Tag: Baltimore

Baltimore’s Other Birds (Orioles Season Update)

Words: Kyle Simpson

With the Ravens in hibernation for the summer, and beautiful weather on the horizon, what is a Baltimore sports fan to do with their time?

Well, thanks to last year’s fantastic showing, Baltimore now has a relevant baseball team called the Orioles that you can spend the summer days watching.

The O’s have started off okay this season with a 5-4 start, they have shown some promise, but with a few old demons still haunting them.

Now I know just above .500 is not really impressive, but we are only 9 games into the season out 162. So do not abandon ship yet. It is (and probably will keep) getting better. One of the current issues that the O’s have is pitching. Rather the lack thereof. The Orioles have yet to find that one ace pitcher that can guarantee wins. Pitchers like Jason Hammel and Chris Tillman give the O’s a chance to win, but the team still needs to rely on hot bats like Chris Davis and Adam Jones to keep putting runs on the board to offset the mediocre starting pitching. Now, the O’s do have a few young aces in the farm system with Kevin Gaussman and Dylan Bundy (who is on the disabled list with a sore elbow) in AA ball with Bowie, but they are still working their way up the chain to the starting roster. The other problem is the batters put at the designated hitting position. They can not hit. For plate appearances, the DH position is 1-30. ONE hit out of 30 appearances. Talk about a cold bat.

But aside from the doom and gloom of what the O’s are not doing, the O’s have had quite a few exciting things happen to kick off the season. The Earl Weaver ceremony on opening day was perfect (they left the ball on the mound rather than throwing a pitch to honor the late general manager), they had Carly Rae Jepsen throw the opening pitch in the third game of the series on Sunday.
Along with cool ceremonial happenings; the first nine games have featured a game-winning grand slam by Chris Davis, who now currently has 19 runs batted in (most all-time through the first nine games since RBI became a stat), a spectacular ninth-inning five-run comeback thanks to Davis and and Manny Machado, who hit a three-run home run to seal the deal on Wednesday night.

It is finally Spring and the weather has been generally nice, so be sure to head to a few O’s games at Camden Yards! Celebrate Baltimore baseball being relevant once again. You can get tickets at http://www.theorioles.com/tickets. See you at the Yard!

Welcoming The Newest Ravens

Ravens-4.27Kyle Simpson, Ravens Corespondent

“The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”

This quote has pretty much summed up the week of Ravens news. After losing nine starters (six of which were on the defensive side of the ball), they make a huge play in free agency. After being cut by the Broncos after a contract faxing went awry, the Ravens swooped in and signed Elvis Dumervil to a five-year contract for $35 million.

The veteran pass rusher has been brought in to replace Paul Kruger, and he will do a bang up job of it too. Dumervil has 65.5 sacks in his nine seasons, while Kruger has 15.5 in four years.

Dumervil will be added to a pass rushing corps featuring the likes of Terrell Suggs and Haloti Ngata, along with the new additions of Chris Canty and Marcus Spears who were picked up earlier in the free agency blitz.

While the front seven is getting major upgrades, the Ravens still have a few needs in other places. For starters, the need major depth at linebacker with Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe departing, and they will need replacements at safety with Ed Reed’s signing in Houston. And with 12 draft picks, the Ravens can easily fill the holes they have.

To say that they will not make the playoffs while it is still MARCH is a little bit brash. Expect the Ravens to be competitive.

In other news: The Ravens will NOT be opening the NFL season at home (unlike the last ten Super Bowl victors). The NFL, MLB, Ravens, White Sox, and Orioles where unable to come to an agreement on how to fit both Birds in Baltimore on September 5th. So instead, the Ravens will make their opener on the road, which will most likely be in Denver.

And just as a “for the record” type thing, this situation is NOT the Orioles fault. They had the parking lot first, and I am really glad they did not let themselves get bullied by the NFL.

Ed Reed Becomes A Texan

Kyle Simpson, Ravens Corespondent

We, as fans, get so emotionally attached to our teams and its members that we forget that football is, at its core, a business. And I am extremely guilty of this. Last night I got on Twitter to be greeted by multiple tweets from multiple sources saying that Ed Reed was no longer a member of the Baltimore Ravens. I could not believe my eyes. The Ravens had lost another core member of the defense, and one of my favorite players of all time.

After many days of apparent deliberation, Reed had decided that he would take the money that Houston was offering, and join the Texans.

I expected Reed to leave, but at the same time, it just breaks my heart. I remember ordering my first Ravens jersey of my own, and the player I picked was Ed Reed. I always liked how the crowd would always drone “REEED” whenever he made a play. And now, there will me no more of those moments – at least not from Ravens fans. It just tugs at your heartstrings as a fan. (I guess I am a football dork.)

But what does Reed’s departure mean for the Ravens in general? There are a few things it does and does not mean. First, it does mean that Ozzie Newsome means serious business about not over paying players. It also means that he is pushing the reset button on the defense. He is getting younger, faster, and cheaper at whatever cost. What it does not mean, is that the Ravens will not regret letting Reed go. They will. Maybe not on the field, but they have no leaders in the locker room or film room to lead their new onslaught of rookies coming in this year. I do not see the advantage in letting Reed walk, especially after Ray Lewis’ retirement. And with the numbers I have been seeing thrown around with Reeds offer from the Texans (2-3 years for $16 million), in my eyes the Ravens could have easily matched. Why did the Ravens not push for the Hall of Famer? And now I see reports that Micheal Huff of the Raiders (who is 30, Reed is 34) is visiting? And you want HIM over Ed Reed? How does that make sense?

I trust Ozzie one-hundred percent. But this move makes me scratch my head. I understand that the NFL is a business, but how could you purely judge Reed’s value off of his on-field presence? Why, with Ray Lewis gone, do you let Reed go?

There are many reasons why I am not General Manager of the Baltimore Ravens, instead I write about them. So there probably is some logical reasoning behind this move, but I just do not get it.

At any rate, a huge thanks to Ed Reed for his time in Baltimore. He will always be one of my favorite players and he will be sorely missed. Best of luck to him at the Texans.

And I feel like doing this one last time, for old times sake:
REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEED.

Sharing the Parking Lot

Kyle Simpson, Ravens Corespondent

Baltimore, MD – We all learned in kindergarten to share what we have. But for some reason, the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles are caught in a custody battle for the parking lot on September 5th. The Ravens are set to host the first game of the season that night, and the Orioles are to host the Chicago White Sox that day too.

Let the debate begin. Technically, the Orioles schedule was created and solidified first, so they have the priority use for the parking lot. So what are they to do?

They could move the Ravens game to Wednesday the 4th, if the NFL had not already said they would not play that day because it is Rosh Hashanah (more on that later). So instead the Orioles could play earlier and the Ravens could move their game back to 9 PM (as a season ticket holder, that is a less than ideal time), however the Orioles have an away night game on September 4th. And they do not want to play two games in such small time frame. The NFL says that if a compromise is not reached, then they will have to move the Ravens to a road game to start the season.

Now that might be the stupidest thing I have ever heard. You have to play away that night? Really? Have they even considered moving the Ravens to Sunday night? Granted, they would not be the VERY first game of the season, but they could have their home and season opener AT HOME. That is more important to me as a fan than playing first (even though they deserve that too). And I understand that there are television contracts involved, but really? Rodger Goodell is risking sending Baltimore into revolt if they do not open at home. And the whole “we cannot play on Rosh Hashanah” is ridiculous. Not to sound mean, but the NFL has played on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve before and play on Thanksgiving every year. They have even played on Rosh Hashanah before, so what is the big deal this year? The NFL and MLB need to figure it out. Soon. Baltimore is very uneasy.

We’ll see what ends up happening, but be prepared to watch the season opener being held somewhere else.

The Sky Is Not Falling…Yet

Words: Kyle Simpson, Ravens Correspondent

Free Agency has taken its first two players from the Ravens in Danelle Ellerbe and Paul Kruger. Ellerbe will be a linebacker in Miami for the next five years (at $35 million) and Kruger will be a defensive end in Cleveland also for the next five years (at $41 million).

I personally expected Kruger to go. Kruger going to Cleveland was probably the worst kept secret in the NFL going into yesterday and the Ravens were prepared to lose him after drafting Courtney Upshaw last year. Ellerbe was a bigger surprise considering the only news that anybody had heard was that he and the Ravens had not reached a deal by 4 PM; then later that night, news that he had signed with Miami came across the wire.

That was two days ago. Yesterday brought a whole new shock. Safety Bernard Pollard was released early yesterday morning. So what could the story possibly be behind this move? You could say that Pollard was a liability on the field with numerous personal fouls for high hits, but his ability on the field more than made up for that. Pollard was also behind a “mutiny” in October after the Ravens got trounced by Houston. He had two years left on his contract with the Ravens which points to Ozzie weighing his options with current talent with future cap situations and his bold new vision of where he want the team to be in the next four years.

The cap numbers next year for key players are absurd. Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata and Joe Flacco all break the $10 million mark and Ray Rice is supposed to get $9 million.

Before you say, “Kyle, you are just talking nonsense,” hear me out. When the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2001, they spent a lot of effort and money on reworking contracts of current veterans to keep the Super Bowl winning team together. While that might seem logical on paper, that idea put the Ravens in an awful cap situation that forced a mass purge of players in 2002. The sad reality is that Kruger and Ellerbe were going to go. Boldin was going to go. Let me repeat that: Boldin was going to go, no matter if Joe Flacco’s cap hit was $6 million or $8 million (so please stop blaming Flacco).

Ozzie Newsome is aiming for one thing, and one thing only: the long-term prosperity of the Baltimore Ravens. If that means that the Boldins and Todd Heaps and the Derrick Masons of the world have to get cut to keep that vision alive: so be it! I want a WINNING team for a long time, and not a back-to-back team that eventually has to get rid of all of its talent because the salary cap is rearing its ugly head and then the team is stuck rebuilding for the next three years. Both he and Bisciotti both said they would not let that happen again.

That was part one of the reality check, here’s part two: Ozzie Newsome is not done yet. Veteran Ed Reed is meeting with the Houston Texans today. If he walks out with an offer the Ravens do not want to match, so long Ed Reed. Happy trails, unless he is willing to finish his career in the same city it started for less money. Ozzie knows what he feels Reed is worth (Reed was also connected with the munity that Pollard was a part of). I would also expect Vonta Leech to be let go in the coming days.

What Ozzie knows and what fans need to remember is that football is a business. Teams do not have the luxury to get so emotionally attached to their players that they will endanger the long-term goal of the team to succeed so they can keep the Ed Reeds of the world. Of course: I could be completely wrong. Ed Reed could value career monogamy over the cash raise like Ray Lewis did (the both hired the same agent for the same kind of negotiation). And I kind of hope I am. But in case I am right: be prepared.

Buckle up; we are on Ozzie’s magic carpet ride now, and he is going onto a brave new world.

Free Agency Season – The Ravens Trade Boldin

Words: Kyle Simpson, Ravens Corespondent

Welcome to free agency season. The time of year where headaches run rampant among fans and general managers and the Ravens are certainly no exception. The first cap casualty of the Baltimore squad is veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

He reportedly became the subject of a trade to the San Francisco 49ers for a sixth round pick in this year’s draft.

Now: BEFORE you grab you pitch forks and torches to go burn down the Ravens’ facility, think about it.

Boldin’s cap hit was going to be $7.5 million unless he took a pay cut (which the Ravens offered and then he rejected). The Ravens, even though he was already counted in the cap number, could NOT afford him. Was he worth the full $7.5 million? Of course! But he needed to take a pay cut to make room for other agents like Danelle Ellerbe and Ed Reed. And if he was not going to budge, why would the Ravens cut him and still take his cap hit? Trading him was the smart thing to do. And it shows nothing but respect to Boldin in the fact that he got sent to a team that is a legitimate Super Bowl contender, and out of the Ravens conference might I add. The extra $7.5 million gives the Ravens a decent cap number, a reported $18.5 million, after the trade.

Next come tenders. The Ravens issued two second-round tenders to restricted free agents Dennis Pitta and Arthur Jones and a third round tender to Ed Dickson last night. Restricted agent David Reed was given a two-year contract this morning. Both Dickson and Pitta will be crucial now that Boldin has left. Especially Pitta with ten touchdowns over last season including the playoffs. And David Reed will be fighting for a starting receiver slot.

The current status of the Ravens is about $13.1 million in free cap space. They are meeting with Danelle Ellerbe this morning to try and work out a contract before the floodgates open at 4 PM.

Remember:

Keep Calm.
And Trust Ozzie.

Flacco Gets a Big Pay Day

Kyle Simpson, Ravens Corespondent

The wait is finally over.

The Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco has agreed to a new long term deal that will finally put to rest all of the questions of numbers and salary cap hits. And in the process, Joe Flacco becomes the highest paid player of all time.

What is the behemoth deal made of?

Six years, $120.6 million, $52 million of that guaranteed. Only $6.8 million of that will count against the cap this year, leaving the Ravens with a little over $10 million in cap space to deal with their free agents.

I would expect a resigning of Dannel Ellerbe to a long term deal and the tendering of all (give or take one or two agents) of the Ravens’ restricted freee agents.

The other big question mark is Ed Reed. Will he be back?

Probably.

He’ll probably take the same course Ray Lewis did and shop potential teams and get offer sheets to give the Ravens a better idea of what other teams think he is worth and then match that deal and have Ed sign a new deal with the Ravens. It is hard to see him go anywhere else after this year.

I would not expect any cap casualties from the Ravens either. Anquan Boldin (taking up $7.5 million) and Jacoby Jones ($5 million) are probably safe with Joe Flacco’s new deal. Vonta Leach is still a big question but I’d expect him to be safe.

Flacco is expected to sign the deal and take a physical today.