Thursday, November 30, 2006

CAN THE RAVENS SUCCEED IN MUDVILLE?

The forecast in Cincinnati for tonight at kick off is for rain and temps in the high 40’s to low 50’s after a soaking rain all day today. With modern day technology and modern day stadiums, that giant sucking sound you hear now could be pinpointed to Paul Brown Stadium as the grounds crew does its best to make the field playable.

Cincinnati being more of a finesse team would probably prefer a fast track so there won’t be any additional hosing down from the hometown grounds crew in the style of the Patriots when they play the Colts. Of course that tactic is not out for Bill Belichick with the recent installation of Momentum Turf at the Big Razor.

But back to the Ravens….

Who does the rain favor tonight? That’s my question to all of you.

A look at history (if you call looking back to 2000 history) suggests the Ravens don’t do very well in a soaking rain. Actually that is an understatement – they do horribly. Need proof? Ok, here you go:

Ø Ravens @ Miami (2000) L 6-19
Ø Ravens @ NE (2004) L 3-24
Ø Ravens @ Chicago (2005) L 6-10
Ø Ravens @ Denver (2006) L 3-13

So, in four games the Ravens have TOTALED 18 points. That’s 4 ½ points per game!

Uh-oh!

Hey anything can happen. A steady dose of Jamal with some play action early in the downs might help but Jamal with a wet ball is like handing him a slimy eel.

Is there a mudder in the house? A brother from a different mudder?

I bet Sam Adams is a mudder. The slow surface will bring everyone down to his version of NFL speed. Chris Chester at 305 (more like 275) and Sam Adams at 345 (more like 405) is the equivalent of my son trying to block me….

Anything can happen and I’m not a betting man but to stay on the safe side, bet the under. On average when the Ravens play and God answers Phil Collins plea (“Oh yeah I wish it would rain down…down on me!”) the TOTAL amount of points scored is 21. The line is set at 44 ½. You do the math….thank me later!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

STEELER FANS IN MUTE AT THE VAULT

And all through The Vault not a Terrible Towel waving Roethlisberger wannabe was stirring…not even a Porter or a Ward.

And all was beautiful in The Land of Pleasant Living…

I remember the days at old Memorial Stadium – the early days of the Ravens…when we were just getting our collective NFL legs under us. Tens of thousands of those yellow towels littered the old insane asylum and it was downright embarrassing. It was only embarrassing this past Sunday to the Steelers’ fans who wasted their time and money watching a thorough beat down of the team formerly known as World Champions.

The Steelers have defended their title this season like the French might defend a fortress.

For awhile I actually felt a bit sorry for Roethlisberger.

Why did Bill Cowher leave Ben in there the entire game? Does he plan to go with Charlie Batch and he didn’t want to risk injuring the new starter? Was it punishment for Roethlisberger for his off season carelessness? Has Cowher checked out?

I overheard one Steeler fan say that “We are the best of the worst.” Gee talk about digging for a silver lining. That is a Steelers team without an identity. Way back when, I checked off the Christmas Eve game as a loss for the Ravens. I’ve changed my mind – the 2006 version of the Steelers cannot beat this year’s Ravens. It ain’t happening!

No way no how…

When the Steelers show up for that game it will have no meaning to them. It will have meaning to a few individuals either preserving their bodies for the future or to play for their next contract. Cowher might be coaching his next to last game and the team will go through the motions. You might think that the Steelers will get up for a game against their bitter rival, but why? Because they did so for a meaningless game in 2003 here in Baltimore?

Nah, don’t think so….that Steelers team had more heart. This one looks emotionally bankrupt. Besides, why would they get up for a meaningless game when they couldn’t do so during a game that their season was riding on?

4-7…now that’s funny!

Even funnier was the meek body language of those fans and their droopy towels. Still funnier was driving by a Steelers’ bar in Canton only to find no Black and Gold – no Steelers’ swag. There were just a few patrons in the bar and they were sporting Colts’ jerseys. How ironic.

It’s good to be a Ravens fan today…no doubt about it! And after the Ravens beat the Bengals on Thursday, it will be like a doubleheader sweep. Get the brooms out!

By the way Chuck Thompson was right. The beer is a little colder after a win. Just ask the owners of all the bars and pubs in town that have prospered after Ravens wins.

Well maybe not for that little Steelers bar on Fait and Decker in Canton.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

REAL RAVENS FANS DON'T SELL OUT

You people kill me. You know who you are. You are the ones who boo the hometown team. You are the ones who cheer when your struggling quarterback goes down with an injury or when a referee is hurt. You probably race to beat the little old lady to the last seat on the bus too.

And now you sell out tickets to your arch rival fans to help embarrass your city.

Newspaper beat writers write about it. Radio talk show hosts talk about it. And Pittsburgh fans who live in the area are laughing about it. They are laughing at you.

You will criticize the Ravens players and say they quit or that they're showboats or that they're only worried about themselves. You are quick to profess that there’s no “I” in team and just as quickly you log on to Ebay to whore your tickets to the highest bidder knowing full well that the bidder will be a card carrying member of the Terrible Towel-aban. And you justify this behavior because you say that it subsidizes the season ticket seats where you actually park your Judas-sized butt.

And then you have the stones to call yourself a die hard fan?

Jamison Hensley of The Sun last year wrote an article entitled A Wave of Discontent. In the article, Hensley gathered thoughts from these so called “fans.” One self-proclaimed “die hard” said, "This season has been demoralizing. This team has to stand up and recognize that this city enjoys winning and that's what we've got to get back to."

Another adds, "I think it shows [Ravens fans] are kind of upset. Maybe this will send a message to the right people about how things are going."

So what will the excuse be this year when you sell out?

Gas prices are too high? My son wants a Playstation 3? You need the money to buy this year's Furby? You want the extra cash to buy playoff tickets?

PLAYOFFS? PLAYOFFS?

We don’t need your kind at The Vault. Stay home, please! Go and drink your hot seasonal toddy by the fire with your slippers and hit the jump button on your remote during commercials so you don’t miss the Lifetime Channels latest chick-flick offering…like Little House on The Prairie re-runs.

Another fan in Hensley’s article talked about making a quick buck and another about doubling, tripling or quadrupling his investment in the tickets.

Some fans you are!

Greed is good I suppose you sell outs! You say you’re a diehard. More like a blowhard.

Die hard. Please give me a freakin’ break!

You don’t “die hard”, you die easy and find comfort in a death bed lined with benjamins. I’d hate to be in a foxhole with you! You are probably one of those fans that are first to complain about a player that wants a new contract yet you sell out your PSL neighbor.

To all you Steelers fans that make the trip down I-70, welcome to Baltimore. Really, welcome! Enjoy your stay. Patronize the many wonderful establishments in the city and have a great weekend. Have fun at the game and enjoy the stadium. I admire your passion and you are to be commended for it.

To all those fans that feel like I do, bring your hard hats on Sunday. Let’s collectively send a message to those Ebay prostitutes and match and exceed the passion of the yellow towel wavers who will, thanks to those Judases, arrive in numbers. And get on your feet throughout the game. Let’s make the noise in that stadium hum in Ben Roethlisberger’s helmet like the tailpipe of that crotch rocket he likes to drive around Pittsburgh.

And be sure to give your fair weather Sally neighbors an earful when they return for the Browns game on December 17, provided that is they have the guts to show up which I seriously doubt.

It will probably be too chilly for the tooties anyway.

You fair weather Sally’s kill me!
Please, if you have to sell your tickets, sell them to someone who bleeds purple.

Monday, November 20, 2006

CHEAPENING THE RING OF HONOR

During one of the TV timeouts of yesterday’s game, my eyes randomly scanned the stadium. My casual perusing was interrupted by the name of Ernest Byner. Now I know this is a topic that is hotly debated and it is almost a universally accepted opinion that Byner does not belong among the all-time Ravens’ greats (acknowledge by his presence in the Ring of Honor.)

To make matters worse, Byner is the very first inductee to the Ravens ROH. The first inductee should be the standard – the standard of excellence, it should be to recognize something of distinction and that placard is a symbol of such distinction.

What has Ernest Byner really done for the Ravens? What has he done to distinguish himself?

Ask folks around the league and Byner is generally remembered for two things: 1) A big fumble at the goal line in a playoff match against Denver as a member of the Browns; or 2) As a Washington Redskin.

If Byner is the standard, they better make the plaques smaller. It’s going to get busy in that Ring. During his playing career as a member of the Baltimore Ravens, Byner had 947 yards on 243 carries, averaging 3.9 yards per carry with 4 TD’s. He also caught 51 passes for 398 yards and a score.

That’s distinction?

No it just STINKS that our standards are so low. It cheapens it for anyone else inducted.

Chester Taylor had 1,599 rushing yards as a Raven with 4 scores. He also had 105 catches and 3 scores in his Ravens’ career. Does he belong in the ring? What about Priest Holmes? He had a 1,000 yard season, rushed for 2,102 yards as a Raven to go with 10 TD’s and 88 catches for another score. Bam Morris rushed for 1,511 yards and 8 scores to go with 54 catches and another TD.

And then there’s Vinny Testaverde and Michael Jackson and Qadry Ismail and Rod Woodson and Shannon Sharpe, the list could go on. With the sole exception of Bam Morris whose car trunk immaculately conceived a duffle bag of Mother Earth’s finest, all of these players are more deserving of the Ring than Byner.

With Byner up there, who might be next, Edgar, Allan and Poe?

Duane Starks, where are you? Come on down and get your plaque.

So what can the Ravens do to correct this blatant blunder?

Unfortunately not much.

But Ernest Byner could request that his name be taken down. Maybe he might like to be remembered as a good guy who did the right thing and got the Ravens off the hook with that misplaced placard instead of being remembered as the “Who?” guy years from now when future generations look up and see his name.

You fumbled once when you had an opportunity to do something big EB. Don’t fumble again! Do the right thing!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

DOWN IN FRONT!


During the Ravens v. Bengals game, I was into it as I normally am. I was up whistling and screaming "DEFENSE" when Cincinnati had the football. And no it wasn’t on third down only. It was on first down and second down too! Even S.A.F.E. Management reps encourage the support.

Sometime during the early part of the second quarter someone who has sat about 8 rows behind me for years stopped by to say hello.

Or so I thought….

He knelt down beside me with a couple of beers in hand and said, “You know I appreciate your enthusiasm but do you have to stand up on first and second down? Can’t you just stand up on third down?”

My reply: “No I can’t. If you want to sit down during the game, you should have stayed home in your living room.”

I meant it.

Screaming at the top of my lungs and whistling at the loudest decibel level possible is hard work. It’s what I do to help my team. I do my best to contribute to the 12th man at The Vault.

Am I wrong?

I didn’t even give a second thought to accommodating my neighbor’s request.

Would you?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

BRIAN BILLICK: EXTEND HIM, EXTEND HIM NOT?

On Tuesday our regular guest columnist and host of WNST’s Morning Show, Drew Forrester kicked around on air the topic of Brian Billick and a possible contract extension. The debate is certainly a worthy one and it is one that has no clear and definitive conclusion at this stage of Billick’s tenure.

It’s funny in a way – I’ve been accused of being a Billick hugger and a basher almost simultaneously. And I have no problem with the accusations. You see the true bashers will be quick to call me a hugger if I support Billick on a controversial issue. The true huggers will claim that I’m a basher if I criticize a debatable Billick decision.

The truth of the matter is that I’m neither a hugger nor a basher. I’d like to think I’m objective but that’s not for me to decide I suppose.

I don’t know Brian Billick very well but what I do know of him, I like. Actually I like him a lot. I genuinely believe that the image he projects publicly as the Ravens’ head coach is very different than his private persona. Brian Billick once did something for a very close friend of mine on his own. It was a random act of kindness on his part and while I wanted to call attention to it publicly, I chose not to, surmising that the deed alone was enough for Billick.

My suspicions were later confirmed by a source close to Billick.

Personally I’m happy to see Billick doing well this season not only for the sake of the team but also for his own sake. I didn’t like it when Ray Lewis seemingly threw him under the bus this past offseason. I did like it when Ray gave a game ball to Billick. The full circle was a welcomed and pleasant development.

As we’ve seen, much can happen in a year. Last year the Ravens were 2-7. This year they are 7-2. Last year folks wanted Billick’s head. This year they want to give him an extension.

Not so fast.

I hope Billick earns that extension. But I don’t think he’s earned it yet. Why not wait and see how this season and next season go before making what I believe is a hasty decision at this point? He’s under contract through 2007. If at this time next year things appear as promising as they do now, then maybe Steve Bisciotti should pony up and add a few more years to that contract.

But for now, let’s just concentrate on the Falcons and then the Steelers and then the Bengals and then…..

O.J. AND FOX NETWORK TAKE SHAMELESSNESS TO NEW HEIGHTS

So I sit down this morning at my favorite Fells Point coffee house (and no this isn’t my attempt at Peter King’s Coffee Nerdness) and I begin to read the USA Today. And what do I see? Why it’s O.J. Simpson promoting his newest scam, a book called If I Did It.

To make matters worse, Fox will air a program on November 27 to help Simpson promote his garbage tentatively titled, If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened.

Now it seems to me that O.J. wasn’t supposed to rest until he found Nicole Simpson’s and Ronald Goldman’s true murderer, right? Looks like he took a little rest and he’s used his "restless pursuit" to tell the world how he would have planned their slayings. Not how he plans to capture the “real killers”, but how he would have planned their demise!

What a guy!

And then I thought, “What do you expect from a desperate, broke, heartless, gutless, spineless and lying scumbag like Simpson whose bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame shames all those nearby?”

If he’s as innocent and as compassionate as he claims to be, why would he further tarnish the lives of these victims? Why would he subject their families to such a vulgar and opportunistic venture and re-open old wounds? Why would he again bring the death of their mother to the surface again for his children?

Why? Because he’s a sorry ass excuse for a human being and because he’s guilty!

But Simpson isn’t the only one at fault here. Plenty of blame should go to the book’s publisher Judith Regan as well as Fox. They are enablers. To hell with them and to hell with O.J.!

They say the best O.J. has plenty of pulp. This O.J. has so much that not only is it difficult to swallow it makes me want to gag!

Any word that comes out of Orenthal’s mouth is nothing but Pulp Fiction.

Sorry for the off topic rant.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

RAVENS DRAFT TRACK RECORD OVERRATED?


The Ravens certainly have a lot to be proud of so far this 2006 season. They’ve weathered adversity and they are playing as a team. Brian Billick’s crowning achievement to date is certainly the 2000 season when he helped keep the team together despite 21 consecutive quarters without a touchdown and the negative affects of the Ray Lewis murder trial.

However if the 2006 season continues down a rosy path it will arguably be Billick’s finest moment even if they don’t win the Super Bowl. Stay tuned.

But what happens beyond 2006 is anyone’s guess. Adalius Thomas just might be the team’s MVP and this could be his last season as a Raven. Salary cap pressures might prevent him from returning. And while the Ravens will likely do all they can to keep him, if they let him hit the open market the market could price him out of the Ravens’ range. If Carolina jumped at the chance to sign Maake Kemoeatu (who by the way is behind his statistical pace from 2005) by offering him a $12 million signing bonus, what do you think AD might get?

Cha-ching!

If second round pick Dan Cody is to be the heir apparent to AD might it be wise to get him a little PT? How about at least activating him? I would think he is more important to the Ravens future than a spindly one-dimensional receiver like Clarence Moore. Anyone watch Moore on the kick return team on Sunday? He was about as tentative as a pimple-faced teenager attending a supermodel cocktail hour.

The truth be told, the Ravens have done a miserable job of finding playing time for several of their first day draft picks. Chris Chester (2006, Round 2, 56th Player Selected), David Pittman (Round 3, 87th Player Selected), Dan Cody (Round 2, 53rd Player Selected), Adam Terry (Round 2, 64th Player Selected), Dwan Edwards (Round 2, 51st Player Selected) and Devard Darling (2004, Round 3, 82nd Player Selected) have a TOTAL of 1 start among them.

ONE START!

I don't care whose fault it is that is an alarming number for the level of investment in these players.

Want more staggering numbers? These guys have collectively played in only 51 games and they have been inactive a total of 68 games.

If these guys aren't given the opportunity to step up and play it could cost the Ravens in the future and it will be an indictment against the coaching staff, the front office or both.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

LIFE IS GOOD


Back in my high school days as we prepared for our senior year at Archbishop Curley, we naturally had our senior portraits taken and we had to complete a questionnaire, the answers to which would be the basis for our senior bio.

One of the questions asked had to do with what we wanted to be in life. What profession did you see yourself in?

I answered at the tender age of 17 that I wanted to be a sportscaster.

But somewhere along the line I got off track. Girls were more interesting and I went through the motions at Loyola College. My grades were pretty decent making Dean’s List but I was the type that crammed through the night and took a power nap just before the exam. When the exam was over the knowledge seemed to fall from my head like garbage through a disposal.

Eventually I made my way into the business world and somehow entered the fray of commercial finance. While the profession provided a nice lifestyle and I met wonderful people along the way and to this day many remain friends, I can’t say that I was ever really excited about the job. I liked the competitive nature of the business but the profession wasn’t me.

Since then I’ve reminded my kids often to get their education but when they finish, they should pursue something that they love -- something that they love so much that they would do it for free.

But get paid for it.

I wish that I had pursued my ambition as a 17 year old with much more determination.

But what’s the point of living with regret? Despite fast forwarding 25 years I decided that it isn’t too late after all. I still want to be a sportscaster when I grow up. Maybe it will work out. Maybe it won’t. I’m pretty confident that we’ll do ok but at the very worst what a great lesson for my kids to learn first hand as they see their old man work crazy hours yet never lacking passion.

Do what you love. Love what you do.

Do something you love so much you’d do it for free.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

RADIO GAGA....CHANGES AT WNST

A friend of mine is a big Queen fan and we often have these good natured debates about Queen’s place in rock and roll history. For my money Queen is one of the best if not the best live rock and roll band of all time. But their studio work in my opinion is lacking for a band of their stature. Sure they have a few great songs but that’s the problem for me…there’s only a few.

The band is much more popular worldwide than they are here in the States. That’s not to say that they aren’t popular here – they’re just immensely more popular across the pond.

A perfect case in point is the song Radio Gaga. The song’s popularity in Europe is evidenced by the enthusiasm that crowds display during live performances of this Queen standard. But for me, the song is crap.

It should be called Radio CaCa and that is exactly how I refer to it to my diehard Queen fan friend.

Radio Caca…radio crap!

And the radio crap hit the fan over at WNST yesterday!

Terry Ford and Jeremy Conn much to their surprise were fired. Somewhere just before 9AM the entire morning crew was asked to leave the building and not long after their return, the profiles and email addresses of Ford and Conn were wiped from WNST’s database and website and severance checks awaited them. Only Drew Forrester was left standing.

Caca happens…or something like that.

I’ve learned personally that the radio business is a tough business. Programming changes can be blindingly quick, driven sometimes by a clash of egos, a dash of an ego or by a drop in ratings. Ratings equate to advertising demand and dollars. The lower the ratings the lower the demand and the lower the asking price for ad space. It’s a pretty straightforward business.

The knock on WNST’s morning show has been that they have at times pushed the edge of good taste. Their crotch humor, sometimes described as sophomoric turned off some folks.

Hey, to each his or her own. That’s why you have choices.

Those who are regular morning listeners at WNST know that the more comedic of the trio of Ford, Conn and Forrester are Ford and Conn. Pushing the buttons of listeners isn’t uncommon for morning drive time teams. WNST’s morning team from the outside looking in tried to combine that morning shock jock approach with sports. And if that’s your cup of tea, the Comcast Morning Show provided exactly that.

It isn’t uncommon to push the envelope of good taste in radio. The danger is that sometimes the discussion can go over the edge and when it does, radio like any business has to determine if the collateral damage is worth the headaches.

Apparently Nestor Aparicio ran out of Advil.

If you are a major league home run hitter a team might look the other way if it knows about the juice. If you are struggling you might become the sacrificial lamb.

Ford and Conn need their livelihoods for obvious reasons. We all do. Both are intelligent men who are very well versed in the wide world of sports. They will find a new home and life will go on for each following their temporary hiccup. As most of us do, they’ll learn from their apparent mistakes (we all make them) or they’ll find a more permanent home where their styles are more welcomed. Both are good guys and deserve to find their proper place. I wish them well.

As for Forrester, all the best to you Drew with your new sidekick Casey Willett and producer Adam Dembeck. I’m sure you will go through growing pains but at some point in the not too distant future, you will find your groove and provide what many of us look for in sports talk radio during the morning drive – LOCAL.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.