May Bring...

Afternoon everyone, there’s not a lot been going on as of late; however, there has obviously been quite a few developments with the Orioles.

As we all know, Andy MacPhail will leave the organization at the end of the month. Currently, the Orioles are conducting a search for his replacement.

Granted, I have not heard a lot from the media or various sources so far for the general manager position, but one would think that the Orioles need to get someone in place soon. Obviously, there's a lot of work and decisions that have to be made about the team in 2012 and the organization in the years to come.

The Orioles are starting to interview candidates for their GM opening this week.

MASN’s Roch Kubatko reported that Jerry Dipoto of the Diamondbacks and Tony LaCava will interview this week for the general manager spot.

From what I see, the Orioles are not going after a superstar name – ala, the Chicago Cubs; however, it looks like they are going to get someone with experience, competent, that’s not too young, and has a strong handle on player development.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I come to bury MacPhail

not to praise him.

Alas, poor Andy! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite vest, of most excellent trades: he hath
borne me on his plan a thousand times; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination he is! my gut churns at
it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know
not how oft. Where be your cavalry now? your
pitchers? your Garrett Atkins? your flashes of brilliance,
that were wont to set the internet on a roar? Not one
now, to mock your own demise? quite chap-fallen?

Andy MacPhail is out. Showalter will stay in the dugout. However, it looks at though Buck will have a lot of influence in who the Orioles hire and I honestly don't know how I feel about that. At first blush you have to like the idea, but should Showalter (the on-the-field-manager) have that much influence? If you believe the Baltimore Sun's Peter Schmuck no matter what warm mass of flesh sits in Andy's old office Buck will be the guy that is primarily calling the shots. But would you not rather have a normal structure just once? Just have one guy other teams have to deal with? why do we have to be different, why can't we just get a solid baseball mind in the front office and go forward with that? Apparently not and, of course, that comes directly back to the big man in charge - Peter Angelos.

I have never been a guy to jump on the owner much. Organizations are complex things and even a terrible owner makes the right decision by accident once and while. But no longer. Whoever Angelos or Showarter or Angelwalter picks he need to have FULL AUTHORITY. But I know that is not going to happen.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Andy MacPhail Leaving the Orioles

It’s official. Andy MacPhail is indeed moving on from the Baltimore Orioles. He will leave the organization at the end of the month, once his contract expires.

The only thing I can say is that MacPhail has had a mixed amount of success with the Orioles (depending on whose perspective you get). His overall record at the helm of the organization was far below .500 and the Orioles never won more than 70 games in a season during his tenure; however, he has indeed improved the organization. Then again, in a results-driven profession, MacPhail seemingly didn’t do much to get the Orioles out of last place.

He was able to get Adam Jones from the Seattle Mariners in a very lopsided trade for Eric Bedard, traded Miguel Tejada for five prospects, sign J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds bring in Buck Showalter and improve the farm system somewhat; however, like any general manager, he had his share of failures.

I would not consider Vladmir Guerrero or Ty Wigginton in that category; sadly, Mike Gonzalez, Garrett Atkins, Kevin Millwood and Derrek Lee did not do much as part of the black and orange. These moves didn’t placate the fan base all the much as they were band-aids and could not get the Orioles out of the second division.

Whether it is because of poor drafting, bad decision making, not spending the money or whatever -- the Orioles have endured 14th straight losing seasons.

The young pitching that was supposed bolster the big league squad and get Baltimore close to .500 ran into some bumps, and the simple fact is that the American League East is probably the toughest division in all of professional sports. In a results-driven business, MacPhail barely moved the neddle of success to the right direction. That's just the reality of the situation.

Now, four years later, most are simply wondering ... can this organization turn the tide for a change?

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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Make it count

Wednesday night was simply the best night of regular season baseball I have ever experienced. My fiancee, friends and local bar-flies huddled in Fraziers on the Avenue heads ping-ponging back and forth between the two televisions. One was set to the Rays' game, the other on the Orioles.

When Davis doubled we cheered; when Reimold doubled the place went nuts; when Andino slapped a soft single and Reimold crossed the plate the entire bar erupted in an exultation of sheer joy that spilled out onto the sidewalk as the Orioles spilled out of the dugout. From the sidewalk we saw Evan Longoria's game-winner and we cheered again.It truly was an amazing night.

Do I feel bad? On a certain level I do, I mean the Orioles destroyed the Red Sox season and likely cost Terry Francona his job. But then I remember the countless times that I have been intimidated, heckled and nearly assaulted by the various members of Red Sox-nation and I feel OK again. Personal feelings aside it was an amazing night of baseball in general, the sheer odds of a night like that happening are astronomical. If the Yankees had won, it would have not been as magical; if the Sox had won it would not have been as special; if the Orioles had won in a total blowout it wouldn't have meant as much. Now the Orioles need to make it count.

In 2012 the Orioles need to ensure that Wednesday the 28th of September was the start of something and not just another game. Because if the Orioles come out next year and run out another 70-win team then the magic of that night will have been all for nothing. It would be a fun night, but nothing more. Even the most cynical among us can feel it, you just get the feeling that the video of that night should end up as the beginning of a DVD. You can almost hear the baritone of the announcer's voice explaining how the scrappy Orioles, in dead last, never gave up and knocked out the predicted class of the division: "And thus, two teams diverged - Boston was unable to get away from giant, under-performing contracts while the Orioles ascended finally after 14 years of waiting."

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Five Places Baseball Fans Visit Frequently

#1 - The Local Stadium

It’s hard to ‘root root root’ for the home team if you’re not actually there to root for your local heroes. If you’re in New York, ‘local’ becomes a little bit of a misnomer, since technically you’re sharing your hometown heroes with millions of other locals. But for people in towns and smaller cities, the minor league team could be the big thing, and you can really rope them in as your home team. A visit at least once a season is in order for any true baseball fan.

#2 – The Batting Cages

People who love baseball find it difficult to be apart from it for too long. So after the World Series ends, baseball enthusiasts are left staring blankly at walls unless they can find something else to do to fill up the time. Visiting a local batting cage can be fun for friends and family. After all, when you are swinging at high speed pitches being thrown at you by a pitching machine, you may almost feel like you’re a pro yourself. Well, at least while you’re delusional from your baseball game deprivation during the off-season.

#3 – School Fields

If you’re near a high school or college, chances are they have their own school baseball teams. Baseball is great to watch at the high school or college level because it doesn’t get nearly the attention that football or basketball often get, leaving you with great house seats whenever you want them. Sure, you won’t want to show up alone if you’re a single 45 year old man to watch the JV team play, but if you have friends and family willing to come along, that can erase the weirdness and help you get your baseball fill whenever you need it.

#4 – The Shopping Mall

No baseball fan has completed his ensemble until he’s hiked a pair of baseball socks up to his knees and sported a brightly colored version of his favorite team’s cap. Of course baseball isn’t all about the commercial aspect, but it’s hard to say you’re a bigger Orioles fan than another guy if he’s wearing the hat and you don’t have anything to show for yourself. Granted, if you want to show anyone up, just flash him recent ticket stubs to the big games, and you’ll show your competitor who really loves the game and who is just a novice fan.

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