Not a bad weekend for Baltimore area sports. However, I think my work as draft scout may be finished.
My prediction that they would take a WR with their first round pick (which, admittedly, has been a bust for them in years past), the Ravens' front office surprised just about everybody by drafting standout Ole Miss left tackle Michael Oher, presumably as Jared Gaither's partner in crime and Jonathan Ogden's long-awaited heir apparent. What surprised me most was that Oher was one of the Ravens' 15 highest rated prospects; additionally, it appeared that Brandon Pettigrew (TE, Oklahoma State) had been our first priority before he was drafted by the Lions. Far be it from to me to question Ozzie, though - the man is dynamite in the war room.
A quick follow-up: The youngest O-line in the NFL last season just got younger, and better. The second round saw the Purple and Black add Utah DE Paul Kruger to the roster, giving us yet another versalite defender for the 3-4. CB Lardarius Webb (Southern Miss/Nicholls State) will add depth and compete for time on kick returns, as well as contributing on special teams. Linebacker Jason Phillips (TCU) will play a supporting role, and TE Davon Drew (East Carolina) provides us with another pass-catching tight end. RB Cedric Peerman (UVA) will back up McGahee/Rice and has the chance to help on special teams.
As for my picks, the Texans took Brian Cushing at fifteen, Clay Matthews went 26th to Green Bay, and Maualuga slipped all the way into the 2nd round, taken by the Bengals with the sixth pick (38th overall). Hakeem Nicks went 29th to the Giants and Darrius Heyward-Bey went seventh to the Oakland Raiders, ahead of better prospects like Michael Crabtree (who went tenth to San Francisco) and Jeremy Maclin (nineteenth, Philadelphia). ESPN showed a telling graphic of seven of Al Davis' most recently drafted players, all of whom had one thing in common: a sub 4.4 time in the 40-yard dash. Speed kills, but it's not everything. I feel terrible for Heyward-Bey - with Crabtree also in the Bay Area, he'll be relentlessly scrutinized in comparison and will be forever labeled as a bust if he doesn't perform. I hope for his sake that he plays out of his mind or gets traded faster than General Motors' stock; if he doesn't, Davis' unreasonable standards and fan expectations will ruin him.
Having blown successfully blown the 4-1 lead I mentioned they held on Friday night (and wasted a good outing by Uehara), the O's continued their losing streak Saturday, nearly salvaging an ugly start by Mark Hendrickson (4.1 IP, 8 H, 5 ER w/ 4 HR) before losing, 6-5. We finally righted the ship today, erasing a 5-1 deficit with homers from Brian Roberts and Adam Jones to secure an 8-5 victory.
Toronto 14-6 (just won their sixth series of the season today)
Boston 11-6, 1.5 games back (playing tonight vs. Yankees)
New York 9-8, 3.5 GB (playing tonight vs. Red Sox)
ORIOLES 9-10, 4.5 GB (a -23 run differential? Ouch!)
Tampa Bay 7-12, 6.5 GB (2 wins at home thus far)
Biggest news from College Park: reserve center Braxton Dupree is transferring. Not surprising, considering his lack of playing time this season, but a little disappointing. Dupree played at Calvert Hall, not far from my high school, and I like to see kids from our league do well. My buddy Ed played with him @ CHC and once took a charge that gave him a concussion (Ed now plays with a helmet-like covering, a la Petr Cech), and he thinks Braxton will catch on somewhere, possibly at Loyola (MD), which has been a popular destination for ex-Terps in recent years. Oh, and Greivis Vazquez declared for the draft. No surprise there - he's not hiring an agent, and I think we'll see him back for next season.
Lastly, the Caps dropped 5 on the Rangers this afternoon at MSG, sending the series back to DC for Game 7. Having not watched a whole lot of hockey in recent years, I may be behind in this praise, but I'd like to commend NBC Sports on their telecast - although I've come to prefer Gary Thorne (given his Orioles stint), "Doc" and "Enzo" do a pretty good job, and Pierre McGuire's sideline reporting is the most insightful and least entrapment-like of any sport I've watched in the last few months. Kudos.
Back to work. Due to the fact that Memphis (where my school is) had a weekend of gorgeous weather, I've managed to get through... about 5% of all the stuff I had planned this weekend. Still to go: a Humanities paper, revising some Fiction Writing story attempts, finishing a Spanish project, and oodles of Philosophy exercises. Estimated bedtime: 4:30AM (Central).
Have a wonderful Monday.