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.

Monday, May 20, 2013

"Blackout Blues"

Major League Baseball's blackout rules are completely ridiculous, especially in this area.

I live in Eastern Pennsylvania, in the Philadelphia Phillies home television territory. Therefore, only their games should be blacked out for me, with the assumption that I can watch their games on a local channel or regional sports network. For some reason, MLB ridiculously has Phillies, NY Yankees, Pittsburg Pirates, and NY Mets games blacked out here.

People with Comcast Cable receive Phillies games on CSN, but do not get the YES Network.

People with Directv or DISH Network get Yankees games on YES, but not the Phillies, as Comcast won't allow satellite companies to carry their channel, CSN, since they are also their competitors.

It is a conflict of interest that Comcast owns both the regional sports network and the local cable company. It's an unfair business practice for them to deny their competition the regional sports network. It's unfair for local residents to be cheated out of having a local sports network just because they chose satellite over cable.

So basically, people in this television area get EITHER Phillies games or Yankees games, depending on their television carrier.

No one in this area receives Mets or Pirates games, so I don't know why they're blacked out.

So if the team you follow is playing one of those 4 teams, you cannot see the game live on MLB.TV, MLB Extra Innings, or any subscription package, or on ESPN, FOX, or any national broadcast.

If you are a Mets or Pirates fan, you can't view their games live at all.

The point of MLB's blackout rules is supposed to be so viewers watch games on local broadcasts, but in Eastern Pennsylvania, viewers don't receive 3 out of 4 blacked out games anywhere... Why are we punished more severely by blackout rules than other areas?

Hey MLB, it's time to stop alienating your fanbase, or you may someday fade into obscurity like the NHL? Maybe it's time to go back to airing your product on local broadcast channels like the immensely successful NFL does?

Copyright 2013 Denim McDemus

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Ryan Flaherty Blues

It's finally here, my favorite season of the year, baseball season. The Baltimore Orioles' exciting 2012 season, including their first winning season and playoff appearance since 1997, and a thrilling post season campaign in which they beat juggernaut Texas in the Wild Card play-in game and came a game shy of reaching the ALCS, gave Orioles fans a solid reason to look forward to 2013. 

The club didn't make any major acquisitions in the off-season, but they really didn't have to. Last year's young, talent-laden roster is mostly intact, minus streaky and overpriced 1B Mark Reynolds. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. What the team did do, is amass incredible depth in pitching and outfielders, creating a stockpile of players for the Big League club to pull from, all hungering for a chance to join and contribute to this exciting Orioles team. 

Orioles Spring Training was exciting this year too. Take Spring stats and records for what they're worth, but a good Spring Training usually means good organizational depth. The Orioles compiled a dominent 19-9 record. Many players really stepped up their game to prove they deserved a spot on the team: Pearce, Jackson, Ford, Robinson, Dickerson, Casilla, Exposito, Valencia, Jurrjens, McFarland, Gausman, Bundy, etc. Unfortunately, most of those players didn't make the Major League team. Ryan Flaherty did not make that list, but was handed a roster spot anyway, despite having options, no longer being a Rule 5 player, and needing to learn how to bat and field.

Early on, the Orioles 2013 Regular Season has been exciting as well. Oriole Park at Camden Yards has averaged over 40,000 fans for the first home series. The crowd is full of orange shirts this year, rather than Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies jerseys. The fans are loud, raucous, and excited, creating a playoff atmosphere in April. The team hasn't disappointed. Through the first 5 games, 1B Chris Davis is having a historic run: .556Avg. 4HRs 17RBI. CF Adam Jones has been solid: .552Avg 12H 7RBI. RF Nick Markakis is hitting .348. C Matt Wieters has thrown out 3 of 4 baserunners and is batting .333. Nate McLouth has added hustle and speed at the leadoff spot and acrobatic catches in left field. Young 3B Manny Machado is playing defense like Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson. SS J.J. Hardy is showing a resurgence in his power hitting. The team is excelling in speed, timely hitting, and turning double plays. Reliever Darren O'Day has been brilliant. Starter Miguel Gonzalez had a great first start of the season. Rule 5 pick T.J. McFarland pitched 3 1/3 shutout innings in his Major League debut. There has been a lot to be excited about so far, but not from Ryan Flaherty.                

I know you've heard me complain about Flaherty over and over. You may ask why I pick on a young guy who looks like he's 12 years old. Unfortunately he's proving me right. Do I wish Ryan would have a great season and help out my favorite team? Sure. I wish that of everyone in the Orioles organization. But that's not what he's doing so far. 

The Orioles selected Flaherty from the Cubs in the December 2011 Rule 5 Draft, meaning they had to keep him on the Major League roster for all of the 2012 season, or they would have to send him back to Chicago or trade for him. For some reason, Baltimore's front office and coaching staff believed enough in Ryan to waste a roster/bench spot on him for the entire 2012 season and get him into 77 Big League games, despite his anemic hitting and bumbling defense. How did Flaherty reward them? With a .216 batting average and 19 RBI. He often looked like a deer caught in headlights at the plate, almost always being an automatic out. He couldn't run, grounding into many double plays. Calling him "versatile" just means he played poorly at multiple positions. The Orioles wasted a spot on their 25 man roster for all of last season on a guy who will never be more than a utility bench player. Maybe there's a reason why Chicago didn't protect him from the Rule 5 Draft by not even having him on their 40 man roster?    

So far this season, Flaherty is 0-10 and has played poorly defensively. He misplays a lot of the balls that come his way. He always seems to be out of position. He does not have a good throwing arm. I'll give you one guess who misplayed the ball that allowed the Twins to score the go ahead run last night...
Yet the guy who shouldn't even be on the roster continues to be handed at bats, starting at 2B in both games since walking wounded 2B Brian Roberts unsurprisingly went down with yet another injury, despite 2B Alexi Casilla having much better stats in Spring Training and last season. And for some reason manager Buck Showalter hasn't even had automatic out Flaherty batting 9th. 

I'd love to be excited by Ryan Flaherty since he's on my favorite baseball team, but I just can't. He's hurting the team by taking away a roster spot and at bats from more deserving players for the second straight season. I'm not sure what the Orioles coaching staff and front office see in him, but I certainly haven't seen it yet.        

Copyright 2013 Denim McDemus

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Opening Day!

Opening Day for the Baltimore Orioles is finally here! Today at 3:10pm, RHP Jason Hamel takes the mound to face the Tampa Bay Rays' David Price.

Here is the announced Orioles Opening Day lineup:

Nick Markakis, RF
Manny Machado, 3B
Adam Jones, CF
Matt Wieters, C
Chris Davis, 1B
J.J. Hardy, SS
Nolan Reimold, LF
Steve Pearce, DH
Brian Roberts, 2B
Jason Hammel, RHP

I agree with manger Buck Showalter starting Steve Pearce at DH today, since he's been tearing the cover off the ball, but I certainly do not agree with starting Nolan Reimold in LF instead of Nate McLouth. McLouth earned his spot. Reimold still has a lot to prove, and is an awful fielder.

Without McLouth in the lineup, I agree with Nick Markakis batting leadoff, but McLouth should be in there batting 1st.

SS J.J. Hardy should be batting 8th, not 6th, until he proves he can hit again.

I LOVE that young 3B Manny Machado is getting a chance to bat 2nd.

After Last year's exciting Post Season run, a quiet offseason, and a Spring Training full of pleasant surprises, the wait is finally over! Opening Day is here! Let's go O's!

Copyright 2013 Denim McDemus

Monday, March 25, 2013

Under the Radar

A lot of "fans" are complaining that the Baltimore Orioles haven't made any "flashy" moves heading into this season, not acquiring any big names through trades or free agent signings. Those people aren't seeing the big picture or the moustache right under their noses.

The moves the team has made were for depth, which has paid off greatly, and the results of which will be seen in both Baltimore and AAA Norfolk all season. The Orioles brought in a lot of promising young players looking for a shot and a lot of former MLB players looking for a second chance in new scenery, all eager to earn a spot on a team that's willing to dole out opportunities to those who earn them. With only a week left before Opening Day, there are still 38 players in Baltimore's Major League camp, still fighting for the last few bench and pitching spots, all of them playing well enough to still be in the discussion. Position players Lew Ford, Steve Pearce, Chris Dickerson, Alexi Cassia, Conor Jackson, Trayvon Robinson, Jason Pridie, and pitchers Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, Steve Johnson, Jair Jurrjens, and T.J. McFarland have all made the front office's final roster decisions incredibly difficult. All of the team's non-flashy acquisitions and current players are proving why the team didn't need to make any headline grabbing deals.  

Last year the Orioles thrived by using a lot of depth, bringing up who they needed at the time, from a pool of way more than 25 players. They played the hot hand, and gave many players opportunities. How did it work out? They were a game away from making the ALCS. There's no success in MLB without depth.

We've all heard the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." The Orioles brought back all of their key players from last season except overpriced 1B Mark Reynolds. The return from injury of power hitting OF/DH Nolan Reimold and table setting leadoff man Brian Roberts will add run production to last year's Wild Card winning squad. The Orioles exciting core players keep proving why this successful, confident young team didn't need to add any major parts to their equation.

Baltimore's front office is currently looking to make yet another small splash. One of the biggest needs the organization has is catching depth. They basically have 3 worthy catchers in the whole organization. Adding depth to this specialized position will greatly improve the organization, even if it doesn't light up the news tickers.  

Reliever Luis Ayala is the player the Orioles are reportedly shopping around. It's nothing against Ayala, he's just the odd man out and has trade value. They're offering him because they have other pitchers they want to keep on the roster, all of which can pitch more innings per outing than him, and can also be inserted into the starting rotation as needed. Arrieta, Johnson, and Matusz have all earned roster spots, but only one of them can be the fifth starter, so the others could be used out of the bullpen, as they each were at times last season. McFarland has a huge upside and is worth keeping in the organization, but needs Ayala's spot on the 40 and 25 man rosters, or Baltimore will lose the Rule 5 draft pick back to Cleveland.

A team's value is the sum and cohesion of its parts. Assembling a talented team of young players eager to to make their mark, giving them a chance to do so, and keeping a reserve of unselfish contributors waiting in the wings is what worked for the Orioles in 2012, leading to their first winning record and playoff appearance in a decade and a half. It's also what has the team so confident heading into the 2013 season, and what has made so many players work so hard just to make the team.

How's slapping together a bunch of high-priced superstars working out for the Yankees so far this year???

Copyright 2013 Denim McDemus

Monday, March 18, 2013

Outfield Aplenty

With just two weeks left in MLB Spring Training, many invitees to the Baltimore Orioles camp are continuing to impress the coaching staff, making their roster decisions quite difficult, a good problem for any team to have. Some of these guys REALLY want to make this exciting young ball club. Depth will be a huge advantage for the Orioles this season.

The outfield is the most clogged position this season. With Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Nate McLouth penciled in to start, and Nolan Reimold the most likely DH, who would you keep as your backup outfielder?

Lew Ford: .483avg/2HR/6RBI
Conor Jackson: .378/3/6
Steve Pearce: .393/4/12
LJ Hoes: .320/0/3
Chris Dickerson: .308/1/2
Trayvon Robinson: .286/1/5
Jason Pridie: .267/2/8

It's mind boggling that they can only keep one of those pleasant surprises on the MLB roster, isn't it?  Honestly, I'd keep 2 of them, and make Nolan Reimold prove himself at AAA Norfolk, both that he's back to form, and that he can stay healthy, especially considering his anemic Spring Training statistics.

Ford and Pearce were around last year, so that may give them an edge. Pearce can also play 1B. Jackson played 1B briefly. Hoes has already been sent down to AAA. To me it really comes down to Ford, Pearce, or Jackson. I couldn't in good conscious send any of those three down after their Spring Training efforts.

Soon enough, Reimold or Brian Roberts will get hurt like usual, and another deserving player will take their roster spot, unless Buck Showalter continues his baffling love affair with Ryan Flaherty.

Copyright 2013 Denim McDemus

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Promise of Spring

Obviously, you have to take Spring Training for what it is, but it's exciting to me that the Royals (13-1) and Orioles (10-3) have the two best records in baseball right now.

This time of year, most of the people getting playing time are the ones fighting for roster spots, so while not a definite foreshadowing of Regular Season victories, Spring Training success does bode well for organizational depth. For upstart young teams like the Orioles and Royals, organizational depth is key, as evidenced by Baltimore's improbable run last year, using a pool of way more than 25 players.

Orioles camp is stacked with talent this year, giving them the enviable "problem" of not having enough roster spots for every deserving player, an issue they hadn't had for decades. With several bench spots up for grabs, many invitees have been really stepping up their games.

Some pleasant surprises have been:
OF Conor Jackson, OF Lew Ford, 1B/OF Steve Pearce, C Luis Exposito, 2B Alexi Casilla, OF Jason Pridie, OF Trayvon Robinson, P Mike Belfiore, and top pitching prospects Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. Top positional prospect, 3B Jonathan Schoop, has put up impressive numbers playing for The Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.

I do not envy the difficult decisions Manager Buck Showalter and Executive VP Dan Duquette will be forced to make in the last days of Spring Training. But as they showed last year, players who start out the season in the minors will still be given opportunities to contribute to the big league ballclub, which is why so many under-appreciated players migrated to their squad this year.

Here's what the 25 man roster is shaping up to be (although some spots have yet to be won):

C Matt Wieters
1B Chris Davis
2B Brian Roberts
3B Manny Machado
SS JJ Hardy
LF Nate McLouth
CF Adam Jones
RF Nick Markakis
DH Nolan Reimold/Wilson Betemit

Louis Exposito/Taylor Teagarden
Conor Jackson/Steve Pearce/Lew Ford
Alexi Casilla/Ryan Flaherty

Jason Hammel
Wei-Yin Chen
Chris Tillman
Miguel Gonzalez
Steve Johnson

Jim Johnson
Pedro Strop
Louis Ayala
Darren O'Day
Tommy Hunter
Brian Matusz
Troy Patton
Jake Arrieta/Jair Jurrjens

I always enjoy following Spring Training and look forward to the MLB regular season every year, but last year's excitement and success coupled with the many potential-filled players at this year's camp have me counting down the days until April 2nd.

Copyright 2013 Denim McDemus

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Out Foxed

If I was Denver's front office (attn. John Elway), I would fire John Fox after that debacle last night. He didn't try to win the game. His poor decision to go for a 52 yard FG near the end of the 1st half was the least of his errors.

With less than 2 minutes to go and a 7 point lead, Denver faced 3rd & 7 on their own 47 yard line. Baltimore was out of timeouts. All Denver had to do was throw for a 1st down and they would have clinched victory in their playoff game. Instead, John Fox chose to run the ball up the middle, call a time out, and then punt. Baltimore responded by tying the game up with a touchdown. Fox bypassed a chance to clinch the game. But his ineptitude didn't end there.

With a tie score and 31 seconds remaining in a win or go home playoff game, and having one of the best QB's in the history of the game and 2 timeouts remaining, why would you kneel down and take your chances in OT instead of trying to win the game in regulation? John Fox again passed up a chance to try to win the game.

The facts are the facts, Denver went in as the AFC's #1 seed and Superbowl favorite, with their big time free agent QB, and went 1 and done. John Fox did not do his job despite being handed the resources needed to succeed. By the way Denver, how did replacing Tim Tebow, who won a playoff game for Denver last season, with Peyton Manning work out for you?

Copyright 2012 Denim McDemus