When did we become the Rays?

What happened to all the O’s fans?

Last year it was early September and I was at Camden Yards, and no this was not the series that ruined the Red Sox season. But I was at the yard and for the first time in my history as an Orioles fan I was sad.  Obviously, when I say this I am sure most people are thinking, “this was the first time you were sad!? I think you have missed 15 years.”  The reason I was sad wasn’t because we were losing, I had sort of grown used to the losing, but loved my Orioles anyway.  I was sad because for the first time as an Orioles fan I felt beaten down by the other fans at our ballpark. Yes, for the past 15 Orioles seasons Yankees and Red Soxs fans have taken over our ballpark, but this was the first time I had felt overpowered.  Early September and the Orioles are down and every visiting base hit, was rewarded with a loud roar.  I was sitting with my closest friends, guys I bought season tickets with and just put my head in my hands and just couldn’t belive my eyes.

This season started like any other season, impossible to get your hands on opening day tickets.  Is it because most “Orioles fans” thought this was the year for the Birds? No. In fact, everyone, experts and even myself predicted this team to finish in last place. Just like every other year, it was the masses coming out to get wasted and see their friends and Pickles Pub.  Not to see Arrieta, who us Orioles fans still hold on to as having a chance to be a stud.  Nope it was because the girls wanted to wear their new orange t-shirts and the juice heads wanted to stare at the girls.  Let me tell you something, there could be no women within 50 miles of Camden Yards and I would be in heaven (no offense to the women that pay attention to the O’s).  But even all of this I could forgive because it happens every year and you get used to either getting lucky and getting your opening day tickets or having tickets to game number two and about 15,000 attending.

Well the season has now gotten into September and the Orioles are contenders. I was 9 the last time this happened.  Now I am 25, I have a full-time job and I am able to buy tickets of my own.  For Father’s Day I bought my old man tickets to each and every sculpture game, mainly because I knew he would love getting to the park like 2 1/2 hours early and watching the guys he watched give their speeches.  I loved it too.  We were at the ballpark last Saturday night and I got to watch a kid I grew up with toe the mound at Camden Yards.  Those were dreams we all had as little guys playing baseball together and he got to live his dream.  The Yankees, Rays and Red Sox are all still due in town and I know I will be at a multiple number of those games.  What makes me sick, as an O’s fan is this team has finally started to win and we as a community have turned our backs on them. 

The Orioles just wrapped up a 4-game series with the division leading Chicago White Sox.  Two teams in a race to the playoffs in their respective divisions, you figure 4 games, has to be at least 100,000 to draw there right?  Try 48,000, not even half.  Granted the MASN numbers apparently are at an all-time high, but getting home after a soccer game and watching Nate McLouth hit a 2-run bomb in the bottom of the 8th inning in a game that felt like it was the postseason, I obviously jumped up and down on my couch and screamed like I was 9 again, but you know the next thing I did? I stared at all the green.  Not the green on the field, but the green in the stands from all the empty seats. 

Now I have heard every excuse under the sun as to why people don’t go to games.  Bad economy, too many kids to take, superstitions that, “if I go they might start to lose, I don’t want to jinx them.”  They are all crap.  You can buy a 7 dollar ticket to the game and visit one of the thousand vendors outside and buy two hot dogs chips and a soda for 5 bucks.  Know how I know that…because that’s what my friends and I do.  $12 bucks. 12 bucks to go to an Orioles game and get food.  For those of you that smoke, that’s two packs of cigarettes. In fact, you know what guys from Boston and New York tell me.  They come to Baltimore because it is cheaper to get 3 game tickets here than it is to get 1 in Boston, plus they know tickets will always be available.  We as Orioles fans should be embarrassed. I bet if it was a Ravens game 70,000 asses would find their ways to seats and it would be a lot of Purple and Black sitting in those seats.

Camden Yards is the greatest ballpark in America.  I have been to a few others, and nothing compares to Camden.  Nothing has the layout or something as cool as a warehouse standing behind their field.  It is an amazing place to watch a game. There is nothing better in the world, for me at least, than parking my car, putting on my Orioles jersey, meeting my friends at Pickles for a beer or two after work and then walking into that stadium. I mean how can you beat a stadium where you can literally buy a hot dog that is topped with mac n cheese, which is then topped off with crab meat. (by the way I’ve had one they are incredible, even if you hate baseball just go to have one of those hot dogs) 

I get so upset to see that people won’t go and support this team.  They are making a playoff push and we are nowhere to be found as fans.  For 15 years we have complained about not going back to the yard until they win, and now they do and we still stay away. As far as I am concerned the current Orioles base are a group of liars.  And I don’t want it to be the bandwagon fans that “take the yard back.” I hate them more than Yankees or Red Sox fans.  I don’t want it to get down to late September and have to be fighting some kid that just figured out Brian Roberts has been hurt the majority of the year for a ticket.  I want our fans, true Orioles fans to come back. Guys who understood what it was like to sit out there in 110 degree heat and watch a losing squad take on the Angels. (that was last year, hot as hell). Guys that have been to the ballpark and the sexy pitcher on the mound for us that day was Adam Loewen. (if you are somebody that is reading this, as an O’s fan, and doesn’t know who that is, your the guy I don’t want buying a ticket.)

I wasn’t alive in 1983. I don’t know how it felt to have a team ripped out from our town and flee in the middle of the night.  But I do know that if that were to be the Orioles, I would probably cry…like a 9 year old little boy.

There are 14 Orioles home games left. Let’s show this team our support.  Go to a game, even if it is only one.

NFL Week-by-Week Preview: Week Ten

Well, the American public has decided who they want as President for the next four years…now on to important stuff – Week Ten in the NFL!

Thursday Night

Indianapolis (2-7) at JACKSONVILLE (3-5) – Vegas: Jaguars -3
I feel like I have said this every week, but it’s been a strange Thursday lineup this year.  Every week it seems like (I’m sure by design) that this game is between two relatively evenly-matched teams where I have no reason not to pick the home team.  Well, this is another one.  Jaguars (close)

Sunday, Early Afternoon

N.Y. Giants (6-3) at CINCINNATI (6-2) – Vegas: Giants -1
The Giants are coming off of a tough, physical game with the Steelers and now they go on the road a week before their much-needed bye week.  The Bengals have their second straight home game.  Maybe I’m too high on the Bengals here (or too low on the Super Bowl champs, who were outscored on the season last year, were #32 in rushing, and were one play away from missing the playoffs), but it’s not like Vegas disagrees too much.  I like the home ‘dog to win outright here.  Bengals (close)

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NFL Week-by-Week Preview: Week Nine

Welcome to November!  After this week, everyone will have played at least 8 games, so we are officially entering the second half of the NFL season here.  I will start incorporating projected playoff seeds in the standings section.

Thursday Night

Kansas City (3-4) at SAN DIEGO (4-3) – Vegas: Chargers -5.5
Like usual, I need a good reason to pick the road team on Thursday Night, and I can’t find one good enough.  Chargers (moderate)

Sunday, Early Afternoon

Denver (3-4) at CINCINNATI (5-2) – Vegas: Pick ’em
I actually like the Broncos in this matchup, but coming off of a prime time game against New Orleans with an early game in Cincy against a Bengals team that is coming off of their bye, it’s just not a good spot for Peyton & Co.  Bengals (close)

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NFL Week-by-Week Preview: Week Eight

Just about halfway throught the 2012 season here and things are taking more of a shape.  After next week, we will take our first peak at the “playoff picture.”  For not, it’s still a jockeying for position.  There is just one undefeated team left (Green Bay) and one winless team (Oakland).  The big surprises on the good side through 7 weeks are probably New Orleans (5-1) and Cincinnati (5-2), while the surprises on the bad side are probably Oakland (0-6), Seattle (1-6), and Detroit (2-4).  But, at only 7 weeks in, a lot of this could be just the imbalance of the schedule thus far.  After just about every game being really tough to call so far, there are a ton of mismatches here in Week Eight.

Thursday Night

Tampa Bay (3-3) at MINNESOTA (3-4) – Vegas: Vikings -3.5
Again, I need a really solid reason to pick against the home team on these Thursday Night games, and I can’t find one here.  Vikings (moderate)

Sunday, Early Afternoon

Carolina (3-3) at CHICAGO (3-3) – Vegas: Bears -4
This one is tougher than it may seem simply because the Bears are coming off a Monday Night game against division rivals, Detroit.  But, that was a home game and so is this.  Plus, I think the Bears matchup well against the Panthers, so I’ll stick with the better team at home.  Bears (close)

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NFL Week-by-Week Preview: Week Seven

Around now in the NFL season is when teams start to assert themselves as either true contenders or everybody else.  The Packers are the only remaining unbeaten team after a big win over the Texans in Week Six.  The Colts and Raiders are still winless.

Thursday Night

Seattle (1-5) at SAN FRANCISCO (4-2) – Vegas: 49ers -7
The home team on a short week is simply the better team.  49ers (easy)

Sunday, Early Afternoon

Tennessee (3-3) at BUFFALO (3-3) – Vegas: Bills -3.5
The Titans have 10 days to prepare for this game, and the Bills are coming back from back-to-back games on the West Coast.  Even for a guy who actually believes in the Bills being much improved and isn’t that high on the Titans, this is a tough one for me.  But, all in all, I think the Bills should put it together and have the defense to really cause the Titans offense some problems.  But, this is not a great spot for the Bills.  Bills (close)

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NFL Week-by-Week Preview: Week Six

Another great week of NFL action here as we start to see a little bit of form coming in the divisions.  There is still a TON of football to be played, though.  With the Bears, Saints, Panthers, and Jags all on the bye, we’ve got 14 games this week.  The Packers and Steelers are the lone undefeateds left, while Washington, Indy, and Oakland are all still chasing their first W.

Thursday Night

Pittsburgh (4-0) at TENNESSEE (2-3) – Vegas: Steelers -2.5
Short weeks favor the home teams.  And, this game, for the Steelers is sandwiched in between the Eagles last week and Bengals next week.  I’m looking to the upset here.  Titans (close)

Sunday, Early Afternoon

Oakland (0-4) at ATLANTA (3-2) – Vegas: Falcons -6.5
The Raiders are coming off of a bye, but the game is at 1:00 on the East Coast, and the Falcons just outclass them.  Falcons (easy)

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The Orioles land Randy Wolf

I don’t think I would have been doing a Phillies based blog site justice if I wouldn’t have written about Mr. Wolf heading to the Orioles.  Yesterday afternoon I was sitting at my desk and the monotony of doing the same cases over and over finally got to a breaking point.  So I took a quick stroll around the building and checked the Twitter, like I always do for my latest Orioles news, and saw we landed Randy Wolf.  The following 5 minutes I was hit with 3 different texts and 2 emails in regards to the news.

Obviously, at this point my work day was complete as I began to do my Randy Wolf homework, and as my parents always taught me…homework comes first.  Not spending a whole lot of time focusing on the N.L. this year, I had to look up Wolf’s stats and immediately saw 3-10 5.69 ERA.  I said to myself, “Ok, a little off but I am not discouraged.”  I then looked up the 4.19 lifetime ERA and felt a little sigh of relief. 

Overall, I like the move.  Of course there are things that worry me, he’s 36, he has had a brutal year, and he has never pitched in the A.L. more noteably the A.L. East, so there is definitely some reason to be concerned, but the good outweighs the bad here.

1. He is heading to the bullpen

The bullpen this year has been fantastic.  Every guy in the pen has stepped up and done their job.  The glaring problem with the bullpen in the past 2 1/2 weeks has been the loss of Troy Patton, who the hell would ever think that would be said.  Patton was put on the 15 day DL due to an ankle injury, leaving the Orioles with no left-handed relief…kind of scary.  In turn they brought up JC Romero, well that was a bigger failure than trying to get Mike Mussina to give an emotional speech at his own Orioles H.O.F. induction.  By the way that went along the lines of, “Hello.  Thanks to all the fans, and the organization for this honor. Thank you.”…riveting.  Anyway, Romero game up and was a disaster and now he is gone.  Which left the Orioles to call up Brian Matusz, whose struggles this season have been well documented and not only he but our opening day starter have both been moved from starters to the pen.  Signing Randy Wolf brings stability.  He can pitch long relief, he can start, and he understands how to pitch in September and the postseason. Which leads into my next point.

2. He could sure up postseason possibilites

There are 34 games remaining. 2 remaining in the series against the White Sox, 7 against the Yankees, 7 against the Blue Jays, 6 against the Rays, 6 against the Red Sox, 3 against the A’s, and 3 against the Mariners.  It has been 15 years, so yes I am going to be a homer and overly optimistic.  But if you look at it, the Jays, Red Sox and Mariners are all out of the race. That is 16 games, pretty much half our schedule remaining for teams that are packing it in until the end.  Not to mention the Yankees are so beat up we just keep catching them at the right times, now that Teixeira is said to be out for multiple series.

All this said, if we make the playoffs, I am 100% comfortable with Randy Wolf making a postseason start.  In looking at all of our pitching, Wolf has the most postseason experience, seeing as the majority of our pitching has none.  Pitching in New York in October or facing a Rangers lineup in October is a little different then pitching in those scenarios in July.  At this point I think if I was Showalter I would definitely be more willing to send Wolf out on the mound than to send a guy like Miguel Gonzalez, who has been really good so far, but is starting to show signs of fatigue.

3. He was dirt cheap

The Orioles paid $80,000 for the remaining salary for verteran minimum for Randy Wolf.  80 grand! There are some people that walk around my office that do less work than a major league starting pitcher that make more money than 80 grand.  I would throw 80 grand at the experience of a guy like Wolf, especially if it turns into 2 or 3 key September wins and a potential win or two in October.  Worst case scenario, he pitches to his 5.50 ERA and we release him and we say nice try.

4. He wanted to be here

This, to me, is the most important thing.  Once released, Wolf had the choice to go wherever he wanted. Apparently, the A’s who are also in playoff contention, immediately called for his services.  I have sat through 15 years of Adam Dunn telling us no. Adam LaRoche telling us no.  Paul Konerko telling us no, twice. Vlad Guerrero telling us no, until he was ancient and worthless.  Mark Teixeira pretty much laughing in the hometown’s face.  For once it was nice to hear Randy Wolf picked us.  Granted this isn’t some monster free-agent that weighed 12 different offers and decided Baltimore was his new team.  It was Randy Wolf.  But Wolf, success or failure, gives me great hope that this will start a trend in Baltimore that brings fans back to park, that has free-agents pay attention and take a harder look at Baltimore, and hopefully just brings back that amazing winning tradition.

34 games left and I am hung up on every pitch.

NFL Week-by-Week Preview: Week Five

And, we are into October.  As the leaves change and the weather cools, the NFL season is only warming up.  Can the Packers, Steelers, and Texans stay undefeated?  Will either of the top two draft picks get their first win of the year?  The Cowboys, Lions, Raiders, and Bucs all take the week off to contemplate their up-and-down starts to the season.

Thursday Night

Arizona (2-2) at ST. LOUIS (2-2) – Vegas: Rams -2.5
Again, the short weeks onlly add to the homefield advantage.  I am not sure who I would like on a neutral field, but on a short week, at home, I would need a good reason not to take the Rams, and I can’t find one.  Rams (close)

Sunday, Early Afternoon

Miami (2-2) at CINCINNATI (3-1) – Vegas: Bengals -2.5
Miami is coming back from a West Coast trip, and now they are on the road again.  Gimme the Bengals and the points in this one.  Bengals (moderate)

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NFL Week-by-Week Preview: Week Four

Week Four is the start of the bye weeks, as the Colts and Steelers take the week off.  The rest of the league is back at it here in the early stages of another fascinating NFL season.

Thursday Night

 Cleveland (1-2) at BALTIMORE (1-2) – Vegas: Ravens -1
This is the fourth game in an absolutely brutal stretch to start the season for the Ravens.  They just hosted New England on Sunday night, after getting Cincy and Philly in 6 days to start the year.  But, it is the Browns at home on a Thursday night.  If the game was on the road or against someone better, I would think they could be pretty vulnerable here, but they should beat the Browns at home.  Ravens (moderate)

Sunday, Early Afternoon

Carolina (1-2) at ATLANTA (1-2) – Vegas: Falcons -4.5
The Falcons are just coming back from a trip out West last week, while the Panthers have 10 days to prepare for this one.  I might take Carolina and the points, but, as for the game, I think the Falcons are just the better team.  Falcons (close)

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MLB Suicide Game: Half the Field Goes Down, Leaving a Final Four

We started with 8 people left – all one strike away from elimination.  4 of them survived (including two who won a pair of games to make it through); 4 of them did not.

  • RyanDoc (Brewers and Mariners) and Wojo (A’s and Mariners) were the big winners on the day, picking two games right to make the Final Four
  • McGrath (Mariners) is back to another Final Four with a win
  • Stumpf (Mariners) rounds out the final group, looking for another W
  • Doogan (Mariners-W, Braves-L) puts in a solid showing, but couldn’t pull off the double and exits his first round of the year
  • Gillig (Yankees) goes from outright leader to just plain out with two losses in as many days
  • Bry (Dodgers) goes deep in yet another round, but can’t finish it off, as the only one who picked against the Rox in their 10-0 rout of Josh Beckett’s Dodgers
  • RyanSmith (Yankees) also falls short in an attempt to win his first round of the year

OVERALL – 4 of 29 remain
TWO STRIKE (4) – McGrath, RyanDoc, Stumpf, Wojo