Optimistic about the Ravens? There isn't really much point


November 14, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

LOS ANGELES -- During my unplanned work week in Southern California, it dawned on me that Los Angeles and Baltimore have something in common.

They don't play professional football here, either.

I suppose that was a cheap shot, but it's pretty discouraging when you realize that you're 50 and overweight and you've got a better chance of scoring on the road than the Ravens.

Three points?

The Ravens celebrated the return of quarterback Kyle Boller by scoring a field goal on their first possession of the game and then apparently decided that being one of the first teams up in next year's draft might not be such a bad thing after all.

Of course, this isn't just about Boller, who has played in just two of the team's seven losses. He threw three interceptions, but he was knocked around in the pocket (four sacks) and the Ravens mounted no appreciable running game, so there was plenty of fault to pass around.

This year's Ravens reality check has been so comprehensive, in fact, that even the pundits have to accept some responsibility for presenting them as a potential Super Bowl contender at the beginning of the season.

That's as close to a mea culpa as you're going to get from me, but I really thought this was going to be an exciting season. Of course, I also said that the Orioles would finish second in the American League East, so you ought to know by now that my opinion and about seven bucks will get you a beer on the club level at either one of our beautiful Inner Harbor stadiums.

I've always liked the term mea culpa, because you can admit you're wrong and nobody knows you're apologizing unless he took Latin in high school.

Redskins fans will be crying all week that running back Mike Alstott didn't get into the end zone on the decisive two-point conversion attempt that gave Tampa Bay a heart-stopping, 36-35 victory at Raymond James Stadium. And I don't blame them.

I don't know if the ball broke the plane of the goal line before Alstott's elbow touched down, but none of the replays was conclusive enough to change the ruling on the field.

The Redskins only had themselves to blame for jumping offside twice to move the ball close enough to the goal line to justify the gutsy decision to pass up the tie and go for the victory. Tough loss.

Everybody is lining up to compliment the Eagles for biting the bullet and kicking Terrell Owens to the curb, but I still think the team overreacted.

Arbitrator Richard Bloch is likely to order the Eagles to reinstate him after a short suspension, which will simply keep the Eagles' locker room in turmoil for several more weeks. If he's going to be a distraction for the bulk of the season anyway, the team might as well take the 100 receiving yards per game that come with his childish histrionics.

Premature congratulations to longtime Angels coach Joe Maddon, who apparently will be named the new manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays today or tomorrow.

Maddon is the last man standing of the three finalists for the job. Devil Rays coach John McLaren told ESPN.com that he has been told he isn't getting the job, and Bobby Valentine just signed a contract extension to continue managing in Japan.

Maddon, who served as bench coach for Mike Scioscia in Anaheim, is a solid baseball guy who might be arriving in the Devil Rays' organization at just the right time. The Rays have a new managing partner and a reshuffled management team that appears committed to picking the franchise off the floor in the American League East.

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Javier Vazquez has formally demanded a trade because he wants to play on the East Coast, but don't get too excited. He would look great in an Orioles uniform, but I'm guessing he ends up somewhere in Florida.

My favorite headline from this week's edition of SportsPickle.com, the Maryland-based sports humor site on the Internet:

Eagles Cheerleaders challenge Panthers Cheerleaders to Skank-off


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