Thursday, September 22, 2005

The importance of the Yankees failing to make the playoffs, more steroid drama

I'll get more into it within the next few weeks, but it seems that the Yankees not making the playoffs this year, besides being something that most baseball fans would celebrate, would be an unmitigated boon for the Orioles.

Rumor has it that the Yankees current GM, Brian Cashman, is sick of George Steinbrenner and the situation in New York, and that he would covet running the Baltimore Orioles. I believe this would be a huge pick up for the Orioles, as Cashman has a reputation in baseball as a respected and well-liked GM. Implications for drawing a successful manager, such as Jim Leyland (who has expressed a desire to get back into baseball), and opening the door for suddenly interested and previously hesitant free agents to come here this winter are exciting to say the least.

The big problem is that the Yankees, for the first time in several months, as of last night overtook the Boston Red Sox for first place in the American League East and are half a game back in the Wild Card standings. Steinbrenner is notorious for being volatile and having a "what have you done for me recently?" attitude. Even though Cashman's job as GM of the Yankees would still remain in doubt if they reach the postseason, winning the World Series would probably keep him in New York. Given the Yankees previous success and experience navigating through the playoffs, such a scenario would be fairly possible. At that point, Cashman leaving would be on his own accord. The current rumblings have him as already past the point of no return, but nothing is certain. The only near certainty would be the Yankees and Cashman parting ways if they don't reach the playoffs.

The most frustrating factor in all of this is the fact the Orioles control their own destiny in this regard - they are wrapping up a four-game series today, and they host New York at Oriole Park next week for 3 games. How have the O's responded? By losing the first three games of the series, and catapulting the Yankees into first. Further complicating matters is this weekend's series against the Red Sox, creating a double-edged sword and lose-lose situation. I honestly hope we just lose out against the Red Sox and help them win the East, but New York has taken matters out of our hands by winning three close games against us and, as all good teams do, controlling their own destiny.

In other Orioles news,
the ongoing Rafael Palmeiro controversy just took another strange turn, as he now implicates a teammate. One of the worst Orioles seasons of the past 20 years gets more interesting, and this offseason will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt whether the Orioles are THE worst-run franchise in all of baseball, or whether they can avert disaster and, combining some promising pieces with shrewd and drastic moves, finally contend in a brutal division.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Plane fakes emergency to let fans view soccer

Plane fakes emergency to let fans view soccer

The title could not say it any better. These real news stories that could pass for something you'd find on The Onion are great to find. What a testament to the power of the world's greatest sport, as well to the less than stellar decision-making and ill-advised attitude of certain African leaders. You have to appreciate stories like this, funny on several levels, and pathetic on a couple (way to make well-meaning and concerned emergency personnel panic). Sports Rule.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Jorge Julio

The following is a post I made to Orioles Hangout regarding Jorge Julio, the Oriole I despise the most (Sammy Sosa would take that honor usually but there's no way he's coming back after this year, and, when we signed him, I accepted the probability his career was already over and he would be awful for us).

check out a
funny, facetious page referring to Julio's antics


I rarely post, but I'm the typical long time lurker. I just have to throw in my 2 cents on Julio, if only for the therapeutic value of venting on perhaps one of the most frustrating and angering players I've ever encountered in my 15+ years as a serious Orioles fan (Luis Polonia, Deivi Cruz, Armando Benitez, Sammy Sosa, Jimmy Haynes, Glenn Davis, Manny Alexander, Jim Traber, Juan Bell, Mike Timlin, etc. don't even come close).

First, in terms of injuries as an excuse, I refuse to buy it. At best it might explain some of his struggles, at worst it's a lame cop out used by numerous players after repeatedly failing and putting up subpar numbers. It's one thing for rumblings to surface of injury to Miguel Tejada and to some extent Melvin Mora, who still put up solid averages and more than productive offensive numbers (especially in the case of Tejada), but it's quite another for a pitcher who has NEVER displayed consistency and has frequently gone through stretches of implosion where he will single-handedly cost the Orioles games. There is no Oriole pitcher in recent memory who has come into games with two, three and even four run leads and almost methodically gone on to put several runners on via the walk, followed by the inevitable 2 or 3-run homer. It's almost as if it's scripted.

Many O's fans will recall Armando Benitez and his eerily similar struggles; both players threw hard fastballs and sliders (comprising their entire repertiore in their early careers), and both were prone to erratic stretches where they gave up leads in important games. Both seemed to have mental issues which got in the way of the obvious talent they failed to completely harness.

But Benitez went on to have quite a dominant career as a closer in the NL. Meanwhile, we've given Julio several years worth of chances for redemption and evaluation for the incompetent front offices and management of the past several years. He's proven that he can't handle his reponsibilities, that he will always be immature (constantly turning around to see if his fastball reached 100 MPH rather than worrying about anything closely team-related), and his talent will continue to remain unfulfilled and the perceptions of it misplaced. Perhaps he will go on to find success later in his career, but I for one hope it is not with the Orioles.

Julio needs a chance of scenery, and the Orioles will be much better off for it. I've shouted so many obscenities and words of profane defeat after watching Julio blow games that I can't take it anymore. I've done so watching him fail in every role, closing games because he was the Orioles closer, closing games because our #1 closer had worked the previous three games, pitching the 8th as the set-up man because he blew so many saves as the closer, pitching in the 8th because it was his job from the beginning of the season, pitching in the 7th down 5 runs because he was so bad in every situation he pitched before and he was in such a slump that there was nowehere else for his baffled manager to put him.

We've already squandered so many chances for a trade, but let's at least not compound our errors by making this clown a part of our long term plans. So long Jorge Julio, we knew ye well and we are worse off because of it.