Archive for March, 2008

Opening Ceremonies
March 31, 2008

Oriole Park is not exactly standing room only today. The upper level bleachers in left field would certainly allow you to stretch out.

Still, it’s a festive atmosphere and what the attendance lacks in numbers it makes up for in enthusiasm. A great reception for the players as they were introduced.

Well, not for all of them.

Aubrey Huff was heartily booed by about half the fans. Not just because he nowhere near lived up to his salary in 2007, but his comments about Baltimore being a “@&^#@ town”.

I looked over to Cal Ripken Jr. (nice to see Cal here with his daughter and some of her friends) just after Huff’s intro and he gave me a look conveying, “yeah, that’s about right”.

One other note, the new high def video screen in centerfield is unbelievable. Maybe now I can convince my wife we need to upgrade. I wouldn’t even demand a screen that stands 25 feet tall.

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Opening Day
March 31, 2008

Opening Day at Camden Yards, no matter the woes of the team, offers a celebration of baseball. This is a great baseball town that backs the team despite a decade of futility.

And this is the day that O’s fans know they will enjoy. The team puts on a nice show, and this year offering tribute to the ’83 World Series Title. Hank Peters, the general manager from the last championship will throw out the first pitch and Rick Dempsey, the Series MVP of course will catch.

Right now, glories past are all that fans have to celebrate when it comes to games on the field. But there is little doubt the team is moving in the proper direction, and by that I mean it has a direction. Andy MacPhail is making decisions based on what’s best for the team in the long term. Not what suits Peter Angelos at any given time.

Rock solid proof of that comes from the decision to release Jay Gibbons. He will be paid nearly 12 million dollars not to play. A tough choice for any owner, but Angelos told MacPhail to simply do what needs to be done.

So while the prospects for success in the win column this year are about as dim as the light bulb running Eliot Spitzer’s brain, the plan is in place for the long haul. In the meantime, try to enjoy the progress of the kids like Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Jeremy Guthrie.

Hating Duke goes too far
March 28, 2008

First disclaimer. I don’t like Duke either. 99 percent of people born in the state of Maryland grow up not liking the Blue Devils. I’d bet 90 percent willingly say they hate the school. The school exudes arrogance, elitism, and a sense of entitlement that just feels wrong.

The face of the school is Mike Krzyzewski. His smugness combined with that angelic “I’ve never even thought of an NCAA violation” can give you the creeps. I’m just not buying all of his “Saint Mike” act. Coach K curses at least a third as much as Gary Williams, and that’s a lot.

That said, I think we’ve taken this hating Duke thing too far.

The glorious venom spewed at Durham and Krzyzewski after the 2nd round loss to West Virginia went way too far. I didn’t mind fans cheering against Duke, but to praise Bob Huggins and the Mountaineers as the conquerors of the “Evil Empire” was a joke.

Cheering for Bob Huggins at any level makes my skin crawl.

The former head coach at Cincinnati ran so far afoul of the NCAA rules as to have the school labeled without “institutional control”. When you do so many things wrong, they need such a broad label.

Add in his D.W.I. conviction (and not the kind on a technicality, he was stinking drunk) that led to his termination finally from Cincinnati, to his jetting Kansas State after just one year in Manhattan for a better job in West Virginia, and he exemplifies everything that is wrong with a person tasked with leading young men. And let’s not forget, that is ultimately the task of a college basketball coach.

To cheer this guy over Coach K, who’s greatest transgressions, in reality, are a result of jealousy (yep I admit it), means as a society we need to take a collective breath and reevaluate.

Duke is fun to hate like the Yankees are fun to hate. They win too much, they seem to have everything handed on a silver spoon, they just don’t seem to have earned it as much.

But Duke and Mike Krzyzewski should earn our respect, at least when compared to Bob Thuggins in Morgantown.

Right before my eyes
March 11, 2008

It still came as a surprise. I knew he could walk, had seen him on television. But watching Kevin Everett walk down the hallway of the Tremont Hotel Monday evening left me riveted.

He wasn’t supposed to walk again. In fact, without the fantastic and immediate medical help from the Buffalo Bills staff, Everett would have died last September after making a tackle.

I watched him stroll down the hall as if he never had medical hiccup. A good pace, no hesitation, just a man moving with purpose.

The purpose Monday was part of the Ed Block Courage Awards celebration. Everett of course is the recipient, and probably the most deserving ever of the honor. That’s not to insult any past winners, but he truly inspires.

The miracle of his survival, and now his prosering leaves him feeling a debt owed. He believes his purpose is now to inspire others, but it’s not that simple.

Kevin Everett does not like the spotlight. He tolerates interviews, embracing them as much as he can, fighting a feeling of discomfort because simply put he does not like attention. And really, how much fun can it be to relive the worst moment of your life so continuously?

But just as wedge busting a tackling were his jobs prior, now he shares his story of hope and how to fight. His efforts, along with doctors, and as he believes a gift from God have brought him back to life. And not just any life, one filled with physical ability.

That possibility seemed so remote last September as he lay there on the turf, barely able to breathe, able to move nothing below his neck.

Watching Kevin Everett walk down the hall has become one of my favorite moments in doing this job. I don’t know if it was a miracle, but I know with complete satisfaction that it was something very special.