Down Goes Felix, Showing O’s Can’t Expect the King to Reign Again

I really didn’t want to write this, but I saw this one coming.

Last week, I started working on an article on Felix Hernandez‘s precipitous drop in velocity and how it was impacting his performance. Hernandez’s sinker, which serves as his fastball, has lived in the mid-80s all spring.

The signs of physical wear were evident. It’s been gradual over the years, but it’s in full effect now. Continue reading “Down Goes Felix, Showing O’s Can’t Expect the King to Reign Again”

It’s Alright to be Optimistic

You know it and I know it. It’s been a tough 12 months. You’re ready to get back to normal.

You’re not alone, either.

We all long for the days that enormous stadiums and arenas are packed once again, glistening in shades of team colors instead of chairbacks.

We’re ready. And so is the SEC. Continue reading “It’s Alright to be Optimistic”

We’re All Trey Mancini Fans Now

I’m fortunate in a lot of ways. I’ve been blessed with great parents, great friends and all the basic necessities I could ever ask for.

I’ve also never been diagnosed with cancer.

I have family members who have been diagnosed. Thankfully, in most of those cases, it was caught very early in the process.

That also happens to be the case with Baltimore Orioles outfielder Trey Mancini.

Fresh off a strong finish to the 2019 season, 2020 was supposed to be a breakout season for Mancini. He arrived in Sarasota, Fla. excited for the Spring Training grind.

Instead, pre-workout tests determined Mancini had colon cancer.

At that point, you forget worrying about baseball. Orioles fans had already come to love Mancini for his humble personality. He was a young player coming into his own and for a fanbase reeling from the end of the Buck Showalter era, Mancini was the face of the franchise.

Mancini sat out the entire 2020 season as he received treatments to combat the tumor in his colon. As the MLB season came to a close, Mancini announced what we were all hoping for — he was cancer-free.

All of Mancini’s hard-work and determination culminated in a beautiful moment on Sunday — Mancini’s first professional at-bat since his diagnosis. And unsurprisingly, he hit a single.

Seeing Mancini back in the batter’s box is a happy feeling, but also a calming one. Twenty-twenty was such a disaster for countless reasons. Everyone has had their lives altered or severely impacted in one way or another.

Knowing that Mancini is back at the dish is a reminder that the best is yet to come and that things do get better. Seeing Mancini hit a single to the opposite field is further proof that regular life is on its way back.

Mancini’s comeback will be fully complete come April 1, when he makes his major league return to real games. April 8, however, will be the celebration of Mancini and what he’s accomplished.

I hate that I’m going to miss it.

Mancini, who turns 29 later this year, has one more season under team control before he’s an unrestricted free agent. My goal is to see him play again before there’s any chance of him playing in another uniform.

Mancini is my favorite player for a number of reasons. He’s good — he finished the 2019 season with a .899 OPS and 35 homers while showing improvement defensively — but he also plays the game admirably. He’s not the most physically gifted player in the world, but he practices hard and plays harder. Mancini had to fight to get to the majors — he didn’t play a full a season until he was 25.

But his biggest fight had little to do with baseball. And the fight he’s shown over the last 12 months has been spectacular.

So no matter how much you may dislike the Orioles or like to clown the team for how bad they’ve been (and likely are going to be), you cannot root against Trey Mancini. We’re all fans now.

The Orioles’ Early Favorite for Closer: Tanner Scott

We are living in the Statcast era. And it is glorious.

You can learn so much about your favorite sports with advanced statistics. Raw data can only explain so much and antiquated stats like pitcher wins and losses mean very little in the grand scheme of things.

This Statcast era of baseball allows the fan to educate themselves on the finer points of the game. Sometimes, it goes against conventional wisdom and other times, it reaffirms what we thought we knew.

In the case of the Baltimore Orioles’ closer role, the advanced numbers show agree with conventional wisdom — Tanner Scott is the best option in Brandon Hyde‘s bullpen. Continue reading “The Orioles’ Early Favorite for Closer: Tanner Scott”

Tyrece Radford’s Return Comes Not a Moment Too Soon

When Virginia Tech lost Tyrece Radford due to off-the-field issues about a month ago, it seemed like Radford’s season was over.

It looked like the Hokies would have to completely reform their offensive scheme without their best perimeter player. Radford created a lot of shots from the wing, and efficient shot creation isn’t a skill that’s in abundance these days.

But with the talented Nahiem Alleyne still on the roster, it was easy to figure that Alleyne could help lessen that blow. After all, Alleyne can create his own shot and has been moderately effective as a secondary scoring option. Continue reading “Tyrece Radford’s Return Comes Not a Moment Too Soon”

The Curious Case of Cedric Mullins

It’s late February. It’s one of the best times of the year.

Winter is slowly fading into spring. And you know what that means?

Pitchers and catchers report!

In fact, everyone in Major League Baseball has reported to Spring Training by now. The 2021 season kicks off in just a few short weeks and honestly, it couldn’t come fast enough. Even for an Orioles fan.

Everyone — and I mean everyone — thinks the Orioles are going to be bad this year. They’re probably right. But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a critical year for some important players within the organization.

Among them? Cedric Mullins. Continue reading “The Curious Case of Cedric Mullins”

Only One Person Can Stop Jon Tenuta From Succeeding at Virginia Tech

Let’s start today’s column with a life lesson — two things can be, and often are, true at once.

This can be applied to all life situations — your family, your friends, politics and yes, sports. So let’s apply this principle to Virginia Tech’s hiring of Jon Tenuta as a defensive analyst.

Tenuta’s hire is a no-brainer. And it still doesn’t absolve Justin Fuente of his flaws that make Tenuta’s hire necessary in the first place.

Allow me to explain. Continue reading “Only One Person Can Stop Jon Tenuta From Succeeding at Virginia Tech”

Fuente Finds a Sufficient Replacement in Virginia Tech Legend JC Price

When you lose a valuable person in an organization, the key long-term question oftentimes isn’t why they left.

It’s “who is the replacement?”

In Virginia Tech’s case, it looks like the Hokies had a solid answer, naming a defensive line coach who happens to be a former player. One who was an All-American defensive lineman that anchored a dominant defense.

That man is JC Price, who is almost exactly what the Hokies needed. Continue reading “Fuente Finds a Sufficient Replacement in Virginia Tech Legend JC Price”

Organizational Incompetence and It’s Role in Building a Fan Base

I absolutely love the Baltimore Orioles.

I’ve lived through three distinct eras of Orioles baseball. The first is what I call the “Dark Ages”, which began as Cal Ripken Jr.‘s career came to a close. The second era was the, “I like our guys,” era, when Buck Showalter managed the Orioles to three playoff appearances and an AL East title in 2014.

The third era is the Mike Elias era, the one that began in 2019 and is running through present time. It’s been a rough road thus far, but that’s expected when you plan to get worse to get better. Continue reading “Organizational Incompetence and It’s Role in Building a Fan Base”