Monday, January 19, 2009

THANK GOD ALMIGHTY! ORIOLES SIGN MARKAKIS TO EXTENSION


As a diehard Orioles fan we have been given little to cheer about for the past decade or so but one of the players who continues to put a smile on my face is Nick Markakis. Nick the Stick is the type of player you can build a franchise around. His first 3 seasons in the Show have been impressive and you can see the progression in his game as his on base percentage continues to rise as quickly as his fanbase in Baltimore. And instead of him leaving in 3 years to go play for some other team the Orioles wrapped him up with a 6 year deal for $66 million.

Most of all this signing brings back hope for me that the Orioles are committed to building a winning franchise. With yesterday's trade for Felix Pie the O's now have a young outfield that has the potential to be one of the best in the majors for years to come. Pie will be 24 on Opening Day and was twice named the Chicago Cubs #1 prospect. He has the tools to be a great player in the American League. He will play left field next to budding superstar centerfielder Adam Jones who was acquired last year in the Erik Bedard trade. Jones has a very similar makeup to Eric Davis and at the age of 23 will just continue to get better. His defense is already great and worthy of consideration for a Gold Glove. And of course at the ripe old age of 25 is Markakis. Markakis lead all outfielders in assists with his accurate strong arm patrolling right field.

Markakis can now be the permanent face of the franchise as he will be playing the next six years in a young lineup that will also include the minor leagues #1 overall prospect in catcher Matt Wieters. Wieters is expected to have an Evan Longoria/Ryan Braun impact for Baltimore this season. They also have the holy trio of young starting power arms that scouts drool over in Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz, and Chris Tillman all expected to make an impact in the next year or two.

This season has the potential to be a really horrible one for Baltimore with their lack of proven starting pitchers behind ace Jeremy Guthrie but the future looks bright especially with the Markakis extension. Throw in the facts that GM Andy MacPhail has upgraded international scouting and the farm system tremendously with an emphasis on young arms being developed the Orioles look like they could make a run in 2010 and beyond. They own the #5 overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft and are projected to take another young arm in Aaron Crow who failed to sign with the Nationals last year as a top ten pick. The franchise should have another top 5 pick in 2010 also and with their commitment now to shell out the big bucks to draft picks they do take the best possible prospect on the board without the fear of not signing them.

Now all this has me leaning toward ordering the 2009 MLB package for $169 to watch the Orioles. Sure they will probably suck this year but the young guys will play and they will continue to get better. I just can't wait till the day when the Orioles beat the shit out of all those Yankees and Red Sox teams with their bandwagon fans. That will be a sweet day!

CLEMSON STUDENT TAKES OUT WAKE FOREST CHAS MCFARLAND


Wake Forest forward Chas McFarland got straight up body slammed by a Clemson student. Give that kid a cheerleading outfit. His school spirit is ferocious.

HAPPY MLK DAY EVERYBODY!


Now get off my lawn! Just kidding of course. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great American and stood for what was right and was not afraid to go against the norm. You have to admire a man with King's heart and his "I have a dream" speech still gives me goosebumps to this day.

But right now my dream is for this hangover to go away. Maybe a drink or ten would help. It's about consistency.

NOTRE DAME TO HIRE BRYANT YOUNG AND TIM GRUNHARD AS GRAD ASSISTANTS


Former Notre Dame greats Bryant Young and Tim Grunhard are suppose to be announced as upcoming graduate assistants according to multiple internet sources. Young, a future NFL Hall of Famer for the San Francisco 49ers, was one of my favorite players back in the early 90's and always brought with him a tremendous work ethic to the game which hopefully will translate to his coaching abilities. The Fighting Irish have quite a few potential young superstars on the d-line including Ethan Johnson and Darius Fleming who could learn a lot from Young.

Grunhard will work with the offensive linemen and the NFL veteran was a badass center on the 1988 National Championship team. The Fighting Irish have three centers on their current roster including starter Dan Wenger and backups Braxton Cave and Mike Golic Jr. so I would presume they would get a lot of one-on-one instruction from Grunhard.

Young and Grunhard should also help with recruiting next season. It always a luxury to have coaches who are house hold names going into recruit's living rooms. With the firing of offensive line coach John Latina and defensive line coach Jappy Oliver this offseason it is apparent that Charlie Weis is coaching for his job in 2009. Young and Grunhard are welcomed additions back to the Notre Dame family and should be tremendous assets to Weis who can teach the players the proper techniques and fundamentals of line play. Hopefully they can also teach the players the proper strength conditioning so they can start pushing around teams instead of vice versa.

Pictures courtesy of BlueandGold.com

STEELERS KNOCK OUT RAVENS