Friday, November 14, 2008

Free Kicks

The Ravens are 6-3, currently in playoff position and taking aim at the Superbowl champ. The Terps, despite being run roughshod over by a Hokies squad that was more than beatable, still control their own destiny in the ACC. It almost makes you forget about the O’s, huh? It’s funny, I think Orioles fans have bought in so deeply with the rebuilding process that this offseason has a distinct flavor from the recent past. There is an optimism in this team, a belief in the future, and a faith in MacPhail that things will turn around. I know Barack Obama is the President Elect, but as far as Baltimore is concerned, Andy MacPhail is the symbol of change. However, the fans aren’t all so patient. Let’s just line up for the kick…

Rebuilding Takes More than a Year

I am hearing far too much talk about which of the Mannys, Sabbathias, and K-Rods the Orioles should go after this offseason. All of a sudden we are mentioning these big name players (yes I am including MarkTeixeira in this), who will command overpriced salaries and exhaust the budget we should be saving for Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts (if we don’t trade him), and other Orioles who can be with us for the longer term or have shown their commitment to the organization. We should be focusing this offseason on who we can trade away for prospects (though few Orioles would command much value), and pick up free agents as stopgaps until a true franchise player can work his way through the system.

For instance, forget Orlando Cabrera at shortstop, think about Edgar Renteria instead (and even that might be a push). We had a great first half of last season, but this is all about the future. Is this team ready to make a run? Absolutely not. So why shell out the big money for a player who will be leaving before we have a team ready to make the playoffs? I know I have said this before, but it bears repeating: the rebuilding project takes time, but don’t get tempted to think a high-priced bat right now will be any shortcut in the long run.

A Slow Week for College Football? Not for the Carolinas…

The Terps could get a great deal more attention than they are accustomed to this week as they take on #16 UNC this week in College Park due to the seeming absence of big games this week. I will leave the preview to compatriots here at ATH, but UNC is on an absolute tear this year and it will take Maryland’s best to stop them. Maryland, however, comes with their best about 50% of the time… and their worst the other 50%. Personally, the most intriguing game this week will be watching Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks head into Gainesville to take on #4 Florida. I know many Redskins fans hate Spurrier, but I have always had a soft spot for the Ol’ Ball Coach. So what if he couldn’t coach in the pros, he is still a great college coach and honestly, he couldn’t be doing any better at South Carolina. I mean, they don’t have a history of excellence, they are in the toughest conference in the country, and at least Vandy has academics to fall back on to draw someone in.

Wizards Get a Win (Finally)

Did someone cast a spell on the Wizards? Last year, this team was playing loose and confident without Gilbert Arenas for stretches of the season. This year they seem dazed and confused, unable to get any sort of rhythm going and seeming to be just waiting for their stars to come back before they can start the season. Even Jamison admits that the locker room needs a shakeup, with someone needing to step up and give the team some direction. Sorry boys, there isn’t much more time to wait. Luckily for the Wiz they play in the East, where any team with even the slightest amount of discipline can make the playoffs. The Wizards could sleepwalk through December and still manage to make a run for a solid playoff spot. The other teams in the division, particularly Charlotte, Miami, and Atlanta are all young teams that will likely struggle down the stretch. With Arenas and Haywood coming back, this team will be ready to make a run for the postseason. Don’t get too worried Wizards fans; that’s why it’s a long season.

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