Wednesday, May 27, 2009

NOLAN REIMOLD IS THE MAN!


WALK OFF 3 RUN HOMERUN IN THE BOTTOM OF THE 11TH TO WIN THE GAME! A sweep of the Blue Jays, their first since 1994. Plus I saw a fan wearing a Nick the Stick shirt right before Reimold hit the laser shot out. Hell yeah!

T-SHIRT TRIVIA


I got one free Sportscrack Tee or Drink Like a Champion Today shirt to the first person who can answer this trivia question correctly.

There have been an abundance of home steals in baseball this year, can you name the all-time leader in home stolen bases and the exact number this person collected in their career?

First person to email me their name, address, and the correct answers to matt@sportscrack.com will get a free shirt of their choice. Good luck!

UPDATE: Congratulations go out to Jim Niemie of New York for being the first person to correctly email me the answer of Ty Cobb with 54 stolen bases. Jim picked the BC$ We Want Playoffs not Payoffs shirt. Be on the lookout next Wednesday at noon eastern when we will do another Sportscrack Tee Trivia giveaway.

THE GREAT WIETERS HOPE


And so it begins...nearly two full years after the Baltimore Orioles drafted phenom catcher Matt Wieters with the 5th overall pick out of Georgia Tech, Wieters will make his major league debut this Friday in Camden Yards against the Detroit Tigers. The 6'5 catcher has had scouts, baseball executives, coaches and fans raving and drooling about his minor league production not to mention his future MLB potential as one of the centerpieces of an Orioles franchise that already boosts young superstars in Nick Markakis and Adam Jones. Wieters has drawn favorable comparisons to Joe Mauer and Jason Varitek. Excuse me while I change my pants. I think I just soiled myself.

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail revealed last night during the MASN broadcast against the Blue Jays that Wieters would make his debut and that he was ready...

"He is really starting to hit the ball; he has been on quite a streak over the last 10 days...he has made the progress, the power is starting to come. He is (hitting) over .300 as we speak. ... It's time. He has done what he has needed to do at that level."

Wieters learned last night before taking the field for the Norfolk Tides that he was being called up. How did he respond to the news? Oh, simply by going 4-for-4 with a double, 4 RBIs and getting on base all 5 times he was up. Yeah, he is most certainly ready. Wieters tore up A and AA ball last year while climbing up to the #1 overall prospect. He finished last season with 27 home runs, drove in 91, and hit .355 overall with an on-base percentage of nearly .450 while earning the Baseball America Player of the Year honor. This season his production hasn't been as good while playing in AAA due partly to a tender hamstring that shelved him for almost a week. But nevertheless scouts and coaches and even the players know he is ready to make a big impact in Baltimore.
"Right when he came up [to Bowie] and I saw him play for a while, I was like 'Wow,' " said Orioles left fielder Nolan Reimold, who played with Wieters for parts of two seasons. "He can really hit and he can really play."

Wieters was all part of a plan drawn up and implemented by MacPhail to revitalize the Orioles minor league system. The Orioles spent too many seasons chasing old veterans, drafting the wrong guys, and not developing the talent and/or trading it away(I still can't believe to this day they traded Curt Schilling, Pete Harnisch, and Steve Finley for Glenn Davis). But MacPhail has changed the Orioles franchise around and thankfully owner Peter Angelos has learned from his past mistakes and let a great baseball mind do his job. One of those was drafting Wieters with the 5th pick when he was rated the #1 overall player in the draft and only fell because of signing issues(Scott Boras client). MacPhail got him signed and delivered at the 11th hour with an Orioles record signing bonus of $6 million.

Wieters has proven so far that he is well worth the money. The Orioles haven't had a winning season since I was a freshman at Towson University. That was 12 years ago. It's been a painful decade to watch a proud franchise like the Orioles slip while teams in their division like the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees enjoy huge success thanks in large part to the economics of the game. But things are changing for the better in Charm City. With the contract extensions of Markakis and Brian Roberts and the trade with Seattle to bring in superstar in the making Adam "Bazooka" Jones and future ace Chris Tillman along with All-Star closer George "Flat Breezy" Sherrill things are starting to look sunny on the diamond for the first time since Cal Ripken smiled and waved his final farewell to the fans. Not to mention that MacPhail drafted and signed future aces Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz as part of a "cavalry" of young pitching phenoms that should have Marylanders ready to hang up those Ravens hats and start heading back to Camden Yards.

Wieters is just the start of the Great Hope. The next decade of call ups should be the light to guide the Orioles out of the darkness.