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An appreciation for how far the Orioles have come

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Luke Jones and Dennis Koulatsos compare Orioles and Ravens notes as both surge in interest and the summer takes on a different feel for sports in Baltimore.

SUMMARY KEYWORDS

year, team, talked, ravens, games, ball, lamar jackson, orioles, baltimore, play, season, dobbins, win, player, luke, lamar, camden yards, point, ultimately, offense

SPEAKERS

Luke Jones, Dennis Koulatsos

Dennis Koulatsos  00:02

Welcome back. My first guest as always is a great if not brilliant, Luke Jones. Luke, welcome in.

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Luke Jones  00:09

Dennis, how are you my friend? It’s great to talk to you as always.

Dennis Koulatsos  00:13

Same Same with you, Luke. I’ve got Oreos fever man, I’ll tell you what, I’ve caught it real bad. And I had the lows of Tuesday night and the highs of Wednesday night, right Tuesday night. And I saw your Twitter feed and I was numb at that time, as most of us Oilers fans were with that ball just hung in the in the air down the middle of the plate forever. From Felix Batista before Aaron judge rushed it right. And I’m thinking, you know, why didn’t we walk this cat? You know what I mean? It says, I thought it Bill Bella check, you know, Bill, Bella check for decades has been taken away. The best player from the other team, right? You don’t mind getting beat by by somebody other than Aaron, judge if if you’re the Orioles. And then they come back the out of the 32 victories? I saw this the other day? Look, 19 haven’t come back victories. This team is never out of it.

Luke Jones  01:05

They really aren’t. And, you know, to go back to what you mentioned the disappointment of Tuesday night. And it’s not even that they needed to walk them just Oh, no to you can’t throw that pitch, right? I mean,

Dennis Koulatsos  01:17

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in the dirt four times, let the guy think about swinging, right. But to throw it down the middle of the plate like that. And I don’t care if the ball didn’t break or whatever. It didn’t do what it was supposed to. But you couldn’t take that chance.

Luke Jones  01:28

Right? Right. And that’s, I mean, that’s kind of been Felix Batista so far this year, I mean, overall, he’s having a good year, don’t get me wrong. But if you’ve watched him on an outing, the outing basis, the splitter hasn’t been as dominant as consistent as it was a year ago. Now. Look, pitchers go through that, right. I mean, pitching is such a, a touch and feel kind of process as much as you just think about someone like him who can throw the ball 102 miles per hour, you still have to find that right grip, find that right release point, have your mechanics in order and, and he’s just been a little little off, it really speaks to how good he is that he has been a little off and still had the success that he’s had. But you just said it. I mean, Wednesday night when it’s five to one going into the seventh thing. In fact, it was even texting a couple of my high school buddies who have really gotten back into baseball, you know, one of them much like you much more of a football guy, really more of a novice baseball fan. And not that the Orioles have given a much to cheer about in recent years. Anyway, he was angry, he had already turned off the game. And he and I actually planning to get together to to watch the the finale of the Yankee series. And he had kind of given up and then I mean, my goodness, the Orioles put together an eight run inning and they steal a win, you know, as much as Tuesday night hurt. Wednesday was one of those games where you look at it and say, wow, they didn’t really deserve to win that game or didn’t feel like they were going to win that game. But it just goes back to what you said they’re never out of it. This team plays so many close games, which when you do that, you have to acknowledge you’re going to have some outcomes like Tuesday night’s game. So it’s not like football, where you play 17 games and each game, carry such weight. Because there’s there are only so many games to play, you play 162 You’re gonna have some wins, where you say, Wow, they really pulled that one out of you know what? To win that one. And then they’re gonna have some losses where you say, Yeah, that’s a bad loss. You know, that’s one that you felt like you should have went one. But that’s just how this team is currently constructed. But you just said it, the resolve that they have shown, the ability that they’ve shown to come back, even in some of these games, where it looks like it’s going to be a blowout defeat. They make it interesting. They just, they’ve got an X factor to them. And I am not someone who really buys too much into that narrative, especially in a sport like baseball, where I really, you know, Buck Shoalwater used to always say that a team’s gonna seek its level and ultimately find its level at the end of 162. Yeah, you’ll have some fluky things that happen. And, you know, a player might have a fluky season every now and then and a team might play a little bit over their head. But generally speaking over 162 You’re gonna find a team kind of winds up where they’re supposed to be. And I don’t know if the Orioles are going to finish with the second best record in baseball, you know, I don’t think they’re that great. But they’re really showing something and we’re almost on Memorial Day now. And I always talk about that kind of being the checkpoint for when I really start to try to assess where a team is where a player is in an individual season and how can you not love what they’ve done? I mean, this latest road trip, another winning road trip where you go into it, you’re saying okay, you’re going to Toronto, Rogers Center has kind of been a house of horrors for the Orioles even going back to when they were really good under Buck Shoalwater they generally did not play very well there and to get a sweep and then to go to New York and suffer the tough loss but then come back on Wednesday night. I mean, it just says a lot about where this team is. And I think It says even more about where they’re going again, do I think they’re quote there yet? Probably not. Because I still look on the pitching side and still look at the starting rotation and, you know, their heavy reliance on the bullpen. And that does cause me some concern over six months of the season. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be a playoff team. That doesn’t mean that they can’t win games in the playoffs and make things interesting and advance and, and really be a force for other teams. But I think what’s just so enjoyable about this, we talked about this with the Braves series, you know, the Braves and that raise six game stretch that they had where they went three and three. And then talking about this winning road trip. It is in recent years teams would look at the Orioles and just kind of say Oh, this is a chance for us to get right a chance for us to get healthy here playing a team that we’re better than now it’s they’re looking at the Orioles and saying this is going to be this can be a dogfight for the next three games, four games, whatever the scenery is might be. So again, that the the lows of Tuesday night and the highs of Wednesday night. I mean, it just speaks to how fun it’s been. Because if nothing else, and it goes back to what I was just saying. They’re there in every game, and it’s it’s too close for comfort on the winning side most often, more often than not. And when they lose, it’s one of those games where you say, well, they had their chances. So what more can you ask for when you’re talking about being a baseball fan, if you’re gonna invest on a nightly basis watching them? It is compelling television every single night are compelling when you go out to the ballpark, and it’s been a blast to watch them.

Dennis Koulatsos  06:36

Yeah, I know that you love what you do for a living Luke, it’s obvious, the passion and the love you have for all things that are sports, particularly the baseball in the Orioles. And I’ve got to give you a lot of credit because the last I don’t know, decade teams, the rest of us could have walked away at any point. Anytime you had to sit there and cover a really bad baseball team. In fact, I saw major league the other day with Bob Euchre. You know, and he’s making the announcement that Oh, Chuck Liddell hiding outside, I’m thinking, that’s Luke Jones, that’s Luke at the yard. You know, anytime the year, whatever the number is, and this has to be very sweet for you that you’re actually you’re covering a team that they’re not done after the third or fourth inning, but not done, you know, towards the end of the game, or, you know, this has got to be such a turnaround, and a joy for you to cover. It really

Luke Jones  07:27

has been and look, I want to be clear, and I constantly remind Nestor of this because we talked about this, but the book show Walter era was a lot of fun, too. I mean, that 2012 team,

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Dennis Koulatsos  07:38

but when, though when did that end? What all right. I’m losing track of time. And based on Well, what was when the block leave? What What year was that?

Luke Jones  07:47

His Well, his final year was 2018. That was the year that bottom dropped out. Okay, yeah, they were just horrible, but longer 2012. Right. 2012 was a blast, because it was kind of kind of where they were last year in the sense that no one had any expectations. And then all of a sudden, they were good, you know, and that’s how they were over the second half of last season, even if it ultimately didn’t wind up with them in the postseason. But 2012 14 and even 16 I mean, those were really enjoyable seasons. But Dennis, I mean, for someone like me, I’ve joked about this with you for a long time that I was two weeks old the last time the Orioles won the World Series. It was October October of 1983. Sport on the second I think they clinched the World Series against the Phillies, they clinch game five, I believe it was October 16. So I was exactly two weeks old. And you look at me now. I have gray hair. And you know, I’m gonna be 40 years old in October.

Dennis Koulatsos  08:41

And I’m a baby. You’re still young. Yeah.

Luke Jones  08:44

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Well, but in baseball terms that’s not so young. Right. And I just think, having not gotten to experience in stat, which 83 was the end of the glory days and then the Orioles were the model franchise from 66 through 1980 313 World Series, three other pennants. I mean, winning season after winning season all those success they had under Earl Weaver and I missed that, you know, so my generation and younger we have the stories right we have the older versions of seeing Brooks Robinson show up at the ballpark seen Jim Palmer call games still seen Cal Ripken calm you know, and obviously I remember most of Kyle’s career, but it’s just those memories, right? It’s just those you know, talking to your parents or your grandparents or your answer your uncle’s or your neighbor and anyone who got to live those glory days. You know, my generation younger hasn’t had gotten to do that. And for most of the last 40 years saved for literally 567 seasons somewhere in that neighborhood. It’s been very forgettable and it’s been bad or really bad. So yeah, it is enjoyable. And I think what’s exciting about this and what is different about this compared to the book show Walter era, is you look at how young they are. You look at the state of the farm system still even with the guy As that they’ve graduated to the major leagues at this point. And while I still have questions about ownership and about payroll and spending and contract extensions and adding free agents or adding guys through trade, I mean, heck, until a lease is officially signed, there’s that as it pertains to Camden Yards, even though I’m not concerned that that’s not going to happen. But all of that aside, you look at where they are right now there is the possibilities are limitless in terms of how well they can play for a really long period of time here. So there’s sustainability, potential for sustainability at the very least. And that’s what’s exciting about this. And in the meantime, you’re getting to see young players I mean, you know, Adley rutschman, we’ve talked about a lot but look at Gunnar Henderson. I mean, he had the go ahead to run double on Wednesday night. And I know it’s been a struggle for him at the plate, although continue to mine to remind everyone that draw so many walks, that is on base percentage has continued to make him playable, despite being a guy who struggled to to hit 200. So but we’re seeing him swing the bat better. And you know, you’re you’re seeing Grayson Rodriguez, take some lumps, but you know what kind of potential he has. So there are just so many young players on this team that you can identify with. And then you have a guy like Cedric Mullins, for example, who’s been around for a little while, endured some of these losing seasons, he himself endured some significant trials. I mean, people forget, because they weren’t paying attention. But Cedric Mullins, he was demoted all the way to double A just four years ago. I mean, that’s how badly he struggled, he was in double A again, and get a couple years later, he was an all star, and he’s having another All Star caliber season for this team in 2023. So there’s just so much to like about this team. And they’re young guys to fun. They like each other. I mean, all this stuff at the Homer hose and the bird bath and the section out in the outfield. And, you know, there’s just there’s a lot of good mojo going right now. And, you know, to bring it back to me, and not about me, but as someone who gets to do this for a living, so not asking anyone to feel sorry for me. But it’s been a lot of fun. And it has certainly been a welcome change from where they were just a couple years ago, where you’re covering some games. And you mentioned Bob Mueller’s character, Harry Doyle and Major League. I think back to a another quote that he had in that movie where, you know, at one point in time, he used a certain profanity that I won’t repeat. And his partner said, you can’t say that on the air. He said, Oh, don’t worry, no one no one’s listening. And that’s kind of where I found myself.

Dennis Koulatsos  12:38

Yeah, no one’s watching. You’re right about that.

Luke Jones  12:41

Yeah, exactly. So so that’s where it was just a couple years ago. But yeah, more and more, and you’re seeing more, you know, slowly but surely more people at the ballpark more people engaged more people watching it on TV, and it’s just been a whole lot of fun. It really has been.

Dennis Koulatsos  12:57

Well, they pulled the recent meeting we had a few months ago, they pulled the the the general managers of all of our stores and organization in terms of should we spend some money advertising with the Orioles? And of course, you know, I shot my hand right up, I said, Yes, you know, people I’m watching so on a night where there’s not a movie I want to see or whatever and it was playing. I’m tuning in and I’m watching from beginning to end. So I think for you though, the casual fan. And I started to represent that that that segment of the fan base. I think the casual fan is back and I can’t wait to see a football crowd at Camp Camden Yards because I think the noise level at that point will give the team the home team a huge advantage because I have been there. Whenever the football crowd at the stadium, it doesn’t make a difference.

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Luke Jones  13:42

It really does. And I’ll go back to a memory that’s very fond to Orioles fans, but dumb and Young’s double in the 2014 hlds against Detroit. And at that point I’d been covering the or I think that was my fifth year covering the Orioles you know, obviously I’ve been to plenty of games as a fan before that. But I can just remember feeling like the press box. You know, the press box is you know, on the lower level, you know, kind of right behind the lower level as you’re aware of that most people are they’ve been to Camden Yards and the absolute roar and vibration of the crowd. There was a moment there I was a little concerned that press bought Yeah, that the deck above the press box was gonna come down because it was I’ve never heard a crowd be that loud. I mean, I don’t want to discount so many great memories at ravens games, which in the press box there it’s enclosed. So you know you don’t get to gauge that but I was sitting in the upper deck when Tony banks through the touchdown, the Shannon Sharpe and 2000 against the Jaguars first time they’d be in Jacksonville and remembering it feeling like the upper deck was swaying. Camden Yards felt that way when Delmon young hit that double and so it just speaks to This having the potential to be not just a football town, which it’s been for a long time, but to also be a baseball town again, and I think there is a thirst for that. And I want to remind people, whenever I see people complaining about attendance when they don’t draw, look, the Orioles squandered a lot of goodwill for a long time with a lot of bad decisions. And that don’t need to be rehashed at this point, we all are aware of it. But I think there are people that want to believe again, and you just mentioned it. I mean, I have people coming up to me in church or on Sunday mornings, who I’ve never really talked baseball with. And they’ve brought up the Orioles to me because they you know, they know what I do for a living. And then I come around the team. And, you know, they’ve even asked me about it. So it really does speak to those casual fans or fans who had long given it off, or just, you know, it followed from afar, but haven’t really invested any of their time, money or emotion into it. Because why would you especially when they weren’t even trying for, you know, several years here trying to rebuild. So it’s fun. And, again, I want to caution that it’s important that they capitalize on this, that they take the next steps, you know where they are right now is it should not be the culmination, it’s not the end game, it should be the beginning. So they still have work to do in that regard. But in the meantime, anyone who’s still kind of reluctant about it, because I remember this happening in 2012 Even seize the opportunity to just have fun with this. Because it is a lot of fun. And again, even a game like Wednesday night where I wouldn’t have blamed anyone for turning it off. They come roaring back and suddenly before you know it, they’re winning and you know, even even had the jam with Michael Gibbons. And they’ve written you know, Danny coulomb, it was kind of the hero of the game, you know, minimizing the damage there and allowing them to get the ball Teesta in the ninth inning for the save. You know, it was it was a it was a really big win. And I think it was just so encouraging for them on the heels of what happened Tuesday night. And again, just a little microcosm of what this team has been all about here in 2023.

Dennis Koulatsos  17:06

All right, so they bring in Adam Frazier, who has been a difference maker. I mean, every time I turn around, this guy is making a difference. He looks like he doesn’t even look like a baseball player. I mean, the more the dimensions of the of the guys around him. But he’s been he’s been awesome this year for the birds.

Luke Jones  17:26

He really has been and I I have full disclosure here. Dennis, I didn’t like that signing, I kind of where this team

Dennis Koulatsos  17:32

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neither I thought that we’re better off keeping a rough middle door at that position.

Luke Jones  17:38

Well, I’ll disagree with you on that just because he was just so inconsistent. But for me, it was much more if you look at their farm system, so much infield talent. I mean, they have for example, they have Jordan Westberg a triple A right now go look at his numbers, go look and see what he’s done it. Yeah. So I think for me, it was much more a case of I really didn’t understand why they were making this move. And look, I’m not going to sit here and say that I am totally signing off on it just because he’s played well. But he’s been he’s made a major difference for them. And it’s crazy, because I mean, you look at him, he’s never been a guy that has hit many home runs. And you know, he’s he hits the foul pole on Wednesday night, and you just see what he has done for them at second base. And you know, he’s played good defense. And, you know, that’s not to say that Jordan Westberg couldn’t still come up and do exactly what Adam Frazier is done. But clearly, it was something Mike Elias identified and to this point. And again, it still may. And will, we could revisit this in August. And you and I might be talking differently about it because you don’t know because you got to let it play out. But he has definitely given them a lift at some times where I would not have expected it. You know, we saw that in Toronto. And certainly we saw it against the Yankees on Wednesday night. So it’s wild to kind of see what, you know, just the him having some power, showing some power, which is something that he hasn’t, you know, you go back and look at some of his metrics from last year. I mean, not hitting the ball with any authority whatsoever with Seattle. So it’s been surprising to see and, you know, hey, if you’re going to have a team that’s going to overachieve and make the playoffs and even try to do something in October. You’re going to need contributions from some unexpected places. We’ve We’ve you and I’ve talked about yen year Cano will continue to talk about him and how crazy that’s been. You know what we’ll talk about different players stepping up? I mean, how about Ryan O’Hearn what he did in Toronto, the big home run on Saturday. You need some contributions that are completely unexpected that come out of left field so to speak. So with Fraser I don’t know if it would say it’s necessarily come out of left field but he’s certainly overperformed compared to what I thought he was going to bring them in what was assigning that at the time I was still scratching my head. You know, I might they’ll be scratching it a little bit, again just because of what they do have in in the minor leagues as far as Westberg. And I’d really like to see him at the major league level and see what he can do because he’s raked a triple A and what else can you ask the guy to do? But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Adam Frazier has been a positive contributor for the Orioles after what for me was a pretty surprising contractor gave him over the winter.

Dennis Koulatsos  20:24

Yeah, I mean, I was at the game where with Shohei Otani was pitching, and he took him deep. I mean, it was, it wasn’t even it was you knew when the ball left his baton, of course, a tiny throws with quit velocity. But, you know, here the little guy just just boom, put one down centerfield.

Luke Jones  20:42

Yeah, absolutely. And you know, it’s still early in the season. So it’s not as though media have had a chance to get to get to know him to a high degree. But you know, you do get the sense that he’s one of those veteran presence is, you know, a veteran presence in the clubhouse that you need, you know, when we talked about this, you mentioned right next door, as much as maybe his play on the field left something to be desired at times last year, although we certainly had his clutch moments, you know, with a few home runs here and there. But you had a door, you had Robinson, Torino, who was the backup catcher last year, and you had Jordan Lyles, who really brought some of that veteran leadership for them that that they needed, especially when Trey man seen he was traded. So you had that this year, it’s been Kyle Gibson, who’s offered some of those same traits. And Adam Fraser has done that as well. So, you know, I think you need a little bit of that. And that’s something that when you’re a stats geek, like I am, where you’re looking at analytics, and you’re looking at, you know, some of the Statcast data and you say, Well, Adam Fraser why? Well, you know, there might be some intangibles that work there. And, you know, we don’t always get to even see it as media, you know, some of the stuff that goes on behind the scenes in terms of the veteran player, mentoring a young hitter. And sometimes it’s not even about tips about their swing, or about how to do this, or that sometimes, it’s just how to be a pro, you know, how do you handle the pressure? How do you handle struggling, you know, all those different things that, frankly, are life skills that we all try to have, and we all, you know, some of us do better than others, you know, as far as dealing with adversity and things of that nature. So, so you need some of that. And that doesn’t mean that that’s everything, and ultimately, the guy needs to be able to play and that’s why it’s been a pleasant surprise to see Fraser do what he’s done with the bat. But it’s definitely, you know, it’s one of those qualities that, you know, it’s difficult to quantify, you know, in terms of wins above replacement, or what a guy’s batting averages are, how many runs he drives in. But, you know, we’ve talked about this a lot with football. This, you and I, over the years, some of the leaders that the Ravens have had in the locker room, whether you’re talking about out front and center, one like Ray Lewis or someone who is more behind the scenes, someone who’s leading when the cameras aren’t there. And you know, sometimes it’s as simple as putting your arm around a young player or, or given that young player a little kick to the tail and say, Hey, pick it up, you know that there’s always some of that at work that goes beyond what a manager or a coach does. So not saying that Adam Fraser is necessarily doing all of those things. But those are some considerations that we’d have to acknowledge even when you make a move. That doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense on paper. Yeah,

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Dennis Koulatsos  23:18

for sure. He is Luke Jones. Joining us here on 1570. Am Baltimore positive? Make sure you catch Luke, he’s all over. W NS T and W ns t.net. Luca, let’s segue into the Ravens OTAs. Of course, you were there Wednesday, the week prior I ran into Marlon Humphrey and he wasn’t street clothes. He looked great. I mean, he just looked like he was ready to suit up and get going. And I’ll always ask you about the eyeball test. Here. Some guys look like they’re ready to roll. And some guys don’t. But just from what I’ve seen, great to see ro Quan Smith there Patrick queen, Marlon Humphrey, of course, Lamar Jackson.

Luke Jones  23:55

No question about it. I mean, I think the one Nate beyond the alarming would be no Lamar was there he spoke I wrote about some of what he had to say at Baltimore. positive.com. Nothing, earth shattering other than Lamar, making it clear that hey, you know, I feel like Todd Monken is gonna give us the keys to the offense a little more, talked a lot about wanting to throw the ball more. I don’t think that’s any secret. We’ll see how it works out. I mean, there’s there’s going to be some unknown there. And you know, with Lamar with Monken, and his play calling with the wide receivers all of that. But you know, the one name you mentioned that, to me was good to see there was Patrick queen, and you and I’ve talked about this, I don’t think we need to rehash the whole situation. We know how, what the reality is for him at this point, being in a contract year and highly unlikely that he’s going to get anything resembling certainly not top of market or maybe even second tier, third tier, whatever, wherever he might ultimately, land as far as what his contract is going to be. But, you know, it would have been easy for him to talk about it and not show up and be ticked off and look deep. doubt I’m sure he is a little ticked off and I of course I can understand that I mean in the same way that I kind of laughed at some of the Ravens fans negative reaction to what Chuck Clark had to say when when he was interviewed by jets media. Yeah, Chuck Clark was it had been a good soldier it started multiple years then the Ravens added two safeties in the offseason. How do you expect them to feel I mean, you get and that’s where we have to remember these guys, this is their livelihood. This is their business this is their employer they didn’t grow up lifelong Ravens fans or anything like that. So but in the case of Queen you know, I’m sure he’s feeling a certain way about you know, how some of its played out but look, he has every incentive to be there. Continue to learn from row Quan Smith continue to get better playing next to row Quan Smith to just benefit in the same way that Ed Hartwell and Bart Scott and so many different ravens linebackers benefited playing next to Ray Lewis for so many years. And so many of those guys ended up getting a big payday elsewhere, they Patrick queens in great position to be able to do that. And I don’t think it’s gonna be $100 million contract like ro Quan Smith got, but I think he can with a really strong season and build it on what he did last year, he’s got the potential to have a really strong season where he’ll have a few teams after him and I could see him, you know, getting the kind of deal like CJ Mosley got from the Jets, you know, something like that. So, you know, ultimately, you see how it plays out. But, you know, it’s good to see that, you know, I think, you know, as far as some of the other names that you mentioned, you know, you’d like senior veteran players there. Now, Marlon Humphrey wasn’t there on Wednesday, but he’s been there, you know, he’s been there. And I’ve never said that, uh, you know, established veteran players must be there for every single day of the offseason. I think we’re you run into a little more concern is a situation like last year with Lamar Jackson, where it was very evident that it was a symptom of a problem. And that’s where if Queen hadn’t shown up until mandatory minicamp, you’re wondering, is that a symptom of what’s going to be a problem? You know, I one guy who wasn’t there on Wednesday, and, again, I’m not calling them out, but recognizing it, not ignoring it. JK Dobbins wasn’t there. The last time we heard JK Dobbins speak publicly, was after the playoff loss to Cincinnati, he was not happy. Now we know that he hasn’t been happy necessarily with how his injury situation was handled and all that. So that’s not to say that JK Dobbins won’t come in next week and be totally fine. But that is one where you kind of, you know, you kind of put a little footnote there and say, okay, he wasn’t there. Don’t think he was there during football school. We know the ravens are transitioning to being you know, a little more balanced, a little less run heavy than they’ve been, how’s he going to feel about that going into a contract here if they move away from the Greg Roman formula of running the ball as much as they did, you know, even though he obviously wanted the lion’s share of the carries? So, you know, that’s, that’s all it is. It’s not even a major knock on the guy. I mean, the one guy that to me, especially now should be there and was is large acts because the quarterback is a different standard. It completely is. You want your veterans there, and John Harbaugh even said, Look, I’m a coach, I want everyone there, you know, that. That’s how they’re going to. That’s just how coaches are gonna be. I mean, they’re, they’re wired differently. It’s why they’re as successful as they are. It’s why they’ve gotten to the level that they’ve gotten. But I think, again, of all the names that were absent, you know, to me, the one that I just keep an eye on at this point is, it feels like it’s JK Dobbins. But, but that’s just you know, he’s

Dennis Koulatsos  28:37

worked hard. I mean, I saw a video of him, the guy screaming like a maniac. There’s no question about his heart. He’s going to be in shape he’s going to play. He’s playing for contracts. So I think the Ravens do have a great dynamic. You need guys like JK Dobbins Patrick, queen with a chip on his shoulder plane for that contract. You need those hungry young lions, just like you need the guys that have gotten paid such as Lamar Jackson and row Quan Smith on both sides of the ball.

Luke Jones  29:01

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No question about it. And I mean, this is where I’ll remind everyone that, you know, you don’t have to have a team that’s sitting in the circle holding hands singing Kumbaya, to be winners. I mean, I, I can think back to some teams, very successful teams, you know, not not specifically in Baltimore, but just anywhere where there is there’s plenty of drama. I mean, my goodness, even look at the Ravens in 2012. And what happened some of the unrest and, you know, I don’t I think the mutiny description was always a little dramatic based on what it was, but there was heat. I mean, it was it was contentious. There was no question about that. So, you know, but ultimately, they still had a common goal and ultimately, all these guys, they have a couple things in common one, they do want to get paid aid. It is their livelihood, it is their business, it is what they do for a living. And they want to win and you know that to me, that’s the key there. It’s yeah, you want guys? Yes, of course. They want to make money. And of course they want to be successful. But you want to have guys that are bought in to win. And you don’t have to love everything, everyone and everything about an organization to come together as a team for a common goal to win. And I think where the Ravens stand right now, you know, one thing that was really nice is you’re not tracking nearly as many players coming back from serious injury, Rashad Bateman didn’t take part in all the practice, but running and what he did look really good moving to heaven do Bernays back, you know, and was taking part in practice did not look like he had too many limitations at this point. You don’t have very many guys returning now they had some guys with serious injuries last year, but to this point, they’re not on the roster. So it’s kind of a moot point. But you don’t have very many guys that have that same level of injury baggage that they did a year ago where you were wondering, Okay, how’s Dobbins? Gonna look? How’s Marcus Peters, gonna look? How’s Tyus, Bowser going to look? I mean, go down the list of all the different guys they had, that were coming back from major injury. And we saw how that played out, you know, some guys played and were healthy and other guys had setbacks, or they weren’t ready until mid year or they played and they weren’t quite right. I mean, that’s just how it works. So when you’re at this point in the season, and you have most of your guys, I mean, the other end, a number of guys that weren’t out there on Wednesday, and again, not to make too much of it, but you’ve got a healthy roster for the most part. It just really does feel like the sky’s the limit for this team in terms of trying to take that next step. They’ve been in the playoffs for the last five years. You know, that’s, that’s the minimum at this point in terms of expectations. And I don’t say that to that anyone should take it for granted. But that’s just where they are right now from a roster standpoint. But for them to take the next step. They’re going to have to embrace new a new offense guys putting in the work and learning Todd Monken is offense. The Ravens have to hope that that’s a good fit. They have to hope that the changes that they’re going to make offensively are going to be what’s best for them. What’s best for Lamar Jackson, and I think there’s there’s some unknown to that, you know, keep in mind that they were very successful with what they’ve been doing with Greg Roman for a long time. So let’s not act like that was all bad. I mean, record setting 2019 will tell you that it wasn’t it was far from it. So they’re still unknown. But I think the potential The upside is there for them on offense, and certainly on defense. Got to stay healthy. Again, you need guys to buy in put in the work and you know, the same things you say about any team. But I think there’s a lot of excitement for this football team. And it was was fun to see them come together and and be out there as mostly a full team on Wednesday afternoon for the first OTA that was opened up to reporters like me.

Dennis Koulatsos  32:49

Alright, look, I want to throw two names at you just want to get your thoughts on daylon Hayes and Ben cleeland.

Luke Jones  32:57

Well, Dale, and Dale on Hayes was actually waived this week. I you know, he’s he’s done. You know, I don’t think he’s going to come back at this point. You know, I think it’s just a case of, you know, he’s someone who flashed it in the spring, you know, his rookie year and last year, but just couldn’t stay healthy. And I think John Harbaugh talks about it a lot with time on task, you just get to a point with some of these young players, especially later round picks, where they’ve just missed so much time that that’s just development, they’re not going to get back. I mean, it’s one thing to talk about someone like Ronnie Stanley, right, who was injured for the better part of two years. But yeah, he had built such a high baseline for the player that he was, and you know, he’s the sixth overall pick in the draft or whatever he was, you know, you can come back from that. But when you have a guy who needs all this development, and then he just misses so much time, it makes it really tough in turn, you know, because you mentioned Ben Cleveland, you know, there’s there are certain similarities there. Ben Cleveland hasn’t missed nearly as much time, but he’s missed enough time with nagging injuries that I think has stunted his development somewhat. And I do feel like this is such a critical year for him. I mean, the one position that you point to on this offense right now that is so wide open and you’re putting aside personnel groupings and Okay, how much is Patrick Ricard going to be used with Todd Monken is offense compared to Greg Roman. He’s still the starting fullback. So whenever they’re using a fullback he’s gonna be out.

Dennis Koulatsos  34:19

Can he play left guard? That’s right. Between fullback defensive tackle tight end and left guard,

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Luke Jones  34:28

I think you’re gonna see him more in line tight ends at this point than anything which you know, had kind of happened a little bit. You can go on back to lash I’d say it just of course, you know, I know you are but but in the case of Ben Cleveland, I mean left guards wide open right now and no, I think the early indications are he’s going to be in the mix but I think the other guy it’s not dismiss it in this equation is John Simpson who started two years ago all 17 games for the raiders and not going to say that he played great and he fell out of favor and ultimately a was cut out before last season. And that’s why the Ravens signed him onto the practice squad and he signed a reserve future deal and all that. But I get the sense that he’s someone who’s going to get a long look. And I think he’s someone that they like. And they just, I think what’s key for that position, Dennis, and this is what Ben what Ben Powers was ultimately able to do for them. And I think that’s why he held on to the job and ultimately, up getting the big payday with Denver as a result, you know, whether, you know, not saying that, even if the Ravens had the money that I would, would have wanted to give him quite that much money. But that’s neither here nor there. To key for them at left guard. They gotta find someone that gives them a high floor. Doesn’t need to be a pro bowl player doesn’t need to be an all pro like you don’t need this guy to be great. You need a guy to not be a liability there. You need a guy to one, understand what he’s doing to stay on the field. Three, just don’t mess things up. No, I mean, it’s that simple. But because really, when you look at it, you’re talking about a left guard that ideally and again, this is assuming health and you never want to take that for granted. But he’s going to be playing next in between Ronnie Stanley, who we know whether he’s going to get back to an all pro level or not. We know he can play at a very high level. And it’s healthy at this point in time. And Tyler Linder Baum, who, to me, even though he still has some more growth to do, has every every bit of ability to be a pro Pro Bowl, if not an all pro center for the next 10 years. So you’ve got someone that’s going to be playing between two really good two really good players. Just find someone that can be dependable there. So if it’s John Simpson, great if it’s Ben Cleveland, you really liked that because you invested the third round pick in Him and to this point, it’s he’s been very underwhelming so you know, you you just want someone to emerge there. Yeah. I don’t think it’s gonna be Patrick McHenry. I think he’s much better suited for the swing tackle spot. I know. hardball mentioned Daniel fall lately, but I think I still think he’s, I think he’s they’re still hopeful. He’s gonna be the right tackle the future. Sure. So, you know, I think at left guard, you know, I even asked hardball just for clarification about Sam Mustafa, the Owings Mills native, whom they signed, who was the starting center for the bears. I asked hardball if he was going to be in the mix at all at left guard. Sounds like they kind of have him earmarked to be the backup for Linder bomb. And I think that’s fine. That that’s kind of what I thought. But hey, as a reporter, sometimes you ask something that might even be perceived as a dumb question, just to get clarification. So yeah, for right now, where it stands, it really does feel like it’s between John Simpson and Ben Cleveland. And but I, I get the sense, they like Simpson a little bit more than maybe you would think and I get the sense still, even though even talking about it last year, at this time, I think people would have predicted Ben Cleveland being the starting left guard, a year ago, this time, just knowing where Ben Powers was contract wise. But I think the heat’s on him to, hey, it’s time it’s go time, it’s now or never won, you got to stay on the field and develop and get better and stack reps and stack practices. And to when you get a chance to do it, you got to go out and thrive and you need to play at a high level. So I think they’re still waiting on that from him. And I’m not saying that, that means he can’t do it. Because just a couple years ago, people were down on Ben powers and look what he ultimately did. But I think the clock’s ticking for him. And, you know, I don’t get the sense at all that you know that this has been Cleveland’s job to lose. I truly think it’s wide open between those two. And we’ll see if Eric caster adds any other veterans in the mix between now and the start of the season, which is always a possibility.

Dennis Koulatsos  38:35

Of course we have a June 1 cuts, they’re always significant. And the other piece of Luke is that this offensive line look, they’re not going to go pass happy, it’s not going to be air Coriell. All of a sudden, they’re going to still run the ball a fair amount of the time, but this offensive line will be tasked for being a better pass blocking unit in order to open up this offense. So they won’t be that mauling the linemen, they have they have to have good feet, which Ronnie Stanley has Linda ball hit me across the line that they’re really, really good solid. And both facets are run and pass protection. But the left guard spot he needs to be like you said a player that they can depend on. They can do both.

Luke Jones  39:13

Yeah, I mean, just give me an average starter. Just give me an average starter there. I think if you can get an average starter there. I think this offensive line is in great shape. I mean, this offensive line played at a high level last year. I think, you know, even if they’re going to be past protecting more than they have done over the last couple years. I think their past protection was world’s better than it was the year before. And certainly I know they’re still going to run the ball and yeah, I’ll continue to remind everyone and and to his credit Lamar even walked back the 6000 yard comment a little bit for some of his comments and look that comment we said this all along that comment got way too much serious attention. I think that was much more tongue in cheek and much more just Lamar being enthusiastic about hey, we’re gonna get a chance to play in a you know, in His mind, a more normal NFL offense, and, you know, whether that ultimately is going to be what’s best or not, you know what we’re gonna find out? You know, it’s gonna be really interesting to see. But, you know, he, he walked out back a little bit and I’ll remind everyone look, we can look at Todd Monken in Tampa Bay and see how Pat’s heavy, they were in the dirt cutter, you know, those years with, you know, just throwing the ball all over the field. But, I mean, just go look at the Georgia offense the last couple years. I mean, it had it had elements and, you know, maybe not the plate on a play by play basis and formation basis now, necessarily, but they ran the ball, and they really featured their tight ends prominently. I mean, that sounds a lot like Greg Robins, you know, so. And that’s not to say that I think that’s going to repeat, because I do think it’s very evident at this point that you’re going to see a lot more 11 personnel, you’re going to see them play a lot more spread out. I think you’re gonna see them play a lot more uptempo than they did under Greg Roman. And I’m all for all those things. Because by the way, you can spread out and you can run the ball so well out of 11 personnel. When you look at the Rams, not not the matt, Matthew Stafford rams, but the Jared Goff, Super Bowl year, go look at what they did out of 11 personnel, they ran the ball incredibly well out of three wide receiver sets. And that’s, you know, before the knee issues caught up with Todd Gurley. So you can do that. And when you do that you force a team, you force the defense to spread out and you force a team to play with lighter box, you know, letterbox count. And boy, that’s just going to, theoretically, that should make things that much easier for JK Dobbins or Gus Edwards or Yes, Lamar Jackson when he runs the ball, which I still, you know, Lamar talked about it acknowledged running less throwing more, you know, I still think you want to be careful there because we still have to acknowledge, yes, Lamar Jackson is a better passer than his worst detractors give him credit for. But if you’re still going to come back to what truly makes him transcendent, what truly makes him a special talent, it is his legs, it is his athleticism. So you never want to eliminate that to me, you don’t want to diminish that too much. And if I have one concern now, and again, this is just on a surface level, you know, my first blush reaction to all of this, because I think we saw at some last year, I would hate to see Lamar become too reluctant to run to the point where it becomes detrimental to the overall offense. So and that’s, and that’s where it’s gonna come down to coaching, right, that’s where it’s gonna come down to Todd Monken. And T Martin, who’s now the quarterbacks coach and John Harbaugh. And to remind them are that, hey, this is still a big part of who you are. And don’t be ashamed of that. And that doesn’t mean you can’t throw the ball. That doesn’t mean you can’t have 300 yard games. And you’ve done that you led the NFL and touchdown passes four years ago. So you’ve proven that but don’t feel like you know, don’t try to be something you’re not either. So I think that’s where you want to strike that right balance and that and that’s where I set a concern maybe that’s concerned might be too strong. But I think that’s a fair question, at least to see how this is gonna play out. You don’t want Lamar to be so hell bent, so focused on throwing the ball to back home and throwing the ball as a flowers and throwing the ball to Bateman. And oh, yeah, you have an All Pro tight end and Mark Andrews that you’re not going to forget about who’s still their best receiver. And you’ve got Isaiah likely and go down the list of all these different weapons they have that their best play. And even if they relied on it too much in the past, and even if you have to dial that back, some especially as it gets older, their best play more often than not, is still going to be those times where Lamar Jackson takes off. Because there are a few things more exciting in sports than Lamar Jackson getting into the open field against the defense, it’s not ready for it. So I’d hate to see that go away too much at the expense of just trying to make this offense more conventional. I think the Ravens still want to zig while everyone else is zagging and we’ve talked reviews that narrative for the better part of four or five years now. But you know, I think it’s just finding a new new calibration for how that’s going to look exactly

Dennis Koulatsos  44:14

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great stuff as always from Luke challenge. Luke, please tell our listeners where they can find your social media, your blog, all the great stuff we do for Baltimore positive and 1570 Am wn St.

Luke Jones  44:25

Absolutely I encourage everyone to follow us on Twitter at wn st can follow me personally at Baltimore Lucas I’ll be back at the ballpark. Orioles returned home over the weekend to start their next homestand check out my blog at Baltimore positive.com sponsored by coons for to Baltimore. My latest on Lamar Jackson 12 ravens thoughts I’ll have more on the Orioles as we get back to baseball at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in the coming days. Check that out at Baltimore positive.com You want to be on the wn st Baltimore positive tech service sponsored by Koons Ford or Baltimore. Any significant local sports news sent directly to your mobile device via the wn St Baltimore positive tech service and of course anything throughout the week on AM 15 Seven eat with Nestor ravens interviews from Owings Mills at OTAs sound from the ballpark as the Orioles returned home you can check out all of that at Baltimore positive.com

Dennis Koulatsos  45:14

All right, my friend, always a pleasure, do great things. Enjoy your weekend and you got wrestling coming up. All kinds of great stuff.

Luke Jones  45:21

Thanks, Dennis. Enjoy the holiday weekend and we’ll talk next week.

Dennis Koulatsos  45:25

You got it. Thanks again. There it goes. Luke Jones here 1570 Am Baltimore positive wn S T. We’ll take a quick break and come back right after this.

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