The Shirley Povich Center for Sports Journalism will host an "Evening with Kevin Merida" on Feb. 17 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Eaton Theater of Knight Hall on Maryland campus in College Park. Merida is editor-in-chief of the "The Undefeated" website at ESPN, which focuses on race and culture in sports. Previously, he was at The Washington Post for more than 20 years, most recently as a managing editor. Povich Center director George Solomon will moderate the panel with Merrill College graduate student Rachel McNair. "Kevin Merida is one of the great journalists in the country," Solomon said. "ESPN hiring him to run 'The Undefeated' is a huge acquisition and provides the site immediate credibility." The event is free and open to the public. For more information, email email@example.com or call her at 301-405-4605 or go to povichcenter.org.
Ravens' stadium experience ranks high
A few months after Stadium Journey magazine ranked Camden Yards the best ballpark experience in major league baseball, the same publication gave a high ranking to the experience at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens' home-game experience ranked second in the NFL in rankings released last week, behind only the Indianapolis Colts' Lucas Oil Stadium in a system that judges concessions, fans, atmosphere and more. In his review of the stadium, correspondent Richard Smith noted the myriad improvements, including television screens, improved concessions and Wi-Fi, that the team installed in recent years. M&T Bank Stadium scored a five-star rating in food and beverages, atmosphere, fans, access and extras, while the surrounding neighborhood and return on investment both earned four stars.
Stadium grass: The Ravens announced in December that they planned to replace the artificial surface at M&T Bank Stadium with natural grass. The team said Wednesday that the process will officially begin today when the artificial field is dug up and removed. In the weeks and months ahead, the Ravens will be installing a Bermuda grass, which will be ready for the season. The Ravens haven't played home games on natural grass since the 2002 season, when problems maintaining the field resulted in the team switching to artificial turf. However, Ravens president Dick Cass said in December that a combination of artificial lighting and the team regularly resodding the field should help maintain the quality of a natural grass surface.
Redskins: Washington signed defensive lineman Ziggy Hood, 28, to a reserve/future contract that begins next season. Hood played two games for the Chicago Bears last season. He spent one season with the Jacksonville Jaguars and the previous five with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Lefty reliever Okajima signed to minor league deal
The Orioles have signed Japanese left-handed reliever Hideki Okajima to a minor league deal, according to an industry source. The deal with Okajima, who turned 40 in December, does not include a major league spring training invitation. He will report to the Orioles' minor league camp in Sarasota, Fla. Okajima pitched for the Boston Red Sox from 2007 to 2011, serving as the setup man on Boston's World Series champion team in 2007. That season, he also made the American League All-Star team when he was selected by fan vote. He has spent three of his past four seasons pitching in Japan, most recently with the Yokahama Bay Stars of the Japanese Central League in 2015. He was 0-2 with an 8.59 ERA in just 71/3 relief innings. Okajima will likely compete for a bullpen spot at Triple-A Norfolk this spring.
—Eduardo A. Encina
Ballboys and ballgirls: The Orioles are seeking "outgoing and athletic men and women ages 18 and older" who want to try out on March 5 at Camden Yards to be a ballboy and ballgirl this season. The tryout will begin at noon and be judged by CBS Radio's Rob Long, Greg Carpenter and Regan Warfield. Aspirants must bring their own glove. Resumes are recommended.
Smith won't be back as F.S. Key football coach
After four seasons coaching the Francis Scott Key varsity football team, longtime Eagles coach Dave Smith won't be back at the helm in 2016, Smith confirmed via email Tuesday. "I feel very blessed to have been the head football coach at FSK," Smith said via email. "Over the past four years we have improved the program, enhanced the culture and developed young men of real character that will be successful for the rest of their lives." Key has struggled after it won more games from 2000 to 2009 than any other Carroll County school. Smith, on staff since 2000, went just 5-34 in four seasons as head coach but ended 2015 with back-to-back wins over North Carroll and Winters Mill — the program's first winning streak since 2007. The Eagles haven't won more than two games in a season since 2007, when they went 4-6.
—Jake Rill, Baltimore Sun Media Group
College baseball: Salisbury was picked in the Capital Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll to finish first, edging Mary Washington, 74 points to 72. Frostburg State was third with 71 and St. Mary's ninth with 16.
Major Arena Soccer League: Blast goalkeeper William Vanzela and midfielder Tony Donatelli were MASL Team of the Week honorable mention list.