This bar has been in existence (cyber existence, anyway) for almost a year and I have been waiting patiently to deliver the line.
The time is now.
"OK people, time to leave. You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."
All right, it's official. I am a bartender now.
As many of you know, we are temporarily closing the bar. I'm going to take a few days off, and when I return, I'll be rested and coming at you from sunny Florida.
I'll be back with watery drinks, obscure music (listening to Chuck Prophet as we speak) and dumb jokes around March 9 or shortly thereafter.
But to tide you over for at least a couple days, I'm giving you a 3-for-1 special (you've never had that, even in college). We're hitting on three topics. So comment well and comment often.
Friday marks the first day of NFL free agency. And it's looking more and more like Ray Lewis is going to test the market. We've heard that he fancies playing for the Dallas Cowboys and you can't discount his rejoining Rex Ryan with the New York Jets.
But when it is all over, I say the most important leader in Ravens' history will stay in Baltimore. That's my prediction. Do you think Ray Lewis stays with the Ravens?
While we are discussing leaders, one of the more interesting questions heading into Orioles' spring training camp is who will emerge as the club leader in 2009?
Often, the clubhouse leader is a veteran who is one of the club's best players. But for the past two years, Kevin Millar was the unquestioned clubhouse leader. He got along with everyone and wasn't afraid to say something if he felt a teammate was out of line.
He was relegated to a bench player by the end of his stint with the Orioles, but he still held everyone's respect. Now, Millar, who is attempting to make the Toronto Blue Jays, is gone. Someone likely will step up in the clubhouse.
The two obvious candidates are veteran Brian Roberts and budding star Nick Markakis. Both signed extensions this winter, and so we know they'll be around for a while. But, honestly, neither relishes that leadership role.
Markakis is quiet by nature – and he is just 25. Don't expect him to rah-rah the guys yet, if ever.
No doubt, Roberts has the years and the respect to become the guy, to set the example in words and deeds. But he is also more of a "leader by example" type. Guys will listen when he talks, but he's not confrontational. So he'd have to work on that part of "leadership."
There are other candidates. Catcher Gregg Zaun could emerge as a leader once he gets comfortable in the clubhouse, and Melvin Mora isn't afraid to speak his mind.
But here's my pick: Jeremy Guthrie. Normally, everyday players take on the leadership role, but not always (ask the other 24 men on the Blue Jays roster and they'll tell you that Roy Halladay is the unquestioned club leader).
Guthrie is the Orioles' best pitcher, he's smart and well-spoken and has a little edge to him when he wants it. So I'm bucking convention and saying Guthrie emerges as the team's clubhouse leader.
The last topic is an obvious one. After Wednesday against Duke, the Terrapins have three more games this regular season: At N.C. State and Virginia and at home against Wake Forest. They probably need to win two of three and then at least one game, maybe two, in the ACC tournament to get a NCAA tourney bid.
Well, will they get it? Or is it off to the NIT again?
OK, that's it for me in the longest entry in Connolly history. Have a great week, we'll see you soon and, last one out, turn out the lights and get Rich and Mike from Jupiter into a cab.
Daily Think Special: Once the posturing is over, will Ray Lewis remain a Raven in 2009?
Bonus Think Special: Who emerges as the Orioles' team leader in 2009? Does anyone?
Double-Secret-Probation Special: Are the Terps getting a NCAA tourney berth?