Monday, November 30, 2020

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5 Ws and 1 H

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Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke Jones is the Ravens and Orioles beat reporter for WNST BaltimorePositive.com and is a PFWA member. His mind is consumed with useless sports knowledge, pro wrestler promos, and movie quotes, but he struggles to remember where he put his phone. Luke's favorite sports memories include being one of the thousands of kids who waited to get Cal Ripken's autograph after Orioles games in the summer of 1995, attending the Super Bowl XXXV victory parade with his father in the pouring rain, and watching the Terps advance to the Final Four at the Carrier Dome in 2002. Follow him on Twitter @BaltimoreLuke or email him at Luke@wnst.net.

It’s easy to call the 134th Preakness a failure, but it would be more prudent to give the Maryland Jockey Club another year or two to see what can be done to bring the masses back to Pimlico.  The decision to prohibit patrons from bringing their own alcohol was obviously a major change to the culture of the Preakness, but creative thinking should be able to revive attendance.

However, will officials have another year or two to accomplish this?  It remains to be seen with the bankruptcy of Magna Entertainment Corp., the owner of Pimlico.  The state government is taking measures to keep the Preakness in Baltimore, but nothing is a sure thing at this point.

Here are the 5 Ws and 1 H for the week:

1.  Who do you expect to be in the Orioles’ starting rotation by year’s end?  We’ve already seen two of the five Opening Day rotation members (Alredo Simon and Mark Hendrickson) replaced, and more changes are sure to come as the season continues.

The next starter on the chopping block would logically be Adam Eaton (2-4, 7.93 ERA).  The most likely candidates for a promotion at this point are Chris Tillman (4-0, 2.03 ERA at Triple-A Norfolk),  David Hernandez (3-1, 3.50 ERA at Norfolk), and Troy Patton (3-1, 1.32 ERA at Double-A Bowie).

Patton is the most intriguing option after missing all of last season with a torn labrum.  He was the top pitcher acquired in the five-player deal for Miguel Tejada.  The organization planned to keep him in the minor leagues for most of this season to regain his pre-injury form, but Patton’s numbers may force a promotion to the major leagues.  Patton has experience at Triple A and the major leagues, so the jump from Double A would not be much of a factor.

My guess for the Orioles’ rotation by season’s end is Jeremy Guthrie, Rich Hill, Chris Tillman, Troy Patton, and Brad Bergesen.

Though Koji Uehara has been the team’s most consistent starter, pitching in a five-man rotation—something he was not accustomed to doing in Japan—will likely cause him to wear down as the summer progresses.  Moving him to the bullpen by late August might save his arm and allow the Orioles to promote another young pitcher in the process.

2.  What are the odds that Derrick Mason’s revelation that he might miss most of training camp after undergoing shoulder surgery is related to his contract status?  Mason has made it known that he desires an extension with the Ravens beyond this season.

No one can question the 35-year-old receiver’s toughness after playing the second half of last season with a painful shoulder injury, but it wouldn’t be farfetched for Mason to take it easy during training camp to rest the shoulder and protect his health as he enters his last season under contract with the Ravens.

Even if this were more about his contract and less about his health, it wouldn’t figure to cause many problems, given his excellent timing with quarterback Joe Flacco.  It could even be a long-term plus, forcing Flacco to work more closely with the other receivers on the roster.

3.  Where would you most like to watch a baseball game?  The Orioles travel to the new Yankee Stadium for a three-game series beginning Tuesday, and WNST is even taking a bus full of Orioles fans to the Yankees’ new palace.

I’ve been to a few classics such as the old Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Wrigley Field as well as new beauties Citizens Bank Park and Camden Yards (of course!).

Watching two games at Wrigley was my favorite experience, especially sitting in the right-centerfield bleachers for an afternoon game.  It’s a great atmosphere, and Wrigleyville is a special baseball town.

Next up on the list of parks I want to see?  Dodger Stadium, but I’ll pass on a ticket in the Mannywood section.  Of the newer generation of parks, AT&T Park in San Francisco has been referred to as the Camden Yards of the West.  Hopefully it doesn’t get inhabited by Yankees and Red Sox fans in the same way.

4.  When was the last time the men’s lacrosse Final Four did not have a school from the state of Maryland competing?  The answer had been 1994 before Maryland and Johns Hopkins fell this weekend in the quarterfinals.  The 2009 Final Four at Gillette Stadium includes Syracuse, Virginia, Cornell, and Duke.

Dave Pietramala’s Blue Jays had gone to the Final Four six of the last seven years before falling to Virginia on Sunday.

5.  Why do the Orioles continue to play so poorly in the final game of nearly every series?  They had a chance to take three out of four from the Kansas City Royals, leading 3-1 on Sunday before Uehara gave up three runs in the sixth, and reliever Jim Johnson sealed the Orioles’ fate by surrendering three in the eighth.

The Orioles are now 2-11 in series-concluding games this season.  Their longest winning streak of the season stands at two games.  It’s hard to put together a successful stretch of games if you cannot finish off an opponent in a three- or four-game series.

In case you were thinking back to the dreaded Sunday record from last season, the Orioles are 1-5 in Sunday games this year.

6.  How unlucky was the injury to Maryland goalie Brian Phipps?  The junior injured (and likely tore) his left ACL after making a save late in the first quarter in the Terps’ loss to Syracuse on Saturday.

The injury drew the attention of ESPN who compared it to the Gus Frerotte human battering ram experiment and former Cardinals kicker Bill Gramatica’s “tear-up-your-knee” celebration.

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