For Boller, standing his ground against rush is forward progress

August 28, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

KYLE BOLLER DIDN'T make a statement during Friday night's preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, but - at this point in a very strange month for Baltimore sports fans - maybe we should count our blessings.

At least he didn't say that his attorneys had advised against it.

Boller needed to build some confidence in the Ravens' third preseason game. He needed to make everyone forget the previous week's ugly performance. He needed to shred the Saints' so-so defense and calm persistent doubts about his ability to lead an otherwise star-studded team deep into the playoffs.

He didn't do much of that, but his 5-for-11 performance was a clear improvement over his meltdown against the Philadelphia Eagles, even if the best thing about it was that he was still standing at the end.

The Saints pressured him relentlessly and his protection broke down too quickly to make a fair evaluation of his ability to move the team through the air, but no one should question his toughness after he absorbed a huge helmet-to-helmet hit from linebacker Ronald McKinnon and several other nasty shots in the first half.

The numbers (53 yards, one touchdown pass, one interception) were far from compelling, and Boller still seems too willing to throw into coverage, so he'll be back under the microscope when the Ravens close the preseason against the Washington Redskins on Thursday night.

Glad the remote control was working Friday night, since I was switching back and forth between the Ravens and Redskins, with the occasional glance (and pained expression) at the Orioles.

I know what you're thinking. What could have possibly motivated me to waste part of a perfectly good evening watching the evil Redskins - especially when the resident delusional 'Skins fan was out partying on his last weekend night before returning to college?

There's a completely logical explanation. I wanted to see for myself if Patrick Ramsey is going to get pushed aside again, and I think he might. Mark Brunell, who could throw a football about as well as me a year ago at this time, looks like he got an arm transplant in the offseason.

Read something last week that really got under my skin. columnist Dayn Perry, using another one of those enhanced statistics that have become popular among baseball number nerds, made the ludicrous case that something called "ERA+" proves that Sandy Koufax wasn't really that good.

The esoteric stat weights ERA by factoring in the attributes of each pitcher's home ballpark, thereby allowing people who couldn't tell a forkball from a pitchfork to believe they can evaluate pitchers they have never seen.

Here's what I mean:

"His best season in terms of ERA+ [1966] ranks only 55th all time. That's because Koufax played in an era in which runs were ridiculously hard to come by in a home park that played even stingier. So relative to park and league, Koufax, even at his best, doesn't quite measure up."

Well, I did have the privilege of seeing Sandy Koufax pitch (at least on television a few dozen times), and I'm not sure where to start. He had the pinpoint control of Greg Maddux, the fastball of Randy Johnson, the knee-buckling curveball of Bert Blyleven and the guts of a burglar.

That's OK, Dayn, it's a lot tougher to see the rotation of the ball when you're watching a guy pitch in a book.

While we're digging out of another logic-free stat zone, I should also point out that the reason Dodger Stadium played so stingy back then was because Los Angeles had two Hall of Famers (Don Drysdale was the other) in a starting rotation that was among the best in baseball throughout the 1960s.

Funny, but it's basically the same park now and most of the current Dodgers pitchers have ERAs that are more than twice what Koufax averaged (1.85) from 1963 to 1966.

The Los Angeles Times reported last week that Southern California quarterback Matt Leinart is enrolled in just one class this semester.

Leinart is entitled to take less than the 12 academic units required by the NCAA because he is a fifth-year senior and only needs one more elective to graduate.

The class: ballroom dancing.

I guess he's preparing for the last tango in Pasadena.

Boston Red Sox pitcher David Wells has publicly suggested that Rafael Palmeiro take a lie detector test, which sounds like a great way for him to prove that he did not intentionally ingest the potent steroid stanozolol.

I'm trying to reach Pete Rose to find out what the odds are on Raffy agreeing to do that.

While we're on the subject, here's my favorite fake headline from, the sports humor site on the Web: "Report: Tiger Woods left his living room moments before Powerball results were announced."

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