Tuesday, August 29, 2006

WHY IS BALTIMORE SO ANGRY?

Why is Baltimore so angry? What pisses us off so much?

According to a study conducted by Men's Health magazine, Baltimore is the fourth angriest city in America. The magazine looked at the percentage of men with high blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and FBI rates for aggravated assaults, as well as workplace deaths from assaults and other violence. Traffic congestion was also given consideration.

Tops on the list was Orlando (I suppose Mickey is in Mini’s doghouse) followed by St. Petersburg (I suppose the Social Security checks bounced) and Detroit (Supremes reunion cancelled?).

I thought that maybe this study had something to do with the Orioles, Peter Angelos, the Ravens quarterbacking over the past 3 years as well as the offensive line. But how would that explain Cleveland being ranked 32nd? They have never won a Super Bowl, they still bitch and moan about Art Modell, they are on their fourth center this preseason, no World Series win since 1948, it’s cold there, the football fans eat milk bones, there’s no ocean – just a filthy lake.

So what gives?

Maybe LeBron James and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ease their pain?

For the record, the other AFC North cities (Cincinnati and Pittsburgh) finished 34th and 90th respectively.

That really pisses me off!

So tell me, why does Chris Foerster get a hall pass?

I bought into the reasoning behind the woes of the Ravens 2005 offensive line…this theory that they were hurt last year, out of shape and in need of another year under the tutelage of Chris Foerster. What they didn’t tell me is that on the road in a dome, with lots of noise against speed rushers the O-Line’s theory of relatively speaking goes out the dome window.

If the Ravens fail to run the football on the road given their line’s athleticism while continually placing themselves in third and long situations, they may as well add the quick kick to the play book. They are toast – crispy critters! I’m surprised that Pashos isn’t on IR with whiplash.

All kidding aside, I do think that there’s a clear connection between the Ravens pathetic road record and the road struggles of the offensive line. Look at the Steelers. Ben Roethlisberger won his first 11 or so road games. Why is that? Ok since you're asking I'm answering. The Steelers' offensive line was able to run the ball on the road and take out the crowd and gradually rip at the root of the defensive line’s mojo. Take out the crowd, avoid third and long situations and it’s amazing how the tempo of an offense can pick up and how quickly momentum can shift.

And could someone please tell me how Chris Foerster gets a hall pass? Here’s a coach who left Miami in 2004 after his O-Line was tied for second worst in the league in sacks allowed (52). They also were tied for dead last in average yards per rush (3.5 yards).

In 2005 with virtually the same offensive line personnel and without Foerster the Dolphins were fourth best in the league at protecting the quarterback (26 sacks) and tied for seventh best in average per carry (4.3 yards).

And Foerster became the Ravens offensive line coach and assistant head coach why?

Friday, August 25, 2006

Tracking the Ravens v. Vikings

Q1

The Vikings are employing the type of offense that exploits the Ravens aggressiveness. Run the football up the middle…forget it. Quick passes by a veteran QB who can dink and dunk with the best of them and watch out…the Ravens can become their own worst enemy.

Notice how teams are beginning to run when they see the Ravens line up in the nickel and dime.

Dick Stockton has to be the absolute worst play by play announcer I’ve ever heard. First there was Longwell’s 50 yard attempt that was actually a 45 yard attempt; then there was the screen to Justin Green that was actually a quick out to Daniel Wilcox; finally a Longwell 40 yard attempt that was obviously wide right that Stockton called “good.” Is this guy getting paid?

The offensive line is getting crushed. The Vikings are playing defense in a way that suggests that they do not respect the Ravens’ vertical game, suffocating the line of scrimmage. It feels like 2005 with 3 yard passes on third and ten.

The defense has certainly had a work out and Brad Johnson is picking them apart. So much for time of possession in the first quarter.

Q2

How many of you are sitting there after the first quarter saying, “Here we go again!” The offense looks out of synch, the Vikings are daring the Ravens to throw the deep ball and they are bringing heat to the offensive line. And they aren’t responding well. Looks like another road struggle for the Ravens offense. (8:56)

It’s time to run the football.

They better get the ball downfield. Can you say 8 in the box?

I’m thinking bet the under at this point when the Ravens visit Tampa.

How pathetic is this broadcast?

Have I said the Ravens need to get the ball downfield or what? There is zero respect for throwing the ball downfield and they better start establishing it tonight because one or two series next week isn’t going to prepare them to take on the Bucs and that stout Tampa 2 defense!

I know it’s preseason, but why not a no huddle here? Might that not disrupt this relentless suffocation? Might it not tire these jumbo sized DT’s?

By the way, and I realize this might sound like whining, but where are the varied offensive sets that we’ve seen? Don’t the Ravens run every time their fullback does that little Curly shuffle? (2:00)

Udeze is owning Pashos. Check that, whoever lines up on Pashos is killing him. And Chris McAlister…you might act like you want to be there. ZZZZZZZ

Q3

Isn’t it about time that Haloti Ngata loses the starry-eyed look? He’s getting pushed around by the second team offensive line. D-line coaches would call him a catcher. Clarence Brooks better get busy with the prized pupil.

At this point, it really doesn’t matter what the Ravens do. Nothing can reverse that losing feeling tonight. The Ravens have been dominated at the line of scrimmage, particularly when on offense. Even though Minnesota has only connected downfield once, they are showing it enough to keep the Ravens honest. Minnesota is far more prepared to play this game than the Ravens.

There you go Ravens! That is how you create a mismatch and that is the pre-season beauty of Clarence Moore. Push that vertical envelope and you will take the 8 men out of the box. Ignore it and the offensive line will come under siege as was the story of the first half.

Nice drive engineered by Boller. Nice sprint to the corner and nice to see Ray Lewis coming over to congratulate Kyle. I suppose there is some silver lining here in all of this ugliness.

That busted coverage may have cost someone in the defensive secondary a job. That someone is Robb "Maybe I have a future as a" Butler.

Anyone having flashbacks to that Denver game last year?

Q4

Feel asleep for awhile…but hey, I’ve got it on tape. Can’t wait for that, after all I’ve got to do the post game analysis right? Wrong! This is your during the game/post game analysis. Who would read a complete post game summary anyway? Who’s reading this? Watching that tape would be like serving a sentence for manslaughter.

Ok here's my post game analysis: STINK, STANK, STUNK!

Final Thoughts

The first team burning two timeouts in the first quarter is unacceptable. That was a preseason crowd and they made the Ravens looked lost and ill prepared. Hey, sometimes the truth hurts!

Apparently this performance bothers me more than the players. Terrell Suggs, while he played well, helped to keep one drive alive with a dumb personal foul and still gave the aura of a player on the winning side of the ledger. Granted it is a preseason game, but I want these guys to feel the disgust that defined their team performance. Steve McNair too…that offensive performance should burn in his soul.

No problems in the red zone for the Ravens first team offense tonight. Why? They never entered it.

Hey Rob Abiamiri…when your QB throws a pick, no need for you to block the opponent. Can you say “tackle?”

How is Jason Brown ever going to push Mike Flynn at center when last week he was playing guard while Thatcher Szalay played center with the second unit and this week it was Chris Chester playing center?

I wish I had a buck for everytime Brian Billick frowned tonight. Probably even more than those of us who watched this pathetic display. What a waste of three hours. Thankfully the game didn't count. The concern is, how will it play on the team's pysche and will it force the coaching staff to let the first team play longer next week in order to develop some cohesion. Going into Tampa looking this ragged is not a good idea. What a difference a week makes.

I ADMIT IT...I'M A FAN!

Yesterday I was listening to Mike & Mike on AM 1300 and I caught them discussing the AFC and the NFC and how the balance of power is beginning to gradually shift from the AFC to the NFC (although I must admit I’ve seen no real evidence of that yet). I think Greenberg was championing that notion more so than Golic.

Anyway, I heard Golic later claim that Greenberg’s opinions were that of a fan and therefore biased. Golic made it clear that he was not a fan and that sort of struck me. Greenberg for those that listen to the program, is a dyed in the wool Jets fan. Golic, a former player, claims to not have emotional ties to any team.

I thought about that for a moment. What is it like not to be a fan? Does it make football less interesting? Does it make it more of a business? Does it help Golic’s objectivity?

I then thought of a few conversations I’ve had with local media people who cover the Ravens. Some are fans but they tuck that away in the closet a bit. Others by their own admission are not fans and they claim it makes it easier to cover the team – to maintain journalistic integrity.

This of course made me wonder about my own efforts as a journalist or journalist wannabe as one member of the local sports media might suggest. I’m a fan! Oh Lord am I a fan! When I watch them struggle on the road on TV like they did last year, it gnaws at my gut and that’s when it hits me – the affliction that I acquired as a toddler…Football Tourette’s.

No one could correctly identify my ailment as a young fan. My fiancé correctly diagnosed it a couple of years ago and unfortunately there is no cure.

It started one day when we were at home…I was watching the game and she was doing whatever she was doing. I’m oblivious to all things that are not within 4 feet of the TV screen when the game is on. There I was, fully engaged and focused upon the action on the field.

I study. I look for tendencies. In my mind I make suggestions that I hope through some form of telekinesis the play in my mind finds its way to that of Brian Billick. It never does and when the play he calls falls two yards short of the first down stick, my silence ends. I leap from the sofa as though I was shot from a cannon. I whip out the finger. (No not that one). I direct it towards Billick to further emphasize my point and then the expletives come flying out.

My fiancé who is now used to such outbursts was initially shocked. Today those outbursts are expected much the same way that Darren McGavin’s character in Christmas Story is expected to curse a malfunctioning furnace. I just curse a malfunctioning offense.

I just can’t help it and for this reason, I tape every game. I take a deep breath hours after a game and let the emotion subside. Then I put on the goggles of objectivity and break down the taped version of the game.

After all it is my job.

But being a fan is a way of life.

I feel sorry for Golic!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

GETTING THE SHAFT FROM AN OLD NEMESIS

On Monday I took my two kids, my nephew and a friend of my daughter’s to Six Flags in New Jersey. We left early in the morning, something kids have no problem doing provided they are getting up for something exciting for them. Apparently Six Flags met their approval.

We arrived at the park around 10 greeted by a long line of cars waiting to get into the parking lot. Apparently queuing is something that was kicked to the curb during the planning stages of this park. Like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives.

And it felt like days before we were finally welcomed by a pleasantly cheerful legal alien who could barely explain the difference between regular parking and preferred parking. I looked to “Press 1 for English” but unfortunately there was no such button within reach.

Ah what the heck…I opted for preferred parking for an extra $5.00.

Before long we were on the rides. Well for me it was just a ride. During the 12 hours I was there, I only ventured on to one ride. Now mind you, I’m a big kid normally when it comes to these parks. Along with the kids, I’ll run from one line to the next.

But not on Monday! It was the equivalent of speeding from a 15 mile back up at the Bay Bridge to another back up at the 404/50 intersection. Why hurry up and wait?

The lines did nothing to curb the kids’ excitement. The day was perfect – clear skies, warm but not hot and a light breeze to boot.

As we ventured through the park, I saw this line for something called “Flash Pass” which is apparently the equivalent of EZ Pass at the McHenry Tunnel. Well not quite. The cost for this Flash Pass was another $31 on top of the super duper discounted internet special of $39.99 per person.

We looked at the line for Flash Pass. It was long – a living oxymoron. The estimated wait time for Flash Pass was nearly 3 hours. “What’s the point of that I thought?”

Soon I would find out.

The park’s featured attraction is the Kingda Ka, the world’s tallest (456 feet) and fastest (0-128 mph in 3.3 seconds) rollercoaster. Wow! Let’s go….

And so we did.

When we arrived at the line, I asked an employee what he estimated our wait time to be. “Two and a half hours, sir.”

I looked at the kids and the kids looked at me.

I told them if they wanted to stay in that line, feel free but there is no ride on this planet (well at least not at this park) that I would wait 2 ½ hours for…so off I went. That was at 4:10 PM.

At 7:30 I check back with the kids via cell phone. “Still in line?”

At 8:00 I walked back over there. They were at least within striking distance but still with at least 30 minutes of wait time to go. They looked at me with an expression that said, “We have to go now don’t we?”

To my amazement, they weren’t bored to tears. They still had the look of anticipation on their faces despite nearly 4 hours of tortuous waiting. How could I even consider pulling them from the line? And I didn’t.

Occupying my mind however, was a challenge at this point. I longed for my laptop and an internet connection. The one at the park made the speed of the U.S. Postal service seem like a high speed turbo fiber connection.

I looked at my cell phone and went through the directory, realizing all those people that I need to catch up with. I decided there was no better time than the present and started to dial. And then my battery zapped. So I went out to my car to charge it up because I was desperately awaiting that call from the kids.

So I lay back in my car and waited and waited and waited. I tried to take a nap but the guy next to me had his Marshall Tucker CD going at 100 watts and to make matters worse, he used the side door of his ’72 Maverick as a drum kit.

So much for the nap.

At 9:35 the call came through. They made it on to and survived the most awesome ride of their lives. After 325 minutes of waiting, they couldn’t say enough about their 36 seconds of pure exhilaration – a speed induced adrenalin rush.

I was happy for them. They thanked me and said they had a great time and that they wished I did but knew that I didn’t. Their collective acknowledgement of my misery seemed to make it go away and their genuine appreciation made a miserable day worthwhile.

We left the park without incident and despite the feeling that I had been royally hosed by Six Flags that day (particularly that $45 lunch that included 5 medium Cokes, 2 orders of cheese bread, 1 slice of pizza and 1 order of fries) I was happy to have done that for the kids mostly because I knew that they knew that I knew that they knew…you know?

And then it dawned on me – Six Flags owned by Daniel Snyder. Why should I be surprised that I was ripped off? After all he does have all those high priced coaches and free agents to pay for, right?

Now those parking lot woes made sense!

You know, I really hate the Redskins!

Friday, August 18, 2006

QUICK OBSERVATIONS FROM RAVENS V. EAGLES

I’ve received several calls today from friends wondering what I thought of last night’s game. There was plenty for Ravens fans to be pleased with. As I’ve been saying since Day 1 of training camp, Musa Smith looks great and John from Timonium, he will make folks forget about Chester Taylor if he hasn’t already.

Devard Darling stepped up and made a few nice plays. I’ve taken some criticism for promoting his play in camp and most have shot back that he’s a bust and he should be cut, etc., etc. I’ve heard folks say that he always gets in done in practice but he can’t get it done on the field.

That’s not true. At least it’s not true about the practices.

I’ve watched Darling closely over the past three Training Camps. In 2004 and 2005, he couldn’t even get open in practice much less a game. He’s improved and he’s now getting open on the field. One game doesn’t establish a career yet it is one game in the right direction.

Darling’s fellow 2004 draftee Dwan Edwards was impressive last night with a team leading 6 tackles. Perhaps the most memorable play from Edwards’ performance took place on a third and ten with 0:52 remaining in the third quarter. The Eagles were on their own 22 when Koy Detmer hit Ryan Moats on a screen. Edwards had been in hot pursuit of Detmer, read the screen and turned to pursue Moats. The result – a three yard loss.

These were a few of the positives. Overall I feel that if the two first teams had continued to play, the Ravens would have beaten the Eagles. Of course we’ll never know but that’s just the vibe I felt. The Eagles benefited from a horrendous pass interference call against Samari Rolle to start the game and set up their first three points. They then were the beneficiaries of a hands to the face penalty against Bart Scott (that I’ve yet to see) that kept a drive alive. On the succeeding play, McNabb found Correll Buckhalter alone in the right flat and Buckhalter took it 48 yards to the Ravens 1. So there’s your 10 Eagles points.

Yet despite the feeling that the Ravens would have won under normal game conditions, I’m bothered by the play of the offensive line. I’m particularly bothered by the sack of Steve McNair on first and ten from the Eagles 19 – on another running play! Sacked on a running play! Mike Flynn was beaten badly by Eagles’ DT Sam Rayburn and suddenly I’m thinking 2005 O-Line all over again. Granted it was one play but quarterbacks aren’t supposed to get sacked on running plays.

Immediately thereafter my thoughts wandered to Jason Brown. And what do I see from Brown during the second half – solid play. But he was playing guard while Thatcher Szalay played center. For what? Is Szalay going to make the final 53? And isn’t Brown not playing center with the first team because he allegedly hasn’t fully grasp the line calls and lacks experience? So give him the experience!

What was the line call on that sack, “Look out?!?”

I’ll be watching this closely…I’ll be watching this very closely. (thanks Skimmy)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

SHOULD BOLLER EVEN BE THE NO. 2?

When it was announced that Steve McNair was coming to Baltimore, I wrote a piece entitled, “Boller Should Welcome No. 9 with Open Arms” which you can find in the Lombardi’s Way archives. My thinking at the time was that McNair’s arrival should be the best thing to ever happen to Kyle Boller during his professional career. That is still how I see it regardless of the bumbling and stumbling this past Friday night at The Vault.

I find it interesting how many people thought that Kyle Boller could successfully migrate from a bad No. 1 QB to one of the league’s best No. 2’s. Even Eric DeCosta told me as much and I wondered and asked why? Is it because he’s had 34 starts? Does the experience make him a top shelf back up?

Eric certainly wasn’t alone in that thinking. Others inside the Ravens’ organization think the same way. But why? What has he done as a No. 2 to merit such high praise as a back up?

The answer: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!

Now after Friday’s performance, some that placed him on that lofty back up perch have chopped that perch down faster than an Oregon lumberjack. Again I ask, “Why?”

Look it was the first preseason game and granted it was a bad one for Boller, but one bad game as the No. 2 shouldn’t make him a candidate for the scrap heap any more than a good performance should justify the aforementioned lofty perch. It was just one game!

Hey, what if Derrick Mason hadn’t adeptly played the role of defender on the poorly thrown deep ball from McNair on Friday. Would we all be hanging him out to dry?

Let’s see how things develop before we jump to conclusions either way about Boller. Chances are, the Ravens will need him at some point this season. McNair’s recent history of injuries almost assures it.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

NOT FANTASTIC...IT'S COMCASTIC

It’s 6:42 AM on a Sunday morning and I’m sitting outside of The Daily Grind in Fells Point impatiently waiting for the place to open at 7. There’s movement inside as the staff prepares for the likely onslaught of zombie-like city dwellers to unconsciously meander their way to the counter and instinctively order the fix that their veins voraciously scream for.

Not that I’m one of those mind you, I’m just hanging outside of the café in my SUV to pirate their wireless internet connection. You see here I am, manager of this website and I can’t get an internet connection at home. Over the past few months, I’ve had no less than 8 calls into Comcast to fix the blasted thing. And sure enough, each time one of their “techs” arrives, they leave convinced that they’ve remedied the problem.

They haven’t…more on that in a bit.

So I’m out here in the truck on a pleasant morning and Lord knows how my fingers are evening functioning right now, but I’ll be damned…I can’t get their signal to work either. Guess I’ll wait a few minutes and finish my Comcast story.

I keep telling Comcast that they haven’t fixed my super turbo high speed faster than the speed of light internet connection because in my opinion, it’s a neighborhood problem.

Why?

You see I’ve had Comcast issues for as long as I can remember. (Isn’t it nice to have a monopoly?) But in the past when I’ve had problems, I can pirate my neighbor’s wireless network. Now that is a handy tool to have when your own network crashes and the truth be told, Comcast customer service reps should be thankful for my neighbors because I’d likely go Sam Kinison on them if not for my neighbor’s welcoming signals.

But now the problem is every time that my signal goes down, so does the neighbors’ and THAT is a problem and THAT is why I’m here this morning waiting on the Daily Grind.

(Only 8 minutes to go)

Wait, what’s that – a window just popped up saying that I’m linked into the signal for Kooper’s Tavern, just a ½ block down the street.

What do you know…I’m in! Gotta go…there’s work to be done. But hey, if you’ve got any suggestions for Comcast let me know. I’m sure they are all busy today fielding irate calls about the Cable TV in my area being down. A few neighbors that paid for the Hasim Rahman fight aren’t too happy that they were blacked out last night. Neither were their friends who visited just to watch the fight.

I guess there are worse problems. Like this line forming now outside the Grind’s door like a cattle call. Reminds me of “The Night of the Living Dead.”

Top of the morning to ya!

Friday, August 11, 2006

NO LONGER "HOT IN HERE"

Yesterday the Ravens unveiled to the media a new light emitting diode (LED) display system intended to enhance the game experience for fans. 750 feet of LED technology was added to the existing 400 feet at M&T Bank Stadium, animating the entire club level fascia. If you’ve been to a NBA or NHL game, you know what I mean.

On the heels of this unveiling, it was announced that Ray Lewis will no longer be dancing – thankfully!

Look, it was a good idea while it lasted but I don’t feel like hearing the No. 1 song at M&T in 2000 over and over again for another season – sorry! Thanks for the memories. It was great for awhile but all things must pass and the truth be told this dance should have passed two years ago.

It’s no longer about Ray. It’s about the team and that is how it should be. I’m all for giving Ray a thunderous applause but not for a tired dance to a tired song. How about this for a novel idea, a thunderous applause for a tackle in the backfield on third and one?

Having said that, I do like the individual introductions. Can’t they alternate offensive and defensive intros along with the planned team only introductions? Don’t you want to feel the vibe in the stadium when Steve McNair is introduced for the first time as a member of the Baltimore Ravens?

Let’s get back to what we love here in Baltimore – old school football. Let’s get back to winning as a team instead of glorifying individuals.

Now that’s something to cheer about.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

CONCERNED ABOUT MCNAIR?

Are you concerned about Steve McNair?

I must admit that I am.

Everyday at McDaniel College, I observe McNair growing a bit more comfortable with the Ravens offense and with the personnel. He already has developed a great rapport with Todd Heap and what can you say about the history he shares with Derrick Mason that manifests itself every day on the practice field. The pair can be dangerous together.

So why am I concerned?

I’m concerned because the Ravens offense is built to stretch a defense with the vertical passing game. They really aren’t a traditional west coast offense and they aren’t physically built that way either. Yet in practice, McNair seldom goes downfield and the thought has crossed my mind that perhaps he’s just not confident in his ability to go vertical. Clearly his arm strength is nowhere near that of Kyle Boller’s. The accuracy is there but the zip and the tight spirals don’t equate to Boller’s.

We’ve certainly seen that those ingredients don’t necessarily add up to good quarterbacking. Accuracy is crucial, placing the ball where receivers can make a play after the catch and managing the game under pressure are more important to effective quarterbacking.

But if McNair doesn’t or can’t or won’t go downfield, won’t opposing defenses catch on? Won’t they begin suffocating the Ravens at the line of scrimmage and won’t that choke off the running game and the intermediate passing game leaving little room for error? Won’t that be the same thing we’ve witnessed here since the loss to the Titans in the Ravens last playoff game?

This might just be the overly concerned fan in me speaking here but until proven otherwise, this is something that I for one will be watching closely.

NO J.O.?

This week on the Ravens flagship, Steve Davis and Stan White speculated that Jonathan Ogden could be considering retirement. To support such speculation, the co-hosts reasoned that Ogden has been very frugal with his riches and that he is set for life financially. Perhaps on the heels of his father’s death, Davis and White opined that we might have seen the last of Ogden in purple.

The death of a loved one certainly has a way of changing or re-focusing one’s priorities and the speculative nature of Davis’ and White’s discussion was at least worthy of consideration. Who would be surprised if such thoughts meandered through the mind of the future Hall of Famer? Frankly, I’d be more surprised if they didn’t.

Yet somewhere along the way, as the pain subsides and as thoughts grow clearer while reality once again sets back in, the question almost always reverts back to, “What would my [lost loved one] want me to do in this situation?”

Naturally the answer is that the lost loved one would want their surviving family members to do what makes them happy. If J.O. is still happy playing football and he still has some unfinished business on the gridiron, he’ll be back. His dad’s passing aside and given his strong financial standing, Ogden could have walked away before he hired a personal trainer and before he worked himself into the best shape of his career.

But he didn’t. Why? Only Ogden knows for sure but my bet is that he has something to prove and in 2006 he’ll seek out to do exactly that. And the memories of his Dad could very well be his guiding hand throughout the season – one that could be J.O.’s swansong.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

THE WNST ORIOLES PROTEST

My good friends at WNST are staging a protest….er, make that a rally to take a stand against the ownership of the Baltimore Orioles. If nothing else, the rally will at least present a little drama for a team that can’t generate any of its own on the field. But really, what will 2,000 people do at a baseball game to sway the overt stubbornness that has anchored the brain trust at the warehouse for nearly a decade? What will they do when they get there? Have a few beers? Enjoy the atmosphere and each others’ company? Support the very man they are looking to call out with their hard earned money? Who wins that battle?

I think it’s obvious.

The Orioles, The Bird and his super soaker!

Clearly the management of WNST has nothing to lose with their “rally.” They haven’t burned their bridges to the Orioles ownership, they’ve nuked them. And now they are trying to rally the support of other media outlets? Why would such outlets risk their relationship with the club? They might actually have something to lose while WNST has nothing to lose!

While I admire the passion of the station’s management and their love of our hometown baseball team, I don’t see how this accomplishes anything and in the end, it smells like a cheap publicity stunt. I hope I’m wrong and somehow they get through to the seemingly impenetrable heart of Peter Angelos.

But I’m not holding my breath. Instead I’ll pass and hold on to my money.

Leinart Does The Cha-Cha-Ching!

Matt Leinart better recognize! He did the noble thing (or so we’re told) by staying in school and attempting the unthinkable – winning back to back Heisman Trophies and back to back National Championships. It didn’t happen. Those ballroom dancing classes that occupied his free time at USC turned out to be rather expensive lessons. Leinart undoubtedly would have been the first pick in the 2005 NFL Draft but that distinction and the $24 million in guaranteed cha-ching went to Alex Smith. Now Leinart is trying to pinch pennies with the NFL’s Ebenezer Scrooge – Bill Bidwill. Something tells me Bill’s Bidwill win!

Look on the bright side Matt. While your tap dance around training camp won’t earn you extra cake, at least you’ll have the cha-cha to fall back on….someday. Sign the deal and get into camp. Paris has moved on anyway.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

IF YOU ARE HEADED TO FEDEX PLAN ACCORDINGLY

It’s ironic that the home of the Redskins is called Fedex Field. After all, Fedex is known for timely overnight deliveries. Leaving Fedex Field is anything but timely!

Back in 1997 I made my way down to what was then known as Raljon, MD with several friends to watch the Ravens take on the Redskins. Behind 176 yards from Bam Morris, the Ravens won the game 20-17 -- a score that was closer than the game itself. The afternoon was marked by a driving rain that lasted throughout the day. At best the stadium was a third full at kickoff and that number fell to about 10,000 by the time the game had ended.

Since it was a victory and since it was the Redskins and since it was apparent that we wouldn’t be leaving the parking lot any time soon, we decided to tailgate for another hour even in the driving rain. Tony Siragusa made his way around the tailgate lot, shaking hands and dishing out high fives after a victory that he knew was something special for Ravens fans.

Finally we packed our remaining things, hopped in the Expedition and headed north. Or so we thought…

Despite the fact that very few still remained in the lot, it took us another hour to get out of the lot and back on the interstate to make our way home. Another hour!

So if you are heading to the scrimmage today, plan accordingly. There’s a good chance that a Fedex delivery could make it home before you do.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

SOMETIMES RAY THE GRASS AIN'T ALWAYS GREENER

We’ve all heard the expression “the grass is always greener on the other side.” Many of us have unfortunately discovered that it's not. Maybe it’s a relationship or maybe it’s a job that just isn’t going the way you want it to and suddenly you start to take note of the cute little co-worker or a job with a competitor who is just kicking your butt in every sales opportunity you encounter.

You are caught in a moment of weakness and you succumb to the temptation. With one decisive move not only can you shed an apparent problem from your life, you can measurably improve it.

Or so you thought.

How many of you have weakened and explored that grass on the other side only to find that what you abandoned wasn’t so bad? Maybe you let things get to you a little too much. Maybe each thing that went wrong felt exponentially more significant than it really was. How cold is the reality that the new love interest or job just never measured up? How empty and lonely is that feeling of wanting to go back knowing that you can’t?

Ray Lewis has thought about that other grass over the past 9 months or so. Fortunately for Ray, he was bound to a contract that didn’t allow him to act upon the angst that many of us have acted upon in our lives.

In relationships that are on edge, it’s like the end of the world when an argument over a toilet seat being left up ensues; or when a sales manager wants that report handed in prior to your sales call sending you borderline postal; or when a middle linebacker who gets blocked more regularly than he once did grows frustrated, asks to be traded and is willing to kick a legacy to the curb.

Ray hasn’t gone anywhere and somewhere along the way, the heat of the moment cooled and so did his head and his thoughts carried more clarity. So Ray is here and ready to go.

So far there are no signs that Ray’s hamstring injury is an issue. There are no signs of locker room discord or residual surliness over unfulfilled contract aspirations. Instead the smile is back. The joy appears to have resurfaced and the Ray Lewis that Baltimore has grown to love for a decade appears to be back at McDaniel College.

Will it last? No one knows. Might Ray grow frustrated again if he or the team do not perform well? He might.

But any of these thoughts at this point are speculative. The good news for Ray, his teammates, the entire Ravens organization and the fans of Baltimore, is that for the moment, the Ray Lewis of old, certainly in mind and perhaps in body is back!

And thankfully he didn’t get the chance to see for himself if that grass out there was any greener.