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Jun
13

While Loss Was Disappointing, Season Meant Something For Hokies

If you've seen the movie "Moneyball", you may remember when Brad Pitt - who portrays Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane - masterfully delivers this blunt quote in the middle of the film:

“If you lose the last game of the season," Beane says, "nobody gives a s***.”

While this quote oversimplifies every team’s season but the one left standing at the end, the sad reality is that there is some truth to it. No matter how outstanding a team may play for a majority of the year, losing the last game of the season puts a damper on everyone's memories of the journey to get there.

Virginia Tech baseball is experiencing this sad truth right now. The Hokies’ 11-2 defeat to Oklahoma in Game 3 of their NCAA Super Regional series will probably leave a bit of a bad taste in the mouths of everyone associated with the program. Fans will undoubtedly be disappointed in how things ended, but nobody will be more upset than the players and coaches who lost the game.

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Jun
08

This Could Be A Special Weekend For VT's Hammerin' Hokies

In case you haven’t noticed, Virginia Tech baseball is on the cusp of doing something that's never been done and shattering the program's glass ceiling: doing something of national relevance.

The Hokies entered the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship tournament last weekend as the No. 4 team in the country and hosts of a regional in the first round. They scored a combined 39 runs in their first two games, and then defeated Columbia 7-2 to earn a trip to the Super Regionals – which they will also host at English Field, starting Friday at 3 PM.

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Jun
08

Mancini's Career Year Hasn't Affected His Uncertain Future

If this is really the end for Trey Mancini’s career in Baltimore, he sure is going out with a boom.

The 30-year-old slugger is having one of the best seasons of his career, slashing .303/.374/.448 and sporting a career-high 138 OPS+. Baseball Savant, which measures advanced metrics, tells a similar story, as Mancini sits in the 96th percentile in expected batting average and in the 92nd percentile in expected slugging.

Sadly, Mancini’s resurgence has been marred by the elephant in the room — the Orioles’ refusal to commit to Mancini long term.

The Orioles and Mancini agreed to a one-year deal this offseason with a mutual option of $10 million for next year. Even as Mancini puts together the best performance of his career, the chances of a rebuilding club committing to $10 million for a 31-year-old first baseman/designated hitter is quite low.

It isn’t like the Orioles couldn’t afford him. The club carries an $11 million club option on journeyman starter Jordan Lyles, who’s been relatively reliable this season. Outside of Lyles and John Means’ $2.9 million contract, no other money is currently on the books for the Orioles.

Not only has Mancini been the Orioles’ best hitter this season, but he isn’t blocking anyone in the minors. Mancini has spelled his comrades in the field just 23 times this season, compared to 30 games when Mancini has served as the designated hitter. Nobody in the minors has proven they’re ready for that role yet — the closest option has been Tyler Nevin, a Mark Trumbo-style fielder with an OPS+ of 74.

Despite all of this, Mancini sounds like he’s accepted that his time in Baltimore is limited.

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Jun
04

A Wild Week Of Promotions In Washington

Before last night's 8-5 win over Cincinnati, the Washington Nationals had lost four consecutive games. Earlier this week, they were also held scoreless for 26 innings in a row – almost three complete games.

It’s been tough to watch.

It’s unfortunately nothing new, but as it turns out, the slump from the batter’s box hasn’t been the most important story this week.

Star performers at all levels of the Nationals organization have been rewarded this week. Left-handed pitcher Evan Lee made his major league debut, infielder Luis Garcia returned to the big stage, and plenty of other notable minor league prospects moved up a level as a result of their excellent performance during the first two months of this season.

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Jun
03

Nobody Is Laughing At The Baltimore Orioles Anymore

The greater baseball world has spent the better part of the last three years clowning the Baltimore Orioles, mocking the club’s poor performance and low payrolls, while the franchise attempts to reinvent itself and collect younger talent.

To be clear, the on-field product in Baltimore has been awful since 2018. After a disappointing 2017 season, the Orioles flat-lined in 2018 with a 47-115 record. The club hasn’t won more than 54 games since and in the COVID-shortened 2020 season, the Orioles still only won 41 percent of their games.

Those outside Baltimore expected the same in 2022, but fans knew differently. We knew the curve was beginning to turn, and with the arrival of The Savior (Adley Rutschman) and some all-around growth, suddenly nobody is laughing at the Orioles anymore.

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May
29

Once Again, It’s Time For A Nationals Youth Movement

In the past few days, two contractual developments have converged for the Washington Nationals, and both point toward the Nationals getting younger, something fans have been pleading for on social media.

First, infielder Luis Garcia exceeded the required time in the minor leagues for the Nationals to gain a season of club control (if you don’t understand what that means or how they got it, I’ll explain it in a moment).

Then following Saturday’s doubleheader, the Nationals designated starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez for assignment. This was partially done due to his poor performance (an 8.33 ERA through seven starts), but the need for a sixth starter later this week prior to Sanchez’s spot in the rotation coming up again also made it tougher to justify holding onto him.

There’s some further roster maneuvering that needs to happen in the coming days – although DFAing Sanchez was an important step. Allow me to explain the options the Nationals have to fill these two spots...

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May
20

Could Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein Be Coming to DC?

Despite how bad the Nationals are, there’s certainly a plethora of storylines surrounding the team these days.

Juan Soto is scuffling, with rumors – realistic or not – surfacing that he could soon be traded. Nelson Cruz is still in a funk, the team’s defense stinks, Luis Garcia could be promoted next week, Carter Kieboom is officially sidelined for the rest of the season, and Washington is facing Trea Turner and the Dodgers next week.

Yet none of those stories are what I’m currently most intrigued by.

As Barry Svrluga reported a month ago, the Lerner family is weighing the option of selling the Washington Nationals. While no sale is imminent, some frontrunners have emerged. including Ted Leonsis, the owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, and thereby the Wizards, Capitals and most other professional sports teams in the nation’s capital.

Although I’m intrigued by Leonsis as an option, especially since the MLB feels more like the NHL than the NBA in terms of roster construction and access to superstar players, he’s not who I’m most in favor of as a buyer.

Instead, I’d like to see Larry Lucchino - who Mike Rosenbaum of NJ.com has reported is interested - take the reins.

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May
12

For Nationals Starting Rotation, Relief Is On The Way

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that the Nationals starting rotation looks incomplete, but fortunately, Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross are progressing towards rejoining the staff.

The Recovery

Earlier this week, Strasburg and Ross both pitched in a simulated game at the team’s Spring Training complex in West Palm Beach, Florida. Dave Martinez didn’t disclose how many innings or pitches they threw, but he had previously stated that it should be two innings.

“They both felt good,” Martinez said, relaying information the on-site medical staff had told him. At this stage, that’s all that really matters.

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May
10

If This Is A Dream, Try Your Best Not To Wake Me...

Perhaps it’s just me, but at times I’m having a tough time believing what’s going on with recruiting for the Virginia Tech’s men’s basketball team.

It’s nothing bad. Quite the contrary, in fact, to the point I wonder if this is just a dream and I haven’t woken up yet. In my 50-plus years of watching Hokie basketball, there are certain hard truths I’ve learned, and one is that while there will be good years and bad, there will never be a year that blue chips flock to Blacksburg.

The Hokies will be in the dance with many. They’ll be included in the final two with a few. But typically when final decisions are made, most times they’re left at the altar watching the bride drive off into the sunset as a blue blood school makes a late move and sweeps a recruit off their feet. Doesn’t mean the Hokies haven’t had great players come to Blacksburg, but the marquee players among the nation’s recruiting elite tend not to end up in Southwest Virginia.

This year has felt different.

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May
08

Yadiel Hernandez Continues to Exceed Expectations For Nats

The Nationals went 5-4 during their most recent West Coast road trip, and Yadiel Hernandez was one of the biggest reasons for the sudden success.

It seems like I’ve written the same story every year. Hernandez enters the season fighting to even make the roster. Then, he becomes one of the best hitters on the team.

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May
06

Hokies Depth Chart Right Now Is One Big Unanswered Question...

(Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Tech)

It’s been nearly a month since Virginia Tech wrapped up their spring practice schedule and since then, I’ve spent far too much time thinking about hypothetical depth charts and special packages that we might see in 2022.

I’ve also spent a fair amount of time coming to grips with a hard truth — this year’s roster has too many questions for my liking.

Surprisingly, my main concerns have nothing to do with quarterback. Grant Wells played rather well in Virginia Tech’s Spring Game and while Jason Brown wasn’t very productive, he spent much of his afternoon trying to escape Tech defenders.

And that’s a great place to start.

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Ricky LaBlue

Ricky LaBlue

A longtime sports fanatic, Ricky is now channeling that passion into the world of sports media. Meet Ricky LaBlue.

Stephen Newman

Stephen Newman

The only things he loves more than following Virginia Tech and Washington sports teams are dogs. Meet Stephen Newman.

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