Saturday, May 30, 2009

Wieters Debuts, Orioles Roll...Countdown 58

Last night it seemed like I had gone back in time. Fans braved and waited out the pregame rains to stay around and watch the O's play. The stadium was full of fans wearing orange and cheering on the home team. Everyone seemed excited and happy and hopeful. And it was loud. It was awesome, the way Camden Yards was when it opened and the Orioles were winning and making the playoffs on a regular basis. It was awesome.

The big story of the night was the debut of top prospect Matt Wieters. While he had a slow offensive night, going 0 for 4, he played solid defense and managed to call a good game. Brad Bergesen pitched a solid eight innings and only allowed two runs. He was treated to a standing ovation when he left the game in the bottom of the 9th. It's the second time I've seen him pitch this season and truly believe his is the real deal. A solid starting pitcher on a team that sorely needs quality pitching. And even if Wieters bat was a little quiet, the rest of the line up more than made up for it.

Luke Scott hit a grand slam and followed that up with another home run his next at bat. The crowd went wild and Scott stole the show. It was just a great game. I traded an extra ticket to a friend in return for a home made sign (pictured above) and had the awesome opportunity to meet John Harbaugh while trying to get on the Jumbotron. He was very nice and is way hotter in person than on TV.

The O's have now won 5 in a row and 7 of the last 8. Hopefully people keep coming out to see this team. This young team is giving O's fans something to be hopeful about again. And right now, they're playing really good baseball. They are now only three games below .500 and only wins away from a .500 season.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Orioles Start the Series Off Right...Countdown 61

The Orioles have now won the first two games in their series against Toronto. So now they have won their last two series and 4 out of there last 5 games. Things seem to be looking up for the O's. Guthrie pitched an amazing game yesterday and Jason Berken won his Major League debut today only letting up seven hits and two runs in five innings. The Orioles found their bats and supported him with seven runs. The Orioles pulled off a win despite the miserable weather two days in a row with a 9-2 victory today and 4-1 victory yesterday.

But the turn around in wins isn't the only exciting thing happening with the Orioles right now. Hot prospect, Matt Wieters, is scheduled to make his major league debut on Friday against Detroit. He's been tearing up the minors and Andy McPhail seems confident that he will be able to call a game. He can learn a lot from veteran catcher Gregg Zaun and hopefully will be able to deal with the young, frequently changing pitching staff.

It's something to get excited about. A winning team and a new, young, switch hitting, power hitting catcher. The next couple of days should be fun. Yes, we've been winning agianst losing teams. But in order to get closer to having a winning season, the O's need to win the games they're supposed to win. Only 61 more wins to a .500 season.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Behind Enemy Lines: Yankee Stadium

A few nights ago, my brother and I made the trip to Yankee Stadium. After scouring Stub Hub a week ago for reasonable tickets, and moving him into his new apartment we were ready to go in our Orioles' gear. In the end we were able to get cheap tickets, about $15 a piece including fees for decent seats behind the 3rd base dugout in the highest level. But overall we had a good view of the field. Maybe it was because it was a Tuesday night, maybe it's because the Orioles were playing, but we definitely got reasonable tickets at a very reasonable price.

We arrived at the stadium and saw it was littered with Orioles fans. Little orange dots amongst a sea of blue and white and pinstripes. It was nice to see some friendly faces. And actually, most of the fans were pretty nice to us. A few rowdy obnoxious Yankee fans got kicked out of our section. But they were quickly bored of taunting the Orioles fans and moved on to fighting amongst themselves. I have to hand it to the stadium officials, because they had no problem kicking out the idiots who were fighting or even the guys going overboard on the taunting.

Sadly, I think one of the reasons all the O's fans were able to handle the "you sucks," to the point the Yankees fans got bored and turned on each other is that it's the truth. Yeah, we know our team has been bad for over a decade. Yeah, you telling us is old news. We have to live the pain of cheering for a losing team. But we know when they finally do turn this ship around we'll be better for it. We stick with our team no matter what. So what if we've been losing for a decade, any sign of promise or hope is enough to excite us. I'll be ecstatic if we can finally have a winning season, a feat that is looking further and further away each game. Yankees fans are upset if they don't win a championship. There's something to be said for the happiness that comes with lowered expectations and hope.

After Brad Bergesen pitched a great game through the 6th inning, only letting up one two run home run in the first and pitching masterfully. At that point the game was still close, 2-1. We began to get excited at still being in the game against Sabathia in the 7th inning. But that was when all hell broke lose. The Yankees scored seven runs that inning off of three different pitchers including most off of reliever Chris Ray. When the inning finally ended, the guy sitting next to us, who had been very pleasant all game, turned and told us that his 10 year old son said he felt sorry for us. That it must be hard to watch your team blow it like that. We quickly responded that he shouldn't feel bad. We were used to it. If anything, I brought away from that game the Bergesen is a reasonable starting pitcher. And that makes me happy. Sure, it does suck to watch your team get blown out. But I also got to see Adam Jones make and incredible diving catch that topped the Sports Center highlights the next day. I got to see some great pitching for a while. And I got to see Yankees Stadium. All in all it was good trip.

It was a beautiful stadium and I'd be happy to go back and see another game there. I didn't really eat at the restaurants or special bars. Mostly it was a good game worth watching, spent drinking expensive domestic beers and eating some overpriced french fries. Maybe I'll go back to watch a team I care less about and actually do some exploring of the stadium. But what I saw of it, I enjoyed.

: I didn't get around to uploading the pictures we took and now they are with my brother, still on his camera. So I borrowed a picture from someone else.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Too Much Drama in Caps Playoffs

The Caps are now down 3-2 in a series they once led 2-0. They've had two overtime losses and now need to win the last two games of the series to advance. Otherwise, the hated Sid Crosby and his whiny batch of Penguins will advance. My theory on this series, the Caps need the drama to motivate them. After coming back from being down 3-1 to the Rangers, they were still riding high enough to win the first two games of the series against the Pens. Yes, the Caps have been playing hard. But they haven't been quite clutch enough.

Now that they face elimination, I think they will step it up again. They will not go down easy on Monday. I expect hard hitting, passionate play and an overwhelming offensive output. The Caps have played their best hockey in the playoffs with their backs against the wall. And hopefully they will do it again. As a fan though I could do without all this drama.

Ideally, the Caps would have completed a clean sweep of the Pens or maybe let them win one game on an off night. But this comeback has me and a lot of other fans on edge. While this is the type of series that the NFL brass have been hoping for, superstar vs. superstar, comebacks, overtimes, controversial plays and exhilarating goals, I don't really care what it's doing for hockey as a game. I want my Caps to advance. They have already gotten farther in the playoffs than any Caps team in over a decade, and I appreciate that. But these games are close. And with a little luck, the puck will bounce their way in the next two games.

The Penguins are managing to get an amazing number of shots off. And its unrealistic to expect this rookie goalie, Varlamov, to block over 40 shots a game. The guy has been great. And usually I'd call for the offensive powers of Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Semin to step up. But now I'm calling for the defense to kick it up a notch. Help this kid out. The offense is trying and scoring. Help prevent a few of these shots on goal.

Really everyone needs to play their hearts out these next two games. Otherwise there will be a long offseasons with even larger expectations looming next season. But right now, I just want to see a little more hockey.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Happy One Year Birthday, Blog

On this day last year I put up my first post, A Letter to O's Fans. Over the last year, I've managed over 100 posts and had thousands of visitors from every state in the Union and a few other random countries. I'd like to thank everyone who has come to read my stuff at this site.

Over the last year, I've written about many different sporting events, on several different sites. I'm honestly a little surprised I've managed to stick with it this long, as I have a tendency to get bored or distracted and give up on hobbies.

I'll get back to the countdown after the next O's win, yeah, it's down to 70 now. And I'll hopefully be talking about the Caps beating the Penguins again soon.

I just wanted to thank everyone who's come here, read, emailed me, given me tips, given me opportunities to write on other sites, linked my site and commented on posts. I appreciate everyone's support and hope you continue reading.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

O's Snap Losing Streak, Countdown Continues at 71

The Orioles have been struggling lately. They had lost six consecutive games and won only 3 of the last 18 games. But last night they found their bats and were able to hold of the Rays with an 8-4 win. Markakis started the O's off early with a three run home run. And from then on the O's were able to keep creating offense and get the win.

Hopefully this win boosts morale and confidence among the team. They needed this win and hopefully a lot more. There hot start was a surprise to everyone, but this slump has managed to erase all of that early enthusiasm. No one likes to watch their team lose. And the O's have been losing for over ten seasons. I've decided to stop counting the number and just refer to it as over ten. Really it's just depressing.

I love baseball, but I understand why the O's struggle to get fans in the seats. While they do actually have a lot of good discounts and specials, $6 student tickets on Friday. It's hard to rationalize that when you have to spend more on a beer than a ticket. For all the O's promotions, they still are not putting out a winning product. While I appreciate the efforts and the discount tickets that are readily available, I'd rather have a winning team.

Though I am pretty happy about the free ticket to a game for your birthday. That's pretty solid Orioles.

Let's hope this game gets some momentum going and I can throw up a countdown post more than once a week. Oh, by the way, sorry for the brief blogging hiatus. I was finishing up papers and exams for my last semester of law school. It's possible I will disappear again next week due to excessive celebration of being done. Just a warning.