About this blog:

About This Blog:
I'm Denim. I cover all things sports, in particular Baseball, Football, College Football, & Hockey, especially the Baltimore Orioles, Penn State Nittany Lions, NY Giants, Colorado Avalanche, & Vancouver Canucks.

Friday, February 17, 2012

13 Keys to the Baltimore Orioles Season

I’ve been a Baltimore Orioles fan since 1989. I’ve suffered through watching 14 losing seasons in a row. I’ve sat back and watched Peter Angelos allow the team to waste away, not caring about the quality of his product. As long as he can fill the seats of Camden Yards with enough Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies fans to make a profit, he could care less about pleasing loyal Orioles fans.

Here are my 13 keys to the success or failure of the Baltimore Orioles 2012 season:

1. Stop Rebuilding- After 14 losing seasons in a row, the Orioles’ front office is still making “rebuilding” type moves, trading away established players like Jeremy Guthrie for unknown commodities. This has been an all too familiar occurrence since the Tejada and Bedard deals. Most of the prospects received in those trades have also been traded away. When someone gains trade value, that value is exploited. You can’t move forward when you keep moving backwards.

2. Brian Roberts- This season has to be “do or die” time for Brian Roberts. He’s hurt more often than an Orioles fan’s pride. If he can’t get healthy enough by the regular season, and play the majority of the season, his days as an everyday player are over, and the O’s need to move on, and embrace J. J. Hardy as their leadoff man.

3. Young Pitching- This year also has to be “do or die” for the squad of young starting pitchers. Either they can make it in the Big Leagues or they can’t. At some point, for better or for worse, they have to cease being “prospects”. And how are they going to get innings this season, with how many starting rotation candidates are headed to camp? Either you let them be “the guys” or you get rid of them, but squeezing them out and squandering them at Norfolk is not the answer. You rushed them up, so for better or worse, they’re Big Leaguers, and they need to prove it. Sticking them in the bullpen, while you start stopgaps like Tommy Hunter, Jason Hammel, and Dana Eveland is not the answer either. Arrieta has proven himself, but he needs to bounce back physically and stay healthy. Matusz and Britton are young enough to still have growing pains. Bergesen and Tillman are definitely in do or die territory. The real problem is that Norfolk has a pitcher’s park while Camden Yards is a hitters park, so the young guys look great at AAA, then get shelled in Baltimore. They need a AAA ballpark that’s more like the Big League park.

4. Nolan Reimold- Another “do or die” candidate. Either he can stay healthy and consistent in the Big Leagues or he can’t. Either he’s a power hitter or he’s not. Either he’s an everyday player or a pinch hitter. Either he’s an outfielder or an infielder. This guy needs to make a splash or get out of the pool.

5. Jim Johnson- Is finally moving Jim Johnson into the closers role the right move? He’s always flourished as a setup man, but not as much when having to be “the guy”. He also needs to prove he can stay healthy through an entire season, so the team doesn’t have to shuffle a bunch of setup men through a revolving 9th inning door when Johnson goes down for the season as he is known to do.

6. Bullpen- The bullpen actually might be a highlight this season. Ayala, Berken, Lindstrom, Simon, Hammel, Gregg, and whoever doesn’t make the starting rotation will form a solid bridge to Johnson.

7. Alfredo Simon- What do you do with Alfredo Simon? When he’s healthy and out of jail, he’s the Orioles most consistent pitcher. The problem is, he’s never going to give you more than 5 innings per game. Because of that, he’ll probably be used as a long reliever, but I’d rather have him pitch 5 quality innings and then let one of the other rotation candidates take over for 2 or 3 innings than the other way around.

8. Pitching Consistency- A team isn’t likely to win when every year they overhaul their bullpen, have a new closer, and patch together a starting rotation from their own rushed prospects and other team’s discarded garbage.

9. Cleanup Bat- I can’t even remember when the Orioles last had a legitimate cleanup hitter. Tejada, Palmiero, Jones and Scott are #3’s at their best. Vlad is not much of a deep threat anymore. Mark Reynolds strikes out too often and has a horrible on-base percentage. Nick Markakis was even batting cleanup for a while!

10. Offseason moves- This was an offseason of illogical goodbyes and even more confusing hellos. Long gone are sole consistent starter Guthrie and clutch hitting Scott, although I’m sure we’ll still be seeing Luke hitting plenty of homers at Camden Yards this year.
And then there’s all the huge signings…
The front office claims Wilson Betemit (who?) was brought in to be the power-hitting DH. What?! He’s never had more than 18 homers in a season, and that was back in 2007. He only has a total of 63 homeruns in his 9 seasons. That’s an average of 7! He’s had 3 seasons with 0 homers. This is the type of player they bring in.
They’ve also brought in plenty of players to compete for bench spots: Taylor Teagarden, Matt Antonelli, Endy Chavez, Jai Miller. A veritable who’s who of who is that’s?

11. Asian Pitchers- One of the Orioles biggest question marks this season is the unknown commodities they have in several Asian pitchers that have never pitched in the US before. No one is quite sure what we’re going to get out of Wada or Chen, or whether they will make the rotation, which further makes the situation for Baltimore’s young pitching staff even more crowded and murky. There’s also 17 year-old Kim, who the club is in trouble with Korean Baseball officials for signing.

12. Prospects- Most of the Orioles former hot prospects have now been to the Major Leagues and underachieved, with the exception of Matt Wieters and Jake Arrieta. Matusz, Britton, Josh Bell, Ryan Adams, Nolan Reimold, etc.
For those scanning the horizon for hope, I hate to have to tell you, no one of note is even close to being ready. Manny Machado is only 19, starting the year in AA, and isn’t even coming to Big League camp. Dylan Bundy is also only 19, and is only in camp because of signing a Major League contract. We probably won’t be seeing Joe Mahoney until fall callups.

13. Manny Rumors- The last thing the Orioles need to do is to bring in a cancer like Manny Ramirez. He’d just be a distraction, a publicity stunt by an owner only interested in ticket sales. He’d be another in a long line of past their prime bats brought in, despite no longer being a legitimate cleanup bat: Glen Davis, Sosa, Tejada, Vlad, etc. Angelos must love history, but the AL East is no place for re-enactments. They never bring in any players who are still relevant.

Projected Batting Order:
1. SS-J.J. Hardy
2. RF-Nick Markakis
3. CF-Adam Jones
4. 3B-Mark Reynolds
5. C-Matt Wieters
6. LF-Nolan Reimold
7. DH-Wilson Betemit
8. 1B-Chris Davis
9. 2B-Robert Andino

Projected Rotation:
1. Wei-Yin Chen
2. Jake Arrieta
3. Tommy Hunter
4. Brian Matusz
5. Zach Britton

Do I think the Orioles will turn the corner this season, finish .500 or better and above last place? No. I won’t be holding my breath. I’ll be watching, cheering, and hoping, but I’m bracing for similar results.

©2012 Denim McDemus

2012's Best Superbowl Ads

(Written 2/6/12)
Superbowl ads have become as much of a highly anticipated spectacle as the big game itself. Here's the list of my favorite Superbowl Commercials from this year:

7. Honda CR-V “Matthew’s Day Off”- Matthew Broderick spoofing his classic role of Ferris Bueller to take a day off from acting.

6. Hulu “Huluboratory”- Will Arnett takes viewers to a secret underground Hulu laboratory in a kitschy way only his comedic brilliance can deliver.

5. Hyundai “Cheetah”- A man releases a cheetah from its cage to prove how fast the test driven car is, but the cheetah attacks the man instead.

4. Sketchers “Bulldog”- A bulldog wearing two pairs of Sketchers sneakers outruns racing dogs, and then moonwalks across the finish line.

3. Doritos “Man’s Best Friend”- A man catches his dog burying a “missing” cat, so the dog buys his silence with a bag of Doritos.

2. Met Life “Snoopy”- The insurance giant cashed in on the nostalgia of the Gen Xers and Baby Boombers watching, by parading an eclectic array of non-Peanuts characters across our screen, including He-Man, Scooby Doo, Fat Albert, The Jetsons, Mr. Magoo, Voltron, Richie Rich, and even Grape Ape.

1. Volkswagon “Dog Strikes Back”- This ad had the greatest combination of things EVER. First in the Shakespeare-like ad within an ad concept, an overweight dog works himself into good enough shape to fit through his doggie dog and chase his owner’s car. It is then revealed that the dog ad is being watched in the Mos Eisley Cantina from Star Wars, where Darth Vader force chokes a guy who says the dog commercial is funnier than last year’s “Vader Kid”.

Some other notes:
The Audi ad is way too Twilightish, but I’m impressed they used Echo & The Bunnymen as the background music. Bud, when I hear the intro to “Fire Woman” by the Cult, but then the vocals I hear are rap, I turn the channel. The Clint Eastwood “Detroit” ad is boring. The Howard Stern ad is stupid. I could do without seeing David Beckham in his undies. There's no politically correct way I can comment on Elton John being a "king"...

©2012 Denim McDemus

The NY Football Giants are Superbowl Champs!

(Written 2/6/12)
Congratulations to Coach Tom Coughlin and the NY Giants on being the 2012 Superbowl Champions, beating New England for the 2nd time in 4 years!
Eli did it again with his 4th quarter magic, this time with Mario Manningham making "the catch". Justin Tuck aslo came up with a key sack on Tom Brady.

It was great to see a jerk like Bill Belichick lose again, and for the media to finally turn on it's darling coach and team.
Not only did Belichick waste a key timeout on an obvious catch and arrogantly concede a touchdown assuming he would win regardless, but he also told his defense to make the Giants throw to Manningham, who made the key play of the game! How great is it when someone so full of himself loses because of his own cockiness?
He assumed a certain player couldn't beat his defense, and that player won the game for the opposition. Bill's own cockiness cost him the game, and it's funny for that to happen to him of Belichick will take any easy way out he can. Remember Spygate? And they hired Denver's former head coach 6 minutes after they found out they were playing them. Also, how can they have both their outgoing AND incoming off coordinators coaching in the game?

It's nice to see McDaniels lose too. He was NE's Off Coord. the year of Spygate, conspired with NE in almost trading away Cutler right when he got to Denver, controversially benched Marshall to blow a game with a playoff spot on the line, and then had a videotaping controversy of his own in Denver.

Tom Brady is also a cocky jerk and a cry baby. It was nice to see how frustrated he was. Since he can't beat Eli, maybe he should concentrate on cleaning up Giselle's foul mouth?

David once again slew Goliath, and it was fun to watch. I knew it would come down to the end, and I knew the Giants would pull it off. The important thing is, the Giants knew it to, and so did Brady...

As for me, I went 8-3 in my playoff picks this year, and 2 of the 3 losses I said could go either way. In the other one I was just being hopeful. Add that to winning my fantasy football league's championship, and I'm doing pretty well this year.

©2012 Denim McDemus

MVP or Superbowl Champion?

(Written 2/4/12)
After the Aaron Rogers was announced as the NFL MVP, everyone seems to be debating whether Rogers or Drew Brees deserved it more. They both have very deserving stats, but Eli Manning and Tom Brady made this year’s Superbowl, while those other two will be watching it on TV.
I think every NFL player would rather win a championship than watch someone else go to Disneyland.
So, talk all you want about Rogers vs. Brees, and Peyton Manning vs. Andy Luck, but I'm gonna focus on Eli Manning vs. Tom Brady.

©2012 Denim McDemus

Belichick=No Class

(Written 2/4/12)
Only Bill Belichick would cut someone the night before the Superbowl, taking away Tiquan Underwood’s chance at playing in the “Big Game”.

©2012 Denim McDemus

Superbowl Pick!

(Written 2/3/12)
The New York Giants will once again slay Goliath by defeating the New England Patriots with a 4th quarter game-winning drive, Eli style! Go Giants!
I can't wait to see the commercials!

(Last week's record 2-0)

©2012 Denim McDemus

ESPN has no class

(Written 1/24/12)
Dear ESPN,
You can't really call a program "Joe Paterno Tribute" when half of the program is about the Sandusky scandal and why you feel Joe handled it wrong. That is not a tribute, that is you cashing in on someone's popularity and recent death to draw in viewers. Tributes don't usually take shots at someone...

©2012 Denim McDemus

Congrats Clint Dempsey!

(Written 1/22/12)
Congrats Clint Dempsey on scoring the 1st hat trick by an American-born player in English Premier League history, on being named US Soccer Male Athlete of the Year, and on now having the most career goals in the English Premier League by an American-born player.

©2012 Denim McDemus

R.I.P Joe Paterno 1926-2012

(Written 1/22/12)
My thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Joe Paterno, the greatest sports coach of all time, and one of the greatest humanitarians of all time. The passing of a hero and a legend has left a void in the world of sports that no one else will ever be able to fill.

©2012 Denim McDemus

NFL Playoffs Week 3 Picks

(Written 1/20/12)
Here are my playoff picks for week 3:

New England over Baltimore
Giants over San Francisco

(Last week's record 1-3)

©2012 Denim McDemus

NFL Playoffs Week 2 Picks

(Written 1/13/12)
Here are my NFL playoff picks for week 2:

New Orleans over San Francisco
Denver over New England
Houston over Baltimore
Giants over Green Bay

(Last week's record 4-0)

©2012 Denim McDemus

Bill O'Brien named new Penn State Headcoach

(Written 1/7/12)
So apparently head coaching experience was not a quality Penn State was looking for in hiring Joepa's replacement...
Seriously, O'Brien has NEVER been a head coach ANYWHERE. He's been an assistant coach on such football powerhouses as Brown, Georgia Tech, Maryland, and Duke (1-22 with him as Off Coor).
His latest gig my dog could do blindfolded, coaching Tom Brady.
Joe Paterno won 409 more games than this guy. I've won the same amount of games as this guy!
I'm sure there's a head coach at a small school that would jump at the chance to coach Penn State. There has to be someone interested with more experience than this guy.
I'm not saying I won't give the guy a chance. I'm saying I disagree with the committee's choice, based on his lack of experience and success, especially after they said head coaching success was an important quality they were looking for.
And let's not foret Spygate, which he was at New England for...

©2012 Denim McDemus

The Media Crucified Paterno

(Written 1/6/12)
Not only did Joe Paterno lose his job for a crime he did not commit & did reported properly, but now anyone who publicly supports him does too.
The media is so biased & are ignoring the facts of the case, & creating a mob mentality that people are being brainwashed into. Does no one realize that Paterno is NOT up for charges, he hid nothing, did the right thing, and even the PA Attorney General and the victims say he should not have been fired.
Paterno received ONE sketchy accusation with no solid proof from an intern about a FORMER co-worker, who no longer worked under him, about a victim that no one knew the identity of, which Joe REPORTED to his superior AND campus police, as State College Borough Police DO NOT have jurisdiction on campus which is state owned land, and stopped pursuing the matter ONLY after he was told by his boss and the police that they investigated it, and found no crime was committed. This isn't about football, a university, or Paterno. It's about the sick actions of a FORMER university employee that no one is talking about. Are people completely blind to reality? What the heck is wrong with people? Are you really THAT brainwashed by the media?

©2012 Denim McDemus

NFL Playoffs Week 1Picks

(Written 1/6/12)
Here are my playoff picks for week 1:

Houston over Cincinnati
New Orleans over Detroit
Giants over Atlanta
Denver over Pittsburg

©2012 Denim McDemus