Should the MLB Perform a Self Imposed lockout?

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By: Randy Yiadom

“Today is a good day” in my (ice cube voice) you’re probably wondering why I’m so excited? Well baseball season is over and the fraudulent players are on leave until next season. We are now about to tune into watching some of the best athletes in the universe play the most exciting sports all at the same time. We got fun filled weekends, were real men all over the world are rejoicing while watching sports all day and eating junk food with a brew in their hand. You got soccer in the morning, football at noon and Basketball in the evening. In other words a weekend has passed you buy and you didn’t have to spend money on a useless Saturday night. Oh yeah I forgot to mention you still got a whole Sunday to watch the NFL and monitor your fantasy so embrace these weekends before it passes you by. The best part about this sports shuffle is we don’t have to watch any baseball during this time.

In past years, I have been a casual baseball fan and always tuned in during the HR derby and playoffs. But as a sports fan I’ve had it up to the sky with these superstar athletes lying, is nothing wrong with a little edge on your opposition but like Jeezy said on TM 101 track 13 I quote “don get caught”. Yet these morons are in the middle of every scandal. With that being said I’ve gotten text messages via group chat to witness history with bases loaded in the 9th during the World Series but not one time when I viewed the message I considered switching channels. Last time I checked, everybody wanted to be a part of history or witness it but from the looks of the things nobody gives a damn about the MLB. Until the people of the free world give a damn about baseball I think it’s time for Bud Selig to perform a self-imposed lockout on the MLB. They should ban the league until players and executives get there mind right. The same way an accountant performs an audit on a company annually they need to audit the sport and clean the mess up completely. Ortiz was a few steps of being out of the MLB a few years ago now he’s the baseball savior and media is trying to act as if he was a clean and honest player. Yeah right, allegedly Ortiz is 38 years old in American years but he probably 56 in his native country. But what’s really crazy is he’s hitting over .700 in the World Series? Last time I checked the older you got the less you can do but with a little help of some PEDs my man Ortiz has got his groove back. Though it’s all speculation, overall the sport of a baseball is a big circus from Brian Cashman blackballing A-Rod or Ryan Braun lying on national TV and still receiving  a  pay check during suspension. Something needs to be done and it needs to be done now. These egotistical players aren’t fighting the cases to prove their innocence, they are doing it to protect their image that’s already been tainted and act as if they were the victim “child please”. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Time and time again we see the same scandal over again and I’m tired like an African Nurse working doubles. Now if my request of a lockout was to ever go thru I have  3 golden steps on how to improve the sport:

  • Step 1: Accept the players who cheated during the steroid era.They cheated but statistically they were still going to make the HOF before they cheated so let them in.
  • Step 2: All cheaters and alleged cheaters must write a 12 page letter on why they should get a second chance, excuse me did I say second? I meant to say fifth chance.
  • Step 3: Yankees pay that man A-rod what you owe him and admit that you got played in your own game. After he receives all his compensation just sue him when he is M.C. hammer broke and he can have a reality show on VH1. So we can laugh at him like we did  Canseco . Harsh but “everybody plays the fool” as Aaron Neville would say.

 

Repeating?? Worry about making playoffs

It’s hard to repeat as Super bowl champs, the Baltimore Ravens are learning this difficult lesson this season, and honestly they need to be more worried about making the playoffs. After a great Super bowl run, the Ravens parted ways with 8 players off their super bowl winning team. The most a team has lost after winning a SB is 5 players. Now GM Ozzie Newsome and front office are tasked with finding replacements for those players while keeping the production almost at the same level. That is easier said than done. In the 2013 NFL draft Ravens used 6 of their 10 picks to get defensive players. Using 1st, 2nd and 3rd of their picks to get safety Matt Elam, Linebacker Arthur Brown and Defensive tackle, respectively. Ozzie also signed Elvis Dumervil a three time probowler OLB after a fax snafu in Denver, Michael Huff a versatile DB, Marcus spears and Chris Canty. Even with these experience players signed, it is very hard to get everyone one the same page and get the chemistry going. This is evident by week one beat down Denver put on Baltimore (even though that should have been a home game, no thanks to the orioles). Throughout the season it’s been a series of problems on the defense, if it is not the run D then it’s the pass D, if it’s not the pass D then it’s the run D. Head coach John Harbaugh and DC Dean Peas need to get this leaky defense back to where it belongs, Top 10 even Top 5 Defense.

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When Anquan Boldin was traded for a 6th round pick to the San Francisco 49ers, everyone thought he would be the most missed offensive player. Then the unthinkable happened, Dennis Pitta, one of the best young, up and coming, talented TEs gets hurt for possibly for the season. That right there threw the whole Ravens offense into shambles, as Pitta was expected to fill the void left by Boldin. The Pitta injury hurts way more than the Boldin trade, look at the numbers the players replacing Boldin, Tandon Doss and undrafted rookie FA Marlon Brown, are putting up. These numbers compare favorably to Boldin’s numbers. What you miss with Boldin is a physical presence that can move the chains.

 But now the Ravens have to find ways not only to replace boldin but Pitta as well. Least to say, it has been difficult in trying to find Pitta’s replacement, the backup Ed Dickson is inconsistent with brick hands (it was only 2 yrs ago when he had 54 catches, what happened to that guy?), front office signed veterans Dallas Clark and Brandon Stokley but that’s only a temporary solution. The loss of Pitta is very apparent on the field. In today’s NFL, teams have to be able to take advantage of the middle of the field, with all the rules that are put in to protect the players,  the seam route is open 8 out of 10 times and you will get some type of flag on the other two times. Look at NO, DEN, now that Gronk is back NE, they have good TEs and they are consistently taking advantage of the middle of the field. Losing Pitta has put the Ravens offense in limbo, inconsistent and sometimes none existent offense is the main reason the ball club is at 3-4.  

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 In addition to the loss of Pitta, the lack of run and pass blocking by the OLine has ruined the Ravens offense.  Juan Castillo was hired right before the Super bowl run, from what I hear Castillo is a well-respected Offensive Line coach who spent 10 years in Philadelphia before he was ran out of town by the Eagles organization as the scape goat of the abysmal 2012-13 season. Castillo has come in and changed the running scheme from man blocking, which Ravens excelled in, into zone blocking. Just look at Ray Rice’s stats to see the difference the scheme has made. Ray Rice is perennial probowler, one of the most dangerous RBs in the league, he has 250 rushing yards through week 7, with a dreadful 2.8 ypc , granted he didn’t play one game because of injury. The zone scheme works, actually it is a great scheme, take a look at Houston and Washington. These teams run this scheme to perfection; main reason is because they have the personnel to do. Ravens don’t have the right offensive lineman to run the zone blocking scheme, especially with a new starter at center. Gino Gradkowski is a second year player out of Delaware; he was selected in the 4th round in the 2012 NFL draft. He is having difficulty playing the position. I have a new found appreciation for centers after going what the Ravens are going through. Gino is getting outplayed mentally and physically. This was evident in week 6 loss to the Green Bay packers, A.J. Hawk is one of the best 3-4 inside LBs in the league but he is not known as a sack master, his career best was 3.5 sacks in his rookie year, in week 6 he had 3 sacks while blitzing the A gap (gap between the center and guard) every time Gino failed to recognize and pick up the blitz. If the Ravens want to make the playoffs, the offensive line is the first thing they have to fix and that starts with the center.

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As much as Ravens fans don’t want to admit it, the 2013 Ravens are a rebuilding team or transitioning team whatever you want to call it. They have a franchise QB, in Joe Flacco, who needs all the help he can get to win football games. He is not your regular elite QB; Flacco needs a good running game and good scheme to be successful. They seem to have found a good receiver in Torrey Smith; I already talked about Ray Rice. I also talked about the up and down defensive showing the Ravens have had. Knowing all this, an experience coach who has been in difficult situations would know what do. Not coach John Harbaugh, now don’t get me wrong he is very good coach, it is not easy to make it to the playoffs your first 5 seasons, add 3 AFC championships and finally win a super bowl. But so far this season, he has made the wrong decision time and time again. He has made 3 decisions that led directly to three of the four losses. It will take another article to talk about these decisions. They don’t call it conventional wisdom for nothing. You can’t have an aggressive state of mind when the team is clearly in a rebuilding mode. The Baltimore media is useless, they are scared as a Turkey in November, when it comes to asking the coach tough questions. Coach Harbaugh needs to take a look at the mirror and do some self-evaluation. The owner of the Ravens, Steve Biscotti said in the offseason that he wants a team that can contend every year, well Mr. Biscotti it might be time to step down from your high chair and hold the coach accountable, ask him some tough questions, demand some kind of change before the season is lost.  

I think repeating as Super bowl champs should be the last thing in the coaches’ and players’ minds. They need to worry about fixing leaky offensive line, stopping the run, cutting out mental breakdowns in the secondary and finally the coach needs to make smarter decisions to put the team in a better position to win ball games. With nine games left in the season, there is still time for the Ravens to salvage their season. That starts with a critical game against the Browns, a division rival.

The Wait is Over Wizards

By Amman Affa

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To say the least it’s been a long time since we have had something to root for other then a lottery pick in DC. The Washington Wizards future finally looks bright; the days of 10-20 game-losing streaks to start the season may finally be behind us.  As a Wizards fan I have seen the worst of the worst in these last few years. From signing Arenas to a max deal while still injured, to having Arenas repay us by trying to kill a teammate in the Locker room… literallyImage.  Gilbert Arenas was not the sole reason for our quick transformation from a playoff team to the worst team in the NBA, but his impact or lack thereof started the downward spiral.

Although the gun incident was a freighting time as a Wizards fan, nothing was worse than knowing the three stooges were left to take over the team. What’s embarrassing is that we all know exactly who I’m referring to, Nick Young aka Swaggy P Image, Andre Blatch aka “Mr.VIP” Imageand last but definitely not least Javelle Mcgee aka Mr. GoaltendImage. If these are not the worst three players to ever build your team around then… actually there is no room for comparison, they are the worst three of all time. These three are literally the polar opposites of the Miami Heat’s big three.  I honestly tried to look for an Andre Blatch picture in his Wizards jersey but I could only find photos of him in various DC nightclubs (no surprise there). Javelle McGee is a 7 ft. center who plays defense like a WNBA player and has the basketball IQ of a freshman high school player, and Nick Young has more swag then talent, yet he would show flashes of brilliance and fool us all into thinking one day he would get it together. The person responsible for the circus formally known as the Washington Wizards was the GM Ernie Grunfeld. Although ever since Ted Leonsis took ownership of the team ( and turned the heat up on Ernie), Grunfeld has been a new man.

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Since 2010 we have had four straight top 10 lottery picks. Besides the self-proclaimed Blake Griffin of the Czech Republic, Jan Vesely, all of the selections have played well and are expected to have bright futures.  We are now led by a potential All star caliber point guard who is arguably the most explosive guard in the league. John Wall was entrusted with being the leader and center of the team this summer when he signed a max contract comparable to super stars such as James Harden and Kevin Durant.  If John Wall does not play like a top 5-point guard in the league, then we are all doomed, we expect him to lead us to the playoffs on a yearly basis.  Coming off a very impressive pre season Bradley Beal is expected to take on the major portion of the Wizards scoring needs.  As the number 2 pick last year Beal is only going to get better, as he has been adding more to his game and has an increased amount of confidence.  Finally we have the 2013 selection, Otto Porter. The Wizards decided to play it safe with this selection and fulfill a long-term need at the small forward slot. Otto Porter is not the flashiest or most athletic player, but he makes up for it in IQ and leadership.  If Otto Porter can be a lockdown defender and average 12-15 a game, he would be well worth his number 3 draft choice. Ernie has been making many acquisitions such as obtaining Al Harrington and trading an injured Okafor for a healthy Gortat. In order to get the Wizards into the playoffs (and for Ernie to keep his job), these trades and draft picks will have to play to their full potential.  The wait is over Wizards, playoffs or bust.