Good morning Baltimore. If you listen to the BSR Podcast, you probably actually know who I am, good for you. If not, then maybe you’ve seen the one or two Maryland basketball posts I’ve done, or the few Maryland football previews I was able to muster up before the stink of the team overwhelmed me. Well, for a while now (last week) I’ve been trying to figure out what the best medium would be to post on this site more than once every 3 months. And after a few hours spent in seclusion mulling over deep thoughts (Pickles on Friday), I came up with the idea of an out of towner’s perspective of all the sports teams in this area.
I’ve lived down in Maryland for about 6 years now, and with the exception of the alma mater (Go Terps), I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on objective reality when it comes to Baltimore’s sports teams. Since this is the “let’s get to know each other” phase of the relationship, I’ll tell you a little about myself before giving my judgments on each of your kids.
In a family made up of exclusively of Giants-Yankees fans, I blame Wayne Chrebet and Todd Pratt for ruining my life as a sports fan. I lived next Wayne’s aunt and uncle as a little kid in New Jersey, and when he got drafted by the Jets, I contracted a serious case of Gang Green which has been festering for about 16 years now.
Baseball’s a little more convoluted: like plenty of kids growing up in the 90’s, I worshipped at the altar of Ken Griffey Jr. For that whole decade, I was a huge fan of what I consider to be one of the most talented teams not to win a championship. Big Unit, Griffey, A-Rod – THAT’S THREE FIRST BALLOT HALL OF FAMERS (four if you think Edgar Martinez should be in like I do. If you don’t, watch this and come back to me).
After the Mariners missed the playoffs in 1999, and Griffey trade rumors started haunting my nightmares, Todd Pratt gave me the greatest thrill I’d had as a baseball fan. That walk off from a guy who never hit more than 8 HR’s in a season is on my depressed viewing list (you know, the 5 videos you watch after a big loss to reaffirm that at some point, good things have happened to your teams. Mine goes Greivis triple double, Jets/Patriots 2010, Pratt walk off, Ventura walk off, Allan Houston buzzer beater. Leave yours in the comments). After that HR, two things happened. 1) I figured out that seeing Steve Finley frown gave me a sadistic sense of enjoyment 2) My casual fling with the Mets exploded into full blown devotion, and I’ve been a loyal follower of the Wilpons’ favorite mistake ever since.
But enough about my teams, you didn’t come here to read about the Mets and the Jets, you came here to read about the Charm City’s finest.
An argument I get into all the time with Orioles fans: Would you rather have been an O’s fan for the past 10 years, stuck in baseball purgatory permanently renting out the basement of the AL East. OR would you rather have been me: renting out a whole floor on the heartbreak hotel (rooms 2006, 2007, and 2008), and slowly turning your liver to mush every September. I would’ve rather been you guys. Whichever literary nancy penned “tis better to have loved and lost…” clearly didn’t lose enough times to know what the hell he was talking about.
But suffice it to say, that’s why I like seeing the O’s do well. I know what being a tortured fan is like. That stadium is too nice to house a losing team, and the fans in Baltimore deserve much more than the apathetic ones in Toronto and the one family with season tickets in Tampa. It was awesome to see you guys go out and hammer what looks to be one of the worst team’s in baseball to drum up some excitement around here.
I’m brownie-high on a few players on this team, Adam Jones for starters. Before he had a weird injury in late August at Minnesota, Jonesy was knocking on the door of .300/25/15 steals, All-Star numbers in anyone’s book. After going to the hospital for a few days for an unknown ailment, AJ finished the last 28 games .180/3/2 with a black cat like .194 BABIP. This is not a coincidence. If Jones stays healthy all this year, I really think .300/30/15 is in play, with an all around improvement being a guarantee.
90% of pitchers in baseball would kill for the arsenal of pitches Jake Arrieta has, a legit mid 90’s fastball and a 12 to 6 curve. It will be fun for me and extremely frustrating for you to see if he can ever figure out how to use them. Arrieta definitely has a head start with the stuff, but he’s still got a way to go. If he can start assaulting the inside corner and be more stingy with his pitch count, that’s one step. Another would be learning how to work an umpire, and knowing to let the really good stuff age to the later innings (Verlander taught a class in that last year). Just know this, Arrieta’s success all depends on his head at this point.
I wish I could say something positive about Matusz, but I didn’t work for the O’s until last year, which leaves little positive to be said. I knew peripherally of how he ended 2010, and he was definitely very impressive in the spring. As a pitcher, he reminds me of if they cloned Cole Hamels but lost a few chromosomes in the process. He seems like a good guy, and I hope he’s back to where he was in 2010.
Speaking of Hamels, that’s your guy to go after in the offseason. I like Greinke, but I prefer Cole (and his consistent success pitching in a Camden-esque bandbox) more. Fielder would’ve been a dumb decision, but when a number one starter hits the open market, you back up the money truck.
Although as a Rex sympathizer, I’m guessing you’re not too fond of me. I’ve got enough hate going around for the Patriots and Steelers, once you knock my team out of the playoffs I’ll add a line to the shit list. Until then, I was rooting for you guys in the AFC Championship game.
If you listened to the podcast last week, you know I’m not a huge fan of the Flacco comments. The bravado is nice – to a point – but if anyone knows how badly that can backfire, it’s a Jets fan. Granted, Flacco’s comments weren’t as ridiculously braggadocios as Rex’s, but if the Ravens get out to a rough start, that quote will get dredged up by every major media outlet and drunk fan in the state limits.
After spending the last few years as a bit player behind the defense and Ray Rice, Flacco will have the spotlight firmly affixed to him this year. There is one way to make this situation work, and Eli Manning (a significantly better QB than mine or yours) did it last year. This year was a great step, but unlike the Masters, the invite to the 2013 AFC Championship will not be coming in the mail. It’s going to be tough sledding again this season, this time with a division winners schedule, and games like Flacco had in Tennessee and Jacksonville last year are going to be under much heavier scrutiny. There’s a bullseye over that 5 this year, it’s just matter of whether Flacco is the One who can dodge all the bullets.
A couple of quick hitters to get us out of here. I think Rice deserves the extension because LT was a similar back and rushed for over 1,000 at age 29. I think Pitta and Dixon are one of the best (and most underutilized) tight end combos in the league. I think the smart draft pick for the Ravens is the center from Wisconsin to help spell A-G-I-N-G B-I-R-K. I think the exciting draft pick, if he were to fall to the 20’s, would be to trade up and grab Michael Floyd to give Flacco two dynamic down the field receivers with my favorite Terp in the NFL Torrey Smith.
I’m from 45 minutes outside New York, we watch basketball there. Seriously, ANY BASKETBALL FANS AT ALL OUT HERE? In particular, any people supporting local product and 4th quarter property owner Carmelo Anthony? I’ve been a Knicks fan since solid food, and followed them through the leanest of lean times (I once eBayed a Michael Doleac jersey). If we have any basketball fans around, I’ll start writing some basketball stuff in here. If not, I’ll shut up and keep my opinions to baseball and football until Terps season starts up.
So there’s my very loose take on things, in the next few weeks I’ll get down to brass tacks (what the hell does that mean?). If you liked reading this, hit me with a few of those 5 cathartic sports videos down below in the comments. If you didn’t, my effigy should be about 6’3,” thin, and wearing a Wayne Chrebet jersey that I’ll supply (the Jets are about 1-56 when I wear it). See you O’s fans in the World Series at a collective 323-1.
FACT OF THE DAY: Matt Holliday’s nickname according to baseballreference.com is “Big Daddy”. If you can find a weirder one, post it.