Daytona 500: Happy New Year, Nascar Fans

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When the green flag drops at approximately 3:05pm ET today at Daytona International Speedway, the 2019 Nascar season will commence.  Called “The Super Bowl of Racing” by some, the race is the biggest of the year and kicks off the new season in spectacular fashion.

Winning the Daytona 500 defines a driver’s career.  The winner’s name is forever etched on the Harley J. Earl trophy and their car stays on display until the following year’s 500 at the Daytona Experience.

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Austin Dillon’s 2018 Daytona 500 Winning Car

The Daytona 500 is unlike any other race on the Nascar schedule.  It has its own unique qualifying procedure where only the two fastest cars in single-car qualifying secure their spot in the starting grid.  Two races, known as The Duels, are held on the Thursday prior to the race and how the drivers finish in them sets the remainder of the starting grid.

STARTING LINEUP

Today also marks the start of what is the longest season in sports: 36 races that will culminate with a Champion being named at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 17th.

The race today will be interesting to watch especially in regards to how the drivers race.  The Gander RV Duels on Thursday produced mainly single-file racing which was highly criticized by fans on social media.  Here are just a few examples:

Regardless of the racing we see for most of the race, I can say with certainty that the final 10 laps around the 2.5 mile speedway will be exciting and will have fans on the edge of their seats.

The excitement is building as Nascar Fantasy lineup are set, race-watching parties are held and the command to “start your engines” will ring out.  For those who like to place some coin on the outcome, here are the odds for today’s Daytona 500.

Happy New Year, Nascar fans.  May all your fantasy pick pan out and may your favorite driver do well.  I will be pulling for my driver, Kevin Harvick.

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photo credit: GETTY IMAGES

Wear your colors proudly, Nascar fans.  Remember your race day superstitions and represent your driver loyalty.  It’s Daytona 500 Day!

Happy New Year Nascar Style!!

 

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Irsay and Angelos: Making Blood Boil

A recent post on Birds Watcher about the retirement of radio broadcaster Joe Angel drew an immediate response that made me wonder: who is hated more among Baltimore sport fans, Robert Irsay or Peter G. Angelos?

The post essentially blamed the move on “the Angelos boys”, Louis and John Angelos, who were accused by the writer of forcing Angel out.  I just didn’t understand the visceral reaction to the sons.  The history of sports in Baltimore therefore led to my question.

Robert Irsay (1923-1997) was the owner of the Baltimore Colts from 1972 to 1984.  He came to own the Colts when he swapped ownership of the Los Angeles Rams with Carroll Rosenbloom (owner of the Colts at the time) in 1972.

Irsay’s ownership was tumultuous, at best.  He fought with the city of Baltimore over improvements to Memorial Stadium.  The fans, many of whom had grown up with the Colts, perceived that Irsay was doing nothing to improve the team and showed their displeasure by not attending the team’s games.

Tensions were high in Baltimore and rumors began the circulate that the team was moving.  There was the infamous confrontation with Irsay at Baltimore-Washington International Airport over a rumored move to Phoenix, Arizona.

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The City of Baltimore threatened to seize the team via eminent domain which led to Irsay moving the team to Indianapolis, Indiana in the middle of the night on March 28, 1984.

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I am old enough to remember the events and recall the shock I felt when I woke up that morning to news of the “move”.  The action broke many hearts in Baltimore and fueled a hatred towards Irsay that I had never seen before.  The mere mention of his name sparked arguments on par with ones today when current political opinions are mentioned.

Peter G. Angelos led a group of investors who purchased the Baltimore Orioles in 1993.  Angelos, the principal owner, kept a promise to keep the Orioles in Baltimore.  His ownership was tumultuous at best as well.  The team suffered on the field and fans endured some of the worst seasons ever.

Angelos was perceived as an extremely “hands-on”owner who made numerous bad decisions which solidified the team’s poor on-field performance.  Everything bad that has happened is attributed to Angelos.  Local self-promoter “Nasty” Nestor Aparicio, who led a symbolic mid-game exodus of fans out of Oriole Park at Camden Yards, has made a cottage industry out of his hatred of Angelos and never avoids a chance to throw barbs Angelos’ way.  He seems to involve Angelos’ ownership in every discussion he has about the Orioles.  He has helped spawn a segment of the fan base that will not rest until Angelos no longer owns the team.

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Credit must be given to Angelos, however, for keeping the team in Baltimore.  Previous owner, Edward Bennett Williams (1920-1988) had threatened to move the team to Washington, DC if attendance did not improve and the man who Angelos bought the team from, financier Eli Jacobs, was thought would sell the team to an outside owner.

Angelos , who is rumored to be in failing health, has transferred control of the team in some way to his two sons, Louis and John.  The fan base was pleased when this occurred but somehow when something happens that it does not approve of it is Angelos’ fault.  Hence, Joe Angel’s retirement was the fault of the “Angelos boys”.  I am sorry, but all the boys are guilty of at this point in time is being the sons of Peter G. Angelos.

Some fans do not hesitate to bring up the Angelos name whenever something goes the wrong way with the Orioles.

Louis and John are their own men and they have delivered on all that they said they would concerning the team.  They have begun the promised rebuild and have orchestrated moves to that end.  Time and patience are required to see how their control of the team plays out.

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I am sure that in the future, when the Baltimore Orioles once again hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy as World Champions, the fans that project their hatred for the senior Angelos on the sons will surely say “I knew the boys weren’t like their father and that things would change once they took over”.  Fans are fickle like that.

Let me hear from you fans, who makes your blood boil, Robert Irsay or Peter Angelos?

 

 

 

 

Frederick Keys Release 2019 Promotions Schedule

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The Frederick Keys (A-Adv.) released their promotional schedule for the 2019 season today.  The schedule includes all the usual Minor League staples: fireworks, theme nights, celebrity appearances and giveaways; among the giveaways are the very popular bobbleheads.

The real highlight of the 2019 season will be the 2019 Carolina League All-Star Classic that will be held at Nymeo Field at Harry Grove Stadium on June 18th.

Individual tickets can be purchased here

Information on season ticket plans can be found here

Remembering Frank Robinson And Finding Meaning In His Passing

Hall of Fame outfielder Frank Robinson (Baltimore Orioles 1966-1971) passed away on February 7, 2019.  Fans of the Orioles as well as his fellow Orioles teammates are remembering him with heavy hearts.  In fact, all of baseball is remembering Frank with heavy hearts and celebrating his many accomplishments.

I am not going to enumerate Frank’s many accomplishments here as there is nothing I can write that hasn’t already been written or said.  Instead, I would like to reflect on what his passing means on a personal level.

I have mentioned in my bio that my earliest sports memory is the 1969 World Series.  Growing up in Baltimore the Orioles and the Baltimore Colts were woven into daily life.  We listened to games on the radio and watched when they were on TV; back then not every game was televised.

The Orioles were all we had back in my youth and those players in the 70’s were everything.  Those players were vested in the community and identified with Baltimore.  They were synonymous with the city and the fan base.

Frank’s passing is another link to my youth that is now gone forever.  The sadness felt upon learning of his passing is sadness due to the fact that what I enjoyed during that time will never again be duplicated.  Players do not stay in one city, in most cases, to become identified with that city.  Teams, especially, aren’t together long enough to be woven into the fabric of a community like the Orioles of the 70’s were.

I’m sad for my boys as well because they may never know the feeling about the team that I did.  Yes, they will have players that they like and admire but I am afraid that with they way players seem to move around now there may not be a group of players that stick around enough to become an integral part of the community.

Frank’s passing is sad, not only because we lost a great Oriole but because is signals possibly the end of the fan’s ties to the glorious past.  I just hope that we can return to those days sometime in the future and that my boys and the fans of their generation can experience what my generation did.

Matt Vasgersian said it best on the Hot Stove show today on MLB Network when he said, in effect, that there will never be a player like Frank Robinson ever again, certainly not one who could accomplish what Frank did in the totality of his career or even match one of his amazing accomplishments.

Rest In Peace Frank Robinson.

 

 

 

 

February 1st: Where Spring Baseball Is 22 Days Away

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The calendar has flipped to February, Super Bowl LIII is this Sunday (2/3) and the first Baltimore Orioles baseball game of the spring is scheduled for Saturday, February 23rd.  Baseball games are just 22 days away.  Despite the fact that it is currently 18 degrees in Baltimore as I write this, I feel warmer!

Baseball is drawing closer fans; the Orioles provided the evidence in this recent tweet:

I feel this is going to be the most anticipated and closely watched Spring Training as the organization has embarked on a total rebuild under new General Manager Mike Elias and new Manager Brandon Hyde.

Pitchers and catchers report on February 12th and the rest of the team reports on the 17th; the first full-team workout is scheduled for February 18th.

So many questions surround the team and the answers may emerge later this month.

Here is the link to all the information you need about Baltimore Orioles Spring Training 2019.

Austin Hays summed it up best at Fan Fest:

 

Delmarva Shorebirds Release 2019 Promotions Schedule

Hello Baseball fans.  Baltimore Orioles’ FanFest has come and gone and although it is currently 43 degrees in Baltimore with snow in the forecast for Tuesday evening and cold temperatures expected later in the week, it is never too soon to think about the summer.

In that vein, the Delmarva Shorebirds (A-Low) recently released their 2019 Promotions schedule.  As if baseball and the Eastern Shore aren’t quite enough to entice you to make the trek to Salisbury and Arthur W. Perdue Stadium, the Shorebirds’ robust and fun-filled promotions should do the trick.

Remember fans, the rebuild in Baltimore has begun and you need to get in on the ground floor and get to know the future Baltimore Orioles.

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If you would like a copy of the schedule, you can find it HERE

Don’t forget to check out the Shorebirds’ web site:

https://www.milb.com/delmarva

 

 

Some Thoughts On The Manny Machado Saga

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It takes no genius to look at the calendar and see that today is January 20th.  Baltimore Orioles Fan Fest is six days away, Super Bowl LIII is two weeks away and Baltimore Orioles’ pitchers and catchers report to Sarasota in twenty-three days.

Baseball season inches closer fans.  If you are listening to the National media as I do on Sirius MLB Network radio, you would hear that MLB faces a great humanitarian crisis:  free agents Bryce Harper and Manny Machado remain unsigned!

It was greatly speculated in 2018 that the pair would land 10 year/$300 MIL or even 10 year/$400 MIL contracts.  As of today, that has not happened and it is looking like that will not happen; they each may get considerably less than those amounts.

Don’t get me wrong, the pair will be paid, and will be paid well.  As former Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter said of Chris Davis‘ contract negotiations, “…when you walk into a Target store, can you buy anything you want. So, how much is enough?” they will get enough and then some.

Neither player will have to shop for groceries at Aldi or eat off of the McDonald’s Dollar Menu; the players and future generations of their families will be set financially.

Current players Evan Longoria and Kris Bryant have weighed in on the crisis as well.  Longoria had this to say and Bryant chimed in with these comments.

I liken this uproar to the tongue-lashing former Orioles’ pitcher Mike Mussina got from the MLBPA that his giving the Orioles a “hometown discount” in his re-signing would hurt future pitcher’s salaries.

The complaining has even come from former players and one in particular, Ryan Spilborghs of MLB Network radio, has complained the loudest.  He has even gone so far as to say that if there are concerns about Machado’s character they should be ignored because he can help a team win.  He has chastised and criticized fans for saying they don’t want Machado on their team due to the dirty play they witnessed in the 2018 Post-Season.

It has gotten so bad that Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, and the media are sniping at one another.

All the whining about the travesty that is these players not having a contract yet is just not a good look.

Just like last off-season, agents and players are holding tight to their demands.  The teams are offering what they feel is fair amounts of money and that is all it is; the two sides do not value players the same way.

The players are making the decision themselves that they are worth a certain fixed amount and that they will not sign for less.  It is their choice and they must accept the consequences to that choice.  If these players sign later this year please do not tell us that it hurt their performance.  We are still hearing that excuse about some of last year’s free agents: signing late hurt the pitchers especially.

The bottom line is the players are freely choosing to hold out for a certain contract amount.  It is not a humanitarian crisis and current and former players should stop complaining about it.

Machado, Harper and others will sign when they feel they get what they are worth.  Sadly for the players, the landscape in baseball has changed and the statistical playing field is even now.  Both sides in the negotiations have the same data, they just place differing monetary values on that data.  The teams no longer want to pay huge sums that will stretch into the player’s thirties as it seems production lessens in those years.

The agents and players need to recognize that free agency is no longer the huge cash cow it used to be, it still is a cash cow, just not as big as it used to be.

The times, they are changing, and the free agents must recognize that.  Each free agent, Machado and Harper included, are making their own individual decisions and must live with those decisions for good or for bad.

The whining needs to stop, these players are big boys making big boy decisions.  Don’t worry fans, they will get paid.