As Baltimore and beyond recovers from gorging themselves in stuffing, sweet potatoes, and Aretha Franklin’s national anthem, we here at Bmore Opinionated are looking forward to a crucial time in the sports calendar.
The Ravens return home after a tough loss in Dallas to face the division rival Cincinnati Bengals. Baltimore is heading into the game 1-6 in their last seven meetings with Marvin Lewis’ crew, but this brings some slightly different circumstances than in recent matchups.
Cincinnati, who arrive in Baltimore reeling at 3-6-1, seem to be marching towards what could be the end of Lewis’ 14-year stint as head coach. At least for the moment, the Ravens sit a half game behind the Steelers following Antonio Brown carving up the Colts’ secondary like a Thanksgiving turkey. But as John Harbaugh noted in his press conference on Monday, this latter portion of the schedule is ostensibly a season of its own.
“We won the Pittsburgh game to tie the division at 4-4,” Harbaugh said. “Since then, we both beat Cleveland and lost to Dallas, so we’re even, and there’s six games left. The same thing goes for Cincinnati, who is right behind the both of us, and we’re all going to play each other over the course of the next six games. It’s going to come down to that. It’s probably what we knew going into the season that it was going to come down to division games, and that’s what it’s going to come down to. I’m excited about that. Our guys are as well.”
And perhaps most importantly — AJ Green, whose career averages against the Ravens are in a league of their own, was carted off last week with a torn hamstring. If you listen closely, you can hear Shareece Wright and Tavon Young celebrating in the distance. After Dez Bryant embarrassed the the sans-Jimmy Smith cornerback corps for Baltimore last week, it seems as though the defensive secondary may be able to breathe a bit with the hopeful return of Smith and no “Ravens Killer” on the field for Cincy.
On the bright side, I suppose you can make the case that — at least in one measure — Shareece Wright was in the same class as Josh Norman this week.
Meanwhile on the other side of the Camden Yards complex, the team made their official appointment of Roger McDowell as the new pitching coach. Alan Mills, who’s been in the organization as a pitching coach in Bowie, was also added to the coaching staff as bullpen coach. McDowell finished his playing career as an Oriole, and most recently was pitching coach for the Atlanta Braves.
The Hot Stove season has begun to heat up as well. Our guest this past week, the legendary filmmaker and Orioles minority owner Barry Levinson had plenty to say about his hopes for the Orioles’ offseason.
However, it looks like the Orioles will have to wait and see how the market plays out for other AL East free agent sluggers like Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista before finding out the fate of Mark Trumbo. According to most reports out of the baseball world, it seems the citizens of Birdland can expect a typical quiet, under-the-radar offseason from Dan Duquette and the front office.
While that may be the forecast for now, you can rest assured that every Orioles fan — and minority owner — are anxiously hoping for a Manny Machado or Jonathan Schoop contract extension under their tree this holiday season.
Written by Danny Kiddoo