Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Non-Orioles News and Notes

Can you feel it? Can you feel it? That's actually positive energy coming from Camden Yards! The Orioles, if only for a brief moment, have an unblemished record and are a model of perfection. So, naturally, I'm going to choose to stray away from our beloved Birds because there are some other notes that need addressing from the Charm City. Without further ado, let's run over some of the non-baseball goings on impacting the Baltimore sports world...

1. Samari Rolle signed to a 4-year contract -- It's still not certain just how much money this contract will be paying Samari Rolle, but it's still very surprising to see Samari back with the Ravens organization. After the signing of Foxworth the team asked Rolle to take a pay cut and, as could be expected, Samari refused and asked to be released if he wasn't wanted anymore. Rolle insisted that he would test the free agent market, but instead just briefly met with the Jets before coming back to the Ravens. An odd series of events, punctuated by a meeting between Rolle and Newsome in which they supposedly broke alot of barriers.

Listen, I don't know what was said, but there had to be some sort of vast misunderstanding for Rolle to come back so quickly. Samari Rolle was very angry at the organization, and based on the signings of Foxworth and Carr it was apparent that they had moved on as well. Nevertheless, Samari is back in the fold and it's a huge relief to the front office. With a healthy Rolle along with Washington, Foxworth, and Carr, there is no pressing need to draft a cornerback at the top of the draft. As I have said all along, I expect the Ravens to draft a receiver with their first pick even if they have to trade up to get him. This signing gives the Ravens the flexibility to do just that.

2. Terrapin recruits Padgett & Williams shine in Charm City Classic -- Yes, this is old news, but it bears mentioning on this blog. This past weekend some of the better basketball recruits in the country came to Towson, Maryland for the annual Charm City Classic in which the Baltimore All-Stars faced off against the U.S. All-Stars. On the U.S. team were power forwards James Padgett and Jordan Williams, who are headed to Maryland next year to give Gary Williams some much needed presence in the frontcourt. This tandem put on a show for the local Terrapin fans who came to watch, with James Padgett garnering MVP honors for the victorious U.S. team.

This might seem like trivial news to some, but considering the heat Gary Williams took this season for his recruiting, it's important that these two recruits look as good as they've been made out to be. Gary Williams did a good deal of talking up about his two big men, particularly the 6-10 Jordan Williams, and it's been well documented in sports what happens when a player (particularly a young one) is overhyped. Luckily for Gary and for all Terrapin fans, the two put on a show and reinstilled hope that net year could be a very special one for Maryland Basketball.

3. Preakness Stakes hanging by a thread -- Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley today introduced a proposal to the General Assembly giving the state the authority to acquire the tracks from their bankrupt order by eminent domain. This means the Pimlico Race Course (and by extension the Preakness Stakes), which are currently owned by the bankrupt Magna Entertainment Corp, can be seized by the state if needed to save it from being demolished.

This move is necessary, and I applaud the Governor. Recently there was discussion that Pimlico might be bought by certain people who would demolish it in favor of a shopping center. Yes, a shopping center! This would eliminate the Preakness Stakes as we know them in Maryland, and our greatest sporting event would depart for another state. Now, that being said, this situation should never have gotten as far as it has. The problem with Pimlico has been apparent for a very long time, and it took this catastrophe for the lawmakers to finally wake up and help out the tracks.

Listen, this is about more than just horse racing. This is about the state of Maryland, and the true heritage of Maryland sports. Maryland sports history is grounded in the old art of horse racing, and we have been a premier location for it for centuries. If the Preakness were to be eliminated, it would be an irreparable blow to this state's prestige and reputation. The fact that we sat idly by as Pimlico fell deeper and deeper into financial debt is a disgrace, and the fact it took lawmakers this long to take action is downright negligent. Next time we might not be so lucky.

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