Thursday, June 12, 2008

Around the Horn: Talkin' Baseball, From the Beltway to Billings

Montana remembers McNally, and other O's odds and ends

by Matthew Taylor

A day after word spread about Jay Gibbons’ letter to all 30 major league ball clubs, it looks like the former O might be back in business. ESPN has the story.

"According to the report, Gibbons said he will sign with a New York- or New Jersey-based team in the eight-team Atlantic League, a circuit largely made up of former major and minor leaguers looking for another chance to get back into affiliated baseball. Four of the league's eight teams are in or near New York or New Jersey -- most notably the Long Island Ducks, whose roster has included John Rocker, Juan Gonzalez and Jose Offerman and currently includes Carl Everett and Donovan Osborne."

Oriole Post offers a reaction to Gibbons’ effort to get back in the game.

"I think he's served his punishment by just the embarrassment factor alone. He was hung out to dry by Major League Baseball, and was pretty much tried and convicted by most fans on the 'net, sports talk radio as well as the press.

In the end, I only wish Jay Gibbons the best of luck getting a spot back into the sport, as I believe he's truly sorry, wants forgiveness, and a chance to play again -- unlike some of the others who have been implicated, who have either lawyered up or refused to talk."

They’re still bitter up in Toronto. An op-ed from Digital Journal reflects as much.

"I went to the ball game last Friday night with a colleague from work who happens to be an Orioles fan. Yes, they do exist."

D.C. fans are also a bit bitter these days. To be fair, though, they were baited on the WTOP message boards.

"We didn't ask for you to inject Baltimore's baseball team on Washington. Why? Because we don't like you. And we don't want to hear about your baseball team. The Nationals are Washington's team.

And by the way, the Washington Nationals draw more people each game than the Baltimore Orioles do. Look it up. And without Washingtonians coming up to watch the Yankees and Red Sox when they visit Camden Yards, the Baltimore Orioles would be drawing less than most minor league teams. Baltimore only survives as a franchise because they play both the Red Sox and Yankees a couple dozen times a year. It's the fans of those teams that keep the Baltimore Orioles afloat.

Keep watching those moving vans circling Camden Yards, especially at night. They're back from Indianapolis and are ready to move another of Baltimore's teams."

Finally, a reason to take a road trip to Montana; a “larger-than-life” statue of former Bird Dave McNally is going up outside of the Billings Mustangs’ stadium, according to the Billings Gazette.

"Those items include larger-than-life statues of Billings native Dave McNally, who pitched for the Baltimore Orioles for 13 years, and Hall of Fame American Legion coach Ed Bayne, who led the Billings Royals to 14 consecutive state championships and 20 overall. The statues will be placed near the main entrance of the new stadium, which sits at the corner of North 27th Street and Ninth Avenue North."

More feel good news generated by The Ripken Foundation.

"The West End House boys baseball team earned its first win of the season in the Allston-Brighton Little League. The 12-and-under Pirates won their first game on Thursday, May 29, a 10-4 win over the Athletics. This is the first year that the club has been able to enter a team in the Little League, thanks to the Ripken Foundation. Sixteen West End House boys make up the Pirates baseball squad, coached by West End House staff Terry Cineus and volunteer James Perry.

The West End House Boys a recipient of a $29,182 Ripken Foundation grant, which includes an equipment package valued at $4,182 and a cash award of $25,000. Thanks to these monetary and equipment grants, 30 West End House kids will have the opportunity to play on a structured team this spring. The Ripken Foundation also is providing the means for equipment, program training, staff, and other funding to bring Badges for Baseball to our young members as well as youth from 25 cities and towns across Massachusetts. The foundation will also send children to the Cal Ripken Academy in Aberdeen, Md., this summer for a weeklong baseball camp."

It’s (almost) official: Brooks is the all-time greatest defensive third baseman. The York Revolution will make it official on July 1.

"In the 50 years the Rawlings Gold Glove has been awarded to the best defensive players at each position in baseball, only three players in the game's history have amassed an eye-popping 16 Gold Gloves. Brooks Robinson, for whom the plaza outside of Sovereign Bank Stadium is named, is universally recognized as the greatest defensive third baseman of all-time. Such a distinction will be made official on Tuesday, July 1, before the York Revolution take on the Newark Bears at 7:07 p.m.

Robinson will be honored as the third baseman of the 'All-Time Rawlings Gold Glove Team' at the home of the Revolution, where he is already immortalized with a statue on the Brooks Robinson Plaza."

Lots of stories out there about O’s prospects taken in the draft. Roar from 34 is a sucker for the “local guy makes good” angle.

News about L.J. Hoes from The Gazette

"L.J. Hoes frequently attended Bowie Baysox games when he was younger. After all, Prince George’s Stadium is just 15 minutes from his Mitchellville home, and he and his father would get a discount if he wore his team jersey.

Now, Hoes could be on track to return to his hometown ballpark. The Baltimore Orioles made him the 81st pick in the third round of the Major League Baseball draft last week, and he said he expects to bypass his commitment to the University of North Carolina and sign with the club in the coming days."

… and from Scout.com.

"Tar Heel baseball signee L.J. Hoes informed InsideCarolina.com on Wednesday evening that he has decided to bypass college and will sign a contract with the Baltimore Orioles.

'I plan on meeting with the Orioles and signing my contract on Saturday,' he said.

Hoes, an outfielder at Washington (D.C.) St. John's, was a third-round selection (81st pick overall) by Baltimore in last week's Major League Baseball draft.

'The Orioles are a local team and their farm system has a [team] right by my house,' Hoes said. 'I thought I would have gone a little earlier, but I was very happy to be picked by the Orioles.'"

On the blog beat, SC of Camden Chat really loves Jim Johnson, but he’s willing to share the love as well in his “Top Five Most Birdland.”

"1. Jim Johnson: Never lets you down! 1.31 ERA! Pretty crappy strikeout-to-walk ratio (shhhh!) but no one is getting any hits off of him.

2. Nick Markakis: Uh oh, someone's gotten red-hot.

3. Jeremy Guthrie: Also never lets you down. No, he's probably not going to contend for Cy Youngs with gaudy numbers, but dude's looking like he can legit anchor a staff.

4. Daniel Cabrera: Hasn't been very good at all in three of his last four starts, but hold on loosely. And don't let go.

5. George Sherrill: Seems like he has a tendency to make it exciting, but the numbers are rock solid. 2.83 ERA, a WHIP just over 1, and a sub-.170 BAA? I'll take it."

No word yet on a “Top Five Least Birdland.” Chances are, though, that it won’t include Kevin Millar. More “Millar Loves Boston” talk, this time courtesy of The Loss Column.

"As Andrew pointed out in the Amber thread, Kevin Millar spent his Sunday night taking in the Celtics game (scroll down) with some other Boston sports luminaries. As one would expect, he showed up on the big screen and received quite the ovation.

I don’t know what to make of this. On the one hand it’s just some dude enjoying an off night among friends. On the other, it just looks bad.

Basically I think it comes down to this: Millar is kind of a big oaf, and he knows not what he does. Some of the best years of his life were spent in Boston and he probably really does wish he was still there. I don’t doubt that he gives the Orioles 100%, but he’s not now and will never be “one of us” (for lack of a better way to put it). He’s just a warm body at first base, holding a place for Mark Teixeira or whoever else we settle on to man that position for real.

It’s a shame, though, because I’d like to like him. As it stands, the best I can do is just not really care one way or the other."




[Image source: Life in Legacy. Click on photo for original.]


2 comments:

J said...

"Yes, they do exist."
Funny, I thought the same thing about Toronto fans. Do Canadians actually follow baseball?

Matthew Taylor said...

Thanks for the comment, J.