Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Visit the new Roar from 34

Be sure to visit Roarfrom34.com for all the latest content. In addition to regular blog entries, the new website neatly categorizes Flashback Fridays and the Eutaw Street Chronicles on the front page for ease of navigation.

Check out the new site, and be sure to let me know what you think.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Roar from 34 is moving

I'll be working as a guest blogger on MASNSports.com from Monday, April 11 to Friday, April 15. Visit MASN this week for my latest thoughts on the Birds.

Also, I'm excited to announce that Roar from 34 is moving to a new home at Roarfrom34.com. Update your links accordingly, and stop by to check out the new site. Just be sure to pick up a moving box on your way out the door.


Friday, April 08, 2011

Flashback Friday: The Orioles' youngest Opening Day starter was part of the Kiddie Corps

For the second consecutive year, the Orioles started a pitcher in their home opener age 25 or younger. Brad Bergesen got the call at age 24 last year while Jake Arrieta, 25, did the honors on Monday. Both pitchers had a good three years or more on the Orioles' youngest Opening Day starter.

Jerry Walker was 21 years and 67 days old on April 19, 1960, when he took the Memorial Stadium mound to kick-off the Birds' season against the Washington Senators. Walker was part of the Orioles' original Kiddie Corps along with Steve Barber, 22, Chuck Estrada, 22, Jack Fisher, 21, and Milt Pappas, 21.

Together with veteran pitchers Hoyt Wilhelm, 37, and Hal "Skinny" Brown, 35, the Kiddie Corps posted a league-best 48 complete games (Arnie Portocarrero, 28, had one of those 48 complete games). The O's overall pitching staff tied the Yankees for lowest ERA at 3.52

Catcher Gus Triandos described what made the staff effective in John Eisenberg's, "From 33rd Street to Camden Yards: An Oral History of the Baltimore Orioles."

"The young guys didn't spot pitches; they just wound up and threw good stuff," said Triandos. "They didn't work on things. They just called a fastball and zinged it. You knew they'd be somewhere around the plate. They had good stuff, had good control. And then when Wilhelm relieved with the knuckler, it was tough on hitters."

Earlier this year, O's broadcaster Fred Manfra identified the Kiddie Corps' "kicking ass in big league baseball" among his childhood baseball memories.

The 1960 Orioles posted the franchise's first winning record, 89-65, since moving to Baltimore from St. Louis (the 1957 Orioles finished an even 76-76). They did so on the arms of a young pitching staff. They'll need a similar effort from their current Kiddie Corps in 2011 to post the franchises' first winning season in 14 years.

[Note: Jerry Walker is currently vice president and special assistant to the GM for the Cincinnati Reds.]


Game Recap (April 7, 2001): Orioles 9 - Tigers 5; Another series win

Vlad had his first home run as an Oriole. Shortstop J.J. Hardy's consecutive games streak as an Oriole ended at five enabling Cesar Izturis to deliver his first RBI of the season. Adam Jones's bat came alive while Mark Reynolds's bat stayed hot.

Orioles 9 - Tigers 5

The Hometown Take

Orioles rally in big way in 9-5 victory over Tigers (The Sun)
"Jones' offense helped carry the Orioles to their fifth victory in six games this year, putting them back in sole possession of first place in the American League East. It also marked their second consecutive series victory; they didn't win two in 2010 until May11-13, their 11th series of the year.

'It's better than last year, but we've still got a lot of games to go,' Jones said. 'You've seen a lot of people start out well, and you never hear anything about them. We've got to maintain our game, do what we need to do and not worry about other teams.'"
The View from the Motor City

Tigers' relief pitching fades with lead  (Detroit Free Press)
"The Tigers are heading home, and just in time.

After six weeks of spring training and two losing series on the road, the Tigers make their Comerica Park debut today against the Kansas City Royals.

The Tigers lost their fourth in six games Thursday night, 9-5, to the Baltimore Orioles, but manager Jim Leyland remains upbeat.

'We were hoping to get home .500, and we had a shot at that tonight and let it get away,' Leyland said. 'But we play tomorrow — it’s that simple. We’ve played six games and we’re 2-4, and that’s what we deserve to be, so tomorrow you try to make it 3-4, and if we pitch well, we’ll have a shot.'"
 Other A.L. East Scores

Yankees win; Red Sox, Rays, and Blue Jays all lose. 

Sentence I thought I'd never write this season: The first-place Orioles are five games up on the Red Sox and Rays.

Same Day in Orioles History

April 7, 1979: Mike Flanagan earns his first win of the season as the O's defeat the White Sox 6-3 at Memorial Stadium. Rick Dempsey leads the way from the ninth spot with a 2-for-4 day that includes a double and two RBI.


Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Game 5 Recap (April 6, 2011): Tigers 7 - Orioles 3; Less than perfect

Brad Bergesen is successful when he induces ground balls. He did not do so on Wednesday. Therefore, the Orioles will not go 162-0.

Box Score

The Hometown Take

O's far from perfect in falling 7-3 to Tigers for 1st loss of season (The Sun)
"The Orioles were jolted back to reality tonight when a defensive miscue led to two early runs, the pitching couldn't keep the ball in the yard and the offense was handled by Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander.

The sight of legions of empty seats at Camden Yards added to the home opener hangover.

Alex Avila had three hits and drove in five runs, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez hit back-to-back homers in the fifth, and Verlander was in control throughout as the Orioles were beaten, 7-3, before an announced 12,451."
The View from the Motor City

Alex Avila drives in five in Tigers' victory
(Detroit Free Press)
"Alex Avila had three hits and drove in five runs as the Tigers beat the Orioles, 7-3, tonight in Baltimore. 
Justin Verlander went eight innings and gave up three earned runs on four hits and two walks. He struck out nine, including the side -- Matt Wieters, Adam Jones and Mark Reynolds -- in the seventh. 
Joaquin Benoit pitched the ninth and induced a groundout by Derrek Lee, a pop out in foul territory by Vladimir Guerrero and a groundout by Wieters"
Other A.L. East Scores

Twins - Yankees (postponed)
Angels 5 - Rays 1
Indians 8 - Red Sox 4
Blue Jays 5 - A's 3

Some Light O's Reading

Orioles not shocked by fast start, even if most of baseball is (Jon Heyman, SI)

Today in Orioles History

April 6, 1989: The "Why Not?" Orioles complete a two-game mini-sweep of the Boston Red Sox to open the season. Jose Bautista goes eight innings and picks up the win for the Birds. Former Oriole Mike Boddicker, traded from Baltimore to Boston the previous summer for Curt Schilling and Brady Anderson, sticks around for only 2.1 innings at Memorial Stadium but ends up with a no-decision.


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Life lessons for a baseball fan

Orioles baseball has been a conversation between generations in my family, one that now includes my newborn son. We watched the Orioles home opener on television together on Monday. While he and I couldn't discuss the game, his first Opening Day provided me an opportunity to consider some life lessons I might teach him as a baseball fan. This is what I came up with:
The newest Orioles fan

-I want you to be an independent thinker, so be a fan of any team you want. Just know that you'll make it much harder on your daddy if you cheer for the Yankees. And I'm the one who pays the bills.

-You're going to hear about ballpark fights and fans acting like fools. Keep in mind that there are good people at the ballpark, too. Hopefully you'll come across some of them - the guy who gives a kid a foul ball he caught, offers up his extra tickets, or buys you a soda at the game simply because you're sitting next to him. Better yet, be one of them.

-Your team is going to lose, maybe even a lot. (Daddy should know.) That's okay. You'll learn to support people even when they let you down.

-It doesn't matter whether you're a player or an umpire's attendant, your role is important. Do your job well enough for long enough, and maybe someone will notice. Either way, be sure to be a person who notices.

-Sometimes you're going to get booed regardless of whether you deserve it.

-Baseball can be boring. When it is, be grateful for the opportunity to sit still.

-On occasion, other people will try to frustrate you, even in your home ballpark. Focus on who you came with and who'll be with you after you leave. Enjoy your time with them.

-The guys you're watching now aren't the first ones to play the game. Learn the names of the ones who came before them.

-You're inevitably going to endure some tough times, so be sure to enjoy the good moments while they last. Go O's.


Monday, April 04, 2011

Game Recap (April 4, 2011): Orioles 5 - Tigers 1; Drunk on success

The Orioles' rotation is looking like the Phillies' four aces and Brian Roberts is on pace for 81 home runs. In other words, this team isn't going to play this well all season. But it sure is fun while it lasts.

The O's rode another strong pitching performance, this time from Jake Arrieta, along with a wind-assisted three-run homer from Roberts to win the home opener 5-1. It's the Birds' first 4-0 start since the 1997 Wire-to-Wire run, and their last playoff appearance. It's telling how things are going that the six hits Arrieta allowed in six innings of work equal the hits allowed by the Orioles' first three starters combined.

Box Score

The Hometown Take

Roberts' three-run homer lifts Orioles to first 4-0 start since 1997 (The Sun)
"A sellout crowd of 46,593, which enjoyed a game-time temperature of 76 degrees, watched Jake Arrieta continue the early roll of the Orioles' rotation, Roberts continue his RBI binge with his tie-breaking three-run homer in the fifth inning and the home team continue its winning ways.

The Orioles' 4-0 beginning equals their best start since 1997, and they are one win shy of tying the 1970 club, which won its first five games.

'I don't think anybody's ever had a bad 4-0 start. It's been awesome,' said Roberts."
The View from the Motor City

Offense missing as Tigers fall to1-3 (Detroit Free Press)
"Brian Roberts homered in a four-run fifth inning, and Jake Arrieta outdueled Rick Porcello as the Orioles stayed perfect. Baltimore (4-0) is baseball’s biggest surprise through four games. Last year, the Orioles didn’t get their fourth win until April 27, in Game No. 20."
Thumbs Up

Thumbs up  to ... the Orioles for the Ernie Tyler tribute as well as the 10th man award (an 18-year tradition) that allowed an 11-year-old to race down the orange carpet during pre-game ceremonies ... the ball girl on the first-base side who made a move for Matt Wieters' double before realizing it was a fair ball and thinking better of it ... the police officer on the third-base side who grabbed his stool and made a break for it as Mark Reynolds chased down a foul ball late in the game.

Thumbs Down

Thumbs down to ... the Orioles' music man for choosing Beck's "Loser" as the background music as the Tigers were introduced prior to the game.

This Day in Orioles History

April 4, 1997 - Mike Bordick's double-play ball in the top of the seventh inning scores Jeff Reboulet with what turns out to be the winning run in a 5-4 Orioles victory at Texas. Scott Erickson picks up the win, the Birds' third in three tries, and Armando Benitez, who will break fans' hearts come playoff time, earns the save with an overpowering five strikeouts in 1.2 innings of work.

And finally, here's your drunk fan video of the day from the opener. Gary Thorne is not pleased.


Undefeated Orioles return home

In the final season of "The Wire," Baltimore Sun journalist Scott Templeton makes up a story about an orphaned child in a wheelchair who struggles to find tickets to Opening Day at Camden Yards after skipping school to be there.

Plenty of Orioles fans have good Opening Day stories that are actually true. Perhaps you'll find one today willing to share his or her own. Or you may even happen upon a Tigers fan among the orange and black faithful. If so, you'll have plenty in common to discuss, including:

Losing streaks -Tigers fans endured 12 straight losing seasons from 1994 through 2005 including back-to-back 100-loss seasons in 2002 and 2003. The 2003 Tigers lost 119 games, 12 more than the franchise-worst record of the 1988 Orioles.

World Series droughts - The Tigers last won the World Series in 1984, one season after the Orioles' most recent title.


Mickey Tettleton - An Oriole from 1988 to 1990, Tettleton played for the Tigers from 1991 though 1994. He was an All-Star for each team ('88 and '94) and became the first player to hit a Eutaw Street home run on April 20, 1992.

There's nothing quite like a home opener in Baltimore. And that's the God's honest truth.


Sunday, April 03, 2011

Game 3 Recap (April 3, 2011): Orioles 5 - Rays 1; Yeah you, swept me away

For the first time in club history, Tampa Bay has started the season with three consecutive losses thanks to the Baltimore Orioles.

Rookie lefty Zach Britton pitched six strong innings (3 H, 1 ER, 6 SO, 3 BB) to help the Orioles to a season-opening sweep of the Rays. The O's last three-game sweep at Tampa came at the close of the 2005 season: Sept.30, Oct. 1, and Oct. 2.

Mark Reynolds (2-4, 2 RBI ), J.J. Hardy (1-4, 2 RBI), and Matt Wieters (2-4, RBI) accounted for the O's runs.

Box Score

The Hometown Take

Britton, Orioles sweep away Rays 5-1 (The Sun)
"The Tampa Bay Rays didn't know what hit them.
The 2010 American League East champions hoisted their white title banner Friday night at Tropicana Field and then apparently mistook it for a flag of surrender.

Jeremy Guthrie, Chris Tillman and emergency starter Zach Britton dazzled the Rays with three dominating performances that allowed the Orioles to get off to a 3-0 start for the first time since the 1997 wire-to-wire team won its first four games."
The View from St. Pete

Britton shines in debut as Orioles beat Rays 5-1 (St. Petersburg Times - AP Story)
"Zach Britton pitched six sharp innings in his major league debut, J.J. Hardy hit a two-run double and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 on Sunday to complete a season-opening three-game sweep.

Britton (1-0) allowed one run and three hits, struck out six and walked three. Recalled before the game from Triple-A Norfolk, Britton had around 30 family members and friends in attendance."
Other A.L. East Scores

Twins 4 - Blue Jays 3

Tigers 10 - Yankees 7

Rangers 5 - Red Sox 3

This Day in Orioles History

April 3, 1991 - The Orioles open Camden Yards with a 5-3 exhibition victory over Eddie Murray and the New York Mets. Mike Flanagan picks up the exhibition win at Camden Yards after getting the last out at Memorial Stadium several months earlier.


Saturday, April 02, 2011

Game Recap (April 2, 2011): Orioles 3 - Rays 1; Markakis picks up the save

It took the Orioles eight games against Tampa Bay last year before they picked up their second win over the Rays on July 20, 2010. This year they've done it in two games. It took the Orioles eight series last year before they picked up their first series win with a sweep of the Red Sox from April 30 to May 2. This year they've done it in their first series of the season.

The final from the Trop: Orioles 3 - Rays 1 (Box Score).

If you haven't seen Nick Markakis' game-ending catch, be sure to check out ESPN's  "Web Gems." The catch made Markakis a nationwide trending topic on Twitter within 10 minutes of the game's conclusion.

The Hometown Take

Tillman strong, Roberts homers to lead Orioles to 3-1 win over Rays (The Sun)
"In a scoreless game in the eighth inning, Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon removed a dominant James Shields and replaced him with left-hander Jake McGee. Brian Roberts sent his third pitch deep into the left-field seats, the three-run shot, coupled by Nick Markakis' game-saving and game-ending catch, giving the Orioles a 3-1 victory over the Rays in front of an announced 22,164 at Tropicana Field."
The View from St. Pete

Tampa Bay Rays avoid no-hitter but lose 3-1 to Baltimore Orioles to fall to 0-2 (St. Petersburg Times)
"By comparison, Friday's opening night loss was a relative festival.

Saturday, the Rays were no-hit into the seventh inning. They lost star third baseman Evan Longoria with what was described as a sore left oblique. They wasted a tremendous start by James Shields. They were done in by one of their inexperienced relievers. Their ninth-inning rally was cut short by a spectacular leaping catch by rightfielder Nick Markakis at the wall.

And, naturally, they lost again, this time 3-1 to the Orioles."
Other A.L. East Scores:

Toronto 6 - Minnesota 1

Yankees 10 - Tigers 6

Rangers 12 - Red Sox 3 (7th inning - in progress when this was posted)

This day in Orioles history:

April 2, 2001 -A walk-off single by Brady Anderson in the 11th inning scores Jerry Hairston from second based and gives the Orioles a 2-1 Opening Day victory over the rival Red Sox. Pat Hentgen gives the Orioles 8.2 strong innings to neutralize Red Sox starter Pedro Martinez.


Friday, April 01, 2011

Game Recap: Orioles 4 - Rays 1; One down, 81 to go

One down, 81 to go. The Orioles' pursuit of their first winning season since 1997 began with a 4-1 Opening Day victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field behind a strong pitching performance by Jeremy Guthrie (8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 6 SO, 1 BB). David Price (7 IP, 5H, 4 ER, 7 SO, 1 BB) took the loss for the Rays. Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts led the way for the O's with two RBI a piece.

Box score

Hometown Take: Guthrie pitches gem as Orioles open 2011 season with 4-1 win over Rays (The Sun)
At long last, the 2011 Orioles debuted their beefed-up lineup against one of baseball's best. But David Price wasn't the best pitcher as the Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays opened their 2011 seasons at Tropicana Field, nor was the Orioles' offense the biggest story.

Jeremy Guthrie was both by a wide margin as he took command of Game 1 and relinquished it only after his team had a reasonably comfortable lead. Guthrie threw eight scoreless innings, and Nick Markakis and Brian Roberts each drove in two runs as the Orioles exacted revenge for last year's brutal season-opening loss here to beat the Rays, 4-1, before an announced sellout crowd of 34,078.
The View from St. Pete: Roberts, Markakis lead Orioles past Rays (AP Story on TampaBay.com)
Taking up where they left off during a nice two-month stretch to end last season under manager Buck Showalter, the Orioles ruined a festive evening in which the defending AL East champions hoisted their latest division title banner at Tropicana Field.

And, they did it with Guthrie outdoing last year's AL Cy Young Award runner-up.

"It's one day, but I sure like being on this end of it," Showalter said. "It's a tough place to play on opening day."
Star of the Game: The lady in the silver sequined shirt behind home plate at the Trop. What a treat for MASN viewers.

Other A.L. East Scores:
Rangers 9 - Red Sox 5
Blue Jays 13 - Twins 3

How They Stack Up: The Orioles' most recent winning season came in 1997 when the team went wire-to-wire and finished 98-64. Throughout the season, Roar from 34 will check the Birds' current results against those past results.

1997 Opener
April 2, 1997 at Camden Yards
Orioles 4 - Royals 2


Opening Day Roundup - Good things do happen during road openers

The Orioles open their 2011 campaign in Tampa on Friday night looking to avenge their 4-3 come-from-ahead loss against the Rays in last year's road opener. The Rays accounted for five of the Orioles' eight losses in their first nine games last season. The O's posted a season-worst record for any month in 2010 by starting 5-18 (.217 winning percentage) in April.

Road openers are never as much fun as home openers, especially when your newly acquired free-agent closer posts a blown save and takes the loss (though, to be fair, he did so during the home opener as well). However, the away games can be memorable for positive reasons as well.

The Orioles earned their first-ever Opening Day victory on the road when they defeated the Washington Senators 7-6 at Griffith Stadium on April 15, 1957 (Read the news story from the following day). The O's had lost each of their openers since moving to Baltimore from St. Louis in 1954.

Two years later in Washington, on April 9, 1959, the Orioles turned an unprecedented Opening Day triple play during a 9-2 loss to the Senators.  (Here's that news story.)

Roar from 34 favorite Sam Horn knows something about memorable moments on the road. He clocked two home runs and established a club record with six Opening Day RBI in Kansas City in 1990.

Speaking of Opening Day long balls, Hall of Famer Frank Robinson's eight home runs are tied with Ken Griffey Jr. for the most on the season's first day. Robinson homered during his first Opening Day with the Orioles on April 12, 1966, as part of a 5-4 victory in 13 innings at Fenway Park.

On the defensive side, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer's five Opening Day wins are the most in club history. Palmer started six openers for the Birds. Only Mike Mussina (three Opening Day wins) pitched the first game of the season for the O's as often as Palmer.

Among Palmer's victories was an April 9, 1976, gem (okay, it was at home) against Boston - 8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 3 K, 2 BB. Palmer picked up the victory against fellow Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins 1-0. The pitchers won a combined 552 career games.

And as long as I've allowed home openers to sneak into this post, Wee Willie Keeler started his 44-game hitting streak for the International League Orioles in Baltimore on Opening Day 1897. Keeler's record streak began with that April 22 game and extended until June 18. Joe DiMaggio broke Keeler's record with his 56-game hitting streak in 1941.

Happy Opening Day, O's fans.

Related Reading:

Opening Day on the road can still prove memorable (Roar from 34)

Season Previews: Baltimore Orioles (Babes Love Baseball)


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Unlucky versus the Orioles, Okajima will now try to stem the Tides

The Orioles have reassigned a handful of relievers to the team's minor league camp, including veteran lefty reliever Mark Hendrickson. However, the bigger bullpen pitching news related to the Orioles comes out of Red Sox camp where former Birds reliever Matt Albers (11-12, 4.60 ERA, 1.529 WHIP, 5.8 SO/9, 4.3 BB/9 in three seasons with the O's) won a spot in the Boston pen while Hideki Okajima was sent to the minors.

The Orioles have fared well - very well - against the otherwise steady Okajima (16-8, 3.06 career ERA, 1.239 WHIP,  7.9 SO/9, 3.1 BB/9). Against Baltimore, Okajima is 0-4 with a 5.76 career ERA in 29.2 innings pitched.

Some of Okajima's memorable meltdowns against the Orioles include the following:

May 14, 2008
Orioles 6 - Red Sox 3
Jay Payton hits a grand slam on Okajima's second pitch after the reliever entered the game in the seventh inning with the Red Sox leading 3-2.
Okajima: BS, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 HR

June 2, 2008
Orioles 6 - Red Sox 3
Okajima enters with a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning and leaves with a 6-3 deficit.
Okajima: 0.2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER

June 10, 2008
Orioles 10 - Red Sox 6
Okajima relieved Josh Beckett after six innings and turned a 6-4 lead into a 7-6 deficit. Said Dave Trembley: "You have to wait him out."
Okajima: BS, 0.1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 2 BB

June 30, 2009
Orioles 11 - Red Sox 10
What would an Orioles slugfest be without Okajima? Most of the damage on this day comes when Takashi Saito and Jonathan Papelbon fail to clean up Okajima's mess in the eighth inning.
Okajima: 0.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER

April 25, 2010
Orioles 7 - Red Sox 6
Tim Wakefield hands Okajima a 4-1 lead with one runner on base in the seventh inning. The Orioles quickly even up the game with a run-scoring double by Nick Markakis and a two-run homer by Miguel Tejada.
Okajima: BS, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 HR

June 6, 2010
Orioles 4 - Red Sox 3
Nick Markakis' walk-off single off Okajima in the bottom of the 11th inning wins it for the O's.
Okajima: L, 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB

Albers appeared for the Orioles in at least half of the aforementioned games.

And speaking of the Red Sox, here are three photos from the Orioles' 4-3 win against Boston on Sunday. 

copyright: Schimmel

copyright: Schimmel

copyright: Schimmel

Related Reading:

Okajima pitches like he belongs in the Baltimore bullpen (Roar from 34)

Hideki Okajima to minors (Boston Herald)

Classy Hendrickson ponders options, returns to clubhouse to say goodbyes (The Sun)


Monday, March 28, 2011

Will the Orioles have a 20-20 player for the first time in more than a decade?

The Orioles should have a 30 home run season from a player this year for the first time since Aubrey Huff stroked 32 homers in 2008. They may even match or - dare to dream - exceed the club record for number of players with 30 or more homers in the same season, which sits at two (Brady Anderson and Rafael Palmeiro, '96; Larry Sheets and Eddie Murray, '87; Boog Powell and Frank Robinson '66 and '69).

It's unlikely, however, that the O's will have their first member of the 30-30 club, or even the 20-20 club for that matter in 2011.

Baltimore is one of three teams in the American League East - Boston and Tampa are the others - to never have had a player in their lineup hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season. Toronto's had two (Shawn Green '98, Jose Cruz Jr. '01) and New York's had three (Bobby Bonds '75 and Alfonso Soriano '02, '03). It's a much more common accomplishment in the National League where it has happened 38 times, compared to 15 times in the American League.

The Birds' best - albeit still unlikely - candidate for a 30-30 season may be Mark Reynolds, who hit 44 homers and stole 24 bases in 2009. While those numbers would fall short of the 30-30 club, they would give the Orioles their first 20-20 player in more than a decade.
20-20 vision?

Brady Anderson was the last Oriole to post a 20-20 season when he hit 24 home runs and stole 36 bases in 1999. Brian Roberts (16 home runs, 30 stolen bases in 2009), Nick Markakis (23 home runs, 18 stolen bases in 2007), and Corey Patterson (16 home runs, 45 stolen bases in 2006) have come closest to 20-20 since then.

Anderson sits alongside Barry Bonds as the only players to record a 50-homer season as well as a 50-steal season during their careers. Anderson had 53 steals in 1992 and 50 home runs in 1996. Bonds had 52 steals in 1990 and hit 73 homers in 2001.

On the face of it Anderson would seem to have been the O's most likely candidate in recent memory for a 30-30 season; however, he was never closer than that 24-36 season in '99. Anderson stole more than 30 bases only  three times in his career (53 in '92, 31 in '94, 36 in '99); he hit more than 30 home runs just once (50 in '96).

Nevertheless, he is still the last Orioles player to post a 20-20 season. Chances are things will stay that way through 2011.

Of Note

-There are four members of the 40-40 Club: Jose Canseco (1988), Barry Bonds (1996), Alex Rodriguez (1998), and Alfonso Soriano (2006).

-Former Oriole Albert Belle is the only player in major league history to have 50 homers and 50 doubles in the same season. He did so in 1995.

-Brian Roberts had four consecutive seasons (2006-2009) with 30 doubles and 30 stolen bases. The 50 stolen bases-50 doubles club has two members: Tris Speaker (1912) and Craig Biggio (1998).

Orioles Stolen Bases Leaders since 2000

2010: Corey Patterson 21
2009: Brian Roberts 30
2008: Brian Roberts 40
2007: Brian Roberts 50, Corey Patterson 37
2006: Corey Patterson 45, Brian Roberts 36
2005: Brian Roberts 27
2004: Brian Roberts 29
2003: Brian Roberts 23
2002: Jerry Hairston 21, Chris Singleton 20
2001: Jerry Hairston 29
2000: Delino DeShields 37

Related Reading:

Powerball in Baltimore (Roar from 34)

Thirty homers used to mean something. It still should. (Roar from 34)


Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Macho Man, the Hatchet Man, and classic Orioles baseball

A-Ha! (image:Where's Randy Savage?)
Imagine having the Macho Man at catcher and the Hatchet Man behind him calling balls and strikes. It's the stuff made for either pay-per-view television or a minor league promotion, but it could just as easily have happened at a major league ballpark.

Before "Where's Randy Savage?", "Snap into it," or even "Oh yeah," legendary professional wrestler Randy "Macho Man" Savage played minor league ball in the Cardinals organization. Mel Proctor and John Lowenstein discussed Savage's brief baseball career during the July 15, 1989, Orioles broadcast, which MASN showed on Wednesday as part of its "Orioles Classics" series.

After the Macho Man's name emerged, Proctor and Lowenstein moved on to discuss umpire Ken Kaiser, who covered first-base duties for the July 15 game. Kaiser, a former bouncer, once wrestled under the name "The Hatchet Man."

During his wrestling days, Kaiser wore a black hood and carried an ax. Some (many?) would say he had an ax to grind with Earl Weaver and Eddie Murray as he feuded regularly with both Orioles.

Weaver feuds with "The Hatchet Man." (image: The Sun)

Back to Savage. Second only to Hulk Hogan among '80s wrestlers, Savage (real name Randy Poffo) had 16 home runs in four minor league seasons spent between the Rookie and A levels. He had a .254/.292./.391 overall slash line. In other words, wrestling was a wise choice.

Here's a photo of a retired Macho Man attending a Braves-Mets game. (Notice he's checking his cell phone - He would've fit perfectly at Camden Yards in the late '90s and early '00s).

The baseball-wrestling connection goes beyond the Macho Man and Hatchet Man. Consider:

-Babe Ruth was once asked to serve as a guest referee for a pro wrestling watch.

-Current Independent Wrestler "Always Trending" Tyson Tyler played minor league baseball in short-season A ball. Tyler's real name is Brian Barnett. Baseball Reference has his minor league stats.

-"Mr. Baseball" Bob Uecker and all-time hits leader Pete Rose are members of the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame.

-White Sox conditioning coach Dale Torborg, son of former player and manager Jeff Torborg, used to be a professional wrestler. His dad, meanwhile, holds the distinction of having caught Sandy Koufax's perfect game as well as two no-hitters, the second of which was Nolan Ryan's first no-no.

Image sources: "Where's Randy Savage?" and The Baltimore Sun.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Off Topic: Sarasota Journalism

With Sarasota on most Orioles fans' minds, here's an excerpt from a quirky Sarasota Herald-Tribune job listing for an investigative reporter (original post on A Few Tasteful Snaps):
But if you’re the type of sicko who likes holing up in a tiny, closed office with reporters of questionable hygiene to build databases from scratch by hand-entering thousands of pages of documents to take on powerful people and institutions that wish you were dead, all for the glorious reward of having readers pick up the paper and glance at your potential prize-winning epic as they flip their way to the Jumble… well, if that sounds like journalism Heaven, then you’re our kind of sicko.

For those unaware of Florida’s reputation, it’s arguably the best news state in the country and not just because of the great public records laws. We have all kinds of corruption, violence and scumbaggery. The 9/11 terrorists trained here. Bush read My Pet Goat here. Our elections are colossal clusterfucks. Our new governor once ran a health care company that got hit with a record fine because of rampant Medicare fraud. We have hurricanes, wildfires, tar balls, bedbugs, diseased citrus trees and an entire town overrun by giant roaches (only one of those things is made up). And we have Disney World and beaches, so bring the whole family.

(H/T Jeremy Ashton)


Sarasota Update: Brian Matusz, Nick Markakis, Cliff Lee & More

Ever planned a trip specifically to visit a ballpark or other athletic facility? If so, you might enjoy Stadium Journey, where writers review and rate their experiences at venues nationwide based on factors including atmosphere, food and beverage, fans, and ease of access to the location.

Here's a portion of Stadium Journey's favorable take on the refurbished Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.
It's all-but-brand-new, so what do you expect? The seats are immaculate (fun fact: every seat in the house was brought in from Camden Yards, refurbished, and installed), every detail is gleaming, and the landscaping both inside and out is well-maintained. The stadium itself is a little out of the way for those wanting to go to downtown Sarasota and the beach areas, but otherwise, it's pretty close to perfect.

The scoreboard in right-center is large, easy to read, and even includes oriole-shaped weather veins on-top. The audio system is definitely audible; loud enough to hear over the crowds, but not enough to cause your ear drums to implode.


Even though it was built in 1989, a renovation was badly needed to keep Ed Smith Stadium a viable option for Major League teams. Thankfully, the Orioles organization were open enough to make their own, custom upgrades to this park. They obviously put a lot of care and thoughtfulness into the redesign, and it shows in every minute detail.

Sarasota now has a stadium they can be proud of again; since the team isn't going anywhere for a while, you'll definitely have a chance to see this new jewel in the crown of the Grapefruit League. Come on down and see the new Ed Smith; it shines brightest in March.
 And here are some recent action photos from inside Ed Smith -

The Present, The Future
(copyright: Norm Schimmel)

Markakis with chew (?) in the back pocket.
(copyright: Norm Schimmel)

Luke Scott - From DH to left field to first base.
(copyright: Norm Schimmel)

(copyright: Norm Schimmel)

(copyright: Norm Schimmel)

Postseason Performer
(copyright: Norm Schimmel)


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Who will the Orioles players be following in the Big Dance?

I've chosen a March Madness-themed post over a St. Patrick's Day-themed post for today. Feel free to chime in on your favorite Irish Oriole in the comments section. In the meantime, check out the college hoops loyalties of some members of the Orioles roster based on where they attended college.

Matt Angle has to be feeling good about March Madness as his Ohio State Buckeyes are the tournament's number one overall seed.

Brian Roberts split time between UNC and South Carolina, but the Durham, N.C., native maintains his Tar Heel loyalties and tends to attend a game or two in Chapel Hill during the off-season.

Joe Mahoney had a solid spring in Orioles camp. Now the former Richmond student will get to see if his college can make good as a popular 5-12 upset pick.

Jake Fox is focused on winning a roster spot behind Matt Wieters, and based on his numbers, he's clearly locked in. Hopefully he can take a break to watch his Michigan Wolverines end an extended tournament drought. Or to cheer against those Uncle Toms at Duke.

Jason Berken's college made the "First Four," but is unlikely to appear in the "Final Four." Berken's a Clemson guy.

Other Orioles with college affiliations:

Mark Reynolds - Virginia. Here's hoping Reynolds didn't watch the ACC tournament, or at least not the final 42 seconds of regulation.

Luke Scott - Oklahoma State. I wonder if Luke had any thoughts about Oklahoma State's win over Harvard in the opening round of the NIT?

Matt Wieters - Georgia Tech. Tourney talk is fun, but so too is guessing who the next coach will be.

Craig Tatum - Mississippi State. Tatum's school fell short of the tournament but still had plenty of fight in 'em.

Brian Matusz - San Diego. Not much to talk about for the Toreros on the hardwood this year other than a victory over one of last year's Sweet Sixteen darlings, St. Mary's.

Jeremy Guthrie - Stanford. Guthrie always has the Cardinal women's team to brag on.

Jake Arrieta - TCU. Basketball? The undefeated Horned Frogs won the Rose Bowl. And you expect them to care about basketball?

Jeremy Accardo - Illinois State. Accardo's ready to party like it's 1998.Unfortunately, his Redbirds are not.

Mark Hendrickson - Washington State. Sure, his Cougars aren't in the NCAA tournament, but he's the only guy in the clubhouse who can watch March Madness and say "Been there, done that."


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Look for Roar from 34 on MASNSports.com

I'm pleased to report that I'll be serving as a guest blogger on MASNSports.com during the first half of the 2011 baseball season. Look for the Roar from 34 perspective on MASN during the weeks of April 11, May 9, June 6, and July 4.

MASN announced the guest blogger arrangement this afternoon:
Beginning April 4, Orioles Buzz will feature guest bloggers every weekday. MASNsports.com recognizes that the blogosphere contains all sorts of opinions on the O's, and bloggers following the orange and black are a particularly hearty breed of fan. What they say is increasingly relevant and how their present their perspective has become more and more savvy.

Since the Orioles now credential selected bloggers on a game-by-game basis, we thought you'd be interested in reading what some of the most rabid Internet-based O's faithful has to say. And Orioles Buzz is a perfect platform for sharing their thoughts, ideas and reminiscences.
The list of Orioles guest bloggers includes some of my favorites: Dempsey's Army (Heath), Camden Chat (Stacey), and Orioles Post (Anthony). It should be a fun project. Thanks to Pete Kerzel and MASN for the opportunity.


Friday, March 11, 2011

What difference can one letter make? A big one for these former Orioles.

Turns out we've all been saying and spelling Angels first baseman Kendry Morales' name wrong. It's actually Kendrys - with an "s" - Morales. Think one letter in a first name doesn't make a difference? Just consider what it would do for these former Orioles.
Bully Ripken - Bully Ripken thinks you're a F*** Face, and he's not afraid to tell you. That's what bullies do.

Early Weaver - A man before his time, Early Weaver was using stats to inform his decision-making before anyone had even heard of Moneyball.

Meltin Mora - Benching this guy was a sure recipe for a meltdown. Just ask Dave Trembley.

Job Orsulak - Talk about suffering, he played for the '88 Orioles as well as the Pirates, Marlins, and Expos.

Done Aase - He saved 23 games in the first half of the '86 season, induced an All Star Game-ending double play with runners on the corners, and once held the record for most Orioles saves with 34, which also were the most ever for a last place team. For a time, the game was Done once Aase entered from the bullpen.

Learry Bigbie - Players would've done well to be a bit more leary of Bigbie, whose name appeared 93 times in the Mitchell Report and who accused Brian Roberts of steroid use.

Stove Finley - He was part of what in hindsight was perhaps the worst Hot Stove move in Orioles history, the Jan. 10, 1991, trade that sent him, Pete Harnisch, and Curt Schilling to the Astros in exchange for Glenn Davis.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Who was the last Orioles player to have a pinch-hit walk-off home run?

Earlier this week my trusty Orioles calendar included the following trivia question: "In an Aug. 24, 1988, game against the Mariners, he became the last Orioles player to hit a pinch-hit walk-off home run. Who is he?"

Answer: Larry Sheets

Here's some more information about Sheets' pinch-hit heroics during the worst season in Orioles history.

Sheets, pinch hitting for third baseman Rene Gonzalez, entered the game with one on and two out in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Orioles trailed the Mariners 3-2. 

Outfielder Fred Lynn started the inning with a line-drive single to right and was replaced by rookie Brady Anderson. Anderson was acquired less than a month earlier in a trade that also brought Curt Schilling to Baltimore and sent Mike Boddicker to Boston.

After a Jim Dwyer fly out, Anderson stole second and advanced to third on a Jim Traber ground out. It was Anderson's third of six stolen bases in the month of August. Sheets then took a 2-2 offering from Mike Schooler deep for his eighth home run of the season. 

Mark Williamson picked up the win for the Orioles with two perfect innings in relief of starter Jeff Ballard.

The Orioles won the nightcap of the doubleheader, also by a score of 4-3, on a 12th-inning sac fly by Joe Orsulak that plated Ken Gerhart. Sheets led off the inning with a walk. 

The Mariners were the only team the 107-loss Birds beat in a 1988 season series. The O's went 14-15 in August, which was the team's best month of the season.

Related Roar from 34 posts:


Friday, March 04, 2011

Hope Springs Eternal - Jim Palmer's comeback attempt (1991)

There are plenty of good Spring Training updates out there along with projections for player and team performance headed into 2011. For something different, I figure it's interesting to revisit stories of seasons past when, as seems to happen nearly every year, "Hope Springs Eternal" for players and teams. Last time I focused on Sammy Sosa's arrival in Baltimore. This time it's Jim Palmer's attempted comeback in 1991.

If nothing else, Jim Palmer's attempted comeback with the Orioles during Spring Training in 1991 gave us one of the all-time great newspaper ledes: "Jim Palmer can still pitch underwear but he can no longer pitch baseballs."

Already in the Hall of Fame, Palmer, the noted Jockey spokesman, attempted to defy age in the pre-HGH days by returning to O's camp at age 45, one year older than Roger Clemens when he retired and one year younger than Nolan Ryan was at the time of his retirement.

Palmer's fastball topped out at 75 MPH during his lone Spring Training game, some seven miles per hour faster than Ryan's first pitch in Arlington during the 2010 World Series. Palmer allowed two runs on five hits, a walk, and a balk in two winnings of work against the Red Sox with Boston batters missing contact only once in 15 swings.

Despite stating after his lone exhibition outing that it would be "premature to quit now," Palmer's comeback attempt indeed ended due to a hamstring injury he suffered while running wind sprints prior to facing the Red Sox. He likened the sound he heard to a Rice Krispie pop. In an earlier intrasquad game, Palmer tossed two innings and allowed two runs on four hits, one of which was a wind-assisted home run by catcher Chris Hoiles. 

Sports Illustrated chronicled Palmer's efforts - along with those of other aging pitchers like Goose Gossage, Steve Howe, and fellow Orioles camper Mike Flanagan, age 39 - in the March 11, 1991, article "Hope Flings Eternal."

Here are a couple of excerpts from that piece:
Because Palmer remains a legend in Baltimore, the Orioles felt obliged to find out. They sent scouts to see him three times, including minor league pitching instructor Dick Bosman, who beat Palmer for the American League ERA title in 1969. Although none of the observers required surgery to have their eyes put back into their sockets, the Orioles invited Palmer to their camp in Sarasota. There he has failed to excite either ridicule or astonishment. He's in fabulous condition, no question. But no matter whom he lines up with on the row of practice mounds, there is more pop in the gloves of catchers other than his.

At a locker near Palmer's, Flanagan struggles with that dilemma of whether to leave gracefully or leave at all. Flanagan, the 1979 American League Cy Young winner as an Oriole, appeared to have erred on the side of leaving ugly when the Toronto Blue Jays unceremoniously cut him last May. But Flanagan faulted the strike-shortened spring training for his performance and decided to work his arm back into shape and try again. "And by September I felt like I was throwing too good to stop," he says. A chance meeting with Hemond at the Hall of Fame ceremonies in August encouraged Flanagan to visit with the Orioles. "Some guys get to the point where enough is enough," says Flanagan. "And some guys just love the game." And some guys are lefthanded pitchers, which gives Flanagan more than a sentimentalist's chance to make it.

Related Reading:

Hope Springs Eternal: When Sammy Sosa came to Baltimore

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Ed Smith Stadium opener in words & (mostly) pictures

A sellout crowd, an orange bird of paradise flower for each female fan in attendance, local construction workers honored on the field, and many rave reviews. The Birds opened their renovated Spring Training home on Tuesday but couldn't wait to leave the sparkling new yard in a 12-6 victory over the Rays that featured five home runs in the first two innings.

Here's a look at the new Ed Smith Stadium in words and pictures.

Big League Stew - "Renovations turn O's home from pit to palace."
Though the taxpayer-funded repairs sparked a good amount of dissent in the area and the initial facelift was completed in only eight months, there was no arguing with the results. Ed Smith Stadium now has amenities that are equal to other spring homes. In many cases, they're even better. While I would have told you to skip Sarasota as a stop in previous years, it's now something you should circle if you're doing a tour of the Gulf Coast parks.

Opening day began with local construction workers taking the field to a round of applause — though it did rain while they did so ... figures — and ended with a 12-6 O's victory as everyone walked around and checked out the stadium's new features.
Big League Stew includes a brief photo essay as part of its story. You can also see some great photos of the game and the stadium at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune website. Meanwhile, The Sun has added new photos from Tuesday's opener to its overall Spring Training gallery.

[Edit: Another photo link from a commenter, this one to ABC7 in Florida.]

Finally, here's my contribution, some on-the-scene pictures from Sarasota Friend of the Blog Norm Schimmel.


O's Quotables

 This may be my favorite Orioles quote for the 2011 season:
“Stealing bags isn't part of my repertoire. We may mix in a few surprises here and there, but I prefer to trot around the bases."

-Luke Scott
The quote comes courtesy of Franklin Sports, which provided Roar from 34 with Spring Training interviews of Scott and J.J. Hardy.

I'm still forming my impressions of new Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy. One thing's for sure,  from now on I'll associate him with these words: "I take a lot of pride in my Ping Pong." 

Here's the full quote:
"My dad was a professional tennis player, and he still teaches for a living, and we grew up around it and I have a brother who is about 17 months older than I am, we played Ping Pong growing up and it was a sport that we kind of clicked at, and having someone as good as I was at it, and me as good as he was, kind of kept us getting better. I take a lot of pride in my Ping Pong."

-J.J. Hardy

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sneak Peek at Ed Smith Stadium

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune provides a preview of the Orioles' renovated Spring Training home in the article "Ed Smith Stadium poised to be a jewel." The latest batch of photos from Sarasota Friend of the Blog Norm Schimmel certainly supports that notion.  My personal favorite is the directional sign with distances to all the affiliates.

(Note: Norm Schimmel retains copyright for all of the images below. Please do not use them in any form without his express permission.)

Here are previous Roar from 34 posts that include Sarasota photos from Norm: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12


Thursday, February 24, 2011

How have the Orioles fared during your lifetime?

If you're in your 30s, or even younger, and you're still a fan of the Baltimore Orioles, you qualify as a dedicated fan. A diehard even. Words like bandwagon and front runner do not apply. That's because any Orioles fan born in 1974 or later has seen more losing than winning on the baseball diamond.

You have to go back to 1973 before the Orioles' cumulative record through 2010 reaches .500. Since 1973, when Baltimore posted a 97-65 mark - the O's have gone 3,013-3,005 overall.

Obviously, this cumulative misery has been weighed down greatly by the team's current stretch of losing seasons. For example, the Orioles won 90 games the year I was born and didn't experience a losing season until I was 11. During that span the Orioles won 90 or more games seven times and 100 games twice. Things looked so promising. But it's just like a bird to go South. The Orioles' cumulative record during my lifetime is 2,825-2,869 (.496).

Perhaps (hopefully) current teenagers will have the exact opposite luck that I've had as an Orioles fan. Bird backers born in 1998 - they either have turned or will turn 13 this year - have never seen a winning baseball season. The O's are 921-1183 (.437) in that span.

So while dads can tell their sons about having to walk several miles in the snow to school - uphill no less - they can't exaggerate their agony as baseball fans. Those tall tales belong to the young. But take heart, the Orioles are still a winning franchise overall: 4,617-4,405 (.511). And if you're in your late 50's, you can honestly say you've seen it all.

How have the Orioles done during your lifetime? Check the spreadsheet to find out.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hope Springs Eternal: When Sammy Sosa came to Baltimore

There are plenty of good Spring Training updates out there along with projections for player and team performance headed into 2011. For something different, I figure it's interesting to revisit stories of seasons past when, as seems to happen nearly every year, "Hope Springs Eternal" for players and teams.

Thirty-six-year-old Sammy Sosa arrived in Baltimore in 2005 looking for a fresh start after a tumultuous end to his 13 seasons at Wrigley Field. As the Orioles incorporate fresh faces into the 2011 lineup, including a couple of aging sluggers at or around Sosa's age at the time, here's a look back on what was being said about Sosa at the time.

If anything, this story reveals how difficult it is to get an accurate read on those things we're most likely to read about prior to the season -- intangibles like a player's attitude and drive.

The following excerpts are taken from a June 13, 2005, Sports Illustrated article by Tom Verducci.

First, a word from then-Cubs President Andy MacPhail on Sosa following his departure from Chicago.
Says MacPhail, "I do like Sammy. I appreciate all he accomplished for the franchise. To some degree I am sympathetic to him because he doesn't quite understand the depth of the negativity that he incurred."
Next, a Spring Training anecdote that suggests Sosa had lightened up and perhaps changed his early season ways.
On his first morning in an Orioles uniform, an on-time Sosa, the guy who made a habit with the Cubs of showing up--he thought--fashionably late for spring training, busted out of the batter's box and sprinted full-bore for second base, the first in line for what he thought was a team baserunning drill. When he looked back, however, he saw his new teammates standing idly or walking back to the dugout. He'd been set up. But he laughed and lit up one of those smiles that for many people will always take them back to the sweet summer of '98 and the great Home Run Race.
And finally, some words on how Sosa's fall from baseball grace perhaps introduced some humility to his persona.
What is remarkable about Sosa this season, though, is what he is not. In Baltimore he is not the captain, he is not the best player in the room, he is not the diva with club officials and personal valets at his side, he is not the clubhouse deejay oblivious to the annoyance of his infamous boom box, he is not--by a long shot, given the boos he hears wherever he plays on the road--the most popular player in baseball. Sosa can't sell Orville Redenbacher's popcorn like he used to.
His teammates and manager Lee Mazzilli marvel at Sosa's boyish enthusiasm and comportment. Pitching coach Ray Miller appreciates the counsel Sosa gives the club's young Latin pitchers, including Daniel CabreraJorge Julio. Second baseman Brian Roberts praises Sosa for having "the greatest attitude every single day. It's energizing. He doesn't get mad and doesn't get down no matter what. I've been amazed at that."
"It's perfect," Sosa says of his fit in Baltimore. "It's like when you move into a new house. You just want to enjoy it."
As a counterpoint, consider this recent piece by The Sun's Kevin Van Valkenburg that looks back on Sosa's brief Baltimore tenure.
Sosa wanted out of Chicago so he could have a fresh start, because the fans had soured on him for a dozen different reasons, and he said all the right things in news conferences about how much he loved the people of Baltimore and couldn't wait to be the old, beisbol-loving Sammy Sosa again. 
Approximately 99 percent of sports writers don't search for scandal, they're just interested in telling the truth, not some rosy version of it. And at that point, the truth was that Sammy Sosa was an aging, selfish, injury-prone slugger. Except I didn't even really view him that way at the time. I just wanted to write an Orioles notebook about his foot injury because I thought the fans might want to know when his awful bat might return to the lineup.


There are plenty of Orioles, like Brian Roberts and Adam Jones and Jeremy Guthrie, just to name a few, who I think are good people who understand the media is the best way for them to communicate how they go about their profession to the fans, in good times and bad. And there are plenty of Ravens I'd throw on that list as well, like Trevor Pryce and Kelly Gregg and Haloti Ngata, among others. 
But mull that the next time you see a clip of a professional athlete treating someone like dirt. Sammy Sosa isn't a jerk because he most likely took steroids, and then failed to tell the truth about it. And he isn't a jerk because he feuded with the media, both in Chicago and Baltimore. He's a jerk because in the second half of his career, he treated people poorly, media and teammates included.
When it comes to knowing a player's attitude and demeanor, the truth is out there, but so is plenty of well-spun fiction. The latter is readily available now; the former often emerges over time.