Wednesday, May 28, 2008

GREAT Orioles win, I see only parts that aren't exciting

OK, so quick story to share. Yesterday I'm at work and Sherm sends a text to tell me he has 4 great seats to the Orioles Yankees game and asks, "do I want to go?" Of course I want to go. Can I go is the other question. Two little ones at home, I didn't really help much that morning, and from 6-8:30 on most nights, it's daddy time. So of course I text back, "I'm in, might be late."

Cut to my house and it's dinner time. I casually mention the opportunity to my wife, who got up at about 5 a.m. with the 9 month old that morning. "Sherm has great tickets to the Oriole game, what do you think if I go after putting Ethan to sleep?"

Cut to crickets chirping.

I wasn't going to push this one. I wanted to hang out with the little guy, but also wanted him to get to sleep at a reasonable hour. So then it's 8:30 and I'm putting the finishing touches on story time and I'm in the car and on the way downtown by about 8:45. After finding parking around UMMS, I walk into the stadium and it's a few minutes after 9 p.m. and it's the bottom of the 6th.

"What did I miss?" I ask.

"Not much," said Sherm.

"Well, there were 9 home runs."


"And you missed two, four-run comebacks," he adds.


But there's three innings to go, so we settle in, and there were some great, exciting plays, but no runs scored while I was there.

In the top of the 9th, the rains come and there's a long rain delay and we all leave. I run about 7 or 8 blocks to my car, get home and wait another half hour and then the game resumes.

At a little after midnight, the Orioles win 10-9 in one of the more exciting games I've ever watched, partly in person, partly on TV. 19 runs in the game. I went to the game and saw none of them. But I'm not complaining, it was fun/funny.

Wow, what a game. I did Tivo it, so I re-watched all the home runs when I got home waiting for the rain delay to end. By far the most amazing play was the double play that Roberts turned in the top of the 11th.

A-Rod is up with the bases loaded. Roberts is playing halfway in. A-Rod absolutely scalds one right at him. Later, A-Rod said he hit it harder than the home run ball he hit earlier in the game (he also snidely remarked that Roberts made a "lucky" play. Here's his exact quote from the NY Times story.

"I hit that one better than the home run," said Rodriguez, who homered to center in the fourth inning. "That's the way it works sometimes. Stick your glove out, make a lucky catch and get two out of it."

Anyway, Roberts short-hops it in a fan motion meant for self preservation, then stands up, throws home, gets one out, then a second out is recorded at third as the throw from Quiroz just beats Jeter.

But Matsui cashes in for the Yanks with a two-out single, so it's 9-8 bad guys entering the bottom of the 11th.

Mariano Rivera had just pitched two lights out innings, but Joe "didn't take the Orioles job b/c he needed to spend more time with his family and now the Orioles are playing better than the Yankees and I realize it's just late May but still" Girardi doesn't think he can ask Rivera for a third. So he brings in LaTroy Hawkins, who stinks.

LaTroy pitched for the Orioles for a season. Poorly. I knew we'd win, knew it. Plus, Troy was operating with the horrible karma hangover from throwing the bean ball at Luke Scott last week. IF you watched that altercation on replay; after Scott points to his head and takes a step toward the mound saying "don't throw at my head," Hawkins repeatedly yells, "Shut the Fuck Up." You can see him clearly mouthing these words at least 3 times. I am not sure what you are supposed to say after you almost decapitate someone with a baseball after just throwing three feet inside on the prior pitch, but "Sorry about that," might have been more appropriate. Anyway, let's just all be grateful LaTroy was not serving his suspension but rather pitching for the Yankees while on appeal (can you appeal a suspension from the waiver wire?).

Where were we? Oh yeah, bottom of the 11th, it's about midnight at this point. Mora leads off with a single, just had a look in his eye like he was going to get it done. Markakis flies out to deep left. Then Huff comes up and rips one to the gap in left center and Mora flails his way home, does an awkward belly slide and the game is tied.

Huff is on third, so Mr. Family Time tells Mr. Bad Karma to walk the next two guys, including Luke Scott, who I would have loved to see face Latrobe in that situation. But it was even more poetic that Triple-A call-up and journeyman Alex Cintron lofted LaToya's first pitch to deep right, winning the game for the lovabirds.

10-9 Orioles. That was good stuff.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Worth Watching

If you love baseball, even if you just kinda like baseball, you should be paying attention to the 2008 Orioles. Much like a quality TV show that you get into only after hearing a few good things from friends (think Six Feet Under, Arrested Develpment, the American version of The Office), the '08 Birds have a little something going on. If you are late to the party, that's OK. There are about 120 games left.

I plan to post a few items about my favorite aspects of this year's team. I'll start with my favorite:

Any Dave Trembley interview or press conference.

My boy Sherm has a massive man crush on Dave Trembley and tells anyone who will listen that Trembley will be the second most popular Orioles manager to Earl Weaver within a few years. I am not going there just yet, but Trembley is entertaining and refreshing, particularly if you get a thrill from blunt honesty.

Do yourself a favor and watch one of his press conferences. I don't think there is a more no nonsense person in sports. Maybe on the planet. If a pitcher stunk today, he'll say he stunk. If a player isn't getting it done, he'll tell you not just that he's not getting it done, but why he thinks he's not getting it done. Check out this quote from Trembley after he decided to make Freddie Bynum the regular SS over Luis Hernandez:

"To be honest with you, there's been a lot of plays I thought could have been made, should have been made and weren't made," Trembley said "So we've got to try something different."

Did that sound PC to you? You think he was worried about hurting Luis' feelings?

Ask a question, he gives an answer and tells you exactly what he thinks. And what he thinks is what you would think a 56-year-old veteran of 20-some-odd minor league seasons thinks. "We pay attention to details. Every man on the team is treated the same." etc., etc. The man has more "no BS" wisdom in his sun-dried brain than any management guru on the planet.

The basic Trembley philosophy is this: play hard on every single play, make good decisions, be prepared, be accountable.

I am paraphrasing, but you get the idea. I am so glad that Joe Girardi needed to "spend more time with his family" in order to turn down Baltimore and take the Yankees job.

Trembley for president.

Coming Soon: An Ode to George Sherrill's hat

Monday, May 12, 2008

Should Maryland Have Recruited Tyree Evans?

The off-the-court troubles of recent Terps recruit Tyree Evans have been well chronicled in the local and national media. My question for Terps fans is this: Do you want him? Vote in the poll to the right and let me know. Point being, is it "by any means necessary" in terms of getting Ws and getting back to the NCAA tournament? Or should Maryland be more selective and less pathetically/obviously/embarrassingly desperate in terms of who it recruits to wear the red and white and yellow and black and gold form fitting jerseys?

By the way, I don't want him. And if he goes on to average 20 points and lead Maryland to the top 10 while leading scores of old ladies across the street, I'll still feel that way.

I got no problem with a guy getting a second or third or thirteenth chance to play college hoops and make something of himself. But I don't really want the 23-year-old, 8 school, convicted dope dealer slinging Js so we can go better than .500 in the ACC.

I get it, I don't like it.

Let Bob Huggins or whoever coaches Central Florida coach this guy. Let me ask you this, in one million years, would Roy Williams or Coach K. ever offer a scholarship to Tyree Evans? You know the answer. Hate those schools if you want, but they are the measuring stick, and Maryland's efforts to measure up have led them down a troubling path.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Terps New Signee Reeks of Program Desperation

This article forwarded to me from Terp nation reader Gregg "sweet music" Viola makes me sad. It's about Maryland's recruitment of a 23-year-old swingman named Tyree Evans who will likely play for Maryland next year. I am all for second chances, but can't Gary just get some talented freshman who develop with the program? Does anyone else dislike the reliance on juco players? I'm not saying they are all bad, lord knows I enjoyed the Ryan Randle era, but COME ON. Have some pride on your program, quit looking for the easy way out.

Here's the article from

Here are a few choice passages:
Evans told that Maryland's basketball staff was aware of his time behind bars -- "They know all about my past, and as long as it wasn't a felony, it was OK," he said. (GA -- Um, OK...)

The nature of Maryland's recruiting since winning a title in 2002 hints at an identity crisis, in that Williams is a national-championship coach, but has not brought in the same caliber of talent as other champs from this decade. Of those other title teams -- Syracuse, UConn, North Carolina, Florida and Kansas -- none have suited up multiple juco transfers, much less a recruit with a past that compares to Evans', since winning their respective championships. (The Jayhawks, for the record, signed two juco players for 2008-09, Mario Little and Tyrone Appleton, but neither have criminal histories.) (GA -- that's nice)

Even within the ACC, using junior-college players is relatively rare: According to the Washington Times, the Terrapins and Florida State have each signed six juco recruits since 2002, while the rest of the conference has signed six combined. (GA -- us and Florida State in basketball, great company; next we'll copy Duke's football strategy)

I certainly have not lost interest in Maryland basketball but I am increasingly losing passion. You know, the kind of passion that makes you make sure you watch every game, follow the team, read the articles, etc., etc.

Gary Williams is the leader and caretaker of Maryland basketball. He is the all-time winningest coach in school history. He has a national championship and two final fours to his credit. But the post championship era has not been a proud one in Maryland's hoops history and this signing of Tyree Evans reeks of desperation. P-U.