Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Britton, Reimold starting 2011 in AAA

Chin up, Nolan, you'll be back sooner than you know it.

Zach Britton was the O's best starting pitcher this spring.

It's bittersweet to see Nolan Reimold and Zach Britton sent to Norfolk to start the 2011 season.

For Reimold, he was squeezed off of the 25-man roster because Luke Scott became the starting LF when Vladimir Guerrero was signed. And even though Reimold outplayed Felix Pie this spring (.315 AVG, 3 HR, 10 RBI), Pie is out of options and the O's will likely give him a month or so to sink or swim. And while I like Pie, I don't believe he's ever going to put it together, so Nolan probably shouldn't have to wait long.

In the case of Britton, it was a smart business for the O's to keep him down for a couple weeks to gain an extra year of control over the 3-year-old lefty. It's a similar move to sending Matt Wieters to Norfolk in 2009 to start the year when he should have made the team. Britton should have made the team, too, allowing just 3 ER in 20 IP -- with two of those starts coming against the Yankees. He was arguably the best Oriole pitcher this spring. But this is the way the business goes and Zach, who was pretty peeved at not making the team, should understand that.

So while it pains me to see these guys start the year in the minors, it also gives the Orioles two bullets in the chamber should any problems arise. Chances are not everyone is going to make every start this year and Reimold and Britton will have their number called sooner than later.

They're [already] here!!!

Over the last two nights I watched two similar movies about alien invasions: District 9 and Monsters.

Each had their own spin to the invasion, and handled it differently, but at their core, they were movies that used the alien invasions to take a hard look at today's social issues.

District 9, which is set in South Africa, immediately draws comparisons to apartheid. A ship full of aliens docks itself over Johannesburg, and humans being curious, explore the ship and find a million malnourished aliens. But the good gesture of helping these creatures soon turns, and the humans clash with the creatures, they dub "prawns". They are then locked away in a segregated area, called District 9, which resembles the slums of any overpopulated city across the world.

In Monsters, the premise involves a space probe sent to explore life in our solar system which then crashes back onto earth, "infecting" most of Mexico with the life form it brought back with it. The creatures are dangerous, and the US military seeks to wipe them out. But by the end of the movie, we come to see that the creatures are less the "monsters" of the title, and just lifeforms, like any other species among us on earth. They can be dangerous, yes, but beautiful, if viewed from a safe distance as the characters in Monsters do at the end of the film.

And in their endings, Monsters and District 9 takes a similar approach. The aliens aren't all bad, just misunderstood, and our ignorance of them makes us fear them. Hey, isn't that what's going on between Christians, Jews and Muslims right now in the middle east? And right here in American between liberals and conservatives?

District 9 and Monsters are two of the best sci-fi movies to come out in years. They don't sensationalize the invasion, like Independence Day, War of the Worlds and Battle: Los Angeles. And these are not movies where the alien beings need to be wiped out to insure our survival. They are more about life returning to normal after earth shattering events (9/11, anyone?) and how those events shape the people who lived through them.

But perhaps the biggest similarity between the two movies is this: our reactions to creatures from outer space aren't that much different than the reactions we have to other humans.

And that is a scary thought.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Is there a bigger douchebag than Nasty Nestor?

Mothers, don't let your babies grow up to be assholes.

It's hard to believe I was once a big fan of Nestor "Nasty Aparicio.

Actually, maybe not.

He's related to former Orioles shortstop Luis Aparicio for starters. And back in the mid-1990's he was a brash, opinionated Baltimore sports talk show host on small AM radio stations that were a welcome change from the milquetoast sports talk that filled Baltimore airwaves at the time.

I'll always have fond memories of listening to Nestor's show when the news broke of the Cleveland Browns moving to Baltimore. I was eating dinner with my parents with Nestor's excited voice coming through the speakers as he hosted callers who couldn't contain their own excitement of the NFL coming back to Baltimore after 13 long years.

I've also run into Nestor a few times. The first being at BWI Airport the night that Art Modell arrived in Baltimore after the move was announced. The second was while in Cincinnati for a Ravens road trip back in 2008. Both times they were simple exchanges of excited cliches, but I felt like he was a down-to-earth heartfelt guy who loved Baltimore. Especially in that first meeting, before Nestor became who -- or what -- he is today.

So what sent me over the edge and caused me to take to my blog to write about Nasty Nestor?

It's his most recent article on his WNST website, where he tells O's skipper Buck Showalter to "shut up" after Buck made some comments about Derek Jeter and Red Sox GM Theo Epstein.

Buck's comments were harmless. They were simply intended to fire up his players and fans, and get them ready for a season of baseball where losing will not be accepted. But Nestor has it completely wrong -- or simply doesn't want to see what Buck was striving for with his comments. He simply uses Buck's comments as a jumping off point to do what he always does -- remind us how low the Orioles have fallen in the last 13 years -- and how great the Yankees and Red Sox have been in that same period.

We get it, Nasty.

However, Nestor fails to understand that what happened before Buck doesn't mean a thing. So all that "13 years crap" doesn't apply here. Buck has no impact on what happened before he arrived on August 3, 2010. All I know is, since Buck Showalter has been manager of the Orioles, his team has gone 34-23 and managed to play .500 ball against the Yankees and Red Sox.

Even Nasty Nestor would have to hope that Buck Showalter can build on the instant momentum in 2011.

But then again, maybe not.

For better or worse, Nestor has built such a reputation on being so anti-Orioles that it's almost impossible for him to turn back now without looking like a total fair-weather fan asshole. Maybe at his core Nestor still hopes the Orioles return to glory. Maybe his Orioles hatred is simply a tool to gain listeners and attention. But I also think that the damage has been done. Oh well, who cares, right?

Nestor had a legit beef with the Orioles when he started getting dissed by the team in the early 2000's. His media credentials were apparently revoked. And the incident that seemingly sent Nestor over the edge was, get this, the Oriole bird squirting him with a water gun.

Yeah, that's what caused him to throw his Oriole jersey in a trash can and walk away from it like Spider-Man -- an Oriole fan, no more. A fucking water gun.

But it only got worse when Nestor created his own radio station, WNST. He used his Orioles hatred as a publicity tool and wore it as a badge of honor. And he was probably smart to do it since it was easy to hate the Orioles in the early 2000's. Angelos was in full megalomaniac-owner mode and Sid Thrift was going on the radio and saying that Gary Dell'Abate (Baba Booey from Howard Stern) was "looking good" as a prospect when someone called in and pranked him.

Nestor's anti-Oriole fever-pitch reached its pinnacle with "Free the Birds", a night out at an Oriole game where Nestor and his listeners walked out during the middle of the game and roamed around the stadium chanting "Sell Pete Sell".

But since then, the Orioles have at least tried to clean up their image. They hired Andy MacPhail, who despite his shaky track record as GM so far, he's at least brought an air of respectability back to the team. The Orioles have also introduced a ton of promotions at games to bring back fans. And this offseason they've totally revamped their food options, bringing back National Bohemian beer on tap and introducing a slew of local-inspired dishes.

And most importantly, let's not forget, they hired Buck Showalter, who gave the Orioles even more credibility.

But here is Nasty Nestor Aparicio, still thumping his chest and reminding us how bad the Orioles still are. Meanwhile, the few talented hosts that Nestor employed at WNST have all left, leaving Nestor all alone as he spews his tired bullshit to people who don't care any more. It's a mere week from opening day, where hope springs eternal for fans of every team in baseball. People want to believe the O's can get better, at least for a couple of weeks. But Nestor wants to steal even that away from them. Just because Buck Showalter made some harmless comments about Derek Jeter.

Nestor, just take a clue from yourself, dude and shut the fuck up.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Two Week Notice

Brad Bergesen is at least healthy, but he's had a tough spring so far.

Well, we're two weeks away from Opening Night in Tampa Bay.

It's hard for me to read into every little detail that comes out of spring training, since you never know what players are working on during exhibition games. For me, it's all about who's healthy and who's not. And right now there are four players who are still battling injuries and trying to get into games.

Those players are Justin Duchscherer (hip), Koji Uehara (elbow), Brian Roberts (back) and Derrek Lee (wrist). According to Rotoworld, all of these players are practicing and could see playing time within the next week, and all of them are still on schedule to be ready by opening day.

However, the chances are slim that Duchsherer will be ready to go, given his injury history. And my money is on Koji to suffer a setback sometime soon as well. And since Lee hasn't gotten into a game yet so far, it is unlikely he'd be ready for regular season games by opening day, too. That leaves Roberts, who has his own tough injury history, but out of the four, I'd say he's the best bet to be ready by opening day. And he's played in 4 games thus far.

As for healthy players, here's who's hot and who's not:


Jake Fox
.356 AVG
.911 SLG
7 HR
12 RBI

Brandon Snyder
.353 AVG
.559 SLG
1 HR

J.J. Hardy
.333 AVG
.455 SLG
1 HR

Nick Markakis
.333 AVG
.704 SLG
2 HR

Nolan Reimold
.333 AVG
.564 SLG
2 HR.

Adam Jones
.278 AVG
.583 SLG
3 HR

Vlad Guerrero
.257 AVG
.543 SLG
3 HR


Luke Scott
.067 AVG
.100 SLG

Felix Pie
.211 AVG
.263 SLG

Mark Reynolds
.206 AVG
.265 SLG

On the pitching side:


Zach Britton
0.00 ERA
9 IP

Josh Rupe
0.00 ERA
11.2 IP


Brad Bergesen
6.94 ERA
11.2 IP

Jeremy Guthrie
6.00 ERA
9 IP

So take from that what you will. Overall, I'd say spring training is cruising along nicely so far with only four players dealing with injuries. Unfortunately, all four players are supposed to be key contributors in 2011.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

City Tour #4 -- Miami, Florida


The name alone conjures so many different images that it's often difficult to know where to start. Palm trees? Bikini-clad women? Miami Vice? Bad Boys? Dexter?

Like Los Angeles, I had a pre-conceived image of Miami from various reality shows and movies. I felt a natural instinct to reject it based on its image alone. But when I arrived while Baltimore was in the midst of a blizzard and felt the warm Florida sun on my face, I let all that celebrity and reality show bullshit fall away. And since then I view Miami the eyes that actually drank in the city instead of the eyes that watched TV shows and movies based in Miami.

Ironically, Miami has been kind of a rest stop to me, having driven through it on three separate occasions to reach the Florida Keys. And with the Keys a little over an hour away, it almost felt like there was no reason to stop in Miami. Why would you want to spend time in a city all the way down here instead of pristine vacant beaches? If you wanted to do that, you should have stayed in Ocean City.

And that is probably why I enjoyed Miami so thoroughly, because in many ways, it reminded me of my childhood memories of a city on a beach -- Ocean City, MD. But about a million times better.

I should also specify, I didn't set foot in downtown Miami. So this review could probably be called South Beach just as easily, but do people really travel to Miami for leisure and spend time downtown?

I don't think so. It's South Beach or nothing.

1. Art & Culture --5-- Just saying the word "South Beach" evokes many images: bikinis, palm trees, blue water and art deco architecture. The city's Cuban, Latin America and Caribbean influences make it feel like the most foreign city on U.S. soil -- all while being an incredibly clean and well-kept city. Also, Miami has been the setting for some of the best TV shows and movies in the history of the medium. Perhaps that's because of Miami's infamous history as the cocaine capital of America. That said, Miami seems to be missing something that most other cities have...a surviving nucleus at its core that goes back to the beginning of the city itself. The Miami we all know and love seems to have been established within the last 30 or so years and maybe that's why beside some art deco buildings, there isn't many major sites to see in the city other than the newest trendy restaurant or bar.

2. Food --8-- Nowhere else can Miami's many cultural influences be seen more than in its food. Cuban, Mexican, Caribbean...it's all there on every street corner and in every restaurant. I bought a six pack of Quilmes beer at the local liquor store, which is from Argentina. And although I am sure you can find it at many liquor stores across America, it felt right at home in Miami, as if the city said to me, "You're almost in Argentina. Try it."

3. Mass Transit --6-- Although Miami lacks a comprehensive rail-based system, it does have a monorail line that runs north to south and a people mover in the downtown area. While I didn't use any of that while I was there, I did use a very effective bus that picked me up at the airport and took me to South Beach -- all for $2.50 each way. That's a steal. You can get a lot of places on the city's bus system, and while that may not be as sexy as a metro subway or a light rail system, it works for now.

4. Look & Feel --7-- Despite it's lack of major sites to see, Miami remains a very attractive city in every sense of the word. It's CBD skyline is colorful in a playful way and the same can be said of South Beach, especially at night, with the marquees of the many hotels lining Ocean Drive illuminated by neon signs. Their art deco architecture takes you back to the early 1900's while the crowds popping in and out of the swanky restaurants and bars located in many of the hotels remind you that you are here, now. The feel of Miami is relaxed, with the desperation of being seen, yet so many people in the city try to remain discreet in a tented chez lounge at an upscale hotel pool or VIP lounge.

5. Overall --8-- Miami is a cool city. I mean, come on...Will Smith wrote a song about it. That said, Miami lacks a certain historical aspect that makes many northern cities more aesthetically pleasing. But this is Florida, after all. You're supposed to relax, enjoy the sun, and wear as little as possible. Miami remains America's gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America, and for that reason alone, it's one of America's most unique cities.

Total -- 34/50