The Orioles¿ bad luck on the baseball field has expanded into the team¿s promotions department, which unfortunately is having a banner homestand for ill-timed fan giveaways (by no fault of their own, of course).
In recent weeks, the man I call the most interesting manager in the world has looked like the most irritated manager in the world as he scowls away in the Orioles dugout. Then again, I would be pretty ticked off, too, if the Yankees put up double digits in the first inning against my team's latest fading pitching prospect.
Pitching in the minor leagues and still struggling to get hitters out, Brian Matusz, who was thought to be the Orioles' best starting pitcher entering the 2011 season, admitted to Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday that he wasn't mentally prepared at the start of spring training.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco defiantly fired back at his critics Wednesday, saying, "I'm pretty damn good." ... Sergio Kindle, who missed all of last season with a severe head injury, will not start training camp on the PUP list. ... The Ravens will hold an open training camp practice for fans at M&T Bank Stadium next weekend. ... Ravens free-agent cornerback Josh Wilson agreed to a deal with the Redskins. ... One night after their best offensive output of the season, the Orioles were held to just four hits in a 3-0 loss to the Blue Jays. ... Brian Matusz acknowledged Wednesday that he wasn't "mentally prepared" for the start of the season. ... Senior linebacker Kenny Tate was Maryland's lone selection to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference first team.
The Ravens struck a deal with Marshal Yanda, agreeing Tuesday afternoon to a five-year deal with the offensive lineman that is believed to average a little more than $6 million per season. ... With Yanda locked up, the Ravens' focus now turns to re-signing cornerback Josh Wilson. ... Domonique Foxworth is ready to get back on the field. ... The Orioles pounded out four home runs en route to a rare win in Toronto. ... Vladimir Guerrero was activated from the disabled list.
Before the season, the consensus among local and national baseball analysts was that the Orioles' young starting rotation would either make or break their season. Most of "the cavalry" had major-league experience under their belts, and their progression needed to continue for the Orioles to have a chance in the AL East.
NFL owners unlocked the doors Thursday, but the players are reviewing the proposed 10-year collective bargaining agreement. The players now have until Tuesday to agree or pass on the proposal. ... After taking a couple of days off to rest his shoulder, Orioles left fielder Luke Scott continued his rehab assignment in Bowie and hit a pair of home runs. ... Meanwhile, Brian Matusz was knocked around for eight runs in three-plus innings while pitching for Norfolk. ... The Ravens were interested in hiring former Colts coordinator Tom Moore as a consultant.
Fans who haven't already given up on Matt Hobgood can check out the Orioles' 2009 first-round pick this summer in Aberdeen, where he is trying to salvage his 2011 season after being sidelined for most of it of it with a strained rotator cuff in his throwing arm. The 20-year-old right-hander made his first start for the Single-A IronBirds over the weekend, and he is scheduled to start Thursday night¿s game at Brooklyn.
A pair of unlikely heroes -- Robert Andino and Mark Hendrickson -- spurred the Orioles over the Indians, 8-3, on Sunday. ... The Orioles and shortstop J.J. Hardy agreed to terms Saturday on a three-year extension worth between $22 million and $22.5 million. ... Each day seemingly brings more uncertainty to the Orioles roster. ... Brian Matusz pitched seven scoreless innings for Norfolk on Saturday, allowing just three hits and two walks. ... Japan won the sixth Women's World Cup, defeating the United States, 3-1 on penalty kicks, after a 2-2 tie in extra time.
Remember before the baseball season when I chatted with ESPN's Keith Law about the Orioles, and he fired up the fan base by saying that the Orioles were "clearly the worst team" in the AL East? Well, right now, it looks like Law got that one right. But to his credit, he made a point not to rub salt in the wound when he appeared on 105.7 The Fan with Ken Weinman and Vinny Cerrato to discuss the Orioles on Wednesday.
Mitch Atkins, making his Orioles debut and his first big league start, allowed just one run in six innings on Tuesday night, but Jim Johnson couldn't lock it down in the 4-2 loss to the Rangers. ... After several months of trying to play through a torn labrum in his shoulder, Luke Scott finally shut things down with hopes he can return in a few weeks after rest and rehabilitation. ... Brian Matusz¿s struggles continued in Triple-A Norfolk as he allowed four earned runs on seven hits, including two homers. ... Former Ravens fullback Lorenzo Neal was arrested for driving under the influence on the Fourth of July. ... Justin Lewis, Maryland's starting right guard last season, was dismissed by Randy Edsall on Tuesday. ... Baltimore native Steve Kolbe, the Capitals' radio play-by-play announcer the past 14 seasons, might not be back next season.
For much of this season, the Orioles met reasonable expectations by treading water around the .500 mark and sometimes playing very good baseball against some of the league's best teams. But they have been slowly sinking in the standings in June, and they reached a new low Thursday night against the Cardinals.
After one of the worst outings of his career in a loss to the Cardinals, struggling starter Brian Matusz was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk on Thursday night. ... After the game, Matusz was relatively upbeat about his demotion, saying he will use it for motivation. ... The Orioles will recall a reliever from the minors for Friday¿s game in Atlanta, and the most likely candidate is Double-A Bowie left-hander Pedro Viola. ... Three local sports talk show hosts -- Stan "The Fan" Charles, Jerry Coleman and Rob Long -- were without a home at radio station WVIE (1370 AM) as of Friday morning when the station started moving to a mainly network news/talk format.