Friday, April 3, 2009

Free Kicks

Okay, so this time we aren’t doing an all-anything edition, just three stories from three sports with only a little Maryland-centric stuff thrown in there. I felt like going old school today, that’s all. Windsor and Falco are in Charlottesville covering the Maryland baseball team’s series against the juggernaut Virginia Cavaliers and are just hoping not to see a sweep. Good luck on that, guys. Meanwhile, I am in Baltimore to line up for the kick…

Jay Cut-loose
At the beginning of this saga, I was firmly in Jay Cutler’s camp. Josh McDaniels was not happy enough to have a Pro Bowl quarterback who put up incredible numbers to overcome an awful defense and nearly win the division (okay, so they blew a 3 game lead with 4 to play but still). Josh McDaniels was simply an arrogant Bill Belichick protégé who simply had to have “his guy” regardless of how full the cupboard was at his new place. As the weeks wore on however, I realized that while McDaniels may be an over-his-head punk with delusions of grandeur, Jay Cutler still had the opportunity to play. He would have put up his numbers and year from now when Cutler went to another Pro Bowl all would be forgotten. You don’t have to like someone to work for them. He could have spent this time shoving it in McDaniels’ face how wrong he was to look to trade him. Instead he didn’t return McDaniels’ calls and wouldn’t meet with the team again. Josh McDaniels handled this situation just about as badly as he ever could have, refusing to tell Jay that he was “his” quarterback. But Jay Cutler was simply immature in his response by not being the bigger man and stepping up. Good luck in Chicago, Jay. You sure as heck won’t put up huge numbers there.

Rotation far Older than Most Predicted
At the beginning of Spring Training, the Orioles had plenty of young arms ready to battle it out for the three remaining spots in the rotation after Jeremy Guthrie and Koji Uehara. Dave Pauley, Hayden Penn, Brad Bergesen, Rich Hill, Brian Bass, and others were supposed to inject some youth (and serve as a bit of a stopgap) for the younger pitchers working their way through the system. Instead, one by one they flamed out, and the only one who might be with the club on Opening Day is Brian Bass in a relief role. Why did this happen? Did we fans overestimate these AAAA talents and hope that one (or all) of them could round out an improved rotation? I did. While the Orioles are left with pitchers who didn’t get a sniff of other free agent interest in Adam Eaton, Mark Hendrickson, and Alfredo Simon, at least they will be able to dip into Triple-A early if necessary and have a range of options, it is disappointing to see all the young talent flame out so quickly. The O’s still have more pitching depth than they did last season, but it is very dicey.

Did the Wizards Just Do Something Right?
It has been since… well since before the season that we on ATH mentioned the Wizards. That’s for a few main reasons. 1) Their management is god-awful. 2) We just aren’t that into D.C. teams (when I do root in hockey and basketball, I root for the 76ers and even the Flyers). And 3) They are simply a terrible, terrible team. However, last night I saw something that shook my faith in existence- the Wizards hosted the Cavs and outscored them in every quarter but the 4th, showing consistent scoring to keep Cleveland at bay and taking the win, 109-101. It is no coincidence that this win comes just days after Gilbert Arenas decided to grace us all with his presence on the court after months of refusing to observe his contract because the team was too bad for him. He failed to note however, that the team was bad because of him and the huge salary that put the Wiz up against the cap. However, I digress. With Arenas, Butler, Jamison, and Haywood on the court at the same time healthy for one of the first times this season, this team finally started to play like it is capable of- the 4th or 5th best team in the East. It is too little too late, but it gave Wizards fans something to be optimistic about for next year.

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