Once again the Ravens preview has taken a backseat to a mountain of work-related activities, but I promise to get back on the horse next week. In the meantime, enjoy some Free Kicks to get you through the weekend. Unfortunately I have to start with the Yankees, so get ready for some extra obnoxious New York fans next season while we line up for the kick…
Yankees Win 27th World Series Title
I won’t go into the popular refrain that they bought this World Series title, though I will say that they are perennial contenders because of that payroll- there is no way that much money doesn’t at least put you in the playoffs. This year they were the best team in baseball, though hardly a great story. Most years there is something to rally behind, and last year was the king of that- you had the Tampa Bay Rays with the first winning season in team history and the Phillies who were carrying a 25 year city-wide title drought. This year you had the Phillies as defending champs and the big, bad Yankees. Sure I was disappointed when the Phillies lost, but it wasn’t exactly a heartbreaker either. I just can’t stand the Yankees. My biggest worry is that the Yankees fans will become even more obnoxious, puffing out their chests even more while the nation-wide band-wagoners trade their Red Sox caps for Yankees caps. Either way it’ll be more misery for us O’s fans.
No Ravens Preview, But Here’s a Prediction
The Ravens will not shut down the Bengals the way they shut down the Broncos last week, but I will bet they do a better job on Cedric Benson, holding him to under 100 yards. As for Carson Palmer, he will get his share of big plays down the field, but I think that the Broncos game was a change in attitude for this defense. It gave them the confidence they need and inspired Greg Mattison to send blitzers more often and make use of the Ravens linebackers. I will take Baltimore’s defense to make a stop when it needs to. The offense has adjusted since its last game against the Bengals, and will be able to score on this defense. Joe Flacco has been incredible in pressure situations, and I will take Ray Rice to have a big game this weekend. The nod goes to the Ravens, 27-21.
Hill, Fiorentino, Rodriguez Declare for Free Agency
Rich Hill will look around, but I doubt that he gets a major league contract. Whether it was his health or his throwing motion (or both) we don’t know, but his 2007 performance is looking like a long time ago. This makes two straight seasons that he has struggled mightily and then, late in the season, said he was pitching hurt all year. I still think he can be a great starting pitcher in theory, but he might just be too far gone at this point. He was hanging every pitch over the plate this past season, and there will be a limited number of teams willing to commit a lot of money on a reclamation project. The best place for Hill is a year at Norfolk, and I hope he realizes it.
As for Jeff Fiorentino, he has been good to the Orioles after they mishandled his development three years ago. He deserves a shot at another team and perhaps become an everyday outfielder on another squad- there is no room in the outfield for Baltimore and he has been a class act since he arrived in the organization. Best wishes to him as he goes to yet another club. The Orioles will find a catcher, Guillermo Rodriguez won’t be missed all that much. Matt Wieters has the position pretty safely locked up.
Prediction for the Weekend:
Well, last weekend I recovered with the Oregon win over USC, bringing me to 2-4 in my dicey predictions. So this week, how about I go back to college football. Navy takes on Notre Dame, and excuse me if I want to go for the Midshipmen. The Irish defense has been suspect to say the least this season, and a well-executed triple option can tear that apart. The risk here is that Navy’s defenders won’t be able to keep up with ND’s explosive skill position players and that their undersized defensive line won’t stand up to the Irish offensive line. I agree that this will be a high scoring affair, but Notre Dame makes every game a close call. The nod goes to Navy, 45-42.