Thursday, April 30, 2009

Smoke and Mirrors for the Blue Jays?

Heath of Dempsey's Army recently pointed out in the Roar from 34 comments section that although the O's upcoming opponent, the Toronto Blue Jays, have surged out of the gate, much of that success can be attributed to a soft early schedule. In a Thursday posting on SI.com, Jonah Keri offers a similar assessment (emphasis added).
Marco Scutaro has hit four homers with a .415 on-base percentage so far this season (he has never hit double-digit homers in a season and owns a career OBP of .328); Aaron Hill's hitting .371 (career average: .288); Adam Lind's hitting .314 (.277); Lyle Overbay's slugging 89 points better than his career average; journeymen Jose Bautista and Kevin Millar have gone nuts in 69 part-time at-bats. Only Alex Rios (.237/.298/.355) is hitting substantially below expectations. It's theoretically possible that a team of established veterans, mixed with a couple of promising kids, suddenly hits like the '95 Indians for a full season. Just don't bet on it. The Blue Jays have gotten fat on a soft schedule; in fact they've yet to play a single game against an AL East foe.

Would the Real Peter Angelos Please Stand Up?

When it comes to Twitter, I'm not sure which is more popular these days, real "Tweets" or fake "Tweets." It's fair to say that Peter Angelos' Tweets are not coming from the actual source. A sampling of some recent musings is offered below.
I've asked George Sherrill to release an apology to the citizens of Baltimore for the water main break. He knows what he did.

Anita Marks, the @sportschick won't return my phone calls. Perhaps I should send her a savory assortment of smoked cheeses and a reggae CD.

I've fired every hot dog vendor under the age of 65 to avenge Bea Arthur's death.

Was going to do a little sunbathing on the Warehouse roof before the game, but Boog always stares at me from the BBQ pit. Creeps me out.

It took a while, but I've finally convinced my son that Mark Hendrickson is NOT a polygamist. Kicking myself for letting him watch HBO.

About to stop by Sherrill's condo with blueberry scones & fresh-squeezed OJ. It'll soften the blow when I tell him his pitching disgusts me.

If Tom Davis asks you to pull his finger, don't. It's a trap.

I keep having dreams about Randy Milligan riding a bicycle through a fish market. What does it all mean?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Better Not Let ESPN Find Out

Forbes has ranked the best rivalries in baseball. Giants - Dodgers tops the list.

We can only hope that the following assessment is wrong: "Expect to see more rivalry hype as team executives struggle to overcome the broader economic climate."

Sherrill Chimes In About Baseballs Going Out

"The ball flies out of this place. It enters your mind. You think about it. A pitcher would be a liar if he said he didn't think about it. You try to turn it into a positive."

-George Sherrill


If Camden Yards were a dog, Oriole pitchers would kick it in frustration.


Less than a week after blowing a save by surrendering a ninth inning two-run homer to Michael Young of the Rangers, George Sherrill tells USA Today that he plays in a hitter-friendly park, and it messes with his mind.
"The ball flies out of this place," Baltimore Orioles closer George Sherrill says, referring to Oriole Park at Camden Yards. "It enters your mind. You think about it. A pitcher would be a liar if he said he didn't think about it. You try to turn it into a positive."
USA Today goes on to report the following: "Since opening in 1992, the Orioles' ballpark has developed a reputation of a hitter's paradise. Last season, there were 35.9% more home runs a game hit there than in Orioles road games — the highest percentage increase of all ballparks, according to Elias Sports Bureau."

The place may never escape its reputation as a hitter's haven, but it's fair to question just how much of an advantage is provided at Camden Yards, lest the batter's benefit become exaggerated. Consider, for example, the words of Johnny Oates after the O's acquired Albert Belle prior to the 1999 season, in response to a query about Belle breaking then-Roger Maris' single-season home run record.

Said Oates: "Why ask about 60 homers? Why not 70? In that ballpark, I don't think we have to predict 60. We know 70 can be had."

Belle hit exactly 60 home runs for the Orioles, but it took two seasons to do so.


Some other numbers to consider

-Major League Baseball introduced unbalanced scheduling in 2001. From 2002 - 2007
, an A.L. East team - typically the Yankees - finished in the league's top two for home runs.

2002 - Yankees (2nd)
2003 - Boston (2nd)
2004 - Yankees (2nd)
2005 - Yankees (2nd)
2006 - Yankees (2nd)
2007 - Yankees (1st)


-In five of the eight seasons from 2001 through 2008 (2001, 2002, 2003, 2005 & 2006), Baltimore's Park Factor ranked less than 1.000, indicating that pitchers in fact had the advantage (or so say the numbers). Camden Yards ranked 19th or lower for Park Factor during those five seasons.

2001 - 28th
2002 - 19th
2003 - 24th
2004 - 8th
2005 - 26th
2006 - 19th
2007 - 5th
2008 - 10th


-Perhaps it's just the pitching.

The Birds allowed 164 home runs
during their Wire-to-Wire run in 1997, third best in the league behind the Yankees and Red Sox and twelve fewer than the league average of 176.

In 2008, the Birds' 11th consecutive losing season, they allowed 184 home runs, most in the American League and 111 more than the league average.



The Obligatory Earl Weaver Reference

With Dave Trembley channeling Earl Weaver on Tuesday night during the O's 7-5 loss to the Angels, it's a good time to once again revisit a classic Weaver "peanuts" tirade. (Peanuts as in salty, not the cartoon. Quite the opposite in fact.)

Both managers were
arguing balk calls.


Monday, April 27, 2009

There's No Boo in Baez

I visited St. Louis this weekend and took in the Sunday finale of the Cards - Cubs series at the new Busch Stadium. Following the O's on the out of town scoreboard, I don't know which of the following was more surprising: that the Birds rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the fifth inning or that Danys Baez picked up the win. Scratch that. I do know which was more surprising.

Baez es mas macho after all with three perfect innings and three strikeouts, a far cry from those past performances in Orange and Black that led fans to boo his relief appearances in 2007, the dreaded "Summer of the Bullpen."

Speaking of booing, the Booog Pows, who earned a measure of local celebrity on Opening Day with their song "Boo Teixeira," are looking to become more than just a one-hit wonder. Judge for yourself whether that's possible by checking out their new video, "Birdland."


Friday, April 24, 2009

Flashback Friday ... Sort Of

While watching the O's Thursday game highlights on "Baseball Tonight," I heard it said of Adam Eaton's performance, "We haven't seem him pitch like that since 2007." (I believe Buster Olney made the comment, but I'm not certain.)

Given that the end of the Roar from 34 workweek is traditionally dedicated to Flashback Fridays, I revisited Eaton's performance from two years ago to see what it was in 2007 that resembled his impressive effort against the White Sox - 7.1 innings, 6 hits, 2 ER, 9 strikeouts, and 0 walks. Hopefully, for his own sake, the announcer was talking about parts of 2007 - small parts, in fact - and not the whole.


Eaton finished the 2007 season with a 10-10 record, a 6.29 ERA (the worst of his major league career), and a 1.37 strikeout-to-walk ratio (the second-worst of his major league career), numbers which made the ESPN remark seem more than a little curious.

Perhaps then the comment was meant to reference specific outings that season by Eaton - again, parts rather than the whole - in which case the speaker has an incredible baseball memory.


Eaton pitched into the seventh inning four times in 30 starts during the 2007 season. The last of those seven-inning starts occured on June 11 against ... the Chicago White Sox. Eaton's line for the game: 7 IP, 4 hits, O ER, 5 strikeouts, and 3 walks. Same team, similar numbers ... Genius!

"We haven't seem him pitch like that since 2007." Bumbling or brains? You decide.


Extra Innings: Speaking of Baseball Tonight, ESPN researcher Mark Simon has compiled Mark Teixeira's numbers by ballpark in preparation for this weekend's Red Sox - Yankees series. Teixeira's .194 average at Fenway is his worst by ballpark. O's fans will be happy to know that his .253 average at Camden Yards is his fourth-worst.

So take heart, Tex. Maybe those fans at Camden Yards were simply booing your inability to perform in front of the "home" crowd.

Try Not to Take it Personal

After Wednesday's discussion of the disdain in Boston for Luke Scott following the player's remarks about vulgar fan behavior at Fenway, I was particularly amused to open the most recent edition of Sports Illustrated and find Cal Ripken Jr.'s comments about Robert De Niro's fascination with Boston fans.

Ripken spoke with De Niro as the actor was preparing for his role in the movie The Fan. Said Ripken: "He was asking about different cities' fans. De Niro was very interested in Boston fans, how crazed they are, how personal they take it."


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Hope in Baltimore (So Says SI's Ted Keith)

SI's Ted Keith provides some reinforcement that we O's loyalists are not just being delusional after 11 losing seasons in his Mailbag, titled "Hope in Baltimore (less in D.C.) and the game's best farm systems":

"There is no postseason in the Orioles' immediate future, and as long as the Nationals are sending their teams on the field in misspelled jerseys, it's safe to say they'll be a laughingstock for some time. On the other hand, both teams got impressive major league debuts from highly touted pitching prospects this week. The Nats' Jordan Zimmermann, a 22-year-old righty, beat the Braves on Monday with six strong innings in which he allowed six hits and two runs while striking out three. The next night, 23-year-old Brad Bergesen made his first start for the Orioles, beating the White Sox after surrendering just one earned run in 5 2/3 innings.

What's even more heartening for Baltimore fans is that Bergesen may not even be the third-best pitching prospect in the organization. Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta, each of whom impressed Orioles management in camp this spring, are ticketed for the majors, perhaps as early as the end of this season."

Short Hops

A few random baseball items with an O's connection

If your baseball world is like mine in that it tilts on an Oriole axis, here are some recent Bird-related items of interest to distract you from Wednesday night's
8-2 result.

They're winning with our guys ... sort of.

Toronto continued its winning ways on Wednesday with a 9th inning, game-winning single from Kevin Millar, who was 3-for-6 on the night. Is there a Canadian equivalent to Orioles Magic, and if so, do the O's have a non-compete clause on Jumbotron videos?

There are many "former O's" connections in Toronto these days, for better and worse. A localized headline for last night's game could read as follows: Former 'O' comes through in clutch after former 'O' fails in clutch. Millar's heroics were made possible after BJ Ryan blew the save by giving up 3 runs in the ninth.

Lovin' Marriage?

Also on Wednesday, Roch linked to ESPN the Magazine's "For Love or the Game?" feature with Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis. Take note of the "Game Over" T-shirt sported by newlywed Nick Markakis, who got married in October and became a father in March.

Hmmm ....

Attendance is the Pitts

Over in our sister baseball city, the Pirates completed a sweep of what was baseball's hottest team. The Bucs are just a game back in the more forgiving NL Central, but PNC Park mirrors Camden Yards these days in more than just its design.

Attendance at Camden Yards on Wednesday: 10,868.

Attendance at PNC Park on Wednesday: 10, 655.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Huff Visits Eutaw Street for a Second Time

Congratulations to Aubrey Huff on becoming a two-time bronze bomber when he homered onto Eutaw Street on Tuesday night.
"The Orioles gave him his first lead in the third when Huff crushed Jose Contreras' 2-0 fastball just inside the right-field foul pole and onto Eutaw Street. The two-run shot traveled 415 feet and was the 49th homer onto Eutaw Street since the park opened."
Huff hit his first Eutaw Street home run, a 414-foot shot with the Rays, on Aug. 21, 2003. He is the second player to hit Eutaw Street home runs with two different teams following Lee Stevens, who did so with the Angels (May 23, 1992) and Rangers (May 30, 1998). He is the seventh player to reach Eutaw Street more than once, a club led by Rafael Palmeiro, who did it four times.


Players who have hit multiple Eutaw Street home runs

Rafael Palmeiro - 4
Brady Anderson -3
Jason Giambi - 3
Jim Thome - 2
Lee Stevens -2
Luke Scott - 2
Aubrey Huff - 2

All-time Eutaw Street home runs
.

A Big Boost After a Long Weekend

"This was a big day for everybody who's followed the Orioles. This is the first step in that youth movement of guys coming up through the system and guys developing, us showing patience with them, making sure they're ready when they get here. ... There's more coming. They're not here yet. They won't get here for a while. Bergesen's the first guy. Let's enjoy him."

-Dave Trembley


Notice the words "us showing patience with them." That might be the most important part of Trembley's statement.


Luke is a Four-Letter Word in Boston

Sox and Dawgs has taken offense to Luke Scott's criticism of vulgar Red Sox fans and, in a post titled "Luke Scott Needs to STFU," vows to prove him wrong by ... being even worse next time?
"First off, all he did was make it worse for himself when the Orioles visit again in July. ...

Remember this Luke, we don’t forget things up here. If you thought it was bad this weekend, you just wait until you return. You’ll probably end up crying because it seems to me that you’re a little soft."
Ummm ... doesn't that argument pretty much support Luke's original point?

Of course, no Red Sox retort would be complete without (Do I even need to tell you?) Boston's all-purpose rebuttal for baseball arguments.

"If he thinks this is bad, what does he think of the fans in New York." (sic)
At least Luke Scott is in good company. Try, for example, Torii Hunter.

"Though the Red Sox have done a great deal to remake the image of Fenway Park in recent years, visiting players continue to voice concerns about fan conduct. The latest example came from Angels center fielder Torii Hunter.

Hunter told the Press-Enterprise of Riverside, Calif., that until the last couple of years, he regularly heard racist taunts when visiting Fenway as a member of the Minnesota Twins."

Wonder how they made it worse for Hunter during his return trip to Fenway following those comments last April?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Meet Brad Bergesen

"My advice (to others making the transition) is to work as hard as you can. It's the work off the field when nobody is watching that is really going to make you better. If it doesn't work out and you don't make the majors, at least you can look yourself in the mirror and know you did everything you could."

Brad Bergesen
June 6, 2007, Media News Group



The big news for the Birds after Boston is Brad Bergesen's
MLB debut on Tuesday night. The O's 2004 fourth round pick out of Foothill High School in Pleasanton, Calif., faces off against the White Sox at Camden Yards at 7:05.

So what do we know about Brad Bergesen?

Bergesen's minor league stats over the course of five seasons from Bluefield to Bowie are as follows: 32-23, 3.75 ERA, six complete games, two shutouts, 307 strikeouts, 87 walks.

Prior to being drafted, Bergesen was the Contra Costa Times' 2004 Male Athlete of the Year. As a senior outfielder, he tallied a .469 average, 36 RBI and 31 runs scored. He was equally impressive on the bump with a 12-0 record, 0.67 ERA, 118 strikeouts, and 16 walks.

A multi-sport high school star, Bergesen was a 2002 "Player to Watch" in the San Francisco Chronicle's High school football forecasts. He ended his brief football career after two seasons and two knee surgeries. Bergesen also played basketball as a freshman before those aforementioned knee problems limited his court time.

Bergesen was drafted one round later than Jeff Fiorentino, affectionately known by many Bird watchers as Screech.

Some other Bergesen links:

Prospect Q&A - Washington Times
He succeeds by mixing his pitches, changing speeds, hitting his spots and trusting his defense.

...

Q: Is there any pitcher, past or present, that you either look up to or try to model your approach after?

A: Growing up, I always liked watching Nolan Ryan. He's obviously a power pitcher and I don't see myself as being that same type of pitcher, but that's who I liked growing up. Brandon Webb, a big groundball pitcher, is a guy I like to watch also.

Q: How soon do you think you'll be ready to help the Orioles?

A: That's not my decision, obviously. That's what I hope for, and anytime, I would be just absolutely thrilled to get that call-up. But again, that's not up to me; I can just hope for the best.

Brad Bergesen: "Not a Sexy Guy" - Scout.com

The key to Bergesen’s success so far has been locating his sinker while mixing in an improved slider, which Griff says is “very average,” a step up from where it was last year, and an average changeup. Griff likes to stress tempo, so if Bergesen has a good tempo, his sinker will stay down, the slider will have a nice tilt to it, and his changeup will fool lefties.

“He’s been talking to me a lot about [tempo and slowing down] the last three outings,” Bergesen explained. “He’s been talking me a lot about [tempo and slowing down] the last three outings. So, my thing is that I start to work a little too quick, so [Griff] has had me really pay attention to myself about where my tempo is and where my speed.”

When Bergesen’s tempo is off his sinker stays up. When the ball is left up, it is very hittable. In his win against Reading on July 18, all three of his runs were given up on solo homers, all three sinkers that didn’t. But, again, his plus control bails him out of giving up the occasional home run by minimizing the base runners.

While adjusting to a good tempo in a game is one thing Bergesen has been working on, there is one other glaring stat that shows a potential issue. Left-handed batters are hitting for a .316 average, compared to just .201 for right-handed batters. For now, this problem is alleviated by his plus control. He has walked just 20 batters in Bowie this season, so far.

In 2008, Bergesen was the organization's Jim Palmer Minor League Pitcher of the Year and the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year .

Brad started his first career experience at the Double-A level by winning each of his first five decisions, a streak which he matched from July 18th-August 12th.

...

The Concord, California native has already set a new Bowie franchise record for wins in a season and he was selected as the right-handed starting pitcher on the 2008 Eastern League All-Star Team. Bergesen was also the starting pitcher for the Southern Division at the 2008 Northeast Delta Dental Eastern League All-Star Game and he retired all three batters that he faced.

Image source: Zimbio (click photo to link to original)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Looking on the Brightside ...

It's not surprising that a pitcher would struggle in Fenway Park, but Jeremy Guthrie's 0-4 record there as an Oriole is the very definition of hard luck. For as frustrating as it must've been for Guthrie to come away with a no decision on Friday after being spotted a seven-run lead, it still pales in comparison to the Mother's Day Massacre (or Miracle, for those of the Evil Empire II persuasion) at Fenway on May 13, 1998.

Clearly, it was a disappointing weekend in Boston for Birds fans, which means it's time for an early season look on the bright side.


-Seems the O's did well in extending that Markakis guy. You know, the one who's leading the AL with 16 RBI.


-Sure Koji took the loss on Sunday, but you've got to like
that line: 7 IP, 2 ER, 5 hits, 5 Ks, 1 BB. Given the chance, I would've hugged him, too.

-There are actually some things blooming on the farm this spring for the first time in a long while.

-The Yankees gave up 22 runs against the Indians on Saturday, the second time that's happened in the past five years. The game included a record-setting 14-run second inning.
Not even the O's could do that. (But you've got to credit the fans for the "We Want Swisher!" chant. Apparently the affluent crowd at the new ballpark is also creative.)

-The much-anticipated (at least by The Washington Post and D.C. fans) competition between the O's and Nats has been a race to the bottom thus far, but it looks like the Natinals (sic) are firmly in the lead for the role of the area's baseball laughingstock.

The latest laughers:

The Nats bullpen can't hold a lead -
or three,

One of their few guys playing well is fined and rebuked for
reporting to the ballpark five minutes late following a charity event,

And
the team is having trouble spelling its own name correctly on the home unis.

Combined attendance numbers the past two Sundays at home ballgames in Baltimore (last week) and D.C. (this week): 32,505.

For better or worse, these two teams' fates are intertwined thanks to the MASN deal. So maybe these last items aren't part of the brightside after all.


Friday, April 17, 2009

The Eutaw Street Chronicles: June 8, 1995

The unlikely tales of Kevin Bass and Jeff Manto


"The hitters came out today."

-Mike Mussina


Kevin Bass hit five home runs in his lone season with the Orioles; one just happened to land on Eutaw Street.

On June 8, 1995, Bass took Saloman Torres deep in the first inning. The ball bounced off of the pavement beyond the right field courtyard and into an open window at the Warehouse. The Orioles went on to defeat the Mariners
by a score of 8-2 with Mike Mussina picking up the win. The next day's papers reported that Bass' hit traveled 409 feet; however, the Eutaw Street baseball commemorating the accomplishment lists the ball as having traveled 410 feet. And so it shall stand.

Bass' shot followed a Brady Anderson leadoff home run, the ninth such home run of Anderson's career to that point. (In 1996 Anderson broke Bobby Bonds' 1973 record by leading off twelve games with a homer.) The back-to-back blasts continued a pattern as all but one of the first four Eutaw Street home runs came during multi-homer innings.

While four hitters stroked balls onto Eutaw Street before Bass did so, not one of them played for the Birds. Bass, who tallied 118 home runs during a 14-year major league career that ended in Baltimore, was an unlikely candidate to be the Birds' first "bronze bomber," but Eutaw Street is about moments more than monuments, and
Bass's blast was the final in a series of individual anecdotes about a player who looked to be headed toward a storybook career.

In 1986 Bass was named to the National League All-Star team. He batted .311, with 20 home runs and 22 steals for the Astros, who lost in the NLCS to the fabled Mets team that won the 1986 World Series. In the sixth and final game of that year's NLCS, Bass struck out swinging in the 16th inning with runners on first and second. The Astros lost the game, 7-6, and the series, four games to two.


One year later, on Aug. 3, 1987, Bass joined the baseball fraternity of switch hitters to homer from both sides of the plate in the same game. Oriole legend Eddie Murray leads the pack, having done so 11 times overall. The others to do so in Orange and Black are Don Buford (April 9, 1970), Mike Young (Aug. 13, 1985), Mickey Tettleton (June 13, 1988), and Roberto Alomar (July 25, 1996 and Aug. 14, 1996).

Earlier in 1987, on June 27, Bass legged out a seventh-inning double when a single would have allowed him to have hit for the cycle, an act that forever endeared him to Houston fans. The Astros led the Giants 6-2 at the time.


Injury and the baseball strike ultimately limited Bass' effectiveness in the '90s.

However unlikely Bass' 1995 accomplishment in Baltimore may have been, it paled in comparison to the developing story of Jeff Manto. On the same day that Bass went deep - very deep - Manto homered twice, the first two-homer game of his major league career. His four RBI also were a career best.

Thom Loverro of The Washington Times began to burnish the Manto legend the followong day.
"Jeff Manto, who has had the letters AAA associated with his name more than the motor club during his 10-year minor league career, led the Baltimore Orioles with two home runs and four RBI in an 8-2 victory over the Seattle Mariners before 40,730 yesterday at Camden Yards.

...

Manto, 30, is a walking tribute to the will to survive in baseball. After signing with the Angels in 1985, he played for eight minor league teams, plus brief stops in Cleveland and Philadelphia, before he was traded by the New York Mets to the Orioles on May 19, 1994, for minor league pitcher Mike Cook.

Manto went on to have a monster season with Rochester, batting 310 with 27 homers and 83 RBI in just 94 games. He was also named the International League's MVP. He caught Regan's eye early in spring training, and when Leo Gomez began slumping at third, Regan inserted Manto. Since then, he has become a regular, batting .299 with six homers and 17 RBI in 27 games.

Despite this success, Manto refuses to believe he has finally won a major league job.

'I play every game like it's my last, and in the past, it usually was,' he said. 'This game has frustrated me, kicked me and spit on me too many time before. I won't set myself up for a letdown. I've done that too often in my career.'"
Manto finished the season - like Bass, his lone year with the Orioles - with 17 home runs. The team mounted a hopeful push for Manto as a write-in candidate to the 1995 All-Star Game, but the effort fell short.

Manto played five more seasons in the majors, never totaling more than six home runs in any one year. He finished his major league career with the Colorado Rockies in 2000. Meanwhile, Bass played his final major league game on Oct. 1, 1995.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Baseball Gods Love Irony

On the same night that the Orioles' bullpen call-ups struggled (to say the least), Hayden Penn earned his first win for the Marlins in a relief role.

"Acquired by Florida in an April 1 trade with Baltimore, Penn made his first relief appearance on Saturday night against the Mets. This was his second ever. He inherited runners for the first time when taking over for Andrew Miller with Atlanta runners on first and third in the fifth.

Penn ended the inning on Yunel Escobar’s fly ball to center.

'It feels good to know that they won't hesitate to put me in a spot like that,' Penn said. 'It's the only way I’m going to learn, to be put in those situations.'"

Penn's line for the night: 1.1 IP, 1K, o hits, 0 runs, o walks.

To be fair, Penn gave up three runs on four hits with 4 Ks and 2 walks, in 2 IP against the Mets on Saturday.

Everything's Bigger in Texas, Including the Losses

Texas 19 - O's 6

Birds get pummeled yet again in a game where they're going for the sweep.


From The Sun: "It also marked the third time this season in as many tries that the Orioles' bid for a series sweep barely gained traction. In those three games, the Orioles (6-3) have been outscored 41-11, and one of the common denominators has been a subpar effort from their starting pitchers."


Radhames Liz didn't look good in Durham on Sunday, and he fared no better after getting the call to the big club: 1 IP, 4 ER, 5 hits, 1 HR (a grand slam on his first pitch in relief).

It's officially a trend

There's just something about Texas (or perhaps there's just something about bad pitching and good hitting). This marks the fourth straight season in which the O's have surrendered 15 or more runs in a loss to the Rangers, a remarkable figure considering it's a non-division opponent that the team has faced 10 or fewer times per season.

April 15, 2009: Rangers 19 - Orioles 6

Aug. 10, 2008: Rangers 15 - Orioles 7

Aug. 22, 2007: Rangers 30 - Orioles 3

July 13, 2006: Rangers 15 - Orioles 1

Meanwhile, in 2005, the O's twice gave up 10 or more runs to the Rangers, on July 27 (Rangers 11 - Orioles 8) and Aug. 6 (Rangers 10 - Orioles 3).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

O's Escape in Texas

"I try and think it's 1-0 or something like that, but four-run leads just aren't my friend."

-George Sherrill


O's 7 - Rangers 5.


Clearly the problem all along was not having "Baltimore" on the road jerseys.

Writes Jeff Zrebiec in The Sun: "An impressive and unlikely win."







Please don't start calling our Adam Jones "Pacman," as the announcer does in the video.

Speaking of Jones, you've got to like this kind of confidence: "Our offense can't be shut down. ... A few innings here and there, but our lineup is just too strong from top to bottom. ... We had the one opportunity and we took advantage of it."


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

More on David Hernandez

After Monday's Roar from 34 post about the Norfolk Tides' game, commenter JamesG asked if David Hernandez projects as a starter at the major-league level. Tuesday's Q&A with Jeff Zrebiec on The Sun's new Toy Department blog suggests that Hernandez does, and that we may see him in Baltimore later this season.

Question: You can be honest with us: Are you already dreading the second half of this season? Or do you think it'll actually be more fun with the arrivals of Wieters, et al?

Zrebiec: I definitely think the last couple of months of the season should be more bearable than it’s been in the past and not just because of Wieters. Instead of seeing retreads like Victor Santos and Victor Zambrano pitch, we could be watching guys like Bergesen, Tillman, David Hernandez and maybe even Arrieta. And instead of rolling out Jeff Fiorentino and Bernie Castro, we could get a glimpse of Nolan Reimold. That’s why I think the Orioles should be able to avoid a total late-season collapse. These guys will take their lumps, but they also are young and talented and hungry for an opportunity.

Hanging On

The Orioles played "Catch Me If You Can" last night with the Rangers. Thankfully, the Rangers couldn't. Birds win 10-9.

The O's find themselves two games up on the Yankees, three games up on the Red Sox, and trailing the Blue Jays by a half game. It feels like 1989 all over again. If only these standings could hold for, say, another 155 games.

In other MLB news, Nick Swisher took the mound for the Yankees on Monday night and recorded a scoreless eighth inning in a 15-5 loss to the Rays. Was anybody else thinking about Manny Alexander and his O's pitching debut?

While the Yankees had a chuckle about Swisher's performance, Alexander's two-thirds of an inning against the Rangers in 1996 was less of a laughing matter. Alexander surrendered five runs, four on a grand slam by Kevin Elster, as the O's lost 26-7 to the Rangers in the early season contest. (What is it about bullpen implosions against the Rangers?) Somehow, the O's went on to earn the Wild Card that season.

Meanwhile, in the NL on Monday, the Dodgers' Orlando Hudson hit for the cycle against the rival Giants. Aubrey Huff was the last Oriole to do so, on June 29, 2007, against the Angels. The only other Birds to have hit for the cycle are Cal Ripken (May 6, 1984, against the Rangers) and Brooks Robinson (July 15, 1960, against the White Sox).

Finally, as if Red Sox fans needed any assistance in taking over Camden Yards, BWI has announced plans to offer nonstop service from Baltimore to Boston starting in August. Rumor has it that Stan Kasten will pilot the planes.


Monday, April 13, 2009

The Mora RBI Tracker

With seven RBIs in five games, Melvin Mora is on pace to shatter the 130 RBI pace he projected for himself at the November ceremony unveiling the team's new uniforms. And the O's are currently on pace to win 107 games. Something tells me these trends won't hold.

Checking the Tides

I paid a visit to Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Sunday, excited about the opportunity to see top prospect Matt Wieters (ever heard of him?) play for the Norfolk Tides. Given the O's gear sprinkled throughout the stadium, I wasn't alone in my mission. However, Tides pitcher David Hernandez stole the show, striking out nine batters against two walks and two hits in 4 2/3 innings of action. So there was some (much needed) good pitching news to be had in the Orioles' organization on Sunday.

Hernandez's fastball topped out at 96 MPH, if the ballpark radar is to be believed. He consistently kept batters off balance with pitches that ranged from the low-80s to the low-90s. Eight of Hernandez's nine strikeouts came on swings or, more accurately, flails at his off-speed stuff.

Less impressive on the mound was Radhames Liz, who struggled in relief. Liz pitched 1.1 innings, walked two, and narrowly escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning thanks in part to an interference call on former Oriole turned Durham Bull Chris Richard. Richard's takeout slide turned into an automatic double play when he extended his leg into Tides shortstop Donnie Murphy.

Wieters did record his first Triple-A hit (pictured below), a single in the sixth inning. He also gunned down Bulls right fielder Elliot Johnson at second base on a fifth-inning steal attempt and showed some agility in snagging John Jaso's botched sacrifice bunt in front of the plate.


Lou Montanez, shown below roaming a different outfield than the one he wants to patrol, recorded two hits on the afternoon. His early season average rests at a cool .583. Durham won 2-1 on a ninth inning RBI single by its number nine hitter, Ray Olmedo, whose third inning homer on a 93 MPH fastball was the only blemish on Hernandez's line.

The photos below include Tides players
David Hernandez, Matt Wieters, Lou Montanez, and Radhames Liz (photo credits: Erica Taylor).

























Friday, April 10, 2009

Flashback Friday: Opening Day '89 Inspires Congressman

"The Sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and the birds are singing. Of course, I am talking about the birds of Baltimore. The Baltimore Orioles are back where they belong, in first place in the American League East."

(Mr. CARDIN asked and was given permission to address the House for 1 minute and to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. CARDIN. Mr. Speaker, what a glorious morning this is. I do not have much of a voice left from yesterday's ball game. The Sun is shining, the flowers are blooming and the birds are singing. Of course, I am talking about the birds of Baltimore. The Baltimore Orioles are back where they belong, in first place in the American League East.

What a difference a year makes. It may be a tad early to be comparing this Orioles game with the great O-clubs of the recent past; but yesterday's come from behind 5 to 4 extra-inning win over the defending American League East champion Red Sox served notice that the 1989 Orioles will be playing winning baseball.

The people of Baltimore were honored to have the President of the United States as their guest at Memorial Stadium yesterday. The President, a great fan of the national pastime, took the opportunity to introduce Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to the pleasures of baseball.

My congratulations to owner Eli Jacobs, club president Larry Lucchino, manager Frank Robinson, and all the Orioles heroes for their opening day win, and best wishes for continuing a great winning tradition.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Midweek Trivia Answer

On the heels of Monday's Opening Day victory over the Yankees and C.C. Sabathia, Midweek Trivia asked which extra-large pitcher and former Oriole holds the distinction of being the only player to win an NCAA title in basketball and a World Series, and for which championship teams did he play?

The answer, discussed in Monday's New York Times (thanks for the tip, Dad), is Tim Stoddard.

"'I played with a monster, Tim Stoddard,' said the Hall of Famer Goose Gossage, a spring instructor for the Yankees. 'He had calves bigger than my waist, and he had a nice career.'

Stoddard was 6-7 and weighed 250 to 270 pounds. He is the only player to win an N.C.A.A. title in basketball, with North Carolina State in 1974, and a World Series, with the Baltimore Orioles in 1983.

A few years before that, Orioles Manager Earl Weaver ordered Stoddard to lose weight. Weaver wanted Stoddard to look the way he did as a forward for the Wolfpack. Stoddard dropped 30 pounds or so, but Weaver was not pleased.

'I lost my fastball,' said Stoddard, now the pitching coach at Northwestern University. 'It just wasn’t as sharp. I remember Weaver came out one day at Comiskey Park and said, ‘What do you weigh now?’ I said 220. He said, ‘Well, go put that weight back on, let’s go.’ I pitched better at 250 than 220.'"
Stoddard played 25 minutes in the 1974 NCAA championship game, fouling out after scoring eight points and grabbing seven rebounds. At a Wolfpack reunion, he compared the two fiery coaches for whom he played, Norm Sloan and Earl Weaver.
“It was probably about the same,” said Stoddard, who pitched in two World Series with the Orioles. “But what Norm yelled at me made a lot more sense than what Earl yelled.”
Stoddard did not pitch in any of the five games of the 1983 World Series. He pitched five innings for the Birds during the 1979 Series, earning the win in Game 4 and finishing with three strikeouts, one walk, six hits, and three earned runs for a 5.40 ERA.


Photos: Stoddard then (left) and now (right). Click the photos to links to the original images.


More Press on the MASN Situation

It appears I'm not the only person who's frustrated about not being able to watch the O's in North Carolina. Thursday's News & Observer includes the story, "Local viewers can't see Nationals, O's," which further highlights the ridiculous nature of the situation.
"Ricky Frankoff, a baseball fan in Apex, still appreciates the chance that he and his sons got to witness history on Sept. 6, 1995, when Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles broke Lou Gehrig's record for consecutive games played. ESPN televised the game.

Then Frankoff thinks about watching baseball on TV today and goes cold.

'What if this had been Cal Ripken's record-breaking year? I couldn't have shown my children that,' he said. 'That's not right.'

Frankoff, like other Time Warner Cable subscribers, is stuck in a perpetual on-deck circle, awaiting his turn to tune in the Orioles and the Washington Nationals, the designated home teams for much of North Carolina. Until the cable company's fight against MASN ends, he can't.

Not even the extra $169 he spent to get the MLB Extra Innings package of games from Time Warner this season allowed him to see the Orioles beat the New York Yankees 10-5 on Monday in the season-opening game for both teams. MASN -- the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network -- owns the rights to the Orioles and the Nationals, so ESPN's telecast was blacked out.

...

Two arbitrators and the Federal Communications Commission media bureau chief already have ruled in favor of MASN, saying the cable company discriminated against the regional sports network by not making its programming available on its basic digital service. TWC has insisted on putting MASN on a more expensive digital sports tier.

Despite its 0-3 record, Time Warner has appealed the most recent ruling to the full FCC, and there's no indication when that five-member body will deal with the issue. The FCC lists it as an 'item on circulation,' and it is not on the agenda for the commission's meeting today."

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Midweek Trivia: C.C. Sabathia Edition

On Monday, the Orioles roughed up the Yankees' prized off-season acquisition, C.C. Sabathia, a monster of a pitcher (6'7", 290 pounds) who earns a monster of a salary ($161 million). The Orioles once had a monster of a pitcher of their own (same height, less weight), though by modern considerations his salary during a 14-year baseball career would hardly move the scale.

This former Oriole also played basketball while he was in college. And while current Bird Mark Hendrickson is one of roughly a dozen athletes to have played in the NBA and MLB, this reliever is the only player ever to have won an NCAA title in basketball and a World Series. Who is he, and for which championship teams did he play?



The MASN Dispute Gets Personal

I initially followed the North Carolina MASN dispute out of an interest in the business side of baseball and an understanding of the importance of regional networks to team success. But now, having recently moved to North Carolina, it's personal.

I was unable to watch Opening Day when I returned home from work on Monday despite the fact that the game was broadcast on ESPN. The game was blacked out in our area, so we got ESPN News instead.

This was after I spent the morning listening to the Orioles pregame on 105.7 The Fan via the Internet, only to have the live streaming end once the game began.

Could it be time to pony up for MLB's Extra Innings package? Even that cost-ineffective option isn't available. O's games on the Extra Innings package also are blacked out in the Triangle region of North Carolina.

In short, my only options for watching the Orioles in North Carolina this season are these:

*To purchase MLB.TV ($79.95 yearly for basis/$109.95 for premium) and watch the games on my computer.

or

*To switch from cable TV - the obstinant folks at Time Warner are the only cable provider in my area - to satellite television.

I'll be doing the latter.
Time to put up that eyesore of a dish and cue the Dave Matthews.



This dispute hurts not only Time Warner - who will lose subscribers, and even a small number seems like it should matter in this economy - but also the Orioles, who have no television presence in some of North Carolina's most populated cities. It's especially confounding when you consider that the Birds are considered to be among the four "home teams" for the region - the Nats, Braves, and Reds are the others.

Good luck if you want to root-root-root for the "home team" in North Carolina.

But what does Zaunbie think?

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, which team has the drunkest fans of all?

Last season, Toronto had its $2 Tuesdays fiasco. This year, the Blue Jays' opener featured baseballs, beer cups, and paper airplanes flying onto the field that resulted in a ban on beer sales for Tuesday's game.

Why can't fans at Skydome ... er, the Rogers Centre ... stick to what they know best - bawdy behavior in front of hotel room windows (see, for example, 1997 season and 2008 season)?

Somebody needs to contact former Blue Jay Gregg Zaun for comment. Or the guys at Nine More Outs.

I was prepared to say that Blue Jays fans were in danger of taking over Red Sox nation as the biggest boozers in baseball ... or Phillies fans ... or Yankees fans ... or ah, forget it.

I guess the proper conclusion is that while there's no crying in baseball, there's plenty of drinking.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Opening Day Headlines, Real and Imagined

Orioles 10 - Yankees 5. Life is good.

In keeping with
last year's tradition, Roar from 34 offers the post-Opening Day headlines you're not likely to see followed by some real headlines about the game. In the crazy world that is New York baseball, it can be difficult to tell the difference.

[A special thanks to The Sun's Andrew Ratner for his real headline,
Orioles bloggers step up to the plate.]


Some headlines about Monday's game that you're not likely to see:

Like 'The Bachelor,' Teixeira has change of heart, asks shunned O's for a second chance

Steinbrenner feeling philosophical: "It's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game"

A-Rod to Tex: "I would've come through in the clutch"

Izturis eyes 40-40; Bonds' single-season home run record also in sight

Teixeira channels Utley in response to Boo Birds

A.L. East now a four-team race

Yankee fans anxious about half-game deficit to rained out Red Sox

Angelos: "So we can expect 48,000 for every game?"

Ray demands closer's role

O's fans join Zaunbie nation, forget about Wieters


And, believe it or not, some of the real Opening Day headlines:

O's get off to flying start with win over Yankees
(The Sun)

Orioles make short work of Sabathia
(Los Angeles Times)

Irked Orioles fans send angry message to native Mark Teixeira
(New York Daily News)

Orioles opener is a cause for celebration
(USA Today)

Joe Biden leads Orioles to 10-5 victory over Yankees (Political Machine)

'You gotta love Opening Day' (Annapolis Capital)

Yep, Sabathia's a waste of money
(Pinstripe Alley)

CC Sabathia's first-game struggles make for eye-opener for Yankees (New York Daily News)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Orioles Opening Day Reader

Happy Opening Day, O's fans.

As the 2009 season gets underway, here is your Orioles Opening Day Reader, featuring articles about each of the members of the team's (projected) starting lineup and
"the skipper brave and sure."

And remember, you can't spell Opening Day without a big old "O" at the beginning.

Brian Roberts 2B

Forged on diamond, Roberts-Markakis friendship is 'forever' (Jeff Zrebiec, The Sun)

Adam Jones CF

Time for an O: Adam Jones (Jay Trucker, Baltimore Orioles Examiner)

Nick Markakis RF

Markakis takes on role as Face of the Orioles (David Ginsburg, Associated Press)


Aubrey Huff 1B

O's Huff finds there's more to life than baseball (David Ginsburg, Associated Press)

Melvin Mora 3B

Orioles' Mora all smiles (Jeff Zrebiec, The Sun)


Luke Scott DH

Scott's giving ways stem from how he was treated (David Ginsburg, Associated Press)


Extra Credit: Look for Luke Scott to have a breakout year (Buck Martinez, MASN)

Gregg Zaun C

Fourteen years later, catcher Gregg Zaun a starter with Orioles (The Canadian Press)


Cesar Izturis SS

Orioles put shortstop in Izturis' sure hands (USA Today)

Felix Pie LF

Ex-Cubs Felix Pie, Rich Hill seek fresh starts in Baltimore (Phil Rogers, Chicago Tribune)


Jeremy Guthrie, P

Guthrie became Orioles' ace because of hard work (David Ginsburg, USA Today)


Dave Trembley, Manager

Orioles' Trembley takes direct approach (Dan Connolly, The Sun)

Friday, April 03, 2009

Flashback Friday: April 3, 1992

Reflecting on 17 years at Memorial Stadium, 17 years at Camden Yards


The Orioles sold tickets for only two-thirds of the 48,000 seats available for the first game at Camden Yards, a contest with the New York Mets played 17 years ago today, on April 3, 1992. My father and I settled into two of those seats and together with 31,284 other fans enjoyed a 5-3 Orioles victory. It was an exhibition, but please
don't call it meaningless.

The game itself was engaging if not altogether memorable. I had to look up the details.

-Neither team hit a home run. Sam Horn's one-hopper to the outfield wall was the longest shot on a windy Friday afternoon.

-Sid Fernandez no-hit the Orioles for five innings before things fell apart in the sixth. RBI singles by David Segui, Cal Ripken, and Glenn Davis tied the game. A Dave Magadan error allowed two additional runs to score on a Chris Hoiles grounder.

-Mike Flanagan, who got the last out at Memorial Stadium, picked up the first "win" at Camden Yards.

No matter. It was a day to celebrate the ballpark, not the game. Consider the ebullient words of The Washington Post's Tom Boswell the following day.

"In one afternoon, before Opening Day even arrived, the town of Baltimore and the ownership of the Orioles proved they understood exactly how to build a baseball park.

...

This afternoon was exactly what many has expected for months -- dead solid perfection. The only question left, after one game, is whether Camden Yards is merely one of the half-dozen best parks in baseball -- it's certainly no lower -- or whether it is already, all things considered, the best. If that's a stretch, it may not be one for long.

...

You have to stretch to find flaws in Oriole Park."

Still, the beauty of the ballpark wasn't enough for me.

Having spent 6,204 days of my young life knowing just one ballpark, spending day number 6,205 at a new one was as strange as seeing Eddie Murray in a Mets uniform. I had my own team history, and it was missing from Camden Yards.

Here rested no memory of my first souvenir purchase. "Make it good," my young mind whispered, "in case you never come back."

Of gloving my first ballpark baseball, a batting practice blast off the bat of the Brewers' Dante Bichette.

Of bare-handing my second ballpark baseball, a grab made during a pre-game bullpen party. Randy Milligan was the batter.

Of knocking my friends' nachos - and the cheese, especially the cheese - into the seats in front of us when we jumped up in excitement over another Earl Weaver tirade.

Of rising to cheer Freddy Lynn as he made his way to his position following his second consecutive homer of the game.

Of visiting the press box where my math teacher worked in the off-season and having my dad point out a guy named Tug who wore a big ring.

Of flipping through the promotional calendar I received at the ballpark gate, the one with cartoons including the "Amazing Outfield-O's" - Mike Devereaux, Brady Anderson, and Steve Finley.

Of watching Devereaux climb the left-field fence to steal a home run. Indeed, it was amazing.

Of cheering on a young "Chitooooooooooooooo" Martinez from the right-field bleachers, the same spot where I learned years earlier that one particular word was an unacceptable taunt among polite ballpark company.

Of watching Sam Horn clout a foul ball to the highest confines of Memorial Stadium's horseshoe upper deck.

Of calling out from the upper deck for a lemonade that we never wanted as a prank on our high school classmate who was a ballpark vendor.


I can remember where I was sitting for nearly every one of these games, and it wasn't in Camden Yards. Seventeen years worth of memories were missing from this new ballpark that I was seeing for the first time.

The Second 17

Another 17 years now have passed, and I own a distinct set of memories that belong to the ballpark that initially seemed so foreign.

Here rests the memory of my 21st birthday and finally understanding what Chuck Thompson meant by "Ain't the beer cold."

Of skipping work in the hopes of seeing Cal Ripken's 400th home run.

Of celebrating Father's Day at the ball game.

Of cringing as Terry Mathews took to the mound during Game 3 of the 1997 ALDS.

Of applauding the visiting team following a would-have-been, should-have-been bounce back Game 6 of the 1997 ALCS.

Of looking on from the press box as I covered a story about the ballpark's music man.

Of missing on an awkward high-five with the guy sitting next to me following a Palmeiro walk-off during the first game that I attended alone.

Of introducing my future love, the woman who would be my wife, to my first love, the Orioles.

As was the case with Memorial Stadium, I can remember where I was sitting for nearly every one of these games at Camden Yards.

It all started on April 3, 1992, when my father arrived at school on my birthday and brought with him two baseball tickets - first base side, under the overhang. Dad had something in common with the Orioles; he came through in the clutch, he made the Magic happen.

Back in 1992, then-General Manager Roland Hemond boasted of the tradition that traveled with the team from 33rd Street to 333 West Camden. "To me," he said, "I feel like there's already history here. It's like we transported the tradition and didn't lose it."

My tradition didn't travel to Camden Yards that day. Rather, it began anew.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Midweek Trivia - Felix Pie Edition - Answer

''I can't explain that. It's my dream. He's like, the best pitcher.''

-Felix Pie, on his first major-league hit


After running down some of the reactions to Lou Montanez's assignment to Triple-A Norfolk, Wednesday's Midweek Trivia encouraged O's fans to get to know Felix Pie, starting with the following question: Who was pitching when Felix Pie got his first major league hit, a double, on April 17, 2007?

Answer: In his much anticipated big-league debut, Pie recorded his first major league hit, an RBI double in the fifth inning, off of future Hall-of-Famer Greg Maddux. It was Pie's lone hit in six at-bats that day.

Said Pie after the game, ''I can't explain that. It's my dream. He's like, the best pitcher.''

Pie scored the game's tying run on a Derrek Lee single. Also of note, he threw out the Padres' potential game-winning run, in the form of Brian Giles, at home plate in the 10th inning. Carrie Muskat of MLB.com described the play as follows:
His throw home was a perfect strike -- the Cubs haven't seen an accurate arm like that from their outfielders since Andre Dawson roamed right from 1987-92.

"It was real heads-up on his part," said Cubs catcher Michael Barrett, the recipient of Pie's throw. "He was very aggressive and [with] a lot of accuracy. Awesome play. It was straight in the air -- I think they clocked it at 105 [mph] on the radar."
Overall, Pie recorded his first Major League hit, RBI, run, and assist in a game the Cubs lost 4-3 in 14 innings.

Some other Pie tidbits -

-He recorded his first major league home run on April 27, 2007, off Anthony Reyes of the St. Louis Cardinals.

-His minor league journey included stops with the Rookie League Arizona Cubs, low-A Boise Hawks, high-A Daytona Cubs, Triple-A Iowa Cubs, Single-A Lansing Lugnuts, and Double-A West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx.

-In Chicago, he changed his uniform number from 17, previously worn by Mark Grace, to 20. Pie explained that he made the switch because he wore No. 20 in the minors. He'll wear the number 18 with the Birds, who retired the No. 20 in honor of Frank Robinson.

-And finally, for your heckling repertoire at Camden Yards (I'm looking directly at you, Lou Montanez fans), when a teenage Felix Pie picked up a bat for the first time, he held it cross-handed.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Midweek Trivia: Felix Pie Edition

"I think I'm beyond close. It's just that the opportunity isn't there right now."

-Lou Montanez

Chicago has its Sweet Lou, now we have our Bitter Lou.

Lou Montanez is the hot topic among O's fans following
his assignment to Norfolk. Montanez is a bit disgruntled about the move, as are some of the folks over at Camden Chat.
"Well there you have it. Lou clearly feels that he is ready. He did everything besides blatantly saying that he is better than Felix Pie (which offensively he surely is). I understand that not many people here believe in Montanez, but let it be known that I believe in Felix Pie even less. Pie will fail, and is already proving that. I will take Montanez's offense over Pie's defense anyday...ok, now let me have it!"
Heath at Dempsey's Army sticks with his consistent argument that Pie is the better bet, and he's got the numbers to back up his case.

Meanwhile, Weaver's Tantrum
feels bad for Montanez, but adds some perspective.
"It always breaks my heart to see a deserving player get pinched out, but it happens and clearly Montanez understands why. He is engaging in a little revisionist history on one point. There was a time when it could have come easily. He was a hot young prospect and a little success would have propelled him up the Cubs' organizational ladder rapidly. Montanez wasn't able to make it happen though and now it will be hard. He'll have to wait on an injury or trade."
No matter your feelings about the move, with Montanez in Norfolk it looks like we're all going to have to get to know Felix Pie a little better, so Midweek Trivia asks the following:

Who was pitching when Felix Pie got his first major league hit, a double, on April 17, 2007?

(Hint: the Cubs were playing the Padres that day.)