Sunday, April 16, 2006

A single? You gotta' be kidding me

Top of 3rd -- How is it things start so well and go south so quickly? Talk about a bizarre play. What the heck were the umpires waiting for when Javy hit the ball over the fence? Erstad deserves an Emmy for staying on the ground -- pretending he actually caught the ball. It worked! -- but only because the umpires were ordering cotton candy from the vendors. How long does it take to signal a home run? 5 seconds? 10 seconds? Half an hour?

Of course I'm referring to Tejeda running back and allowing Javy to pass him. The result being a single hit out of the park, but only one run on the scoreboard and Lopez called out. So instead of a 2-1 lead, the score was only tied.

Now what at first looked like a questionable call at the plate gives the Angels at 2-1 lead. The replay seems to show the ump make the correct call. It's a good thing he already got his fill of cotton candy in the bottom half of the 2nd inning.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Back to Back 9th Inning Rallies!

My first post of 2006 deals with the late inning comebacks Thursday and Friday evenings. Let's face it. We life-time O's fans have been let down quite a bit over the years. The lunacy and arrogance of the front office in not signing Melvin Mora is just the latest thorn to irritate us.

But you have to love it when late inning comebacks happen back to back. I'll be honest; it looked like Friday's game was over before we got into the bottom of the first inning. Rodrigo's fastball appeared to take a slower path to home plate than my curveball back in Legion ball 25 years ago (LOL). But he got his act together, restored his focus and blew the Angels away for the rest of the game. After briefly getting us excited about his potential, LaTroy Hawkins reverted to form and blew the save, giving up the first home run the Angel player's first ever home run. Ah, but something cool happened in the bottom half of the inning when the new guy came through for us. Ramon Hernandez had no doubt in his mind about the outcome when he connected on the pitch that landed in the second row in left field last night.

Too bad Rodrigo did not get the win. He certainly earned it last night. Congrats to Tim Byrdak for his first victory on what can only be described as a great, but brief performance: one pitch!


Sunday, June 05, 2005

Bring Newhan back!

So am I just too impatient? Or am I correct in my puzzlement over Mazzilli’s bizarre refusal to play David Newhan consistently? Don’t get me wrong, I was as impressed and excited as any one else to see Jeff Fiorentino make it to the big show less than a year after he signed his first big league contract. But why, oh why, must we sit here and watch one no name rookie after another be called up while David Newhan sits on the bench getting rustier with each day. Only in the past week has he gotten any real playing time. This despite the loss of Bigbie and Matos.

It seems especially strange given that it was Newhan whose arrival sparked a sad Oriole club last summer. It was Mazzili who played Newhan just about anywhere to get him playing time; third base, left right and centerfield, second base, first base and even designated hitter. So what gives this year? Newhan epitomizes hustle and effort. The guy leaves it on the field. Yes his batting average is weak so far. But anyone would find it difficult to get a hit if they played once a week as a pinch runner and once more as late game fill in. Yes I noticed that Chris Gomez is still hitting over .400 despite infrequent playing time. He actually has 7 more hits in 28 less at bats than Newhan. But take a closer look at the spacing of Gomez’ playing time and you see he has had more consistent playing time. Let’s not try to take anything away from Chris, he is having a great season coming off the bench.

But let’s get back to Newhan. Why is he not higher on Mazzilli’s roster? Management expressed their commitment last fall, guaranteeing that there was a spot on the 2005 roster for Newhan. It is frustrating for those fans who enjoy watching a player like David Newhan succeed. I can already see the writing on the wall; mid season the O’s release Newhan, citing his low batting average and need to test young players. What a load of crap that will be. Last season Newhan made an impact the day he arrived and continued to do so the balance of the season. The Oriole’s need to play their tested players and bring the rookies along more slowly. Ramon Nivar? Napoleon Calzado? Jeff Fiorentino? Well at least we have heard of the last one. But we know Jeff Fiorentino because he played when Newhan should have been in the line-up. News flash: we are playing for THIS YEAR! Not the ever distant “future.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Is it too soon to get excited?

So I suppose the question I should ask, if I dare, is: has the magic returned? Is that ole Oriole Magic back in Charm City? I know tens of thousands of us are beginning to wonder if that old, long departed friend has returned. It is VERY early in the season, but oh what a start it has been thus far. Our beloved birds are 25-13 and in first place three games in front of the Red Sox and five games ahead of a team with a payroll larger than the economy of many developing nations (yes those darn Yankees).

As play began tonight in Kansas City, the Orioles had won 14 of those games with come from behind victories; they had the highest batting average; led the league in home runs; have a vastly improved starting rotation (with the same pitchers from last season); one of the best bullpens in baseball and finally believe in themselves.

So what happened? Was it the arrival of Sammy Sosa? No. Was it their overpowering offense? Partially. The real difference is the coming of age (so far) for several young, unheralded farm prospects who are more seasoned and making tremendous contributions. Eric Bedard and Daniel Cabrera have been sensational so far. Bedard has finally lowered the free passes he used to hand out and gotten control of his curve ball. Cabrera, after a shaky start, has become overpowering. His fast ball has been clocked in the triple digits. Brian Roberts, benefiting from an intense off season training regimen, increased bat speed reminiscent of Brady Anderson’s 50 home run season and secure with an every day position, is the most exciting and to many out of towners surprising player in the major leagues thus far this young season.

There are a lot of games to be played before September arrives in Baltimore, but provided the pitching can hold up reasonably well, there is no reason the O’s can’t be competing when the leaves begin to change color. Palmero, Bigbie, and Sosa have had little impact offensively to this point. Imagine how fearsome the lineup will be when they start to hit. Raffy appears to have turned the corner this week against Chicago and Kansas City.

1989 will always be remembered as the “why not” season when a bunch of underachievers nearly won the division. While it is hard to argue the lineup is unknown, the pitching staff is certainly full of young unknown pitchers. If the baby birds can keep it together in the rotation and the bullpen we might just start to call this season “Why Not, part deux.”