Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Virginia Tech Basketball: Frontcourt Depth Could Put Breakout Season in Jeopardy

Whatever coach Seth Greenberg did to anger the basketball gods, he needs to figure out how to atone for it before he loses his entire frontcourt.
Despite the fact many fans have been waiting for this season for two years now—anticipating it would be the year the Hokies burst onto the national stage—the success of this season could be in serious jeopardy, as a series of injuries has left the Hokies frontcourt as thin as the Dallas Cowboys' Super Bowl hopes.
At the end of last season, the Hokies thought the frontcourt was one of their deepest positions. In addition to starters Jeff Allen, Terrell Bell and Victor Davila, Greenberg had JT Thompson, Cadarian Raines and University of Florida transfer Allan Chaney on the bench.
Unfortunately for the Hokies, many of those names will be unavailable when the season starts tonight against Campbell.
Thompson is out for the season after tearing his left ACL back in September. Raines is nursing a broken foot, and Chaney is out for at least this season because of an unknown heart problem that caused him to collapse during a practice in March.
With those guys out of the picture—especially Raines and Chaney—Davila is left as the only true big man on the roster and must make vast improvements from the 5.3 points and 4.2 rebounds he averaged last season.
“I’m just looking to help the team any way I can,” Davila said. “Whether it be rebounding the ball or scoring points—whatever they need me to do, I’m going to perform.”
Because the other two big men have been injured, Davila has been forced to practice against people much smaller than he is.
In the past weeks, he has been going up against Paul Debnam, who is only 6'3".
With Davila unable to practice against players his size, it is possible he could struggle when defended by players of comparable size.
Another key to the Hokies' success in the frontcourt will be whether Allen can stay on the court and out of foul trouble. Allen had 14 games last season where he was limited to 25 minutes of play or less because of foul trouble.
If he can consistently play 30 to 35 minutes a night, the Hokies' lack of depth behind him will be less of an issue.
While Chaney and Thompson are definitely out for the season, Raines will recover and be available this season.
The biggest issue for Raines when he returns is his confidence with that foot.
“It might take me a whole year, maybe, like the whole season and into the summertime to be 100 percent confident in it,” Raines said.
The foot has been a fairly chronic issue since he initially hurt it in the preseason of last year. During his time at Tech, he has broken the foot at least twice, with the most recent injury possibly being a break that went undiagnosed.
Though there is no doubt the Hokies will be excited to have him back when he finally makes his debut, Greenberg is making sure he takes it slow in order to avoid further injury to the foot.
“We’re going to take a very cautious path. Let’s face it, he’s had a lot of trauma in that foot and there’s no sense in rushing him back,” Greenberg said. “He might be 100 percent healthy, it’s just the path we are taking.”
With the Hokies thin in the frontcourt, Greenberg will most likely elect to go with a smaller lineup and try to create a faster tempo.
However, when Tech plays teams such as Purdue, who have big men such as JaJuan Johnson—who averaged 15.5 points, 7.1 rebounds a game last season—defending the interior might become an issue.
Luckily for the Hokies, there isn’t a team in the ACC that has a feared low post scorer to worry about. The two biggest talents at forward in the conference are North Carolina State’s Tracy Smith and Florida State’s Chris Singleton, neither of which plays for a team as talented as Tech.
Every time you hear about a team having a “breakout season,” there is always a story of it overcoming adversity to be successful.
If the Hokies end up having that kind of season, it will be the injury-depleted frontcourt that is considered the adversity they overcame.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

To Succeed in 2011, The Orioles Need To Get Power Bat

With the great run the Orioles have had this year, they could be an above .500 team next year.

However, it will take a few things to make sure that happens – the biggest of which is a power hitter.

When the calendar finally reaches April of 2011, the Orioles will be back to being the team that is expected to make at least a little noise in the AL East.

The biggest difference though, is that unlike last year, the buzz will be somewhat warranted, as the O’s have had a winning record since Buck Showalter became the manager.

In this last two months, the organization has seen a lot to be happy about. Adam Jones and Matt Wieters have gotten out of their slumps, the rotation looks great, and hitting with runners in scoring position is no longer embarrassing.

These are all great things to see, but the Orioles still lack that power bat to put in the middle of the lineup.

This season, the O’s power is led by Luke Scott with 27 homeruns. That number isn’t terrible, but Scott is very up and down. He’ll hit five jacks in a week, but then will go 10 to 15 games without one. If a team is looking to compete with the Rays and Yankees, that drought isn’t something you can afford from your main source of power.

In addition to mercurial bat of Scott, the Orioles didn’t get a home run from a first baseman until June 30 – that’s 72 games into the season!

Behind Scott, there isn’t much power either. Nick Markakis has lost power and seems content hitting doubles, Jones and Wieters will probably top out at 25 homers a year, and Felix Pie and Brian Roberts are finesse guys.

If the Orioles are serious about winning 80 games or so next season, they need a big bat in the middle to provide that power and overall production that will benefit everyone.

Some of the big names that could provide power that are available this offseason are Lance Berkman, Carlos Pena, Victor Martinez and Adam Dunn.

Any of those guys would provide a spark in the middle of the lineup, and for all but one of those, it would also be taking away a power hitter from an AL East opponent. It is really a double whammy if you think about it.

Owner Peter Angelos has always said that if the team shows that if significant improvement made with a big contract player, and that it wouldn’t just be spending money, he would shell out the cash to do it.

This offseason is that time.

The O’s have shown they can win against anyone over the last two months and with a little help, this trend could last all of 2011.

Friday, September 3, 2010

NFL Sending Wrong Message By Not Suspending Ndamukong Suh

It was announced today that rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will be fined $7,500 for the assault on Jake Delhomme that almost took the quarterback’s head off.

While I’m glad that punishment was handed down, the message that the measly fine sends is entirely the wrong one for the office of Roger Goodell.

Today was also the day that Ben Roethlisberger had his sentence reduced from six games to four, which is probably why Suh isn’t getting headlines.

Well it’s either that, or the fact that the incident was in a preseason game between the Lions and Browns – who combined to win just seven games last year.

When you look at the two rulings sent down today, there is a disturbing message that was sent: excessive violence on the field is tolerable, but altercations off the field will result in hefty consequences.

Friday, August 27, 2010

100 MPH Or Not, Strasburg Will Still Dominate In 2012

The nation’s capital is in mourning this afternoon after waking up to the news that its savior, Stephen Strasburg , would be out for not only the remainder of this season, but also all of 2011 because of a ligament tear that will require Tommy John Surgery.

Its hard to sugar coat the news because of how important Strasburg is to the Nationals, but before you jump off a building or do anything drastic, know that Strasburg will return in 2012 back in dominating fashion.

While no small issue, the torn ligament that Strasburg suffered isn’t the career death sentence that it was 40 years ago. Ever since the procedure was preformed on Tommy John (hence the name), it has an estimated 85 to 92 percent chance of complete recovery.

Obviously that still means there is a 15 percent chance that the future ace of the Nats will never be the same, but it’s better than this being a career ending injury.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

By Signing Machado, Orioles Cap Off Successful Draft

Today is a good day for Orioles fans everywhere. An amazing win last night would normally be the explanation for this good feeling, but the reason I woke up with a smile on my face this morning was what happened at 11:57 – the signing of Manny Machado.

To say that the Machado deal wasn’t nerve-racking would be a lie. From 11:50 to when the deal was announced at 12:03, I was on BaltimoreSun.com and refreshing the page every 10 seconds hoping that there was different news.

The funny thing about how anxious I was is that I was actually anticipating this very timeline. Whether it be with Stephen Strasburg, Matt Wieters, Bryce Harper, or Machado, agent Scott Boras likes to have his clients push the deadline to the max. Hell, the fact the Machado signed three minutes before the deadline might be the earliest a Boras client has signed all year.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

10 Keys To a Virginia Tech National Championship

If you were to glance at the different preseason polls, it is obvious that writers aren't quite sure how good Virginia Tech is going to be. Some have them in the Top-5, while others don't think the Hokies are good enough to win their conference.

Regardless of where they are ranked, the fact that most coaches and writers are predicting the Hokies to be at least a Top-10 team means that Tech will be gunning hard for the school's first national championship (the Tech athletic center actually has an empty case reserved for the team's first title).

With so many returning starters on offense and a defense led by Bud Foster, the Hokies are oozing with potential. In fact, head coach Frank Beamer went as far as to say that this team is one of the best he has ever coached.

That being said, let's look at some of things that will need to happen in order for the Hokies to fill that empty trophy case.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Baltimore Orioles Nolan Reimold Seems To Be Back In Old Form

In the month of August, the Orioles – under new manager Buck Showalter -- have become one of the hottest teams in the league.

MASN is getting its best rating all year, and fans are already starting to tune back in. However, the recent buzz in the big leagues has masked the success of a familiar name in AAA Norfolk: Nolan Reimold.

After a tremendous rookie season was shortened by an Achilles tear, many thought Reimold would come back strong and be amongst the team leaders. Unfortunately for the organization, Reimold found it more difficult to come back than was expected and once he did, he was not even close to the same guy fans watched last season.

Reimold was eventually sent down to AAA to work on his issues, but it only got worst there. In May, Reimold batted .122 and questions of whether he would be able to rebound were floating around Baltimore.

Through the season, the Tides tried just about everything, including trying him out at first base. Reimold now switches back and forth from the outfield to first. However none of that mattered until August.

Since August 1, Reimold has turned it on and is looking a lot like the guy that was on pace to be the AL rookie of the year in 2009. He is batting .333 with two home runs and nine RBIs this month and is starting to get back into the discussion of being called up.

Although there are tons of theories on why he struggled in May, June and July, the best explanation is that he was rushed back after his surgery on the torn Achilles tendon. Throughout Spring Training, Reimold was seen limping and was shuffled in and out of the lineup to help his foot rest. He was so focused on being able to play on opening day, that he didn’t realize that it was in his best interest to wait until he was truly ready.

While getting sent back down is never a good thing, there is a silver lining in the situation. With the emergence of Cory Patterson, the O’s now have four solid outfielders (Patterson, Felix Pie, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis). With that big of a log jam, finding a spot in the outfield for Reimold would be tough. By being in AAA, Reimold has been able to work on switching to first base and might be able to avoid further cluttering the Orioles outfield.

The original hope of the Orioles was that Brandon Snyder would be the guy to fill that void, but Snyder has been up and down this year and the certainty of him contributing to the big league club has diminished. If Reimold can learn the position, then he can provide another option for the team’s future at first base.

Assuming Reimold stays this hot throughout August, there is no doubt that he will be one of the first people called up when rosters expand on September first. When that happens, it will be interesting to see if he can be the player we all thought he could be.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sorry Chris, It's Mike Miller That Completes The "Big Three"

Depending on who you are, to say that this summer was taken over by the Heat may or may not be too punny. Regardless, Miami’s offseason has been one of the most amazing that any sports organization has ever had.

By now, everyone has their favorite nickname “Big Three,” as well as how they will work together. However, while seemingly everyone is in agreement that the trio consists of LeBron, D-Wade and Chris Bosh, I argue that it is Mike Miller-and not Bosh- that will complete the “Miami Thrice.”

Bosh was talked about so much as the perfect compliment to either Wade or LeBron, but is he really? Both Wade and James have similar styles -- they are superb slashers with average to above average shooting. With that in mind, why would having an inside presence help? If anything, it clogs the lane when LeBron charges in.

People keep asking how you guard all three at the same time, but it isn’t that complicated. Double team Bosh inside and go man-on-man on Wade and LeBron. That way, when one of them drives the lane, there are already people there to help.

The only thing foiling that scheme is Mike Miller and his ability to snipe from beyond the arc.

With the two best slashers in the game, Miami’s best offense will involve spreading the floor and keeping the lane open for when Wade or James wants to drive. Teams will try to collapse their defense to stop this from happening, but with Miller and his career .405 three-point-percentage, the Heat won’t lose a beat. If teams are truly set on keeping the middle cluttered, then the Heat can bring in a guy like Eddie House with Miller and have the two of them help LeBron shoot from mid-range to downtown. It becomes a pick your poison scenario.

You see, it is the ability to spread the floor and not low-post-efficiency that will get results for the Heat.

Not only is Miller one of the best shooters in the game, he is amazingly versatile. He can effectively play shooting guard and both of the forward positions, and has some of the best court vision you will see in someone his size. If he had played on better teams, he could be a household name.

While Miller doesn’t have the talent of Bosh, his skill set is much better suited for what the Heat are building. In fact, LeBron knew this and that’s why it is rumored that James had already called Miller and told him to join him in Miami BEFORE he made “The Decision.”

If Bosh knows what is good for the team, he will be content with 10-15 points per game off of rebounds and putbacks- That is where he is crucial.

Between Bosh, Ilgauskas, and Udonis Haslem, the Heat will need great low post defense, especially when playing a big team like the Lakers. They will also need to be huge on the offensive glass when LeBron or Wade has a bad night.

I’m not saying Bosh won’t be an important piece of the puzzle – I’m just saying that if the Heat want multiple championships, the ability to do that lies with Miller.

Drill Sergeant Showalter Behind Orioles Winning Ways

Alright, who else is confused?

Over the past week, the Orioles’ team that we have seen show up hasn’t been what we have become accustomed too. Granted, I’m not complaining, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not intrigued by the change.

The reason is simple: Buck Showalter. However, the recent success has nothing to do with any changes he has made or even anything he has said to his players. It is the players’ collective fear of his reputation that has turned the Orioles into one of the hottest teams in baseball.

Before Buck arrived in Baltimore, the Orioles were struggling in just about every department. In spite of this, the mistakes that seemed to be the most obvious were those of a team with poor baseball IQ.

Completely preventable things like terrible fielding and dumb base running have cost the O’s 5-10 games this year alone. Add in the inability to hit with runners and scoring position and you have a basic understanding of why Baltimore is no longer seen as a baseball town.

Despite watching this all season, are we to believe that the Orioles have somehow learned to fix these things in a week? Not quite.

Players in Baltimore know what Buck Showalter is about. He believes in clean baseball as the way to turn around an organization. If they want to keep their jobs, they need to stop making the mistakes that made Baltimore the worst team in baseball, and start playing like the team that was predicted to win 80 games this year.

No longer do they have Dave Trembley to coddle them or the idea that Juan Samuel is an “interim manager” to hide behind. Showalter will be Baltimore’s general for the next three years and if you get on his bad side, you can be sure that you will be back down in Norfolk before the next day’s game.

With “fear” motivating the O’s to succeed, they are the team that they should be. The question of how long it lasts is a different subject. Will it last the rest of the year? More importantly, what does Buck do when the players become comfortable again?

I’m not sure anyone can answer those questions, but regardless, have fun watching the Orioles until this string of good performances is over. We haven’t seen good, clean, fundamental baseball like this in a decade.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Orioles State Of The Union: How Will Showalter Use The Rest Of 2010

For those fans still holding on in Baltimore, tonight will be the beginning of yet another “new era” for the organization, as the team plays its first game under manager Buck Showalter.

While the looming hire of Showalter was perhaps the worst kept secret in all of sports over the last month, the fact that the deal is finally done now means that the (re)rebuilding process can begin now rather than come spring training.

This difference is rarely felt in other sports, but baseball is one sport where it isn’t just helpful, it is vital.

The reason that baseball is unique in this way is that baseball teams get to expand their rosters every Sept. 1 to basically call up anyone in they like on 40-man rosters.

The ability to call these players up and see how they do against top-level competition can give managers an insight into their potential before next year’s Spring Training.

For Showalter, this opportunity to see what he has in his farm system could possibly shave off a year in his rebuilding plan.

Although there is certainly no doubt that Showalter will want to use the rest of the season to assess talent, there is one thing that could prevent a blown up roster – Is Andy MacPhail really willing to have the 2010 Orioles to go down as one of the worst teams in baseball history?

At 32-73, the Orioles are on pace to lose 111 games. To put that in perspective -- only four teams since 1940 have tallied that many.

Accumulating that many losses in a season would be an even bigger shot to the reputation of MacPhail and his so-called “plan.” The question now becomes, “Will the Orioles risk entering that realm in order to try and better their future?”

Either way, guys like Brian Matusz, Jake Arrieta, and Matt Weiters will all stay staples of the rest of the Orioles’ season. The people whose playing time could be sacrificed will be the veterans like Kevin Millwood, Ty Wigginton, and even Luke Scott.

If the Orioles are smart, they will give this season to the dogs in order to look at younger guys. If it works, then the season will be forgotten (the Detroit Tigers 119-loss 2003 season was quickly forgotten when they made it to the World Series three years later).

In this scenario, don’t be surprised to see guys like Brandon Snyder, Chorye Spoone, Chris Tillman and even recent acquisition Rick VandenHurk getting some time in Baltimore for strictly scouting purposes. Even Zach Britton (who is not currently on the 40-man roster) could get brought up from triple-A – he is certainly deserving of it.

Those names are all in addition to Josh Bell and Troy Patton, who were both called up as a result of the Miguel Tejada and Will Ohman trades.

However, in an age where records rule everything, the Orioles could very well decide to play the older vets and try to scrape one or two more wins out of the season. If they do, they could manage to sacrifice the 2011 season before it even starts.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Hard Truth: Tiger Isn't a Good Putter

Coming into this week’s British Open (or The Open Championship for any European readers), one of the biggest stories on the Tiger Woods front was the decision to use a different style putter because of the speeds of the greens at St. Andrews.

This decision was criticized by analysts, who thought that abandoning a putter that had won him 14 majors and 80+ million in earnings was a mistake.

Then, in a span of the tournament, we heard them go from that view, to Tiger’s new putter is the next piece of technology that will revolutionize golf, back to the idea that he should make the switch back because he isn’t putting well.

I have a better idea about why he is struggling with his flat stick: he isn’t a good putter.

This might be a foreign concept to most, but that is because we spend all of our golf watching with Johnny Morgan in our ear telling us how amazing of a putter Tiger is the instant he makes a simple five or six foot putt.

Take a look at his rankings amongst his peers on putting the last six years:

2009: T20

2008: didn’t play enough to qualify for stat

2007: T48

2006: 137

2005: 33

2004: 20

Would you say those are the rankings of one of the best putters in our generation? I don’t think so.

As you can see, the lack of quality putting over the past tournaments isn’t a recent thing. It has been mediocre his entire career. What separates Tiger from the rest of the field is his amazing ball-striking. Putting is the wild card in the winning equation.

In all three majors this year, Tiger has hit the ball well enough to win-that goes double for the Masters, where he was playing as well as I have seem him play in years. Despite this fact, Tiger doesn’t have a Major Championship this year because of his failures with the putter.

Hell, it only makes sense that he change his putter…his old one wasn’t working for him.

Morgan would like to make you think that he “is having a tough day with the putter” every day that you see him, but the statistics that I have shown say otherwise.

Remember the scene in Happy Gilmore where Chubbs takes Happy to a miniature golf course to work on his putting? We might not be there quite yet, but we are close.

Woods seems to be struggling with reading putts, speed, and even having a consistent stroke. He is zero-for-three in putting skills.

Now, before I get struck by lightening for criticizing Tiger, I must say that I do believe Tiger Woods is still the best golfer in the World and that I do think that he will pass Jack Nicklaus in career Majors.

That being said, if he wins the five more majors he needs, it won’t be because of his putting, it will be in spite of it.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

NBA Free Agency: Much Ado About Nothing?

For two years now, basketball fans all over the country have been waiting for the free agency period that we are currently in.

They braced themselves for the max-exodus of seemingly every major player in the NBA and that it would surely mean that the power in the league would be turned upside-down as a result.

However, now that we are actually in the midst of it, the one question that is starting to form in many minds is whether or not anything will actually change.

So much time has been given to LeBron James leaving Cleveland and joining the like of the New York Knicks, Chicago Bulls or even the New Jersey Nets, but here we are in July and most analysts are saying he will stay in Cleveland because of loyalty.

Dwayne Wade has also flirted with the Bulls, but as of right now, ESPN’s Chris Broussard has him returning to Miami.

When you add those names to the list of stars that have already resigned with their respective teams (Dirk Nowitski, Paul Pierce, Rudy Gay and Joe Johnson), the question I ask is whether or not this free agency period was completely blown out of proportion.

Yes it is true that Chris Bosh and Carlos Boozer are still on the market and that Amare Stoudemire signed with the Knicks, but are any of those guys the type to put a team over the likes of the Lakers, Celtics or the Magic?

Chicago, Miami, New York, and New Jersey all blew up their teams in preparation for this month and it is possible that New York is the only team that got any better by doing it. (Even if the Knicks can’t lure anybody else to them, they can resign David Lee and have a great front court with Eddy Curry’s contract coming off the books at the end of next season).

That all-or-nothing strategy is going to get someone fired…especially in Chicago where the Bulls actually made the playoffs with a fairly young team.

The only scenario where a shift in power could happen is if Cleveland and Toronto work out a sign and trade to unite Bosh and LeBron for the Cavaliers. LeBron would have the Pippen to his MJ and could overthrow the Lakers (maybe) as the NBA supreme.

Other than that, I honestly don’t see the status quo of the NBA changing all that much.

Even if Miami were to get Wade and Bosh, they wouldn’t have the funds to sign a decent supporting cast around them and beating a deep team like Boston in a seven game series would be a joke.

In conclusion, let me help make the rest of this week very anti-climactic for you; there will be no max-exodus of superstars, the balance of power will not be shifted, and all of this excitement was for nothing.

Sorry to be Debby-Downer.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Black Hole Turns Out Just To Be Ron Artest (satire)

In a disappointing finding, scientists have come to the conclusion that what appeared to be the first documented black hole in the history of Earth, was in actuality, Ron Artest.

The black hole, which was first sighted in early November, only seemed to take place when the Lakers had the ball and appeared to be wearing a jersey with the number “37” on it.

“I can’t explain it,” said Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant.” Every time I pass it to what I think is my teammate, the other team has the ball.”

This is what started to spark the interest of astronomers across the nation. If there was indeed a black hole that seemed to be traveling with the Lakers, huge educational gains could be made by studying it.

However, what was thought to be the mystical disappearance of the ball turned out to be nothing more than Artest being a ball-hog and a momentum-killer on offense.

“At first I chalked up the turnovers to just Artest being inept at running an offense, but the more and more it happened, I began thinking there might be something to this ‘black hole’ story,” said head coach Phil Jackson. “I don’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed. Either way, he is still killing us on offense.”

As the Lakers enter game six of the NBA Finals, Coach Jackson’s game plan is starting to factor in Artest’s knack for handing the other team the ball – whether it be via terrible shot or turnover.

“Coach [Jackson] has told us to treat him just like another defender on offense because giving him the ball is just like turning the ball over,” said Derek Fisher. “Unless he is in the paint, giving him the ball is just a detriment to the team.”

While there is no doubt of Artest’s negative impact on offense, he will most likely remain in the rotation because of Los Angeles’ lack of a back-up plan in guarding Paul Pierce.

“Did you see Luke Walton try to guard me when Artest wasn’t in? Wasn’t that hilarious?” Pierce said. “I didn’t even have to flop like a little girl to score like I usually do.”

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Orioles Setting Up Arrieta To Fail

When the Jake Arrieta takes the field tonight against the New York Yankees, it will not be the ideal scenario for a youngster making his debut.

He will be making his MLB debut on one of the biggest stages in sports.

Even though it is at Camden Yards, calling it a home game is somewhat of a stretch. The stadium will be two-thirds Yankees fans and he will also have to go up against the most powerful team in the history of baseball.

Simple put, this isn’t the scenario you would like to put one of your top prospects in as his first start.

Arrieta is the last of the recent swarm of pitching prospects that will be brought up by the O’s over the last year. The list includes Brad Bergesen, David Hernandez, Jason Berken, Chris Tillman, and Brian Matusz. While, there is yet another wave available in class A and AA, they are a few years off—these are the players of now.

Tonight’s game should be a happy occasion for Baltimore; one that should have been the Orioles showing off the last piece of an already impressive stockpile.

Instead, Arrieta joins a group of pitchers that are 31-52 with a combined 5.09 ERA and make up the majority of one of the worst pitching staffs in baseball.

It is true that not all prospects turn into stars, but what the Orioles seem to have in the pros could turn out to be a prospect graveyard. There is still hope for Matusz, but Hernandez, Berken, Bergesen, and Tillman all seem to be struggling and in danger of turning into duds.

Considering how badly the Orioles need Arrieta to be a success, they don’t seem to be helping him out at all.

Look at how the Nationals handled Stephen Strasburg. They not only waited patiently until he was ready, but they waited until they could play a beatable opponent (the Pirates), and could fill the stands with Nationals fans. Every fan in that stadium was rooting for him.

Instead of doing that, the Orioles are calling up Arrieta because it happens to be convenient for them and are risking his chance of being a successful pitcher in the process.

The Orioles have the worst record in baseball. The idea of calling up a player on the organization’s time instead of when it is best for the player is ludicrous and is quite possible one of the reasons the Orioles can’t succeed in cultivating their talent.

Bringing up Arrieta is reminiscent of the Tillman and Matusz call-ups last year; it is nothing more than a publicity stunt.

The O’s are terrible and can’t get fans to come to the ballpark any more. MacPhail is just using Arrieta as a pawn to get Orioles fans to stay interested. He will probably do the same thing with Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder at the end of the year.

These aren’t the actions of man building a dynasty; they are that of a man who is trying to buy himself some time.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Radio Appearance talking Orioles baseball

Sunday night, I had the pleasure to join Matt Falkenbury on the New York Mets 'Stache Radio to discuss the Baltimore Orioles because they start a three game series on Friday.

Considering it was my first radio appearance, I thought it went great.

My segment starts at 34:50 and goes on for 15 minutes or so. Enjoy!

I took this video off because it started by itself whenever you opened the page and was getting quite annoying. If you are still interested in listening to it, the link is:


Friday, June 4, 2010

What Dave Trembley Did Wrong and What Samuel Needs To Change

By now it is official. The Baltimore Orioles have fired manager Dave Trembley and have promoted third-base coach Juan Samuel to be the interim skipper.

Now that he is gone, the biggest question is what Trembley failed to do and what Samuel needs to do differently.

To Orioles fans, the firing comes hardly as a surprise, considering most of them have been calling for this for months now.

To say Trembley was disliked would be an understatement. Fans thought he was so bad that for the first time in a decade, Baltimore’s failures were not blamed on owner Peter Angelos.

Fans blamed Trembley for everything, especially the under-performing of the offense. Most of them probably have some sort of Trembley Voodoo doll in their closet with a needle in it for every loss this season. After all, baseball is a superstitious game.

While some Orioles fans are just happy he is gone as if he were the Wicked Witch of the West, they should be focusing on what Trembley is actually responsible for.

The answer to this is that doesn’t come from any particular moves Samuel will make, but rather what this change will do inside the clubhouse.

Some are saying that the losing isn’t all Trembley’s fault because of hampering injuries, but that attitude in the locker room is 100 percent on him.

The Orioles have become stagnant in the past few weeks and have accepted losing as an inevitability. Remember Adam Jones throwing his helmet after an out because he was tired of failing? That isn’t happening anymore because they have stopped caring.

Trebley should have been fired right when that feeling started creeping into the minds of the players.

In post game interviews, Trembley basically sits there and has no insight to why this team is bad. If it’s true that he really does have no idea why the team isn’t performing, then he is truly a terrible manager. However, the most likely scenario is that he doesn’t want to call anybody out- this isn’t any better.

This is the Major Leagues Dave…these aren’t kids we’re dealing with here.

Throughout the entire season of losses, I never heard Trembley yell or criticize his players once. He never held any of them accountable for failures and never got up their butts when careless mistakes were made.

There is a difference between nurturing players and coddling young talent. Trembley clearly coddled them and it has hindered their development.

As his first managerial move, Samuel needs to call Adam Jones into his office and light a fire under him. Call him out for his absolutely terrible plate discipline and poor base running. Let him know he isn’t a young talent, but is instead expected to be one of the stars on this team.

After he lets Jones know what every fan in Baltimore is thinking, do the same with Matt Weiters- then Nick Markakis (I know he has a good average, but his lack of power is disturbing).

These guys were supposed to be the O’s strength, not weakness.

If Baltimore is to see any benefit from this, it will be because someone yelled at this team of apparent children.

It’s been 13 years now since the team was any good. How about getting a manager in there that knows that? Let every player know how embarrassing it is that the Orioles organization has been diminished to a laughing matter when it was feared in the 1980s.

If Angelos won’t pay for a manager to do this for him, I’ll do it for free.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Glen Davis Actually Becomes Smarter After Concussion

In what is being called one of the most intriguing medical mysteries in recent history, Glen Davis seems to have become smarter after the concussion that forced him to be removed from game five of the Eastern Conference Finals.

The concussion was suffered in the third quarter when Dwight Howard hit Davis in the face with an elbow, sending Big Baby to the ground. Davis was able to get up after a moment, but then immediately stumbled into referee Joey Crawford.

Though he experienced minor headaches following the game, Davis seemed noticeably more intelligent by his teammates the next morning.

“Big Baby normally has issues with words longer than two syllables, but he correctly used the word ‘excruciatingly’ this morning. It was like something out of the twilight zone man,” said Celtic guard Rajon Rondo.

While doctors from all over the globe are flying to Boston to theorize how one could experience an increased IQ as a result of a concussion, Dr. Avery Schmidt has an idea that is being accepted as the most logical explanation.

“When someone suffers a concussion, he usually experiences a loss of memory and at least temporary loss of intellect,” Schmidt explained. “However, I believe that Mr. Davis possessed so little brainpower, that he experienced an increase because it was not possible to suffer a loss of any kind.”

This theory is being accepted not only by many doctors currently studying Davis, but also by most fans of the Celtics.

“I love Big Baby, but look at the guy. I haven’t seen a dimmer-looking face since Vin Diesel. The fact that he can speak English at all kind of surprised me,” said Boston native Sean McIntyre.

According to Celtics coach Doc Rivers, Davis remains a game time decision for tomorrow night’s game six in which Boston hopes to close the door on the Orlando Magic and advance to the NBA Finals.

As to whether or not Davis’ new and improved brain is just a temporary side affect or a permanent matter, no one can be certain.

“I am obviously not able to hypothesize how long my newly acquired acumen will last, but I can only hope it is a permanent fixture,” Davis said. “I just read a book for the first time in my life, and it was truly an exhilarating experience”

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Come Playoff Time In The NBA, Does Talent Actually Reign Supreme?

To say that this year’s NBA playoffs has been less than exciting would be beyond a euphemism. It has produced four sweeps and only one game seven, while in the progress of adding two more sweeps to its resume’.

However, while the lopsidedness of the games has bored some to tears, the surprising dominance of some teams and equally shocking flatness of others has led me to ask questions I’ve fought with for years.

What if there are some teams that are built for the regular season, while other are built for the playoffs? Perhaps more importantly, does talent always prevail in the playoffs; or is there a more important factor?

Many have tried to tell me this before-that there are some players that shine when the light is brightest- I always thought that talent on paper would prevail.

It wasn’t until the Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, and Los Angeles Lakers decided to simultaneously prove me wrong, that I have finally awoken to what seems to be an indisputable reality: talent is but one factor in the quest for a championship and actually becomes a smaller factor in the post season.

The first team that arose this suspicion was the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Everything was set for LeBron and his crew to storm through this postseason and claim their first title. They had the best record, the best player with a great supporting cast, home-court advantage, rest, and the swagger that came with all of these things. These advantages didn’t seem to matter though, as Boston just dominated them in a series where Cleveland never seemed to have the upper hand.

My only explanation is that they weren’t build for playoff basketball. Postseason ball is much different from its predecessor.

Mo Williams might be a great scorer, but lacked the ability to distribute when his game was off; LeBron, while an excellent teammate, lacked the ability to instill fire into a team that needed it so badly; and finally, the team didn’t have a strong inside presence.

While these things aren’t a huge deal in an 82-game-season, they are quintessential parts of a champion.

On the other side of the coin is the group of teams that over perform come May and ruin everyone’s predictions. The Lakers and Celtics seem to be these teams every year.

To say that the Lakers were an underdog coming into the post season is a stretch; however, to say people didn’t have doubts, is another.

From the beginning of the season, most analysts identified Los Angeles as the best team in basketball on paper. Throughout the regular season though, this didn’t seem to be the case. They were vulnerable all season and were barely above .500 after the All-Star break. The Lakers seemed to be a team that was falling apart at the wrong time.

Instead of continuing the downward trend, the Lakers were invigorated by playoff basketball. After losing two straight games to the Oklahoma City Thunder to even the first round series up at 2-a-piece, the Lakers have won eight straight games and are rolling on all cylinders. All of a sudden, they are the team everyone thought they would be.

Finally, the Celtics cemented my belief that talent couldn’t be the only factor. On paper, they aren’t close to as good as Cleveland. Hell, they aren’t even able to match the Magic in talent.

However, as soon as that last regular season game ended, every player on that team became 100% better.

Rajon Rondo might as well be a 25-year-old Jason Kidd; Kevin Garnett looks five years younger, and Paul Pierce finds a way to be clutch even at his worst. Even Kendrick Perkins looks like Bill Russell on defense. Simply put, this isn’t the same team that finished fourth in the Eastern Conference during the regular season.

The conclusion that I have made is that some teams are impossible to judge in the regular season because quite frankly, they don’t care. The first 82 games are just one small step in winning a championship.

With the Lakers and Celtics, what transpires from November through April doesn’t matter; it might as well be the preseason.

In addition to that premise, I’m starting to think that while it is true that talent is the sole factor in winning in the regular season, there are bigger factors in the playoffs. As cliché as it sounds, team defense reigns supreme in the playoffs. Not only that, but talent is also trumped by clutch play inside two minutes and the ability to make adjustments between games.

When you look at the Lakers and Celtics, these are the things that make them great. By the same token, these are the very same things that were the only weaknesses in Cleveland’s game.

The ability to win in the regular season and that of the post season take very different things. Building a team that is capable of being successful at both is so difficult. That is why building a title contender is almost impossible to do with any certainty.

If there was a formula for doing it, then being a general manager would be significantly easier.

Unfortunately for fans in Cleveland and other franchises that desperately want to figure it out, this isn’t the case. Building a team of intricate pieces to win a championship is something few people know. It is what ESPN’s Bill Simmons calls “the Secret.”

While the other 28 teams in the NBA seem to struggle to figure out what that is, it seems like the Lakers and Celtics know it very well.