Welcome to what will become known as the “Saturday Special,” a weekly event where I use this space to share any knowledge or opinions I have on anything related to (and in some cases, unrelated to) Baltimore sports.
Mostly, the “column” (as we’ll so graciously call it), will be put together like today’s. It will have bits and pieces of information, spanning multiple sports and considering several different perspectives. I’ll break it down, make it look nice, and refer you to some cool things to check out around the internet. Basically, it will be something fun to read and rely on each week.
However, on occasion I may get the urge to summon my inner Hemingway and construct a 1,000 word masterpiece detailing why I believe Ed Reed would make a perfect head football coach at any level, or discuss some outlandish issue pertaining to Peter Angelos’ sorry excuse of ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. These installments would be less glamourous, but they’d deliver the goods like a canned food drive on steroids (or like a good Chinese delivery guy, it’s really your choice).
Ray Lewis Injured, Might Miss Sunday. Don’t Freak Out.
Now that Purple Friday is done and gone, and that creep in the Elvis Grbac jersey isn’t spouting out unsubstantiated rumors about the situation, we can take a step back and consider the Ray Lewis injury situation.
Basically, he’s listed as “Questionable.” In many cases, this means that a player will play. In Lewis’ case, it could be different. Having Lewis go out and play on Sunday could set him up for long-term injury, or could keep him out of a tough Thanksgiving night game against the 49ers coming off of a short week. With this in mind, I think it is likely that Harbaugh and Co. will keep Lewis out on Sunday, or at least limit the amount of time he sees on the field. A short week would make it difficult enough for a healthy Ray Lewis to be effective on Thursday night. Being that he’s injured, it may be in the linebacker’s best interest to take a seat on Sunday.
New GM, New Uniforms, Same Old Orioles.
Yes, there are actually a couple things to be excited about as an Orioles fan this off-season. A new general manager brings a welcome change to the front office and the way the organization tries to go about putting together a competitive team. If you’re a more casual fan, you probably are head-over-heels excited about the reincarnation of the retro bird logo, and the new alternate orange jerseys!
While I won’t say the new uniforms and personnel changes are smokescreens per se, the two moves are not worth the hype. A new general manager will hardly fix much. The fact of the matter is that Peter Angelos’ meddling ways and poor hiring decisions have ruined the Orioles organization over the last decade and a half, and Baltimore has become a last resort for most players. As is nearly always the case with the O’s, the club has signed a somewhat young but mostly washed-up player who was at one point among the top prospects in baseball. The newest member of the Felix Pie club (see what I did just there?) is Matt Antonelli, a classic 4A player who is trying to build off a solid season at the Triple-A level in Syracuse last season (Nationals).
The Antonelli move doesn’t reek of desperation, but I can assure you that some moves later on in this off-season certainly will. Antonelli is a player who should not have been signed to major league contract, and his signing is simply furthering the reputation the Orioles have around the MLB, where they are considered the dumping ground for those who can not land anywhere else.
College Football Saturday
I love college football, and this is the point at which I start to drift away from Baltimore. Here is a list of all the college football games worth keeping an eye on today. If you’re sitting at home all day watching football, I recommend watching the three bolded games in a row, with short breaks between games.
- (21) Penn State vs. Ohio State, 3:30: This is a must-watch game, for obvious reasons. One is that the Penn State story keeps getting weirder and weirder, and it’s riveting to see how these players will respond. More importantly, it will be massive in deciding the Big Ten championship race.
- (5) Oklahoma vs. (22) Baylor, 8: Oklahoma should win, but Robert Griffin III is a stud for Baylor, and if you haven’t watched him play yet this season, you really need to.
- USC vs. (4) Oregon, 8
- (13) Kansas State vs. (23) Texas, 8
- SMU vs. (11) Houston, 3:30
- (16) Nebraska vs. (18) Michigan, 12: Another Big Ten matchup, this one is suggested because it should be entertaining, and it starts at 12, a time without many entertaining games. Denard Robinson and Taylor Martinez facing off should be fun, and I love watching Rex Burkhead play. With all that said, both of these teams have looked pretty bad at time, so this game is either hit-or-miss.
- Virginia vs. (25) Florida State, 7:30
- Cincinnati vs. Rutgers, 12
The Ripkens: Baltimore Baseball’s First Family
The Ripken family baseball legacy will continue to live on, as Cal’s son Ryan has committed to play baseball at University of South Carolina. The Gamecocks are one of the top teams in the nation, having won back-to-back NCAA championships in the last two seasons.
Ryan is a first baseman for Gilman School in Baltimore, and has been selected as an Under Armour All-American prior to this year, his senior season. With this commitment, it seems like Ryan is fully committed to following in his father’s footsteps, as most players out of the South Carolina program will get serious professional consideration. Obviously a fine player who will deserve whatever comes to him, Ryan does get an extra bonus because of his prestigious last name. In the end, it seems that Cal has not put a lot of pressure on his son to pursue a baseball career, but rather that Ryan has wanted it all along.