Friday, June 29, 2007

Bust Out the Brooms... Er, Mops

NFL Europa officially folded today. Darn...

It was a travesty. A sham. A mockery. I'd go as far to say it was a travashamockery. What happened during last night's rain postponed O's/ Yanks game is just further proof that I am not wrong when I say there is definite New York favoritism in all sports.

It was a balmy night in Baltimore. Two teams were battling back and forth. The O's managed to take a 6-4 lead, scoring four runs in the seventh inning, when the rain started. Brandon Fahey was at the plate, with an 0-2 count, and 2 outs. At that point, the umpires stopped the game. No big deal. The delay lasted 18 minutes.

After the delay, Fahey grounded out, and the Orioles' biggest inning of the night ended. The eighth came around, and the Yanks were returning the favor. Then the rain started falling harder than before. Chris Ray is taking his time before pitching to Derek Jeter, in hopes that the massive monsoon will delay the game. The umpires decide that play must continue. Big deal. Huge deal. Jeter singles up middle, two Yankees score, and then play in stopped again, this time with the Yankees ahead.

It all seems so innocent. The umpires didn't stop the game, and the Yankees capitalized. It was not innocent. It was calculated. It was premeditated. It was a friggin' conspiracy. And what's worse, the Orioles knew about it.

Quoth Melvin Mora: "He just tried to make Jeter hit so they can score one run and they can get out of here. That's what I think."

Quoth Chris Ray: "I've never pitched in rain like that before. I was just trying not to throw the ball to the backstop. When they called it in the seventh inning and we had something going and it wasn't raining nearly as hard, and then it's pouring down rain and we're just out there in terrible conditions."

Quoth Dave Trembley: "I think everyone here's smart enough to realize a little bit of what happened here tonight."

Naturally, all three of them are going to get fined (or worse), from the Commissioner's Office for exposing the truth. But now that we know the story and the conspiracy that makes this a story, let's look at the ramifications.

The game will be resumed July 27th, the next time the Yankees are in town. The last inning and a half will be played before the regularly scheduled game. The Orioles cannot use anybody removed from the game, but may use people who are not currently on the roster. Therefore, we are without the services of Daniel Cabrera, Paul Shuey, John Parrish, Kevin Millar, Jay Gibbons, Freddie Bynum, and Melvin Mora. Why no Mora? He was ejected for pointing out the obvious to the umps (he told the third base ump that he couldn't see the ball anymore because of the rain, and the ump went off on him and ejected him. You can read the full recounting of he tale on the Sun's website). So without our usual third baseman, the O's will probably shift Chris Gomez to the spot, and end up using Ramon Hernandez as the first baseman, since Aubrey Huff was already in the game as the DH. To say the least, we're going to be short staffed.

Naturally, all of this occurred after the O's lost the lead. Had the Yankees not been able to take the lead one batter before the game was stopped, it would not be a huge deal. But why was Fahey's at bat stopped mid-count, but Jeter's was allowed to continue? And why did it take so long to stop the game in a downpour when the ball could not be seen, but the game was stopped in a hurry when the rain first started and was still manageable? And why was the third base ump so quick to eject Melvin?

The answer is the conspiracy.

This conspiracy dates back to at least 1978. In the same situation in 1978, the Yanks were ahead at the rain delay, but when the game was called, the rules stated that the game be reverted back to the last completed half of an inning, which put the Orioles ahead. That prompted a rule change that took effect in 1980, since surely the Yankees cannot be given that injustice. The rule was changed to just freeze the game, and that was it. Now the rules mandate that the game be finished, even though that's just silly. Personally, I like the last completed half of an inning thing, but if that was still the case, Chris Ray would have had to pitch until the inning was over, because surely the Yankees would be allowed to finish their inning.

Fast forward to 1996, and the Yankee Conspiracy continued with Jeffrey Maier (that rat bastard). So here we are in 2007, the conspiracy lives on, and it seems like the Orioles will be denied to the opportunity to sweep the Yankees at home. Way to rob from the poor, Major League Baseball.

To be truthful, it wouldn't be that big a deal if it wasn't the Yankees. Seeing as the Evil Empire always gets preferential treatment, this story has the chance to explode. If it was Kansas City or Texas, I wouldn't care that much. But it's the Yankees, and those heartless soul-suckers are going to steal from us, yet again, and this time in our own yard.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Enough Already

How nice was it to ground the Rocket last night? That's all I have to say about that...

Enough already. Enough with the hype, the coverage, the blowing way out of proportion. I think I speak for everybody when I say we're all tired of it, and we'll all be very glad when the whole thing is over later tonight.

What I am talking about is the coverage, analysis, and general mania being created over the NBA Draft. This event is being way overhyped. I mean, didn't NBA season just end with my correct prediction of the Spurs? The draft, in most sports besides baseball, signals the official start of the next season, and here we are, champagne still drying on the Spurs' jerseys, and already they have to look to next year.

I don't fault the NBA for the overhyping of their draft. I fault the media (of course). The NBA is simply holding a formal ceremony to preserve the future of the league. It's the media that is making this event bigger than any single NBA game, regular or post season. Take, for example, last night at 11:00, ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNews all had NBA draft coverage at the same time! Anybody looking for a little Baseball Tonight to see the highlights of their beloved and beleaguered home team take down the Evil Empire was out of luck (not that I know anybody like that).

So all of this analysis and speculation has led to high drama and suspense, right? Wrong. The Portland Trailblazers signed Greg Oden last night, making him the official first pick, Kevin Durant the official second pick to Seattle, and everybody else some irrelevant pick that will always be remembered for being picked after Oden and Durant.

The reason the NBA draft doesn't need this much coverage is that it is generally unspectacular. There are only two rounds, for starters. Some teams, like the Toronto Raptors, have no picks. And of all the high priced, high profile rookies, few of them actually perform their inaugural season. Take, for instance, last year's draft. High profilers Rudy Gay, Adam Morrison, and Shelden Williams all lost Rookie of the Year to Brandon Roy. Who the hell is Brandon Roy? The logic seems to say that if the top rookie can come from nowhere, then the draft and all it's coverage and analysis must be irrelevant.

I don't mean to pick on the NBA draft and it's overhyped-ness, though. Other sports have drafts that don't make sense, either, and yet still get plenty of coverage. The WNBA draft takes place about a week before play begins. Way to give the rookies a chance there, WNBA. The NHL draft took place maybe a week ago, and for the first time, two Americans went 1 and 2 overall. Quick, name either one, or what them they went to (OK, I know the real reason nobody can name the player or the team is because hockey is irrelevant. An irrelevant league, however, holds an irrelevant draft).

The MLB draft was televised for the first time this year, and quickly, we all found out why it took so long for the draft to reach the airwaves. First, players picked in this draft go through the minor leagues for so long that even die hard fans will forget about them by the time they reach the show. Second, the MLB draft could feasibly go on forever. The MLB will continue having rounds as long as one team wants to keep going. What a way to water down the talent in your league. Can you imagine the end of the draft, when Bud Selig staggers back up to the mic and says, "With the only pick in the 234,345,136,784,856th round of the 2007, now 2008 Major League Baseball draft, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays select Verne Troyer." I know, the prospect of drafting Mini-Me sounds ridiculous, but such is the MLB draft. Players don't declare for the MLB draft, so teams can take and make offers to literally anybody. Many college players and some high school players have been drafted, then returned to school after rejecting the team's offer. I, of course, am still patiently waiting by the phone, yearning for some team to draft a diamond in the rough in the very, very, very late rounds.

There is one league that does the draft right, and of course, it's the NFL (sometimes it's just unfair how much the NFL dominates other leagues). The draft, like all things NFL, is governed by a set of rules that are unflinchingly rigid. As such, the NFL draft is a spectacle in and of itself that trumps the other leagues in TV ratings during two days in April. The NFL requires players to declare for the draft, so teams know exactly who is available. The draft is held long enough after the Super Bowl that the champs have had time to celebrate, and the fans want some football. Players picked go right to work helping to improve their team, and the Rookie of the Year (a la Vince Young) is someone the fans have actually heard of. And even the late rounds are important, as superstars like Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Shannon Sharpe, Tom Brady, and Adalius Thomas have all come from the late rounds. Every pick is important, entire franchises rest on single picks, the drama is excruciating, and it's so much fun to watch. Other leagues, take notice.

Hopefully, TV ratings for the NHL, MLB, and NBA drafts will be so low that networks will be reluctant to pick them up next year, and we can be relieved from draft mania that seemingly never ends. As for the NFL? This years draft was so popular, yet so long, that there are talks about moving the almighty first round to prime time television on Friday night. Long live the NFL.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Eat Crow-ley

If you haven't read the comments for my last post, you absolutely must. Forget the mindless crap that Keith and I banter about, the real gem is the third post. During the same week that I was entertaining offers from other blog sites, I found out that my humble little blog has an international appeal. The third post is written in what I have determined to be Portuguese. After thorough inspection (and with the help of online translator Babel Fish), it has been determined that the third post says something to the effect of, "Oi, I found your blog for Google well interesting, and I liked this post. When you have time, my blog is on personalized t-shirts, showing step by step how to create a well personalized t-shirt. Until next time." I swear to you I am not making up the translation. If anybody wants to create a "well-personalized" t-shirt, check out Rodrigo's blog; he was even good enough to provide links. God knows how he stumbled upon my blog. On to the rant...

Well, after what seemed like a possible resurgence, the Orioles suck again (oh no!). I can't seem to bring myself to blame Dave Trembley, because he has the team playing hard, and the overall demeanor is definitely different. I can't blame Rockin' Leo, because the starters still pitch pretty well. I can only blame Petey the Greek so many times before he actually dies. That must mean it's old reliable, Terry Crowley.

Anyone who has ever heard my annual Terry Crowley Must Go rants know how this blog will end. This years rants started sometime around April 2nd, when the O's came up absolutely lame against Minnesota in the first game. You see, Crowley is the link, the constant, the mainstay for every year starting in October of 1998. The Orioles haven't had a winning season since 1997, the year before Crowley was brought on board. It's not just a coincidence.

If you may have seen a team under the tutelage of Terry Crowley, but aren't quite sure, ask yourself these questions: Did every player on the team swing at almost every first pitch? Did 90% of contact result in a fly ball out? Did anybody on the team make contact with an inside pitch? Did at least one player strike out swinging at a pitch that was eye level? Did any batter display any sort of patience or pre-meditated approach?

If your answers to the questions were Yes, Yes, No, Yes, and Good God No, then you may have witnessed a Crowley coached team. Seek help by watching other teams, just to see what hitting is really supposed to be like.

Some people have refuted my claims that Crowley is the reason the Oriole offense is consistently inconsistent, saying that it's the players. I again say that Crowley is the only coach with the team since 1998, and every year every hitter is wildly inconsistent. Players for the O's are among the most streaky hitters in baseball. We rarely have more than 3 players hit above .300, and we never know what kind of performance we are going to get on a nightly basis.

Even more, this is Crowley's second stint with the Orioles. When was his first? 1985-1988. Right around the time the team started spiralling into this Depression. Why did he get fired in '88? The team lost the first 21 games and finished with 107 losses. And yet, for some reason unbeknownst to anybody with half a brain, he was rehired ten years later. As my Portuguese readers would say, "porque, meu deus?".

Some credit Crowley with keeping old school traditions alive in the New Era, but it seems to me he is a dinosaur lost in the modern age. For example, Crowley keeps notes on every pitcher on a yellow legal pad. I'm sure if you looked at his files, you could find all you needed to know about Cy Young, Bob Fellar, and Sandy Koufax, but will have a hard time conjuring up any information about Daisuke Matsuzaka and the infamous "gyroball". The simple fact that Crowley can't transfer his records to a computer show that he is afraid to embrace technology and adapt with the times.

Crowley's methods are old and retired, and I wish the same could be said about Crowley. Hopefully, after this year's managerial housecleaning, all the trash will be removed, and Crowley can enjoy retirement. Good night, Portugal.