In some ways, saying Joe Flacco doesn’t have passion is not breaking news. Even Flacco admits he’s certainly not the life-of-the-party type. In fact, he said exactly that in a podcast on BaltimoreRavens.com this week. But to hear the biggest icon in Ravens history say it, in the context of a critical analysis, is somewhat jarring to hear.
“There is something called talent. And you see it a dime a dozen. And there’s something called being passionate about what you do. [Is Flacco] gifted? Absolutely. Passionate about what he do? I’ve never seen that. I don’t know what that looks like,” Lewis said to a national television audience on Fox Sports 1 on Thursday night. “When you watch, how he’s always isolating himself. He’ll sit on the bench, never talk to anybody. Big play, bad play, whatever it is.”
— Speak For Yourself (@SFY) November 18, 2016
Lewis, ever a classic extrovert compared to the introverted Flacco, spoke in response to a question about why he thought his former teammate was so inconsistent. Lewis said the QB’s laid-back attitude could affect team chemistry and suggested that Flacco show some more fire at times for the benefit of the team.
“I don’t know how many times you will hear somebody go out on a limb to defend [that] he’s the greatest teammate I ever had,” Lewis said. “Maybe it’s because his personality is just not that personality. He won’t say much. But still in the game of football, there has to be some burning fire behind you. There has to be something that is bigger than me . . . this is us, this is the core. . . . Teammates figure out how to create this core, that we all get along. Some people will be co-workers, some people will be teammates and then some people you may call friends, right? I call Joe Flacco a teammate. We won a Super Bowl together.”
What did Joe think? He told reporters Friday in the locker room (as a pair of teammates yelled “I’ve got your back, Joe!”) that he was surprised to hear what Lewis said, but didn’t have much of a reaction. Ravens coach John Harbaugh gave Flacco a heads up on the comments Friday morning. We imagine his initial reaction was a slight pause, then a shoulder shrug, and maybe a joke about Fake Ray Lewis.
More pro football coming to Baltimore
Speaking of the Ravens, they will soon have company. An Arena Football League team is coming to town, starting next spring, and will play home games at Royal Farms Arena.
Entrepreneur Ted Leonsis, who owns the NBA’s Washington Wizards and NHL’s Capitals, recently decided to double down on creating expansion indoor football teams for 2017, announcing this week his intent to start a to-be-named outfit in Baltimore, in addition to Washington, D.C. The AFL, which showcases a fast-paced version of football with eight players a side on an enclosed 85-foot wide by 50-yard long field, has existed since 1987. But now Leonsis, through his Monumental Sports & Entertainment company, owns two of the league’s five teams, after five others either folded or joined a rival league since the end of the last AFL campaign.
The arena league’s schedule ran last year from April through August, so it doesn’t compete with the NFL, though there may be overlap with the Orioles. But city stakeholders this week have applauded the addition of another pro sports franchise to Baltimore’s downtown offerings. Those interested in season tickets can put a $50 deposit down right now. And expect to hear about a team name, coach and colors within the next 30 days.
This, of course, isn’t the first time a non-NFL team has lived here. See, the Canadian Football League’s Stallions, the USFL’s Stars (Donald Trump owned another team in that outdoor league) and the American Indoor Football League’s Mariners, who last existed in 2014.
Camden Yards is getting new grass
Dirt. That’s all that covers the grounds of Camden Yards right now. A stadium-wide sod replacement project, the first at Oriole Park since 2008, began on Monday and will run through the end of the month. Workers will install approximately 12 tractor-trailer loads, or 105,000 square feet, of Kentucky bluegrass sod from Tuckahoe Turf Farms in New Jersey to replace the playing surface.
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) November 16, 2016
In the learn-something-new-everyday department, eight years is considered a long lifespan for stadium grass, according to SportsTurf magazine . O’s manager Buck Showalter said the fact that the O’s home venue doesn’t host concerts or other sporting events allowed this edition of Camden’s grass a relatively long life. The city’s outdoor professional sports venues are now two-for-two this year on installing new grass fields. The Ravens, at the request of its players, switched M&T Bank Stadium’s artificial turf surface to natural grass ahead of this season.
Trumbo declines O’s offer; Britton finishes fourth in A.L. Cy Young vote
Mark Trumbo, the (for the moment) former Orioles right fielder/designated hitter, and his 47 home runs in 2016, have one foot out the door. And, unfortunately, if he signs with another team, the O’s official social media accounts can kiss the use of the ubiquitous phrase “Trumbomb” and it’s associated bomb emoji goodbye.
Trumbo, the reigning major league leader in home runs, is the latest Oriole to have a fine, single year here only to test free agency after the season. (Think fellow slugger Nelson Cruz or pitcher Andrew Miller, 2014 all over again.) As we wrote last week, the O’s did not make a qualifying offer to catcher Matt Wieters, but did offer a one-year, $17.2 million deal to Trumbo. But the 30-year-old, coming off the best season of his career, declined, and is likely to draw bigger contract numbers on the free-agent market. There’s still a chance Trumbo returns to the club—the O’s obviously have interest – but for now, we’re worried.
Meanwhile, in postseason awards news, Orioles pitcher Zach Britton finished fourth in American League Cy Young voting. Non-starting pitchers, even elite closers like the left-handed Britton, have traditionally faced long odds at winning these Pitcher of the Year awards. Guess going 47-for-47 in save opportunities isn’t enough, though five of the 30 baseball writers that voted for the award gave Britton their first-place nod. Manny Machado finished fifth in A.L. MVP voting, and Showalter took third place for A.L. Manager of the Year.
Old-timers Brooks Robinson, Baltimore’s Kaline scoop Gold Glove honors
No current Orioles left this year’s Gold Glove ceremony with any hardware, but one of the franchise’s most beloved figures did. Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson, 79, received a lifetime achievement honor at the Rawlings’ Gold Glove awards. The baseball company also inducted Baltimore native Al Kaline as the 10th member of its Hall of Fame. Kaline, 81, a Hall of Fame outfielder dubbed “Mr. Tiger” for his time with the Detroit Tigers, grew up poor and attended Southern High School in Federal Hill, which you may now know as Digital Harbor High.
Terps make epic comeback against Georgetown
Hey, Maryland and Georgetown, let’s continue the basketball rivalry, please. Tuesday night marked the final meeting of a two-year agreement between the programs to play a non-conference game, and it’s one fans of both sides will remember until they play again.
At the Verizon Center in D.C., the Terps trailed Georgetown by nine points with 2:21 left, but prevailed 76-75 by way of 17 points in that span (eight coming from Melo Trimble), two Hoya turnovers and a block by Maryland’s 6-foot-7 freshman Kevin Huerter in the closing seconds.