Orioles Baseball… Its Still Early

oriolesThe Orioles finished the first full month of the season a disappointing 12-12.  The schedule was tough, but the team dropped home series to the Blue Jays and Royals.  It’s far too early to say that any particular series has importance in the long run, but the O’s will have to do better against that caliber of team at OPACY.  Of course, the team split a four game set in Boston and took two of three in the Bronx so it wasn’t all bad.
The Birds were slightly above the league average in runs scored, but find themselves 13th of 15 teams in the AL in homeruns.  That might actually be good news.  The team has enough power to know that the longballs will come in time as the weather heats up, so it’s good that they’ve found other ways to score.  The team’s core has almost universally struggled early.  Adam Jones, Nick Markakis, and JJ Hardy are off to incredibly slow starts.  Chris Davis hasn’t hit poorly, but just two homers before being placed on the DL wasn’t what the team wanted to see.  Manny Machado is due back imminently, but he’s yet to even have an at-bat in the bigs.
New acquisition Nelson Cruz has been everything the front office could have hoped when they signed him with seven homeruns, and Matt Wieters, now 28, had a better month by far than any during last year’s mediocre campaign, but they’ll need help.
The pitching has continued to be a sore spot for O’s fans.  The bullpen in particular has disappointed.  In 2014, strikeouts are at a premium, especially out of the pen.  Guys that throw gas and miss bats are the best relievers, and striking out more than a batter per inning worked is a standard of excellence for a reliever.  So far the O’s have no relievers meeting that threshold.  On the other hand, Boston and New York have four apiece.
On the starting side, Ubaldo Jimenez was the big acquisition in the offseason, costing the team $48M in salary over 4 years and a first round draft pick.  He’s shown little of the form that he had last year in Cleveland, let alone the Cy Young-caliber work he did in Colorado a few years ago.
The season is still young, and the AL East is wide open.  Tampa Bay has had pitching injuries aplenty, something a team in their financial position can ill afford.  Toronto is expected to be a nonfactor, and Boston is off to a slow start.  The Yankees have played the best, but at some point their age and weak infield will slow them.  They may win the division, but they won’t run away with it.
“Something magic happens, everytime you go….”

The Time Machine We Have Been Warned About

There is a time machine that all parents get on and they don’t even know it…

There is a time machine that we have been all warned about.

There is a time machine that does not stop.

There is a time machine that takes you to 1 year, 3 years, 5, 10 or even 20 years from now…

Do you know of this time machine? This machine is called Parenthood.

Today is my youngest daughter’s 5th birthday. I am pretty sure this time machine just took me past years 3 and 4 but I don’t think I have stopped at year 5…. This has kinda hit me hard today… the past 5 years have truly flown by. I am pretty sure I will feel this every year. I also have an 8 year old daughter and I had this EXACT same feeling on her 8th birthday… I swear, the time machine skipped years 4, 5, 6, and 7…

I was warned about this. WE ALL have been warned about this. The warnings include, “don’t blink”, “time flies”, “enjoy the ride” … I hear this all the time… I am genuine when I answer, “I know, don’t remind me” … but everyone still reminds me…. because…just maybe…they are still riding in the machine?

 

Returning Minutes in the Big Ten

Terrapin Fanatics

Earlier we looked at which teams in the Big Ten have the most talent on paper according to recruiting rankings. The flip side is how much experience each team has. Here’s a look at how similar the 2014-15 model B1G teams will look to this year’s squads.

14. Indiana (44.9%) – The natives are getting restless in Bloomington after a 17-15 disaster this season. Noah Vonleh (NBA), Will Sheehey and Evan Gordon (graduation) all depart. One of the issues for the Hoosiers this season is that they were an exceedingly young team, and barring a transfer, Yogi Ferrell and Hanner Perea, both juniors, will be next year’s only upperclassmen.

13. Ohio State (48.9%) – Aaron Craft finally graduates along with Lenzelle Smith, and LaQuinton Ross forfeits a year of eligibility to turn pro. Thad Matta is never known for this rotation depth so even losing three key players leaves the…

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Guest Post – NCAA Mens Basketball 2013-14 Ten To Watch

Guest Post from blog Steveste.wordpress.com, this guy really knows his College Basketball and is a hard core University of Maryland fan. His posts have a UM flavor to it… … check out his blog! With March Madness over, Steve provides us a look into what we should expect next year.

NCAA Mens Basketball 2013-14 Ten To Watch

 

dukeDuke – It pains me to admit as a Maryland fan, but Duke will be good once again. Sure they lost to a 14-seed a few weeks ago, and sure, they lost Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood early to the draft. But there’s still plenty enough talent to compete, possibly led by #1 overall recruit, Jhalil Okafor, who should finally give Duke a legitimate inside presence.

uncNorth Carolina – Things started out sour this year for the Heels with the loss of PJ Hairston followed by plenty of on court losses. UNC salvaged a 1-4 ACC start to have a fine season, if not a vintage UNC one. James Michael McAdoo will get paid to play next year, forfeiting his final season, but point guard Marcus Paige is a star and Brice Johnson could emerge as one inside.

u of vaVirginia – Losing Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell off of the ACC champions seems like a tough hurdle to overcome, but Virginia returns everything else and should once again play its stifling pack-line defense to perfection. Malcolm Brogdon could challenge for first-team All-ACC and London Perentes is the point guard Tony Bennett has lacked until now. Whether Anthony Gill can step up on a thin frontline for Mitchell could decide if the Cavs repeat.

u of lLouisville – We heard it last year, but the ACC really should be loaded this coming season with Louisville joining the league. The Cards lose All-American Russ Smith and former Final Four MVP Luke Hancock, but Pitino’s club won’t fall too far. SR Chris Jones is a Smith clone, and when Montrezl Harrell announced his return for a third year, immediate expectations were for the dunker extraordinaire to turn into a bona fide star.

u of wiscWisconsin – The Badgers finally broke through to the Final Four under Bo Ryan, a shot away from going to Monday night as the favorites to win it all. Ben Brust, the school’s all-time three point leader, departs, but every one is back, led by seven-footer Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker, another future NBA player. Wisconsin’s pace fools fans into seeing them as a defensive team, but they may well be the best offensive team in college basketball next year.

u of kentKentucky – Before the team’s heart stopping tournament run, it was the second straight disappointing season for the ‘Cats, losing ten games and falling out of the rankings heading into the tournament. Next year’s roster is still in flux, but Willie Cauley-Stein has already announced his return, and Alex Poythress, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee are expected back to join another stellar recruiting class. If the Harrison twins also opt-out of the draft, watch out.

u of azArizona – Losing Brandon Ashley late in the year was one disappointment. Losing to Wisconsin in OT to fall short of the Final Four was another. Now the Wildcats must go on with super freshman Aaron Gordon or Pac-12 POY Nick Johnson. No matter. Sean Miller’s club reloads rather than rebuilds. Ashley, Kaleb Tarczewski and point guard TJ McConnell anchor a great two-way team which will be augmented by a fine recruiting class.

u of kansasKansas – Joel Embiid’s injury was one of the biggest in the tournament, and without the future top-5 pick, the Jayhawks lost to Stanford. Embiid and fellow freshman Andrew Wiggins will now head to the NBA, but Kansas will still have perhaps the best sophomore class in the country, led by Frank Mason and Wayne Selden, plus Cliff Alexander on the inside, leading Kansas’ second straight elite recruiting class.

mich stateMichigan State – This one takes a leap of faith with Adrian Payne, Keith Appling and Gary Harris all out the door, but Tom Izzo can coach them up and has a lot of returning players who have shown flashes in limited minutes. Whether they can step up – and whether Branden Dawson can be a star player – will push this team’s direction, but don’t be surprised if the Spartans are in this group by March.

villanovaVillanova – Jay Wright’s team made it back among the elites, but upsets caused them to have only one postseason win to show for it. Plenty of talent is back, and with an outflux of talent around the Big East (Doug McDermott, Bryce Cotton, Semaj Christon…), Villanova should easily win the league in its second season post-realignment. They’ll face the Terps early in the season in what could be a good marker for both teams.