Archive for the 'MLB' Category

08
Oct
10

Baltimore Orioles 2010 season recap

 

The Orioles began the season awful, but finished 33-23 under new Manager Buck Showalter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Ben Linton

The Baltimore Orioles came into the 2010 season with hype and hope that this would be the year they would finally break through in the AL East. The Orioles young stars had another year to grow, while veterans were added to the roster to provide leadership. But when the Orioles started 5-18 after the first month, lost 11 of their first 12, and lost their All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts for 60 days, the season seemed lost already.

The Orioles got off to their second-worst start in franchise history, which prompted the firing of Manager Dave Trembley on June 4th, when the O’s were 15-40. A period of uncertainty and doubt followed when Juan Samuel took over as manager while the front office tried to get things straight. Then on August 3rd, the Orioles hired manager Buck Showalter to bring in a real baseball guy with good credentials that knew how to win in the league. The Orioles seemed energized by this move, as they won 8 of their first 10 games and went 17-11 in the month of August. The Orioles would go on to end the season 33-73 under Showalter.

The Orioles had an up and down 2010, and ended in a familiar spot, 66-96, last place in the AL East, for a 13th consecutive losing season. Although it seems like we’ve heard this song before, there is hope for the future in Baltimore, but not all the pieces are in the right place yet. Here are my season awards for the 2010 season:

Team MVP:


Nick Markakis – Although this power numbers were down from a year ago, Nick Markakis led the Orioles in hits (187) and batting average (.297). At 26 years old, we can only expect better things from Markakis in the future. He is already the best hitter on the team, and if he can find some power next year, a trip to the All-Star game may be in order.


Team Ace:


Brian Matusz- In his first full year as a starter for the Orioles, Brian Matusz made the most of this learning experience, and showed signs of promise for the future. Although he may never be a true No. 1 starter, Matusz has potential to be a solid No. 2 starter in the MLB. He started off shaky at 2-9, but won his last six decisions on the year. Matusz ended with a 10-12 record, a 4.30 ERA, and 143 strikeouts, which led the team. His best performance this season was against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 27th, when he went seven innings, allowing no runs of three hits and striking out eight batters.

Team Disappointments:

As sad as it is to say it, the Orioles season was over in April, and it all started after losing to Toronto in the 4th game of the year when Brian Roberts got injured. Roberts only played in 59 games this season due to an injured back. The Orioles lead-off hitter could only manage to get four home runs and 15 RBIs in his time on the field. Roberts plays a tremendous role in the Orioles’ offense, and losing him definitely hurt the whole team  as the O’s finished 27th in the league in hitting.

Kevin Millwood was brought in to help mentor a young pitching staff, but it would have been nice for him to lead by example. Millwood struggled mightily this year, going 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA. He did have a lack of run support on most nights, but his final stats are not acceptable. The Orioles have been looking for a veteran pitcher to help their staff, and Millwood was not the answer this year.

 

Showalter has managed the Yankees, Diamondbacks, and Rangers before coming to Baltimore. He is inked through 2013.

 

 

Future Outlook:

Looking ahead to next year, the Orioles will need to be active in the market and in free agency. The O’s will need to add a power bat in the middle of their lineup and another starting pitcher to provide support to the staff. It will be interesting to see what the Orioles do about Cesar Izturis and Ty Wigginton next year, who will both be free agents. The bullpen expecets to see some changes next year as well with Koji Uehara becoming a free agent. The O’s will need to decide who to keep out of Mike Gonzalez, David Hernandez, and Jason Berken as well.  In the outfield, will the Orioles trade away Felix Pie, resign Corey Patterson, and hand the starting job back over to Nolan Reimold?

A lot of things will happen this off-season, so keep your eyes on the Orioles as they try to make moves to catch up to their AL East rivals. The Orioles have a long way to go and this season may have been a step back, but as long as the O’s keep their chins up and keep playing the wins will come. As they the Tampa Bay Rays defeat them 5-0 on September 28th to clinch the AL East Division Title, one couldn’t help but remember how not so long ago the Rays were in the same position as the Orioles and how quickly they turned things around. One can only hope that one day the O’s can do the same.

01
Sep
10

Injuries Plague D.C. Sports

By Ben Linton

Two of the biggest and newest sports figures in Washington D.C. have recently come down with injuries that could alter their teams’ performances in short and long terms. Although one is more drastic than the other, both still weigh heavy on the minds of D.C. sports fans.

On August 21st, Nationals Pitcher Stephen Strasburg injured himself in a game against the Phillies. The former number-one pick had created such a buzz around the league and in the area that hadn’t been there before. The 22-year old had accumulated a 5-3 record with a 2.91 ERA, and struck out 14 Pirates in his major league debut. But now the phenom will have to undergo Tommy John Surgery in order to repair a tendon in his right elbow. He will be sidelined for 12 to 18 weeks, so we likely won’t see Strasburg pitch again until the 2012 season.

There are a number of players who have undergone this surgery and came back to compete at a high level. There are also a few players who have never recovered after the surgery. This surgery has a greater magnitude than most, and is probably the most anticipated TJ surgery since the first one was conducted back in 1974. That is because of all the hype, accolades, and comparisons that Strasburg has recieved in his short career. We may never get to see Stephen Strasburg reach his full potential as he is one of the greatest pitching prospects of all time. We might forever ask ourselves “What could have been?” if he does not fully recover. This could possibly be a monumental sports tragedy in Washington.

In other news Washington Redskins Quarterback Donovan McNabb injured his ankle in the second preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens. He then presumed to miss the next preseason game against the Jets and will not participate in the final game against the Cardinals tomorrow either. It is unlikely that he would have played in the final game anyways, but the fact that Mike Shanahan is mysteriously going about his health is a concern. For now, McNabb is day-to-day and hopefully will be ready for the season opener against the Cowboys September 12th.

Although this injury certainly is a concern for the Redskins and Redskins fans, I’d be incredibly surprised to not see Donovan McNabb start the season opener. Knowing that he is a competitor who has battled through injuries before and the amount of importance that the Cowboys game has, even if he were 40% healthy I’d rather have him in the game instead of Rex Grossman. One, it just wouldn’t be as exciting, and two, they’d have no chance to win the game. However, Grossman is resting in the Cardinals game as well which adds to the suspense, but from hearing the players talk it seems like McNabb will be good to go. Maybe Shanahan is trying to play mind games with the Cowboys. He’s doing it to his fans as well.

10
Jul
10

Grand Slam Turnaround in Texas

Click here for highlights of last night’s game

By Ben Linton

There must be something about the heat and humidity down in Texas that suddenly energized the otherwise lifeless Baltimore Orioles into beating the Texas Rangers on back-to-back nights trailing 4-0. The Orioles came into the series with the worst record in the MLB, while the Rangers currently held the league’s best record. But so far in the four-games series, the Orioles have taken the first two in remarkable fashion.

Thursday night, the Orioles trailed early, down 4-0 after three innings and seemed on their way to another blowout loss. But the Orioles battled back and rallied, getting two home runs from Scott Moore and Felix Pie respectively, and scoring three runs in the top of the 8th inning to take the lead for good and emerge victorious with a score of 6-4.

Last night may have been the best game the Orioles have played all season, however few fans may have seen it due to the rain delay that took place, causing the game to start at 10:34 instead of the 8:05 expected time. I was lucky enough to be one of those fans that stayed up late to watch it and was not disappointed. Once again, the Orioles trailed 4-0 again after the third inning, but came back with runs in the fourth and fifth to keep it close at 4-2. Then the Rangers got the insurance runs they needed in the 8th inning as they pushed the lead to 6-2. Then All-Star rookie closer Neftali Feliz went on to put the Orioles away.

After a few singles, a walk, a fielder’s choice, and a ground out, the Orioles had loaded the bases with two outs and Corey Patterson up to the plate. After two balls and three fouled off pitches, Patterson finally connected on a 2-2 fastball and sent it flying into the upper deck for his first career grand slam. The Orioles had sent the game into extra innings. In the top of the 10th, Jake Fox belted a home run off of Rangers reliever Dustin Nippert, which sealed the deal for the Orioles as they had completed another comeback victory at the expense of the Texas Rangers.

The only thing I have to ask is where did this come from? All of a sudden the Baltimore Orioles are playing really quality baseball against good competition. Heading into last night, the Orioles were 0-51 when trailing heading into the ninth inning. But there’s a first time for everything, and there was no better time than last night. The Orioles also lead the league in most three or more run comeback wins with 11. An interesting stat for a team in last place, but I guess when you trail that often its bound to happen. I applaud the Orioles for their perseverance and gritty play these past few games, hopefully they can keep it up.

05
Jul
10

Wigginton an All-Star, Orioles Beat BoSox

By Ben Linton

The 2010 All-Star game will be played July 13th at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, and only one Oriole will be representing the team there. Infielder Ty Wigginton will be going to his first ever all-star game after eight years in the league.

Wigginton has been an important player for the Orioles this season. He has played second and first base, and after not starting last year finally got his chance and has not dissapointed. He leads the team in home runs (14) and RBIs (43). He started off the season extremely hot, but has cooled off of late and only has a .246 batting average. He may only see one or two innings of play in the All-Star.

On another unusal high note, the Orioles played a tremendous game today against the Boston Red Sox on the 4th of July. Brian Matusz tossed a gem, going seven innings, only allowing two hits, zero runs, and registering eight strikeouts. The Orioles also added insult to injury, scoring two runs in the tops of the eighth and ninth innings, causing Red Sox fans to even boo their home team at one point.

It was a sweet sight to see the Red Sox players get so frustrated and their fans get all agitated. It feels good to reverse the pain on someone else every once in a while, this will be one of the high points in the season for the Birds.

14
Jun
10

The Week That Was: Stephen Strasburg

By Ben Linton

In one of, if not the most anticipated debuts in MLB history since Jackie Robinson, Stephen Strasburg lived up to the hype and more. The 21-year old from San Diego State and former number one pick finally had his chance against the Pittsburgh Pirates last Tuesday and did not disappoint. The phenom stuck out 14 batters and only gave up two runs en route to a 5-2 Nationals victory.

In his second start today against the Indians, Strasburg followed up on his outstanding performance with another impressive outing. Although it was only for five innings, Strasburg K’d eight and only gave up one run, as the Nationals would win again 9-4.

It has been a long time since the D.C./Metro area has been buzzing with excitement and anticipation like this. Even before Strasburg came up to the bigs, there were Number 37  jerseys in the crowd. Strasburg has already become the face of the franchise for the Nationals, and may even become a sports icon in D.C. The impact that this kid has on this city could be comparable to that of LeBron James or Peyton Manning. He could be the savior to Washington sports.

I may be hyping Strasburg up too much, but look at what he’s done in just two starts: 22 K’s, 3 runs, 2.13 ERA, and 2 wins. Stats don’t lie my friend, and I don’t think these could be any better. What makes him very unique and so tough to hit is that he has a 100 mph fastball, but then also has a great curveball and changeup to keep hitters guessing and off balance.  Only the best is yet to come for Strasburg and the Nats, which is getting everyone (including myself) excited.

05
Jun
10

Orioles Fire Trembley

By Ben Linton

After accumulating the worst record in baseball within the season’s first two months, the desperate Baltimore Orioles fired their Manager Dave Trembley today. The Orioles (15-39) are last in the American League in runs scored and near the bottom in batting average and stolen bases. The pitching hasn’t been any better, allowing the most home runs in the AL and has more blown saves (10) then completed (9). But since you can’t fire all the players, someone has to be blamed, and that’s why its on the manager’s shoulders. Trembley was the Orioles Manager for two and a half seasons.

Things got ugly early in the 2010 season when the O’s started 2-16, the second worst start in franchise history. The Orioles have only won 2 of their 18 series’, and have been swept seven times. Third base coach Juan Samuel will take over as interim manager.

This is one of the most disappointing beginnings to an Orioles’ season in recent memory. With all the hype and young talent surrounding the team, the Orioles came into the year looking to show promise for the future. Instead they have done the exact opposite and are taking steps backwards. It is frustrating as a fan to see your team not perform, especially when the talent and ability is there. By no means should this team be the worst in baseball. From watching some of the games, it seems like some of the guys out there just don’t have the “it” factor and the desire to win. Everyone lacks the confidence that he is the better than his opponent and the Orioles are losing all the little battles which costs them games. Right now the O’s are curling up into the fetal position while the Rays, Yankees, Red Sox, and Blue Jays just pound them into submission. The worst part is they seem to be just fine with that.

Something has got to change here. The city of Baltimore is a great sports town filled with great and loyal sports fans, and frankly they are tired of watching this team lose for a soon to be thirteenth consecutive season. Its like this organization is stuck in reverse and keeps breaking down the walls just to build them back up. Its time to give these fans something to believe in and someone to cheer for, and it starts with the players on the field.

03
Jun
10

Safe!?

By Ben Linton

Yesterday’s game between the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians raised eyebrows, voices, and fingers around the league when a blown call cost Tigers Pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game. With two outs left in the bottom of the ninth, Jason Donald hit a grounder to First Baseman Miguel Cabrera, who flipped the ball to Galarraga in time for the out. However, the umpire Jim Joyce mistakenly called Donald safe, ruining the perfect game. When the replay was shown on the big board afterward, it was clear that Donald was out and everyone including Joyce knew it. Galarraga would go on to finish the complete game one-hitter as the Tigers win 3-0.

Fast Forward to 0:45 to see the play^

This is really just unfortunate for the game of baseball. People make mistakes, but it just so happens that this mistake was made in a very critical situation. Joyce himself admitted later that he messed up and offered an apology, which was the right thing to do. You can only help but feel sorry for the guy, he is doing his best and giving it his all each and every day. Galarraga was very classy and poised about this matter as well, he didn’t go and cuss out Joyce, he just did what he had to do and focused on the next batter to close the game.

A lot of people were talking about getting the call reversed even after the fact since it wouldn’t affect the game’s outcome, but Commissioner Bud Selig decided not to. This is the right move even though people will be upset about it. You can’t go back and tamper with results of the game, you got to keep the integrity of the sport intact. Because one thing will lead to another, and soon everyone will have a reason to change the results of any given game and just cause chaos. Today when lineups were exchanged the Tigers sent out Galarraga and Joyce was working behind the plate and they shook hands and Joyce was very emotional as illustrated above.

Another interesting note to think about is the debate between who is better: Major League Pitchers or Major League Hitters? We aren’t even at the midway point of the baseball season, and already there have been three (yes, I’m counting the one from yesterday) perfect games. Besides Roy Halladay, the other two pitchers have not had very illustrious careers thus far and are mediocre at best. Galarraga has posted a 21-18 career record with a 4.50 ERA in four seasons, while Dallas Braden has a losing record in his career of 18-26 with a 4.47 ERA.

This can prove the point that one any given day, if a pitcher is on, he cannot be stopped. Even the greatest hitters in baseball strikeout 80-90 teams each year. Therefore major league pitchers are better. But then when you think about how many times teams’ put up 10 runs in a game each year and you begin to think that the hitters are better. There have been a lot of 10+ run games in baseball’s history, and only 16.99 perfect games. Remember back when the Rangers blasted the Orioles 30-3? Sorry I had to bring that one up.

So this begs the question: “Does good pitching trump good hitting, or vice versa?” I’ll let you decide that for yourself.





Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 3 other followers

June 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jan    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930